Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Nicolette ‎– Let No-One Live Rent Free In Your Head (1996)

Style: Leftfield, Downtempo
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Talkin' Loud

01.   Don't Be Afraid
02.   We Never Know
03.   Song For Europe
04.   Beautiful Day
05.   Always
06.   Nervous
07.   Where Have All The Flowers Gone?
08.   No Government As A Way Of Life (Plaid Remix)
09.   Nightmare
10.   Judgement Day
11.   You Are Heaven Sent
12.   Just To Say Peace And Love
13.   No Government (Original Version)
14.   Don't Be Ashamed (Don't Be Afraid Part II)

Producer – Alec Empire, Dego, Felix, Nicolette, Plaid

Following Shara Nelson and Tricky, another offshoot of the Massive Attack trip-hop academy makes her album debut. It's a decent enough offering, adventurous rather than populist, though it doesn't quite live up to the promise of last year's single, "No Government". 
Present here in two substantially different mixes, that track is still the best thing on the album - Nicolette's simplistic anarchist sentiment set against either the twitching, mechanistic backdrop constructed by remixers Plaid, or, more comfortably, the shuffling groove of her own original mix. Elsewhere, the other producers drafted in to offer different views of Nicolette's songs sometimes seem to be viewing them from another country entirely - particularly Alec Empire, whose distorted, rasping techno barrages on "Nightmare" and "Nervous" may be appropriate to the subject matter, but are hardly the "pleasure attack" of which she sings on the latter. 
The lazy double-bass groove of Dego's "Just to Say Peace and Love" is more in line with her talents, and Nicolette herself demonstrates a natural sensitivity to her own voice with the marimbas and gongs of "Always". It's a strangely plain voice, favouring clarity over character, and it often seems stranded in the exotic surroundings, as if she might prefer a straight, jazzy backing to these more complex soundscapes. 
The discomfort works to best effect on the updated Black Star Liner theme of "Song for Europe", and there are signs of how effectively it might be presented in the multi-tracked counterpoints of the chorus of "Beautiful Day", intertwining against the heavily compressed, triggered synth rushes of the backing track. Impressively varied, Let No One Live Rent Free In Your Head offers a snapshot of where British fringe pop is situated in the middle of 1996: everywhere at once.
Ryan Gilbey / Independent

Kadhja Bonet ‎– The Visitor (2016)

Style: Soul, Neo Soul
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label:  Fat Possum Records, Fresh Selects

1.   Intro – Earth Birth
2.   Honeycomb
3.   Fairweather Friend
4.   The Visitor
5.   Gramma Honey
6.   Portrait of Tracy
7.   Nobody Other
8.   Francisco
9.   Remember The Rain (Bonus Track)

Bass – Itai Shapira 
Drums – Te'amir Yohannes Sweeney
Synthesizer – Itai Shapira, Peter Dyer 
Electric Piano, Flute, Strings – Kadhja Bonet 
Drum Programming, Guitar – Itai Shapira, Kadhja Bonet
Co-producer, Engineer, Mixed By – Itai Shapira
Written By, Producer, Engineer, Mixed By, Arranged By, Vocals – Kadhja Bonet

Los Angeles’ Kadhja Bonet has been experiencing so much success with the music on her debut EP The Visitor that she decided to run a re-release. Now available on Fat Possum records, our ears were quite taken aback by the warmth that seemed to emanate from the speakers when casually enjoying the album so, of course, we had to write about it.
“Earth Birth”, the intro to the EP, adequately serves as a twinkling introduction to what is to come. It has been composed to sound like the background music to an epic birth, something we assume is akin to Kadhja Bonet’s official bio. “Honeycomb” takes a different approach, sounding more like a jam from the 60’s, while “Fairweather Friend” calls to the forefront a sore subject for many people. “The Visitor” sounds more like a fairytale in its composition, the initial strings setting the tone for what feels like a vintage movie. This is only enhanced by the fact that Kadhja’s voice sounds like an otherworldly lounge singer from a different time.

Track five is titled “Gramma Honey” and we’re not quite sure what to think with a name like that, but its slow progression is timeless and intriguing. “Portrait of Tracy” consists of whole lines that sound as though they should be part of an intricate, old Disney movie, while the light percussion taps at our hearts as we swing our hips to the music. “Nobody Other” is a sure fire love song, with such a delicate disposition that we’re afraid it might break while we’re listening to it. “Francisco” rounds out the EP quite nicely, once again with vintage appeal and a nostalgia to its composition, allowing Kadhja to adequately display her full range of vocals.

This is an album that transcends generations, and it’s certainly something that you will enjoy from beginning to end, pausing only to flip the vinyl on your record player.
Meredith Schneider / IMPOSE