Music RECORDS JAZZ & WORLD
JAZZ EMPIRICAL Elements of Truth (Naim Label) ●●●●●
Empirical’s drift away from early bop-oriented leanings continues on their most diffuse release to date. There is a deliberately spacey, dream-like feel here, referencing Messiaen and Björk alongside Eric Dolphy and Andrew Hill. Only hard- hitting alto saxophonist Nathaniel Facey and drummer Shaney Forbes remain from the original line-up, and Facey’s interaction with vibes player Lewis Wright is now the focal point of their sound. Bassist Tom Farmer makes an important contribution, not least as a composer, while guest pianist George Fogel provides effective and unobtrusive support in their explorations. (Kenny Mathieson)
JAZZ BREACH On The Walk (Breach) ●●●●●
This Edinburgh-based trio features three of the leading musicians on the current Scottish jazz scene, guitarist Graeme Stephen, pianist Paul Harrison focusing on organ and electronics in this setting – and drummer Chris Wallace. Each contributes original compositions written for this band,
a process which ensures both artistic diversity and a sharing of creative energy. That music is often rhythmically and harmonically adventurous, and their collective empathy and finely-honed interaction is clearly evident, whether conjuring up reflective, atmospheric textures or stretching out in more energised workouts. (Kenny Mathieson)
WORLD MUZSIKÁS FEATURING MÁRTA SEBESTYÉN The Very Best of Muzsikás featuring Márta Sebestyén, Fly Bird, Fly (Nascente) ●●●●● Early on, Hungarian musicians Muzsikás, with singer Márta Sebestyén, were at the forefront of the European folk scene. Forty years after they pushed forward traditions championed by ethnomusicologists Bartok and Kodaly, they sound as fiery and fresh as ever. Embrace the zinging fiddles beloved of the Hungarian táncház ‘dance house’ movement, pipes keening out shepherds tunes, mouth-harp flute bird songs, all infused with stirring emotion. Few voices can match that of Sebestyén (cue the soundtrack of The English Patient, which she sang on). (Jan Fairley)
WORLD CAETANO VELOSO & MARIA GADÚ Multishow Ao Vivo (Universal) ●●●●● This superb stripped-back concert sees Brazilian hero and singer/guitarist Caetano Veloso partnered by up-and-coming female singer Maria Gadú. Armed only with acoustic guitars, their deceptively light and meaningful voices blend beautifully, supported bycaptivating Brazilian harmonies.
This is intimacy writ-large: both offer aching solos, share classics and swap parts on lesser known pieces. As an aside, shame on Universal for not bothering to translate lyrics already heavily obscured by ambitious graphics. Luckily the beauty of it all seduces even if you’re unsure exactly what they are singing about. Magical. (Jan Fairley)
SINGLES & DOWNLOADS
At last, the collaboration we’ve all been waiting for! Yes, it’s James Morrison feat. Jessie J ‘Up’ (Island) ●●●●● and it’s astonishing that they’ve come up with a lump of saccharine X Factor duet fodder and not the greatest song you’ve ever heard. What went wrong? For this issue’s pop fix, then, we’ll need to turn to Erasure ‘Be With You’ (Mute) ●●●●●, a reasonably efficient club chart track while being no ‘Victim of Love’, and Kelly Rowland ‘Down For Whatever’ (Universal Republic) ●●●●●, a muscular slab of Rihanna-style commercial dancefloor wobble coming to a boy racer’s bass bin near you soon. Meanwhile, somewhere in indieland, if you liquidised The
Jesus & Mary Chain and diluted it with nine parts Coldplay you’d end up with Vaccines ‘Wetsuit’ (Sony) ●●●●●. Much more satisfying guitar anthems can be found elsewhere on a fraction of the hype, for example the summery buzz set against a wash of fuzzy guitar that is Big Deal ‘Distant Neighbourhood’ (Mute) ●●●●● and the frayed comedown country of First Aid Kit ‘The Lion’s Roar’ (Wichita) ●●●●●.
So to Single of the Month, and it’s a tough choice from a wide field. Will it be the wistfully enduring alternative country twang of Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy ‘Quail & Dumplings’ (Domino) ●●●●●, which is blessed with a raw and yearning guitar solo late in its life? Or the sleek, soulful ambient house electronica of Junior Boys ‘You’ll Improve Me’ (Domino) ●●●●●, lent an altogether different feel by the dense, claustrophobic bass of Caribou’s lead-off mix? Nope, instead it’s a gold, silver and bronze treble for the same label, with the top prize going to the effervescent, unforgettable pop lines of Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks’ ‘Senator’ (Domino) ●●●●●✎(David Pollock)
This Mortal Coil Deluxe box-set (4AD) ●●●●● The first three albums, plus an extra CD of singles, from the lush 1980s dream-pop project. Featuring the Cocteau Twins, echoes of Badalamenti film scores, and lots of swoony, breathy New Agey singing.
Seekae +Dome (Rice Is Nice/Popfrenzy) ●●●●● Soft and gentle IDM from Sydney, with big warm, woozy beats over hip-hop and ambient sounds. A few wishy- washy filler tracks slow things down, but then thankfully it’s back to the underwater disco.
Sunn O))) ØØ Void (Southern Lord) ●●●●● A reissue of the Seattle doom-metallers second album. Brain chillingly heavy drone; like the sound of a sluggish and grey November Monday in Edinburgh. Great for unplugging to; most definitely not one for a party.
Smith & Burrows Funny Looking Angels ●●●●● A bleak piano and guitar ballad tribute to Christmas, with Tom Smith (Editors) and Andy Burrows (Razorlight) covering ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’, ‘Wonderful Life’ and Yazoo’s ‘Only You’. Three List staff asked, ‘Is this a comedy album?’. Oh dear. Mickey Moonlight and the Time Axis Manipulation Corporation Sixteen brief and inconsequential images . . . (Ed Banger) ●●●●● Psychedelic, cosmic disco and funk, calling upon George Lewis Jr (Twin Shadow) New Young Pony Club and others for a carpet ride through space.
Eleanor Friedberger Last Summer (Merge) ●●●●● One half of Fiery Furnaces goes for a much more straight- ahead sound than the frenzied, time-signature switching jangly rock she makes with her brother, Matthew. Calm, classy; a grower. (Claire Sawers)
90 THE LIST 17 Nov–15 Dec 2011