Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 7 August 2020.
Ernest Ellis returns with his first release in over five years Be The Pariah; an ode to, well, being a pariah, an outsider, a loner, a freak. There are no negative connotations in this title, rather it encapsulates everything Ellis feels is real and good: “All the best stuff happens on the fringes, in the weird zones of life and the mind. The rest is not real, it’s coercion. I’ve tried to tap into that sense here, believing in it wholeheartedly as I do.” Ellis, a New York based, Australian artist has been busy over the past five years. His first three albums, Hunting (2010), Kings Canyon (2012), and Cold Desire (2014), all of which received widespread critical acclaim in Australia on release. Since then, Ellis moved to NYC, earned a PhD and delved deeper into his creative work as a songwriter and director.
After two years of non-stop touring, Stand Atlantic have released their sophomore album Pink Elephant. The band stood up to the challenge of writing and recording the follow up to 2018’s breakout debut album, Skinny Dipping and delivered their most unapologetically Stand Atlantic album ever. Pink Elephant is dynamic and full of unbridled energy and attitude, as singer, Bonnie Fraser, pushes through the awkward discomfort of confronting the people and issues blocking her path, one elephant and one song at a time. By destroying all of these pink elephants in their path, Stand Atlantic have recorded their strongest, boldest, and most vividly honest album to date.
Lucifer is the latest release from MZAZA. Musically dominated by its powerful and unnerving violin driven opening, the track is sung entirely in French, bolstering MZAZA’s unmissable Balkan-French genre predecessors. Sensual, tongue-in-cheek and irreverent, Lucifer thematically explores how, throughout history, socially created institutions have abused their power and hierarchy to justify oppression and domination upon competing cultures and civilizations for centuries. ‘Lucifer’ conjures symbolism of the devil and humanity’s innate immorality, examining the idea that in fact, good and evil as concepts are human creations utilised as a means of control.
Blue Note Records has released Just Coolin’, a never-before-released studio album by Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers that was recorded on March 8, 1959 in Rudy Van Gelder’s living room studio in Hackensack, New Jersey. The session featured a short-lived line-up of The Jazz Messengers with drummer Art Blakey, trumpeter Lee Morgan, tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, pianist Bobby Timmons, and bassist Jymie Merritt. The session for Just Coolin’ finds The Jazz Messengers’ saxophone chair in transition. The band had last recorded in October 1958 when they cemented their place in jazz history with the classic album Moanin’ featuring Benny Golson on tenor saxophone. By July 1959, Blakey had recruited tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter who would remain a fixture of the band until 1964.
Eight Gates is the last collection of solo studio recordings Jason Molina (Songs: Ohia) made before he passed away in 2013. Recorded in London, some of the songs (“Whispered Away,” “Thistle Blue”) are fully-realized — dark, moody textures that call to mind his earlier work on The Lioness. Other songs (“She Says,” “The Crossroads and The Emptiness”) lay in a more unfinished states, acoustic takes that call to mind Molina’s Let Me Go Let Me Go Let Me Go, and still tethered to Molina’s humorous studio banter. You remember how young Molina was, and how weighty this art was for such a young man. On the closer, “The Crossroads and The Emptiness,” Molina snaps at the engineer before tearing into a song in which he sings of his birthday (December 30), a palm reading and the great emptiness with which he always wrestled. It is a perfect closer and, in many ways, the eighth gate incarnate: mythical, passable only in the mind, built for himself and partway imaginary but shared, thankfully, with us.
Following the widespread critical acclaim of their first two recordings, John Wilson and the Sinfonia of London turn to Respighi’s Roman Trilogy for their third release Respighi: Fontane di Roma (Fountains of Rome). Born in Bologna in 1879, Respighi trained as a violinist and composer, and travelled extensively. His influences are therefore wide-ranging, from Richard Strauss and Debussy to Rimsky-Korsakov (who taught him orchestration) in addition to a love of – and fascination with – Plainsong and music of the Italian baroque. Fountains of Rome was the first of these three great tone poems, composed between 1913 and 1916, and inspired by a series of photographs given to him by the artist Edita Broglio. Intensely programmatic, the work sees Respighi setting out to evoke ‘sentiments and visions suggested… by four of Rome’s fountains contemplated at the hour in which their character is most in harmony with the surrounding landscape’.
This Devastating Map is the new release from Seattle’s Helvetia. Formed in 2005 by Jason Albertini, Helvetia have employed a rotating cast of band members and collaborators, which now includes Steve Gere and Samantha Stidham. The band made their debut in 2006 with The Clever North Wind, followed by The Acrobats (2008) and Headless Machine Of The Heart (2009). With each release, Helvetia explored more psych-influenced territory, further developing their take on slow core.
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David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television