April 2020 Album & Singles Roundup
Updated: May 22, 2020
Hamish has collated the roundup of album releases from April 2020, featuring the best music fresh off the press ranging from jazz, minimal, indie-fusion, soul and afrobeat releases. The following artists feature in this article:
Leifur James / Athletic Progression / Zeitgeist Freedom Energy Exchange / Alfa Mist & Emmavie / Bethlehem Casuals / Tom Misch & Yussef Dayes / PYJAEN / Forest Law / Ebi Soda / Tenderlonious / Slow Loris / Lay-Far / Waaju / Mamilah / Andrea Scala / Clemens Kuratle / GoGo Penguin
Leifur James - Angel In Disguise (4x singles, 14 April 2020 on Night Time Stories)
Dystopian smatterings of outlandish, misplaced yet orderly beats inspires much to talk about with Leifur James. He is one of Jazz Revelations’ biggest talking points. His music is consistently intriguing, and undeniably challenging to define. But that’s what makes him so valuable as a progressive musician, stretching the boundaries of whatever genre he’s working in. Likening the texture to Radiohead’s Kid A or Floating Points’ Crush, and his voice to Alt J, still, Leifur remains his own sound.
Continuing a thread of releases, week by week, the singles are building up to his release of second album, Angles in Disguise on the 5 June 2020. Wise Old Man, AAID, Angel in Disguise, Ritual are the latest singles.
Athletic Progression - Athletic Progression (3 April 2020 on HHV)
With bones of hip hop and a body of silky, electronic instrumentals. Grab yourself a Carlsberg, imagine you’re at a Danish techno/jazz fest and get swept into the unique rhythms this trio binds.
They’ve concentrated their sound since 2019 debut record, Dark Smoke. Removed the rap, explored the patience of the instruments, and created an album at the forefront of this buttery genre.
Hailing from Aarhus, Denmark, Athletic Progression is an instrumental trio rooted in Hip Hop and Jazz. Fitting perfectly in the group of electrically cool instrumentalists, any fans of BADBADNOTGOOD, Yussef Kamaal, Kaytranada, you’ll find solace in this record.
Headed up by drummer Ziggy Zeitgeist, a staple of the Australian jazz music scene, most prominently touring and recording with Melbourne Nu-Soul/future-jazz collective ’30/70’ is the Zeitgeist Freedom Energy Exchange.
“The recording sessions were an exploration into sound... an exploration into the zeitgeist... jazz music that isn’t jazz, electronic dance music that isn’t electronic”
The album echoes an acid trip. A prismatic, uncertain, exciting experience. A spectrum of flutes and synths warp through cosmic frequencies, grounded by Zeitgeist’s infectious drumming. Its aptly named first track ‘Candy Flip’, says it all.
Supported from the likes of Gilles Peterson, Kamaal Williams, Byron the Aquarius and Alexander Nut just to name a few. ZFEE’s exploration of their own place between acid house and jazz is well worth a trip (especially at parties). Oh, and Rendevouz & River Run Deep are confirmed bops.
Alfa Mist, Emmavie - Epoch (Remaster / Reissue from July 2014 released on 17 April 2020 on Sekito)
Six years on since this pair recorded, Epoch’s re-release is a soulful time capsule for two musicians at the height of their careers.
“An ‘epoch’ is a particular period of time in history or a person’s life. Can’t think of a better word to describe how some music takes you back to where you were & what you were doing when you first heard it.” - Alfa Mist
Alfa Mist’s dreamy synth and plush keyboard play style supports Emmavie’s soulful melodies and memories. This record needed releasing properly, and now fits on the shelf of brilliant London jazz collaborations.
Bethlehem Casuals - The Tragedy of Street Dog (17 April 2020 - Independent)
The most unusual, fun and wonderfully mad album of the month, and possibly in the whole world, is this.
Manchester’s very own, Bethlehem Casuals play you their tale of a lone street dog who’s on a mission to find out why all of the music in Manchester’s gone missing.
Heralded as one of the North’s best live bands, they’ve transferred their colourful circus of themes, anthems, and jumping bops from stages as big as Glasto, to a unique studio record.
Vocalist William Hearne, makes for a magnificent orator. There’s a flirtatious swing in his voice, not dissimilar to like Alex Kapranos, singer in Franz Ferdinand. The jumping beats and ultra-colourful tone set by the instruments outside the music, likens them to Superorganism. This is a MUST listen.
What Kinda Music? Well, that’s a very good question. Indie jazz? Hip-hop? R&B with hints of electronica? As the title hints, that really doesn’t need answering as it doesn’t matter. Carrying the torch of genreless music, South London pair Tom Misch and Yussef Dayes have teamed up to create an engaging and expansive project which pushes both artists into unchartered territory. A journey defined by vivid colours and flair.
Atmospheric and immersive, What Kinda Music exhibits the collaborative force of the contemporary music scene. It’s emotive and contemplative approach is enchanting, and it shows how Tom Misch and Yussef Dayes, who come from different musical settings, are able to bring out the best of each other. Spanning styles and sounds, both musicians stretch each other in different ways to create an impressive and profound work. (Ally Steel, Read his full review here)
Pyjaen have thrived since their self titled debut release in September 2019. This latest double release over April features upbeat melodies, ripping sax solos and a sense of journey in both the music, and another step in their still fledgling career.
Gold Plated introduces soul singer, Odette Peters’ velvet voice, one that can’t help but compared to Amy Winehouse, and sonically imitates Ben Vize’s sax solo following her. It’s a lovely soulful, upbeat track.
Forest Law - Forest Law (3 April 2020 on Brownswood Recordings)
Forest Law is freshly unearthed talent. Dug out from recording in his garden (shed), Gilles Peterson has transported this Rio-influenced poetic multi instrumentalist and singer into the Brownswood studio to release his first EP.
Forest has a softly high voice that soars over busied but balanced Brazilian percussions and instrumentals. Visually it’s like a colourful twine ball of rubber bands; lines and layers of different rhythms and licks in the percussions, instruments intertwined within the sound. It’s dynamic on many levels, colourfully imaginative and deserves a focussed listen.
New Thoughts New Eyes builds such a two step rhythm, you’ll be left craving that grooving and bopping your head along to live music. We’re really excited to see what’s next for Forest Law, yet another great individual musician to add to Brownswood’s mighty list of youthful talent.
Ebi Soda - Keisha Billip, Playstation, King (Ebi Soda Rework), Summer One (10/24 April 2020 on Sola Terra Records)
It’s been a busy April for Brighton based lads quartet, Ebi Soda, releasing four singles to keep you busy during lockdown. Catchy horn melodies circle over funky bass lines start Ebi Soda’s smooth summer grooves now.
Summer One’s a cruising tune. Singer J Harli struts over a steady groove, with a luscious instrumental fade out. Playstation’s pulsing breakbeat drumming, as the horns repeat the lick round and round feel like a sunset house tune turned jazzy. Keisha Billip’s bassey nature takes you right to Brighton. Or close enough, as you sit listening in your bedroom.
Tenderlonious - After the Storm (10 April 2020 on 22a)
A lovely release, Tenderlonious’ EP is a highlight for last month. Expect After the Storm to bring bright house beats, soft synthesiser showers, and perfectly dynamic flute solos throughout.
This EP is credit to Tenderlonious’ musical sewing ability. Stiching deep house summer sounds, with his flute, synth and chords so elegantly.
Slow Loris - Sounds Hoof (10 April 2020 - Independent)
Just over two years on since their first release, Ticklins’ Torture, Leeds based instrumentalists Slow Loris release the first single and title track from their upcoming EP 'Sounds Hoof’.
Hypnotic guitars softly pluck out a determined melody, as cascading drums shimmer milky rock chords. Instrumentally enthralling, and looks to be an exciting first track for their second EP release. This, alongside a very trippy music video, that’s somewhere between a 90s television with bad signal, a daytime trundle round NYC, and one fucking unbelievable acid trip.
Lay-Far - Seasons Change (10 April 2020 on Eureka! Japan)
Groovy, funky, jazzy, soulful, smooth; this Russian DJ and producer covers a lot of sounds and vibes in his essentially disco tracks. Lay- Far latest four track EP is a softly laid out, spunky, summer house jam for the house heads and kitchen groovers.
Waaju - Listening Glasses (24 April 2020 on Olindo Records)
A project that never stands still, Waaju’s members have been busy as part of other ensembles (Caravela, Bahla, Jordan Rakei, Maria Chiara Argiro and Ashley Henry to name a few). Listening Glasses is their first release since self titled debut, Waaju.
Fusing dexterous hand-percussion, hypnotic guitar riffs and soaring melodies, Waaju connect a wide range of traditional musics percolating at different corners of the global soundscape yet with a distinctly of-the-moment and British jazz flavour.
Sam Rapley, a very familiar sound sax to hear on the record, is a stand out sound in yet another album he tears apart. Their next release is their album, Grown on the 12 June 2020.
Mamilah - Speak Freedom - (24 April 2020 independent)
Mamilah have self-released their second EP Talk Less, a collection of songs that follow on in the same vein of their debut EP Moonlight Walking from 2018. The Leeds 7-piece have curated a selection of tracks that elevate and inspire through their refreshing style of neo-soul and funk that focuses on a melodious horns section harmonising with divine vocals.
As a group of musicians, producers, DJs and songwriters, they compose their songs that have taken a whole host of musical influence from soul, jazz, latin and R&B music. Having shared the stage with luminaries such as KOKOROKO, Kool and the Gang, Yazmin Lacey and Craig Charles. (Read Ben's full review of Mamilah's Talk Less here)
Andrea Scala - Coming Back, Leaving Again (21 February 2020 on Shifting Paradigm Records)
Introducing Italian born, Toronto based drummer and producer, Andrea Scala’s premier release, Coming Back, Leaving Again.
A highly cinematic explosion of polarising styles and sounds, a pinnacle of nu-fusion. Eighties game music, crashing industrial beats to classically melodic jazz, to name a few. Held together by Scala’s drumming, a range of Italian jazz musicians freely improvise and contribute to this wild fusion.
It’s an intriguing listen in how free the music feels. You’re sitting in a jazz bar to Nobody Else But Me, then Towards Oxygen transports you to an underground Berlin industrial club. Cracked has a ridiculously fast, grooving melody that flits like an argument, then to a confident stride down a city street.
Sonically erratic, yet effective in this visual landscape Andrea Scala, and his musicians paint. We're excited to see where this musician's career will take him. Album favourites are Out Here, Trees and Cracked.
Clemens Kuratle - Murmullo: Lies (3 April 2020 on Anditrò Records)
Lies brings together five young but seriously in-demand musicians from the Swiss jazz scene who, together, were nominated for Switzerland’s most prestigious jazz award in 2019.
These musicians have created an artistic sonic collage; a tight, orderly, rather Swiss one.
A subtle mathematical dynamic weaves complex jazz improvisations and multiple simultaneous melodies across classically jazz instruments (with a cello thrown in). Complex, old yet modern, sit down jazz to marvel at. If that’s your thing.
Ahead of their new self titled album, GoGo Penguin, to be released on 5th June 2020 are the treat singles released by the worldwide famous trio.
Expect more of the same from Gogo Penguin. Firmly staying within the foundations they’ve already built, these singles don’t offer much more musically than their previous releases. Not that that is bad, just perhaps disappointing in some way to see music flatline, not develop. The three tracks are undeniably still epic, as their music style is, but for seasoned Gogo Penguin fans, this may not be the big reveal they were hoping for.
Written by Hamish Irvine, Jazz Revelations Writer