Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 19 February 2021.
Mogwai’s tenth studio album As The Love Continues, is out now through Spunk Records. Mogwai have advanced without a plan since they were teenagers, there have been no secretive meetings to work out the master plan. It is rare to hear a band that has been going for this long, and have this many albums behind them – ten records in and still no disappointments or mistaken creative left turns. You may know what to expect, but you will never get the same. Both transcendent and surprising, As The Love Continues shows that Mogwai are still offering solace from the mundane, supplying the soundtrack to whatever movie you are making in your head.
It’s the simple thing that’s so hard to do. This is the paradox that musician Lael Neale has lived within throughout her development as an artist. It is the reason she became enthralled with poetry. Poems are a distillation. Lael says, “this challenge to winnow away what is unessential is the most maddening and, ultimately, rewarding part of writing a song.” Lael’s new album Acquainted with Night is a testament to this poetic devotion. Stripped of any extraneous word or sound, the songs are lit by Lael’s crystalline voice which lays on a lush bed of Omnichord. The collection touches on themes that have been thread into her work for years: isolation, mortality, yearning, and reaching ever toward the transcendent experience.
Transcribing musical works for other instruments or instrumentations has a long tradition in music history. Sometimes, the composers themselves wrote different versions of their works and often it is the musicians who adapt works for their own instruments. Even great composers have enjoyed arranging the works of their predecessors and have thus transported them into their time and era of music history and lent their own interpretations to them. Among those are Sergei Rachmaninoff, Franz Liszt, and Ignaz Friedman – all three great pianists and composers. Renowned Russian pianist Zlata Chochieva presents their transcriptions of the works of great composers such as Bach, Mendelssohn and Mahler on her new album (re)creations.
Three Little Words concludes Dominique Fils-Aimé’s album trilogy exploring the roots of African-American musical culture. Her 2018 acclaimed debut full length blues-tinged Nameless saw Fils-Aimé boldly confront historical silences and sorrows while her sophomore JUNO award winning album, Stay Tuned! delved into the civil rights movement of the 60s through jazz. Now with Three Little Words Dominique embraces the emotional lushness of soul music of yesterday and tomorrow. Each album carries with it a lesson that has been learned and then moulded into each subsequent volume. This final album is Fils-Aimé’s adaptation of soul music in the truest sense of the term: music that comes from the depths of her soul and is meant to challenge and enrich the souls of her listeners. It is at once both an acknowledgement and an appreciation of the different musical genres that live within her head and flavour her own soul. In music, as in with life, the best prognosticator is looking to the past. It was of great importance that Three Little Words end the trilogy in the light, with the understanding that light cannot come without first going through a period of darkness.
“Nothing ever really disappears,” Cassandra Jenkins says. “It just changes shape.” Over the past few years, she’s seen relationships altered, travelled three continents, wandered through museums and parks, and recorded free-associative guided tours of her New York haunts. Her observations capture the humanity and nature around her, as well as thought patterns, memories, and attempts to be present while dealing with pain and loss. With a singular voice, Jenkins siphons these ideas into the ambient folk of her new album. An Overview on Phenomenal Nature honors flux, detail, and moments of intimacy. Jenkins arrived at engineer Josh Kaufman’s studio with ideas rather than full songs — nevertheless, they finished the album in a week. Jenkins’ voice floats amid sensuous chamber pop arrangements and raw-edged drums, ferrying us through impressionistic portraits of friends and strangers. Her lyrics unfold magical worlds, introducing you to a cast of characters like a local fisherman, a psychic at a birthday party, and driving instructor of a spiritual bent.
Kathryn Selby and her magnificent friends are back for live on-stage concerts in 2021. And their first national tour features Schubert and three important, exotic 20th century composers with their re-imagining of the classical piano trio. Kathryn Selby (piano), Natsuko Yoshimoto (violin) and Julian Smiles (cello) combine for the first time to present works by Bloch, Turina, Shostakovich and Schubert in Exotic Strudel – a mouth-watering offering of Romantic and neo-Romantic treats coming to Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra and two NSW centres: Turramurra and the Southern Highlands from 7 March 2021.
Exotic Strudel 2021 Tour 1 – March 7 – 15
Ernest Bloch (1880-1959): Three Nocturnes (1924)
Joaquín Turina (1882-1949): Circulo, Op.91 (1942)
Dimitri Shostakovich (1906-1975): Piano Trio Op.8 No.1 (1923)
Franz Schubert (1797-1828): Piano Trio No.1 in B-flat major, Op.99 D. 898, (1827/28)
7 March – Adelaide 2.30pm Elder Hall, University of Adelaide
9 March – Sydney 7pm City Recital Hall, Angel Place
11 March – Melbourne 7.30pm Methodist Ladies’ College, Kew
13 March – Southern Highlands 5pm Chevalier College, Bowral
14 March – Turramurra 2.15pm Turramurra Uniting Church
15 March – Canberra 7.30pm Llewellyn Hall, ANU
Information and bookings at www.selbyandfriends.com.au or call 1300 511 099
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David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television