This one caught me off guard. Wairunga is a sumptuous 1 hour live album that has come out of nowhere. Better yet, it is accompanied by a film of the recording, which takes you right there to their secret little concert.
The album is named after the location that the tracks were recorded. It is a little town on the New Zealand’s East coast that appears to have one road, but is a regular retreat for the band. For this recording they set up shop on a grass tennis court, and got to work. As they play, the weather starts to come in around them – they plough on and it feels like the elements of Wairunga leave their mark on the recording. It feels right that they credit it in the name.
This is utter alchemy from everyone’s favourite Kiwi seven-piece.
If you are any kind of music fan, this has to be the sort of artist combination that will pique your interest. Floating Points is respected as one of the most talented and original electronic music producers out there. Add in Pharoah Sanders, an all-time legend from the world of jazz, with experience that stretches back to the sixties. Top it off with The London Symphony Orchestra. Et voila.
So, does Promises live up to the big-name billing? Yes, probably in ways you wouldn’t imagine. Think of the album as your companion on a spiritual journey, or a meditative splurge. Either way, let it surround you. Let the atmospheric synths, and the mastery and artistry of the players cast a spell.
It took five years to create and you can see why. It is the kind of album that does not come around very often.
Bonus track: this Tape Notes podcast episode is a deep dive into Floating Points aka Sam Shepherd’s production process for his last album Crush. I found his process pretty mind-blowing – I didn’t realise the extent to which an electronic music producer’s craft can be in the actual creation of instruments. He goes into detail on how he has built and tweaked his setup. A lot of it will go will probably go over your head (as it did mine), but the dedication is plain to see.
Prequel’s debut album sits somewhere between Laurence Guy, Leon Vynehall and Romare. Not a bad place to sit.
As you would expect from a long-time Rhythm Section producer, the style is heavily influenced by jazz, and draws from a number of ‘world’ influences – he is described as having a ‘keen crate-digger’s ear’. Love Or (I Heard You Like Heartbreak) is a really engaging listen, and the execution is classy as hell. Enjoy.
On paper, GoGo Penguin and Machinedrum feels like a good combination. And it doesn’t disappoint. GoGo Penguin’s melancholy, emotional jazz is energised and twisted by Machinedrum in a way that respects the soul of the original version. Enjoy.
Bonus track: the original is pretty beautiful and a much more relaxed listen. Listen to more similar stuff on Gondwana here.
When Matthew Herbert wants to do something weird, he becomes Herbert. And boy does he do it well.
Bodily Functions is his album from 2001. It’s all somewhere between jazz, electronica and house. It’s slinky. Highlights are It’s Only (made famous by DJ Koze) and my favourite, down at track 14, is The Audience.
And by the way, this guy does zero sampling and uses zero drum machines or synths. AND all of these tracks include samples of the human body. Crazy.
Bonus track: I Hadn’t Known (I Only Heard) and it’s only from 1998! It has just been re-issued and it sounds as fresh as you like.
I’m headed to the inaugral Maiden Voyage Festival today on Three Mills Island. It’s a one-stage Jazz Cafe creation with a solid gold line-up spanning jazz, hip-hop, afrobeat and funk. So solid in fact that I’m not even going to pick out an artist – instead you can listen to a selection of tracks below. Whack it on shuffle and soak it in.
This is mental. This two-track EP was released in Lebanon 1978 and copies of the vinyl go for half a grand. HALF A GRAND! How lucky are we that all it takes is £9.99 Spotify subscription these days. The music industry eh?
Anyway it’s the kind of music that you’ll probably find in the ‘World Music’ section. It’s jazz, it’s classical, it’s funk, it’s hella exotic. Ziad Rahbani you enigmatic genius, take a bow.
Fun fact: his mum is the famous Arabic singer Fairuz – they released a load of tacks together. Cute right?
Likelihood is that a few of you might be feeling a little blue right about now, so, in the spirit of getting through January, check out this fella from Mali, Boncana Maïga, who’s been a big deal in the latin-soul scene for c. 40 years. This EP is more on the afro-funk end of things, so, stick it on and bounce your way through the opening salvos of 2019. Weirdly the final track, Petroci, was written as the soundtrack for an oil company of the same name from the Ivory Coast. We hate oil companies, but, boy do we love afro-funk eh.
Bradley Zero’s Peckham-based Rhythm Section label has been nailing it over the last decade. No surprise then that they picked up two beaut Jazz/House fusion EPs from Kiwi brother-pairing Chaos in the CBD. Let their smooth brass and beats drift over you.
They are playing one UK night tonight with Percolate at Hangar. Don’t miss.
Bonus track: could they go deeper? Could they go smoother? You betcha.
I’m growing a moustache to raise money for the Movember Foundation. So this month I will be honouring some of the best moustaches in music. You can donate to my mo here: https://mobro.co/harry-mo
Today it is Mr. Gypsy Jazz himself, Django Reinhardt. He is credited as being one of the most influential and talented jazz musicians of all time. It is the kind of music that takes me to the banks of the Seine in the 50s. Smoky and black & white. It’s wistful and glorious.