Open Ear Blog

New Music Reviews : October

ANDINA — Huayno, Carnaval and Cumbia - The Sound of the Peruvian Andes 1968-1978

Martin Morales is a man of many talents. As a Head Chef he leads the way at London-based Open Ear client, Andina. When he’s not in the kitchen he runs the record label Tiger’s Milk. When those two passions come together you get a festival of aural flavours from the Peruvian Andes in this collection of Cumbia, Huayno, and Carnaval music. Full of buoyant rhythms and exuberant melodies it’s an album packed with joy. While the Huayno track “Recuerda Corazón” swings and twirls, “Rio De Paria” by Manolo Avalos revels in an enthusiastic looping melody. With so many different artists and styles going in to this collection it’s easy to get lost in. Catch the whole album over on Bandcamp.

Ibeyi — Ash

Deep, resonant, and considered, the second album from Ibeyi is a masterful study in mindfulness that deserves repeat listens. Mixing spoken word samples with a pared back musicality that enhances the vocals, ‘Ash’ is an album where every word feels laden in meaning. Beats in the form of bass textures and stripped percussion like the organic handclaps of “Valé” provide strong structure and momentum while tending towards minimalism. It’s a deft balancing act that doesn’t really conform to genre. Melancholic without ever being overtly sad, ‘Ash’ is a powerfully emotional album worth your contemplation. Listen to the full album here.

Zara McFarlane — Arise

Making her name in 2012 with a Jazz cover of Junior Murvin’s “Police & Thieves”, it’s a great pleasure to see Zara McFarlane dig deeper into roots reggae on her third album, ‘Arise’. Taking inspiration from McFarlane’s Caribbean roots, ‘Arise’ wears its Reggae influences on its sleeve while retaining the Jazz patterns, range, and ethos she is best known for. Heavy, lingering horns and double bass roam through “Silhouette”, the best Jazz piece here, and perfectly set up our highlight; a jaw-droppingly mournful take on The Congos’ roots reggae classic “Fisherman”. It’s as good a cover as you’ll hear all year. Check out the album here.

King Krule — The OOZ

We’ve only finished declaring King Krule’s guest spot the highlight of the recent Mount Kimbie album, and here he is with his own release one month later. Personal, intimate, and with a stalking pace ‘The OOZ’ is a grimy take on depression, the breakdown of a relationship, and life in your mid-twenties. Nominally Hip Hop, King Krule’s style has always been more spoken word than spitting bars and flowing delivery. There’s a lack of all out beats too. Instead, The OOZ in an album of texture and narrative that unravels slowly, requiring some untangling from the listener as it goes. Catch “Dum Surfer” and it’s Halloween appropriate intro here.

Beck — Colors

After twelve albums it must be tough to continue to forge a leftfield path. On his thirteen album Beck has released his most conventionally Pop album yet. That’s a twist in itself given that Beck made his name storming the charts with the anti-Pop hit album ‘Odelay’. While it’s unlikely that ‘Colors’ will have the same impact it’s notable that each track here would assimilate with chart sounds readily as it takes in Electro Pop, smooth upbeat balladry, and a hint of Disco Funk. A good time record that aspires to plain old simple fun, it’s an impressive left turn for a man who has made a career or them. Check out “Up All Night” here.

Angus & Julia Stone — Snow

For an album that pins itself to one season in its title, it’s notable that musically ‘Snow’ falls somewhere between hazy late summer backyard Americana and the icier, grey gloom of winter. Its release date is therefore timely, as we find the brother-sister duo writing songs together for the first time. The result is a collection of songs each built from weaving narratives and a easy-going call and response that is instantly likeable. The highlight comes in the opener and title track “Snow” which see’s the Stones sparring back and forth over a simple drum pattern and loose guitar chords. Check it out here.

Kelela — Take Me Apart

It may feel like this one has been long in the making such is the anticipation that has built while Kelela released an EP, a mixtape, and guested on numerous gorgeous tracks by Daedelus, Kindness, and Gorillaz. On ‘Take Me Apart’, as on her previous outings, Kelela’s future looking R&B sounds one step ahead of the rest of her contemporaries. From opening track “Frontline” chilling electronics mix with bass beats while Kelela’s soulful vocals stand up to the best of the genre. More soulful than fellow Warp Records artist Jessy Lanza, less forceful than FKA twigs, Kelela moves R&B forward in one great leap. Don’t miss this one. Check it out here.

St Vincent — MASSEDUCTION

From the title, through the artwork, to the sounds within ‘MASSEDUCTION’ is pitched as a bolder, more Pop orientated album for St Vincent. It’s a good fun kind of album but one that holds a darker underbelly that takes on life and living, loving and leaving, and all the grit that comes with such things in the real world. ‘MASSEDUCTION’ is therefore an album that does not play by Pop narratives, even if it adheres to its styles and sounds. This sound is perhaps best exemplified in the bubblegum cheeriness of “Pills”, a tale of making it through life thanks only to medication. Listen in here.


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