TRUST-THE-DOC: MUSICAL MUSINGS
by Neil March (Edition 35, 16th October 2019)
Welcome to Edition 36 of Trust The Doc. Please visit and ‘like’ the Trust The Doc Facebook page – https://facebook.com/TrustTheDoc – and if you don’t already do so, please follow both @Hornetmuziq & @DemeraraRecords on Twitter. I will of course follow you back.
So after another bumper issue last time out I have tried to resist reviewing every new track in sight! But, with an increasing number of cool pop choons coming my way lately, I have decided it is time to reorganise the sections and sub-sections in this and future issues. Regular readers may, in this respect, be in for a shock because Alt Rock & Indie, usually the most packed sub-section, only has two tracks in this edition whereas out and out Pop, not usually a prominent feature, rules the roost in Edition 36 with no less than six artists being reviewed. Have no fear though. I am not suddenly abandoning BBC 6 Music for Radio One or trading in my Bat For Lashes & Kamasi Washington albums in for new ones by Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber! In any case the ‘Pop’ tracks in this issue are hardly in that latter area of music!
So Pop Noodles becomes a section entirely about contemporary pop tracks and the sub-sections that used to be part of Pop Scene (Alt Rock & Indie; Urban Flavas; Club Culture; Singer-Songwriters; Epic & Cinematic; Electronic & Ambient) all become individual sections. No more sub-sections! I hope you like the new format. So in Edition 36 are:
∗ MUSIC MAKERS FESTIVAL: Two days of cool new music in SW London
∗ LINEAR OBSESSIONAL: Four more fascinating acts in the Arts Cafe
∗ ROB LEWIS: Another beautifully inventive piece by UK composer
∗ BAND WITH NO IMAGE: They may have no image but they have style
∗ BLICK BASSY: Reminder of how good his album actually is!
∗ I SEE RIVERS: Pembroke’s Scandinavian wonders with a new choon
∗ ROBERT LANE: A Welsh inventor is subject of a cool tribute track
∗ FLOCKS: Emo-infused Indie Folk passion from Peterborough
∗ ROBBIE CAVANAGH: Country & Northern but not the Fall version!
∗ TRUST THE DOC CLASSIC: Virginia Astley’s pioneering art pop vision
∗ FOXGLUVV: Epic new track from Fresh on the Net favourite
∗ NATTY PAYNTER: Cardiff songwriter turning darkness into light
∗ NATALIE SHAY: Talented teenager with seriously catchy choon
∗ MEGZZ: Sassy stylish sensual soulful and other adjectives
∗ REMI MILES: Stylish danceable Pop from Londoner
∗ M.T. HADLEY: Sweet melancholy but epic pop from London
∗ NATURE TV: Melancholy Alt Pop from Brighton
∗ TOKYO TEA ROOM: Canterbury’s Dream Pop wonders return
∗ GR3YWXLF: Mixing up the rapping and groove in the Capital
∗ NEGRO DONEY: Urban Dance & Cool Message from S. Africa
∗ CHRISANE HINDRANCE: Dreamy futuristic House choons
∗ QUEPASA: Making Happy with some upbeat tuneful EDM
∗ PIMLICAN: Pimlico producer rocking the dancefloor
∗ MARIA CHIARA ARGIRò: Stunning track from London artist
∗ VEILA: Dreamy cinematic pop choon from Russian artist
∗ BLOOM DE WILDE: Another cracking single from Bloem & co
∗ DAVE DARK & THE SHARKS: Newport’s finest explores Stöckhausen
Music Makers Festival (http://www.musicmakersfestival.com/) took place at the legendary Half Moon, Putney on 5th and 6th October. I covered day one and my lifelong close friend and TTD regular PaulFCook covered day two in a review published by Fresh on the Net. Here is the link – https://freshonthenet.co.uk/2019/10/music-makers-festival-2019/
LINEAR OBSESSIONAL @ THE ARTS CAFE. SUNDAY 13th OCTOBER
Regular readers will know that the leftfield and experimental music event Linear Obsessional (https://www.linearobsessional.org/) is brought to us at the lovely Arts Cafe (http://www.lewishamartscafe.uk/) in Manor Park, Hither Green in Lewisham by the label boss and recording artist Richard Sanderson (https://soundcloud.com/bagrec1).
Sadly the immediate future of this fantastic monthly event is, we learn, up in the air while negotiations take place over the future of the cafe franchise. It would be a great shame if the current proprietors felt unable to accept continuing with the contract as their arts background, love of music and lovely personalities contribute so much to its success. Speaking to them at some length about the matter before today’s gig, it does sound like there is a reasonable chance that they will stay but it will need the park’s representatives to show some pragmatism. Fingers crossed for now then but either way Linear Obsessional may need a temporary home in the meantime.
Viv Corringham (http://vivcorringham.org/) and Iris Garrelfs (http://irisgarrelfs.com/) are a duo unlike any I have heard [albeit I have seen and written about Viv previously of course). Their set today is sound art with what I presume is a fair deal of improv. Either that or they manage to make a rehearsed act sound spontaneous. I imagine it to be a bit of both.
The duo kick off sitting within the audience creating a series of sounds with a combination of human voice and electronic effects. They then walk slowly into the main performance area brandishing a handheld device whilst whipping up a sound storm of increasing intensity before dropping down to a whisper; gradually beginning another cycle of human and electronic sound. Squeals, bleeps and resonant percussive sounds continue to emerge travelling through a range of moods and activity levels. They are clearly well versed in utilising the practically limitless scope of the human voice in all its tones, volumes, mouth shapes etc. in unison with suitable digital accessories. The ensuing noisescapes are quite mind-boggling.
Finally they make their way towards the open door to the park while a whirlwind of sound continues to grow. It proves to be a cool climax to a fascinating and original set; one that I wish was a little longer but only because it is so refreshingly entertaining and individual.
Eugene Coyne (https://www.eugenecoyne.co.uk/) plays electric acoustic guitar through a fair-size dollop of chorus and sings in a broadly folk style with elements of rock and psychedelia. The set is a medley of moods and themes. The opener postulates ‘violent revolution’ as the only viable remaining option for societal change. Musicwise he has a particular preference for chords that retain a static root while moving triadically up and down the scale (i.e. A minor 7, B/A, B flat/A for the musos reading this!), creating a mixture of inverted and semi-dissonant harmony that suits his style of playing.
His vocal approach is semi-conversational and a sardonic humour is apparent. At times his singing is upper register and gentle, almost in early Peter Gabriel or Richard Thompson territory; perhaps even a slightly vexed Paddy McAloon! There is an aura of early seventies Canterbury scene but it as if he is returning much later to darker remnants of that scene; to a time when the optimism has drained out of its former idealism. By contrast the harder, spoken word element is like venomous poetry aimed squarely at the rich and complacent. He certainly achieves an interesting balance between the inventive singer-songwriter and the angry anti-hero poet.
Neil Luck (http://www.neilluck.com/about/about.html) is a composer and he kicks off explaining the role of recurring dreams in his music whilst illustrating this with sliding guitar harmonics and live tunings plus the odd blow on a harmonica. He performs with a wooden acoustic guitar. Vocally he switches between the spoken and sung. An abundance of wobbly chords slurring up and down in small intervals accompany the opening stretch. There is a dry humour to his lyrics too such as when he reveals that the special present the husband in the song chooses to buy for his wife is a pencil. Both the initial revelation and the ensuing defence of this decision draw some laughter from the audience.
His style is quiet and minimalistic (in terms of texture that is, not genre). Reference points are difficult to identify but the overall approach is conversational and story telling, sometimes lucid, sometimes obscure. But of course. These are dreams we are dealing with and, in dreams, things only make sense some of the time! In some passages the guitar becomes lightly jazzy albeit with a slightly chaotic air! Whimsical, sometimes funny, sometimes sensitive, Neil Luck has created his own sub-genre that takes us to a quiet but surreal place.
Yoko Miura (https://www.amiranirecords.com/artists/yokomiura), Charlie Collins (https://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/member.php?id=75744) & Derek Saw (http://amespace.uk/artists-post/derek-saw/) are a trio (Yoko on piano, Derek on trumpet and Charlie on drums & percussion). Charlie Collins, I have to mention, is the former saxophonist with legendary Sheffield Alternative band Clock DVA in which some readers may recall the mind-spinning sounds and ideas that poured from his instrument. (Watch the excellent documentary The Beat is the Law if you want to see what I am trying to describe!). Clearly he has lost none of his passion for experimenting and creativity. The entire trio are from far out of normal Manor Park geographical territory, Charlie and Derek having travelled from Sheffield and Yoko flying in from Tokyo, Japan ‘via the 321 bus from Lewisham Station’ as Richard wryly notes!
Yoko starts off with some light-textured piano in the higher register while Charlie provides quiet crackling percussion in the background. The piano begins to throw out a few exquisite dissonances as the parts develop. This becomes an invitation for Derek to add a trumpet figure that responds to the right hand of the piano while the percussion remains ambient and understated. As this soundscape fills out and becomes more translucent, so the instrumental play increases gradually in both volume and intensity.
The music passes through a series of moods and sections, much of it purely improv, perhaps with some preset principles at play. The musicianship of the trio is impressive and they make every change of tempo, texture and emphasis sound effortless without losing the intensity of their playing. Even when they take it down to more static transparency, it is compelling and creative. Yoko, in particular, achieves a diversity of harmonic language that is matched by her clever use of imperfectly symmetric patterns, altered repetitions and clever pedal work. Her touch is sublime too. Derek’s rapid-fire chromaticism is breathtaking at times and Charlie is constantly inventive with the range of timbres he is able to conjure up, including bowed percussion.
As the piece enters its middle stage, they whip up a tempest of intertwining patterns before again bringing the whole thing back down, leaving space for Charlie to stretch out on the drums while the other two fire off a variety of figures and features either side of him. Light and shade interplay over and over. There is a beautifully ethereal quality to the language as if Olivier Messiaen and Yvette Loriod have been persuaded to jam with George Gershwin, Miles Davis and Don Alias! It ends as it began, Yoko quietly playing the performance out while Charlie adds ambient percussion behind her. A truly magical performance.
It was great to have the opportunity, thanks to my good friend and fellow musician Karl Blake, to chat with Charlie afterwards too and to even broach the topic of him and Derek (though sadly probably not Yoko too given the distance) coming and playing a Vanishing Point gig for me at the beautiful Ivy House.
CONTEMPORARY CLASSICAL & LEFTFIELD
I have written previously about British composer and cellist Rob Lewis (https://soundcloud.com/robcello) and another piece in his series inspired by parts of the human body came into Fresh on the Net and stormed into our Fresh Faves, once again proving our discerning readers don’t only vote for pop and rock related genres. Lungs makes smart, imaginative use of strings and woodwinds in patiently building textures to capture the essence of the exhaling, inhaling lungs at work while managing to retain an agreeable aura of tranquility within this potentially unsettling theme.
Like all his work it is thoughtful, beautifully scored and achieves a unique and captivating soundscape. The harmonic language is not especially adventurous, overlapping sustained notes resulting in a number of major seven and six chords and a general switching between tonic and dominant. But Rob’s music is about beauty and the vivid representation of subject matter. So the experimental element is in that process rather than in challenging audiences with atonal and arhythmic features or sound art and electronics. You can find the recording of Lungs on his website – https://roblewiscomposer.com/
Band With No Image (https://soundcloud.com/bandwithnoimage) may be imageless but they have a plethora of style. From the resonant female vocal to the busy bassline, cool stabby chords, open cymbal drum shuffle and general musicianship, their track Downtown Escape is otherworldly and beautifully unsettling like a soundtrack piece of a band playing in some hidden away club amid a dystopian post-industrial sprawl. The unusual thing about the track is that, while the style is unquestionably Jazz, the approach to production and the sparse arrangement are much more like a Dub track. Jazz Dub perhaps.
Shadow in the night is funkier and more jagged. The vocals remind me a little of Angela Jaeger (Drowning Craze/Pigbag) with a hint of Eddi Reader too. The band’s playing is highly accomplished but also inventive, at times polyrhythmic and perfectly economical. Really good stuff.
WORLD IN UNION
Okay so Blick Bassy (https://blickbassy.com) may seem a little big and established for a blog focused on new and emerging artists but I do allow myself some poetic license. Last edition I covered Corey Mwamba and this time is is again thanks to the wonderful Cerys Matthews show on BBC Radio 6 Music that I heard the track Ngui Yi from his 2019 album 1958. The album came out in March and is a contender for album of the year (albeit up against some strong rivals – Little Simz, Bat For Lashes etc.). The Cameroonian singer-songwriter delivers his songs in his beautiful, expressive voice against a refreshingly organic backdrop and breathtaking musicianship. Having been a languages failure in school I am unable to translate his lyrics without digital tools but he writes in a biting but measured way about corruption, inequality and social issues in Africa with an eye on the wider world and its contribution to a bad situation through its own cynicism. And he does so without losing the uplifting lilt of his gorgeous songs.
Pembrokeshire-based (Tenby to be precise) Norwegian trio I See Rivers (https://soundcloud.com/i-see-rivers) are back with new material following their recent superb performance on ITV’s Sunday Brunch show. Steady shares its title with my favourite track by Watford trio Staves and it is actually similarly soft, sensitive and characterized by gorgeous vocal harmonies and skillfully played guitar picking and chordplay. It is mystical, dynamic and quite beautiful.
Collide is more traditionally folky in vocal style although the harmony vocals are unusual and otherworldly. Voices dominate this track, the instrumental track sparse and ambient.
Robert Lane (https://soundcloud.com/robert-lanemusic) contacted me earlier this month about a song he has written and recorded paying tribute to legendary Welsh inventor Bill Frost (also from Pembrokeshire so a theme emerging here!), one of the original pioneers of the flying machine at the end of the nineteenth century.
The song tells the unfortunate tale of Frost’s failed attempt to launch his invention which duly crashed into a tree after which he was unable to afford to retain the patent for his work. This is delivered in Robert’s powerful edgy voice and with a big guitar sound in accompaniment. It is a thoughtful and original track well worth checking out.
Flocks (https://soundcloud.com/flocksmusicuk) are not from or, as far as I am aware, connected to Pembrokeshire but from the other side of the UK map in Peterborough. Their song Where it hurts is a passionate piece of poppy Indie-Folk with bright chords that sound like they may be played on a mix of guitar and banjo (apologies if I have got that wrong!). The vocals are strong, in tenor range and melodic while the ‘Da Da Da’ backing vocals respond throughout. The track is described on their Soundcloud page as Folk-EMO which is both interesting and accurate in summarising their sound.
Earlier I mentioned that I covered day one of the excellent Music Makers Festival for Fresh on the Net and one of the highlights of that thoroughly enjoyable day was a live set by Manchester’s Robbie Cavanagh (https://www.robbiecavanagh.co.uk/).
Robbie Cavanagh may be from the North of England but this tall hat-toting guitar-playing singer-songwriter has his heart firmly ensconsed in Nashville with elements also of West Coast Country Rock and a subtle British Pop element lurking in the background too. He performs live with a Pedal Steel guitarist called CJ and between them they cook up the most delightful sounds that complement Robbie’s lovingly crafted songs.
My review makes various comparisons (David Crosby, Glenn Frey etc.) but he has a lovely clear and rangy voice and a real talent for melancholy country-infused songs and story-telling lyrics. And with a pedal steel player of such talent and accomplishment as his partner in crime, he can’t go wrong. Highly recommended.
TRUST THE DOC CLASSIC: VIRGINIA ASTLEY
It is difficult for me to accurately assess whether or not Virginia Astley (http://www.virginiaastley.com/) was [or is] an under-rated talent or an artist who never achieved the level of success her inventive, original music merited. She is highly respected and has had longevity and stardom would never have suited her anyway. Her music was always a more serious concern, a vision built upon the then almost revolutionary idea of classical, pop and synth-driven musical elements comfortably coexisting not in an overblown symphonic rock style but in the creation of delicate dreamy futuristic Pop with ambient tendencies. You will see her mentioned as a reference point in my review of Maria Chiara Argirò which prompted me to make her this edition’s TTD classic.
I first heard Virginia Astley’s music when I was at a Teardrop Explodes gig in Aylesbury in 1982. The support band, about whom I knew nothing, was The Ravishing Beauties. Such a name, clearly suggesting irony, led me to expect a bunch of ugly male rockers! So it was something of a surprise to discover a trio of young women (yes the name was clearly meant sarcastically in terms of young female musicians being judged on their looks) who, between them, boasted an array of instrumental talents.
What I found both fascinating and reassuring was that not only were they able to incorporate flute and oboe into a synth-dominated futuristic Ambient Pop but also that they had a giant reel to reel tape recorder playing programmed beats and synth bass, still a relatively new sight in live music at that time. A year later I saw Liverpudlian duo Black (later Colin Vearncombe’s solo project) supporting Wah! at the University of London Union and they had a similar accessory.
For reasons I will not go into here, The Ravishing Beauties never recorded any released music even though their members played on Astley’s solo work. They did record a session for the John Peel Show though which I keep meaning to seek out. All three of them popped up periodically as session players with other accomplished artists including Astley herself who I recall playing keyboards with Prefab Sprout at one point. She also went on to make a series of albums in which she honed her unique combination of classical, ambient, electronic and pop sensibilities supporting her clear choirgirl-ish voice and striking melodies. I only later discovered she had grown up a few miles down the road from me in Garston, Hertfordshire.
But the track I have chosen to be my TTD classic in this edition is taken from her first 10″ EP on Why-Fi Records (later the label of Jesus & Mary Chain). The EP, which I bought immediately after seeing the Ravishing Beauties play Friars Aylesbury, was entitled A Bao A Qu and had been released the previous year (1981). It has some beautiful tracks written by Astley herself including the stunning and evocative Arctic Death, inspired by a Yeats poem. But it is her own reworking of a song by the Austrian composer Gustav Mahler that provided me with so many hours of solace in my latter teenage years and has lost none of its stirring emotional power and wonderment all these years later.
We will meet them again is a song about the death of children, a tragedy that Mahler and his young wife Alma suffered, taken from Mahler’s song cycle Songs on the death of children which she lovingly rearranges with hypnotic 6/8 time synth bass pattern, keyboard harmony and her fragile, clear voice so haunting and heart-wrenching. The track builds from transparent to translucent textures, eventually climaxing with a full choir singing the main theme which is quite overwhelming.
In addition to being a stunning and entirely unique reworking of a late romantic composition as a dreamy sensitive piece of futuristic pop, it is also [retrospectively realised to be] a ground-breaking work that predicts the twenty-first century culture of crossover between these musical states that is now very much the domain of artists as diverse as Four-Tet, Floating Points, Julia Holter, Chlöe March and latterly members of Radiohead (Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood). There was no ‘video’ made at the time but you can hear the track on YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkiCXN7f6hU
London artist Foxgluvv (https://soundcloud.com/foxgluvv) is no stranger to the Fresh on the Net audience and this month saw her once again storm into our Fresh Faves with another buoyant, upbeat slice of cool Pop entitled Rumour. Her distinct voice is straight in before we even hear the first synth chords and ensuing crisp beat. It is a simple format that places her vocals squarely at centre stage. The tune is catchy and the lyrics are typically tongue-in-cheek. Her backing vocals are wonderful and provide a delicious icing on a very tasty pop cake. A perfect radio track, I hope it gets some well-deserved airplay.
Natty Paynter (https://soundcloud.com/nattypaynter) is from Cardiff and her track Waste of time offers a snappy beat playing below picking guitar and a distinct vocal adorned with sweet harmony and sustained keyboard chords. One of my fellow FOTN moderators commented on its imperfections (albeit in a positive way) but I cannot hear anything wrong here! Perhaps he thought the beat needed toughening up. Who knows? What I hear is inventive pop that has shades of Anne-Marie and even a subtle element of Rita Ora about it. Very nice anyway.
Another artist who performed at Music Makers was 19 year old Natalie Shay (https://soundcloud.com/natalieshay). I didn’t get to see her live as she performed on Day Two which my close friend PaulFCook covered. But I did subsequently receive her track People like me in the Fresh on the Net/Mixtape in-box.
The song is uptempo, really catchy and has a little bit of an eighties influence. Natalie’s voice is strong, appealing and dexterous and the hook is immediate. The production and playing are impressive too. On the strength of this, we will be hearing a lot more of Natalie Shay in the near future. Given that she has the support of the fine folk at Talentbanq (https://talentbanq.com), she is already heading in the right direction.
Megzzz (https://soundcloud.com/officialmegzz) is a new name to me. She has a soulful, sensual voice and her song Love Tonight is dynamic pop with uptempo beat and reverberant synth chords that allow her sufficient space to show off the nuances in her agile voice. The verses are laid back enough for the upbeat chorus to have real impact. This is a radio track all day long. I hope it gets some exposure. She is a real talent.
It is difficult to know where to place Londoner Remi Miles (https://soundcloud.com/remimiles) genre-wise. He has a liking for uptempo dancefloor-orientated beatz that could place him in the Club Culture section but then the epic nature of his songs and arrangements could also put him in Epic & Cinematic. Either way he makes stylish resonant Soul-edged Pop like the excellent Butterfly behind the fire which is catchy, reverberant and spacious, tailor-made for his distinct and soulful tenor voice to stretch out. Adorned with attractive synth melodies, bendy figures and echoing drum programme and handclaps, this is a radio track for sure.
California Sky is more dance-orientated but still falls squarely under the sub-heading of epic pop. Get high, on the other hand, is pop with a hint of rock about it, especially in the guitar part. In his Soundcloud pic, Remi looks not unlike a young Ron Isley dressed as one of the Pasadenas. There is a similarly classic aspect to his singing and songs but the sounds and production are bang on contemporary. Expect to hear more from Remi Miles and soon.
Another completely new name to me is that of M.T. Hadley (https://soundcloud.com/mthadley). The young Londoner has a high tenor voice that is sweet, soulful and soars above this rueful but epic slice of yearning pop entitled Private Eye. Heartbreaking lyrics are delivered in a voice that has shades of Plan B in a mash-up with Bruno Mars. The accompanying soundscape is shiny uptempo pop with pristine production and plenty of thought behind the arrangement. It is a song that forces me to listen both to the words and the sadness behind them.
Also on his Soundcloud page is a triplet-time Soul-infused slow number called Rattle which again underlines his vocal talent, helped by lush harmonies and tasteful guitar and keyboard playing. There is also a track called Janet which is three years old and tells a tragic tale of the death of a woman he knew (possibly about his own mum but not sure on that question, all the sadder if it is). It isn’t clear what has been happening in the three years since that track but there are also tracks from four and six years ago. His Instagram account reveals gigs around North London. His Facebook page suggests he has management too.
What is clear is that M.T. Hadley is a real talent and I am excited to see what he does next.
ALT ROCK & INDIE
Yes folks, it’s another fine Alt Pop band from Brighton, the South Coast’s current capital of independent music (surely!). Nature TV (https://soundcloud.com/naturetv) are a young all-male quartet playing a shimmering style of driving melodic (and harmonic) indie music from a lineage that includes the likes of Teenage Fanclub, Bombay Bicycle Club and World Party. Their blurb describes them as ‘door to door heartbreak salesmen’ and She wants to make you cry certainly succeeds in delivering a rueful, yearning slice of guitar-dominated pop.
Also on their Soundcloud page is more material in similar territory. These guys are story-telling songsmiths with a sound and style that is energetic and yet slightly laid back in mood and aura. And they pen a decent melody too.
Tokyo Tea Room (https://soundcloud.com/tokyotearoom) are at it again. Hot on the heels of their dreamy Psych Pop belter Always Tomorrow they are back with another ethereal floating cloud of cool melodic Dream Pop. The Canterbury sextet have once again struck an appealing contrast between Beth’s soft fragile soprano voice and Daniel’s penchant for an imposing tuneful guitar figure while the rest of the band skip and swirl around them. The song unsurprisingly also caught the ears of our discerning Fresh on the Net audience who voted it to the top of our most recent Fresh Faves.
Reviewing the track for Fresh on the Net, my fellow moderator Derv McCloat called it ‘manna from Dream Pop heaven’ and she was spot on. Playing the track the following night on the Monday Night Ride Out on Exile FM, Ming Nagel quoted that same statement. I have talked with the band about them coming to play Vanishing Point in the new year. I need to make that happen.
Londoner Gr3ywxlf (https://soundcloud.com/greywulfx) captured my attention with his track ImmuneboostR. With synth that sounds like it may have been recorded backwards offset by a punchy beat, his rapping style has more than a passing hint of Kendrick Lamar and, like the American, his lyrics are intelligent and intriguing, put over in a stream of consciousness. ‘Everybody bleeds and when I bleed you bleed with me’ he raps. That could be a metaphor for love as much as it could be for violent confrontation. This is the sound of a young artist carving out his own sound and style. It will be interesting to see how that develops.
Negro Doney (https://soundcloud.com/negrodoney) is from South Africa and after a long intro, his song Don’t give up (Soulful Speech Mix) is in soulful House territory but then becomes a soulful Deep House instrumental accompanying a powerful and optimistic spoken word message that is, in essence, similar to the message in Project Blackbird’s Elevation which was a Fresh on the Net success last summer.
Also on his page is more dreamy sunny Deep House music in the form of instrumental track Far from me plus more spoken word encouragement with Deep House backing on Music is a universal language. This is a particularly intriguing use of spoken word. Negro Doney is a fascinating talent and one well worth checking out. Hopefully his uplifting sounds will be coming to a club near you soon.
Chrisane Hindrance (https://soundcloud.com/user-44222525) has precious little in the way of information or links on his Soundcloud page but his track Lost City is a dreamy futuristic slice of House (although the beat is verging on UK Garage) full of endearingly open chords, swirling melodies and contrasts of timbre and texture. There is also quite a variety of other interesting material on the page suggesting a versatile and prolific artist. A definite one to watch.
Quepasa (https://soundcloud.com/user-630026596) is a producer who is working with different collaborators to produce happy upbeat Dance tracks like the endearing So Shiny.He also professes to be a big Moog fan and user. This track has a summery disco vibe, catchy hooks, squelchy synth, four to the floor beat and claps. This is music to light up the dancefloor. Enjoy!
Pimlican (https://soundcloud.com/pimlican-97234536) has been a regular contributor of tracks to Fresh on the Net but without much success which is a shame because he is a talented writer and producer. A Pimlican through and through (his label is called Belgrave Road Records), he is working with singers such as the female vocalist on new track The Ones to create imaginative and infectious future club classics. The vocals are strong and passionate, the sub-bass sits nicely in the mix against a House beat, cool echoing backing vocals and minimal sounds but some lovely funk-infused synth chords here and there plus some repeated electro-synth riffs to boot. All good stuff.
It isn’t really accurate for me to review the musical work of Maria Chiara Argirò (https://soundcloud.com/mariachiaraargir) under Singer-Songwriters. She is a composer of music that transcends genre and traverses the borders between a number of styles and scenes. Her album Hidden Seas is a gem of creativity which I need to find time to get to know properly. In the meantime though, the track To The Sea landed in the BBC 6 Music Mixtape & Fresh on the Net in-box and after it narrowly missed out on our Listening Post, I picked it to be my #VanishingPoint track on the Monday Night Ride Out on Exile FM.
I commented for the show on its delicate fragile beauty. Maria’s voice is crystal clear, almost choir girl-like albeit with a great deal of expression and delivered in her distinct and appealing tone over a sensitive picked guitar part and quiet piano. The chords veer into modal territory and the melody is both strikingly unusual and engagingly melancholy. It reminds me in parts of artists like Virginia Astley and Joanna Newsom who traverse the outmoded boundaries between classical, jazz, pop and all their many cousins with a healthy but non-confrontational disregard for invisible demarcation lines.
Maria records for the label Cavalo Records in East London. She is a co-founder of the label and their mission is to support music that crosses genre. That being so, this track [and more so the album] achieves that aim with stunning effect. She has deployed a dazzling line-up of musicians to play on the album so there is serious investment of her resources and time here. She has had praise from Mojo and others including some of the London Jazz press which again demonstrates her versatility. She is an artist I hope we will hear a great deal more from in the times ahead.
EPIC & CINEMATIC
Veila (https://soundcloud.com/veiilamusic) is a Russian female-male electronic music duo whose epic and enigmatic track Re:Dive made a big impact on me when it came into Fresh on the Net earlier this month. The music places warm interweaving synths (electronic bass, floaty chords, individual melodic figures) and reverberant beat against a female vocal that is agreeably edgy and rangy. Melodies abound, call and response themes occur and the main theme returns throughout at different moments. I love the harshness with which she sings ‘I don’t belong with family’. I equally like her warblier moments and the chugging Moroder-ish synth that retains its momentum for all of the time other than where there are deliberate breakdowns. I could have reviewed this under Electronic & Ambient but it is certainly epic and at least a little cinematic too. Beautifully done.
TTD favourite Bloom De Wilde (https://soundcloud.com/bloomdewilde) is back with another characteristically unique single. Rock, Plant & Animal finds Bloem in fine voice; echoes of Kate Bush, Bjork and Julia Holter to name a few but no-one sounds quite like Bloem and her highly individual style extends to her melody-writing too.
The track is in waltz time and, after a quiet start in which her voice immediately dominates, the rest of the instruments kick including the trademark top-notch trumpet playing of partner Sam. It’s sophisticated, uplifting and lovingly arranged. Bloom De Wilde are headlining my Vanishing Point New Year’s Party on 2nd January, their second performance for me in six months. I can’t wait.
ELECTRONIC & AMBIENT
Dave Dark & The Sharks (https://soundcloud.com/dave-dark) is another regular on these pages and I was intrigued to see the Newport artist exploring integral serialist composer Stöckhausen’s infamous Helicopter Quartet (a televised event in which the four members of a String Quartet flew in four individual helicopters linked to one another and to the composer through headphones and digital sound reproduction). In truth it is not, in my opinion, anything like Stöckhausen’s best work and, if anything, raises questions about the entitled behaviour of a wealthy composer despite the leftist rhetoric around his music.
However I do like what Dave Dark has created, mixing snippets from the spoken elements of the performance and interviews into a dreamy electronic soundscape, sometimes floating in near perpetuity on sustained synth waves, other times knocking out a tough dance beat and repeated figures. It is an imaginative and otherworldly piece that works really well like everything Dave creates.
AND FINALLY …………….
Well that is another edition finished and another half a month of new music selections. Not as packed as Edition 35 but I hope you found plenty to interest you and that you have enjoyed both reading my reviews and checking out the accompanying links. Edition 37 will be published on 31st October. I hope you will log in and have a read. Until then ….. Neil xxxx