Two new albums to set you fare for summer.

To Where The Wild Things Are.

To Where The Wild Things Are.

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.

Death and Vanilla

Death and Vanilla

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, The Epic.

Kamasi Wash­ing­ton, The Epic.

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.

Alice Coltrane

Alice Coltrane

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.

Flying Lotus' You're dead!

Fly­ing Lotus’ You’re dead!

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.

The boys from Pitch­fork gave is a 8.6 here. And you can get a taster here.

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Flying Lotus’ inventive new album “Until The Quiet Comes”.

Until The Qui­et Comes is the 4th album from Fly­ing Lotus and con­tin­ues his fear­less for­ay into the very out­er realm of approach­able pop. It’s still in oth­er words a con­ven­tion­al album, but you’re unlike­ly to have heard music that sounds any­thing quite like it.

Or rather, it sounds like stuff you’d already be famil­iar with, but all the dif­fer­ent parts have been mold­ed and fash­ioned in a star­tling­ly orig­i­nal manner.

Steven Elli­son, to give him his full name, is a devo­tee of the pio­neer pro­duc­er J Dil­la. And, as the grand nephew of Alice Coltrane, her­self an accom­plished free jazz musi­cian, as well as being the wife of the leg­endary sax­o­phon­ist John Coltrane, his take on con­tem­po­rary music was always going to be both eclec­ti­cal­ly mul­ti-cul­tur­al and aggres­sive­ly experimental.

But it was only real­ly with his third album, Cos­mo­gram­ma that the world began to sit up and take notice. Just­ly laud­ed across the board, the boys from Pitch­fork gave it an august 8.8 here. So this is his poten­tial­ly dif­fi­cult follow-up.

Until The Qui­et Comes occu­pies the same sort of ter­rain that Radio­head mapped out in their more rest­less moments on Kid A and Amne­si­ac, and that were then fur­ther explored on Thom Yorke’s solo album, The Era­sure.

Unsur­pris­ing­ly, Yorke sur­faces again here as a guest vocal­ist, just as he had on Cos­mo­gram­ma, and is here joined by Erykah Badu. But nei­ther are allowed – or seek – to over­whelm, and are just one more fea­ture in an unchar­tered and sur­pris­ing vista. 

It is qui­eter than Cos­ma­gram­ma, as the boys from Pitch­fork note in their excel­lent review of it, here, where they gave it a mea­sured 8.5. It’s still a land­scape pock-marked by dig­i­tal blips, where con­ven­tion­al melodies are for­ev­er being lost in rhyth­mic detours. But some­how, those detours are less nervy and more mea­sured than they were on the pre­vi­ous album.

What it is more than any­thing else is a head­phones album. It’s not the kind of thing you’re going to be return­ing to every day. But when you do and the mood takes, you’ll be very glad that you did.

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