New music round-up (for w/e 6 May 2022)

Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 6 May 2022.

Headful of Sugar follows New York-based trio Sunflower Bean navigating the agony and ecstasy of contemporary American life. “Tomorrow is not promised, no tour is promised, no popularity is promised, no health or money is promised,” bassist/vocalist Julia Cumming says. “Why not make what you want to make on your own terms? Why not make a record that makes you want to dance? Why not make a record that makes you want to scream?” A psychedelic headrush designed to be played loud with the windows down, Headful of Sugar was produced and mixed by UMO’s Jacob Portrait, co-engineered by Olive Faber and Portrait, and recorded between Electric Lady and Sunflower Bean Studios.


Courtney Monsma, best known for bringing Princess Anna to life in the Australian production of Disney’s Frozen the Musical, has released her debut studio album In The Light. The debut album, which features nine covers and one original song “The Light That You Are”, explores the journey Courtney has been on the last couple of years as well as shares her passion for storytelling. Theatre lovers will revel in Monsma’s personal favourites from Beetlejuice, Mean Girls On Broadway, AIDA on Broadway, Waitress, Songs From A New World, Six The Musical, and two very special tracks from the Frozen The Musical song catalogue, including a heart-felt duet ‘I Can’t Lose You’ performed with Courtney’s co-star and on-stage sister, Jemma Rix, who plays Elsa in the Australian production of the hit Broadway show.


At its best, recorded music manages to be both wholly particular and thoroughly general; both specific and open ended; of the moment and outside of it; in motion and a snapshot; of lived experience and expressing the imagined. These tendencies and tensions give us some of the pathways into core values at work in this music. To the ears and heart, these are qualities that exceed genre and style: becoming rather matters of substance and content; things personal but also those held in common. It is about life. Tommaso Moretti introduces his new record, Inside Out, with the reflection: “It connects the dots between the intimate dimension of an inspiration and the aesthetic need to translate it into defined musical languages. It’s a quest to find the inner layer of humanity that allows a connection between the meaning of three words: Sentimento, Saudade, Soul.” Feeling, longing, experience, and form are the narrative and musical themes here.


When singer, fiddler, songwriter, and composer Lily Henley set out to make an album of Sephardic Jewish ballads set to new melodies, she was looking for her own way to interpret a tradition that she saw as critically endangered. With her album Oras Dezaoradas, Henley wanted to highlight the Ladino language, a threatened tongue that fuses old Spanish with Hebrew, Arabic, and Turkish elements and is spoken by less than 100,000 people in the world today. What she didn’t expect was to find herself directly connected to centuries of women spread across a forced global diaspora.


The previously unrecorded Drone Mass was described by its composer, the late Jóhann Jóhannsson, as “a contemporary oratorio”. Written for voices, string quartet and electronics, it was commissioned and premiered by the American Contemporary Music Ensemble, aka ACME, who toured and recorded with Jóhannsson for almost ten years. Now they have made the world premiere recording of this richly atmospheric work, in collaboration with Grammy Award-winning vocal ensemble Theatre of Voices, conducted by Paul Hillier, also a multiple Grammy Award-winner. The members of both ACME and Theatre of Voices worked closely with the composer many times, both in the studio and in multiple live performances and tours, before his untimely death. The album is out now on Deutsche Grammophon.


Beneather is the solo project of Lewis Young – composer and collaborator in The Leaf Library, drone pop from north London. As a composer, Lewis recently scored the British short ‘Lucky Break’ which found its way into the BAFTAs short list only to narrowly miss out on the gong. Lewis is a multi-instrumentalist, producer, designer and filmmaker currently living in Walthamstow, London. He started as a guitarist in noughties math-rockers Tea with the Queen, shifting to bass for multi-harmonied Naomi Hates Humans before returning to thumping roots as drummer for The Leaf Library. Objects Forever – the imprint label created by The Leaf Library – has provided Lewis with the vehicle to jump back into experimental song craft, inspiring the genesis of Beneather. Beneather’s self-titled album is out now.


Until recently, it was thought that we had heard all there was to hear from Saâda Bonaire. The German studio project’s 1980s recordings had been compiled on the now cult-classic double LP Saâda Bonaire, released by Captured Tracks in 2013. Though the group had continued working until 1994, founder Ralph “von” Richthoven had firmly stated that all of their post-1986 work was lost: “I threw away most of my work; I didn’t see any reason to hold onto it anymore.” A visit to a relative’s house, however, turned up a pleasant surprise: Richthoven stumbled across a battered cassette tape labeled Saâda Bonaire ‘91. Released now for the first time ever, 1992 compiles the band’s long-lost early nineties material. Produced between Bremen and New York City, the 12 songs presented here capture the group’s attempts at steering their trademark fusion sound (reggae, afro-funk, Eastern music, and sultry German female vocals) into uncharted nu jazz, trip-hop, and house territories.


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