ALBUM REVIEW: Khruangbin – Mordechai

Khruangbin

Mordechai

Dead Oceans / Inertia

After a busy few years touring and riding the wave of attention that their last album Con Todo El Mundo brought them, Khruangbin retreated to their Texas studio to begin work on their third album. Earlier this year we got a mixed bag EP with Leon Bridges but that was a stop gap. Mordechai is the band spreading their wings wider and drawing together stronger thematic qualities.

The other noticeable change on Mordechai is that most tracks feature the vocals of bassist Laura Lee Ochoa. Previously they were predominately an instrumental trio but here they’re playing vocally-enriched songs without losing any of that wandering, free-spirited musicality that has defined them. Ochoa’s lyrics are fragmentary in nature, mantra-like and perfectly in keeping with the drift and hypnotism of the music. Thematically, many of the songs deal in the idea of memory – Time (You And I), One To Remember, So We Won’t Forget all deal in the concept of remembering. 

Musically, Ochoa, Mark Speer and drummer DJ Johnson cast their poly-sonic net even wider. From African and Asian guitar funk to Jamaican dub, cosmic jazz to tropical psychedelia, they pull from all manner of pan-global sounds. It’s still a thrilling concoction that sounds otherworldly, eternally infectious and upbeat in spite of its melancholic soul. 

Chris Familton

NEW MUSIC: Danny Barwick – Mine Too

Danny Barwick is a Perth-based producer and singer who wrote ‘Mine Too‘ and the other songs on his recently released EP Naddi on a two month backpacking trip around India. He began his career in 2012 as a drummer, recording and touring in several bands before taking up production.

Inspired by the likes of James Blake, Nick Cave, and Thom Yorke, Danny’s music merges acoustic instrumentation with experimental electronic production and that’s the most appealing thing about this track, the way he weaves together the organic and the synthetic elements, topping it off with a wonderfully smoky, late-night vocal that recalls King Krule.

NEW MUSIC: Telemachus – I Am Delicious And Cute. So I Will Go Buy Again

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There’s some incredible sound design and programming going on in this track from South London-raised, producer Telemachus. His new album Boring & Weird Historical Music came out on 22nd May via High Focus Records and this is just one example of the splendid way he pulls different genres together while still allowing a glorious vacuum of space to exist around and within his music.

As he himself puts it: ‘the album certainly rewards a thorough and engrossed listen, but equally the general atmosphere is pleasant enough to play for your auntie when she comes for tea.’

Telemachus came up via the UK hip hop scene but was equally attracted to the sounds of grime, jungle, jazz, soundtracks and trip hop. Here he filters and distils them all into one trance-inducing collection of songs that sound both tribal and born from dark urban streets. Sounds hang suspended or cosmically drip from the speakers in a mist of digital drizzle and organic contact points. Jazz guitar and bass riffs pop up like funk meerkats before being subsumed back into the slow swirling miasma.

NEW MUSIC: Million Square – First Block

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Million Square (UK) released their new EP Spirit Bloom last month and one of the highlights is this track, ‘First Block’. Glitchy, effervescent, sparkly notes dart between the speakers above frantic scattershot beats. It’s IDM music but when a haunting, romantic saxophone enters the fray it takes on a new, jazz-leaning vibe and it works wonderfully.

London-based electronic duo, Million Square features double-bassist Max Luthert and saxophonist Duncan Eagles, who citing influences as diverse as Autechre and John Coltrane,  expertly blend the sounds of acoustic and electronic instruments.

NEW MUSIC: Ben Neill – Auricle

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Working at the junction of ambient, avant garde jazz and electronica, Ben Neill has just reissued his 1995 album Green Machine, an album that received widespread critical acclaim on its original release on the Astralwerks label.

The music on the album is performed on his self designed, electro-acoustic Mutantrumpet, skilfully navigating a netherworld between organic and synthetic composition and playing. This track ‘Auricle’ is the perfect example of that, in the way the sounds rise and fall, blending together in harmonic hypnosis.

Neill has recorded eleven CDs of his music on labels including Universal/Verve, Thirsty Ear, Astralwerks, and Six Degrees. His electronic opera The Demo, inspired by computer pioneer Douglas Engelbart and created with composer/performer Mikel Rouse, was premiered in 2015 at Stanford University’s Bing Concert Hall. Other performances include BAM Next Wave Festival, Lincoln Center, Whitney Museum of American Art, Cite de la Musique Paris, Moogfest, Spoleto Festival, Umbria Jazz, Bang On A Can Festival, ICA London, Istanbul Jazz Festival, Vienna Jazz Festival, and the Edinburgh Festival, among many others. Neill has worked closely with many musical innovators including La Monte Young, John Cage, John Cale, Pauline Oliveros, Rhys Chatham, DJ Spooky, David Berhman, Mimi Goese, King Britt, and Nicolas Collins. Neill also leads concerts of La Monte Young’s The Second Dream with an international brass ensemble; performances have recently been presented in New York, Amsterdam, Paris, Amsterdam, Huddersfield, Oslo, Krems, Koln, and Warsaw.

NEW MUSIC: Past Present & Tortusa – Black Mist

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Out of Norway comes this fascinating piece of experimental dubbed and smeared atmospheric jazz fusion from Past Present & Tortusa. The trio of trumpet, upright bass and live sampling is composed and performed by Simen Kiil Halvorsen, Alexander Hoholm and Tortusa respectively. Space is the key to what makes ‘Black Mist’ so compelling as the digital details flicker and dance around the edge of the music, creating texture and nuance quite wonderfully while the trumpet and bass deftly interweave ghostly melodies and rhythmic pulses.

‘Black Mist’ comes from the album Eternal Return:

“Eternal Return is a dystopian tale told in three chapters. It starts with the track ‘Nowhere’ representing a beautiful utopian dream, followed by ‘Black Mist’, where conflict and despair have become a norm, and the final chapter, ‘Dawn of Hope’, brings light and hope for a new and better future.”

NEW MUSIC: Under The Reefs Orchestra – Tucuman

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Under The Reefs Orchestra are a Belgian trio who certainly know their way around a dark and hypnotic groove. Drums, guitar and bass saxophone combine in a haunting rhythmic mix of post rock and a dash of jazz. It works wonderfully too, conjuring squalls of guitar across a doom-laden desert backdrop.

This is a live in-studio version of the song, their brand new single, of which the recorded studio version is available on Spotify and Apple Music.

NEW MUSIC: Waldo’s Gift – Kaleidoscope

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Here’s some wild and freakish playing and composition from UK trio Waldo’s Gift. Jazz, post rock, avant prog and more combine on this fluttering, frenetic, precise yet freeing instrumental track that features an equally compelling video clip by Waveform Media. This beast grows and mutates, centred around that incessant metronomically pummelling rhythm. Hypnotic and thrilling stuff!

Their debut album ‘Improvisations’, released May 10th consists entirely of music composed on the fly, performed live at The Gallimaufry in Bristol on December 19th 2018. The album art was also created in the moment by artist Holysseus Fly. Speaking on the release the band share “We love playing improvised music together. It really is so cathartic to just play. To express your emotions in that moment. This album honestly captures that process, the three of us expressing. No overdubs or edits. We simply chose our favourite compositions from the performance as a whole. Having Holysseus Fly creating the artwork at the same time ties it all together.”