Monday, 17 September 2018

Review - Stella Chiweshe - Kasahwa: Early Singles





Stella Chiweshe – Kasahwa: Early Singles (Glitterbeat Records)

LP / CD / DL

14 September 2018


African music icon re-releases early singles. 

You may not be familiar with the Mbira, an ancient mystical music or an instrument made from a series of metal keys on a wooden board.  You probably don’t know of Stella Chiweshe either but that could well change with the release of eight remastered singles from the 70s and 80s in the form of Kasahwa.

Born in Zimbabwe in 1946, she is still one of the few female players of the mbira dzavadzimu which she learned to play in the late 60s when even fewer women did so.  A traditional instrument of the Shona people for over a thousand years it is played by holding in the hands whilst plucking the ‘tines’ with each thumb.  The sound is one of a piano style maybe fused with that of a xylophone or glockenspiel but with the inevitable pluck sound and is completely enthralling, almost dreamlike in fact, one could even say that it may be the beginnings of the ambient sound.

Believed to be a ‘telephone to the spirits’ it is indeed beautiful and often mesmeric.  With Stella’s sometimes raw but earthy vocals it seems to bond perfectly and elevates each track to a state of complete euphoria no doubt one of the reasons that she recorded two sessions for John Peel.

Kasahwa is the first release for more than ten years.  Skilfully remastered by Nick Robbins, the tracks sound new and fresh and nothing like the forty years old that they are.  Fans of ambient and drone should lap with album up with gusto as it transcends into an almost supernatural reverberation of often beautiful sounds.

From as early as opener Ratidzo, the stall is set and you’re transporting to a dreamlike state.  Scales and whistles and mesmerising melodies which seem to drift away to the distance and immediately echo backwards.  It’s all in a similar vein, not repetitive as such but, a comforting familiarity that has warmth and glow that you will rarely hear.  Mayaya is one such track, a distinctive vocal hook that resonates throughout and playing of the mbira that will have you drifting away with your inner calm in no time at all.

A true gem and a collection worthy of at least a listen – suggested alone whilst driving or with quality headphones.  Kasahwa is fascinating.







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Published in Louder Than War 08/09/18 - here.









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Sunday, 16 September 2018

Listen - Mbira/Starchild - Xqui x Elizabeth Joan Kelly







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Watch! - Hekla - Heyr Himna Smiður







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Watch! - Reed & Caroline - Dark Matter







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Listen! - Soft Cell - Bedsitter (Erasure Remix)







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Watch! - Aphex Twin - T69 Collapse







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Friday, 14 September 2018

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Watch! - Geiger von Müller - Blue Moon Frequency #2b







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Listen! - Lolfa Binc - Cattle Prod







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Review - Xqui - Wyrmling EP




Xqui - Wyrmling EP

CD / DL

Out Now


Review by Bungo Jackson.


Being a record (then CD) buyer who always studied the credits on inner sleeves and booklets, looking for names and connections, I noted that Ash Cooke (formerly Pulco among other aliases) is credited with supporting this EP, as well as mastering “Dragon”, where the original tracks for remixing are found. But as the lack of background info is deliberate (refreshing?), and the idea is to let the often found sounds speak for themselves, let's approach Xqui's “Wyrmling” EP in that manner.

EP opener “Bun (Sheer Zed's Finger Roll RMX)” sets the tone with monolithic, “industrial” sounds, heavily reverbed, like a cavernous shipyard or distant motorway. 


“Spark Rekindled In Despair (Antriksh Bali Mix)” with its trip-hoppy opening, stuttery programming and sampled clave and conga, introduces the first melodic lines on the EP, in this case piano, but they're soon subverted and flipped to run backwards.

The dominant sound of the EP is a treated synth, burbling in and out (“Paid [Insert Words Here] (Alan Morse Davies Mix)” and “Re-paid (R P Sten Mix)”). Again, the lines are always fractured and elusive, never allowing themselves or the receptive ear to settle.

In the absence of conventional beats, repetition provides much of the rhythm in a number of the pieces. Perhaps the most successful is “Spark (Equinox Time-Slip Mix)”, its ticking clocks rhythm set against muffled speech, reverse melodic snatches, sawing and sudden bursts of jarring children's laughter before a rolling cymbal and crash signals time's up.
  
Xqui's “Wyrmling” EP would be at home on Late Junction or an early 21st Century John Peel show. Definitely late night, whether Radio 1 or 3. There are, to these ears, echoes of Aphex Twin, even DJ Shadow. Atmospheric, at times playful, amusing, always intriguing.






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Saturday, 8 September 2018

Watch! - Reed & Caroline - Computers







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Listen! - Yazoo - Don't Go (Tee's TNT Radio Mix)







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Listen! - Granfalloon - Year of the Rooster







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Friday, 7 September 2018

Listen! - Martin Stephenson - Thomasina







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Thursday, 6 September 2018

Watch! - Elizabeth Joan Kelly - Bouncyland








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Watch! - Rhian Sheehan - Soma Dreams








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Listen! - Brian Bordello - Eddie Cochran







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Listen! - Janek Schaefer [For Robert Wyatt] - Tree At The End Of The World







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Listen! - Dementio13 - Fyst







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Listen! - Soft Cell - Bedsitter (Erasure Remix Edit)







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Watch! - Rita Braga - O Estacionamento







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Watch! - Chris Liebing - Card House Feat. Miles Cooper Seaton







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Review - Fifi Rong x LO – The Crown EP



Fifi Rong x LO - The Crown



Fifi Rong x LO – The Crown EP

CD / DL

28 September 2018



Avant-pop artist and electronic R’n’B/pop producer collaborate on new EP. 

Fifi Rong has built up quite a following over the last few years gliding through several styles but always with a distinctive Chinese styled vocal that resonates from the first note.  Her last single, the games console influenced electro Attack, shows a stark contrast to the new material where she joins forces with producer and songwriter LO who has recently amassed over five million streams on Spotify for his debut album, Lights.

The resulting four track EP is delightful. Fifi uses epic soundscapes influenced by cliffs, oceans and forests to offer light and optimism with some wonderful bass/house fusions from LO beginning with the title track which teases percussion before taking it away once more.  Vocals are breathy utterings which give an expanse of feeling with the lush expanse of minimalist dance.

Hunger Game again projects Fifi’s unique vocal style which saw her guest on Toy, the 2016 album from Yello adding a delicate touch to the sound of the influential duo.   Once more, LO shows a beautiful restraint and holds back the percussion to a mild whisper in a track which is catchy, subdued and simply exquisite.

With third track Upstream comes an absolute gem.  A song and presentation of cinematic proportion – imagine a Bond theme as sounds spiral upward in tandem with some incredible vocals.  Bass lines enter with faux orchestral backdrops and an engaging drum roll at 2.30 builds an already escalating track into the wonderful track that it is.  If there is justice then this track will be played at every opportunity on TV and radio in the near future.

As the EP closes with Foreign, a more poppy effort with Chinese styled sounds and vocal approach, it can’t be ignored that not only is the collaboration of Fifi Rong and LO an entertaining and inspired one but, it is one which is well capable of having a deal of longevity about it.  A gorgeous, heart-warming quartet of tracks.











Published on Louder Than War 29/08/18 - here.









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