Monday, 27 April 2020

Myra Davies ‎– Sirens (2017)

Style: Berlin-School, Experimental, Techno
Format: CD, FLAC
Label: Moabit Musik

01.   Armand Monroe
02.   DoYa (Götterdämmerung1)
03.   Golddress
04.   Sirens Call
05.   Mobilis In Mobili
06.   Get Down Boy (Götterdämmerung2)
07.   Everywhere Cage
08.   Up Girl Angry (Götterdämmerung3)
09.   Inshallah
10.   Noutiné

Lyrics By, Performer – Myra Davies
Written-By, Producer, Mixed By – Beate Bartel, Gudrun Gut

The motion is fierce. The electronic beats of Gudrun Gut and Beate Bartel power through time like tanks on cobbled roads, inexorable, hitting bumps of syncopation and slips of synth trigger-finger that kick me off axis but fail to slow the vehicle down. Myra Davies is dragged along with such force that her words often only capture vague or contradictory details, articulating sensations that blur past like platform-loiterers seen through the windows of passing trains, registering as fleeting, sensational teases (“…blowing of kisses, clatter of heels on the rickety stairs…”), conjuring a heart-led allure that we don’t have the time nor cognitive space to question, let alone understand. We tumble headfirst into ill-fated love and hopeful illusions of the divine afterlife. The beat hurtles forth, boisterous to the point of undanceable, as I try and rationalise Davies’ world through a veil of travel nausea. 
In a personal note accompanying the record, Davies talks about the push-pull that pits emotional intuition against itself: “Come hither. Stay away. Such isometric emotional dualities can drive a person around a post like a work donkey. I question such ’native’ impulses and the Romantic notion that emotion is the seat of authenticity, our true core.” On “Sirens Call”, the beats become stranded and empty, combed by dissonant drones that sweep back and forth in search of life, as Davies speaks of how the fantasies of love and freedom are manipulated to lure the unwitting into subordination or danger. Her tone is often monotonously subdued, wryly akin to those smartphone voice assistants that rise unquestioningly to the behest of impulse, recounting narratives of white male insularity and domination in the New York avant garde (juxtaposing the boundlessness of John Cage with sterile sexism), or the inflation and obliteration of Hollywood dreams in airport departure lounges, or the systematic tolerance and victim-blaming in cases of spousal abuse. “We all need to move on for the greater good of society,” she urges during closing track “Noutiné”, channelling the insidious rationale that the status quo is always preferable to ruffling a rancid equilibrium. Sure enough, the beat pushes me right on past. There’s no time to question it.

Benjamin Lew ‎– Le Parfum Du Raki / MTM VOL. 35 (1993)

Style: Modern Classical, Ambient, Tribal, Contemporary
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Crammed Discs, Made To Measure ‎

01.   Les Versants D'un Coteau
02.   Ce Qu'elle Voulait Que J'entende
03.   Et Tout Est Parti De Là
04.   Ces Personnages
05.   Le Sentiment De La Couleur
06.   Le Visage Salé Par L'écume
07.   La Magnifique Alcoolique
08.   Le Parfum Du Raki
09.   Que De Moments D'alerte
10.   Le Sol Noir Des Faubourgs Marchands
11.   Le Personnage Principal Est Un Peuple Isolé
12.   Sebkha
13.   Un Mal Sourd
14.   Regardez Encore

Brass, Harmonica – Luc Van Lieshout
Cor Anglais, Bassoon – Michel Berckmans
Guitar, Bass – Peter Principle
Synth, Bass, Violin, Sitar – Denis Moulin
Voice – Malka Spigel
Woodwinds – Renaud Pion
Composed By, Performer, Illustration – Benjamin Lew
Sampler, Percussion, Synthesizer, Engineer, Producer – Gilles Martin

Betty Harris ‎– The Lost Queen Of New Orleans Soul (2016)

Genre: Funk / Soul
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Soul Jazz Records

01.   There’s A Break In The Road
02.   12 Red Roses
03.   Mean Man
04.   I’m Gonna Git Ya
05.   Ride Your Pony
06.   Show It
07.   I Don’t Wanna Hear It
08.   Bad Luck
09.   Hook, Line ’N’ Sinker
10.   Lonely Hearts
11.   What A Sad Feeling
12.   What’d I Do Wrong
13.   Trouble With My Lover
14.   Sometime
15.   I’m Evil Tonight
16.   Nearer To You
17.   All I Want Is You

Compiled By, Sleeve Notes – S. Baker
Mastered By – Duncan Cowell, Pete Reilly
Written-By, Producer – Allen Toussaint

During the 1960, New Orleans was the home for a plethora of wonderful music, much of it bearing the stamp of the great Crescent City writer, musician, and producer Allen Toussaint. Toussaint penned all of the songs included in this Betty Harris compilation, 17 sides recorded between 1964 to 1969, and originally issued them on his locally distributed record label, Sansu. Local New Orleans musicians, such as The Meters, serve as her back-up band and add to the music’s distinctive Big Easy feel. 
Harris came from Florida and would fly in for the recording sessions. Still, she sounds like a local because her swampy Southern stylings fit right in -- and I mean hand in glove. Harris knows how to let loose without losing control. She can also break your heart. On songs such as “Sometime”, Harris moans that she has the blues all of the time because she doesn’t have anyone to love and be loved by. Harris intensifies her performance as the song builds to show her hurt and spirit even as the players lay back. Her strength lies on her ability to keep it together, not display the pain and cover the ache in her voice. 
Of course, this is New Orleans music so much of the best stuff has a strong sexual presence. Harris’ excitement is itself exciting. On the vibrant “There’s a Break in the Road”, she and the Meters get downright nasty singing about vengeance on a former boyfriend. From the blaring horns to Harris’ recitation of her grievances, the deliciousness of the coldly served dish makes for a wonderful repast. This is of New Orleans, where people know how to feast. 
So when Harris has “Trouble With My Lover” the trouble is that she can’t be making love to her lover all the time. That distresses her, but she can’t help but sing her lovers praises and how good he makes her feel. She may not be satisfied but she’s gratified. The bouncy rhythms here just reinforce the physicality of the feelings. Love is sex here in the best sense of both words. 
Fifty years has passed since most of the material here was created, but the high quality of it shines through today. The elastic rhythms, jazzy horns, and other distinguishing New Orleans tropes defy aging. Harris’ exuberant vocals just adds to the spiciness of the mix. 
However, there’s a reason Toussaint didn’t distribute these singles beyond the Crescent City’s general area back in the '60s. The music here is local. Remember what was happening in the rest of the world at the time: the Beatles and the British Invasion, Motown, Soul, and psychedelic pop. It sounded fresh and hip. These songs could have been recorded ten years earlier. There was nothing particularly new about them.
In fact, as compared with the records of say, Aretha Franklin or the Supremes from that time, these sides sound old-fashioned. Today in the face of an uncertain future, the songs and styles of the past may bring us comfort. But there was a time when the immediate past was one of racism and conformity and the future promised freedom. Harris was living in the present, that made her seem dated to those who didn’t understand the place where she was coming from as she is indeed the Lost Queen of New Orleans Soul.
Steve Hotowitz / PopMATTERS