New music round-up (for w/e 29 September 2023)

Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 29 September 2023.

James Blake returns with a new album, Playing Robots Into Heaven, out now via Polydor/Republic Records. The records follows the critically acclaimed Friends That Break Your Heart – James’ highest charting album to date – and sees him return to the electronic roots of his Hessle, Hemlock and R&S records days.


Matthew Halsall has never seen himself as part of any one sound or scene: he builds his own sonic universe instead. Over the course of 15 years and eight albums, he’s become a vital voice in instrumental music, with his lithe and limitless blends of jazz, electronica, global and spiritual jazz influences. By now, his style is unmistakable: a certain lightness of touch; a warm glow; waves that lap and birds that sing; it’s deeply meditative music, in tune with nature, that nourishes as much as it galvanises. But his new and ninth album An Ever Changing View is a subtle step up for the Manchester-based trumpeter, bandleader and composer – and an apt title for an artist who evolves with every new release. Halsall is at his most experimental yet, expanding his sound and production techniques once more.


The enthralling third album from SAFIA, A Lover’s Guide To A Lucid Dream, is out now. When it came to putting this album together the band threw everything into it, going over and over ideas for songs that for some reason simply refused to take shape. After losing perspective – not just about what the next SAFIA record would look like, but even on what they loved about making music in the first place the band realised that the key to unlocking it all was simple: just letting go.


Hannah Cameron’s third album Holding Pattern traces a flight path over her recent life, inviting us to listen as she examines her recurring tendency to wait for someone else to lead the way forward: out of a relationship, out of lockdown, back to herself. It’s the idea of stasis – stuck in-between action and apathy – that Holding Pattern so bravely and eloquently explores. Whether it’s feeling frustrated by small talk and craving emotional intimacy (‘Nothing But Time’, ‘Other People’s Problems’), bringing lightness and humour to existential dread and unspoken conversations (‘Repeat’, ‘The Wrong Way’), or celebrating the good in a relationship that didn’t work out (‘Haiku Song’), Cameron walks and tumbles and stands up strong again as she questions the role she plays in cycles of behaviour that no longer serve her.


On his sophomore album, Bacheando, Brazilian guitarist Plínio Fernandes explores the enduring genius of J.S. Bach, the vibrant musical culture of Brazil, and all the richness in between. Alongside Bach’s music, Fernandes performs works by Heitor Villa-Lobos and other Brazilian greats who drew inspiration from the German master. These brand new versions were all arranged by renowned guitarist Sérgio Assad, who also composed his own Bach-inspired, Brazilian dance-infused world premiere piece for the album.


Naarm/Melbourne based Taipan Tiger Girls’ third and final LP Live At the Melbourne Town Hall is out via Heavy Machinery Records and It Records. The record sees Taipan Tiger Girls unleash their frenetic and powerful live energy into every second of this performance and subsequent recording. The iconic mammoth droning sounds of the Melbourne Town Hall Grand Organ are undeniably a key force in the overall essence of this record which marks the zenith of the short but incendiary career of an extraordinary instrumental outfit with a relentless drive to experiment.


Nick Barker’s highly anticipated album, Exoskeleton, is out now, marking a significant moment in his illustrious career. Thirty-five years since his debut single with the Reptiles and 14 years since his last solo release, this album showcases his enduring talent and songwriting prowess. Exoskeleton is an exploration of human nature, with its lyrics delving into themes of resilience, love, loss, mortality, family bonds, and the enduring scars that life leaves behind. Barker’s partnership with producer Shane O’Mara brings to life a distinctive sound characterised by remarkable guitar and bass work.

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