Monday, 30 August 2021

VA ‎– Antologia De Música Atípica Portuguesa Vol.1: O Trabalho (2017)

Style: Avantgarde, Experimental
Formtat: Vinyl
Label: Discrepant ‎– CREP 35

01.   Live Low - Antiplot
02.   Negra Branca - O Espatelar Do Linho
03.   EITR - Cicuta
04.   Luar Domatrix - Bocadinho De Alentjo
05.   Gonzo - Agora Baixou O Sol = Now The Sun Is Down
06.   Tiago Morais Morgado - Laurindinha
07.   Filipe Felizardo - Sede E Morte
08.   Gonzo & Luar Domatrix - Já Lá Gritam No Calvário
09.   Calhau! - Pecunibal
10.   Peter Forest - A Maria Cavaca (Trad. Working Song)

Mastered By – Rashad Becker
Artwork – Ruca Bourbon
Layout – Gonçalo F. Cardoso

Gathered together on this new compilation series are Portuguese artists that stretch back into the past with the same inquisition as they press into the future, allured both by the original significance of tradition and the opportunity to reframe it. The theme of the first volume is “o Trabalho” (which translates as “work”), with the sounds here predominantly driven by steam and muscle and persistence: trains horns toot as they trundle through the countryside with cargo in tow, drums mimic the metronomic impact of axes and hammers, work songs liberate minds from the drudge of repetitious labour. These physical gestures are then smeared, serrated and bled into the apparatus of the modern day, with choral winds blistered by distortion (Filipe Felizardo), chants arcing over gentle synthesiser tides (Gonzo) and guttural throat-song set inside bitcrusher crystals (Calhau!). 
Despite the strong spirit of manipulation and collage, the general shape of those recorded historical artefacts are kept largely intact, which means that even the compilation’s most abstract flights maintain a connection with the earth below. On Negra Branca’s “O Espatelar Do Linho”, the present is a comet trail pouring out of antiquity: synthesisers follow the ascent of mass song as it breaks through the ceiling, buoyed by chimes and the patter of mallet percussion, imbuing the jovial rise of voice with the shimmer of the cosmic. Meanwhile, the intertwining vocoder chants of Tiago Morais Morgado – whose low notes blur into gigantic rumbles of synthetic voice, grinding against eachother tectonic plates – maintain a visceral, thoroughly human depth through their fizz of electronic filtering. In retaining the essence of their source material, all of these artists exhibit a fascination with not just the sonic qualities of these sounds, but also the historical narratives that have carried their significance into the present.

Propellerheads ‎– Decksandrumsandrockandroll (1998)

Style: Breakbeat, Trip Hop, Big Beat
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Wall Of Sound

01.   Take California
02.   Echo And Bounce
03.   Velvet Pants
04.   Better?
05.   Oh Yeah?
06.   History Repeating
07.   Winning Style
08.   Bang On!
09.   A Number Of Microphones
10.   On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
11.   Bigger?
12.   Cominagetcha
13.   Spybreak!

Producer – Propellerheads

Really, the title says it all -- Decksanddrumsandrockandroll is about as close to rock & roll as big-beat techno is going to get. Taking their cue from the Chemical Brothers, the Bath-based duo Propellerheads offer a set of pummeling, ultra-loud beats that may dabble in funk, house, hip-hop, soul, and rap, but which all come out sounding as aggressive as rock. Not that there's anything wrong with that -- at its best, big beat is as invigorating as any other music -- but Propellerheads don't have the finesse, innovation, or style of the Chemical Brothers, the leading proponents of big beat. When they shake the beat up, whether on the wah-wah-drenched "Velvet Pants" or the pair of John Barry/James Bond tributes (a reworking of their cover of "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" and "History Repeating"), it sounds like a tactical move, since they know they can't spend the entire album on thundering dance cuts like "Bang On!" and "Take California." That said, Decksanddrumsandrockandroll remains a strong big beat album, even if it ultimately doesn't reveal anything new, because the duo knows how to craft a hard-hitting, infectious rhythm track. And while that doesn't make them the next Chemical Brothers, it does make them the best in this style since the Chemicals.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine / AllMusic

Monday, 16 August 2021

Sault ‎– Nine (2021)

Genre: Electronic, Funk / Soul
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Forever Living Originals

01.   Haha
02.   London Gangs
03.   Trap Life
04.   Fear
05.   Mike's Story
06.   Bitter Streets
07.   Alcohol
08.   You From London
09.   9
10.   Light's In Your Hands

Sault – a semi-anonymous UK collective – have already made their mark with four extraordinary albums in the space of two years. Releasing their works without much warning, unwilling to talk about their art, they have become a prolific leftfield outfit torching the rules. Nine, their fifth album, is available to buy and stream for 99 days (until 2 October). It’s pretty special too – not least because it’s an album about the experience of growing up in London that thumbs its nose almost entirely at the capital’s rich history of music genres, both black and white.

We are accustomed to hearing these sad, angry, mischievous stories told as the fast 8-bit rhythms of grime or hip-hop. But Nine eschews the sounds synonymous with London; it only hints in passing at dubstep and rave. You really have to pinch yourself at the audacity, too, of a track called Trap Life containing 0% trap beats – the now-dominant strain of hip-hop here as in the US. Rather, Sault turn to warm African-Caribbean sounds, and righteous anger played out as playground chants. A hard-hitting song about London’s gang infrastructure sounds like the Chemical Brothers’ Block Rockin’ Beats.

Sault have always confounded. Nine follows their genre-melting albums of 2019, 5 and 7, and their twin records of 2020, Untitled (Black Is) and Untitled (Rise). The latter two were impassioned outpourings in sync with last year’s international Black Lives Matter protests. All offered up an unexpectedly boxy, retro sound: rolling drums, funk bass and R&B groove, rogue analogue keyboards, and a sampledelic aesthetic. Vocalists Cleo Sol (UK) and Kid Sister (US) were as likely to chant as they were to sing or rap; African and Caribbean inflections were ever-present.

Throughout Nine, Sault double down on this vinyl crate-digger vibe: a rolling break here combined with an unexpected Beatles tilt there. The electronic Afro-funk of ESG or Tom Tom Club still looms high in the mix, as it has on all Sault’s records, but there are songs here – such as the lovely Bitter Streets – that recall, of all things, French chanson.

Their name has always carried with it the cold shiver of the word “assault”, but here they offer their music as a remedy
Nine returns to Sault’s earlier album art: titles formed by matchsticks, and a fire about to be lit. The visuals speak loudly so that the artists involved don’t have to: joining Sol and Kid Sister are UK producer Inflo and a handful of collaborators. Inflo (Dean Josiah) is better known as Michael Kiwanuka’s producer on Kiwanuka, his Mercury-winning album of 2019; Josiah is also involved with Little Simz and Jungle.

Like Adele (19, 21, 25), Sault have a thing for odd numbers. Nine showcases its namesake twice: the title track turns on a delicate retro guitar motif holding aloft Cleo Sol’s cooed vocal. Another “nine” occurs earlier, on Trap Life: “Don’t reach for that nine, nine, nine,” Sol begs, referring to a firearm; the repetition also suggests dialling 999.

An Instagram statement explains that the band’s origins lie in London’s council estates, where resources and options are limited and people can fall into even more harmful situations. The final song, Light’s In Your Hands, talks of kids growing up too fast, traumatised.

The spoken word is paramount here. One of a number of spoken interludes, Mike’s Story bears witness to one Michael Ofo hearing of his father’s murder. 9 finds an unnamed, older contributor explaining how being from a particular area inevitably marked you. If a sense of discomfiture has run through all Sault’s albums – they challenge, seethe and weep, confound expectation, change tack abruptly – there is never a sense of a misstep. As with previous Sault LPs, there is at least one thoroughly mainstream knockout moment: Alcohol is a smooth neo-soul paean to self-medication played out in gentle waltz time.

Just as Michael Kiwanuka featured on Untitled (Black Is), Inflo’s other close associate Little Simz appears here, her old-school flow detailing a life of Oyster cards and being triggered by sirens – Untitled themes given an unmistakable London flavour and dreamy organ keys, jazz horn and a tickle of hi-hat. There’s humour here too: You From London also pokes fun at American attitudes to Britons. (“Like people be going to work on horses and stuff?”)

Where the two Untitleds were aflame with anger as well as pain, Nine returns to trauma – and healing – as its central motif. “The pain is real,” Sault repeat. As on 5’s Add a Little Bit of Sault, the band briefly namecheck themselves. Their name has always carried with it the cold shiver of the word “assault”, but here they offer their music as a remedy. “The Sault will heal the wounds,” croons Sol.
Kitty Empire / The Guardian 

Saturday, 7 August 2021

Synergetic Voice Orchestra ‎– MIOS (1990)

Genre: Electronic, Pop, Folk, World, & Country
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Métron Records ‎

1.   Zebra
2.   Luna Park
3.   Island Girl
4.   Lullaby for Tristan
5.   Jesus and Muhammad
6.   A Tale
7.   Hari-Hari
8.   Tangram
9.   Life Goes On

Sitar – Motoyasu Tatsuno
Vocals – Mami Tanaka, Norico, Samala
Drums – Masahiro Iwamoto
Flute – Shunji Yamamoto
Keyboards – Yumiko Morioka
Koto – Mitsuko Nakabayashi
Percussion – Katsuaki Yoshiguchi
Composed By – Yumiko Morioka
Directed By – Mikio Tajima, Shigeo Ohwa
Producer – Shigeo Ohwa, Yumiko Morioka
Recorded By – Tatsuya Sakamoto

Japanese pianist and composer Yumiko Morioka's revered 1990 album project 'MIOS' gets a timely re-issue next month, with a lovingly remastered vinyl release arriving courtesy of Métron Records.

Recorded in 1989, Morioka assembled a diverse band of street musicians and semi-professional players to form the delightfully diverse Synergetic Voice Orchestra. Inspired by Yumiko’s love of eclectic global music, the newly constructed group drew on influences from India, Ethiopia, Mali, Korea and China to create a stunning album that skilfully managed to merge these seemingly disparate sonic identities with traditional aesthetics from the southern Japanese island, Okinawa.

Following the success of her 'Resonance' album which appeared a few years earlier, Yumiko was ecstatic when she was offered the opportunity to compose an album of “any kind of music she wanted”. The players she united under the SVO banner were formed of artists she either knew personally, or had seen performing in and around Tokyo, and many of them were self-taught and unable to read music. For Yumiko – a classically taught musician – working with players who lacked her formal training presented a unique challenge, but by adopting the synergetic principles of American architect and theorist Buckminster Fuller, she was able to create an open environment where a collective mentality was able to flourish. Nothing was off-limits, and experimentation ruled supreme. The approach embodied the work with vivid energy and an effervescent exploratory feel – which included, among other quirks, percussive parts played on old washing machine parts by a drummer who sold vegetables by day, practising at night in a nearby cemetery so as not to disturb his neighbours!

The singular album is one of Japanese music's hidden treasures. The new edition comes complete with striking artwork produced by Elvis Barlow-Smith and is well worth adding to the collection.

Tuesday, 3 August 2021

António de Sousa Dias ‎– Música Do Filme: Os Abismos Da Meia-Noite (1983)

Style: Soundtrack, Contemporary 
Format: Vinyl
Label: Fotossonoro

A1.   Coração Já Repousavas... (I)
A2.   Ante-Cântico
A3.   Cântico Dos Lagos De Prata
A4.   Rituália
A5.   Tema Branco
A6.   Coração Já Repousavas... (II)
A7.   A Gruta
A8.   ...& Angústia
B1.   Os Guerreiros Da Meia-Noite
B2.   Coração Já Repousavas... (III)
B3.   Imaginária
B4.   As Fontes Mágicas De Gerénia
B5.   Pesquisa & Fuga
B6.   Coração Já Repousavas... (IV)
B7.   Gloria In Excesis Aquae
B8.   Senhora Partem Tão Tristes
B9.   Coração Já Repousavas... (Reprise)

Chorus – Coro De Santo Amaro De Oeiras
Clarinet – Sílvio Pleno
Drums – Luís Desirat
Electric Bass – João Hayère
Guitar – Carlos Vitorino
Keyboards – António De Sousa Dias
Percussion – Luís Desirat
Soprano Saxophone – Jorge Egrejas
Tenor Saxophone – Jorge Egrejas
Trumpet – Virgílio Mendes
Flute – Eduardo Abreu, Jorge Egrejas, Manuel Luís Cochofel
Trombone – Carlos Simões, Ismael Santos, Luís Carvalho
Composed By – António De Sousa Dias

For this weeks 'digging deeper' we've delved into the brilliant world of cinema and soundtracks. Our friends at Carbono Record in Lisbon recently brought to our attention the awesome soundtrack to the controversial cult Portuguese Science Fiction film "Os Abismos da Meia-Noite", directed by António de Macedo in 1983. 

The film has never received a video or DVD release, but can be viewed below  - however sadly there are no subtitles available. "Os Abismos da Meia-Noite" is a trippy magical, low-fi sci-fi adventure, blending parallel worlds, ancient legends and alchemy. Director Antonio Macedo was one of a number of Portuguese filmmakers using sci-fi and fantasy as a critique of modern life, thus was always battling against the Portuguese censorship prevalent at the time. Macedo died in 2017 at the age of 86, with a career as a director spanning over four decades, with his last film ‘O Segredo das Pedras Vivas’ released in 2016. 

Originally, there were only 500 copies of the 1st edition soundtrack pressed, with a gatefold cover. A number of these (unplayed) dead stock LPs where found in a warehouse, 36 years since the film was released! Now thanks to Carbono we have can present this sought-after gem on our website. 

The soundtrack was recorded by Portuguese composer António de Sousa Dias who studied at the Lisbon Conservatory and University of Paris VIII, with an interest in jazz, electronics, musicology and computer programming. De Sousa Dias wrote many scores for cinema and TV alongside working with the theatre groups ColecViva and Opus Sic. He was appointed as a teacher of composition and electro-acoustics at the Escola Superior de Música in Lisbon.  His soundtracks and theatre scores are known to embrace a wide range of generic style but had a heavy lean to dramatic focus.

The official soundtrack for 'Os Abismos Da Meia-Noite’ has a 70’s psychedelia vibe, using elements of lush orchestrations, jazz / funk and easy listening instrumentals, alongside sonic electronics and soundscapes. De Sousa Dias is still composing soundtracks for films, documentaries and TV to this day.

Sunday, 1 August 2021

Ingrid Chavez ‎– May 19, 1992 (1991)

Genre: Electronic, Rock, Pop
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Paisley Park, Warner Bros. Records

01.   Heaven Must Be Near
02.   Hippy Blood
03.   Candle Dance
04.   Elephant Box
05.   Slappy Dappy
06.   Little Mama
07.   Jadestone
08.   Wintersong
09.   Spiritual Storm
10.   Sad Puppet Dance
11.   Whispering Dandelions

Composed By – Ingrid Chavez, Levi Seacer Jr., Michael Koppelman, Paisley Park
Producer – Ingrid Chavez, Levi Seacer Jr., Michael Koppelman , Paisley Park

A história começa ainda nos oitentas, em Minneapolis. Nascida no Novo México, crescida na Georgia, Ingrid Chavez chegou a Minneapolis na segunda metade da década. Pagou as contas trabalhando num café, ao mesmo tempo que procurava um caminho na música. Prince escutou-a. Ingrid colaborou no álbum de 1988 Lovessexy, mais tarde no elenco do filme Graffiti Bridge. E pelo caminho um desafio para criarem, juntos, um álbum de poesia. Poemas de Ingrid, lidos pela sua voz, Prince ao lado, ao piano... Gravaram takes, mas o projecto acabou na gaveta. A ideia seria recuperada mais tarde, mas já sem Prince como co-protagonista, a edição do álbum fazendo-se contudo pelo selo da sua Paisley Park Records.
Editado em 1992, May 19, 1992 (a data indicava a passagem de um ano sobre o dia em que fora tirada a fotografia usada na capa) não é contudo o álbum spoken word (com piano) que começara a nascer em estúdio algum tempo antes. É certo que o registo spoken word não abandonou o disco – basta escutar Elephant Box para o (re)descobrir. Mas da ideia inicial de um álbum de poesia, Ingrid Chavez fez nascer um álbum de pop de rara elegância, electrónicas, batidas bem desenhadas e uma contenção quase minimalista nos arranjos fazendo deste um dos mais belos (e hoje espantosamente esquecidos) dos discos de inícios dos noventas. Cruzam-se aqui vários caminhos, do paisagismo delicado dos fundos ao fulgor de genética funk de algumas batidas, a voz sussurrante e doce de Ingrid Chavez conferindo-lhe uma personalidade única. Do alinhamento nasceram três singles – Elephant Box, Hippy Blood e Heaven Must Be Near – mas pouco aconteceu depois...
Ainda em 1992, e depois de colaborar na gravação de I Surrender, com David Sylvian e Ryuichi Sakamoto, casava com o primeiro e tornava-se parceira em alguns dos seus trabalhos seguintes. Projectaram um álbum que ficou na gaveta. Mas em 2010, sem alarido, Ingrid Chavez regressou aos discos, editando A Flutter And Some Words.
sound + vision / Nuno Galopim