Amadou & Mariam share their story with the RBMA
Amadou & Mariam’s personal and musical connection has endeared them to listeners around the world. The Malian musicians met at the Institute for the Young Blind in Bamako during the mid-seventies, where they developed a rapport that would see them performing together in Les Ambassadeurs and eventually, as a duo. Their visual impairments haven’t prevented them from learning multiple languages and becoming great communicators, but for audiences fluent only in English, there has previously existed a communication barrier. However, thanks to live translation, Amadou and Mariam were able to host a seamless lecture at the Red Bull Music Academy recently, taking questions from their English-speaking interviewer and audience members, as they shared their story.
Points of discussion included the pair’s appreciation of a wide variety of music; Amadou and Mariam referencing everything from Led Zeppelin to Jean-Michel Jarre in the discussion. Also spoken about was synaesthesia and imagined imagery – Amadou discussing how different colours are assigned to different instruments in his mind. They also spoke of their life in present day Mali, describing it as a place with music on almost every corner. Stream the informative, subtitled lecture below.
Elliot Galvin and TVAM Make Early ‘Best of 2018’ lists
Jazz pianist Elliot Galvin and solo artist/producer TVAM both made early ‘Best of 2018’ album lists this week. Galvin’s third solo record, The Influencing Machine, came in joint sixteenth with label mates Roller Trio and Whirlwind Recordings’ Julian Siegel Quartet in the Jazzwise ‘Albums of the Year’ list, while TVAM’s breathtaking debut, Psychic Data, was Piccadilly Records’ fifth favourite LP of this year. Both records are streaming and selling via Bandcamp. TVAM plays a sold out Manchester show next month and Elliot Galvin returns to Band on the Wall with Dinosaur in March, 2019.
The Repeat Listen: Jacco Gardner – Somnium
Tasting Notes: Harald Grosskopf – Synthesist, Bo Hansson – Music Inspired by Lord of the Rings, Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells, Wapassou – Messe En Re Mineur, Harmonia – Musik Von Harmonia
Jacco Gardner’s debut album saw his songwriting and production compared with that of Syd Barrett and Philamore Lincoln. While Somnium keeps such comparisons at arms length, it still recalls the wondrous qualities of the music of their era. The significant difference between Somnium and his previous two records is that it is an entirely instrumental album; a 43-minute journey set to a synthesis of vintage keyboards, guitar and drums, as opposed to a conventionally-structured collection of quaint, psychedelic folk-rock songs.
Gardner washes his canvas with synthesised sound: sweeping, breathy pads, melodies with ‘sci-fi’ vibrato and bubbling atonal patches that contribute to the visualisation of an other-worldly environment. Upon those he places delicate acoustic guitar, unassuming drum beats, an array of keyboard parts and the occasional wandering guitar solo. It doesn’t sound like a recipe for a particularly novel album, but it’s the textural diversity that Gardner achieves through his twisting, stirring suite that gives it an edge and character.
His arrangements are more economical than those crafted by Mike Oldfield, partially owing to the fact that Gardner made the record at two more modest studios, one of them his own space. But a master courtesy of Simon Heyworth (the very man who mastered Tubular Bells,) ties Gardner’s ambitious new project to the lineage of Oldfield’s impactful debut work.
Somnium’s mid section is home to some of it’s most suave grooves, recalling the Düsseldorf school of artists with their fizzy synthetic percussion, motorik structures, dramatic synthesis and futuristic aesthetic. That said, Gardner draws influence from the likes of Bo Hansson, Vangelis, and Brian Eno too, hinting toward how he may’ve envisioned an album that illustrates a narrative, as Vangelis and others did so well during their careers. The record avoids stewing in one single sound and for that reason, is a fun and rewarding listen from front to back.
Cory Wong dropped two new tracks with Dave Koz this week, which the rhythm guitarist has pressed onto a limited 7” single. He continues to infiltrate the smooth jazz scene, using the power of the internet and his DIY editing skills to give it a fresh injection of humour and musical might. Check out Friends at Sea (a smooth jazz cruise perhaps?) below.
Itiberê Orquestra Família release a blissful new LP on Far Out Recordings today, which features this gorgeous new song, Muito Natural. Itiberê Zwarg, bassist with Hermeto Pascoal, is behind the project and if you like the music of Movimento Armorial as well as Brazilian jazz more broadly, this recording will tick plenty of boxes for you. There’s a great story behind this record, which you can check out in the description to the below video.
Drummer Richard Spaven released a new video for Spin this week, featuring dancers choreographed by Ioannis Hatsis. Check out the moody visual below.