Monday, January 10, 2022

Caio Afiune - Every Choice is an Act of Courage (March 25, 2022)

"The new recording by Caio Afiune shows all the talent and musicality of this young guitarist, composer and arranger. Caio is a legitimate hybrid - he combines, in perfect doses, the music of his native Brazil and that of Jazz. And he has a very original voice."
Luciana Souza, Brazilian Jazz Vocalist

1. Every Choice is an Act of Courage 08:50
2. I Remember You
3. Caravana
4. Precious
5. Returning
6. Tequila Sunrise / Stella on a Starry Night

Caio Afiune - Guitar and Compositions
Jessica Curran - Vocals on 4 and 5
Henrique Eisenmann - Piano
James Heazlewood-Dale - Bass on 2,4, and 5
Avery Logan - Drums
Nathan Reising - Alto Saxophone on 1,2,3,4, and 6
Max Ridley - Bass on 1,3, and 6

Mixed and Mastered by Matt Hayes
Recorded at Wellspring Sound, Acton, MA

Max Andrzejewski - Mythos (March 4, 2022 Backlash Music)

Few works in the operatic canon can match the ambition, excess, and grandeur of Wagner’s hefty Der Ring des Nibelungen (aka Ring Cycle), four iconic operas built upon German myth that have either riveted, angered, awed, or exhausted listeners since the composer completed the cycle in 1874. German percussionist and composer Max Andrzejewski is among those with deeply ambivalent feelings toward the cycle, repulsed by the composer’s anti-Semitism and sexism, to say nothing of the work’s crushing bombast. That critical position partly explains his decision to accept a commission from acclaimed German theater director Ersan Mondtag to create four new overtures for an adaptation of Thomas Köck’s “W̶ ̶A̶ ̶G̶ ̶N̶ ̶E̶ ̶R̶ ̶ ̶ –̶ ̶ ̶D̶ ̶E̶ ̶R̶ ̶ ̶ ̶R̶ ̶I̶ ̶N̶ ̶G̶ ̶ ̶ ̶D̶ ̶E̶ ̶S̶ ̶̶ ̶N̶ ̶ I̶ ̶B̶ ̶E̶ ̶L̶ ̶U̶ ̶N̶ ̶G̶ ̶E̶ ̶N̶ (A PIECE LIKE FRESH CHOPPED ESCHENWOOD),” a wild slice-and-dice recasting of the mythical tropes that saturate the original opera cycle. “It's really sarcastic in a way, so it's really destroying the piece” he explains.

Andrzejewski sparingly and creatively repurposed some of the leitmotifs from the four overtures as a point of departure for his work, and, as he says, even the most devoted Wagner connoisseur would have trouble picking out any trace of the original overtures in Andrzejewski ́s gripping Mythos cycle. His blend of composition and improvisation, as well as acoustic and electronic sounds, stand in stark contrast to Wagner’s aesthetic. Instead he mined his predecessor’s writing for raw material. The operas are left behind, a series of grandiose husks representing smug hatefulness. He’s replanted a handful of musical seeds to generate something completely contemporary and classic at the same time.

Although Andrzejewski’s steady expansion from his jazz and improvised music roots into contemporary music occurred through a series of collaborations with Mondtag beginning in 2013, he felt he had left the theatre world behind. His ambitious work Zauberburg, commissioned by Podium Festival Esslingen and premiered in 2020, signaled his arrival as a serious composer, where his music stood firmly on its own rather than as a component in a theatrical setting. But he says he couldn’t resist Mondtag’s offer, which not only allowed him to comment on Wagner, but to work with a larger group. He was able to put together a 12-member ensemble drawn from both the classical and jazz worlds, neatly bringing together his two primary stylistic threads in a single piece.

His work in the jazz and improvised world has never been conventional, whether he’s embraced an art-song ethos in his long-running ensemble Hütte, which put a unique, lyric gloss on the songs of Robert Wyatt with its 2019 album Hütte & guests play the music of Robert Wyatt, or built compositions from microscopic, unconventional field recordings in his collaborative duo Training, with saxophonist Johannes Schleiermacher featuring John Dieterich from Deerhoof as special guest and producer. Over the last decade he’s worked with an impressive array of improvisers, including old-school firebreather Charles Gayle and acclaimed reedist and composer Anna Webber, who also blends contemporary music and improvisation in her own writing. He’s also been a crucial percussionist in groups led by guitarists Julien Desprez and Kalle Kalima, among others. His superb 2020 project with Austrian keyboardist Elias Stemeseder, light/tied, provided compelling evidence of his developing interest in fusing contemporary music with improvisation, although retrospectively he realized his own investment in composing the music resulted in less time on his own improvised contributions.
“I was so preoccupied with writing that I didn't really think so much about my drumming,” he says. “So I didn't feel really fulfilled on both layers. I kind of stepped back from the drumming part, and then I realized in the rehearsals, “Oh shit, I didn't think about what I'm going to play to this music that I wrote” That ceases to be a problem on Mythos. In fact, the entirety of “Mythos III” was constructed from a solo drum improvisation he played and recorded while listening to the overture from Wagner’s Siegfried on headphones, so while his work shares a tempo with the Wagner original, every other element was brand-new, including the bracing post-Cecil Taylor piano solo by Jörg Hochapfel, generating a tension one might expect in a suspense film. The Wagner reference in “Mythos I” is relegated to compressing and distorting the Rheingold overture into a second-long electronic blast, with strings and winds toggling between aerated and needling passages, tattooed by throbbing, acidic electronic tones before a solemn dialogue of strings, vibraphone, and piano, as bassist James Banner and guitarist Arne Braun improvise colors and tactile gestures that complement the chamber-like elegance.

The viola and violin figures in “Mythos II” are borrowed from Wagner’s Die Walküre, but Andrzejewski soon stacks up the motif, surrounded by hypnotic see-sawing passages and juddered by percussive snaps on bass and guitar. The French horn figure is also purloined from Wagner, yet it’s buffeted by the composer’s explosive drumming and a burst of electronic noise that’s also a digital abstraction of the original. Motifs from Götterdämmerung turn up in “Mythos IV,” overlapping into a swarming buzz. “Basically the whole ensemble is kind of improvising with the small Wagner snippets in the beginning, but it's arranged in a way that it sounds composed,” says Andrzejewski. “I conducted it, so there are hard cuts and stuff, but everyone had a lot of freedom in that.”

The musicians he worked with from classical music haven’t much experience improvising, so Andrzejewski guided them along, giving them a set of pitches to create spontaneous lines with. He knows something about learning on the job, because although he was taught arranging skills in school, composing for a classical ensemble was something he absorbed through trial and error. “I didn't imagine writing for stringed instruments,” he says. “I was always like, ’Yeah, let's do free jazz, with loud instruments.’ Then I found out that these instruments are amazing. I got more and more interested in classical instruments. I found out that possibilities are just endless and it's beautiful to dig into that world.”

Mythos doesn’t sound like the product of someone stumbling his way through an alien landscape. Andrzejewski wasn’t cowed by the Wagner legacy, and he boldly disregarded convention in digging out little pearls from which to construct his own music. “I’m working on two strange things at the same time, playing drums and writing chamber music,” he explains. “I always try to bring it together.” The seams between disparate traditions and practices are increasingly invisible in his work, and the possibilities only seem to broaden under his assured, feverish creativity.

Peter Margasak

1. Mythos I - eio
2. Mythos II - aüe
3. Mythos III - ieie
4. Mythos IV - öeäeu

Performed by:

Moritz Ter-Nedden, violin
Grégoire Simon, violin
Friedemann Slenczka, viola
Ragnar Jónsson, violoncello
James Banner, double bass
Laure Mourot, flute
Miguel Pérez Iñesta, clarinet / bass clarinet
Isaac Shaw – french horn
Maria Schneider – vibraphone
Arne Braun – guitar
Jörg Hochapfel - keyboard, piano
Max Andrzejewski - composition, drumset, electronics

All music composed by Max Andrzejewski

Recorded by Martin Ruch at Bonello Studio Berlin, march 2021
Recording assisted by Tobias Ober
Mixed and mastered by Martin Ruch at Control Room Berlin

Max was assisted by Gerrit Netzlaff

Cover design by Ragnar Jónsson

Commissioned by Berliner Ensemble

℗ 2022 Backlash Music

Binker and Moses - Feeding The Machine (February 25, 2022 Gearbox Records)

After some years spent roaming the Valley of the Ultrablacks and exploring the Mountain of Forever, (where they narrowly avoided the lethal traps of The Voice of Besbunu), Binker and Moses are back with a new offering.

'Feeding The Machine' is their first studio album in five years, due for release on February 25th on all formats.

Recorded at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios by legendary, GRAMMY-winning producer Hugh Padgham, the new record features honorary third member Max Luthert on tape loops and electronics, moving their sound into an entirely new dimension that crosses into ambient, minimalism and experimental electronic territories.

With the use of modular synths and sampling, traditional melody and song structures are left behind as the musicians are pushed creatively to respond and in turn, 'feed the machine'.

1. Asynchronous Intervals
2. Active-Multiple-Fetish-Overlord
3. Accelerometer Overdose
4. Feed Infinite
5. After The Machine Settles
6. Because Because

Binker Golding: soprano and tenor saxophones
Moses Boyd: drums
Max Luthert: live tape loops and electronic effects

All tracks composed by Binker Golding, Moses Boyd and Max Luthert

Recorded at Real World Studio, 29th-31st March 2021
Engineered and mixed by Hugh Padgham
Assisted by Oliver Middleton
Mastered and cut by Caspar Sutton-Jones and Darrel Sheinman at Gearbox Records
Mastered using all-valve Decca equalisation and Telefunken limiters. Lacquer discs cut on a Haeco Scully lathe with Westrex RA1700 series amps, Westrex 3DIIA cutting head. Monitored using Audio Note equipment
Produced by Darrel Sheinman and Hugh Padgham
Photography by Dan Medhurst
Graphic design by Alan Foulkes

I Just Came From The Moon - Ånd Ud (February 25, 2022 April Records)

Ånd Ud is the second album from Danish jazzers I Just Came from the Moon. Following years of touring both nationally and internationally, the album is a natural follow up to the debut album ‘Hoax’, but also a more general reflection on growing up and settling down.

As Frederik, bass-player and bandleader puts it: “For us, all the songs on Ånd Ud navigate a world of both deep melancholy and natural beauty. There’s a lot of saying goodbye to your carefree youth in the music, mixed with a profound serenity when realizing that what lies ahead might be even better.”

The music was recorded in a tiny vacation home on the small island of Fur in Jutland. Just the band and one technician for a couple of extended weekends. Later, IJCFTM produced and mixed most of the music themselves. “We tried a few producers - and were super fortunate to have Stephen Koszler do the mix of ‘White’ (the first single) - but in the end, it felt the most natural to finalize the rest of the music ourselves. The songs are really personal, and we were absolutely sure how we needed them to sound.” says Tobias, who plays drums and ended up mixing most of the music.

The album will be released on the legendary and newly resurrected Danish jazz-label ‘April Records’ on February 25th, 2022, with three singles leading up to the release: Brothers (5th of November 2021), Dark Latin (10th of December 2021) and White (14th of January 2022).

1. White 04:26
2. Utke 03:21
3. Fossils 04:01
4. Dark Latin 04:53
5. Ånd ud 02:36
6. Mexico 05:02
7. Incendies 04:13
8. Brothers 04:08
9. Snowman 05:17

Recorded on the island of Fur in Limfjorden, Denmark

Jonas Scheffler - Trumpet
Nis Myrtue - Saxophone & Clarinets
Nikolaj Bugge - Guitar
Frederik Hagner - Bass
Tobias Andreassen - Drums

Produced and mixed by Tobias Andreassen, Stephen Koszler (White) & IJCFTM
Recorded by Esben Inglev / Penguin Productions
Mastered by Emil Thomsen / ET Mastering
Artwork by Josefine Sund
Photos by Peder Lyngsø
Cover design by Enrico Andreis
Liner Notes by Ned Ferm

All music composed and performed by I JUST CAME FROM THE MOON

K.O.G (Kweku of Ghana) - Zone 6, Agege (February 25, 2022 Heavenly Sweetness)

Sounds and stories celebrating Africa, our nature, nurture and future, a connection of beautiful energy with rest of the world.

1. Intro
2. Mayedeen
3. Like a Tree
4. Shidaa
5. Hewale
6. Lord Knows Feat. Franz Von
7. Heritage
8. No Way Feat. Gyedu-Blay Ambolley
9. Ayinye
10. Adakatia
11. Ebenezer
12. Spirits
13. Immigration
14. Gbelemo
15. Yaa Yaa

Vocals : K.O.G
Drums : Theo Goss
Pass : Owen Burns
Keys : Jasper Green
Guitar : Ben Haskins, Tom Excell
Sax : Harry Fowler
Baritone sax : Joe Henwood
Percussions : K.O.G, Driss Yamdah, Tom Excell
Additional Vocals : Lizzie Berchie / Sunday Lendis

Producer : Tom Excell
A&R / Executive Producer : GUTS
Recording at Studio Yellow Arch and the Night Kitchen (Sheffield, UK)
Recording Engineer : David Haynes
Mixed at One Two Pass It (Bagnolet, France) by GUTS & Mr. GIB
Mastered at The Carvery (London, UK) by Franck Merritt
Album composed by Kweku Sackey, Tom Excell and the Band
Lyrics by K.O.G

Album cover picture : Mal Wichelow
Back cover picture : Roasted Kweku (Ghana)
Album Design : Playground.atelier (Portugal)