Wukong the Monkey King is a five-piece fusion band based in Auckland, New Zealand that could be the more mellow spiritual sibling to Australia’s King Lizard & The Gizzard Lizzard. The music is all over the place, in the best way possible; jazzy freakouts, spoken word interludes, actual bass playing, those drums – all excellent. “Ode to Keen” is the most fun and “Blue Ball” is my favorite for being straight up soul. Check out more via their website.
Polish jazz? Right away I’m hooked. But before you know it, EABS (Electro-Acoustic Beat Sessions) quickly turns the corner into darker, jazz-influenced hip-hop a la BADBADNOTGOOD. Then it all gets violent and explodes in sound and then comes back all together again in a mesh of grooves. And it’s all dedicated to Krzysztof Komeda. And it’s only the first song. It’s so great.
EABS debut album entitled “Repetitions (Letters To Krzysztof Komeda)” is a dedication to Polish Jazz legend Krzysztof Komeda. This album is an analysis of conscientiously selected compositions by Komeda between 1962-1967. EABS explores some of Komeda’s lesser-known compositions featured in ballet etudes, movies, short films, documentaries, animations and compositions illustrating Polish poems recited in German.
Carefully chosen compositions, the background of the movies for which the music had been written and Marek Pędziwiatr’s lyrics all add up to “Repetitions” being some kind of a concept album about the condition of the human soul in the 21st century. The questions one may ask might be similar to those which could have been asked by the artists witnessing post-war debris: will history come full circle? Lack of knowledge, flourishing idiocracy, aggression, aiming for conflicts, shortage of community spirit and love may lead to another doomsday. Perhaps we simply aren’t able to see the impending doom now… Just like in a poem by Czesław Miłosz, “A Song on the End of the World”, to which Krzysztof Komeda wrote “Waltzing Beyond”.
“Sick of being tied to you / and I don’t even talk to you” is such a killer line. This and the rest of Mariam Sawires‘ beautiful singing elevates to something special when she switches from jazz lounge to Roots-like R&B that gradually crescendos into a climax colorful like the album cover. And this is just on one song – the rest of the album travels through different peaks and valleys of moods, all done well and all making me very excited for what Sawires has in store for us in the future.
“Egyptian, born in Australia into a worldly, nomadic family of musicians artists originating in desert sands to urban landscapes worldwide. Mariam’s youth was inspired by the sweet lyrical high-pitched melodies of traditional Arabic songs, the rhythms created from the clay Darbuka of her father. Bringing her flavor of Arabic/Northern African infused Jazz/ NuSoul to Europe, Africa, USA, and Asia.”
It sounds like insects marching towards war at first, and then Eva Poženel’s vocals come in and oh shit it’s a jazz thing but with a Fiona Apple-like stomp. Kukushai‘s explosion of sound could go off any minute, but Sun Mi Hong’s drumming keeps everything in check and Rok Zalokar’s keys move things along. It’s all theatrical, and it’s all quite beautiful and bizarre at times. Poženel, Hong, and Zalokar all met in Rotterdam, The Netherlands and they use their varying cultural heritages (Poženel and Zalokar from Slovenia, Hong from South Korea) to good use.
My mind draws a blank when it thinks of jazz in the Middle East. There aren’t too many names that stand out to me doing notable things in the genre outside the United States, though this has more to do with my own ignorance and bad luck. Lebanese pianist Tarek Yamani has changed that. Yamani, who now splits his time between New York and Dubai, uses jazz to, in his own words, explore the relationship between African-American jazz and Arabic rhythms and maqams.
Check out this great video via Your Middle East on how Yamani approaches jazz and songwriting.
“Born and raised in Beirut, Tarek is an American-Lebanese award winning composer and a self-taught jazz pianist who got exposed to jazz around the age of 19. Since the release of his debut “Ashur” in 2012, Tarek has been dedicated to exploring relationships between African-American Jazz and Arabic rhythms/maqams which is most evident in his second album ‘Lisan Al Tarab: Jazz Conceptions in Classical Arabic’”
I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything like Memória de Peixe, the Lisbon duo (Miguel Nicolau on guitar and Marco Franco on drums) that manages to sound like five bands together making glitchy, jittery math-rock without any of the pretention and with so much joy and wonder. If you’ve heard another band like this, I’m sure they don’t sound nearly as fun.
“It’s a world of fantasy, adventures, final bosses, super-heroes, lonely comets, space odysseys and angry quarks falling in love with dead pixels.
Scientifically, “Himiko Cloud is a nebular gas cloud that is thought to be a protogalaxy, caught in the act of formation”. “Himiko” is also the name of our anti-gravity fish, that aggregates stories. Andy Singleton, an artist based in UK, created a sculpture of our friend “Himiko”, incorporated with amazing maglev technology.
Our Artwork was created by Carlos Gaspar, paintings representing a map to our songs. Also, the songs were made based on stories created by our own”
Will Holland, the man behind the name, is a British producer now based in Brooklyn, NY who specializes in finding and sharing world dance music. The latest release is ‘Curao,’ a collaboration between Holland and Colombian folklore singer Nidia Góngora.
“The culmination of a creative partnership that has been sparking for the best part of a decade, ‘Curao’ is the full LP from [the] world-renowned British producer and Colombian folklore singer Nidia Góngora. Out 12th May, the record brings a new and highly original interpretation of the unique, rich and mystical musical traditions of the Colombian Pacific Coast.”
I have no idea what’s going on in TATRAN‘s latest music video, and I think that’s OK. From the jarring dancing to the masked people who look like Miyazaki extras, there’s a lot going on, and it’s all soundtracked to experimental and jazzy instrumental post-rock.
The video is for “Eyes,” the latest single from the group’s upcoming album ‘No Sides,’ out June 2nd.
From the press release:
“The latest video from Israel’s Tatran is a pulsating visual experience. Created for their latest single “Eyes”, which is also featured on the upcoming album. The work takes place in an ancient bell cave in Israel. As strange figures marvel with each frame, showcasing unique and eye catching abstractions. The lack of identity given to these characters allows them to move with fluidity, while being consumed by the distinctive space.
An incredibly tight production, the video progresses with quick pace mirroring with the unparalleled high notes and melody of the bass, and the deep low lines courtesy of the guitar. The result is a mesmerizing display of creativity that is difficult to ignore. As the video concludes, members of the obtuse pack join a deity, who utilizes a supernatural dance to communicate sweet vibrations to her troops.”
Dem Juju Poets, aka David Hanke, is a breath of fresh air for anyone who likes the idea of retro-sounding Afrofunk but finds that most modern takes are too bland to remember. The German DJ has been making solid Afropunk-inspired cuts since 2008, and his new album, with a lively flow that actually makes you wanna get up and dance, will further establish his name worldwide. The debut LP will be released April 21st via Matasuna Records.
From the Bandcamp bio:
“What initially started as idea for a DJ-duo project quickly turned into a new production outlet for German producer David Hanke. He is well known for his Northern Jazz, Funk and Afrofunk productions under various monikers ever since his first release back in 2008. The most recognized surely is his Renegades Of Jazz-alias.
After starting to fully embrace the Afrofunk vibe with his 2016-released Renegades Of Jazz album ‘Moyo Wangu’ as well as two Dem Juju Poets singles in the same year it’s now about time to release ‘Liberated Thoughts’ – the longplay debut for Dem Juju Poets which is scheduled for April 2017.
Having spent an influential part of his childhood in Arusha, Tanzania and engrained the music of East Africa, his sound combines these influences with modern, more club-orientated electronic Afrofunk productions which defines the core sound of Dem Juju Poets.
With ‘Liberated Thoughts’ Hanke refines his Afrofunk vision for 2017 informed by his experience as a DJ in venues all over Europe which naturally led to a more floor functional production approach.”
Bahrain-born, UK-based multi-instrumentalist Yazz Ahmed, like Kamasi Washington in the United States, is reintroducing a new generation to modern jazz. Ahmed has worked with These New Puritans and Radiohead (she plays flugelhorn throughout ‘The King of Limbs’), and in her solo music, she combines her British and Arabic roots through jazz and electronic experimentation. Even if you’re not familiar or terribly interested in jazz, Ahmed’s music deserves your attention, and she’ll most likely make you second guess your thoughts on jazz.
From Ahmed’s Bandcamp bio:
“[Yazz Ahmed’s] new album ‘La Saboteuse’ [out May 12, 2017] is a deep exploration of both her British and Bahraini roots. Ably assisted by musicians including Lewis Wright on vibraphone, MOBO-winning new jazz kingpin Shabaka Hutchings on bass clarinet and Naadia Sherriff on Fender Rhodes keyboard, it’s composed of undulating rhythms, Middle Eastern melody and Yazz’s sonorous trumpet lines. The record sounds like the passage of a desert caravan, bathed in moonlight. The theme of ‘La Saboteuse’ is the sense of self-doubt that Yazz feels when she is creating, personified in a female saboteur, an anti-muse that spurs her into action.
‘La Saboteuse’ will be released in four chapters incrementally, unraveling the story, before the full version is available. Each chapter has its own cover, with beautiful illustrations by Bristol artist Sophie Bass.”