Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 13 May 2022.
Decca Classics has released Finnish conductor Klaus Mäkelä’s debut album Sibelius, a complete cycle of the Jean Sibelius’s symphonies, plus the tone poem Tapiola and 3 Late Fragments. Mäkelä directs the Oslo Philharmonic, an orchestra with a deep, historic connection to the music of the Finnish composer. The project began as a nine-month exploration of the Sibelius symphonies to mark Mäkelä’s inaugural season with the Oslo Philharmonic as Chief Conductor but, with Covid cancellations, turned into a completely immersive recording project. With the orchestral season disrupted, Mäkelä and the orchestra devoted much of the Spring of 2021 to playing nothing but the music of Sibelius. Says Mäkelä, “We played, played, played and then recorded. Sibelius’s music, like that of any composer, is a language you have to learn and the circumstances under which we recorded actually played to our advantage.”
The Pineapple Thief are one of the leading lights of Europe’s experimental rock domain, led by post-progressive mastermind Bruce Soord and reinforced by Gavin Harrison (King Crimson) on drums. Give It Back is their new album featuring 12 new versions of earlier works including songs taken from the albums Little Man, All The Wars and Tightly Unwound. The band have completely re-recorded all of the tracks to complement brand new Gavin Harrison drum parts and new song arrangements. The result of this process is a unique release of reworked songs which showcases the evolution of The Pineapple Thief.
On his second release for ECM, New York-based saxophonist Oded Tzur introduces a heightened sense of urgency and a conceptually augmented approach to his distinctive voice, weaving one underlying musical idea through a series of elaborate and impassioned designs. The quartet’s lineup is unchanged from 2020’s Here Be Dragons and the group’s interplay has grown even more expressive in the meantime. Throughout Isabela the saxophonist and his collaborators – pianist Nitai Hershkovits, Petros Klampanis on bass and rhythm conjurer Johnathan Blake – apply their subtle dialect in a more intense space, exploring the nuances and colors of Oded’s self-fashioned raga in a suite-like sequence of quiet meditations and powerful exclamations. The remarkable session was captured in Lugano’s Auditorio Stelio Molo in September 2021 and produced by Manfred Eicher.
Canadian folk duo Mama’s Broke have spent the past eight years in a near-constant state of transience, pounding the transatlantic tour trail. They’ve brought their dark, fiery folk-without-borders sound to major festivals and DIY punk houses alike, absorbing traditions from their maritime home in Eastern Canada all the way to Ireland and Indonesia. Nowhere is the duo’s art-in-motion approach more apparent than on their long-awaited sophomore record Narrow Line (out now); it’s the sound of nowhere in particular, yet woven with a rich synthesis of influences that knows no borders. The eleven songs on Narrow Line burrow deeply, with close harmony duets, commanding vocals, and poignant contemplations on cycles of life, including birth and death. Tinges of Americana stand side-by-side with the ghosts of Eastern European fiddle tunes and ancient a cappella ballad singing, melding into an unusually accessible dark-folk sound. A careful listen of Narrow Line invokes an ephemeral sense of place—whether real or imagined—inviting us to take comfort in the infinite possibilities of life, whether or not we ever choose to settle down.
Chardi Kala is the debut solo album from Sonny Singh (of Red Baraat). The title refers to the Sikh concept of revolutionary eternal optimism. Even in the toughest of times, Sikhs have a spiritual and political obligation to remain in high spirits. This album is a reminder that hope, love, and devotion are crucial to our struggles and our collective survival. “Chardi Kala” is a musical autobiography, but isn’t specifically about Sonny Singh at all—it’s about what inspires and grounds us in the darkest of times.
Lyle Lovett returns with his first new album in over 10 years, 12th of June, out now on Verve Records. The album is an eclectic collection of new original songs and beloved interpretations that will please existing fans as well as invite new ones. Immaculately recorded, it highlights the dynamics of Lyle and his Large Band– and their singular ability to shift from one genre to the next with uncanny grace and ability. From beautiful acoustic ballads to swinging big band numbers, this record will remind listeners why Lyle is national musical treasure.
So Far So Good is the fourth studio album from Grammy award-winning and Billboard Chart topping artist/producer duo The Chainsmokers. The 13-track full-length album was written across Hawaii, Joshua Tree, New York City and LA from 2020 to 2021. It was written and produced by Alex Pall and Drew Taggart with additional contributions from frequent collaborators Emily Warren, Ian Kirkpatrick, and Whethan.
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television