Sebastian Plano’s ‘Verve’ is a Musical Response to Adversity

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For contemporary musicians, theft can be a heartbreaking occurrence with far-reaching consequences. Mercury KX artist Sebastian Plano was a victim of theft himself in 2013, when a laptop and drives containing master files for his newly-finished album Verve, along with material for an EP were stolen. Without backups, reference files or sheet music, Plano was left to ruminate over the recordings he had lost; the composition, arrangement and production ideas he may not be able to capture or replicate.

This was a story Plano shared on Facebook recently, as he explained the creative process that had led to his new album Verve – the record created after his masters had been stolen. Plano now feels that what started as an awful experience ended up becoming an artistic challenge to rise to, an uncontrollable event that shaped his creative response thereafter. His attitude and approach is an inspiring one, that will hopefully come to the comfort of musicians who has also lost instruments, ideas and expensive technology in uncontrollable circumstances. His new album Verve, a calming balm to suppress the rage that theft might cause, is released today. Check out his Facebook post with the story below and stream his new record here.

The Repeat Listen: Nick Waterhouse – Nick Waterhouse

Tasting Notes: The Seeds – The Seeds, The Sha La-Das – Love in the Wind, Night Beats – Myth of a Man, Various Artists – Chess Chartbusters vol. 1, Lee Dorsey – Ya Ya

Nick Waterhouse’s fourth studio album is the first to take his name for a title – perhaps an indication of how representative of his musical ethos this new work is. Like Gabe Roth, whose Sh*tty is Pretty doctrine has kept the values of ‘50s and ‘60s record-making at the forefront of contemporary R&B and soul music production, Waterhouse also has particular ideas about how best to achieve a great sound in the studio and his own ethos is all over this record. Waterhouse’s preferred environment is one of analogue signal chains, magnetic tape and recording eye to eye as often as is possible.

Knowing this, it’s understandable that the songwriting and production signatures of ‘50s and ‘60s R&B — like the sounds of the great Chess and Specialty 45s of the era — shine through on these recordings. Waterhouse’s time working in record shops and collecting 45s seems to have made him both deferential to the music of that era, but also wary of how to reference it, having assimilated its characteristics and gained an understanding of what distinguishes its sound.

Tracks like Song for Winners encapsulate his understanding perfectly. Waterhouse brings an Iggy Pop or Sky Saxon-like intensity with his vocals, while baritone sax riffs and backing vocal pads are the subtle facets of the arrangement that give it an early R&B dynamic. He does well to balance his influences and follow his own musical intuition on the track.

Andres Rentaria’s drums throughout the record are exceptional, with his signature fills on Song for Winners and Man Leaves Town notable highlights, but his consistent and hard-driving groove providing a strength and grittiness to the rhythm tracks.

Mando Dorame’s sax playing is another highlight and though one of the elements that most clearly calls back to the late ‘50s R&B band dynamic, perfectly fits the style of song and arrangement Waterhouse is crafting on the record. Songs like Thought & Act are fine examples of Waterhouse’s ability as a writer – his creative changes, sensitive melodies, lyrics and vocal harmony arrangements showing a subtlety in contrast with the album’s attention-grabbing singles.

If like Roth, Waterhouse and many other analogue recording devotees, you appreciate the ‘don’t fix what isn’t broken’, gritty and raw reality of live-in-one-room recording, earnest songwriting and infectious R&B band arrangements, here you’ll find a record that most likely ticks your boxes!

Nick Waterhouse is released next Friday on Innovative Leisure.

New Sounds and Visuals

The slow-motion black and white footage accompanying Sebastian Zawadzki’s new composition Time Capsule is a perfect match for the pace and tone for this contemporary classical work. Sensitively shot and choreographed, it sees barefooted dancers moving elegantly around the cobbled courtyards of a history-steeped village as piano and strings rise and falls with dramatic energy.

While the new record by Organic Pulse Ensemble conjures images of an Arkestra-like collective, revelling in the joys of melodic spiritual jazz recital, it is in fact the project of a single musician. Self-taught artist Gustav Horneij hails from the North of Sweden and is the sole overseer of his “onesemble”. His weaving of drums, percussion, bass and woodwinds on Spring River creates a luscious and loose sound world, reminiscent of the natural and transportive works of the many jazz collectives formed in the late sixties and early seventies.

The mind-boggling range of effects on display in Snarky Puppy’s new video for Bad Kids to the Back hasn’t gone unnoticed this week! The work of Amalia Drewes, Michaël Alcaras and Stella K, the video captures the vibrancy and bounciness of the Justin Stanton-composed number, which features an awesome passage of duelling drums from Jason “JT” Thomas, Larnell Lewis and Jamison Ross, plus a gorgeous sax solo from Bob Reynolds.

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