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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