Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 25 June 2021.
The first volume of Inbal Segev’s “20 for 2020” commissioning project is out now featuring works by five of today’s most compelling composers. Galvanized by the unprecedented worldwide crises that characterized 2020 and encouraging creative recovery from them, the cellist launched this major new project last fall to capture something of that collective experience through the music of composers with strong and distinctive voices in a panorama of styles. An established driving force in the creation of new cello repertoire for the 21st century, Segev committed to commissioning and recording, in four volumes, new chamber works from a roster of cutting-edge composers for a music video series and an album on Avie Records. Newly announced works by John Luther Adams, Camille El Bacha, Gloria Coates, Stewart Goodyear, Adolphus Hailstork, Molly Joyce, Christopher Tyler Nickel, Immanuel Wilkins, Agata Zubel, and Segev herself join the previously announced diverse compositional voices of Timo Andres, Sophia Bass, Christopher Cerrone, Viet Cuong, Avner Dorman, Vijay Iyer, James Lee III, Angélica Negrón, Fernando Otero, and Bruce Wolosoff.
Mia Joy has had music in her bones her entire life. Raised in a spiritual home to Musician and Poet parents, Mia Rocha has been singing since she was a baby (“My mom said I used to sing myself to sleep. I would fall asleep listening to my CD player” she recalls) and joined the Chicago Children’s Choir at a young age. Mia Joy’s brand of ethereal pop is equally indebted to 90s R&B Icons such as Sade and Selena as to the ethereal ambient compositions of Grouper. “I bought my loop pedal because it’s the same loop pedal that Liz Harris of Grouper had. I just spent my college check on it.” Spirit Tamer, Mia Joy’s debut record out on Fire Talk on May 7th 2021, draws influences from both: emotive synth pop (“Haha”, “See Us”) and yearning meditative interludes that trace the peripheral edges between tracks. The album title comes from a poem Joy wrote long ago (“writing was my first love”), and the melding of her creative upbringing interweaves a sonic history that unfolds as Joy herself attempts to piece together the fractured pieces that shape growing up and growing into your own skin.
J.P. Shilo’s new album Jubjoté is out to the world now via Heavy Machinery Records. In 2018, the City of Melbourne commissioned Shilo to compose a new work for the Melbourne Town Hall Grand Organ. With almost 10,000 pipes, it is the largest of its kind in the Southern hemisphere, and Shilo deftly employs it to its full capacity. In his most epic work to date, Shilo explores both the intricate and delicate, to the full majestic grandeur of “all stops out” as we can hear in the Overture – Mélodie de la Maladie. Born out of an actual dream Shilo had some years earlier, the story of Jubjoté reads alarmingly like a prophetic omen of sorts; chillingly pertinent to our current global crisis.
In association with DJ Amir and 180 Proof Records, BBE Music presents Strata Records – The Sound of Detroit – Volume 1, a new compilation taking in just a few highlights from the short-lived but hugely influential jazz imprint. With a raft of Strata material now entering entering the BBE Music catalogue for the first time, joining together with already-released gems such at the long-lost Charles Mingus live album ‘Jazz In Detroit’, they asked 180 Proof founder and Strata catalogue curator DJ Amir to compile a selection of tracks as an introduction to the uninitiated. The record features rarities including ‘Beyond the Dream’ by Kenny Cox which highlights the haunting mellotron strings and soulful vocals from Detroit legend Ursula Walker; and Lyman Woodard’s ‘Saturday Night Special’. Apart from Mingus, the album spotlights the Contemporary Jazz Quintet; Larry Nozero (saxophone player on ‘What’s Goin’ On’ by Marvin Gaye); the ever-elusive and spiritual deep Maulawi Nururidin: and previously unreleased gems from Ursula Walker, Mixed Bag, and the Soulmates.
Eight years pass like nothing for Birds of Maya! Their fourth album kicks out the Philly jams with every bit as much fervor as their earlier releases – in fact, as it was recorded in 2014, it IS one of their earlier releases. They will sell no wine before its time.
Twice Grammy nominated, Melbourne-based group Hiatus Kaiyote return with their new album Mood Valiant, out now via Brainfeeder Records / Ninja Tune. Comprised of Naomi “Nai Palm” Saalfield (guitar, vocals), Paul Bender (bass), Simon Mavin (keys), and Perrin Moss (drums), the new album is the follow up to their 2015 album Choose Your Weapon, which Rolling Stone described as “a stunning step up”. The new project comes after being sampled on songs by The Carters (Beyonce & Jay-Z), Kendrick Lamar, Anderson .Paak, Chance The Rapper, and Drake—with whom Nai Palm collaborated on his Scorpion album.
Squirrel Flower’s heart-rending sophomore album Planet (i), following her 2020 debut I Was Born Swimming, is exactly that. A singular planet, a world entirely of artist Ella Williams’ making. The title came first to her as a joke: it’s her made-up name for the new planet people will inevitably settle and destroy after leaving Earth, as well as the universe imagined within her music. “Planet (i) is my body and mind,” Williams says, “and it’s the physical and emotional world of our planet. It’s both.” Buoyed by her steadfast vision and propelled by her burning comet of a voice, the record is a love letter to disaster in every form imaginable. Tornadoes, flooding, gaslighting assholes, cars on fire—these songs fully embrace a planet in ruin. As Williams rides from melancholy to jubilance to complete emotional devastation over the course of twelve songs, she carves out a future for herself and those she loves. Planet (i), out June 25, 2021 on Polyvinyl and Full Time Hobby, is at once a refuge, an act of self-healing, and a musical reflection of Squirrel Flower’s inner and outer worlds.
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David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television