To Where The Wild Things Are is the second album from Death and Vanilla. The Swedish trio continue where The White Stripes left off, applying a rigorous sonic aesthetic with the kind of intensity that only youth can produce.
All the tracks were recorded gathered around a vintage mic found they claim in a flea market, and fashioned from the authentically antique sounds produced from a Moog synthesizer, Mellotron, vibraphone, organ, some sampled vintage vinyl and a harpsichord, into which an ethereal female vocal is dissolved. Think the Velvets recorded for 4AD in Berlin circa’77.
The result is a grungey velvety dreamy synth pop that sounds oh so 60s and yet unmistakably now. Broadcast is the usual reference point, but you could just as easily point to Massey Star via Nancy Sinatra. Just how vintage are they? They’ve even made one of those beguilingly esoteric and enigmatic videos that only the really serious and seriously indie bands used to make. It’s for the single and stand out track on the album, California Owls. It shimmers and you can see it here.
Kamasi Washington has spent as much time on the hip hop circuit as he has the jazz, supporting the likes of Snoop, Lauryn Hill, Flying Lotus and most famously, as one of the core musicians on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly.
But you’re just as likely to have seen him in the company of Herbie Hancock, Kenny Burrell and Wayne Shorter and his heart is clearly in the world of jazz.
So he took his core band into the studio and together they laid down some 45 tracks. Eventually, they whittled these down to a paltry 17, and the resulting triple album, The Epic comes in at a brisk 3 hours.
You can’t really get away with that in pop or rock, but in jazz the extended timeframe gives that very particular form of expression the space it needs to breathe. Or at least it does when you’re as effortlessly versatile and a musically educated as Washington is.
It’s released on Flylo’s Brainfeeder records, which is very much as it should be as the former is the nephew of Alice Coltrane, and more than anyone else it’s the light of John Coltrane that the album most impressively basks in.
Not that this is any way a conventional throwback to sounds of the past. Rather it’s a celebration of classical jazz in its many 21st century forms. There’s fusion obviously, but also lounge, some strings, the occasional female vocal, and no end of outrageously complex syncopation. Very much in other words the same musical landscape as Flylo, whose last two albums I reviewed here and here. Only instead of a single album in the vein of hip hop, it’s a treble album of classical jazz. And not a singe second of it is wasted.
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