Montag, 30. Mai 2011

Near Nadir from Mark Nauseef, Ikue Mori, Bill Laswell, Evan Parker "announced"

Just the other day Heung-Heung Chin (aka Chippy) tzadik's great artwork designer posted this album cover on her facebook page and tweeted about it.
As of now there's no update on officially announcing it, but the line up itself is enough for me to be really excited. Seems to part of the Key series. Chippy's design looks great and I'm sure the music itself will at least equal that.

Montag, 11. April 2011

The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble - From the Stairwell

A seductive beauty lingers in the shadows. She whispers softly in your ears and you cannot resist.  You follow her as she walks up those stairs. Carefully watching her every step..

"From the Stairwell" is one of those definite inner cinema albums. It's all about the atmosphere, soundscapes and a sensuality that sounds, in lack of a more original word, feminine. 

It's important to clarify that there are dozens of different moods, not all or are dark, neither is everything lush and exoctic. "From the Stairwell" really is a subtle rollercoaster, but a rollercoaster nevertheless. What unifies all the moods and holds the album as a whole together is the great musicianship and pure beauty of the sounds they produce. 

The overall flow is so tightly woven, it's hard to understand how there still can be any dynamic at all. But with a rollercoaster, of course there's dynamic. Moods shift form and shape, instruments float in and out of the music. Sometimes the instrumental bleakness is worthy of the darkest of nights. Then Charlotte's voice appears out of nowhere, replacing the bleakness with beauty and melancholy. Sometimes leading and singing lyrics but never trying to outshine the other musicians. As a logical consequence her voice blends in as just another instrument in the mist on tracks like "Giallo". 

Words are just another tool to convey the poetry that is the music of "The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble". "From the Stairwell" is never a "vocal jazz" record. A much better label would be "journey jazz" or "mood jazz".  And that still wouldn't do this music justice. The range in moods is also matched by the range in styles. One moment you'll hear influences from the "Kava Kon" remix collaboration from 2009 in form of an exotica style touch (On "Giallo" and "Les Étoiles Mutantes" for example). The next moment you'll hear dark ambient soundscapes with plucked basslines straight out of Agent Dale Cooper's journey into the "Black Lodge" (On "Past Midnight"). The finale of "Celladoor" is every trip hop producer's dream of brass instrumentation and beats climaxing, albeit with an organic jazz drum sound.

With a duration of one hour and two minutes spread across eight tracks there's a lot to dive right in and enjoy.
Though I mentioned a few song names it's hard to pick any standout tracks really. What we have here is one piece of work. Of course you will prefer some tracks over others, but I really can't see why someone would reject to take the whole one hour long journey with The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble.
This is a band that really grew to become one of the finest European bands in my book. "From the Stairwell" is a perfect ten. A sure recommendation for everyone reading this.  

cd time: 1:02:43
Gideon Kiers : Beats / FX
Jason Köhnen : Double Bass / Fretless
Hilary Jeffery : Trombone / Oscillator
Charlotte Cegarra : Vocal FX /Various instruments
Eelco Bosman : Guitar
Sadie Anderson : Violin
Nina Hitz : Cello

Standout tracks: 
All of them. Again. I'm not lazy. The music's just too good.


Mittwoch, 26. Januar 2011

New John Zorn albums for 2011 announced

A few days ago the Tzadik site got updated. Here's the most interesting part to me (besides the Ikue Mori DVD):

John Zorn: Nova Express [#7389]
Following up on seeds first planted in the depths of the Interzone conspiracy, Nova Express combines the quirky atonal lyricism of Zorn's classical music with the cut up techniques of Naked City and the intimate virtuosity of the Masada songbook. Scored for a modern jazz quartet of vibes, piano, bass and drums, these episodic, dynamic and moody compositions feature some of Zorn's strongest writing. Performed by an all-star group of four downtown masters, this is an exciting new sound from the world of John Zorn. Modern chamber music filled with beautiful details and dramatic passions composed and conducted by our East Village musical

John Zorn: The Satyr's Play - Cerberus [#7390]
Two dramatic new worlds in sound from our downtown Alchemist who continues to confound and defy expectations well into his fourth decade of recorded activity. Scored for two percussionists, The Satyr's Play is a dramatic work that mysteriously evokes the decadent excesses of Bacchanalia and Saturnalia. Presented in book form accompanied by a esoteric text beautifully illustrated with rare drawings by the great mystical artist Austin Osman Spare, this is a work of subtle nuance and sexuality. In contrast, Cerberus, is a flamboyant and dynamic trio for brass. A demonic piece featuring three undisputed Brass virtuosos, it jumps styles, moods
and genres in classic Zorn fashion. Radical, moody and colorful chamber works for the 21st century.

Both album descriptions sound pretty interesting, that said I'm more curious about "The Satyr's Play - Cerberus".

Samstag, 18. Dezember 2010

R.I.P. Captain Beefheart

Captain Beefheart died yesterday on the 17th of December 2010. He died at a Northern California Hospital of complications from multiple sclerosis.
His most well-known and influential album is "Trout Mask Replica" from 1969 recorded with his group "The Magic Band". It is a masterpiece of psychedelic rock with a lot of blues and free-form aspects. He was a formative figure for experimental rock music and well respected by the famous Frank Zappa. Rest in peace Captain.

Freitag, 17. Dezember 2010

John Zorn - Mycale

"Mycale" is a beauty of an album. In John Zorn's ouvré it holds a special place. Zorn rarely writes music for voice only and "Frammenti Del Sappho" from the album "Mysterium" released in 2005 is one of the even fewer record pieces for voice only. It's a quite traditional madrigal with a beautiful harmonic structure. "Litany IV" from the 2007 release "Six Litanies for Heliogabalus" gave Mike Patton a solo spot. This was of course drastically different from Zorn's other voice only pieces but nevertheless the overall impression for many people in recent years was, that Zorn's becoming mellow and too melodic. His vocal only work was never heard over the course of a complete album and due to that didn't change opinions.

People thinking Zorn becomes tame are still proven wrong by the evolving Moonchild project, the great contemporary classical record "What thou wilt?" and the comeback of the file-card composition with "Femina", "Dictée/Liber Novus" and "Interzone" being some of Zorn's most interesting experimental records of the past decade.
Still some may continue to doubt Zorn's recent melodic work. The Dreamers and it's many facets are a hit and miss affair for most. A lot of the Masada related music even more so.

Now there is "Mycale". It's both. It's beautiful and very melodic, it's based on Zorn's Masada music. Still it's experimental using different vocal techniques, sounds and even languages. It's a first for Zorn's A Cappella work and every first for Zorn after all these years putting out a few to many albums a year is worth examining.
Zorn records that intertwine beauty and experiments in the past decade tend to be best, when there's a certain feminity about them. "Femina" released in late 2009 was dedicated to women in contemporary arts and plain said important thinking women in the history of mankind.

"Mycale" seems to evoke all that and mix in more middle-eastern folk influences, instead of the classical approach of "Femina". Instead of lyrical string sections and percussive breakdowns and improvisations this set of A-Cappella pieces seems more human. "Femina's" approach wasn't any less sensual, but more intellectual challenging, more sophisticated. The beauty of "Mycale" speaks to your heart and soul, but it indeed speaks utilizing nothing but the human voice, where "Femina" drew images out of visions and dreams for you to interpret. 

"Mycale" is a record full of passion and spirit. There are no prejudices, just the bare, naked emotions evoked through the beautiful sound of female voices. It's cosmopolitan music. It speaks French, Yiddish, Hebrew, Ladino and Arabic because you can't stick to just one language if you're mind is open and you want to reach everyone hearing this music. World music in the truest sense, accepting no borders in influences and languages utilized and celebrated.

Basya Schechter, Ayelet Rose Gottlieb, Malika Zarra and Sofia Rei Koutsovitis are the vocalists on this album and their performances are all outstanding. Without their down-to-earth teamwork "Mycale" would be good, but they deliver exactly that on every single track, making it a highlight of not just Zorn's 2010 releases but of this decade.

The only downside for some people might be the short duration of just 33 minutes. To everyone complaining about that I can only say one thing. Most musicians spent their whole career searching for the level of musicianship and beauty presented on "Mycale".

Cd time: 33:51
Ayelet Rose GottliebVoice
Sofia Rei KoutsovitisVoice
Basya SchechterVoice
Malika ZarraVoice

Standout tracks:
All of them. This record has an impressive flow that
shouldn't be disrupted.

Mycale on:

Mittwoch, 15. Dezember 2010

Dienstag, 14. Dezember 2010

The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble

The new Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble record will be fan-funded through Their artist page is up and running and you're now able to pledge for their new album (which is like an early pre-order and gives you access to updates and samples of cover-artwork and music).

You can pledge here.

They are aiming for a March 2011 release.