@@@ Fresh Pepper: Seahorse Tranquilizer (Telephone Explosion, 2022) I got to this track via Pitchfork’s 10 most reviewed albums of the week. It’s a chill sitch rock track with literate lyrics and an almost spoken word singer before giving way to angelic female vocals in the chorus. It’s a bit trippy, and otherworldly, the sax is an interesting tidbit. It’s a 6.5 minute track which explains the chillness and around 2 minutes the drums come in and then a bunch of ambient garnish gets added. It’s a bit too present day 21st century hippie shit for me and the addition of a bit of ’70s soft rock is not great for me.
@@@ Anteloper: One Living Genus (International Anthem, 2022) Ah, I dug the pre-release track and I’m back for more bitches! It’s a mashup of electronic/noise/jazz elements presented with ambient live drumkit and plenty of bumptiousness. I wish more jazz cats would go in this direction, there’s no rulebook just get yer freak on and make something interesting which this is. To my ears this is a bit what Radiohead wanted to be but they didn’t have the funk for it. I like but don’t love the trumpet player and/or wish there was another melodic element as in the third track Éarthlings where a singer and a guitar player join the fray. Love the drum sound, like the electronic bits and wish there was more and wish there was a bit more coming from the horn area. The last track (clipped below) is my favorite on the record.
@@@ Lisa Ullen, Elsa Bergman, Anna Lund: Space (Relative Pitch, 2022) I got to this percolating free jazz record via a tweet on the Twatter from bandcamp highlighting the best jazz albums of March. The musicians hail from Stockholm Sweden and the instrumentation is piano, bass and drums. This is neither your swinging type free jazz nor the skronkfest, it’s a pretty ambient set focusing on the relationships between the three players and their mutterings as individuals and what it makes as a collective effort. Oh, wait a minute, as the quietness has given way to a more active flow with the pianist leading the way followed by the skittering drummer, both of whom I dig. I like the bassist as well, it’s just she’s lower in the mix and not sticking out as much. I’m nearing the end of the second track, Circle of Security, and I’m doing my taxes trying not to take out my feeling about doing these taxes on the music. On to track 3, Joint Attention, opening dark and foreboding on the piano which she is sticking with and I’m feeling that repetitive, slightly dissonant insistence she brings to that, yeah do it!!! This feels like a pretty accurate recreation of certain mental states I have found myself in for sure. Big drama, small drama, big drama, small drama. I finished this whole record while I was doing my taxes and I really like it. The piano is well recorded, the players are of a high level and they’re listening to each other pretty closely.
@@@ Anna Weber: Idiom (N/A, 2021) I got to this jazz record via the daily email from Twatter even though I’m in the middle of serving a 7 day twitter jail term for fake abuse — it’s not like I was starting a riot up there, jeesh. This record is not up on Apple Music but it is over at the recently purchased bandcamp — this is some sort of odd protest that jazz folks have been conducting for a while. I’m not sure how effective it is and how much it stimulates direct download sales but it’s her right to sell her music as she sees fit. There are twelve tracks on this record and four of them are available to stream on bandcamp. If you scroll down here bandcamp page you will see there it’s a two disc effort, one a trio record with her, a drummer and a piano player. I’m currently listening to the track Forgotten Best an 8+ minute banger and I find I’m listening the most to the piano player, he’s hittin’ it pretty good. It straddles a middle place between standard straight jazz and fiery free jazz. I’ve skipped to Idiom VI which I hope is a large ensemble track because that’s what I’m in the mood for. It opens ambient with long tones. This track is a 12 minute banger so I will probably hang for half of it. It unfolds slowly as you would expect from a 12 minute track. It’s interesting how close this is to a lot of electronic music happening out there right now — very ambient, slow melodies, a dreamlike aspiration. Just an observation that I haven’t seen mentioned out there. I’m enjoying this track a lot more than the trio track I checked out. Around the six minute mark the ensemble starts to join in and it’s a bit partyistic and bit cerebral. I like it without loving it.
@@@ Blinker and Moses: After the Machine Settles (Gearbox, 2022) I got to both of today’s listens via the All Music notable release email from last week. With apocalyptic titles like Active-Multiple-Fetish-Overlord and some electronic production elements/sounds this is set to not be a standard jazz banger. It is slotted as crossover jazz and I’m not sure what that means and I’m not being a bitch about it, I really don’t know. For me, I guess it all comes down to the ratio of horn playing and jazz sounds to electronic/ambient sounds. Right now it’s a splash of jazz in a sea of ambient music, there was an intro that had a jazz feel, ooh now we’re back with a live, roomy drum sound and a sax player but I expect that to fade back into the drones we had before. Unfortunately I could use some more interesting improv out of the drummer and the sax player but I do like the attempt to reconcile these musical palettes. Lemme peep a coupla other tracks. It’s pretty much the same formula but I dig the playing a bit more. So respect for the effort, there’s a passage here where a sax figure is loop and destroyed and I really dig that but the other attempts to integrate the the manipulation of electronic music with the spontaneity of jazz don’t work as well.
@@@ Charlie Gabriel: I’m Confessin’ (Sub Pop, 2022) I don’t know if there’s been a glitch in the matrix but it’s more than a bit weird to see a New Orleans jazz record out on the Sub Pop imprint. From the looks of the video below and the feel of this track (track 3 on the record) this is chill New Orleans jazz, down in tempo and super smooth production. Don’t love the guitar tone but I’m enjoying the clarinet playing. Well the vocals, that’s super old school and you can’t fuck with that. There are not a lot of vocals to be had here and a lot of clarinet shredding which is cool. It’s more of a vibe enjoyment as I dig that he’s out there at age 89 doin his thing, you gotta give it up for that.
@@@ FKA twigs: meta angel (Atlantic, 2022) Both of today’s listens are off this week’s Pitchfork 10 most reviewed albums, though I’ve seen bunches of mentions around about FKA twigs’ new record because she goes well on the interwebz as an ethereal hottie. The track below is the third on the record and while I associate FKA with mopey electro indie bangers, this is a major label effort that opens with a little uplifting convo before heading out into big singing with percussive background vocals. Ms. Twigs has traded the mope for the angel wings. I prefer this flavor of the Twigs to the art school spiel, but it still comes off as a bit manufactured. The Autotune is annoying but the distorted drum machine feels are pretty cool. #MixedBag. The sections with beats are much better than the torch-y sections with just the piano and the background vox. I’m getting the distinct feeling that Ms. Twigs wants a new car, and while this is a pretty common thing to hear in mainstream music today, a lot of folks conducting themselves in this manner do not have the artistic pretensions FKA sports. This isn’t a long trip from Beyonce-land which is big shedding of skin and assumption of new feels.
@@@ Wadada Leo Smith: From Pacifica Koral Reef (577 Records, 2022) We switch gears to something completely different. Big Wadada Leo Smith fan, I dig his conciousness as well as his trumpet playing. Instrumentation here is trumpet, guitar from Henry Kaiser, and some drone-y ambient keyboard like sounds that may be another guitar or keyboard patches. Not a big fan of the plinky guitar tone and as usual Mr. Smith’s trumpet tone is massive and majestic, kinda taking up all the listener’s ears but he’s the main draw here sonically by a whole bunch. There is only this track up on Apple Music and that’s a bit unfortunate as I would like to hear some more but if I’m rolling on this track, a different guitar tone would have really deepened the listening experience for me.
@@@ Sonic Liberation Front: Moon Rust Red Streets (High Two, 2021) This is a jazz record by musicians from the Philadelphia area with pretty heavy electronic and funk flavors to it. It was made during the forgotten racial protests of 2020 and just came out this week. It’s a 39 minute record consisting of 6 pieces, the shortest clocking in at just under 6 minutes so it has a groove oriented and slightly jammy feel. That said there’s plenty of good stuff going on here and I found myself listening to the purveyor of electronics most of all, followed by the rhythms. The instrumentation is pretty standard but enhanced by a variety of synth sounds. For example, in the title track opening up the record there’s a boing-y synth patch that bounces off the horn section consisting of flute, trumpet and at least one saxophone. This track is a big fat banger, the synth funkafies and deepens the track with its just beneath chaotic rhythm. There is a possibility that the bassist is producing those synth sounds, it’s hard to say there’s so many ways to get there these days. The second tune, Lumbering Giant switches the keys over to a water droplet vampy electric piano thing and the congas have moved over to make way for the drumkit which is kinds tinking in back of the mix. There’s upright bass on some tracks and electric on others, and sometimes there’s a little dubwise delay action. Overall there’s a lot to listen to here without it coming across as scattered and/or unfocused. This second track certainly lives up to its name. Also big ups on the fourth track Breath Sounds which showcases some interesting vocalizing though my 18 year old thought it could have been developed more. I’d have to check it out again and I told him not everything has to be all over. Definitely a Bitches Brew flavor while doing its own thing for sure.
@@@ James McMurtry: Canola Fields (New West, 2021) I got to this record via music business honcho Bob Lefsetz. His taste is often janky. This is the first track of the record and he looks set to grab in this moment the mantle of poetic country music. The band is pretty standard with nice tones and pretty straight playing, his voice is certainly many notches above Bob Dylan but the focus here is on the lyrics first and then the melodies. I don’t know how old this cat is but he’s doin all right on the microphone. I skipped to the third track Operation Never Mind cuz I liked the title. There’s more rock in this album than I initially caught on. I like this record without jumping up and down. The tones are great, especially the guitars. I don’t get fully off on the lyrics and the songs are good without making me jump up and down. I was raised on rock and I find it tough to listen to now.
@@@ —___–___: Sadness, infinite America (Orange Milk, 2021) Off this week’s Pitchfork 10 most reviewed albums. I don’t know what I thought this was going to be but this track is crazy mash of free jazz, autotuned vocals, vibes, sax, and voice. It’s got a desolate vibe for sure, so we’re far past mope and straight into dystopia. And I’m much more into dystopia than bourgeois mope. The way the teched out voice goes with the jazz elements is fresh and I’m super into it. It doesn’t feel random, it sounds arranged but there’s no way to know for sure. Someone is slipping one past the goalie here as it’s slotted as ambient, and it does have an ambient feel to it but it’s got more going on than a typical ambient record and it’s just not an accurate description of the music. Well done, and I’m listening to my second selection and I’m digging it as much as the video clipped below. Check this out if you’re up for some freshness. A little sweet, a bit abstract, a bit lonely and darker — yadda yadda yadda. There’s also some orchestral classical feels going here.
@@@ L’Orange: Coffee (Mello Music, 2021) I really like this label, they release some really creative records. This track is number 6 on the record and it sports a combo platter jazzy/hip hop flow. With upright bass and sax but also a bit chopped and looped for your listening pleasure. I’m not sure we’re gonna see an MC here or in other tracks but I like the sounds. Flute at the end and let me peep another track. I switched over to the first track and this is why I dig this label — instead of an MC each tune has a Spanish speaker starting up in Spanish and then an English translator of the Spanish language while the guy keeps on and all happening while the sounds play. Nice job L’Orange, excellent job in fact. Just tryin’ to make a liar out of me that strategy is not on the second track, there’s a chopped up soul singer droppin’ a lot of ooh, baby. There’s creativity afoot here and I’m psyched to listen more closely to this record when I have the time. Peep this.
@@@ Henry Threadgill: Happenstance (Pi, 2021) Huge Henry Threadgill over here. Love the tuba, Threadgill’s playing of course, less of a fan of the nerdy guitar tone (personal preference), don’t love the drum sound but like the drummer. The first tune is an 8 minute banger that builds. I clicked through to the second track, the title track of the record and I like a bunch of the passages here. The sound of the record works against the music a tad, it’s quite sterile and without saturation. Threadgill is an American treasure and I’m more into the playing as this title track moves on partially because he’s at the center of the action. Some of Threadgill’s records have been super raucous affairs and it takes a bit of time to get used to the spacious version of this ensemble but the mood is very understandable.
@@@ Mankwe & Body MemOri: under inside/climbing (Auspice Now, 2021). I found this free jazz with strong pan-African flavors via a bandcamp best of tweet page. I’ve looked pretty extensively on Apple Music for the record but could not locate it. This track is almost 10 minutes long and while it has a female vocalist these are not standard vocals and the description for the track seems to be an attempt to give all manner of things that come out of the human body — memories, emotions, histories, other bodies (that last one is my add). The instrumentation is bass, cello, drums and vocals and I think it’s an abstract musical approach that’s abstract in the way it connects to very concrete things. There’s a section that seems closer to a jazz scat but it’s still not words and I dig that. It’s not particularly confrontational jazz as some free jass can be quite skronky, this is more piecemeal and internal. Hard to put into words but if it’s something that sounds interesting you could check it out. The last third of the track really percolates.
@@@ Hasaan Ibn Ali: Ominivore (Atlantice, 2021) This is a re-release or a long lost oldie from a jazz pianist who rocked it with Max Roach back in the ’60s. I even have a trio record with this gent on it. Well I regret to inform my readers but this record is not on Apple Music nor is it on bandcamp and that’s a shame as I hate to listen on the GooglePimpTube, the sound quality sucks and I fucking hate Google. But I will carry on. This will be just over 1+ minutes of a trailer highlighting Ali’s bounce. I know he’s important as he came out Philadelphia which has produced jazz cats in the shadow of New York. If you want a longer taste of how Ali rolled you can check out his record with Max Roach as that’s on Apple Music. I guess they think folks will hear him and then go buy a compact disc, something I haven’t done in a long ass time. I’m sorry I can’t hear this musician as the excerpt sounds like his playing is more adventurous on this record he made and then shelved than on the Max Roach record.
@@@ Visionist: The Fold (Mute, 2021) Electronic music, I’ve been feeling electronic music for a while. This opens up quite abstract with a little grinding machine, a little spinning gear, and a little sphincter flappy. Then comes the fast tempo kick drum, that’s pretty much it for standard musical tones. Sounds like the sector of Hell where they’re processing folks, quite dark, lots of energy and ominous. I guess mopey folks could dance to this. I’m just listening to it but you could dance to it I suppose. Shit stain I was listening to the next track Lie Digging. I’m on the right track, it’s hard to be low IQ, but this one is completely different as it has a piano and a singer and ringing chords, and a big reverb patch and it’s more than a bit Lord of the Rings. Maybe an after battle tune where they’re collecting the dead and stealing their boots. I think a plain presentation of the singer would have been more effective, the singer brings the drama already so no need to pump it to this point. I’m gonna finish up — this is some Tori Amos type business but a darker and more dramatical if that were possible.
@@@ Painted Shrines: Gone (Woodsist, 2021) A cross between jangly indie and more retro guitar driven indie rock. The most notable component of the track here is the singer’s tone — higher register and he sounds more than a bit like a ghost. I think that’s the effect he’s going for to be honest. Very nice snare sound, it’s cutting right through, this is the kind of shit I listen to when listening to a record, I appreciate a great snare sound. The guitar player could use a bit of Red Bull as it’s very straight stuff from that part of the band. Familiar formula, freak singer. Lyrics, they’re just passing right by me, I’m agnostic.