Tuesday, 2 February 2021

Sam Gendel ‎– Satin Doll (2020)

Genre: Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Nonesuch

01.   Afro Blue
02.   Saxofone Funeral
03.   Satin Doll
04.   Goodbye Pork Pie Hat
05.   Stardust
06.  The Theem
07.   O Ovo
08.   Cold Duck Time
09.   Freddie Freeloader
10.   Glide Mode
11.   In A Sentimental Mood
12.   Love Theme From Spartacus

Saxophone – Sam Gendel
Electric Bass – Gabe Noel
Electronic Percussion – Philippe Melanson

Sam Gendel’s Satin Doll deconstructs jazz standards in a woozy crunk of dense electronic synthwave dreamscapes. With an ideally quirky lyricism, the Californian saxophonist and producer is like a jazz Mac DeMarco with the early morning hungover sound of Oneohtrix Point Never. The music is zeitgeisty and intensely millennial, and might alienate listeners who might find the saturated production testing. New generational directions can seem ugly at first: from bebop to no-wave to grime. Consider the rock n roll revolution that had some disinclined elders reaching for their earmuffs. 

Chillwave (and associated subgenres synthwave and vaporwave) is a trippy development in loop music related to shoegaze. The genre is vaguely built on the shortest of nagging loops and few if any ‘changes’ in favour of evolution and detail. It’s minimalistic but presented in a wash of soft focus chorus and delay with a lo-fi analogue feel. The woozy psychedelic day-glo neon drench of the album Satin Doll feels less bound to loops than Gendel’s album Music for Saxofone & Bass Guitar with bassist Sam Wilke, which had a loose and lazy improvised feel allied to the maxim “Keep it no melody just a solo”. With Gabe Noel on electric bass and Philippe Malanson on electronic percussion the feel extends the form with a greater sense of structure, however so loose, with plenty of melody, however so deconstructed. 

The record has you going back to the originals to try and figure out what’s going on. Mongo Santamaria’s Afro Blue is wonderfully unrecognisable. It’s new music. You wonder, why advertise it when it’s so thoroughly deconstructed you could style it out as an original? It works both ways; for example, Charlie Parker’s thing was taking existing chord progressions and extemporising new and incredible toplines over them. Scrapple From The Apple is Honeysuckle Rose. Ornithology is How High The Moon. Donna Lee is (Back Home Again In) Indiana.

Mingus’s immortal death lullaby to Lester Young, Goodbye Pork Pie Hat finds Gendel retaining the topline intact on heavily effected sax, but the originality is he uses sound as much as melodic stroke harmonic language to explore the song. The vocodery robot female vocal might make some of the traddier jazz audience reach for the stop button with some force. But remember: autotune is the new electric guitar. Deal with it. 

The breezy appeal of Freddie Freeloader washes up satisfyingly onto the comedown beach of Gendel’s arrangement and production. Ellington’s In A Sentimental Mood also integrates the topline and arrangement in such a complete way that it sounds like Sam Gendel rather than Sam Gendel with a melody on top. Originals Glide Mode and Saxofone Funeral serve up all the appealing elements of this music with less of the melodic cheese.

Stardust, on the other hand, ramps up the inherent nausea of that tune. It sounds like dementia. If you had half day closing at a crematorium and you got locked inside somehow and music was being piped through, it would be this. Deliberately and compellingly horrible, it seems like an exercise in taking something overripe and then juicing it as an exploration of musical self-consciousness in the spirit of millennial irony.

The album is such a lush and complex sonic experience that the themes can add a bit too much specificity to what is often quite a pleasantly vague experience. You’re reminded of Brian Eno’s comment about My Bloody Valentine’s Soon, about which Brain One said, it “sets a new standard for pop … it’s the vaguest piece of music ever to have been a hit.” It’s a complicated affair to be that vague. Shoegaze isn’t just about effects units, it’s a state of mind. Satin Doll itself is scrupulously vague, which is not a criticism. If it was really late at night and I was tired enough to hallucinate, I might hallucinate this album. It’s commendable as both an examplar of a zeitgeisty niche in itself and as an interesting exercise in rethinking jazz in ultra-contemporary terms.  As with many compelling albums there’s as much to infuriate you as enchant you, but that’s a whole thing, isn’t it? The New LoFi webzine asked why Gendel always spells saxophone using an ‘f’. He said simply, “It’s provocative.”
AJ Dehany / London Jazz News

Almanaque ‎– Descantes E Cantaréus (1979)

Genre: Folk, World, & Country
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: EMI

01.   La Sirigoça
02.   Moda Das Magadas
03.   Cantiga De La Segada
04.   Quadrilha
05.   São João
06.   Retratista
07.   Linda Pastorinha
08.   Janeiras
09.   Não Quero Sapato Baixo
10.   Tirana
11.   As Armas Do Meu Adufe
12.   O Almocreve
13.   Estrigadeiras Do Meu Linho
14.   Moda Transmontana
15.   Oliveiras, Oliveiras
16.   Pingacho
17.   Senhora Santa Combina
18.   Vila De Barrancos
19.   Quadrilha De Harmónio

Producer – Nuno Rodrigues
Technician – Filipe Manuel, Hugo Ribeiro

Basehead ‎– Not In Kansas Anymore (1992)

Genre: Hip Hop, Rocket
Format: CD, Cass.
Label: Imago, RCA

01.   Not In Kan
02.   Introduction
03.   Brown Kisses (Part One)
04.   I Need A Joint
05.   Pass The Thought
06.   Greener Pastures
07.   Brown Kisses (Part Too)
08.   Commercial Break
09.   Shouldna Dunnit
10.   Split Personality
11.   Not The Same
12.   Hoes On Tour (Part One)
13.   The Popeye Philosophy
14.   Hoes On Tour (Part Two)
15.   Fluffy And Richard
16.   Hoes On Tour (Deel Drie)
17.   Nite Out On The Town
18.   Do You Wanna Fuck (Or What?)
19.   Hoes On Tour (Part Four)

Bass – Bill Conway 
Drums – Brian Hendrix
Guitar – Keith Lofton
Mixed By – Marco Delmar, Michael Ivey
Turntables – Clarence Greenwood
Written-By – Keith Lofton, Michael Ivey
Producer, Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, Drum Programming – Michael Ivey

Although it retains many of the same qualities of their critically-acclaimed debut, Basehead's second album, Not In Kansas Anymore, is missing a key ingredient -- charm. Where Play With Toys was a unique record, creating its own world with stoned, hazy funk and psychedelic, lo-fi hip-hop, Not In Kansas Anymore sounds lazy. Musically, it is a continuation of the debut -- in fact, its a replica of the debut, offering the same tricks without any new flourishes. That doesn't mean it's a bad record. There's several tracks that rank with the best songs on the debut, but there's nothing that has the same sense of discovery that made Play With Toys an interesting record.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine / AllMusic