I got the chance to speak with Gordon Grdina (guitar and Oud) on the radio tonight. He plays at La Vitrola tomorrow. We spoke a bit about his experiences learning from Gary Peacock, playing in the vastly diverse Vancouver scene, as well as the group Haram who he’s currently touring with.
On her debut, Montreal folk-rocker Brigitte Naggar showcases a songwriting knack over sonic brilliance. The album feels almost episodic as Naggar’s intimate vocal delivery is surrounded by hints of math-rock riffage, string quartet landscaping and blues rock pastiche. Lyrically, Naggar battles with herself in trying to completely let go of a manipulative ex. Early cuts remain simply textured, but as the self-hate becomes harder to fight, the layering becomes all-encompassing. Rare is it that a songwriter is able to craft a debut chock full of solid tunes, but Naggar’s done that and more with impeccable album flow and vivid detailing.
Armed with a voice that could slice through steel and a flourishing sonic foundation, Moses Sumney sounds untouchable on his debut full length. There’s a Björk-like sensibility in the way that Sumney sounds wholly unique and a bit odd, yet completely relatable and emotionally vulnerable. Beneath his ridiculous high croon lies a folk-tinged landscape, occasionally minimalist with rupturing textures heralding climaxes — rules seem to fall by the wayside when brass sections and flute soloists appear. His lyrics are poetic and sparse, coping with the beautiful yet wrenching world of solitude. It’s a work out of a new world, sure to confound for years to come.
On the apply titled “New Energy,” esteemed prince of subdued UK dance Four Tet finds inspiration in his older material and later explorations. The singles operate as such with pulsing, driving grooves and complementary melodies, yet the album blooms in a gradual manner, making the moments where the planets align truly pop. It’s an album for fans true and casual, sure to suit the boiler room stage with a bit more dance-able material.
After an intro, “Two Thousand Seventeen” is the slow burn highlight of the work. With the pillow of soupy base lines and the sparks of high vocals crafting the atmosphere, Tet’s huge bastion of a centerpiece looms. Despite priding himself on his minimalist recording process, Tet manages to find a great deal of different textures throughout the album. Here, the big melodic force evokes strings with its plucked timbres and oddly paced loops.
Foreboding melody marks the next string of tracks as melodies allude to oncoming action, before “Lush” and “Scientists” give it to you. Light on its feet, “Lush” remains sensible, but it’s biting speed reaches for the rafters as a mixed bag of gentle melodies combine for a heavenly atmosphere. “Scientists” is Four Tet’s songwriting at its finest. The pillars of bass line bounce over the acoustic sounding high-hat. Gradually more drums enter, before the track implodes with smoldering vocal combinations and a rogue trumpet solo.
“You Are Loved” is life affirming with its humanist, simmering synths, before “SW9 9SL” delivers the summary track. With the mean straightforward beat setting in right away, this track doesn’t mess around. Even the head room isn’t too lofty, focusing all energy on the rhythmic energy. Momentum seems to completely shift around the midpoint as Tet builds a “bass drop” type of effect out in open space. Melodies wander without a true rhythmic foundation, growing and boiling to a climax that immediately cuts back to the distilled groove that opened, except this time it’s adopted one of the signature warmly emotional bass melodies beneath it. The overall spirit of the work is funneled into this track as the tried and true dance spills into ambience, then brings something back for the fans.
“Daughter” is another standout with a gorgeous combination of bright vocal loops and more warm synths, before “Planet” brings it home with a pummeling victory lap. Perhaps some would classify the work as Four Tet doing Four Tet, however, his career path is evident in the music. Even on tracks that burn with dance energy he seems to find a bit of “Morning/Evening’s” ambient meditation to underpin his ideas. It’s a front to back experience that also features some of the guy’s best songwriting. There’s not many on his level right now.
This week on CKUT’s Jazz Euphorium, I played an interview I did with Toronto trumpet player Rebecca Hennessy about her latest album Two Calls. She takes us through each and every tune and talks a bit about how she incorporates her wide ranging slew of influences into this ensemble’s context.
DF is an Audio/Visual collaboration between Saxophonist Dustin Finer and visual artist Daniel Freder. Their new EP tries to both capture their immersive live performance as well as stretch into new territories with music video making.
This episode features Mich Cota, a First Nations Trans-woman who addresses her understanding of her gender and identity in various musical ways. Here we speak about Kija/Care which comes out on Egg Paper Factory this Friday and hear some of the tracks.