@@@ Quelle Chris: Deathfame (Mello Music, 2022) I like this label and I like this artist, he’s weird and creative and unpredictable. I haven’t yet heard the record that puts him in my pantheon with Open Mike Eagle but I like this second track, Alive is Not Always Living, it’s a soulful appreciation of being alive with a gospel piano part. I need to check a coupla more tracks here. The third track, King in Black, is a return to the quirky Quelle Chris with a trashcan beat, some dirty basement bassline and sorta against the grain and with the grain rhyming. He’s got some vocal melody all processed and abstracted that is borderline magical as it comes across as a lead guitar line. I’ve listened to chunks of the first third of the record and the sounds are gritty and dirty but not too dirty, some blues and gospel, certainly no synth strings and soaring sounds, it’s a bit like the Billy Woods record that come out recently. I like that and expect to return to listen to this whole record as an old friend used to say ‘get behind the mule and plow’. Do your thing.
@@@ Mary Halvorson: Amaryllis (Nonesuch, 2022) I have some respect for Halvorson while I do think she gets a little overhyped and I don’t like many Nonesuch records as I think they aspire to something stupid which is to be the kings of NYC brunches–you know, the black hornrimmed glasses and the bespoke pocket protectors. Instrumentation here is vibes, bass, drums and guitar. Oh there’s the issues of Halvorson’s tone, which is so clean it makes your teeth hurt. There are at least two horns here and this first tune has a distinctly Henry Threadgill feel without that extra 2 tablespoons of old school jank. This is a proggier and straighter large ensemble. Super clean mix which folks love but I’m not the hugest fan of. The playing here has a certain flatness and predictability to it that I find a tad unsatisfying. The musicians are quite skilled but there’s not a lot (if any) fire going on here.