Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 26 November 2021.
The members of Quatuor Ébène went round the world with the complete Beethoven quartets, now they go ‘Round Midnight. This album offers a creatively conceived programme, bringing together major figures from different streams of 20th music: Arnold Schönberg, Henri Dutilleux and four masters of jazz and popular idioms – Thelonius Monk, Cole Porter, Henry Mancini and Victor Young. The three works in question, all nocturnally-themed, are: Schönberg’s passionate late-Romantic sextet Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night), composed in 1899, for which the quartet is joined by viola-player Antoine Tamestit and cellist Nicolas Altstaedt; Dutilleux’s glistening quartet Ainsi la nuit, first heard in 1978 and comprising seven brief movements, and Night bridge, a ‘nocturnal poem for string sextet’ composed by the Ébène’s cellist Raphaël Merlin. It muses on Monk’s jazz standard ‘Round Midnight, dating from around 1940, on Mancini’s ‘Moon River; made famous by the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, on Porter’s urbane and haunting ‘Night and Day’, originally a hit in 1932, and on ‘Stella by Starlight’ originally composed by Victor Young for the 1944 film The Uninvited.
Henki is the epic joint record from Richard Dawson, the diminutive Geordie troubadour, and Circle, the genre-straddling pioneers of the new wave of Finnish heavy metal. Unlike any metal album you have heard before, Henki’s seven tracks deal with special plants throughout history, making it the greatest flora-themed hypno-folk-metal record you’ll hear this year.
Stargazing from the sands of the Niterói beach, Tempos Futuros is low-end-led Brazilian futurism from one of Brazil’s most prolific and influential bassmen. As one third of legendary trio Azymuth, Alex Malheiros has pioneered a unique fusion of space-funk, samba and jazz since the early seventies. His playing can be heard on the records of Jorge Ben, Milton Nascimento, Roberto Carlos, Marcos Valle, and Mark Murphy (to name a few), and he’s performed and toured with everyone from Stevie Wonder to Chick Corea. Written and recorded in Niterói, Brazil, overlooking Guanabara and the beaches, mountains and forests of Rio de Janeiro, Tempos Futuros has deep roots in Brazilian soil. The rhythms of Malheiros’ homeland have always permeated his music. But just like the Oscar Niemeyer designed Niterói Contemporary Art Museum which stands spaceship-like over the water, Tempos Futuros – while inspired by terrestrial forms, reaches out, deep into the great unknown.
With Reverie is JESSICA’s second solo album. With nothing else but piano and vocals, Jessica revisits the first instrument she learnt briefly as a child (and abandoned namely due to the teacher’s “disciplinary” approach). All songs were written this year during Sydney’s extensive lockdown and recorded and produced by Darren Cross (Gerling, D.C Cross) who is also Jessica’s other half in folk-goth duo, Jep and Dep. The songs were recorded live, just vocals and piano, with some harmony later added. This process, and the less-is-more approach has created an album of immense solitude, and delicate intimacy. With Reverie is an exploration into daydreams, thoughts, mind-trips, wonderings and introspections.
A well-known figure in the Sydney music scene, Simon Robert Gibson is best known as a drummer who has spent countless hours holding the beat for Australian bands stretching back to the heyday of indie rock in the ‘90s. A founding member of the much-loved Disneyfist and later Modern Giant, Simon is also an original member of acclaimed group The Aerial Maps. A move to Bali to follow his life-long passion, surfing, led to a whole swathe of new songs that comprised his well-received, 2020 debut solo album The Great Ongoing. Now comes chapter two of that adventure, the sophomore album. Impacted by the loss of family and friends, and the tyranny of a pandemic, Shined Bright The Day was a chance for Simon to dig deeper into his personal and literate songwriting, in even more nuanced and evocative musical settings.
Following a chaotic lead up month with rapid fire singles ‘Susan’s Son’, ‘Bad Santa’ and ‘Cashed Out Stoner’, Australian rap phenomenon ChillinIt has dropped his highly-anticipated third album Family Ties, via 420 Family. Featuring a stellar line up of local and UK talent including Huskii, Dylan Frost, Lisi, Izzy Gibbs, Wombat and more, plus production from frequent collaborator Badrapper and Chillinit’s brother bbrock, FAMILY TIES is an expansive 21-track set of ChillinIt’s most introspective work to date.
Underground coldwave duo The KVB are back with their most potent and immediate record yet. Produced and mixed by Andy Savours (Black Country New Road, My Bloody Valentine, The Horrors) ‘Unity’ represents an exciting development in the band’s sonic journey.
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- New music round-up (for w/e 17 June 2022)
- New music round-up (for w/e 7 January 2022)
- New music round-up (for w/e 10 December 2021)
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television