Friday, 30 April 2021

Błoto – Kwasy i zasady (2021)

Style: Fusion Jazz, Avant-garde Jazz, Nu-Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Astigmatic Records

Tracklist:
01.   Chryja
02.   Prostactwo
03.   Hipokryzja 
04.   Farmazon 
05.   Mitomania
06.   Ignorancja
07.   Autentyzm 
08.   Prostota 
09.   Pokora 
10.   Prawda 
11.   Umiar 

Credits:
Cancer G - drums
Wuja HZG - bass guitar
Latarnik - piano, Moog Voyager, Korg MS-20, Nord Stage 2
OlafSaxx - Roland Aira System-1, AKAI EWI 5000, saxophones: tenor, sopran, baritone; percussion

What do jazz improvisation, Polish Radio, dingy rap from Memphis, cassette tapes, trap, drill elements and hip-hop loops have in common? These are the ingredients that the Błoto quartet used in their lab to cook an explosive mixture for their third LP entitled “Kwasy i zasady” (eng,“Acids and bases”).

Nobody thought that a band who appeared suddenly and unexpectedly on the jazz scene would develop so rapidly and in such an unforeseen direction. A year ago, critics and music journalists treated Błoto only as a one-off spin off of a larger band, EABS, when the debut album “Erozje” (eng,”Erosion”) was released. The band used their momentum and decided to release the second album “Inflorescence, all in 2020. Both albums resonated strongly enough to be at the top of many annual charts, and receive nominations for the most important music awards in Poland.

The reality around us continued to inspire the band to create. The Błoto quartet only needed a small spark to make another burst of creativity. The igniter turned out to be Polish Radio, which came up with the initiative to invite the band to a new project. This was the starting point for the creation of "Kwasy i zasady", Błoto’s third album within twelve months.

Wuja HZG, Cancer G, OlafSaxx and Latarnik already had the opportunity to use high-end equipment in well-equipped recording studios, so this time the musicians decided to go in the opposite direction - lo-fi. The recordings were made with a minimum number of microphones, and the whole thing was recorded on a cassette with a Tascam 122 MKII stereo tape recorder, giving a dirty and warm character to Błoto’s sound, which can be clearly heard from the first minutes of the disc.

The team has always operated in the sphere of metaphors close to nature. It is similar this time, but Błoto has gone deeper into "chemical compounds" called acids and bases. Ultimately, the album's theme cleverly avoids the direct meaning of these words, playing with the convention. A set of improvised beats refers to interpersonal relationships, which nowadays often have an extreme, corrosive and explosive nature, so we need a framework that will allow us to counteract them.

The album "Kwasy i zasady" will be released on Astigmatic Records under the patronage of the Second Polish Radio Program on April 30, 2021. The album will be available on vinyl, CD and on all streaming platforms. 

Thursday, 29 April 2021

David Walters, Vincent Segal, Ballaké Sissoko, Roger Raspail ‎– Nocturne (2021)

Genre: Folk, World, & Country 
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Heavenly Sweetness

Tracklist:
01.   Papa Kossa
02.   Carioca
03.   Freedom
04.   Manyè (Unplugged Version)
05.   Sam Cook Di
06.   San En Yé
07.   Baby Go
08.   Interlude
09.   Mama (Unplugged Version)
10.   Vancé
11.   Nocturne

Tracklist:
David Walters - Voice, Guitar
Vincent Segal - Cello
Ballaké Sissoko - Kora
Roger Raspail - Percussions
All tracks written and composed by David Walters

“Never forget our past, our history” so goes the refrain at the end of “Mama” one of the songs from David Walters’s bold and affecting release from earlier this year on the Parisian label, Heavenly Sweetness, “Soleil Kréyol.”

On “Soleil Kreyol” David Walters achieved the apparent impossible - evoking such disparate worlds as New York’s ‘70s club culture and his own familial Afro-Caribbean roots, singing much of the album in Martinican Creole, against a shimmering, percussive soundtrack.

“Mama” returns on his latest, "Nocturne" in a stripped down version alongside a trio of master musicians: the renowned Malian kora musician Ballaké Sissoko, whose previous credits include Taj Mahal and Toumani Diabaté; Sissoko's previous musical collaborator, French cellist/bassist Vincent Segal who also appeared on Walters's “Soleil Kreyol” and veteran percussionist, Roger Raspail, originally from Guadeloupe, who through his four decades has performed genres as diverse Congolese funk, gnawa music from the Sahel and jazz.*

What’s striking about Walters’s "Nocturne" is that despite the players' diversity and the album's array of musical influences - album standout “Freedom” fluidly moves between Walters’s delicate falsetto to a rapped verse in a setting buffered by a pensive cello, interlocking percussion and kora - it remains fully cohesive throughout.

Opener “Papa Kossa" is an album highlight. Immediately ushering us into the album’s distinctive mood, which is in part innovative folk - think Mano Negra, albeit with a Martinican Creole base, rather than Spanish - and something uniquely its own: whispered melodies, in French, English and Martinican Creole, set against a bed of encircling rhythms and harmonies.

The Marseille-based composer/guitarist/vocalist David Walters has long created music that transcends fixed borders. Whether as a DJ/producer remixing the Buenos Aires/ Paris Gotan Project; as a founding member of Zimpala - an electro hip-hop collective - or during his travels to Africa, where he studied alongside Ali Farka Touré, Walters’s approach has always been refreshingly eclectic, albeit stamped with the imprint of his West Indies origins. Walters is Paris born, his mother is from Martinique, his father comes from Saint Kitts and Nevis.*

Dating back to his first releases - some of which appeared on Gotan Project's ¡Ya Basta! record label - David Walters has affirmed and reinvented his Afro-Caribbean musical ancestry, transforming this rich heritage into the foundations of his distinctive musical voice - reinterpreting, for example to “Mesi Bon Dyé” by the seminal Haitian composer Frantz Casseus for the label in the early 2000s.* While more than a decade later, Walters visited New Orleans for the "Nola is Calling" project that united musicians from the US, Benin and France.*

In a cultural moment where the era's best music is characterised by multicultural, polyglot origins and focus on Black identity and culture, “Nocturne” provides a welcome French - or Martinican Creole - perspective. Because of the music's innovative, fully immersive nature “Nocturne” will appeal to a wide range of listeners curious to engage with music that while deeply personal resonates widely.

“Nocturne” is a profoundly moving and intimate listen: a new kind of folk music, with a French/Afro-Caribbean accent, that is modern and ancient at the same time. 

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

JAB ‎– Currents (2021)

Style: Broken Beat, Deep House, Jazzdance
Format: Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Joon Dada Records

Tracklist:
A1.   Preface
A2.   5, 6, 7, 8
B1.   Currents
B2.   Game, Set (Checkmate)

Credits:
All tracks written & produced by JAB
Will Fry, Oli Savill - Additional Percussion 
Nathan Allen, Marijus Aleksa - Drums
Sean Allen, Yves Fernandez, Alex Bonfanti - Bass
Femi Temowo - Guitar 
Gavin Powell - Additional Organ 
Lewis Wright, Tymon Janusiewicz - Additional Vibraphone
Tobie Tripp - Additional String Arrangement
JAB - Percussion, Vibraphone, Drums, Organ, String arrangment 

Amika Strings:
Laura Senior - Violin
Simmy Singh - Violin
Lucy Nolan - Viola
Peggy Nolan - Cello + additional string arrangement 

JAB is a project from Junior Alli-Balogun, a London-based multi-percussionist who creates forward-thinking dance music using traditional instruments. His first EP, Directions, earned major support from the likes of Floating Points, Gilles Peterson and Theo Parrish, which brings us to Currents, the third release on Balogun’s Joon Dada Records. These songs were written and recorded across multiple cities on either side of the Atlantic, with contributions from many different session musicians.

The light percussion of "Preface" eases into a nice groove before coming to an abrupt pause around two-thirds of the way in. What follows is one of the more impressive breakdowns in recent live dance music: a change up on the bass and strings helped by some sampled chopping. "5,6,7,8 (Dance Is Life)" ups the tempo significantly and lets the vibraphone shine, while the finale "Game, Set, (Checkmate)" has more of a broken beat vibe. Then there's  "Currents," which is pure emotion. Organ chords lead into a cello and violin arrangement, ending with the sounds of spring: birds chirping and running water over rocks. 

Currents is easily one of the most fulfilling EPs released so far this year. The music is fully realized, crafted with care and musicianship reminiscent of the music production process of the past. Many different souls were involved in the creation of Currents and, once again, collaboration wins over what many solo artists are producing today. Balogun cites Roy Ayers as a major influence upon his style, a most fitting comparison for the vibe his music gives off.

Tajh Morris / Resident Advisor 

Sunday, 25 April 2021

VA ‎– We Are Reasonable People (1998)

Genre: Electronic
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Warp Records, Source

Tracklist:
01.   AFX / Squarepusher - Freeman, Hardy & Willis Acid
02.   Boards Of Canada - Orange Romeda
03.   Broadcast - Hammer Without A Master
04.   Plaid - Ilasas
05.   Autechre - Stop Look Listen
06.   Nightmares On Wax - Fishtail Parker
07.   Jimi Tenor - Wear My Bikini
08.   Plone - Plaything
09.   Red Snapper - 4 Dead Monks (Original Demo)
10.   Mira Calix - Umchunga Locks
11.   Two Lone Swordsmen - Circulation
12.   Mark Bell - A Salute To Those People Who Say Fuck You

Credits:
Artwork – www.thedesignersrepublic.com
Mastered By – F.A.

We Are Reasonable People is a select handful of the European upper crust furnishing electronic rarities to the label that made them famous. Warp Records has the cream of the crop to choose from, even if some of that cream has clotted from oversight. All of these selections are previously unreleased, and considering the wide variety of styles on the disc, there truly is "something for everyone." "Freeman Hardy & Willis Acid" is such a memorable high point, it's a wonder this track wasn't saved for the finale. Two of the most accomplished trendsetters, Tom Jenkinson and Richard D. James, combine their abilities for the first time as Squarepusher and AFX, respectively. Pools of mercurial ambience float above rocky landscapes of blistering rhythm tracks, sputtering toward an acid refrain and such spatial disorientation that it pulls the chair right out from under you. An act this tough to follow is rightfully handed to Boards of Canada, whose "Orange Rhomeda" is a magical pinwheel of found digital beats and naïve bytes, an early taste of a duo who would be Warp's next big thing. From here the terrain gets uneven. Although high points are aplenty, listeners might be checking the clock once or twice along the way. Broadcast's "Hammer Without a Master" drones along in burnt electro-waltz/rock waves, and Plaid contributes a sound sculpture that pulses with cascading icicles of synth and a syncopated, chugging drumbox. The indifference intensifies as glitch music superstars Autechre strain to deliver even a shred of the human element for "Stop Look Listen," typing out trigonometric beats and a stray melody. Next, an upbeat Nightmares on Wax grooves conservatively with "Fishtail Parker," a mid-budget tapestry of keyboard funk. From here, the ball passes nicely to Jimi Tenor, who digs into his zoot suit jacket pocket for a slick set of licks on "Wear My Bikini," a jazzy arrangement of downtown-cruising horn/synth riffs and head-bobbing beats. Another abrupt shift in mood comes from Plone's "Plaything" -- disturbingly innocent. It's like easy listening for stuffed animals, featuring bubblegum keyboard leads and a swishing, carefree beatbox. Following this, Red Snapper (black belt of the live groove) unearths the moody "4 Dead Monks (Original Demo)." The upright bass snarls and paces back and forth in a cage, the snares slither and pop, and a lone trumpet adds a fog of crime noir. Two Lone Swordsmen deliver "Circulation," which gurgles menacingly along the floorboards like restless plasma with a curfew. Weatherall and Tenniswood keep a half-dozen elements under close surveillance, letting them breathe slightly before locking them up again. Rounding out the CD, Mira Calix and Mark Bell both deliver pounding, up-tempo industrial showcases; the latter closes out the disc with extra crunch and a keyboard lead that shifts mathematically to the left with each repetition. The energy almost compensates for its structural simplicity. With such a plush assembly of music at its fingertips, Warp pats itself on the back with this release. Rightfully so, for not only staying afloat in the ever-expanding sea of electronic music, but for riding the crest of it.
Glenn Swan / AllMusic

Friday, 23 April 2021

Domenico Lancellotti ‎– Raio (2021)

Genre: Rock, Latin, Pop
Format: Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Banana And Louie Records

Tracklist:
01.   Vai A Serpente
02.   Snake Way 
03.   Margem Do Céu 
04.   Dinamo
05.   Confusão 
06.   Onda Do Mar 
07.   Mushroom Room
08.   Vinho Velho 
09.   Tema Pro Zé
10.   Hordas 
11.   Lanço Minha Flecha 
12.   Newspaper

Credits:
Joana Queiroz - Flautas, Clarinete
Bem Gil - guitarra, Violão
Danilo Andrade - Teclados
Ricardo Dias Gomes - baixo
Claudio Andrade - Teclado
Diego Queiroz - Flautas
Pedro Sa - Guitarra
Ian Saldanha - Som da floresta
Joana Queiroz - Clarinete, Clarone, Piano
Piotr Zabrodsky - Orgão, Teclado,Ppiano
Nina Miranda, Iba Salles Huni Kuin - Voz
Diego Gomes - Trumpete e Arranjo de metais
Alberto Continentino - Voz, Baixo, Guitarra, Synth
Bruno Di Lullo - Guitarra, Baixo, Piano, Sinth, Teclado, Violão
Domenico - Voz, Baterias, Percussões, Guitarra, Sinth, Orgão, Congas, Violões

“Raio” constitui o título do novo álbum do carioca Domenico Lancellotti que fica disponível a partir desta sexta feira, 26 de Março, nas plataformas digitais. O novo trabalho foi criado entre o Rio de Janeiro e Lisboa, explorando as raízes da música popular brasileira e a rítmica da electrónica, sob o “sentimento de reconstrução e renascimento”, como indica o artista.

“Raio é um fogo criativo que cai sobre as nossas cabeças, mas que por debaixo da terra são raízes, formas muito semelhantes de carregamento.

Por isso pus esse acento no I em forma de Z criando a possibilidade de lermos também as raíz. Fiz muitos temas deste disco com Bruno Di Lullo, meu parceiro de som, que esteve comigo no desenrolar desses últimos anos conturbados.

O disco traz também as ilustres e fundamentais presenças: Negro Léo que escreveu a letra de Hordas, meu irmão Alvinho que escreveu a letra de Onda do Mar, Alberto Continentino parceiro no Vinho Velho, Nina Miranda parceira em mushroom room, Joana Queiroz, Bem Gil, Piotr Zabrodzki, Diogo Gomes, Thiago Queiroz, Ricardo Dias Gomes, Pedro Sá, Ibã Salles Huni Kuin, os irmãos Claudio e Danilo Andrade, por trás dos microfones Léo Shogum, Bernardo Barata, Renato Godoy, Yan Saldanha, Pepê Monerat e Daniel Carvalho que mixou e masterizou.” Domenico Lancellotti

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Sparkle Division ‎– To Feel Embraced (2020)

Genre: Electronic, Jazz, Funk / Soul
Fomat: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Temporary Residence Limited

Tracklist:
01.   You Go Girl!
02.   You Ain't Takin' My Man
03.   For Gato
04.   Oh Henry
05.   To The Stars, Major Tom
06.   Oh No You Did Not!
07.   To Feel
08.   To Feel Embraced
09.   Slappin' Yo Face
10.   Mmmmkayy I'm Goin' Out Now And I Don't Want Any Trouble From You!
11.   Queenie Got Her Blues
12.   Sparkle On Sad Sister Mother Queen
13.   No Exit

Credits:
Double Bass, Violin – Henry Grimes
Voice – The Queen of Williamsburg, Mrs. Leonora Russo, Xeli Grana
Executive Producer – William Basinski
Producer – Preston Wendel, William Basinski
Written By, Performer – Sparkle Division

Timing’s a funny thing. For those who primarily know William Basinski for sprawling ambient works like The Disintegration Loops, our current state of flux might seem like it’d be perfectly soundtracked by another in his long line of dislocating, diffuse audio essays. We’ve all been isolated and introspective, right?  

Happily, Basinski knows better. He and his collaborator Preston Wendell have been sitting on To Feel Embraced, their debut record as Sparkle Division, for a while, and only now have chosen to release it. Apparently, they had reservations about dropping what they saw as a “euphoric” album into an increasingly troubled world, but as Basinski commented recently, “Well, damn it, if the time ain’t right now, it never will be!”

It’s a totally disarming listen – though “euphoric” doesn’t quite seem the right word – a disorientating cocktail of lounge jazz, hazy psychedelia, warped funk and misremembered Studio 54 hedonism. Against the odds, it’s pretty much perfect. 

There are traces of Basinski’s former work in the delicacy of the production, the vinyl hiss and pulsating compression betraying the soundworlds in which his previous interests have been focused. One can also pick out intermittent shades of influence here and there – Leyland Kirby’s work as The Caretaker looms over some of the sleepwalking jazz arrangements, and there are parallels to be drawn with the wistfully overdriven nostalgia of Aidan Moffat’s Lucky Pierre records – yet taken as a whole Sparkle Division feels like something very distinctive indeed. The unobtrusive conventions of 21st century ambient music, and particularly the more vaporwave-adjacent strands of the contemporary classical canon, are upended, their glazed inertia replaced by a maximalist approach to making you relax, forcing a good time out of you rather than allowing some more abstract euphoria to do the heavy lifting. Considering such abandon has been rather hard to come by in recent months, it’s hard to resist.
Luke Cartledge / Loud And Quiet

Monday, 19 April 2021

April + VISTA ‎– Pit of My Dreams (2021)

Genre: Experimental, Electronic, Alternative
Format: Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Not On Label

Tacklist:
1.   Cooperators
2.   Spite the Face
3.   What Is Enough 
4.   Every Void 
5.   I Hate It Here 
6.   The Receiver (featuring Zeroh) 
7.   Pit of My Dreams 
8.   22degreehalo 

Credits:
All tracks produced by Matthew Thompson
Strings composed by April George
Cello on “Every Void” by Natalie Spehar
Cello on “Cooperators” & “The Receiver” by Devree Lewis
Viola on “Every Void” by Matt Gordon
Additional drums on “What Is Enough” by Rob Stokes
Violin on “Cooperators”, “Every Void” & “The Receiver” by Alexandra Cantalupo and Kait Moreno
Additional vocals on “Spite the Face” by Felicia “Sugg Savage” Soso, Anthony “Tony Cruise” Walker and Rob Stokes

New Music is an exercise in discovery. Once a week, I select an album out of my Bandcamp deep dives and write a few paragraphs about it.
The only rule: it has to be something recent, released within 90 days before publishing date. 
In between the hypnotism of household names such as Massive Attack and the liquidity of local phenomenons like Smoke City, classic trip-hop never held much ground amongst the experimental crowds looking for something more than well-executed crossovers. 
Hence my surprise in hearing a record that sounds like it could come from the aforementioned era and yet doesn’t dwell in revisionism. Pit of My Dreams, the latest release of Washington D.C. duo April + VISTA makes justice to its title: it’s a blurry dream sequence full of spooky shadows and grim touches, with the occasional moment of focus and tranquillity. 
April George (violinist, pianist, vocalist) and mattVISTA (producer, bassist) achieve quite a homogenous and fluid sound on this record, with a healthy dose of psychedelia and solid sound design. George’s sometimes grave, sometimes buttery, but always soulful voice is given the necessary spotlight without outshining VISTA’s full-bodied production and leftfield experimentation that gets more perceptible on a series of interludes that complement rather than interject the EP. 
If Pit of My Dreams serves as premonition, then here’s me hoping to wake up to an April + VISTA LP in the near future.
Emanuel Matos /The Juice Zine

Friday, 16 April 2021

DJ Muggs The Black Goat ‎– Dies Occidendum (2021)

Genre: Hip Hop
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Sacred Bones Records

Tracklist:
01.   Incantation
02.   The Chosen One
03.   Nigrum Mortem
40.   Liber Null 777
05.   Alphabet of Desire
06.   Subconscious
07.   Veni Vidi Amavi
08.   Anointed
09.   Anicca
10.   Transmogrification

Credits:
Keyboards – Steve Ferlazzo
Mastered By – Dean Hurley
Mixed By – Sam Kingston, The Black Goat
Producer – DJ Muggs The Black Goat

One of the most astute observations from a Youtube comment thread about “Nigrum Mortem,” the second single from DJ Muggs’ Sacred Bones debut Dies Occidendum, was that it sounded like what old Cypress Hill album covers looked like. There’s good reason for that—Muggs is, of course, the turntable mastermind behind the legendary hip-hop group’s sound, and it doesn’t take too much of a close listen to hear the analog darkness in the band’s first trio of records, even amid their more party-friendly raps. Muggs’ gritty aesthetic always hinted at something even potentially more harrowing—the horror-flick organ throbs of “Throw Your Set In the Air,” the phantasmal atmosphere of “Stoned Raiders,” the hushed undercurrent of terror in “Cock the Hammer.” “Nigrum Mortem” is exactly such a moment, a swirl of disorienting, psychedelic menace, making good on a years-long promise that something even wickeder this way might come.

Dies Occidendum, released only a few weeks after Muggs’ Rome Streetz collaboration Death & the Magician, is the famed Los Angeles producer at his most ghoulish and gothic. These are supernatural and slasher-film soundscapes, consistently eerie throughout and only occasionally riding the line between campy and creepy. Where a group like clipping. uses the idea of horror as a storytelling device, Muggs rides the feeling as far as it’ll go, crafting what feels like a beat tape made from inside a mausoleum.

Muggs’ tones on Dies Occidendum are all various shades of of charcoal and ash, and though they more often than not slap, that’s not necessarily the aim. Strip the trap beats away from “Subconscious” and what’s left is a particularly unsettling drone. Remove the snap of bass and snare from “Anointed” and a blaring siren of a nightmare remains in its place. There are scarcely any moments of brightness or pop immediacy, Muggs instead weaving together sonic treatments that bring more bounce to the bloodbath, whether via harrowing banshee choral vocals on “The Chosen One” or, on “Alphabet of Desire,” the kind of gothic piano loop Mobb Deep might have employed for their own icepick attacks on The Infamous.

At the opening of “The Chosen One,” a sampled voice asks, “The darkside—how could you possibly know anything about the darkside?” For a producer with a taste for aural villainy like Muggs, it’s clearly more than most, but Dies Occidendum offers an opportunity to explore that to its nastiest extent. It seems only fitting that the record find a home on Sacred Bones, a label known as much for gothic and industrial albums as it is horror maestros like David Lynch and John Carpenter. It takes no more than Dies Occidendum‘s brief 30 minutes to come to the realization that Muggs, himself, already belonged to just such a pantheon.
Jeff Terich / TREBLE

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Phil Dawson ٤-tet ‎– I'ts Time (2020)

Genre: Electronic, Rock, Folk, World, & Country
Format: CD, FLAC
Label: Kudos records

1.   It's Time (Radio Edit) 06:46
2.   Gnostic Hilife (Nag Hammadi re-edit)
3.   It's Time A.K.A. Ouaga Mama
4.   Gnostic Hilife (Flute Edit) feat. Rowland Sutherland
5.   It's Time (Fully Spoken) 
6.   Gnostic Hilife (Original Edit) 

Credits:
Matheus Nova - Bass
Lekan Babalola - Percussion 
Khadijatou Doyneh - Spoken Word
Rowland Sutherland - Concert and Bass Flute
Gaspar Sena, Marius Rodrigues - Drums, Percussion
Phil Dawson - Guitar, Bass, Fender Rhodes piano, arrangement/production

6-track mini album from a musician with a long list of credits including South African trumpet legend Hugh Masekela, afrobeat co-creator Tony Allen and Ethiopian jazz originator Mulatu Astatke as well as many Brit-jazz and other international roots artists. “It’s Time” blends Afro-jazz groove, free improv, spoken poetry and other-worldly atmosphere, with lyrics and titles hinting at unorthodox takes on reality and the times we live in.

'This is great' - Gilles Peterson, BBC Radio 6 Music 

'Amazing' - Chris Phillips, Jazz FM

'A truly intriguing release from Phil Dawson and his incredibly funky friends... he has history, and the proof is in the pounding sound heard here' - thenonsemble.com   

"Buoyed by flute, bass and percussion, It's Time is a six-track brew combining free improv and spoken word with Afro-spiritual groove and a far-out esotericism befitting these strangest of times. Opener ‘It's Time (Radio Edit)’ is a psychedelic romp through a beneficent cosmos where ringing chords and woodwind trills underpin Khaditjatou Doyneh's pathos-laden musings on love and the universe and one of three variations on a theme. Over three minutes longer at 9:34, ‘It's Time (aka Ouaga Mama)’ is a freewheeling instrumental made dazzling by Dawson's silver-fingered guitar work; Doyneh resumes her pronouncing on the more dissonant but equally mind expanding ‘It's Time (Fully Spoken)’. Then there's ‘Gnostic Hilife’, whose three interpretations each juxtapose the structures of this West African lingua franca in ways tight, spacious and inventive." - Jane Cornwell, Jazzwise Magazine

"absolutely wonderful" - Katrine Ring, P8 Jazz Radio, Denmark

Nubiyan Twist ‎– Freedom Fables (2021)

Genre: Jazz, Funk / Soul
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Strut

Tracklist:
1.   Morning Light
2.   Tittle Tattle
3.   Buckle Up
4.   Keeper
5.   Ma Wonka
6.   Flow
7.   24-7
8.   If I Know
9.   Wipe Away Tears

Credits:
Band Leader/ Guitar/ Percussion: Tom Excell
Drums: Finn Booth
Percussion/ Vocals: Pilo Adami
Bass: Luke Wynter
Keys: Oliver Cadman
Baritone Sax / Dubs: Joe Hewood
Tenor Sax: Denis Scully
Alto Sax/ Vocals: Nick Richards
Trumpet: Jonny Enser

Nubiyan Twist take a leap out of the densely packed crowd of UK jazz, soul and folk music collectives with Freedom Fables, a summation of the group’s talent that sees them elevated into the highest tier of their cohort. 

The Leeds-conceived, London-based project’s third album traverses musical and social histories with lightness and dexterity, weaving nine tales of personal memoir into one long call for unity. ‘Buckle Up’ sees Soweto Kinch, the UK sax player and rapper, and Nubiyan’s resident vocalist Nick Richards communicate the importance of looking inwards to find the answers you need, while Kinch’s alto noodles rather than parps, as if rifling through his subconscious while millions of memories flash by at a speed too fast for his mind’s eye to keep pace with.

Just as easily, Nubiyan turn their hand to hip-swivelling Brazilian rhythms on ‘Keeper’, where regular collaborator Cherise’s hollers of “We fight the keeper of the keys” come off like a global call to arms, while ‘Ma Wonka’ features a guest turn from Ebo Taylor protégé Pat Thomas on vocals (the man often referred to as The Golden Voice of Africa) on a highlife track that could pass as the greatest dusty bargain bin discovery of your life.

The stylistic shifts don’t end there: ‘Flow’ is a tale of anxiety told with a jerky jazz-cum-R&B forward motion that calls to mind Esperanza Spalding and is the sort of track that could easily see Nubiyan reach new audiences with its more accessible arrangement, as does ‘24-7’, a smooth, smoky number with vocals from Ego Ella May that recently found itself making national radio playlists. 

Album standout ‘Tittle Tattle’ is an attack on the crawling, pernicious power that gossip continues to cast over us, its soukous rhythms clashing with UK garage-like beats before it bursts into a spider-dancing sax funk breakdown. There is no suggestion that the group have softened their edges or muted their ambitions; on the contrary, this would seem to be the record that has unlocked their most potent weapon, which is storytelling.
Max Pilley / Loud And Quiet 

Monday, 12 April 2021

Mike Casey – Law Of Attraction: The Originals (2020)

Style: Contemporary Jazz
Format: Vinyl, CD
Label: Not On Label ‎

Tracklist:
A1.   Feel The Bern
A2.   Dagobah
A3.   Squeaky Wheel (take 2)
A4.   Spoon
B1.   Shift
B2.   Law Of Attraction
B3.   Squeaky Wheel (take 1)

Credits:
Saxophone –Mike Casey
Bass – Matt Dwonszyk
Drums – Corey Garcia
Piano – Benito Gonzalez

Mike Casey releases his latest album, a contemporary mixture influenced by both traditional jazz as well as modern pop and hip-hop. Recorded with his trio, the band is formed of Casey on saxophone, Matt Dwonszyk on bass and Corey Garcia on drums, and for this album they are also joined by pianist Benito Gonzalez who appears on three of the tracks. 

The album opens with a powerful and expressive cover of Jay Z and Kanye West’s 2011 track, No Church In The Wild. Casey leads throughout with excellent melody and improvisation, while his band create a rich and complex texture through fast and uncompromising rhythm and harmony. In contrast, the band also experiment with the opposite, returning to the trio format for the third track, Best Part, with the sparseness of saxophone, bass and drums exemplifying their musically emotive capabilities with a minimalist instrumentation.

The band performs other covers, including Nat King Cole’s Unforgettable, played with a slow and open feel, and adding reharmonisation and improvisational intensity. There are also different takes of the songs Get You, Best Part and Squeaky Wheel, each with varying structure and phrasing, which provide an insight into the band’s creative process.

The tracks reviewed here were listened to on Soundcloud, and there are 16 in total. However, having looked at the CD release online, it appears to have 15 instead, omitting a version of No Church In The Wild. There is also a vinyl release, titled Law Of Attraction: The Originals, which features the seven tracks from the album that Casey and the trio composed themselves. The combination of influences and the central jazz direction of the group results in Law Of Attraction being an interesting and modern album, with a lot to enjoy.
Elliot Marlow-Stevens / Jazz Journal

Saturday, 10 April 2021

The Balanescu Quartet ‎– Possessed (1992)

Style: Contemporary
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Mute

Tracklist:
1.   Robots
2.   Model
3.   Autobahn
4.   Computer Love
5.   Pocket Calculator
6.   Possessed
7.   Want Me
8.   No Time After Time
9.   Hanging Upside-Down

Credits:
Cello – Caroline Dale
Viola – Bill Hawkes
Violin – Alexander Balanescu, Clare Connors
Performer – The Balanescu Quartet
Arranged By, Producer – Clare Connors
Written-By – Alexander Balanescu, David Byrne, Schultz, Schneider, Bartoff, Hutter

Although there are three original compositions, including the title track, featured here, the majority of Possessed is made up of string quartet remakes of Kraftwerk songs. Given that the precision of the German electronic band's songs bear no small resemblance to Baroque classicism, the Balanescu Quartet needs to do little to make their covers work than to play them straight.
Jason Ankeny / AllMusic

Friday, 9 April 2021

Sault ‎– 7 (2019)

Funk, Soul, Disco, Afrobeat, Alternative Rock, Post-Punk
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Forever Living Originals

Tracklist:
01.   Over
02.   No Bullshit
03.   Feel So Good
04.   Living In America
05.   Tip Toe
06.   Smile And Go
07.   Threats
08.   Red Lights
09.   Friends
10.   Waterfalls

Credits:
Producer – Inflo 

Mystery is a rare commodity in rock and pop these days. The internet has made investigative journalists of us all, and an artist who expends a lot of effort creating an enigmatic aura will almost invariably find themselves revealed online. So hats off to Sault, who managed to release two albums in 2019 – titled 5 and 7 – without anyone managing to conclusively solve the puzzle of who was behind them.

It was not for want of trying. Some people suggested the involvement of a London-based musician called Dean Josiah, whose CV boasts co-writing and production credits for Michael Kiwanuka, the Saturdays and Little Simz – the last of whom raved about Sault on social media. Others have posited that British soul singer Cleo Sol and Chicago-based rapper and sometime Kanye West collaborator Kid Sister – both signed to Sault’s label, Forever Living Originals – are the vocalists. But no one has confirmed or denied anything.

You can understand why people are intrigued, because both of Sault’s albums are fantastic, walking an idiosyncratic path that zig-zags between ESG-esque post-punk funk, early 80s boogie and something approaching neo-soul, without ever really fitting into any of those categories or sounding like straightforward homage. Whoever is on drums is clearly a big fan of Can’s Jaki Liebezeit: their playing adds a strange, hypnotic intensity to tracks even as laidback and sunlit sounding as 5’s We Are the Sun. Elsewhere, the dubbed-out spaciness of the production consistently gives everything a weird, disorientating edge, no matter how poppy the melodies get.

For all the sparseness of the arrangements – drums and bass, the odd wash of electric piano or blast of fuzzed-out guitar and synth – Sault seem as interested in writing songs as constructing grooves. Virtually every track is concise and to the point, rarely tipping over four minutes, and even the furthest-out moments - 7’s Red Lights or 5’s warped closer BABE – come with really powerful hooks woven through them. The net result feels simultaneously exploratory and confident, a really appealing, intriguing combination. Whoever they are, Sault sound like they know what they’re doing.
Alexis Petridis / The Guardian

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Sault ‎– 5 (2019)

Style:Alternative Rock, Afrobeat, Soul 
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Forever Living Originals

Tracklist:
01.   Up All Night
02.   Don’t Waste My Time
03.   Foot On Necks
04.   Why Why Why Why Why
05.   Pink Sands
06.   Let Me Go
07.   Masterpiece
08.   Add A Little Bit Of Sault
09.   Something’s In The Air
10.   Think About It
11.   Wild Hundreds Pt. 5
12.   We Are The Sun
13.   Wild Hundreds Pt. 55
14.   B.A.B.E.

Credits:
Producer – Inflo

Mystery is a rare commodity in rock and pop these days. The internet has made investigative journalists of us all, and an artist who expends a lot of effort creating an enigmatic aura will almost invariably find themselves revealed online. So hats off to Sault, who managed to release two albums in 2019 – titled 5 and 7 – without anyone managing to conclusively solve the puzzle of who was behind them.

It was not for want of trying. Some people suggested the involvement of a London-based musician called Dean Josiah, whose CV boasts co-writing and production credits for Michael Kiwanuka, the Saturdays and Little Simz – the last of whom raved about Sault on social media. Others have posited that British soul singer Cleo Sol and Chicago-based rapper and sometime Kanye West collaborator Kid Sister – both signed to Sault’s label, Forever Living Originals – are the vocalists. But no one has confirmed or denied anything.

You can understand why people are intrigued, because both of Sault’s albums are fantastic, walking an idiosyncratic path that zig-zags between ESG-esque post-punk funk, early 80s boogie and something approaching neo-soul, without ever really fitting into any of those categories or sounding like straightforward homage. Whoever is on drums is clearly a big fan of Can’s Jaki Liebezeit: their playing adds a strange, hypnotic intensity to tracks even as laidback and sunlit sounding as 5’s We Are the Sun. Elsewhere, the dubbed-out spaciness of the production consistently gives everything a weird, disorientating edge, no matter how poppy the melodies get.

For all the sparseness of the arrangements – drums and bass, the odd wash of electric piano or blast of fuzzed-out guitar and synth – Sault seem as interested in writing songs as constructing grooves. Virtually every track is concise and to the point, rarely tipping over four minutes, and even the furthest-out moments - 7’s Red Lights or 5’s warped closer BABE – come with really powerful hooks woven through them. The net result feels simultaneously exploratory and confident, a really appealing, intriguing combination. Whoever they are, Sault sound like they know what they’re doing.
Alexis Petridis / The Guardian

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Juju ‎– Live At The East 1973 (2019)

Genre: Jazz
Format: Vinyl
Label: Now-Again Records, Black Fire Music
 
Tracklist:
1.   (Struggle) Home
2.   Soledad Brothers
3.   At Least We Have A Horizon Now
4.   Black Experience

Credits:
Bass, Vocals – Ken Shabala
Co-producer – Cameron Schaefer
Congas, Percussion, Vocals – Babatunde
Piano, Shekere, Percussion, Vocals – Al-Hammel Rasul
Timbales, Percussion, Vocals – Jalango
Vibraphone, Percussion, Vocals – Lon Moshe
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Flute, Percussion, Vocals – Plunky Nkabinde
Producer – Eothen Alapatt

"Now-Again Records presents limited edition deluxe reissues of the lauded black fire catalog in 2020. First up in the series, this previously unreleased live session recorded at the legendary Brooklyn venue The East in 1973. Magical, mystical, Afrocentric, progressive -- words that could be used to describe any number of musical compositions by Sun Ra or his cosmic brothers and sisters, from John to Alice Coltrane, early '70s projects on record labels like Detroit's Tribe or Houston's Lightin' or the interests of one Washington, DC native named Jimmy Gray that centered under one, perfect moniker: Black Fire. Gray spent nearly three decades pushing boundaries as a Black American promoter, distributor and, finally, record label owner. Together with Juju's leader James 'Plunky Nkabinde' Branch, Gray oversaw sixteen releases on Black Fire Records between 1975 and 1996. These are the definitive reissues of five of the label's key titles; all were lacquered -- most directly from master tape -- by legendary Los Angeles mastering engineer Bernie Grundman. With this set, Juju and Black Fire's story burns forth into its fifth decade, its message not tempered, its sound pure. It's cycle, once again, complete. Each release is packaged in a thick, tip-on sleeve and includes a deluxe booklet with extensive notes on the album, the Black Fire collective, and the musical and cultural revolution they created. Limited edition, one time pressing."

Monday, 5 April 2021

Adrian Younge ‎– The American Negro (2021)

Style: Rhythm & Blues, Contemporary Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Jazz Is Dead

Tracklist:
01.   Revisionist History
02.   The American Negro
03.   The Black Broadcast
04.   Revolutionize
05.   Double Consciousness
06.   Watch The Children
07.   Dying On The Run
08.   Intransigence Of The Blind
09.   James Mincey Jr,
10.   Disadvantaged Without A Title
11.   Mama (Will You Make It)
12.   The Black Queen
13.   Margaret Garner
14.   Race Is Falacy
15.   Light On The Horizon
16.   A Symphony For Sahara
17.   America is Listening
18.   The March Of America
19.   Paradox Of The Positive
20.   The Death March
21.   Black Lives Matter
22.   Rotten Roses
23.   Jim Crow's Dance
24.   Patriotic Portraits
25.   George Stinney Jr.
26.   Sullen Counternance

Credits:
Chorus – Adrian Younge , Chester Gregory, Jasmin Hicks, Sam Harmonix
Composed By, Producer, Recorded By, Mixed By, Musician – Adrian Younge
Written And Performed – Adrian Younge

Jazz Is Dead label co-founder Adrian Younge has run the gamut of Black American music’s past, always with an eye toward cinematic, future-forward deconstruction. His atmospheric, electro laced-and-layered takes on Blaxploitative film scores (2009’s Black Dynamite), Philly soul (2013’s Adrian Younge Presents the Delfonics), and New York school rap (Twelve Reasons to Die with Ghostface Killah, and Luke Cage’s original soundtrack LP with A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad) are nearly operatic and decidedly over-emotional in their breadth. More down to earth, dirtier, politicized, riveting, and sad in regard to its wrenching emotive politicized outlook is Younge’s bold, new The American Negro. It would be impossible not to be bold, what with its black-and-white cover art depicting Younge hanging from a tree, lynched, in order to discuss—frankly and poetically—the de-evolution of systemic racism in America. 

Cluttered with clunky, funky rhythm sticks, cymbal crashes, blubbering bass lines, more Fender Rhodes keyboards than an episode of Baretta, and an intricate clash of orchestration rich with strings, reeds, bells, and choral voices, its messy luster, dub production touches, and zig-zagging voices and instrumentation take your breath away (even more so when you realize that its Younge playing all the instruments with the exception of the orchestra). Think Donald Byrd’s New Perspective meets Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite meets George Russell’s Stratusphunk at the edge of heaven, with spaced-out epiphanies such as “Dying on the Run” and “Watch the Children,” plucked string epics like “Mama (Will You Make It),” organ-driven (Cobalt) blues on “James Mincey Jr.,” and glam slammers such as “The Death March.” Now turn left.

“The musician is the document, an oral transcription of experience and perception through the vantage point of self,” Younge recites on opener “Revisionist History” in one of the album’s more peaceful reveries. I say “one” because The American Negro is also touched by disgust and rage at the thought of tearing down Black bodies and souls on readings such as “Intransigence of the Blind,” and white imperialism versus the consciousness of color on “Disadvantaged Without a Title.” Don’t let the sweet, creaky, elegant sophistication of The American Negro’s melodic disposition fool you—its ire and eloquence are twice as potent.
AD Amorosi / FLOOD Magazine

Sunday, 4 April 2021

Nduduzo Makhathini ‎– Modes Of Communication: Letters From The Underworlds (2020)

Style: Contemporary Jazz, African
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Blue Note

Tracklist:
01.   Yehlisan'uMoya
02.   Saziwa Nguwe
03.   Beneath The Earth
04.   Unyazi
05.   Isithunywa
06.   Umlotha
07.   Shine
08.   On The Other Side
09.   Umyalez'oPhuthumayo
10.   Indawu
11.   Emaphusheni

Credits:
Recorded By – Peter Auret
Piano, Arranged By, Producer, Composed By, Concept By  – Nduduzo Makhathini

Among a clutch of notable youngish South African pianists, Kyle Shepherd and Bokani Dyer have both made their mark outside the country. Now their compatriot Ndudozo Makhathini goes one better, perhaps, by following a lauded series of recordings released there with his debut for Blue Note.

Shepherd and Dyer have mainly given us trio work, but Makhathini’s offering is a multi-horn affair, including US altoist Logan Richardson along with a group of excellent SA musicians with New York connections – tenor saxophonist Linda Sikhakhane, trumpeter Ndabo Zulu, bassist Zwelakhe-Duma Bell Le Pere, drummer Ayanda Sikade, and percussionist Gontse Makhene.

It’s a powerful ensemble that brings a focussed energy to Makhathini’s compositions. His 11 pieces explore aspects of healing (his second profession) and spirituality, paying himage to ancestral stories of unseen worlds and gospel music as well as his jazz inspirations, Bheki Mseleku, McCoy Tyner and Coltrane. The latter’s ecstatic tendency dominates the music, which makes regular use of the slow-building solos lightly tethered by repeated rhythm figures that typify spiritual jazz.

That means quite a few tracks on this generously proportioned album are reaching for maximum intensity before their work is done, but most attain it with time to spare. This is spiritual-jazz-meets post-bop of a pretty high order. Makhathini, who also cites Andrew Hill and Don Pullen as influences, is a piano master, as interested in the rhythmic and percussive possibilities of the instrument as in chordal riches. You can hear the other expected South African influences, too – strains of his one-time employer Zim Ngqawana, of Abdullah Ibrahim, and the late-lamented Moses Molelekwa.

Voices enhance the ensemble, too. Makhathini’s wife Omagugu, a powerful performer in her own right, contributes a hypnotic vocal incantation on the opener Yehlisan’uMoya. Singer Asanda Msaki offers a more contemplative lyric on Beneath the Earth, which follows the limpid, hymnal Saziwa Nguwe. The Naima-like Isithunywa evokes one of Richardson’s best reflections. These cooler interludes provide contrast for the mostly longer, mostly more urgently driven pieces that make up the bulk of the tracks, full of highly charged soloing from the entire band. The set as a whole is nicely varied, though, and is clearly governed by a unified musical vision: a persuasive synthesis of contemporary US and South African sounds. As it fades out over Makhathini’s own voice on the brief final track you are left feeling he’s telling us he has still more to say. Overall, it’s a richly realised project that should bring him the larger international audience he deserves.
Jon Turney / London Jazz News