José James unveils plans for new label
Vocalist and songwriter José James announced a number of exciting projects in a buoyant message to his social media followers last week. They included a new vinyl edition of his debut album The Dreamer, initially released on Brownswood recordings and celebrating its tenth anniversary, plus his plans for newly-established record label, Rainbow Blonde records.
Taali’s debut LP Hear You Now is to be Rainbow Blonde’s first new release and follows a brand new ‘artist-on-artist creative interview series’, established and hosted by Taali and James. Entitled 1+2+3+4, it began this week, with inaugural guest Lalah Hathaway discussing her creative process.
The repeat listen: Julia Kent – Temporal
Tasting Notes: Peter Broderick – Music for Contemporary Dance, High Plains – Pilot Hill, Bing & Ruth – Tomorrow was the Golden Age, Ennio Morricone – Veruschka, Tim Hecker – Mort aux Vaches
Those who binge-watched the riveting Netflix series Making a Murderer may recognise an almost instantaneous connection with Last Hour Story, the flooring 12-minute opener to Julia Kent’s fifth full-length album, Temporal.
In the introductory passages, the New York-based cellist and composer places pared-down motifs against a repeating delay-drenched string pluck, establishing a sombre, mysterious tone that draws one into a similar state of intense concentration as Gustavo Santaoalalla’s well-known documentary theme. By the time its rising, resonant octave bass notes and stirring lead melody are introduced, the listener is already entranced by the simple yet evocative ideas Kent has interwoven.
Described as ‘a meditation on the transitory and fragile nature of existence’, much of Temporal’s music was informed by the stark physicality of the dancers and actors Kent has accompanied in the theatre. That humanity, energy and intensity is palpable on Imbalance, a piece which like Clint Mansell’s Lux Aeterna, has an uncanny ability to stir tension and uncertainty, thanks to its breathy cello drone, rigid tone block pulse and inventive string harmonies.
The track represents the record’s first bold use of electronics, as slicing metallic patterns – at odds with the throbbing synth bass – rifle across the sound stage. Alongside the album’s first track, Imbalance captures Kent’s phenomenal restrain and understanding of arrangement. The elements are few and fairly stark, yet heavy, menacing and unexpected in their development.
Kent has spoken previously about enjoying ambient electronic music – which makes great sense when considering the design behind pieces like Conditional Futures — a track that wouldn’t have felt out of place on Actress’ Ghettoville or Tim Hecker’s The Ravedeath 1972. It also wouldn’t come as a surprise were she to express a love for Ennio Morricone’s early seventies soundtrack work, given the way her pizzicato strings and chiming metallic tones trickle over tender strings lines on Through the Window, recalling some of the softer compositions on Morricone’s Veruschka soundtrack.
As previously stated, the breadth of Kent’s composition is both impressive and absorbing, ensuring the album has sufficient detail, light, shade and dynamism, to make the passage of forty minutes feel like mear moments. Kent’s rich instrumentals are far from easy listening, but their engagement with our humanity begets an altogether different sense of satisfaction.
Trumpeter Nick Walters, who you may recognise through his involvement with Riot Jazz Brass Band or Tenderlonious’ Ruby Rushton, releases his new record with The Paradox Ensemble, today. Ushered in by Ben Kelly’s sousaphone, the swaggering large ensemble composition Dear Old Thing has a subtle range of flavours and Walters’ true, traditionally-aware soloing shows his great command of instrument.
Arpeggiating electronics introduce Josefin Öhrn’s new single, Desire. Sung in both French and English, the straightforward psych-synth earworm is quickly committed to memory, its hazy disco breaks showing a cool development in Öhrn & The Liberation’s sound.
Wandering Monster’s new album on Ubuntu Music is a subtle jazz-rock affair, with angular chords, Zappa-esque licks and infectious rhythms distributed cleverly among the five man ensemble. The Rush Begins encapsulates their musical values and showcases the strength of their writing, arrangement and soloing.
The intriguingly baroque and seemingly Egberto Gismonti-inspired psychedelic folk music Swans Chamber released earlier this week caught us off guard. The jaunty and natural Swan Three (Swan Wept) refuses to settle throughout its four-minute duration, seamlessly incorporating a range of textures and challenging classical composition ideas.
Young Jamaican artist Koffee, one of our ones to watch for 2019, released a new visual for the trap and roots-reggae infused track Throne this week. Her positive and inventive flow, wise words and effortless tone are the song’s star attraction – so good that we can forgive the flagrant disregard for road safety she shows in its video 😉🚕
Complex premiered the new video for Kaleem Taylor’s Not Alone today, recognising the vocalist’s ‘surprising gift for undressing the painful minutiae of modern day relationships’ in his recently-released single. The video was directed by Ash Defoe and sees Taylor tackling spiralling emotions, as the lyrics allude to.
Wandering Monster photo credit: Porl Medlock