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2019-07-07

just a bunch of 2018 vinyl (re)releases (from DAVE BRUBECK, STAN GETZ & CHARLIE BYRD, THE END, KANAAN, KHEMMIS and LOUISE LEMÓN)




As you may or may not already know, I commonly only review music which I have obtained and which has been released during the same year as the review. Otherwise it would just be too much. Of course I make some exceptions for stuff I really want to say something about. And I decide from case to case whether I do write-ups about re-releases or represses.

That being said here are a couple of recommendations for albums from last year which I only bought maximally a couple of weeks ago. And yes, other than being released (or re-released) in 2018 that's the only thing all records in this seemingly random set have in common.







THE DAVE BRUBECK QUARTET - Time Out (orange vinyl) (1959/2018)

Ok, I've had this one on CD for years, but I wanted to hear it on vinyl too and liked the orange. Probably my first coloured jazz record. If you prefer black, just choose among the bazillion other pressings which are out there!

This Waxtime In Color pressing has a strange unexplained bonus track ("Audrey") from five years earlier. The band had different members on bass and drums and there's no connenction to the album concept. But somehow the mood fits and the saxophone on this track is especially beautiful.

Needless to say much about "Time Out", since it's not only one of the most important albums in the history of jazz, but in modern recorded music in general, since like the crucial works of Miles Davis it probably had repercussions on as good as everything which followed after.

Remember the time when jazz was the undisputed popular music, but it was stuck in 4/4 beats (and the occasional waltz) for decades? That was before Dave Brubeck (piano) and Paul Desmond (sax) dedicated this whole album to odd time signatures, which are now pretty commonplace in many genres.

In fact the 5/4 Desmond composition "Take Five" became on of the most famous jazz tunes of all time and it still sounds fresh. Listen to the arrangement of "Blue Rondo à la Turk", where the quartet borrowed from Turkish folk music, and you'll finde structures which sound very much like what prog rock or metal groups would create years later.

Essential as fuck.







STAN GETZ & CHARLIE BYRD - Jazz Samba (transparent yellow vinyl) (1962/2018)

Play this to my early 1990's self and he would probably say nah, thanks. That was of course the time when I really got into death metal and shit. And so my personal gateway to jazz - albeit with a very long pause until I actively followed the interest further - had been a small selection of extreme advantgarde stuff and some jazz rock / fusion albums a couple of years later.

This classic by saxophonist Stan Getz and nylon string acoustic guitar player Charlie Byrd  however is a rather easy listening which doesn't really translate in any way to teenage angst. And of course it's also way too commercial, haha. Even if you neglect jazz as a whole, you will probably have heard everything on here somewhere in some context. Especially the opener "Desafinado", which has been interpreted in countless instrumental and vocal forms is a parade example for a household tune.

The album title "Jazz Samba" is pretty self-explanatory, because that's exactly what you get. It was the first Bossa Nova album by North American jazz musicians, with each song based on a traditional Samba, on top of which the soloists play their improvisations.
It's an astonishingly great sounding album (recorded in just one day in a church) on its own, but it also has a huge significance as the primordial cell for all forms of latin fusion.

The performance with a double rhythm section (two drummers and two bass players) to achieve the right Brazilian swing has also been seen many times since then. Just think of Santana, whose body of work seems unlikely without this early predecessor.

Like "Time Out" this transparant Waxtime In Color pressing of "Jazz Samba" also comes with a bonus track, which makes more sense in this case, since it is a big band version of the album track "Samba De Uma Nota Só".







THE END - Svärmod Och Vemod Är Värdesinnen (LP) (2018)

Fast forward more than five decades of musical evolution and what the holy fuck what has happened?

Well, tons of fusion, experimentalism, advantgarde. And also the whole history of rock music so far, including nifty subgenres like noise rock or grindcore.

The debut album of Swedish saxophonist Mats Gustafsson's band The End seems to pick from all the all the sickest, most experimental forms of either jazz and rock music and melts them into a surprisingly consistent whole. Ninety-nine percent of listeners would probably call this "not music anymore", but who cares, this is not meant for everyone. My before mentioned early 90' self would have loved this, and I love it too, just as I did, when this amazing ensemble played at Roadburn Festival this year.

There's no way I can even get close to thoroughly descibing als the chaotic stylistic twists and turns the two saxes, guitar and drums go through on this albums. It's mind-melting, brutal, amazing musicianship on all levels. Let's just leave it at that.

But as if the instrumental insanity wouldn't be enough, there is singer Sofia Jernberg, who comes across like a mixture of Diamanda Galas, Mike Patton and Youn Sun Nah. From soft soothing traditional vocal jazz over operatic voices to weird overtone singing and all kinds of mad screams, screeches and noises, her performance is a tour de force you can only believe when you hear it.

Her endless jazz rant about the state of the world in "Don't Wait!" alone is worth owning this album. This passage makes we wish that Kendrick Lamar would record a full-blown experimental jazz album and invite her as a guest.

Fuck yeah, this record is absolutely bonkers in all the best ways. Had I bought this last year, it would certainly have made it onto my 2018 album top list.










KANAAN - Windborne (transparent blue vinyl) (2018/2019)

Too much challenging whatthefuckery? Ok, let's dial the crazy back a little bit - but not too much.

My new favorite El Paraiso Records band (which admittedly is a very fluctuate title given the label's quality roster) Kanaan is strongly inspired by the early days of jazz rock while also featuring elements of kraut rock, power trio hardrock and seriously heavy doom.

More than anything else "Windborne" clearly is a rock album, yet there are only few moments on its five instrumental tracks without at least some kind of jazzy sensibility shining through, and be it only the almost constantly wild drumming of Ingvald Andre Vassbø, who drives the music forward with a billy cobhamish energy, which perfectly compliments the sometimes quite john mclaughliny lead guitars.

Following that observation the easiest formula to pin down Kanaan is to say that they are a crossing of Mahavishnu Orchestra and the Danish psych trio Papir. That doesn't give a complete picture, but it aptly describes chops, energy and feeling inherent in this young band.

As a bonus to the awesome music El Paraiso design guru Jakob Skøtt has once again outdone himself with the cover artwork.

Sadly the postage from Denmark is ridiculous, so if you see this somewhere for a good price - don't hesitate! And of course catch Kanaan live if you get the chance. I just recently saw them on the very first date of their first European tour and it was a spectacular blast!














KHEMMIS - Desolation (LP) (2018)

In case you are really not into jazz at all: Congratulations that you've made it this far! As a reward you surely deserve some pure metal. I hereby swear that Khemmis' "Desolation" is a hundred percent jazz-free. Promised!

It's strange that I could do without this album for such a long time. But with so much good stuff being released all the time it comes easy to dismiss a new album - even if you loved the previous works of the band - for rather minor reasons.

I guess in this case it was the choice of the first single and its video which rubbed me the wrong way. Or was it that Nuclear Blast Records isn't my most favorite record label these days?
It surely has something to do with the once-in-a-lifetime-experience that was the Waste Of Space Orchestra show at Roadburn last year. Because after that - even though they were not bad at all - the straight-forward melodic doom of Khemmis just fell a little flat.

Now that I finally gave "Desolation" the listens it deserves I must admit that the third album of the US band has absolutely no reason to hide from their previous efforts "Absolution" and "Hunted".
It starts with Sam Turner's unmistakable fantasy artwork, which features the same characters at another stage of their story. All three album artworks together really work like covers of an ongoing comic series. At this point you really wouldn't even need the band logo on the cover of the next record to recognize them.

The general musical direction hasn't changed either, but their mixture of heavily distorted doom with  Thin Lizzy hard rock / Iron Maiden metal twin lead guitars and occasional shredding has become so dense that it ultimately transcends subgenres. Khemmis are just really damn good fucking metal band. With sad themes, very charismatic and never overdone melodic lead vocals, and some harsh black and death metal screams here and there, that is.

But first and foremost the six songs on "Desolation" are just rippers!

Not sure if I would place this album above "Hunted", but without a doubt it's great and among the best metal records of 2018.











LOUISE LEMÓN - Purge (LP box) (2018)

So much for metal. But no, not back to jazz, so please bear with me! We're keeping it quite doomy and gloomy as we finish this with death gospel, as Louise Lemón self-describes  her music.

Released just one year before her current masterpiece "A Broken Heart Is An Open Heart" her first album "Purge" has a lot in common with it. Starting with the slightly excessive packaging in a box, even though there's no other content than the LP and a photo/lyric sheet. But at least it is graced with an interesting cover artwork.

But also the dark soulful songs - somewhere between Chelsea Wolfe, the darkest Lana Del Rey tunes and even some Florence And The Machine upbeat ("Let Me In") - are almost equally as strong as on the successor. The choruses are not all as compelling yet, but then music isn't all about the chorus, right?

"Purge" presents at times maybe a bit formulaic, but always supremely beautiful dark music with a singer who reaches right into the listener's heart.

Just like on "A Broken Heart" the production was helmed by Randall Dunn, certified expert for everything droning, so that a super rich low end is guaranteed.

With this album and the next Louise Lemón has accumulated an astonishing amount of hits within a short span of time. Rightfully this material should make her a star. So us friends of small clubs and overseeable stages - let's be glad she is not.

Yet.












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