February stuff

March 1, 2010

Been a bit of a retro and surprisingly folky month here, for no apparent reason….

BARRY WHITE – Unlimited – 4cd and dvd with book – I’d pondered whether or not to buy this expensive set – I mean, isn’t having one Barry box enough (yes, I admit I already have an earlier multi-disc comp)? But from the moment you put the first disc on, hear the crispness of the drumming and the depth of the echo on Barry’s voice, you suspect you’re in for something a bit different with this set of alternative mixes and versions. And you are – don’t expect radical reinterpretations (BW goes Fennesz), but do expect slight variants that are every bit as engaging as the more widely known versions. At least a couple superb tracks I’d not heard before on each disc, and some quality 12″ versions (oh er missus). Top stuff. Recommended to any BW fan, you shouldn’t be disappointed. Yes, there are more than a few clunky lyrics, but these are more often than not saved by their underpinning grooves. Yet to delve into the DVD…  And there’s a good case for opting for mp3 purchase here – the entire audio is a fraction of the price of the book/cd/dvd set.

SCORN – Evanescence & Ellipsis – double reissue from last year. Glutinous electronic dub from the mid 90s.

MACHINEFABRIEK – De Jonge Jaren – free download from the Machinefabriek website of stuff from 2001/2004. Interesting set of influences on display.

ALI FARKA TOURE & TOUMANI DIABATE – Ali & Toumani – absolutely gorgeous, and heartbreaking to think that this was Farka Toure’s last recording, the final track ending with him saying ‘eh, voila’, as though the perfect musical statement has just been made. And it near enough has been. Wonderful, and one that I already know will be receiving repeated listenings over the years.

IAN KING – Panic Grass & Fever Few –  a folk singer/songwriter hooking up with the OnU sound team. Little Axe proved beyond doubt that the blues can be reinvigorated by dub stylings – but hedrumhodrum English folk songs? For these ears it’s (surprisingly) a success on an instrumental level – but as ever with folk music, I’ve no real interest in the lyrical content.

TUNNG – …And Then We Saw Land – bought primarily out of curiousity for the DVD of their collaborative live show with Tinariwen. So this is contemporary folk music with electronic influences? Actually quite appealing, with the opening track for some strange reason reminding me of a track from Taj Mahal’s ‘Music Fuh Ya’ set. That said, I won’t be rushing out to buy any Devendra Banhart records just yet.

But what I did get is….

JOANNA NEWSOM – Have One On Me – triple cd set. Reviews have uniformly praised the set – not had a chance to listen to it yet though.

KALAHARI SURFERS – One Party State – saw them at the weekend as part of the African Soul Rebels tour at the Usher Hall. As mentioned in a previous blog entry, any attempted fusion between African and electronic musics gets my attention. Live, the occasionally cringeworthy English language lyrics and what I took to be sub-Dire Straits guitar stylings gracing some pieces slowly eroded my initial keen interest – but the album, which I had just enough residual goodwill to buy in the foyer afterwards, seems a more engaging beast altogether. Cautious thumbs up.

OUMOU SANGARE – Seya – bought on the strength of their great Usher Hall show, not listened to yet.

VARIOUS – Ghana Special: Modern Highlife, Afro-Sounds & Ghanaian Blues 1968-81 – also bought at the Usher Hall show, currently unheard.