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Paradise Cinema

Paradise Cinema

    On October 9ththe multi-instrumentalist Jack Wyllie (Portico Quartet/Szun Waves) presents his new project Paradise Cinema. It was recorded in Dakar, Senegal in collaboration with mbalax percussionists Khadim Mbaye (saba drums) and Tons Sambe (tama drums).

    The impressionistic and dream-like quality of 'Paradise Cinema' is a stunningly effective realisation of Wyllie's experience, in ahypnagogic state of aural consciousness:

    "I had a lot of nights in Dakar, when the music around the city would go on until 6am. I could hear this from my bed at night and it all blended together, in what felt like an early version of the record."

    Atmospherically 'Paradise Cinema' is vaporous and enigmatic, but also percussive; existing in a paradoxical sound-space that's amorphous,yet still purposeful, serene, but propulsive and aesthetically sharp.

    Khadim Mbaye and Tons Sambe, provide the rhythmic backbone of the record. There are traditional elements of mbalax rhythm, but it is often deconstructed or played at tempos outside of the tradition, so while it hints at a location it occupies a space outside of any specific region.

    'Paradise Cinema' is also informed by notions of hauntology – a philosophical concept originating in the work of French philosopher Jacques Derrida– on possible futures that were never realised andhow directions taken in the past can haunt the present.

    On the album's title Wyllie comments, "there are a handful of old cinemas in Dakar – these big modernist buildings dotted around the city built around independence. They're old and derelict now, but feel to me like monuments to that period, when the city was flooded with utopian ideas about its potential futures."

    As such it sits closely to 4thworld music – situated in an imagined culture and time that never came to pass. And while it contains rhythmic references to Senegal it combines these elements with ambient and minimalist music to produce a sound that sits outside of any tradition.

    Setting the tone for the long-player's themes is the optimism-driven, balmy beauty of 'Possible Futures', where rich-toned drums throb and levitate in a stratospheric ether.

    Like a time-lapse video of plants in bloom, 'It Will Be Summer Soon' is the sound of anticipation and growth. Rhythmically it flickers and flutters, evoking rainfall, or the blurred wings of a bird in in flight.

    Casamance moves through field recordings drifting in and out of focus, beats pitched-down low and unfurling saxophone, whilst the ambient 'Utopia' was made mainly with processed saxophone and suggests a longing for a perfect world.

    Galloping percussion juxtaposes with a wistful mood on 'Liberté' – a title that referencesa derelict modernist cinema in Dakar of the same name– a hauntological landmark, made more poignant by the its name being part of the French national motto.

    Tying into the cover artwork, Jack explains, "the 'Digital Palm is a telecommunications mast disguised as a palm tree in central Dakar. As a modern piece of technology that on first glance looks natural, it mirrors the combination of modern and acoustic elements."

    Perhaps eliciting a time that never came, or maybe still in hope of it yet to come, 'Eternal Spring' concludes the LP's otherworldly beauty with hypnotic drums powering a subtly-building, sparkling and powerful crescendo.

    Jack Wyllie is a musician, composer, electronic producer who draws on influences of jazz, ambient, and the trance-inducing repetition of minimalism.

    Wyllie performs and records in Portico Quartet, Szun Waves (withLuke Abbott and Laurence Pike)and Xoros. He has also collaborated with Charles Hayward, Adrian Corker and Chris Sharkey and released on Ninja Tune, Babel, Leaf, Real World and Gondwana.

    Khadim Mbaye and Toms Sambe play in various mbalax groups in Dakar. Khadim has also toured internationally with Cheikh Lo.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Limited edition transparent green vinyl (500 copies)

    GoGo Penguin

    Last Words / Fanfares (Alternate Versions)

    Gondwana Records are delighted to announce the 6th release of our '7" Series', our first ever 7" vinyl collection series. Featuring bespoke artwork from Gondwana Records designer Daniel Halsall, cut at Calyx in Berlin, and manufactured at Optimal. This one is limited to strictly 500 copies and housed in a reverse board printed sleeve with classic 'dinked' centre holes.

    Last Words and Fanfares were GoGo Penguin's breakthrough tracks, taken from their first album, Fanfares, they first introduced the band's trademark mix of jazz, dance and classical music influences to the world outside of Manchester. For this this very special release we feature two breathtaking alternate versions. Recorded in 2013 they feature the now classic line-up of GoGo Penguin with pianist Chris Illingworth, drummer Rob Turner and bassist Nick Blacka (replacing Grant Russsell) together with producer Joe Reiser - they are released here for the first and only time.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Ltd 7" Info: Limited to 500 copies, comes with a limited edition postcard

    Dwight Trible

    What The World Needs Now Is Love / Tryin' Times (feat. Matthew Halsall)

    Gondwana Records are delighted to announce the 6th release of our '7" Series', our first ever 7" vinyl collection series. Featuring bespoke artwork from Gondwana Records designer Daniel Halsall, cut at Calyx in Berlin, and manufactured at Optimal. This one is limited to strictly 300 copies and housed in a reverse board printed sleeve with classic 'dinked' centre holes.

    The release also comes with a limited edition postcard

    Dwight Trible and Matthew Halsall first met by chance at a festival in South Africa. Dwight sat in with Matt's band for an impromtu jam and a friendship was born. The result was Dwight's 2017 recording for Gondwana Records, Inspirations, produced by and featuring Matthew Halsall and members of the Gondwana Orchestra. With the LP long sold -out we've decided to shine a light on the first two tracks from the album. Together they make a glorious, deep, soulful 7" with a timeless message. On Side A we have, Dwight's impassioned take on Bacharach and David's classic What The World Needs Now is Love and on the flip we have a low-slung take on Donny Hathaway and Leroy Hutson's Tryin' Times. Both feel even more relevant now than they did when written. Just 300 copies and no re-press on this one - so don't msis out.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Ltd 7" Info: Limited to 300 copies, comes with a limited edition postcard

    Consisting of saxophonist Jordan Smart, pianist Nick Smart and drummer and tabla player Jesse Barrett, the trio have forged a growing reputation for their hypnotic fusion of jazz and electronica and have recieved glowing recommendations from the likes of The Guardian and Gilles Peterson. Drawing on their love of electronic, contemporary classical, world, folk and jazz music, Mammal Hands take in influences including Pharoah Sanders,Gétachèw Mekurya, Terry Riley, Steve Reich and Sirishkumar Manji.

    Forming in Norwich in 2012, brothers Nick and Jordan along with Jesse, developed their distinctive and polished sound with their meteoric live shows and release of three critically acclaimed albums: 'Animalia' (2014), 'Floa' (2016) and 'Shadow Work (2017). Landmark live performances have included shows at The Roundhouse London, the main stage at Field Day Festival, La Cigale Paris, Montreal Jazz Festival, Hamburg Elb Jazz, Athens Technopolis and Unit Tokyo.

    Teaming up once again with trusted producer George Atkins (Wiley, The Courteeners) at 80 Hertz Studios in Manchester, 'Captured Spirits' explores themes including existence and displacement. "The name has multiple readings but was first inspired by something Jordan was reading about past experiences of ancestors being caught and coded into our DNA and having an effect on who you are today. This ties in with themes that we have touched on before relative to identity and the collective unconscious ('Shadow Work'). It also toys with the idea of feeling contained/trapped and the need to break out of something and also the idea of people being spirits that are "captured" in a body", says Nick.

    Opening with the melodic rhythmic patterns of 'Ithaca', the tempo picks up with the mesmerising 'Chaser', as heavy percussion and Nick's frenetic keys draw the listener deep into Mammal Hand's distinctive soundsphere. North Indian influences dictate the meditative 'Versus Shapes' with Jesse's transcendental tabla playing taking centre stage while the dark and moody 'Spiral Stair' relies on a multitude of colliding and intersecting shapes and sounds.

    All three members of the band contribute equally to the writing process: one that favours the creation of a powerful group dynamic over individual solos. "I think with this record, there was a strong and renewed sense of collective enjoyment and appreciation for the process and each other's contributions. After a long period of touring and a slow build up to the actual recording sessions we were able to mull over ideas for long periods, build on lessons from the past and pull our playing connection to an even deeper place. Realising each other's visions for the whole and clearly understanding how they intersect", says Jesse.

    That vision is also realised by longtime collaborator and artist Daniel Halsall who designed the artwork for 'Captured Spirits'. His strong instinctive feel for the band's visual world is a key component to understanding the music. "Our work with Dan over such a long period of time now has become integral to the bands aesthetic and he always seems to grasp the themes and ideas that we send for each album and distills them into something striking and engaging that really complements the music. This is really important with instrumental music, as we need to be able to convey our ideas without being too literal or definitive and give the listeners space for imagination and to take their own journey when they listen to the music and look at the artwork", says Jordan.

    Elsewhere across 'Captured Spirits', 'Riddle' and 'Rhizome' are rich in texture and heavy on groove and both compositions showcase a complex, emotional range and demonstrate three like-minded musicians with a dazzling understanding of jazz, electronica and cinematic rhythms. "Music has the capacity to fill so many spaces in our lives, as I think fundamentally it is a more direct form of communication than even language. In this way it can be refuge, it can be social, it can be revelatory, it can be memory, it can be what we need at a given point in time", says Jordan.

    The high intensity of the trio's live shows is recreated with the spiritual jazz-influenced 'Into Sparks' as Jordan's sax exhibits an unrestrained energy and freedom but it's left to 'Little One' to bring down the curtain on arguably their most accomplished album to date, a soothing, breezy gift to Jesse's new daughter.

    Gondwana Records is an independent record label founded by Matthew Halsall in 2008. The label has gone on to release music by, Allysha Joy, GoGo Penguin, Hania Rani, Matthew Halsall, Phil France, Portico Quartet and Sunda Arc.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    says: You ALWAYS know what you're getting with a Gondwana release, not in style obviously but in sheer quality, there is no doubting they are one of the best around. This time sees Mammal Hands in full filmic soundtrack territory, beautifully produced and soaringly gorgeous. It's Olafur Arnalds for people who like Jazz, or Jazz for people who are wildly stoned. Stunning.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Clear vinyl edition.

    Signed LP Info: Limited signed version on clear LP.

    GoGo Penguin

    V2.0 - Signed Orange Vinyl Special Edition

      PICCADILLY EXCLUSIVE SIGNED COPIES.

      Originally released in March 2014, v2.0, was GoGo Penguin's breakthrough album and the first to feature the rebooted line-up with new bassist Nick Blacka, pianist Chris Illingworth and drummer Rob Turner. It was named a Mercury Prize album of the year 2014 alongside albums from Damon Albarn, Young Fathers and Jungle. The extended version was first released on 2xLP for RSD 18 on clear vinyl.

      This version features the same extended tracklist on translucent orange vinyl.

      Newly remastered for vinyl (by the original engineer)
      2xLP deluxe gatefold edition.
      A percentage of sales on this edition will be donated to NHS Charities Together.

      v2.0 includes the hit singles, Hopopono, Garden Dog Barbecue and Kamaloka as well as the remarkable One Percent and live favourite To Drown in You. Included here for the first time is theincessant 'Break' featuring a killer groove that offers a notdto the one and only Squarepusher, 'Wash', a haunting slice of the band at their most ambient and the wonderful 'In Amber', the first track that the new line-up wrote completely together.


      FORMAT INFORMATION

      2xColoured LP Info: A strictly limited translucent orange vinyl Deluxe remastered gate-fold double-LP featuring the entire v2.0 sessions.
      500 copies only.

      "I feel like 'Home' is a second part of the same book, that the start was in 'Esja', a musical prelude to a real plot. I feel Home is a story with an ending, so the next book can tell a totally different one. I am constantly looking for new ways of expression. I am curious where 'Home' will lead me and my music". — Hania Rani

      Hania Rani is a pianist, composer and musician who, was born in Gdansk and splits her life between Warsaw, where she makes her home, and Berlin where she studied and often works. Her debut album 'Esja', a beguiling collection of solo piano pieces on Gondwana Records was released to international acclaim on April 5th 2019 including nominations in 5 categories in the Polish music industries very own Grammys, the Fryderyki, and winning the Discovery of the Year 2019 in the Empik chain's Bestseller Awards and the prestigious Sanki award for the most interesting new face of Polish music chosen by Polish journalists. Rani also composed the music for her first full length movie "I Never Cry" directed by Piotr Domalewski and for the play "Nora" directed by Michał Zdunik. Her song "Eden" was used as a soundtrack of a short movie by Małgorzata Szumowska for Miu Miu's movie cycle "Women's Tales"

      If the compositions on Esja were born out of a fascination with the piano as an instrument, then her follow-up, the expansive, cinematic, 'Home', finds Rani expanding her palate: adding vocals and subtle electronics to her music as well as being joined on some tracks by bassist Ziemowit Klimek and drummer Wojtek Warmijak. The album reunites her with recording engineers, Piotr Wieczorek and Ignacy Gruszecki (Monochrom Studio) and the tracks were again mixed again by Gijs van Klooster in his studio in Amsterdam and by Piotr Wieczorek in Warsaw ( Ombelico and Come Back Home). Home was mastered by Zino Mikorey in Berlin (known for his work on albums by artists such as Nils Frahm and Olafur Arnalds).

      For Rani, 'Home', is very much a continuation of the work she started on 'Esja', "the completion of the sentence" as she puts it. The album offers a metaphorical journey: the story of places that become our home sometimes by chance, sometimes by choice. It is the story of leaving a place that is familiar and the journey that follows it. Home opens with the fragment of the short story "Loneliness" by Bruno Schulz, which can be seen as a parable of a journey that does not necessarily mean going beyond the physical door but can signify going beyond the symbolic limits of our knowledge and imagination.

      "One can be lost but can find home in his inner part - which can mean many things - soul, imagination, mind, intuition, passion. I strongly believe that when being in uncertain times and living an unstable life we can still reach peace with ourselves and be able to find 'home' anywhere' This is what I would like to express with my music - one can travel the whole world but not see anything. It is not where we are going but how much we are able to see and hear things happening around us". — Hania Rani

      Home is also about the inevitability of change. We never find places exactly how we left them. Time flies and life with it. Just like art and music. Once you started the trip, you will never be back really to the place where you started with. It is a sentiment that is at the heart of Home, not just its themes, but at the heart of Rani's music too. Following the success of Esja it would have been easy for her to stick to the same solo piano formula, but while Rani expresses her surprise and gratitude for the success of Esja, "I wasn't sure how this album - based on Piano and silence - will be received by the audience. The reception was a big surprise to me" it has also given her the confidence to express more of herself as an artist. On Home Rani steps into more of a producer's role, adding strings, bass and drums where needed, exploring the sounds of synths and electronica, but also creating textured layered songs made from acoustic samples, mostly from piano recordings. "I try to explore new genres and discover new artists, I don't want to be stuck in things that I know, I want to learn about things that are still new to me". But perhaps most notable is her singing, Rani has a fragile, beautiful voice, both pure and expressive. Long a feature of her live shows she uses it as another instrument, adding extra layers of melody and emotion to her already deeply expressive music.

      "I consider voice as another instrument. Maybe if I wasn't so often alone on the stage, I would take another instrument to play the melody that I have in my mind. But while I am alone, singing allows me to have more possibilities at the same time. The human voice has a real magic, nothing carries emotions as easily and powerfully as the voice, and I think being able to bring this atmosphere on stage opens up new possibilities of expression for me". — Hania Rani


      Home also features Rani's new band, bassist Ziemowit Klimek and drummer Wojtek Warmijak who appear on some of the albums stand out tracks, the beguiling single 'Leaving', the title track 'Home', atmospheric 'Tennen' and the beautiful 'I'll Never Find Your Soul'. After working and touring alone Rani begin to feel stuck with her own ideas and thoughts, and sounds. It was a prolific period for her compositionally, writing the music on Home, but also a film score and music for the theatre, but she felt that someone else's vision might bring new ideas to things that she already knew. Shortly before she was about to record Home she attended a concert of the young Polish jazz trio, Immortal Onion, in Gdańsk, her hometown. She liked what she heard and sked the double bassist and a drummer if they wanted to meet and something clicked. They spent most of the next week improvising and jamming on her music. This gave a whole new insight for some of the songs and brought new ideas for arrangements. And having enjoyed working together on the album Rani is looking forward to touring with the boys.

      "Touring with band is a totally different thing, way more challenging technically, but it also brings a new energy and new sound possibilities. I am very curious how we will manage to bring the album to life. I would like to keep the show balanced - mixing the new textures of Home with the atmosphere of minimalistic songs from Esja." — Hania Rani

      For Rani, this sense of exploring is a key part of her art. But it isn't only the music, Rani is keenly interested in art and architecture (as anyone who follows her exquisitely curated Instagram feed will know) and how her music works in the wider world.

      "I try to keep my eyes and ears wide open. What I want to master in my art is how to build the right atmosphere on stage, in recordings. To do this you need to be aware of many aspects - not only music, but also the full range of gestures, acoustics, visual aspect. I want to learn how to bring particular atmosphere and bring people to a specific space. I observe how music works in different contexts, how the feeling of sound changes in different acoustics, space, light conditions. The same thing happens with artwork that I share. I feel like everything of what I am bringing to the the world and sharing with others has an impact of reception my music. If we are an inseparable part of the ecosystem, then the music should be considered similarly." — Hania Rani

      The album's distinctive cover artwork was designed by the architect Łukasz Pałczyński, who combined his sketches with the stills from the music video for the song Leaving shot by her regular collaborators Mateusz Miszczyński and Jakub Stoszek in Greece and together with Rani's music and vision it is this sense of collaboration that gives Home it's power as Rani starts to give full expression to her own unique vision and perhaps the most exciting thing is that it is just another step on her journey, one that we are all lucky to be a part of!

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      2xColoured LP Info: Limited 500x only edition on Clear vinyl, printed in reverse board wide spine sleeve with printed insert

      2xLP Info: Double black vinyl, printed in reverse board wide spine sleeve with printed insert

      Mammal Hands

      Chaser / Prism

        Gondwana Records are delighted to announce '7" Series', our first ever 7" vinyl collection series. Featuring bespoke artwork from Gondwana Records designer Daniel Halsall, cut at Calyx in Berlin, and manufactured at Optimal, each 7" is limited to strictly 300 copies and housed in a reverse board printed sleeve with classic 'dinked' centre holes.

        To launch this collectable series, we are excited to share new and previously unreleased music from Mammal Hands and two catalogue favourites from Matthew Halsall. Over the next coming months, we will share series part 3 and 4 and beyond.

        Captivating, ethereal and majestic, Mammal Hands are driven by their unique line-up of drums, piano and saxophone. Their hypnotic music draws on a rich well of influences from Sufi trance and West African music to folk music, contemporary classical, spiritual jazz and electronica to produce something uniquely their own. Their 7" features two brand new, previously unreleased tunes.

        Side A Chaser is a punchy, hypnotic tune with an enchanted melody that'll take you on a magical journey. All in less than 4 minutes

        Side B Prism is a mysterious ear-worm, ethereal but catchy, it sounds like nothing else the band have ever recorded.

        Portico Quartet

        We Welcome Tomorrow

          Portico Quartet announce We Welcome Tomorrow a strictly limited edition three-track vinyl EP.

          The EP follows on from Memory Streams, their fifth studio album and second for Gondwana Records which was released in October 2019. Sonically it explores a similar world to the full-length album, but where Memory Streams focused on a punchier live sound, WWT explores modern classical and ambient textures.

          We Welcome Tomorrow features, the duo Fran and Flora (Francesca Ter-Berg cello & Flora Curzon) on strings, but also builds looped saxophones, drums and synths parts into a rich tapestry of sound. Odd time signatures underpin a surprisingly emotional build that resolves in richly layered strings.

          Mirage explores a different side of the band's writing. Moving away from their usual instrumentation and enlisting the beautiful string playing of 'Fran and flora' . It draws influence from the emotional, spiritual minimalism of composers such as Arvo Part and John Adams.

          Winding Snake again takes influence from American minimalism but places it against strong, modern drum rhythms and organs. And its energy and instrumentation propel the music into trademark Portico Quartet territory.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          Ltd 12" Info: Limited blue vinyl edition, includes a download code.

          Portico Quartet return with Memory Streams, their fifth studio album and one that continues the journey that first started with 2008's Mercury nominated debut "Knee Deep in the North Sea". It's a creative path that has seen the band embrace new technology and explore ambient and electronic influences alongside minimalism, jazz and beyond. It is a process that has encouraged change. Each album has seen the band expand its palate or explore new trajectories. From the gentle charm of their breakthrough's inimitable mix of jazz, world and minimalist influences, to the tight-knit brilliance of "Isla", the electronic infused eponymous Portico Quartet to 2016's return "Art in the Age of Automation" (the band's most electronic statement to date) they have never been a band to look backwards. Each record has been its own world, its own statement and offered its own meaning. It's the mark of a band that has always both stood apart from any scene and been prepared to challenge its self and find new things to say and to push the limits of what they could do.

          It is an approach that has encouraged the band to plough their own furrow. Drummer Duncan Bellamy notes that "For better or worse I think we have always been quite an isolated band. Perhaps that comes from never feeling like we really belonged to or fit in to a scene when we first started making music" While for saxophonist Jack Wyllie " I feel more connected to other musicians these days and those relationships influence the sound we have in some way. But I wouldn't say we feel a part of scene, it still feels quite out on its own, which is cool, because it helps the music feel unique"?

          The band's new album, "Memory Streams" is part of the same continuum and yet, as the name hints, there is a sense here of a remembering, shards of past influences, hints of ideas re-forged. For Wyllie, Memory Streams "feels in some ways about the identity of the band, about the records we've made before, and the memory of them" whereas for Bellamy it suggests "a torrent of imagery, accessing and reliving archived memories, perhaps not even your own".

          Sonically, the album embraces the classic Portico Quartet sound pallet of drums, saxophone, bass and Hang- Drums, but nonetheless the sound has modulated, become more modern, whilst still channelling the beauty and mystery which has always marked the very best of Portico Quartet's music. It's the sound of a band at ease with its self who after a dozen years of recording and playing together are able to simultaneously explore and embrace their own identity.

          "Memory Streams" also marks a return to a more predominantly band orientated sound than "AITAOA" and its partner release, the mini-album "Untitled". Bellamy says "we wanted to create something that had texture, fibre and space to it. Something that felt vivid, real and alive". During recording the band re-amped a lot of the sounds on the record, a process which lends a sense of depth and spaciousness to the sound. Wyllie adds, "We tried to reduce the pallet to what really identified the band and also as a way to help us write - it's not easy if you have unlimited possibilities. But it was also was an interesting challenge as it was about writing something new, that felt like a development, whilst also drawing on the past".

          "Memory Streams" opens with "With, Beside, Against" which has an expansive, quietly unfolding quality that makes it the perfect album opener and was also one of the first tracks they wrote for the album. "Signals" is a creeping, mysterious track that captures the spirit of the record. Its hypnotic, rolling quality builds throughout with shades of a classic Portico Quartet tune but with a 'tougher' edge. The outstanding "Gradient" is a more produced piece. Mixing lo-fi and beautifully recorded acoustic parts together it grows from a simple, repeated Hang-Drum motif, outwards into a searching hypnotic crescendo. "Ways of Seeing" is a synthesis of minimalism and more dancefloor-oriented rhythms. A lone pulse from the drum machine cuts through a haze of chiming, swirling Hang-Drums and pads built from shards of looped saxophone. "Memory Palace" is a distant echo of the motif from "Gradient", and is a bare, slow piano piece shrouded in a mist of saxophone noise. The punchy "Offset" is all about motion and tension and Bellamy's drums pound in response. "Dissident Gardens" is an intricate, hypnotic track in 3 parts. Almost prog like in rhythm but has a strong minimalist element to it with Farfisa organs as the repetitive top lines. "Double Helix" begins with string swells, it stops and jolts as if someone is switching TV channels before locking into a deep groove. The beautifully sparse, emotional heft of "Immediately Visible" sits in a powerful lineage of Portico Quartet tracks such as "Line", "Rubidium" and "Beyond Dialogue". It was largely improvised in the studio and offers the perfect ending point for the album with its sense of journey and deep well of feeling. An album that locates their music in an age where we have unfettered access to a vast and ever expanding archive of imagery and ideas, Memory Streams both embraces and builds on Portico Quartet's own unique music and legacy and locates their music firmly in the present.

          STAFF COMMENTS

          says: ‘Memory Streams’ is a sublime neo-classical, and prominently jazz album. “With, Beside, Against” begins the album in minimalist style creating an earnest tone of reflection. As soon as the rest of ensemble joins in, the music becomes joyous, blossoming into percussion driven highs of emotion reminiscent of their earlier work. The album centres on capturing the memories of their past, Portico Quartet wanted to create something “vivid, real and alive” and I think they’ve just done that with this timeless album. I might be the only one here but when track as beautiful as “Immediately Visible” makes your heart ache a bit, that’s when you know the song is going to stay with you for some time. Similar artists on the Portico’s wavelength are GoGo Penguin, Nils Frahm and Penguin Café. If you are a fan of them, then this is the perfect album for you to end 2019 on a calming and gentle note.

          The recordings on Oneness date from Jan, March and September 2008 and were born from a period of experimentation as Halsall first began to explore the music that would provide the inspiration for his spiritual jazz recordings Fletcher Moss Park and When the World Was One. They also offer an intriguing snapshot into the birth of Halsall's Gondwana Orchestra and feature many musicians who would go on to become a key part of Halsall's musical journey, such as harpist Rachel Gladwin, bassist Gavin Barras and saxophonist Nat Birchall. The recordings sat in the Gondwana Records vaults for over a decade before Halsall felt it was the right time to share them. Asked about the recordings Halsall says:

          "I've always treasured these recordings and loved how vulnerable, open and free they are, but I just felt they were too subtle and sensitive to release early on in my career, so I held them back until now. I also feel now is the right time to release these before I begin a fresh journey with a new bunch of musicians."

          Remarkably, the beautiful compositions heard here were all built around a simple tanpura drone sound. An instrument Halsall heard on Alice Coltrane's 'Journey In Satchidananda' album and then at a later date in a concert featuring Arun Ghosh on clarinet and John Ellis on piano. "I loved the way this instrument created a sort of meditative atmospheric pulse for the musicians to work over and it had this beautiful feeling of togetherness, so after the gig I went out and bought a Raagini Shruti box featuring the tanpura drone and began to practice my trumpet over it and wrote lots of loose themes and melodies".

          The sessions that make up Oneness capture Halsall in the process of building a new band, reaching out to various musicians he'd discovered and admired on the Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds music scene. "I really liked this idea of bringing lots of musicians together from different backgrounds and was fascinated with how they would all react to each other and the tanpura drone box seemed to bring everyone together really well, it was kind of like a nice meditative icebreaker exercise for everyone to loosen up, before we got stuck into the more composed tunes I'd created, some of which ended up on the Sending My Love and Colour Yes albums".

          The album's title, Oneness, speaks to both Halsall's conviction that the planet should be shared equally with all of its inhabitants. That no human being or other inhabitant deserves to exist more than the other and that we can achieve far more together than against each other. And also importantly to what Halsall was aiming for musically:

          "I really believe in Oneness and I've always loved the term 'greater than the sum of its parts'. I could make music on my own and live a fairly isolated antisocial life, but there's something far more rewarding about creating things with others. And for me these sessions document the coming together of lots of different musicians in a wonderfully organic soulful way to make egoless music".

          It's a belief that continues to underpin Matthew's music making and a message that the word sorely needs right now as we feel more divided and separated than ever. This then is Oneness, a decade in the making and well worth the wait. Enjoy!

          AIRPLAY from Mart Ann Hobbs, Gilles Peterson, Unclassified radio 3, Late Junction etc

          STAFF COMMENTS

          says: Matthew Halsall’s recordings from 2008 have made it to the surface in this stunningly delicate record, Oneness. From the beginning of his journey, this precious jazz which has been stored for over a decade is a beautiful and pure edition to Halsall’s releases.

          Hania Rani is a pianist, composer and musician who splits her life between Warsaw, where she makes her home, and Berlin where she studied and often works. She has written for strings, piano, voice and electronics and has collaborated with the likes of Christian Löffler, Dobrawa Czocher and Hior Chronik, and released an album with her Polish group tęskno last year. She has performed at some of the most prestigious venues in Europe - from the National Philharmony in Warsaw, to Funkhaus in Berlin, to The Roundhouse in London (where she made her debut at the Gondwana 10thanniversary festival last October) and at festivals such as Open'er, Scope Festival and Eurosonic. Her compositions for solo piano were born out of a fascination with the piano as an instrument, and her desire to interpret its sound and harmonic possibilities in their entirety and in her own way. "I think I am the same as an artist and as a person. Music is my way of communication and I see the art, the music as a whole thing, with no borders, divisions, or even genres."

          Esja is her debut solo album and for Rani it is her first, real, personal statement as an artist. "No hiding behind the "collaborations" or "projects" anymore. For the very first time, finally - just me, as I am".

          Recorded at Rani's apartment in Warsaw (the piano room has a beautiful reverb and the space has become part art studio and part sound laboratory for Rani) and at her friend Bergur Þórisson'sstudio in Reykjavik, Esja is a series of beautiful melodic vignettes. Sensual, sensitive, rhythmic, atmospheric, free but harmonious, beguiling and hypnotic, collectively they project a sense of unlimited space and time.


          Caoilfhionn (pronounced Keelin) Rose is a singer, songwriter and producer from Manchester. Emerging from a diverse music scene, she ties together remnants of Manchester's musical past with its evolving present. She has collaborated with musicians from around the world and is perhaps best known for her work with Vini Reilly of Durutti Column: Collaborating on four songs on The Durutti Column - Chronicle LX:XL album. She grew up surrounded by music (dad loved jazz and mum was a massive folk fan) but it wasn't until her late teens that the muse took hold: "I've always been interested in music but I really started to get into it after a period of illness when I was 17. It was music that made me begin to feel like myself again. Listening to my iPod, everything felt new and exciting and yet vaguely familiar and nostalgic." A year or so later, during her recovery she started to write songs again on the piano and started performing in Manchester, graduating through open mic slots to her own shows.

          Caoilfhionn's music draws on a diverse range of influences from The Mummers, to Rachel Sermanni, Melody's Echo Chamber and Broadcast. She also professes to a love for beautiful, stripped back, piano based music, such as Dustin O'Halloran and Peter Broderick. Vini Reilly from The Durutti Column is also a big influence and inspiration. "We're friends now after collaborating a few years ago and I have become a big fan of his music. It is intricate and detailed but spontaneous and free." Another inspiration is her immediate environment. With Manchester's Fletcher Moss Park especially inspiring. And it was what led her to Gondwana Records, Matthew Halsall, when she heard his 2012 album Fletcher Moss Park. She reached out and shortly afterwards he went to see her perform at The Art of Tea Cafe in Didsbury Village. Blown away by the fragile beauty of her music he offered to produce a recording for his label.

          Awaken, is Caoilfhionn's debut album, co-produced with Matthew Halsall, guitarist Rich Williams and Matthew's brother Daniel Halsall (artistic director of Gondwana Records) she describes it as a deeply collaborative effort. Expansive, fragile and experimental it's a rich tapestry that draws on folk, psychedelia and subtle electronica influences. For Caoilfhionn it represents a busy mind, change, and an up and down life. "It is an honest and personal account, full of memories and mumblings to myself that I hope other people will relate to or at least understand". It's also a deeply collaborative album featuring songs developed with her band mates, Matthew Halsall and one song, Wild Anemones, even features her grandmother! And the title track of the album sums up the whole body of work. It's a positive song about looking outward, forwards and all around. It marks the beginning (like waking up) and feels like the starting point of a lot more music. "It was the song that pushed me and moved me out of my comfort zone. "Having played solo as a pianist for a couple of years, it inspired me to work with new sounds, musicians with a different approach to making music.

          Singer, pianist, writer, poet and creative being, Allysha Joy, is a key member of Melbourne collective, 30/70. Their growing success over the last two years has led her to further challenge her expression in a project of her own, pushing boundaries as a female keys player, poet, singer and producer. Whether performing solo on Fender Rhodes or accompanied by her band, Allysha's steady groove, husky vocal tone and unique style of writing emanates her own personal truth and illuminates a powerful feminine energy learning to be peaceful, giving and considerate of others.

          Allysha grew up listening to jazz, soul, hip hop and RnB. Her sound is dynamic and raw, real and complex. "As a performer I look to people that present their genuine self on stage, reaching for something beyond the present moment, beyond themselves, being a vessel for something greater. I always try to take the audience on a journey".And as a song-writer Allysha draws from her own experiences and the empathy she feels for the world and its inhabitants. "I write as a way to process the emotion that consumes me in day to day life, otherwise I'd explode".


          For Allysha, Acadie : Raw signifies a moment in time: "from beginning to completion of creating this music, it has been a chance to express a deeper, more personal side of self and to take full control of the vision and the music. This record has allowed me to dive deeply into my creative expression and is just the beginning". The album features members of 30/70, the collective born from the creative music scene in Melbourne: "I play both solo or with my 30/70 family, Henry Hicks, Ziggy Zeitgeist, Josh Kelly and Danika Smith. I feel super blessed to have met this crew, we've been playing together now for four years and for me this record is just another extension of the 30/70 collective, constantly unravelling and branching out".

          It is the heartfelt mix of love and power, of desire and wonder, anger and faith and hope for change that underpins Acadie : Raw and marks Allysha Joy out as a future star telling her tales and spreading her wings to bring the joys of life to us all.



          STAFF COMMENTS

          says: Brand new from the Gondwana label is Allysha Joy's Acadie: Raw, the album has a bold powerful presence and her style is refreshingly original, different to anything else out there right now. Her vocals are beautifully husky and you can feel the emotion weaved throughout the album. This is up there with the best jazz record of this year.

          Originally from West Yorkshire, but now resident in Manchester, composer, bassist and producer Phil France is probably best known as a key collaborator alongside Jason Swinscoe in the Cinematic Orchestra, where he co-wrote, arranged and produced on classic albums including Everyday, Man With The Movie Camera, Ma Fleur and also the triple award winning soundtrack for The Crimson Wing nature documentary. In 2013 France released his debut solo album, The Swimmer (GOND016), an emotive, epic record influenced by the great second wave of film composers including John Carpenter and Vangelis, as well as minimalist composers such as Steve Reich and Philip Glass

          Five years later, France presents the follow up, the enigmatically titled, Circle, which again represents a very personal journey for the artist. For France the album is an extension of work he began on The Swimmer. A process he has described as: " blocks of sound containing intricate minimal arpeggiated patterns and electronic textures that develop and shift in subtle, original and melodic ways. The trancelike quality, mood and electronic character of title track Circle led France to think of the circular patterns which eventually became a potent concept for the album. "Ideas and fashions repeat themselves in cycles. Events are said to travel 'full circle' and this is important to me because it represents my own recent personal and musical journey after 15 years touring as bassist and composer with The Cinematic Orchestra. I consider circles to be a strong symbol of unity, strength and inclusiveness and ultimately I've aspired to make something beautiful with those values at its heart".

          The album opens with the title track, Circle, built on a minimal looped pattern with melodic embellishment and shifting additional harmonic textures. Bells was developed from the arpeggiator and offers a nod to the melodicism and atmosphere of French electronic music. The Jackal features an idea originally developed for The Crimson Wing score but which finally bears fruit here. Cathedrals features an improvised intro, Philip Glass inspired organ and vocal textures inspired by the work of Colin Stetson. Finally, the album ends with a reprise of Circle this time featuring layered pianos. But it isn't the conclusion of the journey, for France: "The Circle is infinite - During the process of making this record, I have been constantly reminded that nothing ever stays the same and that all is in constant flux. The challenge for me is always to respond positively, be aware of and seize the opportunity for progression constant change provides" And it is that sense of movement and flow, but also calm and beauty that permeates Circle and make it such a worthy successor to The Swimmer.

          STAFF COMMENTS

          says: Beautifully ethereal electronic pulses, rippling arpeggios and skittering machinated percussion are woven through organic drums and reverbed Balearic basslines. Stunningly emotive but with enough momentum to find a home in the front room or in the crepuscular haze on a sandy beach. Stunning.

          Portico Quartet

          Untitled (AITAOA #2)

            Portico Quartet has always been an impossible band to pin down. Sending out echoes of jazz, electronica, ambient music and minimalism, the group have created their own singular sound.And while their new music mixes dense layers and textures with electronic and acoustic instruments the sound remains uniquely, recognisably their own.

            In 2017 they released their fourth studio album in a decade, Art in the Age of Automation, on Gondwana Records. Released to a chorus of acclaim, the album marked a triumphant return for the Quartet after a brief hiatus as the three-piece, Portico, and marked a welcome return to the stage for the foursome with sold-out shows across Europe including the Roundhouse, London earlier this year.

            Untitled (AITAOA #2) was largely recorded at the same sessions as Art in the Age of Automation at Fish Factory Studios in London and Portico Quartet's own studio in East London. Like it's predecessor, the album was mixed at Voxton in Berlin. It is intended as a companion piece to last year's AITAOA. But works equally as well as a stand-alone album and explores similar areas of enigmatic, widescreen minimalism alongside the more hard-hitting sounds that have become a notable part of their live shows. There is no lessening of quality here, album opener, Double Space, Index, View From A Satellite and Berlin were all originally slated for AITAOA, before being held back as the band's vision of that album came into sharper focus. The insistent groove of Unrest and cinematic beauty of Celestial Wife were enhanced with further recording sessions till the band felt they were complete. The artwork is by Duncan Bellamy for Veil Projects.


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