There’s a new album on the way from Ghana’s Alostmen, the band formed by Stevo Atambire when touring together with Wanlov The Kubolor (Fok’n Bois) in different outfits in 2017. Entitled Kologo, the album is set for release on January 29th through Strut Records. “I had toured with Stevo in my band Afro Gypsy in 2017,” Wanlov explained, “and we recorded the tracks for this album on the road in Uganda and North West Ghana in hotel rooms”. Alostmen’s music is inspired by the Frafra traditions of the kologo, a kind of stringed lute instrument, and they also bring to the mix other influences like rap and reggae.
Ahead of the album release, Alostmen have shared ‘Minus Me’, featuring highlife legend Gyedu-Blay Ambolley. “He is one of our all-time greats,” said Atambire. “I love to watch him play. His deep vocal was perfect for this track.” Listen to the single below.
Gazelle Twin, aka composer, musician and producer Elizabeth Bernholz, and electronic drone choir NYX are set to release their debut collaborative album, Deep England, on March 19th through NYX Collective Records. The 8-track album is an electronic-choral expansion of Gazelle Twin’s acclaimed 2018 album Pastoral, featuring reworked tracks from it as well as some NYX originals. Rooted in English pagan and sacred music, Deep England was originally created for live performance with Movement Director Imogen Knight, Sound Associate Peter Rice and Designer Chloe Lamford and was recorded right after their premiere at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in November 2019. Gazelle Twin and NYX shared their reflection on the album:
“Here lies our ancient future, Deep England: our hope and compassion in the chokehold of power and glory.
Hand in hand, here we cry our rage: summoning a lament into the ether, a divine androgynous force, a transcendental purge of the dizzying chaos of post-truth Britain.”
Ahead of the album release, they have shared ‘Fire Leap’, serving as the first magnificent and uncanny single from the record. Take a listen to it below and check out the album trailer straight after.
Last week saw the release of Ferd, the new album from Norwegian musician and composer Kjell Braaten, drawing from a wide range of worldwide influences and sounds, especially from North Africa, America and the East. Following the lead single ‘Østavind’, Braaten shared the opening track, ‘Kyst’, which means “coast” and aims to honour travellers, those who set about on adventure and those who never returned. Braaten comments:
“The Norwegian coastline is enormously long and used to be the most essential way to travel and shipping goods. It was incredibly important to the people living here. Many travelled far to explore, conquer, most for trade. Some came back with triumph, some with defeat. Some never returned. Here, you can hear the excitement of those getting ready for adventure. You can hear the longing of those left behind, and the music in the halls of those longing. You can listen to the lurs calling the returning ships, and the cries to honour those that did not return. Also, you can hear some sounds brought back from far, far away.”
Braaten has offered a marvellous accompanying video for ‘Kyst’, where he is joined by Agðir on guest vocals and tagelharpa. Watch it below.
There’s nearly a whole year to go until the 14th edition of Le Guess Who? but with the extraordinary curators and initial program that has been unveiled last week, there’s already good reasons to look forward to it.
Following the postponement of Le Guess Who? to next year, the Dutch historical city of Utrecht will hold its annual four-day musical extravaganza from 11-14th November 2021. The recently announced guest curators and first names on the line-up has instilled us with a sense of heightened expectation and anticipation.
Part of what makes Le Guess Who? transcend the confines of style is the diversity brought in by its guest curators. Next year, phenomenal alto saxophonist, composer, improviser and sound experimentalist Matana Roberts, Colombian civil engineer turned into sound artist and musician Lucrecia Dalt, exquisite Japanese minimalist composer, multi percussionist and theatre artist Midori Takada, songwriter, producer, and artist behind The Microphones and Mount Eerie Phil Elverum and underground rock veteran, visual artist and record label owner John Dwyer, will all help shape and enrich the festival with hand picked selections of their own favourite and like-minded artists, in addition to also performing themselves.
The first round of names for the general line-up has also been unveiled and it’s already boasting incredible and cutting-edge artists drawn from all corners of the musical spectrum and the globe, set to perform in a multitude of idyllic venues across Utrecht, from churches and art galleries to landmark theatres, warehouses and public squares. Le Guess Who?’s initial general lineup boasts the likes of Australian revered experimental jazz trio The Necks, who kicked off 2020 with their 21st album, Three; British experimental rock 7-piece Black Country, New Road, the Saharan guitar sounds of Etran de L’Aïr, based in the Northeast of Niger; and Model Home, the electronic and vocal duo of sonic engineer Pat Cain and MC NAPPYNAPPA. Also performing will be Amsterdam-based psychedelic dance band Conjunto Papa Upa; producer Pink Siifu, who has previously been featured on tracks with Swarvy, Devonwho, and MNDSGN; rotating South African improvisational avant-jazz collective SPAZA who have just released UPRIZE!, their second album soundtracking a documentary film about the 1976 Soweto uprising; the Ghanaian spiritual roots reggae of Y-Bayani & Baby Naa And The Band of Enlightenment, Reason & Love and Chicago based sound and visual artist Damon Locks and his 15-piece Black Monument Ensemble, whose music eschews classification and taps into jazz, gospel, spoken word, hip hop, R&B, blues and folk music influences. Amidst the new thrilling additions to Le Guess Who?’s line-up is Mazaher who are inspired by the Zar music of Egypt, a healing ritual of music and dance led by women, that is on the verge of extinction, and the Brazilian sounds of São Paulo singer and guitarist Sessa, known as the founder of psych-funk duo Garotas Suecas and regular collaborator of Yonatan Gat.
We’re ecstatic to see the addition of marvellous spoken word artist, bandleader, composer, saxophonist and activist Alabaster DePlume, who released the warm and beguiling To Cy & Lee: Instrumentals Vol. 1 earlier this year. DePlume, who first performed at Le Guess Who? in 2018, returns as Artist in Residence.
With a bold program wholly embracing musical diversity, the daring and dazzling Le Guess Who? will deliver various sorts of beauty, discovery and joy. Full details of the line-up and 4-Day Passes can be found on leguesswho.com.
The Notwist haven’t released an album since 2014’s Close To The Glass but this summer they’ve whet appetites with new music, first with a new EP called Ship, and more recently with a brand new song, ‘Oh Sweet Fire’, featuring guest vocals by Ben LaMar Gay, who also coined its lyrics. Now the iconic German indie band have announced a proper full-length album, Vertigo Days, set for release on January 29th through Morr Music. The core trio of Markus and Micha Acher and Cico Beck take a new step forward on the upcoming Vertigo Days, as the press release describes, “through its combination of melancholy pop, clangorous electronics, hypnotic Krautrock and driftwork ballads, to its international musical guests”.
Other than American multi-instrumentalist Ben LaMar Gay, The Notwist have also invited an impressive list of artists to contribute to the album, including Saya of Japanese pop duo Tenniscoats, American jazz clarinettist and composer Angel Bat Dawid, Argentinian electronica songwriter Juana Molina and Tokyo based brass band Zayaendo. “We wanted to question the concept of a band by adding other voices and ideas, other languages,” explained Markus, “and also question or blur the idea of national identity.”
Ahead of the album release, The Notwist have let loose another single, ‘Where You Find Me’. Take a listen below.
Last Friday saw the digital release of Manbarani, the debut album from Iraq-born, Cairo-based lyricist, composer and oud player Natik Awayez. Slated for a Spring 2021 release in vinyl format through Sublime Frequencies, Manbarani is the fruit of a truly collaborative work. With the help of Maurice Louca, who produced and arranged the album, Awayez enlisted a cast of stellar musicians from the region, including Tamer Abu Ghazaleh and Maryam Saleh (Lekhfa), Aya Hemeda and Adham Zidan (The Invisible Hands), Khaled Yassine (Alif / Lekhfa / Anouar Brahem) and Ayman Asfour (Elephantine). He comments:
“Iraq is the source and Yemen the soul. As for Cairo, it has offered me snippets of time and a small abode. A handful of its most beautiful musicians and a lot of love. And so, Manbarani came to be.”
A devout work of two years, reflecting the overall themes of love, wars, longing and displacement, Manbarani had long been brewing in the mind of Awayez, “collecting nuance and fermenting with influences ushered by migration across cities and continents”. Awayez had already shared two spellbinding singles from the record, ‘Al Manafi’ and the title track, both offered with a video accompaniment. ‘Al Manafi”s video comes courtesy of Sara Abdallah and Hadeel Abdelkareem and the video for ‘Manbarani’ is by Mohamed Allam and Mena El Shazly.