Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 9 February 2024.
On Imitation of War, songwriter and guitarist Kayla Cohen advances Itasca into rockier terrain, with a suite of smoky nocturnes and uneasy idylls surveying, with refreshing urgency, mythologies and psychologies both classical and personal. Co-produced by Robbie Cody (Wand, Behavior), these ten sturdy set-pieces represent the loosest, leanest, and most smolderingly electric guitar-forward recordings of Cohen’s deepening catalogue.
Deep, atmospheric, and meticulously executed, Roberto Carlos Lange’s ninth record under his monniker Helado Negro – Phasor – is his tightest collection to date. Some of the seeds for Phasor were planted in 2019 on Lange’s 39th birthday after a 5-hour visit to Salvatore Matirano’s SAL MAR machine at the University of Illinois. A complex synthesizer that creates music generatively with a vintage super computer brain and analog oscillators, it can create an infinite amount of possibilities in sound sequences. “I was enthralled by it,” Lange recalls. That SAL MAR experience became the bedrock for Phasor. It taught Lange more about himself and became central to his creative process. Phasor aligned with 2019’s This Is How You Smile which found him incorporating more upfront drums and bass and focused grooves. His 2021 album, ‘Far In’, focused on being in quarantine—talking to your mother through Zoom instead of across a room. Phasor, in turn, is a homage to going outside again. It’s a returning-to-life record, remembering what the sun feels like and letting it warm your skin.
Acclaimed vibraphonist Joel Ross returns with his remarkable fourth Blue Note release nublues, an album of blues and ballads as refracted through the prism of one of the most creative modern jazz groups of our time. Communication is a key element of the album; both the communication between the musicians and the listener with an emphasis on singable melodies, as well as the profound and intuitive musical conversation that occurs within this tight-knit band featuring Immanuel Wilkins on alto saxophone, Jeremy Corren on piano, Kanoa Mendenhall on bass, Jeremy Dutton on drums, and special guest Gabrielle Garo on flute. The 10 tracks here include 7 new Ross originals as well as pieces by John Coltrane (“equinox” & “central park west”) and Thelonious Monk (“evidence”) many of which are performed as spontaneous suites with the band moving seamlessly across the blues-imbued musical terrain.
Timothy McAllister (alto saxophone), Anna Mattix (cor anglais), National Orchestral Institute Philharmonic and JoAnn Falletta combine for Copland: the Tender Land Suite. The recording brings together four extraordinary mid-20th-century composers who helped shape America’s musical destiny. Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land is a moving tribute to the American rancher and farmer. It forms a profound celebration of those unsung heroes of that country’s landscape, and is perhaps his greatest expression of the preciousness of life. Walter Piston is represented by his colorful and beguiling The Incredible Flutist, which depicts a traveling circus led by a magical musician who is able to heal the sorrows of those who hear his music. The two premiere recordings here are the original orchestral version of Paul Creston’s thrilling Saxophone Concerto, and Ulysses Kay’s Pietà – a beautiful elegy inspired by Michelangelo’s masterpiece.
Chelsea Wolfe’s latest album, She Reaches Out To She Reaches Out To She, is a rebirth in process. It’s a powerfully cathartic statement about cutting ties, as well as an important reminder that healing is cyclical and circular, and not a simple linear process.
Multiple GRAMMY® Award-winning musician and composer, Dhani Harrison, has released INNERSTANDING, his first solo album in six years. The album features Blur’s Graham Coxon on several tracks, including the single “New Religion”, as well as guest appearances from Liela Moss of The Duke Spirit and critically acclaimed Australian singer Mereki. Harrison previously previewed the album with the single “Damn That Frequency”, which also featured Coxon on saxophone. In addition to his appearance on that track, Coxon also features on guitar on four other songs on INNERSTANDING. The album was produced by Harrison and co-mixed with GRAMMY® Award-winning producer Paul Hicks (The Beatles, Joe Strummer, The Rolling Stones).
French-born artist Lewis OfMan has shared his second full-length album Cristal Medium Blue via Profil de Face and Virgin Music Group. The record includes previously released singles ‘Frisco Blues’, ‘Highway (Ft. Empress Of)’ and ‘Hey Lou (Featuring Camille Jansen)’. Alongside the album release, he has also his latest collaboration with Barcelona’s Gabriela Richardson, a glowing example of his marked evolution as a musician, composer, and producer.
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- New music round-up (for w/e 15 April 2022)
- New music round-up (for w/e 23 September 2022)
- New music round-up (for w/e 27 October 2023)
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television