March 2021 Roundup
Ben has collated a roundup of some of the most exciting releases to drop in March, featuring records ranging from jazz, hip hop, balaeric, soul, ambient, electronica, funk, experimental, free jazz, house and krautrock music. The following artists feature in this article:
George Sauma Jr / Various Artists - LA OLA INTERIOR Spanish Ambient & Acid Exoticism 1983-1990 / The Drive / Yoni Mayraz / DayKoda / Joel Holmes / Busty and The Bass / Mathias Modica Presents Kraut Jazz Futurism Vol 2 / Prequel / Dawkins and Wulls / Pavel Milyakov & Bendik Giske / Simon Provencher
(Links to artists' social media and the records are found on the artist name and release title)
Favorite Recordings presents an exclusive eponymous LP by Brazilian singer and composer George Sauma Jr., originally produced in 1985. Featuring two figures of the Brazilian Music Golden Age, Arthur Verocai and Junior Mendes, this album has an electro-soul vibe to it that is summed up perfectly on track 'Céu Azul'. Deeply influenced by simple and romantic music, 'Vou Mostrar Que Sei Viver' resonates this mood whilst 'Ideal De Carnaval' is fine synth-pop disco. The dubby 'Possível Utopia' also features an incredible sax solo worth checking out.
Various Artists - LA OLA INTERIOR Spanish Ambient & Acid Exoticism 1983-1990 (Bongo Joe Records, 5 March)
Bongo Joe presents a 20 track compilation exploring the ambient side of the Spanish electronic music produced in the 80’s. A mix of industrial beats, oriental sounds, and unclassifiable lofi influenced by German Kosmische Musik, American minimalism and Fourth-World Music, the LP features some of the labels of the time (DRO, GASA, El Cometa de Madrid, EGK) who helped pioneer this scene; Bongo Joe have aptly titled the LP as "Acid Exoticism" because of its permanent search for trance or contemplation. 'Malagueñas 2' is a MASSIVE tune and the atmospheric, contemplative sounds induce either a state of calm or unrest depending on how you interpret the sound. 'Ultima Instancia' is like a foaming drum machine urging out acid tones quicker than you can breathe - just put this record on and get lost in the deep trip of it because I have done so already many times.
The Drive was formed by the nucleus of South Africa's The Heshoo Beshoo Group’s horn section, Henry and Stanley Sithole, along with drummer Nelson Magwaza. These three had been crucial to the sound of the Heshoo Beshoo Group’s solitary 1970 Armitage Road album. The brothers were approached by guitarist Adolphus “Bunny” Luthuli to form a band to compete in the Alco Best Band Competition at Jabulani Stadium in April 1971. From then on they recorded together and Can You Feel It? was their 1975 album which included one of their biggest hits 'Way Back 50's' that received lots of airplay. The title track is happy soul and 'Together' features some wonderful saxophone soloing that you could easily jive to.
Latest single from Israeli pianist and producer Yoni Mayraz has a lovely vintage sound to it, with the lower tones reminiscent of Alfa Mist but with the additon of higher-pitched melodies which makes this a delightful hip hop / jazz infused head bopper. The drums constantly urge the beat to move forward as it swirls around the looped middle-eastern motif - Mayraz has a very innovative approach to production and composition and I'm excited for more releases from him.
Milan-based musician DayKoda releases his second album Physis which features his signature tumbling jazz drums, wonky hip hop samples and billowing beats. It's easy to hear why he is called the "Italian Flying Lotus" with all the alternating soundscapes pouring out quickly and the eclectic range of sounds fusing into ever-evolving electronica patterns. Drawing on the relationship between nature and art, these expansive sounds come out quite dark in 'Jungle War' whilst 'Adapted Leaf' ends with a seductive saxophone solo. 'Eyes Open' is a sensational journey from the in-your-face powerful sounds ripping through to the melancholy keys crawling out at the end. Check out our review of 'My Abstract Monkey (Ishmael Ensemble Remix)' here.
4 times Grammy-nominated pianist Joel Holmes, known as the musical director of Carl Craig’s Synthesizer ensemble as well as the keyboardist for Roy Hargrove, releases a new jazz-house EP Osmosis on Berlin label Toy Tonics. Integrating himself in the local scene and producing with fellow label mate Cody Currie recently, his tracks have a soulful, deep house energy to them in the New York style. You can imagine shuffling around to 'Pose' in the club whilst 'It Feels Good' is catchy and joyous. A great EP full of summery house fun.
Montréal-based jazz-funk collective Busty and The Bass release a 5-track suite that follows on from their 2020 LP Eddie. Travelling through funk and African soul, there's a cosmic tinge to the EP that informs the references to the planets in the different parts. 'Neptune' is emotional and dramatic whilst 'Mars' engulfs you in a wall of jazz freak out at the climax.
Kryptox release Kraut Jazz Futurism Vol 2 which compiles the best of what's going on in Germany's jazz scene in the realm of krautrock, afro, hip hop and electronica, following on from 2019's Vol 1. Mathias Modica curates this album with 15 different artists, some of the standouts include CV Vision with '1The U' which is a nice fuzzy funker that turns into a whirlpool of psychedelia. GTA Hoffmann's 'Der Mogul' is a minimal, video game disco whilst Modha's is soul-jazz with slight house vibes. The mournful 'Compost Ghosts' singes into your brain and paranoid prog-punk-jazz-performers Kuhn Fu treat us with an eerie masterpiece. The glitchy spiritual jazz of Spiritczualic Enhancement Center's '360 of Harmony' has already received acclaim from Gilles Peterson too. Keep your eyes peeled for all the artists involved in this record.
Melbourne producer Prequel releases a journey through the highs and lows of love and loss on Rhythm Section. 'When Love Is New' starts as lofi deep house that features warped vocals blending into Tamil Rogeon's strings blissfully. Josh Kelly's saxophone blaring feels just as out of control as the emotion behind the song's title 'I'll Never Stop Loving You', generating a stream of sounds that mirror the unrequited feelings of love. The piano sample in 'All I'm Missing Is You' leads beautifully and when the piano chimes out in 'I Tried To Tell Him' there's infectious energy behind the rhythm of the song with Horatio Luna's bass prodding you to dance to the beat again and again.
Leftfield music label Released Records from Leeds have dropped a great album of soulful headnodding beats. Orchid Hybrid by Dawkins & Wulls is another collaboration between master guitarist/session musician Chris Dawkins (Nightmares On Wax/Corrine Bailey Rae/Jimi Tenor/David Holmes/LSK), and boundary breaking producer Wulls. Balearic chill is the best way to describe the album, there's a bit of everything including jazz, ambient, funk and boom-bap. 'Sacred Walk' is a favourite that features soft acid touches on the synths, whilst 'Check Yer Phone' grooves like a beast. A homage to Roy Ayers on 'Yes Man Sunshine' is an anthemic funker as all these tunes seem to be most ideal for those rooftop bars with the sunsetting across the horizon.
The untitled album by Moscow-based Pavel Milyakov (AKA Buttechno) and Norwegian saxophonist Bendik Giske is a collaborative monster of experimental music. The creaky atmosphere feels somewhat dystopian and industrial, with 'Untitled 1' starting with a very physical, circular movement on the saxophone that cascades around Milyakov's minimalist approach to manipulating the sounds. 'Untitled 3' flutters uncontrollably where you can't tell if you're hearing the saxophone or electronics arpeggiating within the layers of ostinatos. The range of sounds from Giske includes percussive textures that form like drums to Milyakov's dark stratosphere of electronic hummings, and they turn out almost like hihats in 'Untitled 4'. It's such an incredible album for fans of ambient and abstract dark moods - I'm hooked.
Québec artist Simon Provencher releases his Mesures EP which is an intriguing piece of free jazz. Utilising syncopated rhythms and percussions from Olivier Fairfield and woodwind improvisation from Elyze Venne-Deshaies on the clarinet, there's a tranquillity to the record but the percussion puts this feeling on edge, with the title track showing this the best with Provencher's repeating guitar phrase drawing you into a trance. 'Et quart' has a disturbing electronic sound that has the clarinet playing to it as if it's a snake charmer performance, not knowing what the electronics are going to do next. The unpredictability of the record is a good thing, it's always pushing the listener to hear what pattern of sounds will come next and there's freedom with every rhythm that is played by the musicians. It's exhilarating and at times verges on trance-jazz vibes.