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Ishmael Ensemble

Versions Of Light

    Following a breakthrough year that saw the release of their second album “Visions Of Light” bring critical acclaim to the Bristol group led by producer & saxophonist Pete Cunningham - Ishmael Ensemble return with “Versions Of Light” - a collection of reworks, remixes and reimagined versions by an exciting line-up of friends and family from the wider Ishmael Ensemble contingent.

    The aim of the project in Cunningham’s words “was to avoid just putting together another predictable club-centric remix package with a few extra kick drums added here and there, instead I’ve approached this record as an opportunity to further lean into the collaborative nature of Ishmael Ensemble, whether that’s asking friends to rework tracks or inviting new vocalists to add their story to the melting pot”

    These include Rider Shafique's politically charged take on Empty Hands Grove’s twisted bashment version of Wax Werk. There are also clubby moments from London based House aficionado Medlar, who turns Soma Centre into a heady peak time banger, and Indian producer Sandune’s post-dubstep twist on the title track.

    As well as appearances from bandmates Holysseus Fly, Rindill & takx - the record also features many of the original collaborators from “Visions Of Light” given free reign to re-contextualize their contributions including an otherworldly version of Looking Glass by the inimitable STANLÆY, an ethereal performance of The Gift by Tiny Chapter and a hazy lofi home recording of Morning Chorus by Cunningham and long term collaborator & vocalist Chris Hillier. 

    TRACK LISTING

    1. "Intro" (Rindill Version)
    2. "Visions Of Light" (Sandunes Version)
    3. "Wax Werk" (Grove Version)
    4. "Soma Centre" (Medlar Version)
    5. "Empty Hands" (Rider Shafique Version)
    6. "Feather" (Takx Version)
    7. "Looking Glass" (Stanley Version)
    8. "Morning Chorus" (Home Version)
    9. "The Gift" (Tiny Chapter Version)
    10. "January" (Holysseus Fly Version)

    Dubkasm Meets Ishmael Ensemble & Rider Shafique

    In A Dub Style

      Ishmael Ensemble return with another mighty south-west link up this time handing the controls to dub & roots music legends Dubkasm.

      As soon as Ishmael Ensemble finished their collaborative ‘New Era’ EP with Rider Shafique, bandleader Pete Cunningham knew he wanted to have it remixed in the classic dub-style; and who better to enlist than Bristol’s finest, DJ Stryda & Digistep aka Dubkasm.

      Following in the well worn footsteps of dub legends such as King Tubby, Mad Professor & Scientist - Dubkasm rework and authentically dub the original recordings and warp them into a sound-system ready collection of heavy hitting, deep sonic explorations complimented perfectly by Rider’s iconic voice and potent, thought provoking lyricism.


      TRACK LISTING

      1. New Era (Vocal Mix)
      2. New Era (Dub Mix)
      3. Reasons (Vocal Mix)
      4. Reasons (Dub Mix)

      Ishmael Ensemble

      New Era

        Fresh from their celebrated UK tour, featuring a stand-out performance at London Jazz Festival, Ishmael Ensemble return with ‘Reasons’ the lead single from their forthcoming EP ‘New Era’, a collaborative project with lyricist and MC Rider Shafique.

        Ishmael Ensemble’s Pete Cunningham says: “I first came across Rider Shafique about 6 years ago after I heard his piece “I-Dentity” via Bristol’s Young Echo collective & was immediately struck by his powerful way with words. A true master of his craft.This record was an opportunity to lean into the more bass-heavy side of my music taste. I’ve always been a massive fan of dub in all its forms & producers like King Tubby, Adrian Sherwood & Pinch have been a constant source of inspiration over the years. This sound palette coupled with a voice like Rider’s is something I’ve always wanted to make so I’m super happy with what we’ve produced here.


        TRACK LISTING

        A1. Intro (name Tbc)
        A2. Polestar
        A3. New Era
        B1. Salm
        B2. Reasons

        Ishmael Ensemble

        A State Of Flow

          Following a banner year for Pete Cunningham - best known as dextrous saxophonist Ishmael and leader of the namesake Ishmael Ensemble - 2019 now brings debut album ‘A State of Flow.’ This new long player builds on Cunningham’s work as proud protector of Bristolian heritage, sketching loving sonic pictures of the South West in his Bristol-inspired ‘Severn Songs’ series, whilst also incubating local visual and musical talent, within the Ensemble.

          ‘A State Of Flow’ touches on various styles of jazz, stirring ambient invocations, club-ready percussive workouts, spiralling grooves & hazy psychedelic electronica. This would be a confusing melange, but for Cunningham’s excursions as a genre-agnostic DJ – something evident in the real house shuffle of ‘Lapwing’ – which evokes walking into a smoky afterhours haunt and finding a session in full, forward motion or the organic garage beats of ‘Full Circle’ and classic trip hop style ‘Waterfall’ fuelled by Holysseus Fly’s honey toned and evocative vocals.

          This album, borne of strong vision and stronger hometown pride, embellishes Ishmael Ensemble as one of the UK’s finest new groups. As shown across ‘A State of Flow’, the future of Bristol’s musical legacy is in more than capable hands.


          TRACK LISTING

          A1. The Chapel
          A2. Full Circle Feat. Holysseus Fly
          A3. Siren!
          A4. Lapwing
          A5. Yellow House Feat. Yama Warashi
          B1. The River
          B2. First Light
          B3. Waterfall Feat. Holysseus Fly
          B4. Surge

          Ishmael Ensemble

          A State Of Flow- 2022 Repress

            ‘A State Of Flow’ touches on various styles of jazz, stirring ambient invocations, club-ready percussive workouts, spiralling grooves, hazy psychedelic electronica and Japanese lyrics.

            Nodding to the city’s instantly-familiar hilltop location Dower House, ‘Yellow House’ explores geographic duality, with Japan-born, Bristol-based vocalist Yama Warashi singing native-language tales, of the magnetic and pastoral charm, of her adopted home.


            TRACK LISTING

            1. The Chapel
            2. Full Circle (feat. Holysseus Fly)
            3. Siren!
            4. Lapwing
            5. Yellow House (feat. Yama Warashi)
            6. The River (feat Yazz Ahmed)
            7. First Light
            8. Waterfall (feat. Holysseus Fly)
            9. Surge 

            Bristol experimental jazz collective Ishmael Ensemble reveal their expansive new album “Visions of Light”. 

            Helmed by producer and saxophonist Pete Cunningham, Ishmael Ensemble’s richly inventive 2019 debut “A State Of Flow” marked them out as an explosive new force in UK jazz, imbuing lush cinematic compositions with left-field dub and electronic sensibilities redolent of Bristol’s vital musical landscape. Named The Guardian’s ‘Contemporary Album Of The Month’ and Mojo’s ‘Jazz Album of The Month’, it saw the group perform Maida Vale sessions for both Gilles Peterson and Tom Ravenscroft, as well as feature on compilations for Brownswood Recordings and Soul Jazz Records.

            Ishmael Ensemble has since become a platform for Cunningham to subvert the conventional notions of producer/artist relationships, unsettling genre tags, and transcending the familiar landscape of UK jazz itself. Across the album’s 10 tracks, Cunningham practices a holistic approach with a long list of collaborators. Together, they explore vast new sonic terrain with an honesty, intimacy and emotional heft impossible for a conventional band.

            “Visions Of Light” tells the story of Ishmael Ensemble’s development across its two sides. The first draws from the energy Cunningham and his bandmates discovered whilst extensively touring “A State Of Flow”. The album opens with a cascade of harp glissandos and the gorgeous “Feather” – Holysseus Fly’s lush vocal lulling the listener into a false sense of security, before her voice is warped beyond recognition in the high-octane, cacophonous “Wax Werk”. The tracks that follow take a darker, heavier turn. The driving, uninhibited performances of Stephen Mullins (guitar) and Rory O’Gorman (drums), along with Jake Spurgeon’s agile synth work, lay the foundation for Cunningham to deliver his most confident and direct saxophone performances to date.

            Side B sees Cunningham settle into his role as producer and collaborator, resetting the scene with the vivid and playful “Looking Glass”, inviting vocalist, harpist and strings arranger STANLAEY to take centre stage. The landscape shifts again for the movingly nostalgic “Morning Chorus”, whilst “The Gift” sees the angelic vocals of Tiny Chapter (Waldo’s Gift) initiate a dizzying crescendo of swirling synthesisers and string arrangements. When “Visions Of Light” resolves with the gorgeous slow-burner “January”, it is with an unmistakable hopefulness – something that, in these times of disquietude, is urgently felt.


            TRACK LISTING

            Side A
            1. Intro
            2. Feather
            3. Wax Werk
            4. Soma Centre
            5. Empty Hands

            Side B
            1. Looking Glass
            2. Morning Chorus
            3. Visions Of Light
            4. The Gift
            5. January


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