Saturday, 24 July 2021

Squid ‎– Bright Green Field (2021)

Style: Post Rock, Post Punk, Krautrock
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Warp Records

Tracklist:
01.   Resolution Square
02.   G.S.K.
03.   Narrator
04.   Boy Racers
05.   Paddling
06.   Documentary Filmmaker
07.   2010
08.   The Flyover
09.   Peel St.
10.   Global Groove
11.   Pamphlets

Credits:
Producer – Daniel Carey

The word “island” is usually synonymous with “paradise”—someplace tropical and warm, skewered by beach umbrellas. We’re less likely to think of Alcatraz. But when English rock band Squid mention a “concrete island” in the first minutes of Bright Green Field, it’s closer to the infamous prison than a Sandals resort. The isle in “G.S.K.” is a dystopian slab ruled by Big Pharma, and the record’s opening scene, as shouted by drummer and vocalist Ollie Judge, confines us to this grim locale: “As the sun sets, on the Glaxo Klein/Well it’s the only way that I can tell the time,” he sings. On this barren rock, the British drug conglomerate is the towering center of daily life—so big, it acts like a sundial. “Island” never sounded so angry or claustrophobic.

Bright Green Field is packed with these moments of compression—lean phrases that steadily inflate into three-dimensional scenes. Driving their expansion are vigorous and detailed arrangements, music that rattles against Judge’s agitated lyrics until it erupts. A sickly undercurrent of strings propels his role as a white-collar drudge on “G.S.K.”; when he embarks on his evening commute, dreaming of the warm dinner that awaits, the music seems to pursue him. The horn section sounds like a fleet of motorbikes trying to run him off of the road.

Squid’s music has always toyed with discomfort. Six years after forming at college in coastal England, Judge, Louis Borlase, Arthur Leadbetter, Laurie Nankivell, and Anton Pearson have pushed that unrest to the point of catharsis. Like Squid’s best singles—last year’s “Sludge,” 2019’s “Houseplants”—the songs on Bright Green Field set out on one course, only to flail in another direction just as you’ve settled in. “Boy Racers” kicks off as a linear groove, its noodling bassline and clipped rhythm guitar among the album’s more pared-back arrangements. Roughly halfway through, the beat drops out, giving way to a bleak, distorted drone. A faint mechanical voice speaks, like Daft Punk with a dead battery: “You’re always small/And there are things that you’ll never know.” It’s unnerving but effective, like the moment in Alien when we discover Ash is really a robot.

Squid approach their music like skilled choreographers; though every move is carefully plotted, the dance maintains the illusion of spontaneity. Each track feels on the verge of some massive release, but all meltdowns are carefully preordained. “Narrator,” the album’s best song, exemplifies the band’s calculated pandemonium. Its opening measures recall early Talking Heads and James Chance: Quick ripples of electric guitar and sharp basslines squiggle on top of a crisp snare beat. But it’s the abandonment of this structure that’s most interesting. At the song’s midpoint, guest vocalist Martha Skye Murphy slowly creeps in, lingering around the edges. As Squid explode into a frenzied coda, Murphy wails her voice raw, shrieking like a slasher-flick victim. It’s the album’s most exhilarating stretch of sound.

Like magpies, Squid stockpile scraps of jazz, funk, krautrock, dub, and punk, uninterested in adopting a single identity. Their genre agnosticism extends to equipment: In addition to drums, bass, and guitar, Bright Green Field’s sense of disorientation is aided by alto saxophone, violin, trumpet, cello, trombone, and rackett—a 16th-century wind instrument also known as the sausage bassoon. (Leadbetter’s father, who specializes in medieval rock and Renaissance instruments, handles sausage bassoon duties on “Boy Racers.”) Even amid all these choices, Squid’s spinouts are orchestrated stunts, never heady jam-band accidents. More than a canonized style, it’s their level of control that sets them apart.

Yet Squid’s characters and the world they inhabit are in constant friction. On “Global Groove,” Judge deadpans about wearing “tight Lycra,” trudging through the day like a weary Zumba instructor. The pace is a narcotized march, nudged along by stabs of guitar and saxophone. The song offers only a few visuals: mindless TV shows, the oppressive titular dance. Is it a wry take on fitness culture, or sheer drudgery? (The two haven’t always been distinct: Treadmills were once instruments of penal discipline.) “Pamphlets” twists another innocuous item into a symbol of suffocating conformity: “Pamphlets through my door/And pamphlets on my floor,” Judge screeches, as though he’s being crushed by the leaflets blasting through his mail slot. Bright Green Field is filled with these imaginative dispatches from capitalist hell, but it’s Squid’s exacting ruckus that exposes their true nature. The field isn’t green with grass, but radioactive sludge.
Madison Bloom / Pitchfork

Thursday, 22 July 2021

DJ Sprinkles ‎– Midtown 120 Blues (2009)

Style: Deep House
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Mule Musiq

Tracklist:
01.   Midtown 120 Intro
02.   Midtown 120 Blues
03.   Ball'r (Madonna-Free Zone)
04.   Brenda's $20 Dilemma
05.   House Music Is Controllable Desire You Can Own
06.   Sisters, I Don't Know What This World Is Coming To
07.   Reverse Rotation
08.   Grand Central, Pt. I (Deep Into The Bowel Of House)
09.   Grand Central, Pt. II (72 Hrs. By Rail From Missouri)
10.   The Occasional Feel-Good

Credits:
Producer, Written-By – T. Thaemlitz

There's a contradiction at the core of Terre Thaemlitz's album as DJ Sprinkles, Midtown 120 Blues, that is difficult to resolve. The album, a treatise on house music, goes lengths to debunk the myth that house music is/was an all-accepting, pan-cultural utopia—that house music is for everyone. She does this, however, while offering up a deep house sound so sumptuous and inviting that it's easy to lose Thaemlitz's socio-political motives: a Trojan horse whose trap-door gets stuck. Midtown 120 Blues is being reissued, in deluxe packaging but with no additional or altered music, after just five years, though the record's scarcity and limited reach justify that decision.

Thaemlitz is best known as an experimental, electro-acoustic composer, and she has released difficult, conceptual works for labels like Mille Plateaux since the mid-90s. (With 2012's Soulnessless, she claimed to have released the longest-ever album, anchored by a 29-hour piano meditation.) In the early '90s, before she was releasing experimental works, Thaemlitz worked as a DJ in the type of midtown clubs that defined Times Square before it was corporatized later in the decade. These formative spaces gave a home to the different strains of house music emanating from New Jersey and New York, a sound more contemplative than that which was coming out of Chicago: slower, jazzier, more reflective. It was music made and then defined by disadvantaged communities: by latinos and blacks and the LGBT community.

Thaemlitz has produced house music under a number of different aliases, but the deconstructivist instincts that dominate her experimental works aren't as dominant here. Midtown 120 Blues travels familiar territory, working through lived-in hi-hat patterns and familiar, calming electric piano chords. It helps the medicine go down easier, sure, but there's not that much medicine. You get the sense that this style is so dear to Thaemlitz that she's less willing to fuck with it, at least on a sonic level. Midtown 120 Blues, at nearly 80 minutes, is almost womb-like in its immersion, though Thaemlitz rejects the idea of the club as a healing, safe space. You don't "lose yourself" in Midtown 120 Blues; it's a reflection on feeling lost.

Thaemlitz began documenting this scene in 1998, shortly after those clubs were elbowed out of downtown, with the Sloppy 42nds 12", her first work under the DJ Sprinkles alias. Midtown 120 Blues again took this baton a decade later, chronicling the turbulence and violation that existed in Thaemlitz's communities; it's an album that seethes, however prettily, as Thaemlitz laces her patient, supple grooves with short speeches.

One poignant segment of "Ball'r (Madonna-Free Zone)" finds her railing against Madonna, whose "decontextualized, reified, corporatized, liberalized, neutralized, asexualized, re-genderized pop reflection" of the vogue scene not only misrepresented the scene's origins but left the queen "who actually taught [Madonna] how to vogue" broke. Thaemlitz is a compelling speaker, and the hurt and anger in her voice is obvious; she's also deft enough to let the preachers, whom she often samples, do the preaching. Midtown 120 Blues feels far more personal than political.

Midtown 120 Blues is a remembrance, but it's also a travelogue, loosely documenting Thaemlitz's move from her childhood home in Missouri and her immersion in midtown's scene. "Grand Central, Pt. II (72 hrs. by Rail from Missouri)" functions largely like the KLF's Chill Out, organizing samples into an ambient collage that holds your attention even as it drifts for eight minutes. Moments like these feel like a salve for Jesse Jackson, who burns through his (sampled) vocal chords on "Sisters, I Don't Know What This World is Coming To" and the nervous, pendulous piano of "House Music Is Controllable Desire You Can Own".

Like punk music, house music was an underground phenomenon that offered an outlet to people who really needed an outlet. And like punk music, its history is romanticized to the point that the ills and misdeeds that still permeated the community are largely ignored. In the mid-'90s Thaemlitz was fired from a prominent DJ gig because she refused to play Gloria Estefan, a frequent request from the johns who would frequent the club; the johns, after all, kept the club open.

Thaemlitz quit, exhibiting the kind of principled stubbornness that has guided her career. This persists: Midtown 120 Blues will not be issued on vinyl, a medium unable to provide an accurate stereo bass response. Still, there's a fondness to Midtown 120 Blues, not least in its closing shuffle, "The Occaional Feel-Good". There is love here, however guarded. At its best, Midtown 120 Blues simultaneously acts as a corrective to house's ahistorical narrative and reminds us just how potent and beautiful New York deep house can be.
Andrew Gaerig / Pitchfork

Saturday, 17 July 2021

Black Midi ‎– Cavalcade (2021)

Style: Experimental, Art Rock, Math Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Rough Trade

Tracklist:
1.   John L
2.   Marlene Dietrich
3.   Chondromalacia Patella
4.   Slow
5.   Diamond Stuff
6.   Dethroned
7.   Hogwash and Balderdash
8.   Ascending Forth

Credits:
John Murphy - Producer
Marta Salogn - Mixing, Producer, Programming

Black Midi have always maintained that they’ll never reach a final form. Though their debut album ‘Schlagenheim’ put them at the vanguard of British guitar music, and NME labelled them the “best band in London” before they’d even released a single, there was never any chance of the band settling into a predictable sound. “If we kept on doing the same stuff, we’d quit the band,” they said in a 2019 interview.

Even with this knowledge, the band’s second album ‘Cavalcade’ is a remarkable left turn. Across the album’s eight songs and 40 minutes, they traverse noise rock, unhinged jazz, ambient folk and beyond. Their claim in a past interview that their music would soon be “unrecognisable” from their initial form suddenly doesn’t seem so ridiculous. A band who defy expectation at every turn, the only predictable thing about Black Midi is that they’ll never stay the same.

Despite sounding lightyears away from traditional guitar music, the band’s original make-up – two guitars, bass, drums and vocals – at least appeared uniform to look at. On ‘Cavalcade’, the band – now a trio for the foreseeable future, with guitarist Matt Kwasniewski-Kelvin taking time out for mental health reasons – change this up too, adding saxophone, violin and more to the mix, all contributing to the maelstrom of noise they whip up across its length.

They’re also clearly not averse to inviting others into their process. A new ‘golden ticket’ competition launched alongside the release of new single ‘Chondromalacia Patella’ contains a prize of collaborating with the band for a day in the studio (or life-long guestlist to their shows, or for the band to perform at an event of your choosing – they’re nothing if not flexible).

Squalls of violin open the album on ‘John L’, a deranged war cry of a first single. It periodically screeches to a halt before galloping away once again; unpredictability rules on a track that feels like a runaway train. Controlled moments do appear on ‘Cavalcade’ – ‘Diamond Stuff’ is a gorgeously delicate wonderland of soft strings and acoustic guitars, while ‘Marlene Dietrich’, a song about the titular cabaret singer, honours her craft and turns Black Midi into a bar band for a moment, with vocalist Geordie Greep their crooning frontman.

‘Slow’, another highlight, feels plucked from a jam session, where the band rise and fall as one through a skittish introduction that travels through a mystical midsection before coming to a head once again in a jazz-influenced explosion of noise defined by its jubilant saxophone. Then there’s ‘Hogwash and Balderdash’, which screeches to a halt after its introduction of frantic noise rock to float away in its new guise as a country song. Almost as if realising what’s just happened, the band then handbrake turn back into a whirlpool of blackened guitars. If you don’t need a lie down after this one, you’re stronger than us.

Frontman Geordie Greep’s vocals have been a standout feature of Black Midi since the band’s inception, his truly unique yelp pushing them even further away from any comparison to their peers. As with the music on ‘Cavalcade’, he manages to stretch his voice into unchartered territory here. On ‘Dethroned’, he gets close to crooner territory again, adding melody to the dissonance, while half way through ‘John L’, vocal effects make his booming voice sound like a master leading a war chant in The Lord Of The Rings.

Greep’s lyrical content also takes huge strides forward on the new album. Intent on telling theatrical third-person stories, the album tells tales of unhinged cult leaders (‘John L’), “an ancient corpse found in a diamond mine” (‘Diamond Stuff’) and much, much more. The lyrics – when they’re intelligible, at least – add yet another layer of weirdness and unpredictability to music already shaking at its foundations, ready to fall apart. (Greep wasn’t ever really singing platitudes, though – debut single ‘bmbmbm’ spoke of people who “find different ways to suck themselves off”.)

With regards to where Black Midi might go next, ‘Cavalcade’ poses far more questions than it does answers (as did ‘Schlagenheim’). One thing emphatically confirmed, though, is that they’re miles beyond the flash-in-the-pan buzz band some pre-emptively penned them as. Whatever form, sound or shape they might gravitate towards next, it’s certain that they’re here to stay, and their intense fire shows no danger of burning out.

Black Midi will almost definitely never make easily digestible or understandable music – they’re probably as excited and confused about where they’re heading next as we are – but to focus on the finer points and try to make sense of it would be to miss the overall point of the band. Simply going down the rabbit hole with these deeply weird, brilliant musicians will never be less than exhilarating.
Will Richards / NME

Friday, 9 July 2021

José Mauro ‎– A Viagem Das Horas (1976)

Genre: Latin, Folk, World, & Country
Format: Vinyl, CDFLAC
Label:  Far Out Recordings, Tape Car, Quartin

Tracklist:
A1.   A Viagem Das Horas
A2.   Escada De Ferro
A3.   A Oitava Morada
A4.   Variação Sobre Um Antigo Tema
A5.   Morango Encantado
A6.   Luz Lilás
B1.   Rua Dois
B2.   Moenda
B3.   O Cavaleiro De Antonina
B4.   Romanza
B5.   O Ninho

Credits:
Trumpet – Maurilio
Alto Saxophone – Paulo Moura
Bass – Sebastião Marinho
Drums – Wilson Das Neves
Flute – Altamiro Carrilho
Guitar – Geraldo Vesper
Harmonica – Rildo Hora
Organ, Piano, Harpsichord – Don Salvador
Percussion – Juquinha, Mamão
Arranged By, Conductor – Gaya
Composed By, Acoustic Guitar, Viola Nordestina – José Mauro
Producer, Directed By, Strings Conductor, Mixed By – Roberto Quartin

LOST albums create a mystique stoked by rumour, fandom and hype, waiting for the moment to surface and often for the bubble of expectation to burst.

But some records emerge from the past almost unannounced, previously known to the very few and for the rest of us waiting to be found before we knew that they were ever lost. Expert curators Far Out Recordings have consistent form in springing such surprises and here’s another from their meticulous digging through the archives of Brazilian music, A Viagem Das Horas, by singer-songwriter José Mauro.

Far Out have unearthed evidence of Mauro’s uncanny genius before, putting out his haunting 1970 debut Obnoxious several years ago, but to some extent A Viagem Das Horas is even more of a find. Recorded at the same Rio sessions as his first LP for the boundary-pushing Quartin label, the album didn’t appear until six years later with several tracks from Obnoxious as replacements. Speculation has long since circulated about this unsatisfactory end to Mauro’s recording career and the silence that followed. Was he imprisoned by the junta as part of their cultural purge; or worse still, killed in a suspicious road accident?

Thankfully the dogged persistence of the good people at Far Out has paid off. They managed to track down the lost musician still living in Rio, who revealed that he had retreated from high profile pop after A Viagem… to work in the theatre and as a music educator. Sadly, as he poetically observed, his long-term absence from the scene had been down to some harsh realities: ‘”My body pushed me away from music; health became a stumbling block for me.”

Against this back drop, the release of A Viagem Das Horas has added poignancy, carrying emotional baggage that this extraordinary, indefinable music manages to match without flinching. The record may be over 50 years old, but it has a resonance to reach out half a century later. The title track exposes the scale of ambition that pushed Maura and his partner, lyricist Ana Maria Bahania, to make such eclectic soundscapes. Maudlin strings quiver atmospherically around Mauro’s deep baritone, setting up a lushly orchestrated samba and lulling you into the warm familiarity of 70s’ Brazilian pop. But there the convention ends – the rustic rhythms, stripped-to-the-bone bass line and backing vocals that swoop suddenly to those minor keys, shake down any notion of an easy listen. This is unquestionably deep chill music. We’ve embedded the track for you below.

It’s that tension between the orthodox and the avant that vibrates through the whole album and gives it an inner strength. “A Oitiva Morada” drifts from torch song to smooth samba (whoops and all) but gets ruffled by slightly off-kilter, almost gothic harmonies; “Luz Lilas” mixes spiritual chimes with some delightfully basic, low-fi brass to give it a warm, lived-in quality; and as a sign-off “O Ninho” allows urgent percussion and booming brass to take over from its opening choral gravitas.

Elsewhere Mauro and his orchestrator Lindolfo Gaya weave in a bewildering range of influences to support their inspired, elusive music. A late sixties pop-psych haze breezes in with the harpsichord patterns of “Variacao Sobre um Antigo Tema” and the zither/clarinet combo on the melodramatic “O Cavaleiro de Antonina”. To go alongside these flamboyant arrangements, A Viagem… in places takes a more direct, pared down approach drawing on Mauro’s acoustic sensibilities.

“Romanza” connects magically with the madrigal and the medieval, whereas “Rua Dois” revolves around his characteristic, slightly brutal guitar progressions. Those startling open-tuned chords also drive the eerie, experimental “Morango Encantado”, on which Mauro’s vocal, deadpan and almost weary, reaches down to maybe its darkest point.

Without doubt within all the musical exotica of A Viagem Das Horas there is an underlying sense of melancholy matched with a determination to get to the other side. This was music made at a time of extreme cultural oppression in Brazil, in which, as Mauro’s partner Ana Mari Bahiana says, artists found themselves being “part of a generation in transit, searching for another option”.

Maybe that’s why José Mauro’s lost gem of a record makes such an impact listening to it in 2021. It captures where we are, right here, right now.
John Parry / Backseat Mafia

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Rádio Macau ‎– Rádio Macau (1984)

Style: Alternative Rock, Post-Punk, Pop Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: EMI

Tracklist:
1.   Um Dia A Mais
2.   A Noite
3.   Bom Dia Lisboa
4.   Até O Diabo Se Ria
5.   Diabos No Paraíso
6.   No Cenário Habitual
7.   Mais Uma Canção Sobre Edifícios A Arder
8.   É Tão Fácil
9.   No Comboio Descendente

Credits:
Voice – Xana 
Bass – Alexandre
Drums – Ramalho
Guitar – Flak
Producer – Francisco Vasconcelos, Pedro Vasconcelos, Rádio Macau
Synthesizer – L. Filipe Valentim
Written-By – Flak, Pedro Malaquias, Vitinha, Xana
Producer – Francisco Vasconcelos, Pedro Vasconcelos, Rádio Macau 

Saturday, 3 July 2021

Matthew E. White & Lonnie Holley ‎– Broken Mirror: A Selfie Reflection (2021)

Style: Alternative Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Spacebomb Records

Tracklist:
A1.   This Here Jungle Of Moderness/Composition 14
A2.   Broken Mirror (A Selfie Reflection)/ Composition 9
B1.   I Cried Space Dust/Composition 12
B2.   I’m Not Tripping/Composition 8
B3.   Get Up! Come Walk With Me/Composition 7

Credits:
Vocals – Lonnie Holley
Bass, Percussion – Cameron Ralston
Congas, Percussion, Synth – Giustino Riccio
Drums, Percussion – Pinson Chanselle
Guitar, Arp Sequencer – Alan Parker 
Percussion, Electronic Mica Sonic Drums – Brian Jones 
Synth, Piano, Keyboards – Daniel Clarke, Devonne Harris
Written-By – Lonnie Holley, Matthew E. White
Post Production, Edited By, Overdubbed By – Adrian Olsen, Matthew E. White
Producer – Adrian Olsen, Adrian Olsen, Matthew E. White, Matthew E. White
 
When instinct and serendipity collide it’s imperative to act fast. In those rare moments where something akin to magic presents itself time can feel as though it’s slipping through your fingers like sand in an hourglass. When producer and musician Matthew E. White showed Lonnie Holley a series of demos he’d shelved in 2018, he quickly realised that the Alabama-born artist and performer was the missing piece he needed to transform those sonic sketches into three-dimensional compositions. As White made his way through the instrumentals, Holley searched pages of his notebook for penned thoughts. Led purely by feeling, these lyrics were seamlessly set to arrangements he’d never heard before. Four hours later, Broken Mirror: A Selfie Reflection was captured. 

The septuagenarian’s ad-lib approach reflected White’s attitude as he prepared to return to the studio following his 2015 LP, Fresh Blood. Wanting to switch up his songwriting style, White assembled an accomplished septet of musicians which he led in sessions of improvisational free-playing. Across Broken Mirror, White’s production echoes aspects of how Danger Mouse and the late Richard Swift (who coincidentally produced Holley’s 2020 release, National Freedom) drew inspiration from the psychedelic fusion of jazz and rock during the 1970s. An alluring spell of celestial keys, drawing inspiration from Miles Davis’ early exploration in electric instrumentation that predated his Bitches Brew eruption, casts a brighter glow on anchoring dub beats. Furthermore, woven throughout the music are a variety of immersive motifs and influences from David Byrne’s propensity for dynamic African-influenced beats on ‘I’m Not Tripping / Composition 8’, which precedes the glorious cascading glockenspiel notes that twinkle amidst the rumbling thunder of ‘Get Up! Walk With Me / Composition 7’. It’s difficult to isolate one particular stand-out movement or song from the record. Everything here is a triumph. 

The immediacy of Broken Mirror’s compositions culminates in a timeless and timely record, and the collaborative partnership between Matthew E. White and Lonnie Holley is a natural one – a case of the right place at the right time leading to the creation of the right songs for this moment.
Zara Hedderman / Loud And Quiet

Thursday, 1 July 2021

Eitetsu Hayashi – Kaze No Shisha (1983)

Style: Experimental, Minimal, Ambient
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Victor, Studio Mule

Tracklist:
1.   Kin-Ton-Un
2.   Cosmos
3.   Kalavinka
4.   Kaze No Shisha
5.   Bakuon
6.   Seiten

Credits:
Drum, Percussion – 林英哲
Marimba, Bells – 高田みどり
Percussion, Gayageum – 池成子
Voice – ハネムーンズ
Written-By – Eitetsu Hayashi
Producer – Eitetsu Hayashi

Studio Mule present a reissue of Eitetsu Hayashi's Kaze No Shisha, originally released in 1983. Spiritual leaning rhythms come from none other than Eitetsu Hayashi, one of Japan's most renown taiko drummers, a percussive instrument that is deeply rooted in the mythology of Japanese folklore. Kaze No Shisha is a crucial album in his long-spanning career, that started in 1971 when Hayashi joined the famed Ondekoza Group. The so-called "demon drum group" established the taiko drumming to a global audience and intensively toured around the globe between 1975 and 1981. Shortly after, Hayashi and some like-minded spirits formed Kodo, a new drum troupe with Hayashi as the lead drummer. After their first live performances he left the ensemble again in order to launch his solo career, an output first marked by Kaze No Shisha, released in 1983 on the Japanese subsidiary of the US record company Victor. The album's six compositions feature Hayashi on taiko drum and other percussion by famed Japanese composer Midori Takada on marimba, cymbal, and bells, Shuichi Chino on synthesizer, Chi Soungja on the traditional Korean zither gayageum and the Korean janggu drum, as well as the singers Kamur and Tenko, also known as The Honeymoons. The record's A side starts rough and traditional with "Kintonun", a tune in which Hayashi bangs the taiko stormy while charmingly dancing with Chi Soungja's Korean janggu drum performance. A propulsive start that slides into "cosmos" -- a slow glooming melancholic trance-folk-spiritual tranquilizer, featuring Hayashi playing the piano and koto, while Chi Soungja ghostly weeps on his gayageum zither. A perfectly built folk drama, deeply charged with a musical infinity. Its followed by "kalavinka", an industrial leaning composition that lifts off with metal tones and meditative chanting, only to melt into a mesmerizing melodic marimba crescendo, played by Midori Takada. B side opener "Kaze No Shisha" presents a slow growing performance by Hayashi on the Japanese zither koto. His nervous play transforms into a synth drone played by Shuichi Chino, that slowly makes space for Hayashi's tribal taiko drumming that again disappears in another wave of koto string notes. The follow-up "Bakuon" launches with a supersonic transport sound and operatic singing by The Honeymoons, which amalgamate with Hayashi's feverish performance on his main instrument, the taiko. On "Seiten", Hayashi creates a conversation between the taiko and mokugyo, also known as the Buddhist wooden fish. A captivating, experimental album, full of Japanese music mysticism, surprising non-linear shock-waves, repetitive minimal structures, and frenziedly drumming.

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Jon Hassell ‎– Fascinoma (1999)

Genre: Electronic, Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Water Lily Acoustic

Tracklist:
01.   Nature Boy
02.   Datura
03.   Caravanesque
04.   Wide Sky
05.   Mevlana Duke
06.   Secretly Happy
07.   Poinciana
08.   Sensuendo
09.   Suite De Caravan
10.   Estaté (Summer)

Credits:
Tambura – Rick Masterson, Rose Okada
Bansuri – Ronu Majumdar 
Electronic Drums – Jamie Muhoberac  
Guitar, Bass Clarinet, Sampler – Rick Cox
Piano – Jacky Terrasson 
Drums – Joachim Cooder
Trumpet, Liner Notes – Jon Hassell
Guitar, Produced By – Ry Cooder

"With this record, I locate myself squarely within that aspect of music which is fundamental and irreducible: the beauty of the sound," states Jon Hassell in the liner notes for Fascinoma. Hassell, of course, has spent his career emphasizing the beauty of sound and how recordings capture that better than any other medium. The difference is, with Fascinoma, he weaves unique interpretations of standards like "Nature Boy" and "Caravan" into his own sonic tapestry. Hassell has intended the album as a tribute to the "musical exotica" he heard as a child "on the radio or in movie scores," and his statement unlocks many doors to his music. Echoes of early exotica and evocative jazz can be heard throughout the album, but Hassell pieces it together in an odd, original fashion. Since the record is so quiet, some listeners may dismiss it as mere mood music. This is a valid point; the album creates its own unique, wide open aural vistas. But listen closer and there's some truly startling interplay and ideas, not only from Hassell but from his supporting musicians (who include Ry Cooder and Jacky Terrasson). At times, the gauzy recording can be a little impenetrable, as can the challenging minimalism of the compositions and arrangements themselves. But if the music intrigues you, it's hard not to get swept up in it.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine / AllMusic

Saturday, 26 June 2021

Neil Ardley ‎– Kaleidoscope Of Rainbows (1976)

Style: Jazz-Funk, Contemporary Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Gull, Line Records

Tracklist:
1.   Prologue
2.   Rainbow 1
3.   Rainbow 2
4.   Rainbow 3
5.   Rainbow 4
6.   Rainbow 5
7.   Rainbow 6
8.   Rainbow 7
9.   Epilogue

Credits:
Bass – Roger Sutton
Conductor, Synthesizer – Neil Ardley
Drums – Roger Sellers
Engineer – Martin Levan
Guitar – Ken Shaw
Percussion, Vibraphone – Trevor Tomkins
Tenor Saxophone, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet – Tony Coe
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Ian Carr
Acoustic Cello, Electric Cello – Paul Buckmaster
Electric Piano, Synthesizer – Dave MacRae, Geoff Castle
Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Flute – Barbara Thompson, Bob Bertles
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Flute, Alto Flute – Brian Smith
Producer – Paul Buckmaster

Neil Ardley (director, synthesiser), Bob Bertles (alt, sop, flt), Paul Buckmaster ( acoustic & electric cello), Ian Carr (tpt ,flh), Geoff Castle (elec' pno, synth), Tony Coe (tnr, clt, bs clt), Dave Macrae (elec' pno, synth), Roger Sellers (drs), Ken Shaw (gtr), Brian Smith (ten, sop, flt, alt flt), Roger Sutton (bs gtr, bs), Barbara Thompson (alt, sop, flt), Trevor Tomkins (perc', vbs), Stan Sulzman (alt, sop, flt) John Taylor ( elc pno).

1) Prologue/Rainbow One ( Soloists, Ian Carr & Brian Smith) 10m 26s, 2) Rainbow Two (Soloists, Dave Macrae & Geoff Castle) 7m 34s 3) Rainbow Three ( Soloist, Paul Buckmaster) 3m 28s 4) Rainbow Four ( Soloist, Barbara Thompson) 6m 15s 5) Rainbow 5 (Soloist, Tony Coe) 4m 25s 6) Rainbow 6 (Soloists, Ken Shaw & Bob Bertles) 7m 39s 7) Epilogue/Rainbow 7 14m 56s.

 Born in 1937, Neil Ardley himself was a man of many talents, and not confined to jazz. Gaining a BSC from Bristol University he went on to write over one hundred books on science and technology, was on the staff of the World Book Enclopedia for a time and wrote children's books for Hamlyn. His total book sales topped ten million, including his three million best seller The Way Things Work. He also found time to sing in a number of choirs and compose choral works. His early jazz life included a spell as pianist with The John Williams Big Band and the study of writing and arranging under Ray Premru and Bill Russo. He became director of the highly acclaimed New Jazz Orchestra and went on to release nine albums as a leader between 1965 and 2001. He passed away on 23rd April 2004 aged 66.

Recorded at The Morgan Studios in London, this album has for many decades been described as one of the very best in jazz recorded by British musicians. It featured at number 22 in the New Musical Express annual chart of top albums of any genre in its year of release. Two years later in 1978 there was a follow up release by the band entitled Harmony Of The Spheres which included vocalist Norma Winstone. Everything about "Kaleidoscope" is well structured but with plenty of space for the soloists to express themselves. This is evident right from the ensemble based prologue with its cosmic like opening guitar passage and growing intensity that eventually morphs into Rainbow One which features a bright and lively solo from Ian Carr before finally finding calmer waters in the closing bars of Brian Smith's soprano.
Quickly switching to a ballad like mode, Rainbow Two suggests a gentle breeze personified in the twin keyboard sounds of Dave Macrae and Geoff Castle with the bass clarinet of Tony Coe riding sonorously across the soundscape. Admired by Miles Davis, when they collaborated for a time, Paul Buckmaster is one of a very small number of musicians with the ability to bring the cello to jazz with any conviction. In the joyful Rainbow Three utilising both the acoustic and electric instruments over a rock like back beat. The pure class of Barbara Thompsons alto and shimmering soprano sound are evident on the fourth rainbow of the sequence, alongside another fine solo from Ian Carr, who seemed to be on top form throughout. There is urgency in the air as Tony Coe holds sway on both the standard and bass clarinets during number five over a drumming master class from Roger Sellers on Rainbow Five which also highlights the leaders fine arranging skills that were evident across the whole set. It's a serene panorama of the skies for the sixth rainbow, with Ken Shaws subdued but magnificent guitar performance painting a vivid musical view, more akin to the whole universe rather than just a single rainbow. This one really draws the listener in and is perhaps the album highlight. The final Rainbow Seven and the Epilogue are presented as one complete track of almost fifteen minutes. There is more of an orchestral feel to this, the soloists only emerging briefly from the ensemble. It really epitomises the word kaleidoscope on its own and could easily stand alone as an example of the most creative jazz writing and arranging of the time. Although things have moved on somewhat in the world of jazz composition for large ensembles, this work is most certainly deserving of its elevated status, forty four years after the original recording date.
Jim Burlong / Jazz Views

Saturday, 19 June 2021

Ian Carr ‎– Belladonna (1972)

Style: Fusion, Jazz-Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Vertigo, Mr Bongo

Tracklist:
1.   Belladonna
2.   Summer Rain
3.   Remadione
4.   Mayday
5.   Suspension
6.   Hector's House

Credits:
Bass – Roy Babbington
Drums – Clive Thacker
Electric Piano – Dave MacRae, Gordon Beck
Guitar – Allan Holdsworth
Percussion – Trevor Tomkins
Saxophone, Flute – Brian Smith
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Ian Carr
Producer – Jon Hiseman

Today's Rediscovery? British trumpeter Ian Carr's Belladonna, a gem of an album that's also the coming out party for soon-to-be-legendary guitarist Allan Holdsworth.

A album I'd not heard in the decade since I wrote the retrospective Ian Carr And Nucleus: '70s British Jazz Rock Progenitors for All About Jazz in the fall of 2004, listening to it again after all these years brought back all the reasons why it's been one of my favorite recordings in the late British trumpeter's catalog.

By the time Belladonna was released in 1972, after three albums recorded with his flagship Nucleus band—1970's Elastic Rock and We'll Talk About It Later, and the expanded lineup of 1971's Solar Plexus, all on Vortex—the band that Carr had brought together had all but completely fallen apart. Gone were founding members pianist/reed multi-instrumentalist Karl Jenkins and drummer John Marshall for greater fame in the increasingly jazz fusion-centric Soft Machine, bassist Jeff Clyne for the similarly inclined Isotope, and guitarist Chris Spedding for session work and his own solo career.

Financial difficulties were another factor at the root of Nucleus' dissolution, but Carr somehow found a way to get into the recording studio with the last remaining Nucleus member, reed and woodwind player Brian Smith, along with pianist David Macrae—who briefly replaced David Sinclair in Matching Mole, the group formed by ex-Soft Machine's drummer/founding member Robert Wyatt before it, too, disbanded in 1972 after the release of Little Red Record (Columbia)—soon-to-join Soft Machine bassist Roy Babbington, frequent Brian Auger collaborator, drummer Clive Thacker, and two significant guests: pianist Gordon Beck and drummer Trevor Tomkins, here contributing solely percussion.

Belladonna would turn out to be a turning point for Carr; featuring more atmospheric excursions like the opening title track, where Macrae's Fender Rhodes and Beck's Wurlitzer combined to create an ethereal underpinning for the emergence of Babbington's relaxed but relentless, repetitive bass line—a signature skill for the bassist that made him a British alternative to Miles Davis' bassist at the time, Michael Henderson. While the early Nucleus records were great, with Belladonna Carr seemed to finally "get" the fusion of jazz with rock, the blending of the two more seamless and natural than what came before. His own playing was as strong as ever, whether with a open bell or a Harmon mute, and Carr's playing had reached a new level of confidence and strength.

But the reason why Belladonna stands out in Carr's discography is the participation of a 26 year-old guitarist whose only previous recorded appearance was with English progressive rockers 'Igginsbottom and its sole release, 1969's 'Igginsbottom's Wrench. The approach to harmony and a legato playing that would define the guitarist for decades to come was still in its early stages, and he'd yet to find the tone he was looking for, but on the strength of just two solos—the Phrygian "Remadione" and, in particular, his absolutely incendiary solo that concludes the fiery album closer "Hector's House"—Holdsworth elevated a good album to not just a great one, but an important one, Clean toned, his lightning speed and unusual approach to creating cascading lines made clear that this was a guitarist to watch, even as, throughout the rest of the record his accompaniment support is, indeed, pretty pedestrian...even resorting to some Shaft-like wah wah-driven chunky chords on "Mayday," a tune that, with its hi-hat-driven pulse, seems clearly informed by Miles Davis' seminal 1969 album, In a Silent Way (Columbia).

Within five years Holdsworth would be world famous, playing with everyone from Soft Machine and the New Tony Williams Lifetime to Gong (see the Rediscovery column about that group's Gazeuse!), Jean-Luc Ponty and Bill Bruford—both in the drummer's own group and together with him in the progressive rock supergroup, UK. But it all started here, with Belladonna and two solos totalling no more than three or four minutes, but enough to truly shake the music world and lead to a career that has influenced multiple generations of guitarists, from Eddie Van Halen to Scott Henderson and Alex Machacek.
John Kelman / All About Jazz

Monday, 7 June 2021

Trupe Chá De Boldo ‎– Presente (2015)

Style: Psychedelic Rock, Indie Pop
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Not On Label

Tracklist:
01.   Jovem-Tirano-Príncipe-Besta
02.   Meu Tesão É Outro
03.   Diacho
04.   O Fim É Só O Começo (Coração)
05.   Smex Smov
06.   Fogo Fogo
07.   Cine Espacial
08.   Lampejo
09.   Moremáximo
10.   Amores Vão
11.   O Fim É Só O Começo
12.   Aos Meus Amigos
13.   Uma Banda

Credits:
Tenor Saxophone – Mumu
Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Remi Chatain
Baritone Saxophone, Flute – Cuca Ferreira
Electric Bass – Felipe Botelho
Electric Guitar – Gustavo Cabelo, Tomás Bastos
Drums, Drum Programming – Pedro Gongom
Percussion – Guto Nogueira, Rafinha Werblowsky
Producer – Gustavo Ruiz

Independente do conservadorismo do consumidor, cada vez mais adepto da redundância da vez, e conformismo da imensa maioria das bandas, e vocalistas, de pop/rock no Brasil, aqui, ali, há invenções, reinvenções e espírito de aventura. Não por acaso, boa parte dos artistas que seguem esta trilha, caminho inverso do fácil, está em São Paulo, em nomes como Tatá Aeroplano, Filarmônica de Pasárgada, e a Trupe Chá de Boldo. Este último acaba de lançar o terceiro álbum, Presente (Pommelo), disponível para download no site do grupo. A policromia sonora reflete a torre de Babel caótica que é a maior cidade da América do Sul. A Trupe Chá de Boldo vai de tudo: música paraense, rock, samba e o que mais possa se pensar. É óbvia a influência tropicalista ao estilo Tom Zé, de quem a Trupe é parceira (palpável na faixa Smex smov). Jovem-tirano-príncipe-besta, que abre o disco, é um rock lento, que segue aparentemente convencional, entram sopros e metais, acelera-se o andamento, e música acaba bruscamente. Ecos da Vanguarda Paulistana, em Meu tesão é outro, Arrigo Barnabé e Frank Zappa, com sotaque paulistano. O carimbó Diacho não é carona no suingue alheio, a levada é um meio para um fim, a ironia e o escracho. Claro, assim como na capa do disco, há dadaísmo em excesso, às vezes, letra e interpretação são engraçadinhas em demasia. Mas Presente, assim como Bárbaro (2010), e Nave manha (2012), é instigante. Não deixa o distinto ouvinte passivo. Reage-se de alguma forma à música da Trupe, contra, ou a favor. Não dá para ficar impassível ouvindo o grupo, que tem em Gustavo Galo, o principal compositor do grupo. Ou melhor, do coletivo, já que além dos integrantes, mais ou menos fixos, tem participações de músicos que se identificam com a mesma inquietação estética, Tatá Aeroplano, Iara Rennó, Marcelo Segreto (Filarmônica de Pasárgada). A produção é de Gustavo Ruiz, outro da turma. “Uma banda grande é demais/não cabe no elevador/não cabe no camarim/não cabe no estúdio/não cabe nos Jardins”, versos de Uma banda, que fecha o disco. Talvez a banda seja grande demais, certamente não cabe na mesmice quase generalizada da nova MPB, mas é de muito bom tamanho para mexer com o coro dos contentes.
José Teles / JC 

Saturday, 5 June 2021

Asha Puthli ‎– Asha Puthli (1973)

Genre: Funk / Soul
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Mr Bongo, CBS

Tracklist:
1.   Right Down Here
2.   Neither One Of Us Wants To Be The First To Say Goodby
3.   I Dig Love
4.   This Is Your Life
5.   Love
6.   Lies
7.   Let Me In Your Life
8.   I Am A Song (Sing Me)
9.   Truth

Credits:
Arranged By, Producer – Del Newman

The debut long-player by Indian-born and Euro-bred soul singer Asha Puthli is a wild mix of electric, funky grooves and mystic spaceship R&B. Puthli, who contributed vocals to Ornette Coleman's Skies of America album, and Columbia tried to establish herself as an international pop star with this album. Utilizing her wide range and weird voice and an even stranger choice of material, Puthli came off as some soul singer turned sexy jazz maven who was beating a slick path to the dancefloor with sensibility not unlike Donna Summer's a few years later. This isn't so odd in and of itself, but when you consider her song choices: George Harrison's "I Dig Love," J.J. Cale's "Right Down Here" and "Lies," Jimmy Webb's "This Is Your Life," and Jim Weatherly's "Neither One Of Us Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye," among others, and arrangements and backing that don't even closely resemble the originals, you have one very strange album. The best track is "Lies," which is full of screaming, wailing, yelling, and completely freakazoid echo, compression, and phase shifter effects -- before Giorgio Moroder made them standard on every record. Puthli's jazzed-up rendition of Neil Sedaka's "I Am a Song" that steams over into an anthemic disco romp is a riot. This may be an album of its time, but Puthli is an original as a singer. She's a stylist at the very least, and, at most, a campy genius.
Thom Jurek / AllMusic

Friday, 4 June 2021

Sean Riley & The Slowriders ‎– Life (2021)

Style: Indie Rock
Format: Vinyl
Label: Sony Music

Tracklist:
01.   Every Time
02.   Hide
03.   Never Lonely
04.   Love Life
05.   Baby Girl
06.   DiCaprio From Russia
07.   Six Years Later
08.  Looking For Me
09.  Roachie
10.  Last One

Credits:
Mastered By – Miguel Pinheiro Marques
Mixed By – Makoto Yagyu
Producer – Makoto Yagyu, Sean Riley & The Slowriders
Recorder – Makoto Yagyu, Pedro Ferreira

O quarto álbum de originais da banda deveria ter sido editado no ano passado – o primeiro single “Everytime” foi divulgado logo no início de 2020 -, mas a vida e uma pandemia meteram-se no caminho e alteraram-lhes os planos.

“Após lançarmos o primeiro single percebemos que não era muito favorável lançar um disco nesse contexto e acabámos por adiar para este ano. As coisas ainda não estão tão boas, mas sentimos que, por termos o disco pronto, e haver um intervalo grande desde o último lançamento, não faz sentido esperarmos mais”, disse o vocalista dos Sean Riley & The Slowriders, Afonso Rodrigues, em entrevista à Lusa.

O terceiro álbum do grupo, homónimo, data de 2016, ano que fica marcado na história da banda pelo desaparecimento de um dos seus fundadores, Bruno Simões.

Numa banda que começou a três (Afonso Rodrigues, Bruno Simões e Filipe Costa), o desaparecimento de um dos elementos provoca forçosamente mudanças.

Afonso Rodrigues partilhou como o que aconteceu há cinco anos foi para banda uma “situação muito difícil de lidar e provavelmente impossível de ultrapassar”, mas o facto de se terem uns aos outros e o “grande amor pela música” funcionaram como “tábua de salvação”.

Filipe Costa recordou que, “desde o primeiro ensaio a três, a própria dinâmica criativa [da banda] era de muita experimentação em cima das canções do Afonso, e de cada um trazer para os seus instrumentos abordagens diferentes, bagagens diferentes, propostas diferentes”.

A dada altura, a banda de três passou a quatro, com a entrada de Filipe Rocha, e em “Life” juntou-se um novo elemento, Nuno Filipe, “uma pessoa que faz parte da casa, da família, que já tinha sido ‘road manager’ da banda”.

Foi Nuno Filipe quem substituiu Bruno Simões em 2016, quando o grupo decidiu tocar o terceiro disco ao vivo. Foi “a primeira e a única pessoa” com quem consideravam fazê-lo, e “Life” o primeiro trabalho em que Nuno Filipe fez parte do processo de composição.

“Houve muita coisa feita na sala de ensaios, houve outras que eram composições trazidas pelo Afonso, houve coisas que aconteceram já em estúdio, nessa lógica de experimentação, de abertura e de viagem a ver onde é que a estrada acaba”, contou Filipe Costa.

A ‘viagem’ que levou a “Life” começou em 2018, altura em que Afonso e Filipe Costa trocaram “centenas de canções” para tentarem perceber o que queriam fazer.

“E uma das coisas que queríamos muito fazer, talvez pelo sítio onde nos encontrávamos emocionalmente, era tentar contrapor isso com um disco que fosse mais luminoso e menos dramático. A nossa música tinha tendência a ter uma carga muito dramática, muitas dinâmicas, muitas intensidades, então queríamos aligeirar um pouco a coisa”, recordou.

Mas a vida voltou a intrometer-se nos planos da banda e no primeiro dia de 2020, “ano de trabalho no disco”, Afonso cortou um dedo.

“Fiz um golpe muito fundo numa articulação e de cada vez que tentava tocar guitarra o golpe abria. Durante meses fiquei sem conseguir tocar, o que fez com que chegássemos à sala de ensaios e começássemos a trabalhar em canções sem a utilização da guitarra, e isto acabou por mudar dramaticamente a direção artística que tínhamos para o disco, porque de repente encontrámos verdadeiramente algo que nos estava a entusiasmar, que nos estava a soar a novo, a fresco e abordámos esse caminho e explorámo-lo da forma que melhor conseguimos”, relatou.

Quando isso aconteceu, “Everytime”, tema ao qual já tinham decidido tirar as guitarras, já estava pronto, por isso Afonso admite que “eventualmente” o resultado final do álbum seria o mesmo, “mas acabou por ser a vida e a forma como ela acontece a definir o que acabaria por acontecer”.

O dedo cortado de Afonso não foi, porém, o único ‘culpado’: “há outra pessoa muito importante no caminho que este disco seguiu que é o Makoto Yagyu [músico dos PAUS e Riding Pânico], produtor do disco, connosco”, referiu Filipe Costa.

“Se já temos no nosso ADN essa abertura à experimentação, a colocarmos desafios e rasteiras a nós próprios, o Makoto encarou o disco como encara a música e o trabalho dele como produtor: ir à procura também, em termos sónicos, de arranjos”, referiu.

Além de ser o primeiro álbum sem um dos elementos fundadores e de ser aquele em que as guitarras têm menos predominância, “Life” fica igualmente na história da banda como o disco em há um tema cantado por alguém que não Afonso Rodrigues.

“Não sabemos nunca se vai haver mais um disco e achei que era essencial na história de Slowriders que aparecesse uma música cantada pelo Filipe [Costa] e este seria o disco em que tínhamos que o fazer”, disse Afonso Rodrigues.

O músico lembra que Filipe Costa “sempre escreveu música, mas acabou por nunca dar o passo e investir nessa escrita, materializar essas canções”.

“Há um par de anos, num concerto, ele estava a tocar esta música [“Last One”, que encerra o álbum] num ensaio, e aquilo não me saiu da cabeça”, recordou.

Os dois admitem que “Life” é um trabalho que “em tudo” os fez “olhar ainda mais para dentro”. “Para a nossa história, para as nossas vidas, o que as nossas vidas se alteraram nos últimos anos, desde que começámos a fazer música juntos, principalmente eu e o Filipe que estamos nisto desde o início”, referiu Afonso Rodrigues.

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Damon Locks Black Monument Ensemble ‎– Now (2021)

Style: Hip Hop, Jazz, No Wave, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: International Anthem Recording Company

Tracklist:
1.   Now (Forever Momentary Space)
2.   The People Vs. The Rest Of Us
3.   Keep Your Mind Free
4.   Barbara Jones-Hogu And Elizabeth Catlett Discuss Liberation
5.   Movement And You
6.   The Body Is Electric

Credits:
Drums – Dana Hall
Percussion – Arif Smith
Clarinet – Angel Bat Dawid
Cornet, Melodica – Ben LaMar Gay
Lyrics By, Composed By, Artwork, Electronics, Sampler – Damon Locksy
Vocals – Eric Tre'von, Erica Rene, Monique Golding, Phillip Armstrong, Richie Parks, Tramaine Parker

Chicago-based collective Black Monument Ensemble's sophomore album was recorded in September 2020 at the intersection of various existential crises, as seen from a US perspective: the threat of Trump winning the presidential election, by fair means or foul; the rising tide of fascist ideology; extrajudicial murders of, in particular but not exclusively, black Americans; a galloping pandemic; economic chaos; and social isolation.

Given the circumstances, it is no surprise that Now sounds apocalyptic. But it is also simultaneously bursting with hope for the future. BME's organizer and composer, the poet and electronist Damon Locks' description of the album reads, in part, as follows: "This is a document of the moment... As the old world falls, we lose a lot but we gain the opportunity to create anew... We can spark something now. The new is possible."

At the time of writing, six months after Now was recorded, there are signs of hope: above all, the restoration of reason and evidence-based decision making to the US presidency, and the proven efficacy of vaccines to fight the pandemic. But Locks and the other members of BME would not suggest that these two things are guarantees of a sunnier, more harmonious future. And nor are they. The real power to heal division and effect change rests, as always, with the people. What the album is saying in essence is: time to put your shoulder and your love to the wheel, for the struggle is only now beginning and a happy ending is still far from certain.

Musically, Now is a mix of spoken word, jazz, gospel and other retained Africanisms. The instrumental lineup—sampler and electronicist Locks, clarinetist Angel Bat Dawid, cornetist Ben LaMar Gay, drummer Dana Hall, percussionist Arif Smith—work hand in hand with a six-piece vocal chorus. The feel is that of a live prayer-meets-politics meeting. Which is indeed what the production process was: the album was recorded live and socially distanced over two days in the garden behind Chicago's Experimental Sound Studio. Playing time is short as albums go, just over thirty minutes. But listening is a case of feel the vibe not the width (and fear not, track four, "Barbara Jones-Hogu And Elizabeth Catlett Discuss Liberation," is not a dry academic debate but 1:55 minutes of mantra-like, sung positivity). The overall experience is restorative and uplifting—and the message is a universal one, applicable wherever you reside.
Chris May / All About Jazz

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Lucas Santtana E Seleção Natural ‎– 3 Sessions In A Greenhouse (2021 Remaster) (2021)

Style: Dub, MPB, Experimental
Format: Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Mais Um Disco

Tracklist:
1.   Awô Dub
2.   Tijolo a Tijolo, Dinheiro a Dinheiro
3.   Pela Orla Dos Velhos Tempos
4.   Lycra-Limão
5.   Deixe O Sol Bater
6.   Ogodô Ano 2000 (Feat. – Tom Zé)
7.   A Natureza Espera
8.   Into Shade
9.   Faixa Amarela

Credits:
Drums – Giló
Flugelhorn, Trumpet – Leandro Joaquim
Guitar – Bruno Levi
Bass, Keiborad – Ricardinho
Percussion – Léo Leobons, Léosinho
Synthesizer – David Cole
Trombone – Mauricio Zacharias
Vocals, Cavaquinho, Guitar – Lucas Santtana

Experimenting is part of Lucas Santtana‘s artistic milieu. After listening to his discography, you conclude that none of his projects follow a specific pattern. They do not fit into the structures predetermined by the music industry in this digital age, which in one way or another oblige the artist to label his music in order to enter playlists or be placed on some virtual shelf. The musician from Salvador, Bahia, manages to mix different rhythms from Brazil and the world in one song. This diversity reveals his constant search for new possibilities. A good example of this constant experimentation is his third album, 3 Sessions in a Greenhouse, which was originally released in 2006, but has now been remastered and reissued by Mais Um.

“At the beginning of my career, I was experimenting, trying to figure out my sound. On 3 Sessions In A Greenhouse, I discovered what I am and what I wanted to do in music. All the pieces connected. Everything just felt like the right place at the right time.”, says Santtana.

As the title suggests, the songs were recorded in three live sessions, as if playing a live show at the AR studio, in Rio de Janeiro. The whole musical entourage were always in touch to keep the jams hot – as there was no possibility of repetition. “We would work from 10am to 8-9pm, playing all day”, remembers Santtana. “Time did not exist. No telephones. Smoking the best weed in Rio, it was like a greenhouse. We had the feeling, we were creating a new sound.”. Musicians included his Seleção Natural band, featuring Gil on drums, David Cole on effects, Ricardinho on bass, Leandro Joaquim on trumpet and fluguelhorn, Maurício Zacharias on trombone and Bruno Levi on guitar as well as the Onilu trio comprising of Leo Leobons, João Gabriel and Leo Saad on percussion.

Creating this work in the mid-2000s shows that Santtana was well ahead of his time. The fact is, even today it sounds modern. Obviously, Stefan Betke / Pole’s remastering was essential to make the dub aesthetic more intense than it was 15 years ago, taking it to another level. The reverbs are now boosted, giving a certain degree of dirt (or distortions) in the textures, marking it at the ideal level to touch the walls of the sound system. Some elements have also gained more prominence, such as the brass and percussion of “Awo Dub”. Ultimately, everything is more vibrant, very close to what was produced in the 1970s.

“It was really important to have Stefan (Pole) remaster 3 Sessions.“, says Santtana. “He brought a lot more punch to the original recordings. He also brought a lot of ambience as well. I really see this as a new version of the album. It’s not just a re-release. It’s bringing something new to the sound, the versions, the mix. This is what the album is all about.”.

Compared to the 2006 edition, the atmosphere is different. The differences are not marked, but they completely transform the unlikely, but assertive, psychedelic variations of samba, manguebeat, ijexá and baile funk. Despite having only nine tracks, 3 Sessions has exactly 51 minutes. It is very well organized. The structure was designed so that the listener does not skip any tracks. It makes no mistakes in achieving that. Even so, some songs grab the attention more than others. This is the case of “Tijolo a Tijolo, Dinheiro a Dinheiro”, which has all the ginga (groove) of Rio de Janeiro’s rodas de samba (partido de alto) and swing to stop anybody from standing still. “Pela Orla dos Velhos Tempos” is tempered by funk carioca from the 90s, this one with a lot of influence from Miami Bass in the 808 beats. The highlight is the partnership with Tom Zé on the samba-rock (a mix of rockabilly and samba, which became popular in São Paulo nightclubs in the 1950s) version of “Agodô, Ano 2000”. The union of electronic effects with the cadence of the drums and percussive instruments, especially the agogô, is impeccable. Tom Zé’s scats also help give orderliness and energy to the classic. The reinterpretation of “Faixa Amarela”, written by samba singer Zeca Pagodinho, but known in Brazil through the voice of Martinho da Vila, is another highlight, a ska with small doses of dub and jazz, with a killer trumpet solo at the end.

In this current moment of humanity, where you cannot go to concerts, parties or dance clubs, Lucas Santtana is good company for breaking out of monotony and dancing indoors. When everything goes back to normal (if there will be a normal), the vinyl of 3 Sessions In A Greenhouse will certainly be present in the repertoire of several DJs in the world.
Adailton Moura / Sounds and Colours