Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 3 July 2020.
Folk darlings Mandolin Orange didn’t think they would ever release a live album. It didn’t make sense for a band that loved to tour and play. While it might sound silly now, they couldn’t figure out the point of it when they had album recordings, crafted with a heap of intention and total sonic and creative control. But over the last few years they’d been warming up to the idea as they realised so many of the albums they loved were live albums. The upending of the touring world solidified just what a vital art form the live show meant — the interaction with the crowd, the improvisation, the eye contact, the luck of catching a performance of a tune that outdoes its album version. Austin City Limits Live captures one night in January 2020, transporting the listener to a time of purpose and connection and inspiration.
Keleketla! is an expansive collaborative project, reaching outward from Johannesburg to London, Lagos, L.A. and West Papua. Their self-titled album started as a musical meeting ground between Ninja Tune co-founders Coldcut and a cadre of South African musicians (introduced by the charity In Place of War), including the raw, South African-accented jazz styles of Sibusile Xaba, and rapper Yugen Blakrok (Black Panther OST). From those initial sessions, the record grew to encompass a wider web of musical luminaries, including Afrobeat architects, the late pioneer Tony Allen and Dele Sosimi, legendary L.A. spoken word pioneers The Watts Prophets, and West Papuan activist Benny Wenda. The final product is a future-facing assemblage of influences, drawing connections between different points in a jazz-tipped, soulfully-minded spectrum; it builds outwards, from the solid musical foundations of those first sessions, featuring the likes of Thabang Tabane, esteemed percussionist and son of the legendary Phillip Tabane.
Poppongene has shared her debut EP Futures Unsure. Futures Unsure was recorded with producer Tim Harvey (Jade Imagine, Gena Rose Bruce, Lisa Mitchell) throughout 2019 predominantly at Sound Park studio and Electric Dreams studio in Melbourne. The EP highlights Treloar as principal songwriter, vocalist and guitarist and welcomes collaborators Gemma Helms (bass), Deanna Rumsaviche (Juno keyboard, backing vocals), Damien Meoli (drums, percussion) and Tim Harvey on backing vocals and guitar. The record marks the end of a difficult but rewarding chapter in work Poppongene’s personal life whilst discovering a newer, queerer self. As a heartfelt document from this time, the listener is beckoned to walk alongside her on her musical journey.
Grammy award-winning violinist Nicola Benedetti explores the music of one of Britain’s best loved composers, Edward Elgar on her latest release, Elgar Violin Concerto. At its heart is the composer’s beloved Violin Concerto in B minor, which sits alongside three short works for violin and piano: Salut d’Amour, Sospiri and Chanson de Nuit. Released digitally worldwide, Nicola is accompanied by the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Vladimir Jurowski, and pianist Petr Limonov. Premiered by Fritz Kreisler in 1910, Elgar’s Violin Concerto is considered one of the most technically demanding. The heartfelt adagio Sospiri was written in the lead up to WW1 and was originally intended as a companion piece to Salut d’Amour (Elgar’s first published work in 1888) but what emerged was a more intense piece. Both works were originally written for string orchestra but are performed here in the composer’s own arrangements for violin and piano alongside the charming Chanson de Nuit.
Daniel Avery returns with his third full-length album, Love + Light, a surprise release out now via Phantasy. Love + Light arrives unexpectedly, following Avery’s recent collaborations with Alessandro Cortini on the critically acclaimed Illusion of Time LP and alongside Roman Flügel under the alias of Noun. Avery’s previous solo album Song For Alpha was released in 2018 to similar acclaim.
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David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television