The opening track on Mall Grab’s new album What I Breathe, Hand In Hand Through Wonderland is exactly the kind of broken beat, melodic, melancholy stuff I want from him, and while arguably the album doesn’t quite hit these heights again, it’s still an enjoyable listen, despite what Pitchfork’s remarkably sniffy review might say. On the other hand, I still don’t think he’s done anything that competes with the sublime gloom of 2015’s Guap. So maybe I’m not to be trusted either.
London based 8-piece band Kokoroko released their debut album Could We Be More via Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings last week; an LP that deftly moves through afrobeat, highlife, soul, and funk across tracks, taking inspiration from a plethora of influences from within the West-African and Caribbean communities that the band grew up listening to. As with many of the tracks, Ewà Inú’s infectious energy is due to both its semi-improvised genesis and the passion of the players involved.
A member of Cleveland’s multi-generational Mourning [A] BLKstar collective, Kyle Kidd’s debut solo album Soothsayer is a deeply moving, highly personal exploration of many of the themes that have defined their life so far, including blackness, gender nonconformity, American history, community and more. Their vocal performance throughout is extraordinary: you can hear that this is not just sung, but deeply felt by the artist. Scars Alight – which explores the damage done by Kidd not feeling as if they were not truly accepted for who they are – is a highlight, but this need to be listened to in its entirety to be properly appreciated.
Last seen collaborating with Raw Poetic on Laminated Skies – without doubt one of the finest albums of the year so far – Damu The Fudgemunk has now teamed up with Pan Amsterdam on EAT, which is a similarly brilliant collection of usually chilled and always well-considered hip-hop. The title track mixes the sublime and the absurd incredibly effectively, with triumphant piano chords and choral backing vocals rubbing up against lyrics like “Chicken and rice, going down nice with a side of tomatoes / Cuttin that spice, gonna pay the price on the toilet lil later”. What we gun EAT??
New York-based Zenizen’s new album P.O.C Proof Of Concept came out last week, and it is a hidden gem if ever there was one. Sitting somewhere between r&b, soul and experimental, it is at times hard hitting and immediate, others meditative, with warm chords and soothing melodies leading the way, as is the case on Drought. This track in particular actually came out back in April, but it’s currently sitting at eleven plays on YouTube, (eleven!), so like me, there’s a fair chance you missed it.
I will continue posting John Moods records until his new album lands in November, so don’t even think about trying to stop me! Described as appealing to “fans of “So”-era Peter Gabriel” (tick), Everyone is a soft-focus pop/rock ballad inspired by the Amazon and packed full of shimmering melodies and existential yearning. Melt.
Bandcamp recently highlighted Sarah Bethe Nelson’s new album Mental Picture as their Album of the Day, and I’m pleased they did, or it would have flown completely under my radar. Opener Five Lovin’ Days is indicative of its lugubrious atmosphere, with Nelson’s unhurried instrumentation and hazy drawl nearly beaten into submission by the Californian sun.
I’m not sure why, but I had dismissed Khruangbin as bascially uninteresting until I saw them at Glastonbury and they proved to be one of the highlights of the entire festival. Thankfully now I’ve seen the error of my ways! Here they team up with Malian singer and guitarist Vieux Farka Touré for the extremely chill Savanne, which is beautifully dreamy and definitely not uninteresting in any way, and is also the lead single from their forthcoming collaborative LP, Ali, due out in September.
Alamay and Omar Cassuis’s new EP How to Swim sees the collaborators showcase an evolution in their sound, with themes of past relationships, lockdown and their musical journey to date explored over the course of six tracks. Silky smooth and seductive, Guidance is probably the pick of the lot, but the entire EP is definitely worth your time.
Ascending By Night is taken from the debut collaborative album from Sam Prekop (The Sea and Cake) and John McEntire (Tortoise), but given how excellent is it I think they should probably commit to at least half a dozen more. With four sprawling electronic compositions clocking in at just under an hour, Sons Of gives allows of its tracks the time to develop; to morph from one thing to another, with tonal shifts from dark to light and back again a common theme. Beautiful, patiently handled and exquisitely crafted.