Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Momus ‎– Turpsycore (2015)

Genre: Pop
Format: CD, MP3
Label: American Patchwork

1-01.   Bathyscaphe
1-02.   System Of Usher
1-03.   The Dowser
1-04.   The Boy Camille
1-05.   The Hiker
1-06.   Cameo
1-07.   The Brutalist
1-08.   Ultra-Loyal Sheepdog
1-09.   The Spider
1-10.   The Painter
1-11.   Catholic App
1-12.   Unreconstructed
1-13.   Following
1-14.   Spore
1-15.   The Driver
1-16.   The Hate Horse
1-17.   Foxy Little Otter
2-01.   The Bewlay Brothers
2-02.   Joe The Lion
2-03.   Be My Wife
2-04.   African Night Flight
2-05.   Sweet Thing
2-06.   DJ
2-07.   Time
2-08.   Lady Grinning Soul
2-09.   Love Is Lost
2-10.   Ashes To Ashes
2-11.   Candidate
2-12.   Conversation Piece
2-13.   The Drowned Girl
2-14.   Letter To Hermione
2-15.   Uncle Arthur
2-16.   Where Are We Now?
2-17.   Absolute Beginners
2-18.   Life On Mars
3-01.   Motorcade
3-02.   Cut-Out Shapes
3-03.   Because You're Frightened
3-04.   Upside Down
3-05.   Back To Nature
3-06.   Lady 21
3-07.   Pound
3-08.   Rainy Season
3-09.   Ticket
3-10.   Philadelphia
3-11.   You Never Knew Me
3-12.   Friends Of Mine
3-13.   Parade
3-14.   Of Course Howard
3-15.   Smoking Mirror

Composed By – Nick Currie
Songwriter – David Bowie (Dybruk), Howard Devoto (Harvard)

Twenty years ago the Shibuya-kei music scene was in full swing. The charts were filled with some of the most daring, artistic pop music this country had ever heard, courtesy of artists such as Cornelius, Pizzicato Five, Original Love and Kahimi Karie. 
Among these musicians was Nicholas Currie, better known as Momus, who left the ruins of his native Scotland’s post-punk scene for the vibrant life of Shibuya-kei, which reinvented Japanese pop as a cultured realm of literate, postmodern music that drew inspiration from an astonishingly wide variety of obscure sources. 
Before the rise of Shibuya-kei, it would have been almost unthinkable for a song like the Momus-produced Karie single “Good Morning World” to top the Oricon rankings — a track that married lyrical references to The Fall’s Mark E. Smith and French singer-songwriter Jacques Dutronc to musical backing sampled from cult prog-rock group Soft Machine — but that’s exactly what happened in October 1995. 
Never content to rest on his laurels, Currie, who has been living in Osaka since 2010, has been keeping incredibly busy in the years since the Shibuya-kei bubble burst. He has put out more than 20 albums, been involved in various art projects, published five postmodern novels and produced a documentary about the cultural connections between Japan and Europe titled “Europe-in-Japan.” 
With a tech-focused novel titled “Popppappp” also due to come out soon via experimental German publisher Fiktion, last week, Currie released his largest musical project yet: a triple album made as a tribute to pop music’s so-called eccentrics. It bears the playful title “Turpsycore”, taking its name and spirit alike from Terpsichore, the Greek Muse of dance. 
Speaking from his Osaka apartment, Currie seems incredibly comfortable with his hectic schedule. Fittingly, the apartment is a minimal, chic space that he has furnished in Swedish style, resulting in a fusion of Western and Eastern aesthetics that is as Momus as the man himself (and which he has photographed extensively for his frequently updated Tumblr page). I caught him between an extended residency in Sweden and a book launch in Berlin, during which he was in the middle of writing a new novel and preparing to go back to Europe for a tour in April. 
Though the time is right for a revival, “Turpsycore” steers clear of anything sounding like Shibuya-kei. 
“Shibuya-kei is very meaningful to me as a historical label describing things that happened in Japanese pop music culture in the 1990s,” he says. “Insofar as culture is always haunted by the ghosts of the culture that went before it, Shibuya-kei haunts things like Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. In order to haunt successfully, something must be dead. So Shibuya-kei is definitely dead, but well-documented and haunting quite efficiently.” 
Currie explains that the reason Shibuya-kei can be diagnosed as dead even when its influence lives on, mainly comes down to the area of Shibuya itself — the Osaka-based expatriate is no fan of the neighborhood that gave the musical movement its name. 
“Shibuya was a transport hub and little else. Then it became a hip area, attracting Tokyo’s most cosmopolitan cafes and switched-on culture stores,” he says. Currie refers to this as the time of “Saison Culture”: “a late-Showa Era phenomenon driven by the sensitive and refined businessman (also poet and ex-communist) Seiji Tsutsumi. Shibuya-kei emerged from that Shibuya,” he says. “But Shibuya today is just an overblown shopping district, summed up for me by the disappointing Shibuya Hikarie center.” 
The center Currie references is a 38-floor shopping and entertainment complex that is attached to Shibuya Station and opened in 2012. Always looking forward, though, he wastes no time mourning the past. 
“Things often cycle like that: An area is dull, then gets interesting, then goes dull again. Things can be odd, and then get hot, and then get over-familiar and over-sold. You have to keep starting again,” he says. 
Currie confesses that he “doesn’t follow pop music in Japan at all now,” favoring Japanese avant-garde music from the 1960s for his personal listening pleasure. Nevertheless, he has taken quite an interest in pop star Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. One of the tracks on “Turpsycore” began as a post on his Tumblr in March 2014. Currie wrote a biography for one of the characters from Kyary’s “Mottai Night Land” video (visible at the two-minute mark), and that then spun off into the whimsical track “Ultra-Loyal Sheepdog.” Currie explains that, with both the post and the song, he created “a simulacrum of Japanese stereotypes of English, notions of cuteness in Japan and notions of sheep,” adding that he is “fascinated by the way sheep are portrayed (in Japan) — a land in which one never sees an actual sheep.” 
On “Ultra-Loyal Sheepdog” as well as the rest of “Turpsycore,” Currie pays proper tribute to the artists — some famous, some less so — who, like him in his Shibuya-kei days, brought a more literate, worldly and bizarre perspective to the realm of popular culture, refusing to stagnate or get “over-familiar and over-sold.” He quotes from William S. Burroughs’ “Naked Lunch” on “The Dowser,” tips his hat to Lou Reed on “Following” and devotes two of the album’s three discs to covers of songs by David Bowie and Howard Devoto. 
While Bowie needs no introduction, Devoto is a more eccentric choice. Currie had no shortage of praise for the Magazine frontman and one-time Buzzcocks head. 
“Devoto wrote the most intelligent lyrics of the post-punk period,” he says. “He wasn’t afraid of referencing Dostoyevsky, Proust, Kafka, T. S. Eliot. An interesting psychology underpins his lyrics: He has a ‘Napoleon complex,’ a will to power, even some components of sexual sadism, but he also throws in a lot of doubt and self-irony, self-mockery.” 
On Devoto, Currie also notes that “there’s a grandiose, sweeping side, but also a sense of absurdity and futility and even self-sabotage, self-spiting. There’s also an idiot glee, a fairground rush, a darkness with a lot of twinkling in it.” 
Of course, although he would be far too humble to admit it, Currie could have just as easily been talking about himself.
Devon Fisher / The Japan Times

Jeff Parker & The New Breed ‎– Suite For Max Brown (2020)

Style: Free Improvisation, Fusion, Free Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: International Anthem Recording Company, Nonesuch

01.   Build A Nest
02.   C'mon Now
03.   Fusion Swirl
04.   After The Rain
05.   Metamorphosesr
06.   Gnarciss
07.   Lydian, Etc
08.   Del Rio
09.   3 For L
10.   Go Away
11.   Max Brown

Producer – Jeff Parker, Paul Bryan
Vocals – Ruby Parker
Bass Guitar – Paul Bryan
Electric Piano, Alto Saxophone – Josh Johnson
Drums – Jamire Williams
Drums, Percussion – Jay Bellerose
Cello – Katinka Kleijn
Trumpet – Nate Walcott
Piccolo Trumpet – Rob Mazurek
Drums, Sampler – Makaya McCraven
Electric Guitar, Bass Guitar, Sampler, MIDI Controller, Percussion, Pandeiro, Electric Piano, Mbira, Glockenspiel, Sequencer, Synthesizer, Vocals – Jeff Parker

Jeff Parker’s Suite for Max Brown is a cheery and wholesome record, flitting and flirting between the realms of jazz and hip hop. The multi-instrumentalist has pooled together the full extent of his craft and worked with a combination of brilliant musicians - including Paul Bryan on bass, Makaya McCraven on drums, Josh Johnson on alto sax as well as his daughter Ruby Parker to provide vocals - to create a thoughtful tribute to his mother Maxine Brown.

Many know Jeff Parker as the long-time guitarist for the Chicago-based quintet Tortoise, whose genre-bending style feeds into the spirit of the album. Reflecting on the record, Parker remarked that “I’m always looking for ways to be surprised…when I make music…I’m trying to get away from [patterns] – the things that I know”. To help avoid falling into musical monotony, Parker constructs his compositions through producing beds of beats and samples, followed by laying down either a guitar, keyboard and percussive lines before inviting his friends to improve over what he has produced. Some may think that this style of working could remove the heart and feel of the record. Yet, the record brims with soul, compassion and tenderness.

Suite for Max Brown is an informal companion piece to Parker’s widely renowned 2016 record The New Breed. Parker's latest release follows on from where The New Breed left us, as Ruby Parker greets us with beautifully layered vocals paired with a soft hip-hop-inspired bed beneath. The fittingly named ‘Fusion Swirl’ sees Parker channel the power of repetitious bass and humming synth lines to create an infectious and hypnotic affair. ‘Fusion Swirl’ is a viewpoint into the way he which Parker creates his compositions and arrangements, as it feels very loop heavy, but also the way in which he cleverly uses textures with space to create contrasting moments of climax and calm.

Along with nine original compositions, Parker has also included a soft variant of John Coltrane’s ‘After the Rain’, as well as a fantastic reinterpretation of Joe Henderson’s ‘Black Narcissus’ called ‘Gnarciss’. ‘Gnarciss’ glows with style and charm, beginning with a popping hip hop drumbeat as Rob Mazurek provides a bouncing trumpet line which is mimicked by Parker’s synth. ‘3 for L’ is a slower moment of the album, characterised by Parker’s lazy blues guitar and Jay Bellerose’s laid-back drums. In sharp contrast, ‘Go Away’ is a faster groove-heavy tune set by Makaya McCraven’s drums and Paul Bryan’s bass whilst Parker’s pinging guitar sits neatly over the top. The tribute to Parker’s mother, ‘Max Brown’, is the final song on the album. The homage begins with dark synths, percussive clicks and Parker’s gliding guitar, whilst the sax of Josh Johnson and the trumpet of Nate Walcott pass the main melody between them. Filled with intricate individual lines which swell and fall, the final composition is sophisticated and rich, a wonderful way for Parker to finish his tribute to his mother.

Suite for Max Brown is an enchanting tapestry of reflection, manifestation and love. Weaving together loops, beats, memories as well as the essence of jazz (both past and present), Jeff Parker has produced an imaginative work which is an eloquent homage towards his mother. Parker’s record is a must-listen work which sets an optimistic setting for 2020 and the decade ahead.
Ally J Steel / Jazz Revelations

Sonzeira ‎– Brasil Bam Bam Bam (Deluxe Edition 2014)

Style: MPB
Format: CD
Label: Talkin' Loud

01.   Where Nanã Hides
02.   Nanã
03.   Sambãio
04.   Brasil Pandeiro
05.   Xibaba (She-Bá-Ba)
06.   America Latina
07.   Southern Freeez
08.   The Mystery Of Man
09.   Aquarela Do Brasil
10.   Estrelar
11.   Um Toque
12.   Bam Bam Bam
13.   City Of Saints
14.   Ele E Ela
15.   The Plum Blossom
16.   Southern Freeez
17.   Um Toque

Mastered By – Mandy Parnell
Producer – Gilles Peterson

While roots linked to a sense of place are important, for music lovers the tunes that we first fell in love with, that formed our early tastes, can be just as potent. The late Laura Nyro called this "primal teenage heartbeat songs" and this superlative collection is Gilles Peterson's way of paying tribute to the Brazilian influence on his lifelong love affair with music.  
You can join the dots to the young Mr.Peterson, immersed in the music of say Donald Duke or DJs like Robbie Vincent, in the light bossa nova take on Freeez's 1981 Brit funk classic "Southern Freeez." While the original had more of the melancholy of a cold day at the Caister Soul Weekender, shifting it to the southern hemisphere gives it a warmth and studied sophistication that works surprisingly well. If you liked the gorgeous Moon Bossa album by Julie Dexter and Khari Simmons a few years back this will be right up your street.  
While this is all undeniably clever the album is more than one of those modish yet ultimately vacuous collections of new wave or leftfield classics of the 70s and 80s reimagined in the easy listening style of our parents. 'Sonzeira' roughly translates as 'big noise' and the rhythms on the likes of "Nana," "Sambaio" and "Xibaba (She —Ba- Ba)" in the first half of the disc are somehow joyous and ferocious at the same time. On "Nana" the way that the brass kicks in at around the 2 minute mark is both inspired and unexpected leading to further rhythmic twists and turns that build tension to the eventual climax. On tracks like "Sambaio" the rhythms are relentless emerging from the funky whistles and showcasing the sterling work of percussionists Zero Telles & Armando Marcal alongside Stephane San Juan's drums.  
The track that has been getting all of the attention in the specialist press though is the new, minor key, version of "Aquarella do Brasil" which roughly translates as `Watercolour of Brazil.' This is a standard in Brazil and is sung here by the legendary Elza Soares who has a fascinating biography. She rose to fame in the 1950s on a TV talent show compered by the song's writer, Ary Barroso, but had never previously recorded it. If the anecdotes about that appearance are true, you could hardly blame her—Barrosso apparently drew attention to her impoverished appearance asking "what planet do you come from?." Unphased Soares shot back "planet hunger" before wowing the audience at home and in the studio with her performance. A star was duly born and the time that has passed has made her weathered, expressive, voice perfect for this melancholic take on a lyric that might otherwise have strayed into the overly sentimental.  
Overall this is a collection picked with all the taste and good judgment that you would expect from Gilles Peterson. His love of the music shines through in the care and attention in track selection and pacing that makes it a pleasure to join him 'zipping up his boots.' The variety of styles should also be enough to satisfy the already committed Brazilian music lover as well as those with a more casual interest. The football World Cup may have ended prematurely for those on this side of the Atlantic, but this collection allows us to keep those dreams of Rio a little longer—standing as we do in the summer rain. 
Phil Barnes / All About Jazz

Leroy Hutson ‎– Hutson (1975)

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

A1.   All Because Of You
A2.   Bless The Day
A3.   It's Different
B1.   Cool Out
B2.   Lucky Fellow
B3.   Can't Stay Away
B4.   So Much Love

Arranged By – LeRoy Hutson, Rich Tufo
Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar – Phil Upchurch
Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone – Jerry Wilson
Backing Vocals – Beverly McLin, Kitty Haywood Singers
Bass – Joseph Scott
Congas – Master Henry Gibson
Design – Joe Kotleba
Drums, Percussion, Clavinet – Donnell Hagan
Guitar – Craig McMullen, Stephen Harris
Keyboards – Ronald Coleman
Trumpet – Michael Harris
Tuba – Aaron Dodd
Trombone – Bill McFarland
Producer, Vocals, Piano, Fender Rhodes, Synthesizer, Piano Bass – LeRoy Hutson

Released on Curtom Records in 1975, Hutson illuminates the fickleness and unpredictable nature of the music business. Leroy Hutson seemed to have it all going for him; he replaced Curtis Mayfield in the Impressions, then branched out solo, was a friend of Donny Hathaway (who also worked for Mayfield at the time), and was given carte blanche to produced hits -- with the help of others -- for himself. The biorhythms must have been out of whack, because it never really happened for the talented guy. This is a fine effort with bouncy tunes, stirring ballads, and crack productions -- yet the masses never heard it. Best bets: All. But special mention to "Lucky Fellow," "All Because of You," and "So Much Love."
Andrew Hamilton / AllMusic

Sarathy Korwar ‎– Day To Day (2016)

Style: Free Jazz, Indian Classical, Fusion
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Ninja Tune, The Steve Reid Foundation

1.   Bhajan
2.   Bismillah
3.   Dreaming
4.   Eyes Closed
5.   Hail
6.   Indefinite Leave To Remain
7.   Karam
8.   Lost Parade
9.   Mawra (Transcendence)

Bass – Domenico Angarano, Ruth Goller
Drums, Tabla, Electronics – Sarathy Korwar
Guitar – Giuliano Modarelli
Piano, Keyboards – Al MacSween
Tenor Saxophone, Bass Clarinet – Shabaka Hutchings
Umrhubhe Mouthbow, Uhadi Gourd Resonated Bow – Cara Stacey
Vocals – Jaideep Vaidya
Vocals, Drums – Iqbal Kamar Sidi, Sidi Goma Troupe
Vocals, Malunga Gourd Resonated Bow – Salim Gulammohommad

Migrants eh? Coming over here with their delicious food and original musical hybrids. As a jazz composer, percussionist and producer born in the USA, raised in India and living in London, Sarathy Korwar knows plenty about the cultural interplay surrounding migration. The basis of his debut album Day To Day – which has caught the ears of tastemakers such as Gilles Peterson and Four Tet – couldn’t be more appropriate as a retort to the suspicious, inward-looking unease of the current climate. 
Korwar spent time with the migrant Siddi people of southern India, specifically The Sidi Troupe of Ratanpur in rural Gujarat, and his field recordings of their hypnotic chants and percussive African-derived polyrhythms underpins Day To Day. Mostly Sufi Muslims, the Siddis are descended from the African Bantu, who travelled to India as merchants, sailors and slaves from the seventh century onwards. “I was fascinated by their influences,” says Korwar. “For example, some of the lyrics are in Swahili. It’s an oral tradition so they are singing words they don’t understand.” 
Korwar particularly responded to their improvisational spirit. He blends the Siddis’ repetitive, devotional style with the blissed-out astral jazz of Alice Coltrane or the languid, exploratory grooves of the Ninja Tune label. It turns out that sacred Indian folk and open-ended jazz have more in common than anyone could have imagined. 
And it’s not just their style that caught Korwar’s ear, but how they play. “For the Siddi, it’s about the act of performing rather than what actually gets played,” he says. “What’s lacking in a lot of contemporary music is complete surrender. While they’re playing, they’re consumed. All performers should be looking for that, in one way or another.”

The parallel with Korwar’s own varied heritage is obvious but a sense of common purpose is essential to dispel suggestions of cultural appropriation. One of Day To Day’s standout tracks bears the title Indefinite Leave To Remain, a bureaucratic phrase which will be tediously familiar to all emigres. “The Siddis are migrants. And migration is a key ingredient to everything I do,” says Korwar. “I liked that title because it was formal and official, and also the ring to it once you took it out of context.” 
Evidently, issues surrounding multiculturalism have fed into the album’s creation. “I think any immigrant feels some pressure,” he says. “You’re aware of [racial] undertones because they crop up in everyday contexts, particularly if you’re brown or black-skinned. Words need to be re-examined. Words like terrorism. Like refugee. Meanings are always evolving It’s a difficult time.” This is unarguable but Korwar is optimistic that his album can inspire hope, or at least, open-mindedness. “I’m happy there’s a space for an Indian-jazz-folk-classical-electronic record!” he says. Prepare to have your Spotify categories cheerfully confused.
Phil Harrison / The Guardian

Zelwer ‎– Les Dieux Sont Fâchés / The Gods Are Angry / MTM 36 (1995)

Style: Neo-Classical, Avantgarde
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Made To Measure,  Stress Records

01.   Ira Dei
02.   Les Trompettes Du Diable
03.   Vendo Speranza
04.   E Viva L'Amor!
05.   Dio E Arrabbiato
06.   Eden
07.   Querelle Biblique
08.   Simplicissimus
09.   Les Trésors Du Vatican
10.   Le Jour Ou Allah Bouddha
11.   L'Ame S' En Va

Cécile Audebert - Voices
Michel Berckmans - Bassoon
Emily Dickinson - Composer
Jean Pierlot -Timbales, Vielle, Zarb
JMZ - Accordion, Bombard, Clarinet, Clarinet Bass, Clavier, Cromorne, Organ, Percus, Sax Alto, Sax Soprano