Etching out a sense of joy within its grooves is this latest of two prime productions from the gifted Noha. At least that’s what I think when encountering Tsukuba and its eastern melodies as they weave in and out of the tastefully arranged sequence of events that temptingly feel in-between robustly pounding and musically literate. Followed by the even more intriguing Kindness which deepens the elements of mystery still further via compelling, atmospheric swathes of chosen sound alongside rich, improvised percussion and a soaring yet quiet intensity.
The clue really isn’t within the title Ambient Jazz Ensemble that would be a much too simple way to describe the sounds they make. Based around the creative flair inspiring Colin Baldry there is an intensely easy rhythm to their music which is actually packed full of notes and emotions. You can also hear the wealth of differing influences soaked up in recent single Locked featuring the haunting voice of Lynsey Ward, likewise there are a handful of excellent players contributing to the overall shape of the album which explores the feel of drums, keys and horns as much as it digs into atmospheric corners of city life. Try the piano and accompanying musical discourse contained in Ensoul below to sample the diversity.
Jazz will never leave the stage so it’s always great to hear something in the field as refreshing as this. It is also a wonderful way to accompany the ups and downs of your day to day.
In ways this reminds of one of Double Dee & Steinski’s cut-up’s from the mid-eighties as different elements cut in and out of view while leaving the echo of their own indelible stamp. Which in this case ranges from warped piano to jazzy interludes colliding with smouldering bass and pumping drums. Put it this way it is never boring, not predictable like so much else you will hear today. And despite everything it also does not sound like the past repasted in pound signs. Exciting futures lie ahead.
Listening to Yard One capture the sounds surrounding their existence flies in the face of being typecast and that is the thing I like most about their creative work. It feels like musicians at play with a serious, inquiring intention dancing between various reference points while defining their own. I was never huge on labels for music but the title track is more akin to a journey (trains rather than planes) accompanied by a soundtrack of punctuating notes, drums and vibrant synthesis. Costal Breeze contrasts with big, buzzy stabs alongside sizzling hi-hats and super rugged bass with a remix from Philipp Priebe deconstructing the fiery rush of the original with a deeper pulse driving a refreshing vibrancy across its unhurried arrangement. Finally the uplifting Shifting Sands completes the analogy with rapid drum machines employed to illicit a sense of danger as repeating keys preach their magic.
These days disco samples tend to leave me cold. I’ve just heard it repeated once too often, especially when there are so many new sounds to be experienced, but as is always the case the beauty of music is its ability to surprise you. Things You Say loops a slice of history into an inescapably elevated experience teasing out the words funk and groove equally on the heaven sent, Thank You Baby. It’s that good. Complimented by the more explosive Play The Drums which sequences a much tougher combination of hotwired bass and drums plus a heady rush of voices and contemporary synthesized stabs. Functions in any decade.
Release: June 24
Buy / listen https://palmrecs.ffm.to/thankyoubaby
Please god don’t let anyone begin their review with a reference to music for sleep. This isn’t. It is, if you care to listen and I hope you do, Andrea Porcu‘s mid-expanding trip into the subconscious unfolding across some forty two minutes of rather gorgeous stimulating pleasure, created with the aim of seeking to relieve the anxiety that comes with simply act of being alive. Not an easy task as most will tell you but this goes some way in joining the human chain together alongside the notion that unity doesn’t divide us. This is a wonderful celebration of the power of sound teasing transcendent light out from the corners. Intensely musical. Intently emotional.
There is music. Then there is music created by Ron Trent. The review could end there but I have loved his output for too long to keep quiet about it in so few words. There is a kind of surreal feeling attached to listening to this album, his first in eleven years, because this sounds like everything you have ever heard intertwined with the imagination of how perfect music feels free from all the online noise. That personal aspect courses throughout the vein of What do the stars say to you as if you are engaged in an exchange of conversation.
Upon reflection some of the styles of music which once drew me close now drive me away in a different direction. I guess along the way as you encounter more radical propositions, even if they were created decades ago, that search for the new to you alongside ever exciting ideas feeds a hunger that never quite leaves. Maybe that’s as much to do with life as it is about music itself, all the wild cards dealt from Punk to Acid House – fill in your own blanks. Then again perhaps the already known is where you are most comfortable. It is all a matter of personal taste, not unforgiving opinion. In the difficult process of trying summon up a question it would be to ask if the musicality almost seems a little dated, more suited to the lost decades of jazz-funk. Maybe on occasion such as on Admira Feat. Gigi Masin a sense of that might prevail amid the instrumental solos and familiar array of synthesised sound. Perhaps not so on the engaging balearic chug fuelling WARM. Does it reflect timeless musical escapades, or simply reflect our seemingly never-ending desire for the reassurance of soft nostalgia?
The album obviously is built around a set of circumstances, one part of the artists being, which as we already know has produced some of the most wonderful music alive. Therefore if the cornerstones touched upon here work for you then you are going to love listening to this.
I began the album with the embrace of Cool Water feat. Ivan Conti (Azymuth) and Lars Bartkuhn, then the sublime Cycle Of Many but by the time I reached the end I wasn’t quite so sure….
“I don’t have time to listen to your DJ mix. I don’t have time for DJ’s.”
The perfect sentiment to accompany this killer piece of incendiary music, which doesn’t pull punches musically or otherwise. Sometimes sounds are so compelling it really doesn’t matter exactly when they were made, they inherently carry that timeless gene with its emotional charge burning directly into your subconscious. The versions and remixes are all ridiculously good too. Try the Street Mix for syncopated, sleazy heaven or the Happy707 Remix for blistering relief. Then, Girls Dance With Computer quickly senses the early 1980’s world of electronic disco with a passion while feeding it hungrily to you, complimented by the Dina Summer Remix (Local Suicide & Kalipo) all bases are touched upon adding the flair of melody to the affair. Excellent.
The message is in the music. Music being the key word here. Playful, jazzy, certainly sassy this hot combination of rhythm and words does so divinely as they celebrate their favourite Portuguese beach club, Yamba. Next is the remix of Ashes of Snow from Clive Henry who explodes the tempo while lending the production a much deeper, moodier feel that works beautifully with stinging hi-hats alongside driving bass and keys. Second track, On The Banks of The River then returns to more Balearic climes to end via its breezy, shuffling grooves and echoes of primetime Talking Heads.
Release: June 10
Something for the weekend? Originally complied and released back in the late seventies this fresh collection now adds additional tracks to the celebratory playlist doubling the output. Numbers like Rockers Nu Crackers by Glen Washington really garb attention while the production values of Price Far I’s heavy-duty Deck Of Cards now seem otherworldly, especially if reggae isn’t something you always choose to listen to. The music produced in this era has a uniquely distinctive feel setting itself apart from the structures of rock n roll while the songs define the realities of the era covering sweetness and light and contrasting conflicts. The second disc continues the lyrical themes proposed as the music resounds with the power of Dub echoing throughout its system, this time bonus standouts include the warm melodies of Stop Picking On Me by Max Romeo and of course Uptown Top Ranking from Althea and Donna still making a defining statement, as does Culture’s prophetic Two Sevens Clash.