Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 16 April 2021.
Rhiannon Giddens’ new album They’re Calling Me Home was recorded with Italian multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi during the COVID-19 lockdown in Ireland. The two expats found themselves drawn to and comforted by the music of their native and adoptive countries of America, Italy, and Ireland, which they recorded at a spare studio on a working farm outside of Dublin. The result is a twelve-song album that speaks to the longing for the comfort of home as well as the metaphorical call “home” of death.
Greta Van Fleet is four young musicians – twin brothers Josh (vocals) and Jake Kiszka (guitar), both 22, younger brother Sam (bass/keys, 19), and longtime friend Danny Wagner (drums, 20). All from the tiny Michigan hamlet of Frankenmuth known for its chicken dinners and the world’s largest Christmas store. All were raised on their parents’ vinyl collections which helped give birth to the music they make today: a high-energy hybrid of rock’n’roll, blues and soul. Greta Van Fleet released their debut album, Anthem of the Peaceful Army, in 2018. Now they follow it up with The Battle at Garden’s Gate, out now on EMI/Republic.
Promises is an extraordinary new album by Floating Points (a.k.a. Sam Shepherd), Pharoah Sanders and the London Symphony Orchestra. Five years in the making, the album cover features the painting Congress by Julie Mehretu, visible through three trapezoids. The album consists of a composition (in movements) by Sam Shepherd for saxophone, strings, keyboards and electronics. It features jazz legend Pharoah Sanders on tenor saxophone and voice; Shepherd on piano, harpsichord, celesta, and electronics; and the strings of the London Symphony Orchestra.
Raf Rundell has released his second album. O.M. Days on Heavenly Recordings. Last seen a couple of years back on his debut long-player Stop Lying, Raf has today also shared Ample Change (ft. Lias Saoudi), the second track to be taken off the album following Monsterpiece on which he roped in the legendary Chas Jankel to provide his distinctive touch. Featuring on the cover a striking Keith Haring meets the Green Man image from acclaimed artist and long-time collaborator Ben Edge, the picture was inspired by the folk tale of the giant of Dawson, who is both male & female, human and vegetation and lived in the imagination of Dawson’s Hill, a stretch of South London parkland a stones throw away from Dawson’s Heights, the flats featured on the cover of Raf’s debut Stop Lying.
British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor presents Liszt. The record – Grosvenor’s most substantial solo recording to date – centres around the works of the Romantic piano virtuoso and composer, Franz Liszt. The release marks Benjamin’s sixth album on Decca Classics, following the award-winning Chopin Piano Concertos in 2020. The centrepiece to the album, Liszt’s Sonata in B minor, is widely regarded as the composer’s ultimate masterwork and milestone of the Romantic piano repertory. The record also features three remarkable Petrarch Sonnets, among the most beloved of Liszt’s works, and his dazzling fantasy on Bellini’s ‘Norma’ in which the composer explored virtually all the dramatic capabilities of the instrument in his time. Liszt closes with the charming encore ‘Ave Maria’, Liszt’s popular transcription of Schubert’s familiar work.
Liquid Tension Experiment, the legendary super-group comprised of Mike Portnoy (Transatlantic, Sons of Apollo), John Petrucci (Dream Theater), Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), and Tony Levin (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel) have returned with a new album titled LTE3 via InsideOutMusic. In 1997, Mike Portnoy, John Petrucci, Jordan Rudess, and Tony Levin, joined forces to create Liquid Tension Experiment. The foursome would release their iconic, self-titled debut album in 1998 and the dazzling follow-up, LTE2 in 1999, creating a dynamic, frantic, and inventive sound all their own. The incredible creativity between the collective would prompt Petrucci and Portnoy to invite Rudess to join Dream Theater, effectively marking the end of this side project. However, since that time, there have been few reunions more in demand. Now, with the world in lockdown and calendars unexpectedly aligned, the inconceivable has finally happened… a new Liquid Tension Experiment album.
It’s been a decade since Andy Stott released Passed Me By (2011), a radical re-imagining of dance music as an expression of “physical and spiritual exhaustion” (Pitchfork). What followed was a process of rapid remodeling: We Stay Together (2011) — for the club; Luxury Problems (2012) — greyscale romance; Faith In Strangers (2014) — destroyed love songs; Too Many Voices (2016) — 4th world Triton shimmers; and It Should Be Us (2019) –the club, collapsed. This run of releases gradually untangled complex ideas into a singular, chaotic body of work somewhere between sound-art, techno and pop. In early 2020 – with a new album almost done and an offer to produce for a completely mainstream artist on the table, personal upheaval brought everything to a sudden standstill. Months of withdrawal eventually triggered renewed curiosity, a different approach. Stott began to record hours of raw material. And although software made it possible to iron out every kink, Stott tirelessly looked for them, in pursuit of a sound that was human in all its awkward asymmetry. With vocals recorded by Alison Skidmore, the album was finally completed late in the year, with Never the Right Time taking on a completely different shape. Its songs were desolate, melancholy, defiant, beautiful; often all at once.
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- New music round-up (for w/e 23 April 2021)
- New music round-up (for w/e 9 April 2021)
- New music round-up
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television