Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 17 July 2020.
FIKA is the latest recording from crossover ensemble Elysian Fields. In the weeks prior to the Covid-19 lockdown Elysian Fields, Australia’s only electric viola da gamba ensemble, was deep in rehearsal. Comprising stars of Australia’s jazz, classical and world music scene, Elysian Fields’ dream was to record a CD of music inspired by Scandinavia. The project has deep roots in viola da gambist and artistic director, Jenny Eriksson’s Swedish ancestry – her grandfather arrived in Melbourne from Stockholm in the 1920s – and her love of Scandinavian jazz and folk music. Titled Fika (pron. ‘fee-ka’), the recording takes its name from the Swedish practice of fika: sitting down for coffee, conversation and pastries with friends and family. Long before the current crisis the band wanted to create a beautiful recording that would bring people together, just as fika does. The album seeks to bring beautiful music to the gathering of friends with food and fine conversation.
Species is the new album by Bing & Ruth, the ever-evolving project steered by New York composer David Moore. The group’s fourth studio album features the singles “The Pressure Of This Water”, “Live Forever”, and “I Had No Dream”. While on a surface level, Species is an exploration of the sonic possibilities of the Farfisa organ, aided only by a clarinet and double bass (played respectively by founding members Jeremy Viner and Jeff Ratner), it was inspired by two recent loves of Moore’s: the desert and long-distance running. Briefly relocating from his New York base to Point Dume, between the Pacific Ocean and the desert, Moore was able to indulge in both passions, which in turn provided stimulus for new work. Species is a study of suspended time and trance; not just a steady movement from A to B, but as something that flows, meanders and eddies, like water.
Jonathan Bree’s fourth album After The Curtains Close sees the producer’s trademark orchestral pop take a few unexpected turns both into the experimental and also into kitschy territory populated by some of his french heroes of the 1960s. The end result is an album that retains Bree’s musical DNA while being fun and varied.
Time and distance can offer perspective. For Kllo (rhymes with “flow”), the electronic pop collaboration of Melbourne cousins Chloe Kaul and Simon Lam, applying these parameters was necessary to get through the near-dissolution of their band. Following Kllo’s adored full-length debut Backwater in 2017, the duo toured the world twice over and shared a handful of standalone singles reflecting an evolved mode in their songwriting, a confluence of silky balladry and smooth bangers. But when it came time to make their next record, nothing clicked. Feeling overworked and out of sync, they abandoned recording sessions at the end of 2018, each going their own way without setting any plans to regroup. Kaul spent time in Los Angeles where she explored solo and collaborative work; Lam traveled as well, releasing music under his solo alias and producing for other artists. The experiences served as a reset, giving them space to learn separately, and, ultimately, to appreciate what they have together. Largely written and recorded upon their return, Maybe We Could signals a new start for Kllo. Ten tracks pairing the rhythms of dance music to emotive chords and melodies; revealing two artists at their strongest yet most vulnerable, operating as their truest selves, honest with each other and their craft.
Black Light Collective, based in Detroit, is the brainchild of producer/saxophonist Dave McMurray. The collective pays homage to the jazz of the 60’s & 70’s, when the music had groove, creativity, and a message. Musicians had something to say and weren’t afraid to say it. Jazz was a necessity of expression for both the artist and the listener. That’s Black Light Collective. The sound of freedom, hope, survival, fun, and the future. Their debut self-titled album is out now. In concert, Black Light Collective delivers a powerful performance, funky and imaginative. Black Light Collective is an album that will make the old-schoolers think back and will blow the minds of the young guns, illustrating to both that the messages of the 70’s are still relevant today.
Beth Patterson was born in a swamp. Okay, more accurately, she was born in a hospital near a swamp, but that’s close enough to romanticize the origin of this Lafayette, Louisiana native. Described by audiences as “a cross between a cobra and a puppy,” multi-instrumentalist Beth Patterson is foremost a player of the eight- and ten-stringed Irish bouzoukis (adaptations of a traditional Greek instrument). Known for her razor wit and musical versatility, her performances are chock-full of drive, savage energy, and passion, laced with humor and rapport with her listeners, dishing out an eclectic repertoire of original and traditional songs. She integrates her quirky, progressive sound with Celtic music and other ethnic styles, resulting in her own sound she dubs “SWAP” (Songwriter/World/Acoustic/Progressive). Her new album is Firebrand, and it’s available now.
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David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television