Open Ear Blog

New Music Reviews | July

John Coltrane — Both Directions At Once: The Lost Tapes

The classics may have already been set in stone after this long but for new ‘Trane material to be released is no small deal. Recorded at the tail end of a fourteen day residency at New York’s famous Birdland in 1963 this set features Coltrane’s classic quartet playing with intense conviction. If this album was released for no other reason than to allow ‘Untitled Original 11386’ to see the light of day then it’d be utterly worth it. The fact that this is a perfectly captured moment in the evolution of one of the great Jazz improvisers makes this all the more worthwhile.

Neil: “If A Love Supreme had a B-side, this would be it. Classic-quartet era, in the RVG studio, recorded in 1963… This isn’t lost out-takes, this is a solid body of incredible work from one of the finest artists the world has known recorded at his peak. As a result of label changes, geographic moves and the usual legal wrangles, this masterpiece has only seen the light of day now, and what a beautiful thing it is. Whether it was ever intended to be released as an album is irrelevant, the mastery of their art exhibited by Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones in this work makes for either the perfect introduction to Coltrane’s most productive era, or an essential addition to any jazz collection.”

Mo Kolours — Inner Symbols

Album number three from the UK based Mauritian artist who has a distinctive Sega influence to his downbeat Hip Hop and Soul. As it has been with previous releases, ‘Inner Symbols’ is an album all about percussion, samples, and his own Dub inspired vocals; with a voice at once soulful yet otherworldly. On ‘Fade Away’ those vocals loop phrases while being layered with delicate echo. Yet it’s the closing track ‘Sacred Drums’ with it’s sampled vocal cuts and it’s light, teasing percussion that floats over the track like a veil that is the highlight here.

Lily: “Mo Kolours is unlike any other producer in his circuit today. On Inner Symbols, the average track time is 2 minutes and each track is jam packed with samples, live instrumentation and his rather distinctive voice. When playlisted, each track can act as a break in between the usual flow, it’s captivating but before you know it it’ll be gone, so you’ll need to listen to that again.”

The Bamboos — Night Time People

Uptempo soulful Funk with a laid back approach has been The Bamboos’ jam for nearly twenty years. Despite the title, their latest album is ideal for any time of day or night so long as there are friendly faces to share the good time vibes. The combination of their big band instrumentation and Kylie Auldist’s fantastic vocals results in an abundance of depth and detail worth diving headlong into. A slight lean towards Disco brings a gregarious sense of togetherness on tracks like ‘Salvage Rights’ and our highlight ‘San Junipero’.

Max: “The Bamboos have always been so much fun to playlist across venues looking for that soul/funk feeling. I’ve had their new album ‘Night Time People‘ on most mornings in the office. It is great to see the Australia scene continue to evolve and bring out records like this one. Also look out for Dope Lemon ‘Home Soon’ who is another Aussie making soulful music on a slightly more chilled note.”

Kamal Keila — Muslims and Christians

Great Funk bass lines meet a warm, enthusiastic guitar sound on these tracks recorded in the early ‘90s and now released publicly for the first time, spanning decades of writing from the ’70s onward. Created from recordings made for Sudanese radio the first five tracks are socially conscious in their use of English language vocals to escape censorship and more prominently feature electric guitar. The final tracks develop percussion and horn rhythms into a Jazz Funk from a distinctive African perspective. It’s a groove based delight.

Brian: “Habibi Funk is one of my favourite labels and they’ve come up trumps with this re-issue by Kamal Keila from Sudan. Funk with an African twist, but with enough groove to capture the attention of a much wider audience than you might expect (perhaps as the album title suggests!). I’ve been really enjoying adding it to some of my more adventurous playlists and for places such as Red Rooster and Neptune in London, and Baba in Edinburgh.”

The Grey Area — The Grey Area

Packing in multiple genres and influences into their self titled debut, the duo of 3rty and Kid Marley are the aptly named The Grey Area. House, Hip Hop, Indie Pop and African traditional musics all collide through analogue instrumentation resulting in moving rhythms and catchy melodies. ‘You’ features lyrics in the Nigerian Igbo language coupled with an instantly recognizable vocal melody. Elsewhere ‘Thots’ blends Hip Hop, Indie guitar riffs and fleeting sitar atmospherics into a tale of a scorned lover.

Wildhart — Caught In A Fisheye

On their first release as a duo Wildhart build a solid foundation of deep bass buried underneath a structure of multi textural, layered synths topped with elegant, floating vocals. Falling somewhere between the heavy hitting dance floor beats of The Knife and the electronic atmospherics of Beach House, Wildhart’s sweeping Electronica has plenty of presence while leaving space to breathe. The sound is best captured on opening track ‘Over And Over’ where oscillating synths fold into Techno nostalgia.

Jim James — Uniform Distortion

For many musicians who start off in guitar bands the urge to turn the guitars down as their sound evolves is inescapable. It’s therefore a great joy to see the My Morning Jacket frontman turning the guitars up and laying down some fuzz Rock riffs on ‘Uniform Distortion’. It’s an energising collection that touches on Psych on tracks like ‘Out Of Time’ while tackling the all encompassing nature of the mediated digital world in lyrical theme. Don’t miss ‘Yes To Everything’ and be sure to listen for James losing it in laughter too. It’s that kind of album and all the better for it.

Jazzanova — The Pool

For a band with such a significant discography it’s surprising that this is only studio album number three, their first in ten years. As a genre blending band, Jazzanova carry Hip Hop, R&B, Electronica and lounging Jazz into ‘The Pool’. Featuring a dozen vocalists and collaborators, it should be an album that’s hard to pin down. Instead it’s their most approachable and Pop leaning album. The percussion driven ‘Heatwave’ features a grooving bass and vocals from Olivier St Louis imploring “it’s a heatwave and there ain’t nothin’ you can do to escape”. Something we can sympathize with right now.

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