Thursday, 23 April 2020

Moses Boyd ‎– Dark Matter (20220)

Style: Contemporary Jazz, UK Garage, Afrobeat, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Exodus

01.   Stranger Than Fiction
02.   Hard Food (Interlude)
03.   B.T.B
04.   Y.O.Y.O
05.   Shades Of You
06.   Dancing In The Dark
07.   Only You
08.   2 Far Gone
09.   Nommos Descent
10.   What Now?

Guitar – Artie Zaitz
Synths, Piano – Joe Armon-Jones
Tenor Saxophone – Michael Underwood, Nubya Garcia, Binker Golding
Trombone, Bass Trombone – Nathaniel Cross
Alto Saxophone – Arnaud Gichaud
Baritone Saxophone – Chelsea Carmichael
Trumpet – Ife Ogunjobe
Tuba – Theon Cross
Flute – Michael Underwood
Percussion – Phillip Harper
Vocals – Gary Crosby, Steven Umoh, Klein,Nonku Phiri
Drums, Producer – Moses Boyd

Moses Boyd is a drummer in the same way Questlove from the Roots is a drummer, which is to say that the twice Mobo-winning 28-year-old Londoner is a producer-composer-collaborator-influencer not bound by the kit surrounding him. A progenitor of the current London jazz scene, Boyd’s official solo debut goes large on cross-pollination – and dancing. 
Whereas Boyd’s previous Mobo-winning duo with the saxophonist Binker Golding and his Exodus ensemble remained more or less on-genre, Dark Matter exists very much in the wake of Boyd’s breakout track of 2016, Rye Lane Shuffle (which featured Four Tet and Floating Points on mixes). This is the London hybrid jazz of now – a party-facing electronic record that takes note of Afrobeats, two-step garage and Boyd’s travels in South Africa. 
There are vocalists here, who actually struggle to add to the lyricism on offer. Pick of the bunch is Obongjayar, whose ode to the ongoing cataclysm befalling black youths, Dancing in the Dark, gives Dark Matter its moral high ground. Best of all is 2 Far Gone, where Ezra Collective’s Joe Armon-Jones arpeggiates magnificently on keys while Boyd shakes the rafters.
Kitty Empire / The Guardian
It’s perhaps no wonder that Moses Boyd’s debut solo album draws on an eclectic range of influences. Growing up in Catford, south London, Boyd’s music-loving family played everything from gospel, soul and funk to experimental, rock and reggae. On any given day, Boyd said it was normal to hear Björk, Debussy, N.E.R.D., Tupac, Nas and Youssou N’Dour in his childhood home. At school, meanwhile, Boyd was already swapping beats with his grime-loving classmates in his first year and later, after taking up drums aged 13, Boyd discovered jazz and was soon studying videos of Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins. 
Boyd recently said it was N.E.R.D.’s ‘Fly or Die’ that left the greatest mark on him at that time. The album was largely judged to be an anomaly by critics in 2004 who didn’t understand how Pharrell and co would dare to position jazz alongside funk, rock, R&B and hip-hop. In 2020, however, that kind of cross-pollination is par for the course. 
Boyd’s ‘Dark Matter’ – his solo debut as a producer and band leader proper – draws on such a melting-pot of genres and styles where complex jazz rhythms sit alongside electronica, dance, rock, grime and pop. Whilst its head leans towards the mathematical with its polymath rhythms and intricate structures, its heart is firmly on the dancefloor – much like his 2016 breakout, ‘Rye Lane Shuffle’ which saw Boyd collaborate with Four Tet and Floating Points.

Opener ‘Stranger Than Fiction’ gently twinkles into life before the rich tuba of Sons of Kemet’s Theon Cross transforms it into an infectious rump-shaking instrumental. Add in the skittish drums of Boyd with the frenetic synths of Erza Collective’s Joe Armon-Jones and the track becomes one of the most danceable on the record. ‘2 Far Gone’ is made in a similar vein, where Boyd’s breathless drumming drives the track alongside up-tempo, arpeggiated keys from Armon-Jones to create something with a ‘Kid A’ sentiment. 
The style carries through on album standout ‘Only You’ which channels the darker dance styles of the London Underground alongside a woozy Afrobeat underscore. Elsewhere, there’s a much heavier Afrobeat leaning thanks to the fact that the album began life, by accident, in South Africa. Boyd was there to make an album with Klein, Nonku Phiri, Ribane and DJ Lag but ended up travelling around the homes of local artists, recording snatches of rhythms and sound samples when he could. “South Africa is a buzzing, rich musical place,” Boyd said of his travels. “When I got back to London, I found it had changed my way of thinking,” he later added. The endlessly upbeat ‘BTB’ and ‘Y.O.Y.O’ show how the country influenced Boyd and of the way the artist can collage a multitude of genres naturally.

Following on from his acclaimed project, ‘Displaced Diaspora’ there are exciting collaborations on ‘Dark Matter’ too, not least with NME 100 alumni Poppy Ajudha on the album’s standout pop banger, ‘Shades of You’. Another comes via Obongjayar on the album’s fierce political moment, ‘Dancing in the Dark’. “The world is changing / The rules are not the same / Why my brothers so afraid / Why my brothers full of hate,” Obongjayar mournfully sings on a track exploring racism and otherness post-Brexit. 
Whilst jazz and dance are at the forefront of this album’s heart, you can trace a multitude of other genres under its surface, from grime to rock and funk to pop. It’s an ambitious work full of scope, where Boyd continues to innovate and impress.
Elizabeth Aubrey / NME 

Alison Moyet ‎– Alf (1984)

Style: Pop Rock, Synth-pop
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Columbia, CBS, BMG, Sony Music

1.   Love Resurrection
2.   Honey For The Bees
3.   For You Only
4.   Invisible
5.   Steal Me Blind
6.   All Cried Out
7.   Money Mile
8.   Twisting The Knife
9.   Where Hides Sleep

Backing Vocals – Alison Moyet, Steve Jolley
Drums – Tim Goldsmith
Keyboards – Tony Swain
Written By – Moyet, Jolley, Swain
Producer – Steve Jolley & Tony Swain
Alison Moyet's solo debut moves away from the all-electronic backing of her two-album partnership with Vince Clarke in Yaz, but ironically, those two albums sound much less dated in retrospect than Alf itself. Hooking up with Bananarama's producers, Tony Swain and Steve Jolley, Moyet delivers an enormous, walloping mid-'80s pop sound that constantly threatens to overwhelm both the songs, which are a mixed bag, and occasionally even the formidably voiced singer herself. Several tracks make it through the production mill unscathed, notably the singles "All Cried Out" and "Love Resurrection," but the album's pinnacle is the remarkable "Invisible," a soulful shouter penned by Motown great Lamont Dozier that's among the great R&B pop singles of the '80s. Moyet tears into the song's emotional chorus with more ferocity than on the rest of the album, and the song is as melodically sturdy as any of Dozier's previous hits. Some of the other tracks would benefit from less-overbearing production, most notably the chilling "Where Hides Sleep," making Alf one of those albums that sounds better once the listener has mentally undressed the songs a bit.
Stewart Mason / AllMusic

David Cunningham ‎– Water / MTM VOL. 31 (1992)

Style: Minimal, Ambient
Format: CD
Label: Made To Measure, ArsNova

01.   Stars
02.   The Next Day
03.   Once Removed
04.   The Fourth Sea
05.   White Blue And Grey
06.   Shade Creek
07.   Short Winter's Day
08.   Blue River
09.   Beneath The Vines
10.   Yellow River
11.   Low Sun
12.   Only Shadows
13.   A Liquid Hand
14.   Dark Ocean
15.   The Same Day

Guitar – Robert Fripp
Saxophone – Peter Gordon
Post-production – Richard Dowling
Performer, Composed By, Producer – David Cunningham