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Jaga Jazzist

Pyramid

    Jaga Jazzist return with new album “Pyramid”, where the legendary Norwegian eight-piece takes a deep dive into post-rock, jazz and psychedelia influences. It’s their first album since 2015’s “Starfire”, their ninth album in a career now spanning four decades, but it marks the group’s debut on Brainfeeder, the LA-based imprint curated by Flying Lotus. On “Pyramid”, Jaga Jazzist have crafted a suitably cosmic sound to match their new label home, all the while nodding to forebears spanning from 80s jazz band Out To Lunch and Norwegian synth guru Ståle Storløkken, to contemporaries Tame Impala, Todd Terje and Jon Hopkins. Each of the album’s four longform entries evolves over carefully plotted movements, the tracks’ technicolour threads dreamily unspooling.

    The band, led by Lars Horntveth and his compositions, took a direct approach to the creation of “Pyramid”. Whereas “Starfire” saw them take the idea of a traditional studio record to extremity, with different members dipping in and out of the booth to write, record and experiment over two years, the process behind “Pyramid” was almost the polar opposite: it took just two weeks. Both records were driven by the same curious, experimental spirit, but the processes were very different. Retreating to a secluded woodland studio in neighbouring Sweden, they bunkered into the studio for 12 hour days. “The most important thing is that we didn’t want to over-analyze every musical idea” says co-founder and drummer Martin Horntveth. “We wanted to follow the first and original idea and keep the freshness.” For a band which has never settled on any one sound or style, the continuity lies in their constant willingness to evolve, experiment and improvise.

    “Pyramid” is Jaga Jazzist’s first self-produced album (most of their records being produced by close collaborator Jørgen Træen) and it meant a change in the way they operate. On the one hand, there were lots of different voices jostling to be heard. On the other, they didn’t have an independent figure to make a call on whether something was a good idea. “It was hard but felt natural to do ourselves, as five of us are producers and make records for a living,” Martin says. The result is an album that feels more collaborative than ever.

    Whilst they wouldn’t describe “Pyramid” as a concept album, the band see the track titles as a conceptual starting point from which the listener can construct whatever story flows out of the songs. The album title refers to the building blocks which make up a pyramid, and how each of the four tracks – and their constituent parts – fit together. ‘Tomita’ is a nod to Japanese composer and synth player Isao Tomita, and ‘The Shrine’ alludes to Fela Kuti’s legendary Lagos venue. Lars says: “I felt that this album is a small symphony, each part containing its own rooms to explore.” 

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Crystal clear vinyl.

    Genevieve Artadi

    Dizzy Strange Summer

      On “Dizzy Strange Summer”, Genevieve Artadi offers a window into her ad-lib creativity and the LA community where it’s been nurtured. This is the vocalist, composer and producer’s second solo album, and it sees her stake out her own ground outside of her other groups KNOWER, Expensive Magnets and Everything’s Under Control. She brings her own slant to the DIY LA scene that she’s grown up in, melding influences from jazz, psychedelia, bossa nova and avant-garde electronics. “Dizzy Strange Summer” marks not only Artadi’s debut on Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder imprint, but her first self-produced project released on any record label.

      An impulsive spirit underwrites every part of the album, something reflected in the energy Genevieve devotes to create the videos to accompany them. It’s an honest, unmediated reflection of the period in which she created the music, supported by a close circle of like-minded musical friends including - but not limited to - Louis Cole (Brainfeeder), Sam Wilkes (Leaving Records), Henry Halliwell, Daniel Sunshine, Adam Weissman (Pollyn / Real Bad Man), Ruslan Sirota, Ross Garren, David Binney and Jacob Mann — each of whom she tapped up to add their flavour to songs where she felt their styles or talents aligned. Most tracks would begin life on her laptop, be sent to a friend for them to add their spin to it, before coming back to Artadi to be elevated to their final form. Reflecting on what drives her to create, she says: “Sometimes I just really get that burning feeling to make something and get it out there.” Above all, this is an album that speaks to that drive: to create something and share it with people.

      The album was written in a time of upheaval, something reflected in both the lyrics and the sound of the record. “I was pretty lost… but enjoying feeling lost,” Artadi says. Drawing inspiration from the tumult around her and she relished the opportunity to express herself uninhibited by the shackles of compromise associated with collaboration. Crucially, this often means a silly, playful side being played off against a serious one; but she doesn’t think the former undercuts the latter, seeing the two as vital shared ingredients to what she does. “I don’t feel like I would be giving an honest picture if I didn’t do both,” she says.

      “Dizzy Strange Summer” revels in juxtapositions, unleashing high energy assaults at full tilt before giving way to soft-focus melancholia, allowing Genevieve to show off the full spectrum of her vocal prowess. On the first single ‘Living Like I Know I’m Gonna Die’ for example, her delivery is beautifully understated and airy: “Living like the future is a guess, living like I’m smaller than a speck”. “I sing it softly ‘cos it’s an internal proclamation... a message to myself,” she explains. She displays this vulnerability on ‘All I Want For Now’, ‘Before The Dark’ and ‘Will You Tell Me’ too - the latter a stunning duet with harp. Elsewhere, on ’Godzillaaaa’ for example, her delivery is informed by ESG and Talking Heads, stomping past on a stark riddim in a whirlwind of distorted percussion and synths.

      Thundercat

      It Is What It Is

        “It Is What It Is” was produced by Flying Lotus and Thundercat and features musical contributions from Ty Dolla $ign, Childish Gambino, Lil B, Kamasi Washington, Steve Lacy, Steve Arrington, BADBADNOTGOOD, Louis Cole and Zack Fox. The album follows his game-changing third album “Drunk” (2017). That record completed his transition from virtuoso bassist to bonafide star and cemented his reputation as a unique voice that transcends genre. “This album is about love, loss, life and the ups and downs that come with that,” Bruner says about “It Is What It Is”. “It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but at different points in life you come across places that you don’t necessarily understand… some things just aren’t meant to be understood.”

        The unruly bounce of new single ‘Black Qualls’ is classic Thundercat, teaming up with Steve Lacy (The Internet) and Funk icon Steve Arrington (Slave). It’s another example of Stephen Lee Bruner’s desire to highlight the lineage of his music and pay his respects to the musicians who inspired him. Discovering Arrington’s output in his late teens, Bruner says he fell in love with his music immediately: “The tone of the bass, the way his stuff feels and moves, it resonated through my whole body.”

        ‘Black Qualls’ emerged from writing sessions with Lacy, whom Thundercat describes as “the physical incarnate of the Ohio Players in one person - he genuinely is a funky ass dude”. It references what it means to be a black American with a young mindset: “What it feels like to be in this position right now… the weird ins and outs, we’re talking about those feelings… Part of me knew this [track] was where Steve [Arrington] left us.”

        For fans of Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino, Flying Lotus, Kamasi
        Washington, BADBADNOTGOOD.

        FORMAT INFORMATION

        Deluxe LP Info: 140g transparent clear vinyl, housed in a 6mm spined gatefold sleeve with gold foil detail and OBI strip.

        Deluxe LP includes MP3 Download Code.

        Indies Exclusive LP Info: 140g cream vinyl, housed in a 3mm spined sleeve with OBI strip.

        Indies Exclusive LP includes MP3 Download Code.

        CD Info: CD softpack.

        Wajatta

        Don’t Let Get You Down

          Wajatta (pronounced wa-HA-ta) - aka Reggie Watts and John Tejada - return on Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder imprint. Coming from different worlds but sharing a passion for the rich history of electronic music, beat-boxer / comedian / musician Watts and electronic music artist / DJ / producer Tejada bring out the best in each other’s formidable skill sets. Exploring the intersection between influences and innovation, the two describe Wajatta’s music as ‘electronic dance music with its roots in Detroit techno, Chicago house, ‘70s funk and New York hip hop.’ It’s a sound that is both familiar and wholly original and, like all great dance music, ultimately life-affirming. As a result, the 11 tracks on “Don’t Let Get You Down” crackle with the energy of fresh ideas captured at the moment of inspiration. It’s electronic music made organically, from two masters at the top of their respective games.

          For fans of HNNY, Caribou, Ross From Friends, Jacques Greene, Channel Tres.


          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: It would be hard for anything to get you down after listening to the title track of this killer collaboration, and the rest of the album only continues in the same vein. Owing as much to early instrumental hip-hop as it does modern soul and electronica, this is a rich and varied outing and one you have to hear to believe. Grooves for DAYS.

          British producer of exalted electronics Lapalux (aka Stuart Howard) returns to Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label for his fourth album. The title ‘Amnioverse’ is “a sort of portmanteau of the amniotic sac and the universe that revolves around notions of fluidity: that birth, life, death, and rebirth is a never ending continuum.” He channels these ethereal ideas through a new and ever-expanding modular synth set-up, effortless spanning tempos and balancing space and texture, injecting human emotion and layering recordings of weather, wind, rain and fire, to invoke an elemental, celestial feel. For fans of Actress, Burial, Andy Stott, Oneohtrix Point Never.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          Coloured LP Info: Double LP pressed on white and pink splatter vinyl and housed in an 8mm spined gatefold sleeve with silver foil detail. Includes 28 page large format booklet - 30 x 30cm - with spot gloss detail on front cover and digital download code.

          The wait is finally over for new music by Teebs, aka Mtendere Mandowa. It’s been 5 years since his last body of work, but 25 October will mark the release of his next full length album “​Anicca”.​ With the help of a host of musical friends including ​Panda Bear (Animal Collective), Sudan Archives, Ringgo Ancheta aka MNDSGN, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Anna Wise, daydream Masi, Former Boy, Pink Siifu, Jimetta Rose and Thomas Stankiewicz, the 4​7 minute LP fuses Teebs’ signature bright and fluid productions with the grounded and colorful elements of his collaborators.

          With roots at the ‘My Hollow Drum’ collective, Dublab, and Low End Theory, Teebs is a staple in Los Angeles music. “My creative family in LA is so important,” he explains. “It’s a part of who I am when I step outside and how others in LA view me. I love the feeling of community and trying to understand how I can be useful in it.” A consummate artist with a completely unique style, his ideas seemingly flow from a cloudy hidden realm of the ether straight through the medium and onto the canvas. As both a producer and a painter, his projects possess a flawless consistency that pull one deep into the worlds he creates.

          Reflecting on his 5 year hiatus from releasing music, he says: “It feels like it [the music] comes from a different place now. My inspiration to work has changed and my choices with it. I’ve explored more with what tools and instruments I used and tried to be more open to collaboration.” ​The record showcases just how effortlessly his work lays landscapes for his guests’ contributions to blend in with his own production and Teebs himself is full of admiration for his collaborators. For example, of Panda Bear from Animal Collective, who is featured on lead single ‘Studie’ he explains that: “Everything he decides to do is pure gold or fine wine.” It’s a similar story with kindred spirit Sudan Archives who graces ‘Black Dove’ - of whom he says, “She really is a scary genius who deserves the world’s ears and eyes.”

          The album was recorded mostly at home using his Roland SP-404 sampler, Mellotron M4000D synthesizer, seprewa (Ghanaian harp-lute), guitar and laptop - “If you listen closely you might hear my daughter speaking or my wife typing on a laptop on the record,” Teebs says smiling. Family is at the heart of Mtendere’s life now and they are his primary source of inspiration. “My daughter was born the year after ‘Estara’ and taking time to watch her grow meant everything to me...” he explains. “Also my relationships with my wife,mother, brother, and the friends around me, and the mistakes I’ve made through my life have all inspired Anicca.” He also cites the American poet David Antin and his 1976 work “Talking at the Boundaries” as a notable read and a quote about art, nature and form from Hans Arp’s “Notes from a Dada Diary” that struck a chord with him during the making of the record.

          As for the title - “Anicca” - it describes the impermanence of all being in Buddhism. Recognition of the fact that ‘anicca’ characterizes everything is one of the first steps in the Buddhist’s spiritual progress toward enlightenment. “It’s a reminder to myself that nothing is permanent,” he says.

          A highly respected visual artist, Teebs created the artwork for “Anicca” just as he has done for his previous albums. “I’m using the two disciplines [music and art] together to explore the worlds of communication and semi abstractions” he explains. The artwork for “Anicca” started as a drawing about his wife and mother and evolved into an enamel pin that transformed again as he collaborated with his friend Megan Geer-Alsop to make a stained glass replica. That work later got photographed and digitally enhanced to make the cover. “The artwork is so special to me because of all the hands working together to create an idea,” says Mtendere. “The piece went through so much change and landed in a state of constant change being made out of glass with its colors and reflections… no matter how you look at it or what time of day it is, it’s always something different, yet the same... quite like nature works. It felt like life, like semi abstractions and like the album title.”

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Millie says: Five years of waiting ‘Anicca’ doesn’t disappoint one bit, drenched in electronic gold and ambient glistening vocals. Teebs’ creative process revolves around a close knit of community and family, creating a dimensional art within his music.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          Coloured LP Info: Indies only limited edition purple/black marbled vinyl LP in an artworked inner housed in a 3mm spined outer sleeve.

          Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

          Dorian Concept

          The Nature Of Imitation

          Dorian Concept - the insanely gifted keyboardist, producer and collaborator with Flying Lotus, Thundercat and The Cinematic Orchestra - makes his debut on Brainfeeder and the result is refreshingly unpretentious: dizzying swells, cacophonous breakdowns and formidable rhythms are both expert and childlike, hyperactive and hyper-focused. It's a multi-coloured and multi-textured affair which both nods to, and distances itself from fellow luminaries, with the most obvious comparison somewhere between the the luminous and full frequency sounds of Lone and Hudson Mohawke. Fans of Machine Drum, Floating Points and Cid Rim will also find much to enjoy; as will, I'm sure, anyone into the new Peckham jazz / electronics scene and the modern day whizz kids of LA mentioned above. 

          Grammy Award winning singer songwriter, virtuoso bassist and long-standing member of Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder family, Thundercat returns with his incredible new album ‘Drunk’.

          23 tracks deep, ‘Drunk’ features an insane cast of guests including Pharrell, Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa, Flying Lotus, Kamasi Washington and certified legends Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins.

          For fans of Flying Lotus, BADBADNOTGOOD, Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino. 2016 saw Thundercat win his first Grammy award for his contribution to ‘These Walls’ from Kendrick Lamar’s opus ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’. He also played the landmark Brainfeeder showcase at the Hollywood Bowl alongside Flying Lotus, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Shabazz Palaces and The Gaslamp Killer and he released the single ‘Bus In These Streets’ to universal acclaim. He also guested on Comedy Central’s Why? With Hannibal Buress and cult late-night talk show The Eric André Show.

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Patrick says: Thundercat returns with more mutant funk noodle and hypnotic concentric boogie on this brand new TWENTY THREE! track album. Boasting a stunning array of guest stars including long time homies Kendrick, Pharell, Wiz Cauliflower, Fly Lo and Kamasi alongside yacht rock heroes Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins, this is an arena spectacular of an LP. Ambitious and excellent future funk.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          CD Info: CD softpack with artworked booklet housed in a cardboard outer slipcase.

          The word ‘naive’ comes from the Latin ‘nativus’, meaning native, or natural. Today, to be naive is often seen as pejorative, a lack of experience or judgement, but in the art world the word retained some of its original meaning: a quality acquired through birth, a childlike innocence and wonder that produces spontaneous, unaffected art. For Mitchel Van Dinther, the Dutch producer known as Jameszoo, it is this quality that lies at the heart of his debut album, 'Fool', which he calls “naive, computer jazz”.

          Van Dinther emerged from the small town of Den Bosch in the southern Netherlands in the late 2000s. First as a DJ - with wide-ranging crates of avant-garde jazz, prog and kraut rock, electronic experiments, and beat oddities - and then as a producer capable of impressive sonic and rhythmic incongruities. This spring, Van Dinther joins Brainfeeder with an album that fits right into the label’s expanding take on the modern evolution of jazz music.

          'Fool' began life as just a simple debut album, but soon grew into something more audacious. During the recording process Van Dinther became obsessed with classic albums by Steve Kuhn (1971’s 'Steve Kuhn'), Arthur Verocai (1972’s 'Arthur Verocai'), and Robert Wyatt (1974’s 'Rock Bottom'). The melodies, compositions, and idiosyncrasies of these works made the young Dutch producer reconsider his approach, moving him away from the colourful, electronic productions he was known for.

          Not only did Van Dinther take inspiration from these works, he eventually contacted the artists he’d been studying and convinced Kuhn and Verocai to lend their inimitable touch to the recordings. Tapping into jazz’s tradition of playing standards and covers, ‘The Zoo’ re-imagines Kuhn’s playful ‘Pearlie’s Swine’ with Rhodes and vocals that the man himself recorded with Van Dinther in New York City.

          Across its 11 tracks, 'Fool' plays out Van Dinther’s journey to find a musical voice he can be proud of and which can also inspire others. Alongside Verocai, Dafé, and Kuhn, the album features a stellar cast of classical and jazz musicians including pianist Niels Broos, drummers Julian Sartorius and Richard Spaven, bass guitarists Raphael Vanoli and Stephen Bruner (aka Thundercat), and saxophonist John Dikeman. All of these different contributions and approaches are weaved together into a whole by Van Dinther, armed with electronics and naivety. At times coherent, at times seemingly haphazard, the album is always joyful.


          The story begins with a man on high. He is an old man, a warrior, and the guardian to the gates of a city. Two miles below his mountainous perch, he observes a dojo, where a group of young men train night and day. Eventually, the old man expects a challenger to emerge. He hopes for the day of his destruction, for this is the cycle of life.

          Finally the doors fly open and three young men burst forth to challenge the old master. The first man is quick, but not strong enough. The second is quick, and strong, but not wise enough. The third stands tall, and overtakes the master. The Changing of the Guard has at long last been achieved.

          But then the old man wakes up. He looks down at the dojo and realizes he’s been daydreaming. The dojo below exists, but everyone in training is yet a child. By the time they grow old enough to challenge the old man, he has disappeared.

          This is, in essence, both a true story and a carefully constructed musical daydream, one that will further unfold in a brazen release from young Los Angeles jazz giant, composer, and bandleader Kamasi Washington. 'The Epic' is unlike anything jazz has seen, and not just because it emanates from the boundary-defying Brainfeeder, which isn’t so much a label in the traditional sense as it is an unfurling experiment conducted by the underground producer Flying Lotus who has featured Washington on his albums 'Cosmogramma' and 'You’re Dead!'.

          'The Epic' is a 172-minute, three-volume set that includes a 32-piece orchestra, a 20-person choir, and 17 songs overlaid with a compositional score written by Washington. Pulsing underneath is an otherworldly 10-piece band, each member of which is individually regarded as among the best young musicians on the planet - including bassist Thundercat and his brother, drummer Ronald Bruner Jr., bassist (yes, there are two) Miles Mosley, drummer Tony Austin (of course there are two), keyboard player Brandon Coleman, pianist Cameron Graves, and trombonist Ryan Porter. Patrice Quinn’s ethereal vocals round out the ensemble.

          The band are all from Los Angeles, mostly South Central, and its members - who call themselves variously “The Next Step” and the “The West Coast Get Down” - have been congregating since they were barely teenagers in a backyard shack in Inglewood. Washington, 32, has known Bruner since he was two. The rest met, at various stages, by the time they were in high school. The hours they have put into the music, playing together and practicing alone, total cumulatively in the tens of thousands.

          “Nothing compares to these guys,” says Barbara Sealy, the former West Coast director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, who has championed Kamasi and his compatriots from the beginning. “I challenge any group to go out on stage with them and see if they can keep up with it… Kamasi is at the top of his game, and only getting better.” “These young guys,” the rapper Common says, “remind me of why I love music.”

          And the story 'The Epic' tells, without words but rather through some combination of magic, mastery, and sheer force of imagination, is the story of Kamasi Washington and the Next Step and their collective mission: to remove jazz from the shelf of relics and make it new, unexpected, and dangerous again. They seek to both honour and alter tradition: as 'The Epic'’s opening track announces, they are the “Changing of the Guard”. The sound can be felt like flames, sometimes waving in the coziness of a fireplace, in other moments sweeping everything around like a backdraft. But Kamasi is always in control of the burning.


          FORMAT INFORMATION

          LP Box Set Info: Now available on three 180g discs in artworked 3mm spined sleeves housed in a rigid board outer slipcase with digital download codes. Half speed cut by Matt Colton at Alchemy, the package includes two 12” poster inserts featuring exclusive artwork by KC Woolf Haxton plus story adaptation and calligraphy by Kenturah Davis.

          In a world in which upstart DIY talent is flooding the gates of electronic music, a few recent voices have been so strong as to be startling. Lapalux - AKA 25-year-old Stuart Howard - is certainly one such. As singular as a brilliant artist always should be, his instinctive understanding of the atmospheric power of texture grips the ear immediately on listening. 'Nostalchic' is his debut album, mission statement, and the climax of many years of studying his craft. The amalgam of words that make the title is aptly, and perhaps knowingly chosen. The album evokes nostalgia without ever sounding nostalgic, and Howard may have had his tongue in his chic when he added the second half of the title. The album is his most focused document to date, adding his beloved R&B and soul into elements of house and hip hop, all with the trademark Lapalux finish; infectious, lopsided swing and achingly deep texture.


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