August 2020

Album releases

Kelly Lee Owens — Inner Voice

Forty years in the future, on a recreational spaceflight, adrift in the empty gravity, eyes closed, nodding gently to the warm murmur of these frequencies as they echo through your suit.

The Gaslamp Killer — Heart Math

An eclectic beat record that rounds all the bases; it's at times funky, cryptic, danceable and pensive. My favorite is the title track / album closer, a collaboration with composer Amir Yaghmai that features howling, otherworldly strings over a dizzying labyrinth of drums.

Aukai — Game Trails

I reviewed 2018's Branches of Sun last month and here we are again! Game Trails is a spritely listen, dancing through the winter woods with a variety of instruments. Lots of strings are plucked and the overall mood is mellow, but this is an adventure to be sure.

Singles & EPs

Ezra Collective — Dark Side Riddim / Samuel L. Riddim Highly recommended!

A delightful pair of jazz-funk jams. Joe Armon-Jones shows off a light touch on the keys and a great solo on Dark Side Riddim, but I think this track is driven hardest by TJ Koleoso's wandering melodies on bass. On Samuel L. Riddim, the band coalesces around the torrential rain of Femi Koleoso's kit. This is more incredible jazz from London... what's in the water there?

New to Me

Kaleema — Nómada (2017) Highly recommended!

Hypnotic, seductive, dangerous. I love records that defy a genre label and I think Nómada is a great example of that; it has humid percussion, dreamy strings and a fuzzy echo of South American folk music, all lurking under the electronic pulse of house? downtempo? pop?

As a bonus, check out the killer playlist Heidi maintains: El Futuro es Feminino

Waldo's Gift — Improvisations (2019) Highly recommended!

A spacey, free-form jazz trio exploration. The rhythm section is assertive, with complex basslines sitting high in the mix and rangy, kitchen sink percussion holding things together. Over top of this floats Alun Elliot-Williams' guitar, with an almost post-rock sound, more textural, wandering and searching. An A+ recommendation for fans of small combos like The Bad Plus or more propulsive groups like The Comet is Coming.

Sophie Hutchings — Yonder (2017)

Yonder is like a quiet evening with close friends. It's warm and engaging, and when it's over you're surprised how the time has slid past so smoothly. Sophie Hutchings' piano compositions are simple, but not minimalist, and show off a great sense of feel and timing. It's good relaxation music but has a rewarding depth there for more active listeners.

Eli Keszler — Empire (2019)

A fascinating EP from avant-garde percussionist Eli Keszler. Trust me: this one is more accessible than "avant-garde percussionist" makes it sound! I imagine it as the soundtrack for a noir flick set on a space station in the year 2300.

Karavan (Lefto & Free the Robots) — Karavan (2017)

Top tier instrumental hip-hop production with cinematic samples, a jazzy sensibility and funky head-nod turned up to 110%.

Richard Spaven — Real Time (2018)

Real Time shows off Spaven's drum-machine precision on the kit, but the dripping soul chords and frequent collaborations with Jordan Rakei effectively soften the edges. The velvety Busta Rhymes cover, Show Me What You Got, is the highlight for me on this one.