Watch The Utopia Strong’s new video for second single ‘Castalia’

Three years from the release of their eponymous debut album, which was one of our Album Picks of 2019, The Utopia Strong are gearing up to release a second studio album titled International Treasure. Back in March, the trio of Kavus Torabi (Gong / Cardiacs / Knifeworld / Guapo), Michael York (Coil / Teleplasmiste / Guapo) and former Snooker champion Steve Davis, had already enticed us with the otherworldly ‘Shepherdess’. As we get closer to release day on June 10th through Rocket Recordings, they have shared the album’s closing track ‘Castalia’. Speaking about it, the band comments:

“Castalia was one of the first tunes we started for International Treasure, it felt so optimistic and forgiving which was such a tonic during the somber period in which the album was recorded. Castalia initially felt at odds with the rest of the album which generally has a much bleaker, melancholic tone – to our ears at least – but by putting it in as the last tune it somehow makes sense of everything that went before.

Torabi adds:

“It has this end of the night kind of feeling, it put us in mind of Orbital’s Belfast or Ashra’s Sunrain. Steve and I thought it would sound perfect as the last tune we’d play in a DJ set, in fact initially I wanted to call it ‘Last Song Of The Night’ but thankfully Mike wasn’t having any of it! The vocal at the end once again comes from Katharine Blake who sang on the last piece of our debut album, Moonchild. We liked the conceptual continuity of that but also, along with the use of acoustic instruments, the way it humanises the track too.

‘Castalia’ is offered with an accompanying video made by Mike Bourne and Torabi had this to say about it:

“Mike Bourne, who created the video, has been a friend before we were even a band. It was he who inspired Steve to take up the modular synthesiser in the first place. We loved his work anyway and he’d created an astonishing video for The Holy Family, another Rocket band Mike York and I are involved with, so we were very keen to work with him. He’d specifically asked to do the video for Castalia and knowing his work we gave him a free hand. I think the end results absolutely crystallise the vibe and atmosphere of the piece, we couldn’t be happier.”

Watch the video below and don’t let their upcoming gem of an album slip away.

Matthew Bourne shares second single ‘Asaf’

With the impending release of the new album from Matthew Bourne, titled Irrealis, quickly approaching through The Leaf Label, the imaginative pianist and composer has shared new track ‘Asaf’, following the beguiling lead single, ‘Alice’. Speaking about the new track, Bourne explains:

“’Asaf’ is gifted to musician Asaf Sirkis. Along with Shri Siram and Dušan Petrović, we played together at the Garana Jazz Festival in August 2020. I’m sure most of us can remember exactly what we were doing around that time, and there was a sense of the intrepid, or an auspicious quality to the whole exercise of making this meeting happen, and its imprint was considerable.”

Lend your ears to ‘Asaf’ below.

Irrealis is out on May 27th and is available to pre-order now as a limited edition black vinyl edition through bandcamp.

Le Guess Who? reveals guest curators and first wave of artists for the 15th year anniversary edition

Utrecht’s one-of-a-kind festival Le Guess Who? is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, and the first announcements of 2022 are here! A diverse, inspiring and mind-blowing programme featuring both emerging and well-established artists, drawn from all corners of the musical spectrum.

We’ve been raving at length over the past few years about Le Guess Who?, who have been presenting one of the boldest and most adventurous festivals anywhere on earth since 2007. The 2022 edition will take place from 10-13th November and today the organizers have announced the guest curators as well as the first batch of artists and bands for the general line-up.

Le Guess Who?’s guests curators are an integral part of the festival, expanding and enriching its monumental programme with their hand-picked selections of favourite and like-minded artists. CURL, Animal Collective and clipping. are taking the guest curator seat this year and will also be performing themselves.

CURL is a London based collective and label who counts as founders Mica Levi, Coby Sey and Brother May. Their curation will host performances from South London guitarist and producer Leisha Thomas aka Alpha Maid, who is also a CURL member, lo-fi act bar italia, the blend of jazz and electronics from Speakers Corner Quartet & Friends, Copenhagen based composer, producer and viola player Astrid Sonne, experimental electronic artist Laurel Halo, TONE and Tutto Questo Sentire, an artist collective made up of experimental opera singer Olivia Salvadori, composer and cellist Sandro Mussida, and video and sound artist Rebecca Salvadori. Also integrating CURL’s programme is Maëva Berthelot & Coby Sey performing ‘A Tender Ascent’, an immersive audio-visual installation marrying filmed performance, 5.1 surround sound and sculpture, and Eve Stainton presents Dykegeist, with live sound by Mica Levi, a commissioned choreographic work. Experimental musician and poet Moor Mother and rapper billy woods also join this bill performing BRASS, their collaborative and tribute album to the plurality of Afro-American culture.

Founded in Baltimore in 2000, Animal Collective are an iconic experimental and indie-pop band, with a huge catalogue to their name and countless live shows. With a brand new album, Time Skiffs, released in February, the four-piece are well poised to perform it live at Le Guess Who?. Among the names appearing in their curation are Japanese tribal trio Kuunatic, French iconic and innovative musician Valentín Clastrier, New York folk songwriter Anastasia Coope and Berlin’s queen of avant-garde pop music Mary Ocher. Animal Collective have also invited experimental rock quartet and fellow Baltimoreans Horse Lords, Tuareg guitar band Les Filles de Illighadad, Catalan composer, singer and pianist Marina Herlop, who fuses her vocals with avant-garde classical music and experimental electronics, and Japanese avant-garde guitarist and improvising singer, Keiji Haino, who is no stranger to the festival having delivered a blistering and memorable show at the 2017 edition. Additionally, their curated bill features Lebanese electronic music producer Liliane Chlela, Norway’s improvisational avant-jazz ensemble Supersilent, and Maria Reis, a prominent name in Lisbon’s alternative pop scene, with a recently released new album under her belt, A Flor da Urtiga, counting Animal Collective’s Noah Lennox (Panda Bear) as producer and co-instrumentalist.

Pushing boundaries and crossing genres, clipping. is the experimental hip-hop trio of Daveed Diggs, William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes. Their programme will include experimental sound artist Evicshen, Chicago footwork producer Jana Rush, Japanese experimental hip hop group Dos Monos and They Hate Change, the duo of Dre and Vonne, whose third album Finally, New, is out this Friday May 13th. Appearing on their bill is also the beautiful, dark and galvanising music of Divide and Dissolve, and legendary guitarist Jeff Parker, known for his membership in groups like Tortoise, Isotope 217, Chicago Underground, as well as various collaborations and solo records.

Le Guess Who? pays special attention to underappreciated and underrepresented musicians of the world and the 2022 line-up includes a programme hosted by New York based Ostinato Records, a label that gives the spotlight to “Afrophone stories from the Atlantic and Indian Ocean.’ In addition to a talk by label founder and Grammy-nominated producer Vik Sohonie, there will be performances from Groupe RTD, the official band for Djibouti’s national TV station Radiodiffusion-Télévision Djibouti and Cape Verde group The Ano Nobo Quartet, who earlier this year released The Strings of São Domingos mixing koladera guitars with a variety of styles including flamenco, Samba and Marrabenta.

Le Guess Who? is also off to a stellar start with the initial general line-up boasting the likes of legendary South African composer Abdullah Ibrahim, London based Palestinian producer and rapper Bint7alal, German ambient/jazz quartet Bohren & der Club of Gore, Melbourne post-punk psychedelic outfit EXEK, Swedish psych rockers Goat, Czech husband-and-wife duo Irena & Vojtěch Havlovi and Kee Avil, the project of Montréal producer, singer, and guitarist Vicky Mettler. Congolese collective KOKOKO!, Jordanian-Palestinian artist Lil Asaf Bashar Suleiman aka Lil Asaf, Guatemala born and Mexico City based cellist and composer Mabe Fratti, Canadian singer and songwriter Myriam Gendron, the avant-garde cosmic sounds of Senegal-via-Sweden Wau Wau Collectif, and the spiritual jazz of Muriel Grossmann Quartet are amongst those confirmed to perform in November. Other exciting additions include The Staples Jr. Singers, a teenage family band from Mississippi whose rare 1975 gospel soul album When Do We Get Paid is being reissued this month by Luaka Bop, and musician OKI who is heavily informed by the music of Japan’s northernmost indigenous people.

Amidst the first thrilling names added to Le Guess Who?’s line-up is South African drummer and visionary musician Asher Gamedze and English actress and musician Keeley Forsyth with her powerful an otherworldly baritone voice. Gamedze’s Dialectic Soul and Forsyth’s Debris were both included in our Album Picks of 2020.

There’s a lot more on offer for this year’s edition of Utrecht’s Le Guess Who? and many more artists will be added to this daring and stellar line-up in the coming months. In the meantime, visit leguesswho.com for further information and programme announced so far.

The absolute musical treasure that will be Le Guess Who? 2022 takes place from 10 -13th November in several venues throughout picturesque Utrecht and 4-Day Festival Passes and Day Tickets are available now on leguesswho.com. Save the date and grab your tickets now.

Esmerine releases surprise album Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More

Photo: Osha Cawdron

There’s marvelous news from acclaimed Montréal chamber rock ensemble Esmerine, who released a surprise album last Friday. Entitled Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More, it marks their first album in five years, following Mechanics Of Dominion, which was one of our Albums Picks of 2017. Out now digitally, Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More will have its physical release on August 26th through Constellation.

The record came to life in the Laurentian mountains and Gatineau Hills of Quebec, and as the band puts it, it “carries with it that sense of being ‘snowed-in’ and the joy of being ‘all-in-it together’, coupled with the unease and melancholy of having found an oasis while the storm continues to rage outside.” They continue, “All of this is wrapped up in these songs : odes and elegies, hymns and jubilees.”

Esmerine have also shared a fitting video to accompany the utterly beautiful ‘Fractals For Any Tonality’, which serves as the first single. Watch it now.

Condor Gruppe set to release new album, Gulliver, in September

Spawned from two friends in 2012, Michiel Van Cleuvenbergen and Jan Wygers, Condor Gruppe are a Antwerp based nine-piece ensemble bonded over a shared love of Italian 70s film soundtracks, krautrock and psychedelic grooves. Using various instruments, including the handpan, Jew’s harp, darbouka and tanpura, Condor Gruppe “fuse the melancholy of Pink Floyd, the heroism of Ennio Morricone and the world grooves of GOAT”, as the press release describes.

The outfit has announced the release of a new album titled Gulliver, which will see the light of day on September 23rd through Sdban Ultra. Along with the news, Condor Gruppe have shared the first fascinating single, ‘What Could Have Been’, and you can listen to it below.

Sam Gendel announces new album, SUPERSTORE, and shares three new tracks

A mainstay in the Los Angeles’ contemporary jazz scene, it’d be easy to forget about all the releases and collaborations multi-instrumentalist and producer Sam Gendel is involved in. Just last year, Gendel added to his bountiful catalog AE-30, a film and audio album, a collaborative album with Sam Wilkes and another with Ethan Braun, a two-track digital single released through Nonesuch records, and a plethora of other musical offerings. Last year Gendel has also released a 52-track solo album, Fresh Bread, and he’s ready to follow it up with SUPERSTORE, a 34-song all genre record featuring unreleased music from personal archives of solo recordings and collaborations with players like Blake Mills, Gabe Noel, Kevin Yokota, and Philippe Melanson.

SUPERSTORE is set for release on June 10th through Leaving Records amd Gendel has let loose three cuts from it, ‘Blueblackred’, ‘La Guerra di Pierro’, and ‘Gu Shi’ ft. Blake Mills. Take a listen below.