Monday, May 29, 2023

Music Week

May archive (final).

Music: Current count 40292 [40245] rated (+47), 38 [42] unrated (-4: 11 new, 27 old).

I wrote another substantial (4963 words, 100 links) Speaking of Which yesterday. Two more pieces I would have included had I seen them:

I had a fairly productive week listening to new records, although I often struggled coming up with albums to play next. Only two clear A- records this week, and I apologize in advance for not even trying to write a serious note on Arlo Parks. I did play the record three times, and I liked her 2021 album Collapsed Into Sunbeams as much. About it, I wrote:

Arlo Parks: Collapsed Into Sunbeams (2021, Transgressive): Semi-pop singer-songwriter from London, given name Anaïs Oluwatoyin Estelle Marinho, ancestors from Nigeria, Chad, and France, first album after two EPs. I, for one, find "Hope" remarkably reassuring, and less for the lyrics than for the music, something few others have been able to do (Stevie Wonder, I guess). I wouldn't have held it for the sixth single, but it probably wouldn't have been my first pick either. A-

Of the high B+ albums, the ones that came closest were those by Avalon Emerson and Asher Gamedze.

I've done the indexing on the May archive, but haven't added the introductions yet. The haul for May is 212 albums.

New records reviewed this week:

Bas Jan: Baby U Know (2022, Lost Map): British band, "experimental post-punk," four women, Serafina Steet the main lyricist, all four credited with vocals (which are often spoken, sometimes didactic). Second album plus a remix and a bunch of EPs. B+(***) [sp]

Patrick Brennan Sonic Openings: Tilting Curvaceous (2021 [2023], Clean Feed): Alto saxophonist, from Detroit, debut 1999, has a couple albums as/with Sonic Openings Under Pressure. This iteration has Brian Groder (trumpet), Rod Williams (piano), Hilliard Greene (bass), and Michael T.A. Thompson (drums). B+(**) [bc]

Brandy Clark: Brandy Clark (2023, Warner): Country singer-songwriter, made her reputation as a songwriter well before her 2013 debut. Fourth album, another solid bunch of songs, although the final ballad drags a bit much. B+(***) [sp]

Luke Combs: Gettin' Old (2023, River House Artists): Country singer-songwriter, called his third album Growin' Up, so probably figured this title comes next, but at 33 he ain't seen nuthin' yet. What he does have is a classic country voice, and more songs than he knows what to do with. They're not all his, either, as evinced by Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car." B+(*) [sp]

Rodney Crowell: The Chicago Sessions (2023, New West): Country singer, emerged as a thoughtful songwriter with his 1978 debut, seems like his albums have only gotten easier over the years. This was recorded in Jeff Tweedy's Chicago studio, and came so easy they didn't even bother thinking up a title for it. B+(**) [sp]

Fatoumata Diawara: London Ko (2023, Wagram Music): Singer-songwriter, born in Côte D'Ivoire, parents from Mali, fifth album since 2011, also has an acting career. B+(*) [sp]

Eluvium: (Whirring Marvels In) Consensus Reality (2023, Temporary Residence): Ambient electronica producer Matthew Cooper, originally from Tennessee, based in Portland, Oregon. More than a dozen records under this alias since 2003. Occasional frills suggest he'd like this to be taken seriously as classical music. I don't care about that, but they do give it a bit of character. B+(*) [sp]

Avalon Emerson: & the Charm (2023, Another Dove): Electronica DJ/producer, from San Francisco, moved on to Berlin, has a DJ-Kicks and bunches of EPs and remixes -- nothing I've heard, but reportedly makes this LP debut a changeup. B+(***) [sp]

Fred Again/Brian Eno: Secret Life (2023, Text): Fred Gibson, English DJ/electronica producer, has three volumes of Actual Life that are quite listenable, teams up with the godfather of ambient and dissolves into his black hole. Closes with a muffled but touching cover of "Come On Home." B [sp]

Fruit Bats: A River Running to Your Heart (2023, Merge): Indie band from Chicago, principally Eric D. Johnson, debut 2001, have a couple albums I've liked -- The Ruminant Band (2009), Tripper (2011) -- carry on with yet another tuneful, pleasing album. B+(*) [sp]

Asher Gamedze: Turbulence and Pulse (2020-21 [2023], International Anthem/Mushroom Hour): South African drummer, debut 2020. With Robin Fassie (trumpet), Buddy Wells (tenor sax, and Thembinoski Mavimbela (bass), plus some voice and guest spots -- enough to detract from an otherwise fine album. B+(***) [sp]

Devin Gray: Most Definitely (2023, Rataplan): Drummer, has a couple dozen credits since 2005, half on the top line, but this is his first solo. Runs long (over 71 minutes). B+(**) [cdr] [06-09]

Gordon Grdina/Mat Maneri/Christian Lillinger: Live at the Armoury (2023, Clean Feed): Guitar and oud player from Vancouver, where this trio with viola and drums was recorded. No recording date given, but trio first met in 2018. B+(*) [bc]

Wolfgang Haffner: Silent World (2022 [2023], ACT): German drummer, dozens of albums since 1989, many more side-credits. Core group of trumpet, keyboards, and bass, plus a dozen guest spots, for a rich and varied but rather gentle and quite lovely texture. B+(***) [sp]

Gerrit Hatcher: Solo Five (2021 [2023], Kettle Hole): Tenor saxophonist from Chicago, has produced quite a lot since 2017, but this is my first acquaintance. Solo, reportedly his fifth solo album. Comes out strong, playing up the struggle that the instrument embodies, then closes after 33:05. B+(***) [cd]

James Holden: Imagine This Is a High Dimensional Space of All Possibilities (2023, Border Community): British electronica producer, fifth album since 2006. Lot of shimmer and space. B+(*) [sp]

François Houle Genera Sextet: In Memoriam (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): Canadian clarinetist, from Quebec, several dozen albums since 1992, dedicates this one to his friend Ken Pickering (1952-2018), who organized concerts in Vancouver. Sextet with Marco von Orelli (cornet/trumpet), Samuel Blaser (trombone), Benoît Delbecq (piano), Michael Bates (bass), and Harris Eisenstadt (drums). B+(**) [bc]

Wesley Joseph: Glow (2023, Secretly Canadian, EP): UK rapper/producer, released a short debut album in 2021 (26:06), goes even shorter here (8 songs, 23:36). B [sp]

Kaytraminé [Aminé/Kaytranada]: Kaytraminé (2023, Venice Music): Two fairly well established solo artists mash their handles together, the former a rapper since 2015, the latter also known as a producer. Plenty of flow, plus some big name guests. B+(***) [sp]

Kesha: Gag Order (2023, Kemosabe): Pop singer, last name Sebert, fifth studio album since 2010, first four charted top 10. Too early to tell with this one, which strikes me as a mixed bag, a bit too slow to take off. B+(*) [sp]

Elle King: Come Get Your Wife (2023, RCA): Singer-songwriter from from Los Angeles or New York, daughter of comedian Rob Schneider, took her mother's name, started as an actress in 1999, recorded an EP in 2012, followed by an album in 2015, with this her third, and most country, right down to the trailer cliché. B+(**) [sp]

Russ Lossing: Alternate Side Parking Music (2019 [2023], Aqua Piazza): Pianist, from Ohio, based in New York, close to thirty albums since 1990, gives a fair amount of space to electronic keyboards. Quartet with Adam Kolker (tenor/soprano sax, bass clarinet), Matt Pavolka (bass), and Dayeon Seok (drums). This was reportedly composed while sitting in his car, waiting for parking spaces to open up -- an experience which, improbably enough, seems to have put him into a whimsical mood. B+(***) [cd] [07-07]

Sei Miguel Unit Core: Road Music (2016-21 [2023], Clean Feed): Pocket trumpet player, scattered pieces with Fala Mariam (alto trombone), Bruno Silva (electric guitar), and Pedro Castello Lopes (triangle, clave, pandeiro, kalengo -- one track each). B [bc]

Sei Miguel: The Original Drum (2015-21 [2023], Clean Feed): Four more scattered tracks, with various lineups -- aside from the leader's pocket trumpet, the only other constant is Fala Mariam's alto trombone. Third track includes more horns, including Rodrigo Amado on tenor sax, but it's no more beguiling than the final piece, with minimal trumpet and trombone winding over a basic drum track. B+(*) [bc]

Dominic Miller: Vagabond (2021 [2023], ECM): Guitarist, born in Argentina to Irish mother and American father, moved to London to study. Eighteen albums since 1984, numerous side-credits, especially with Sting. With piano/keyboards, bass, and drums. B+(*) [sp]

Graham Nash: Now (2023, BMG): Singer-songwriter from England, now 81, with Allan Clarke founded the Hollies in 1962, had a bunch of hit singles like "Bus Stop" in 1966, left to join David Crosby (Byrds) and Steve Stills (Buffalo Springfield) in one of the first supergroups (one that got better when Neil Young joined, and got worse when he left). Seventh solo album since 1971 -- none reputable enough that I bothered checking them out (his 1971 debut peaked at 15 on the US charts, followed by a 34 in 1974, and a 93 in 2016). Pleased to note that there are passable echoes of the Hollies. Just not very many. B- [sp]

Kassa Overall: Animals (2023, Warp): Drummer, has some jazz cred but his own records lean toward hip-hop, as this one does in scattered, sometimes interesting but rarely compelling ways. B+(*) [sp]

Afonso Pais/Tomás Marques: The Inner Colours of Bogin's Outline (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): Guitar and alto sax duo, Portuguese, the guitarist released a debut album in 2004. Five improvised pieces. B [sp]

Arlo Parks: My Soft Machine (2023, Transgressive): British neo-soul singer, parents Nigerian and French-Chadian, second album. A- [sp]

Iggy Pop: Every Loser (2023, Gold Tooth/Atlantic): Punk progenitor, Last name Oserberg, first band the Stooges, did his best work 1976-77 for David Bowie, has only once gone more than four years between records (six years to 2009). Still can rock, and still has a distinctive voice. B+(*) [sp]

Raye: My 21st Century Blues (2023, Human Re Sources): British pop singer-songwriter Rachel Keen, first album after several EPs and a mini, a substantial UK hit (2), less so in US (58). B+(**) [sp]

Whitney Rose: Rosie (2023, MCG): Singer-songwriter, from Prince Edward Island up in Canada, country since she moved to Austin. Fifth studio album since 2012 (plus an EP Christgau praised while skipping the rest). Nice set of songs, both minding pain and escaping from it. B+(***) [sp]

Brandon Seabrook: Brutalovechamp (2022 [2023], Pyroclastic): Guitarist, also plays mandolin and banjo, usually adds a little noise to the mix, but shows off as a composer here, with an eight-piece group, including cello, electronics, and a fair amount of arty voice. B+(**) [cd]

Lauritz Skeidsvoll & Isach Skeidsvoll Duo: Chanting Moon, Dancing Sun: Live at Molde International Jazz Festival (2020 [2023], Clean Feed): Norwegian saxophone and piano duo, brothers, have some side-credits, but this could count as a debut. B+(**) [bc]

Henry Threadgill Ensemble: The Other One (2022 [2023], Pi): Leader just composes and conducts here, directing a 12-piece group through three long movements (60:36) of a piece called "Of Valence." This setting fits into the jazz as advanced classical music model, a scaled up version of chamber jazz. The group includes three saxophones/clarinets, two bassoons, no brass (other than Jose Davila's tuba), piano (David Virelles), and strings (violin, viola, two cellos), but no bass or drums. Not a style I'm easily impressed with, nor one I'm every likely to get excited about, but within those limits, this is interesting all the way through, surprising even. A- [cd]

Yonic South: Devo Challenge Cup (2023, Wild Honey, EP): Garage punk group, principally Damiano Negrisoli, fourth EP, covers one DEVO song, writes a couple more in a similar vein, basically a medley split into six songs, 12:59. B+(*) [sp]

Brandee Younger: Brand New Life (2023, Impulse): Harp player, several previous albums, makes a crossover move here, with production by Makaya McCraven (plus 9th Wonder on one track), plus she sings a couple songs, in a soft r&b groove. Four songs co-written by Dorothy Ashby, who was the definitive jazz harpist before Younger came along. B+(*) [sp]

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

Galcher Lustwerk: 100% Galcher (2013 [2022], Ghostly International): DJ/producer Chris Sherron, first "promomix" -- all original pieces, basic beat tracks with scant adornment. B+(**) [sp]

Tolerance: Anonym (1979 [2023], Mesh-Key): First of two albums by Japanese keyboardist Junko Tange, with guitar by Masami Yoshikawa adding a metallic klang. B+(**) [sp]

Tolerance: Divin (1981 [2023], Mesh-Key): Second (and last) album. More focus on beats and groove, less extraneous noise, which strikes me as a good tradeoff. B+(***) [sp]

Old music:

Bas Jan: Yes I Jan (2018, Lost Map): First album, with original (and soon to be ex-) members Sarah Anderson and Jenny Moore backing Serafina Steer's songs, adding more vocal harmony, and often a lift to the music. At their best, they remind me of a short-lived, 1990s vocal group, the Shams. B+(***) [sp]

Bas Jan: Yes We Jan (2018, Lost Map): Remix of Yes I Jan, originally offered as a bonus, then sold separately. Mostly useless, although Gameshow Outpatient's "Dream of You" remix finds a way to fit its subject. B [sp]

Noah Howard: At Judson Hall (1966 [1968], ESP-Disk): Alto saxophonist (1943-2010), second of two early albums for this label, went on to record a couple dozen more but remained obscure. Sextet with Dave Burrell (piano), others less famous on trumpet, cello, bass, and percussion. B+(**) [sp]

Tuli Kupferberg: No Deposit No Return (1967, ESP-Disk): Beat poet (1923-2010), not an important one but part of the New York pacifist-anarchist scene, best known as a founder of the Fugs (with Ed Sanders). I remember him fondly for two short Grove Press books: 1001 Ways to Beat the Draft, and 1001 Ways to Live Without Working. He recorded two albums under his own name, one in 1989 called Tuli and Friends that is MIA from my collection, and this "album of popular poetry." Well, not that popular. B+(*) [sp]

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Phil Haynes/Drew Gress/David Liebman: Coda(s): No Fast Food III (Corner Store Jazz) [06-15]
  • Ryan Meagher: AftEarth (Atroefy) [05-19]

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