Another great week for music although I know we barely get to an infinitesimal fraction of the week's releases. Believe me if we had the capacity we would review them all. From every corner of every continent. Instead here's this. --lamontpaul
TONY ALLEN (featuring ft. Skepta and Ben Okri)
In this warped and twisted period of history, it's hard to recall when things may have happened. One thing I am sure of though is that April will mark the first anniversary of the death of legendary drummer and co-creator of Afro Beat, Tony Allen.
Allen had only just released the album 'Rejoice' with the late, great Hugh Masekela when the news of his death came through. It feels odd that so soon after revisiting and completing the music he'd made with Masekela, it is now Allen that has the posthumous spotlight on him with the defiantly titled album 'There is no End'
Worlds frequently collide to create something new and extraordinary when Tony Allen got involved and vibrant first single 'Cosmosis' is no exception. Booker Prize-winning author and poet Ben Okri and Mercury winning Skepta take the vocal and lyrical lead (Okri is philosophical, Skepta is reflecting on matters much closer to home). Maybe it's due to Allen's trademark drums or the buoyant ska beat keyboards that hold the track together so seamlessly. 'Cosmosis' is an exciting teaser for the album to come. -- Jason Lewis
(Nice Swan Records)
Ideal for the week of the Cheltenham Festival, Liverpool’s Courting release an EP with four slices of middle-England baiting humour, the title track a post-punk guitar track inspired by 100Gec’s frenetic “Stupid Horse”. It’s a swing at the cruelty of horse-racing, the unacceptable equine deaths, where horses have little to look forward to beyond stress-induced heart attacks and becoming impromptu chairs for overweight trainers. The video was intended to be shot in a bookies until they got wind of the nature of the song, moved to a pub the track becomes a more generalised swipe at middle class inanity and mediocre living. The EP also includes Popshop!, previously included on the BBC 6Music playlist. --John Robinson
Great slice of 80's / 90s soul from Joshua Henry. He possesses a great voice, raw and just the right amount of hesitant squealed passion. Lovely backing redolent of Beverly Knight. Overall a great song, a superb voice. --Toon Traveler
Norwegian singer, songwriter, and producer, Tuva Hellum Marschhäuser has a lovely voice, great range and depth. Her video is inspired by filmmaker, John Carpenter. Sure she sounds like a part of the celtic trippy trance team out there, but is that bad? Not in my book. Lovely smokey mist on the pond at dawn sounds, wavy gossamer cotton waving in a wheatfield, music for the sun rise and croissants and hot chocolate, late night de-stress, sounds great LOUD, fill the room with pensive hope, and delight, almost a magic carpet to float you away to other places. Taking you to that simpler life that you want, but have yet to visit and enjoy. --Toon Traveler
RICHARD DANIELPOUR & SIMONE DINNERSTEIN
Doctors & Interns
‘Doctors and Interns’ is the second piece to be released from Richard Danielpour’s poignant ‘An American Mosaic’ - an emotive yet unsentimental tribute to those affected by the Covid 19 pandemic, written with the pianist Simone Dinnerstein.
Whilst other parts of this mosaic honour caretakers and research physicians, this number celebrates the grace shown under hideous pressure by those dealing with patients. It encompasses both the desolation and the hope, it is subtle and strong and deserves to be heard.
Simone Dinnerstein is an extraordinarily gifted pianist. Although mostly known for her delightful adaptations of Bach’s Keyboard Concertos, it is her willingness to explore that is most arresting (her rendition of Purcell’s ‘Dido’s Lament’ with singer Tift Merrit that is raw and totally unlike any other interpretation). Dinnerstein is the artist that is uniquely placed to understand and express the relevance of this Danielpour’s significant work. -- Jason Lewis
THE WORKDAY RELEASE
Say A Lot With Light
Well another dull day gets underway and Say A Lot With Light, the first single from the forthcoming The Workday Release album is a real boost to begin with. A great ambient start, a great voice and piano. Sounds like so many other songs in a minor key, high voice and accompanying piano. I suppose it's supposed to sound poignant, passionate, and… It's more a piece of pseudo romantic whimsy, and faux lost love, an empty song that only reminds you, on a rainy day, that the rain is beating on the window, not a song I'd turn up the volume for on the radio. --Toon Traveler
THE REGRESSIVE LEFT
Take The Hit
The Regressive Left deliver very 90's trance, hints of Prodigy, in the music, and a touch of the Rock Lobster - voice and phrasing, nowt wrong with that, a great sound, some wonderful lame brain guitar, a real potpourri of sounds and instruments. a great slice of 2020's rock dance revival, and a great intro that grabs your ears and never lets up. Take The Hit is an anxious and frantic call to revolution, don't drop out, default, a rejection of 'prudent debt' and just live now and the future so unclear, grab it now. Listened to a couple of times, it's better each play. --Toon Traveler
The Right Thing Is Hard To Do
A folksy start and a delicate voice. This is stripped trippy wavey music. It floats, nowhere. Rising choirs swirl, leaves on a breeze, jangling guitars build a crescendo. Think a slow cooked stew, thing is there is no real memory of taste, or flavor, one of those records that sounds sorta ok, sorta clever, sorta well composed, and at the end of the record sorta not unpleasant. Unconvinced my life feels better having listened. --Toon Traveler
Very, very 70s prog rock intro, redolent of a thinking person’s Genesis or King Crimson. The pace picks up and… More 70s rock, and in comes a Glockenspiel sound, delicate, and hesitant, the sound soporific, and mid-day bright, but the sense of trotting along a lane, sense of rain coming, and change in the air, but the sense of a prog - rock band meets 80's synth pop, sort like a funky Japan, an upbeat Tubeway Army. Overall an ok sounding record, a good start let’s hear how they progress. --Toon Traveler
Great urban disturbance, of an intro, coming alive in the City. Pained, sounds like Banshees meets Bow WoW WoW. Plenty of great backwards sounds I think. Unequivocal, uncompromising, random radio beats, bleats, tweets, and squeaks, the opening and walls of random sound if fantastic, screams, and hits of a dystrophic future only a few thousand breaths away. Confusion and anger stalk the music, love the breaks and the repetition, if they're on tour I might be tempted , but have the feeling, sadly, not too many will join me. --Toon Traveler
What a slinky teasing innocent sounding song, love the 40's 50s jazz supper club sound and music. Reminded me great jazz voices meets 70s super pop, part Carpenters, part Ricky Lee Jones, best of all, the honesty in the words, truth spoken to a friend, like a friend. Perhaps the sound - yeah real love, faults and all, and the float away voice and fingers in the water gondola summer drifting is just a delight. A song that lists the heart, and warms the soul. A line - some things never change, and a great song with tender music, sang with love and sweet smiles, will always trump the sounds of resented repressed wanna- be faux anger. --Toon Traveler
(Eat the Peach)
Let's start at the end! The final track on violinist Anna Phoebe's EP of musical homages to her musical heroes is a version of David Bowie's ‘Blackstar’ that is overwhelming in its sense of sadness and grief. Like those Bowie based ballet’s that Philip Glass created, it understands the original and does something magical with it. It has the same desolate beauty as Zbigniew Preisner's 'Three Colours' (especially 'White') soundtracks, a wintery loneliness.
Elsewhere, and with the assistance of cello player Klara Schumann, songs by Neneh Cherry, Nick Cave, Faithless, and (former employer), Roxy Music are imaginatively and respectfully reinterpreted. There is such sensitivity here, the version of 'Insomnia' explores the nocturnal anxieties of the original (not the heavily edited hit single), as it moves through the hinterland of sleep and wakefulness.
The lead track 'Baby Can I Hold You?' is the most easily identifiable cover here. It's best to forget the lachrymose and bland covers and recall just how direct and heartfelt Tracey Chapman's original was. -- Jason Lewis