Thee Sacred Souls – “Thee Sacred Souls” – [Daptone]

aarbor   6/6/2023   CD, Soul

Daptone recordings are known for their old school all analogue/strictly tape recording studio sound, and this one is no exception. You are transported back into an earlier time with a very retro sound which moves away from Daptone’s established James Brown-inspired funk ‘n’ soul. Instead it offers an enticing mix of Latin soul, neo-soul, and the type of vocal harmony-based R&B popularized by acts like Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions. This release from 2022 can fool a listener into believing they’re listening to a 40 or 50 year old record. Some of the tracks are a bit too saccharine for me, but others have appealing more modern elements. The Daptone label is still recovering from the deaths of Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley. Recently Daptone Co-Founder Gabe Roth launched Penrose, a California-based imprint that hearkens back to the soul stylings of the early ’60s which is how Thee Sacred Souls came to record on Daptone. These guys are pointing the way to Daptone’s future. AArbor

Egyptian Project – “Ya Amar” – [Six Degrees Records]

aarbor   5/31/2023   CD, International

Ya Amar means “my moon” – it’s a compliment on someone’s appearance. On these 10 tracks the defenders of Egyptian tradition collaborate with a young French musician Jerome Ettinger. They mix the sounds of the Nile delta and Cairo with trip hop, electro, hip hop and a bit of classical music. I was wishing for something a bit more edgy, I wished he had taken more chances. AArbor

Korwar, Sarathy – “Kalak” – [Leaf Label Ltd]

aarbor   5/31/2023   CD, International

Born in the U.S., Sarathy Korwar grew up in Ahmedabad and Chennai in India. He began playing tabla aged 10, but was also drawn to the American music that he heard on the radio and leaking through the doorway of his local jazz music shop. At 17 he moved to Pune to study Environmental Science, but instead dedicated his time to music, studying tabla and translating his skills to the western drum kit; and playing as a session musician. He then moved to London where he trained as a classical tabla player and continued to adapt Indian classical rhythmic material to non-Indian percussion instruments. Korwar has since established himself as one of the most original and compelling voices in the UK jazz scene. KALAK is Korwar’s third studio album, released in November 2022. In rhythmic step with the past and the present, it sets out to describe a route forward. It celebrates a rich South Asian culture of music and literature, which resonates with spirituality and community, while envisaging a better future from those building blocks. AArbor

Ayla, Safiye – “Safiye Ayla” – [Kalan]

aarbor   5/31/2023   CD, International

45 tracks of classical Turkish music sung by one of the “three great sycamores” Safiye Ayla. [The other 2 sycamores are Muzeyyan Senar and Haniyet Yuceses.] Saiye Ayla was orphaned as a pre-schooler but people encouraged her and she studied with many famous Turkish musicians in the early 20th century. Safiye Ayla became the most famous and successful singer of her time by virtue of her singing style, which was somewhat influenced by western styles. She had a broad vocal range and paid special attention to pronunciation. Her repertoire included classical, modern, and popular music, so she was able to reach a broad public. She recorded more than 500 records and sang on the major radio stations in Turkey. The tracks here are from among her 78 rpm records and those she sang for radio. AArbor

Sankat Mochan Sangha – “Shivaratri: Offerings from the Sankat Mochan Sangha” – [Sri Ram Publishing]

aarbor   5/24/2023   CD, International

Shivaratri is “the night of Shiva” it falls on the 13th (or 14th) day of the dark half of Phalgun (February-March). The ceremonies take place chiefly at night. This is a festival observed in honor of Lord Shiva who was married to Parvati on this day. People observe a strict fast on this day. Some devotees do not even take a drop of water. They keep vigil all night. At Mount Madonna they celebrate Shivaratri for 24 hours. The celebrations include pujas and singing. These 2 CDs capture the devotional energy of these celebrations. AArbor

Dragon Disc 2 [coll] – [Worm Interface]

aarbor   5/24/2023   12-inch, A Library

An early Worm Interface release that Goodwrench undoubtedly found in an obscure place. Tom Jekinson (Squarepusher) offers 2 memorable track here along with two from “Dunderhead” (Nigel Smith) – his debut as it turns out. Jenkinson is better known – perhaps deservedly. AArbor

Bodikhuu – “Tokyo” – [Farsi]

aarbor   5/24/2023   12-inch, Hip Hop

Bodikhuu lives in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and creates hip hop in his home with “the luxury of my own privacy and space”. This is his newest release which is about Japan – which he has never visited. “I wanted to portray the ’80s Japanese atmosphere through my style… it represents the tremendously busy lifestyle of Tokyo – subway stations, roads, towers, factories, monotonous and lonely lives of people in it. Even though I have never been there this is my way of saying that I have seen the place. All the samples come from city pop, j-pop, Japanese jazz & funk music”. Don’t miss! AArbor

Theodor – “Theodor” – [Broc Recordz]

aarbor   5/2/2023   12-inch, A Library

THEODOR is a gently psychedelic sweet soul band formed by 4 guys with diverse musical backgrounds.

Whilst on a road trip to Italy Rob Herz (drums) and Lui Hill (vocals and percussion) were listening to tapes of contemporary soul music. They decided to record an album channeling a moody and relaxed soundscape. After their trip they invited their friends Max Schneider (vocals and keyboards) and Greg Pignede (bass) to join them. They wrote and recorded during the pandemic. THEODOR could be the soundtrack for a hot and humid summer day with “a magic dash in your twelve o’clock tea”. The melodic bass lines are playful and the soulful acoustic drums build the container for the warm and dreamy keys: farfisa organs, fender rhodes and 80’s synths. The lush instrumentals are complemented by the very different (yet complementary) voices of Max and Lui. The band is named after a 24 year old cat who hung around while they were recording. Not heavy, just fun. AArbor

Unknown to Known – “Live at the Library Lounge” – [Self Release]

aarbor   5/2/2023   CD, Jazz

Unknown to Known is a quartet with Idris Rahman and Tamar Osborn on woodwinds, Jihad Darwish oscillating between the sitar, double bass and electric bass, and Yusuf Ahmed on the drums and various hybrid percussion instruments. The nature of this band’s instrumentation means that performances can be entirely acoustic or amplified. This was a conscious decision made at conception. This is a live improvised performance amongst the books of The Standard’s Library Lounge in London; spanning order and chaos, science and religion, myths and symbols. AArbor

Door to The Cosmos [coll] – [On The Corner Records]

aarbor   4/25/2023   A Library, CD

Door to the Cosmos is a delicious compilation showcasing the artists of London’s On the Corner label. The artists are from all over the world: Tenesha the Wordsmith (Oakland), Sunken Cages (NY) from North America; Ariwo, Dengue Dengue Dengue (aka DNGDNGDNG), Jose Marquez and Quixosis from South America; Black Classical (aka BKCLX), Clive from Accounts, Don Korto, Edrix Puzzle, JD Twitch, Petwo Evans, Planet Battagon, Rebecca Vasmant, Tamar Collocutor, Uffe from Europe and Azu Tiwaline, Babani Soundsystem, Batida, and Guedra Guedra from Africa. Future sounds referencing the source, be it Detroit, UK bass culture, New Orleans or the Niger delta. The title riffs off of Sun Ra’s infamous chant ‘dare to knock at the door to the cosmos’. Sun Ra’s sound and narrative bending inspires kicking at the rules and pushing at the infinite, the ecstatic and the unknown through music by knocking at the door to the cosmos. Outstanding! AArbor

George, Camilla – “Ibio-Ibio” – [!K7 Records]

aarbor   4/25/2023   12-inch, International

Camilla George is a Tomorrow’s Warriors graduate, an alto saxophone player, bandleader and composer who is making big waves in the New London Jazz scene. This is her latest release from 2022. She wrote all the music and co-produced this album. Camilla was born in Eket, Nigeria. She is proud to be from the Ibibio people who are considered the most ancient of all the ethnic groups in Nigeria. This album tells the story of the creation of the ibibio and the legend of Abasi the supreme ruler/God of the universe and his wife Atai – goddess of mediation. It’s a celebration of roots, creation and community. The sound is afrobeat, hip hop and jazz. The musicians are mostly from Tomorrow’s Warriors. AArbor

Islandman feat. Okay Temiz & Muhlis Berberoglu – “Direct-to-Disc Sessions” – [Night Dreamer]

aarbor   4/15/2023   CD, International

A spectacular direct-to-disc recording featuring outstanding Turkish musicians young and old. Folktronica meets percussion genius on a unique one-take recording that finds Turkish downtempo specialist Islandman jamming with legendary percussion innovator Okay Temiz, and contemporary saz virtuoso Muhlis Berberoğlu. Islandman’s subtle and responsive beat-science and Berberoğlu’s scintillating agility on the saz, Temiz’s visionary rhythm force leads the session into unknown territories of improvised future-folklore. Temiz showed up for the session equipped with an eclectic mix of homemade instruments including an electrified flute made of industrial bathroom piping, and a shaker with a contact mic wired to a wah-wah pedal. He put all these instruments on a table, and he put a stereo microphone left and right. Then he grabs one of his instruments, and he moves around the mics to create a live ambisonic sound – a very open space. He’s not afraid of the physics of sound, or the technology of sound recording – he always wants to be very edgy. All the tracks here have folk song melodies in them and all are from different regions of Turkey. They have different senses of rhythm, specific to the regions. The coolest new record I’ve heard this year. AArbor

Birituro, Isaac and The Rail Abandon – “Small Small” – [Wah Wah 45s]

aarbor   4/14/2023   12-inch, International

Small Small is a very Ghanaian saying. In English it could be ‘bit by bit,’ ‘one step at a time,’ or ‘slow and steady’. Sonny Johns (British singer songwriter) was first introduced to the phrase on his first trip to Ghana in 2016, when he met Isaac Birituro (Ghanaian xylophone player) in Kalba, and the phrase popped up over and over ever since. Sonny and Isaac are The Rail Abandon. They finished this album (their 2nd) over the intense year of 2020 influenced by the difficulties that they, and the world, had been through. The album is about loss, frustration and struggle, but it’s also about the light at the end of the tunnel; about overcoming difficulties to find a brighter future and no matter what separates us, whether that be language, culture, continents or boarders, when we listen to each other and learn from each other, there’s really not much that separates us.  The music is a poignant mix of European and African sounds. Vocals are in English and in Birifor (Isaac’s language). “Fun Tony” is audibly a tribute to Tony Allen (whose mother was Ghanaian). AArbor

Ahmed, Yazz – “Polyhymnia” – [Ropeadope Records]

aarbor   4/14/2023   12-inch, Jazz

Born in London to a British mother and a Bahraini father, Yazz Ahmed spent her childhood in Bahrain before returning to London at the age of nine. She started playing the trumpet at an early age, encouraged by her maternal grandfather Terry Brown, a jazz trumpet player. In addition to the trumpet she plays the fluegelhorn and is a composer. This is her third album, released in 2019.  Polyhymnia is the Greek muse of music, poetry and dance, a character whom Ahmed describes as “a goddess for the arts“, it is a six-movement suite devoted to “six women of exceptional qualities, role models with whom [she] felt a strong bond”: Rosa Parks, Malala Yousafzai, Ruby Bridges, Haaifa Al-Mansour, Barbara Thompson, and the Suffragettes. Most Americans know that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus in November 1955, but don’t know that the bus number was 2857, which is the name of the track devoted to Rosa. Ruby Bridges was also a Civil Rights activist. She was the first and only African-American child to enter the William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans in 1960, escorted by 4 Federal Marshalls, as a part of the integration of the New Orleans school system. An advocate for female education Malala Yousafzai was the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace prize in 2014. Haifaa Al-Mansour is Saudi Arabia’s first female film director. Her wish is to empower women and girls to use the arts as a “gentle way to catalyse a change”. Barbara Thompson is one of the UK’s leading saxophone players who is also a bandleader and composer despite having Parkinson’s disease. Ahmed’s music brings in many elements: a New Orleans carnival for Ruby Bridges, the number 2857 represented metrically and melodically for Rosa Parks, reworking the Suffragettes’ protest song, “Shoulder to Shoulder” with jazz harmony, Arabic scales and rhythms for the track “Deeds not Words”. Her use of Arabic musical materials throughout are very distinctive and quite wonderful. She even had a quarter-tone flugelhorn specially made, to allow her to use scales specific to Arabic music. The musicians here are mostly women and from Tomorrow’s Warriors – Started by the Jazz Warriors it is the leading program producing the most exciting New London Jazz artists. AArbor

Rich, Robert and Formentini, Luca – “For Sundays When It Rains” – [Soundscape Productions]

aarbor   4/5/2023   A Library, CD

In February 2022 Luca Formentini Italian guitarist and and composer, who creates ambient, electro-acoustic and experimental music spent 3 days with Robert Rich at his new house in Carmel. Rich had just finished setting up his studio just a few days before Formentini’s arrival so they enjoyed a spacious, fully equipped and perfectly tuned room as they recorded the foundations of this album. They wanted to record as many guitar tracks as possible to create a library of sounds which could later be used as ideas, or inspiration as they crafted these tracks. Formentini ended up playing some unique old guitars which had been originally owned by Rich’s father, a guitar connoisseur. Rich played keyboards, flutes and other instruments. The sound is, as you would expect from Robert Rich, electro-acoustic and ambient. This is music to meditate to on any day of the week. AArbor

Harnoune, Rabii and Kuhl, V.B. – “Gnawa Electric Laune II” – [Tru Thoughts]

aarbor   4/4/2023   CD, International

Moroccan Gnawa-master (maâlem) Rabii Harnoune and Frankfurt electronic producer V.B.Kühl combine traditional North African Gnawa music with funky, soulful modern rhythms: Gnawa meets beats. “Aisha” [11] is a tale about a mythological female figure renowned as the greatest woman of all time. “Laafou” [5] is about the end of suffering for a particular singer, and “Koyo Koyo”, [9] a term for the righthand man of the Gnawa master who learns to play the Qarqaba (a/k/a Krakebs, an iron castanet-like rhythmic musical instrument). Jilani”[2] ‘crown of knowers’ tells the story of a leader in Sufi philosophy, while “Samaoui”[3] explores the sanctity of water in Africa and “Gazelle”[6] is a homage to a famous piece of desert music that deals with love of the beloved. One of my favorite releases from last year! AArbor

Biluka Y Los Canibales – “Leaf Playing In Quito 1960-1965” – [Honest Jon Records]

aarbor   4/4/2023   CD, International

Another amazing release from Honest Jons! “Biluka” is Dilson de Souza, who leads a kind of tropical chamber jazz while making music using leaves from a ficus tree. Dilson was from Barra do Pirai, in the Brazilian countryside. He moved to Rio as a young man, where he worked in construction. He recorded his first record in 1954, for RCA Victor. This record was originally recorded for the CAIFE label from Ecuador (this is a reissue).

Dilson played the leaf open, resting on his tongue, hands free, with his mouth as the resonator. Though a leaf can also be played rolled or folded in half, this method allowed for more precision. A picked ficus leaf stays fresh, crisp and clean-toned for around ten hours. He could play eight compositions, four at each end of the leaf, before it was spent. He plays trills and vibratos effortlessly, with utterly pure pitch, acrobatically sliding into notes and changing tone on the fly.

In [track 11] Manuco, he leads Los Caníbales into a mysterious landscape on a rope pulled from an Andean spaghetti western. A leaf, a harp, a xylophone, and a rondador (an Ecuadorian pan pipe) are joined in [track 3] Bailando Me Despido (Dancing As I Say Goodbye) by a saucy organ, doing call-and-response. In [track 8] Anacu de Mi Guambra, Biluka shows his full range of antics, including some melodic hiccups. He is one of a kind. Don’t Miss! AArbor

Los Kenya – “Siempre Afro-Latino” – [Olindo]

aarbor   3/29/2023   12-inch, International

Re-release on London’s Olindo Records of Los Kenya’s release from 1968. Venezuelan pianist and bandleader, Ray Perez, recorded and released seven LPs between 1967 & ’68 with Los Dementes, one of the best-known salsa bands in the country at the time. Following a brief stint in New York, Perez returned to Venezuela and under the influence of his bandmates Luis Arias and Alfredo Naranjo formed Los Kenya. The core of this compact group was made up of two trumpets and a drum set, uncommon at a time when big bands were the norm. Tito Puente heard them play and was surprised by their sound. They just didn’t sound like their contemporaries. He thought the difference came from the talent of the musicians and the music itself. AArbor

Radio Amazonia [coll] – [Eck Echo]

aarbor   3/29/2023   A Library, CD

Radio Amazonia is a compilation from Berlin’s Eck Echo label. Eck Echo is the Andean god of abundance. All the music released on Eck Echo is electronica from Central and South America.This collection is mostly from Peru, curated by talented Peruvian artist Daniel Valle-Riestra a/k/a QOQEQA. The name RADIO AMAZONIA comes from a remote education program based on AM radio airwaves for the families of the communities in Maynas and Loreto-Nauta in the Peruvian Amazon. The collection showcases up and coming musicians. Don’t Miss! AArbor

Legrand, Erick – “Mes Amis” – [Self-released]

aarbor   3/29/2023   A Library, CD

“Mad Erick” Legrand was French-Algerian and active in the Camden noise scene when he met Nina Walsh. Since his passing she has released a number of collections of his work. This one showcases 14 lovingly selected vignettes of his “out thereness” and absolutely belongs in the KFJC library. Think of this as a graphic novel soundtrack to the socio-political turbulence raging in 2022. Mes Amis displays Erick’s colossal influence on Nina Walsh and Andrew Weatherall while continuing to open the doors to his unique creative methods and world view. AArbor

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