HEROES ARE GANG LEADERS + JAIMIE BRANCH | 44TH MOVE + TAKUYA KURODA | THE VERNON SPRING | IRREVERSIBLE ENTANGLEMENTS | WILMA ARCHER + SUDAN ARCHIVES
Hello again friends, freaks and fans of future-jazz.
Gonna be honest, this lockdown business does make it hard to survey quite the quantity of new music that I’d like. My wife is a key-worker so I’ve been pretty much a single parent looking after a three-year old this week. The little’un has expressed on multiple occasions that it is her humble opinion that my responsibilities towards playing with her far outweigh those of running a company or listening to outlandish, esoteric jazz.
She’s almost definitely right on at least one score… I’ll let you decide which.
Nevertheless, there’s no let-up in the line-up. We’re chock-full of bangers once again with at least a good nine ‘headline’ artists featured.
Two of them come in the form of 44th Move – the new project from London jazz/electronic/hip-hop innovators, pianist Alfa Mist and drummer Richard Spaven. They add yet more ferocious fire-power in the form of trumpet-tickler Takuya Kuroda on their track Hope.
Other notable collabs come from Geordie off-beat producer Wilma Archer + equally off-beat American songwriter Sudan Archives as well as politico-jazz poets Heroes Are Gang Leaders + ‘fly or die’ Brooklyn trumpet pioneer Jaimie Branch.
And so that just leaves “liberation-oriented free jazz collective” Irreversible Entanglements and Hejira-alumni The Vernon Spring on their lonesome. But don’t be fooled, both make enough noise in their own, very different, ways.
The result is a Future Jazz Digest that is as infectious as ol’ C-19 wihtout being quite so offensive to the elderly.
So, without further ado, hear more here…
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THE CHARM OFFENSIVE
HEROES ARE GANG LEADERS + JAIMIE BRANCH: THE DAY WE GAVE THE GLOBES BACK
Heroes are Gang Leaders’ founders, poet Thomas Sayers Ellis and saxophonist James Brandon Lewis follow up last year’s incendiary The Amiri Baraka Sessions (read my review of Land Back) with yet another album – Artificial Happiness Button. This release sees the collective unshackle themselves from previous MOs and subject matters, instead leaning towards subjects and a tonality that is altogether lighter and more free.
And it is this new-found freedom that permeates this release’s every pore. The Day We Gave The Globes Back is a great example of how the whole LP feels more direct, more funky, less like it has the weight of the world (excuse the pun) on its shoulders. Yes, the band’s compositions retain all of their previous delicious complexity and seriousness but add an element of swagger which helps drive the point home harder.
And did I mention it features Jaimie Branch? So, of course, it’s a-maz-ing.
Further reading: this album preview on the Ropeadope website.
– 2 –
THE MILITARY COUP
44TH MOVE + TAKUYA KURODA: HOPE
I’ve been duped… but in the best way. Here was I, feeling like I’d found a new favourite band / artist in this 44th Move lot, only to find out it’s our old friends, Alfa Mist and Richard Spaven, collaborating under a new name. Bonza! Turns out, the lads will be putting out a debut EP under the moniker on 24th April, from which Hope springs (eternal).
And it’s certainly got me feeling Hope-ful. Not so much because of its lyrics, like. They appear to be bleak as hell (though fantastically delivered by Alfa Mist, who is not known for his vocal contributions). But the musical landscape here is nothing short of perfect; stately and cinematic while being mellow and measured, those rising chords on the piano build tension throughout while Spaven spirals away underneath.
And did I mention it features Takuya Kuroda? So, of course, it’s a-maz-ing.
Further watching: this excellent live cut of Alfa Mist’s Keep On.
– 3 –
THE PEACEFUL PROTEST
THE VERNON SPRING: MOTHER’S LOVE
London-based composer / producer (and one-third of alt-soul heroes Hejira) Sam Beste, released his debut EP under the The Vernon Spring moniker in February. But, looking to build on favourable reviews and weighty (but not unworthy) comparisons to Nils Frahm and James Blake, new single Mother’s Love is the follow-up.
What really gets me about this track is the way it sounds kinda half-formed, kinda improvised and kinda impeccably incomplete. Full of pregnant (excuse the pun) pauses and notes that dangle in the air like mist on an autumn morning, it is as delicate as it is deliberate. The perfect soundtrack to trickle along in the background of your day-to-day.
Further listening: The Vernon Spring’s debut EP on Bandcamp.
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IRREVERSIBLE ENTANGLEMENTS: NO MÁS
Irreversible Entanglements formed when three members of the band came together to perform at a Musicians Against Police Brutality event in 2015. Their political, preacher-man fire blazed brightly on their first eponymous record but now they return with a follow up EP – Who Sent You? – which focusses where its predecessor flayed and bubbles where the debut regularly boiled over.
No Más is a totem for the record as a whole; Tcheser Holmes’ colourful drums and splashy cymbals constantly simmering under the surface while Luke Stewart’s bass wanders wherever the fuck he wants. Cos it can. In contrast, Camae Ayewa (header picture) is dead calm as she delivers lines like “No more / no longer will we allow them to divide and conquer / divide and oppress / and define our humanity”. Its strength is in her stillness.
Further watching: Irreversible Entanglements performing a firey and furious Chicago to Texas.
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THE QUIET RIOT
WILMA ARCHER + SUDAN ARCHIVES: CHEATER
Some of you will know Will Archer as ‘Slime’. It’s been his nom de plume for a good five years now. But, I suppose, when you decide you want to release a record that chronicles your own personal experiences of life and death, (“centred on one particular week where they breathed with equal intensity” according to the album’s PR) it probably feels fitting to adopt a more authentic, less,…well, slimy identity. Said record is A Western Circular and it’s an absolute triumph.
What the LP proves is that Archer is simply one of the most exciting, refreshing producers of our time. Classical instrumentation, hip-hop and electronic aesthetics and acoustic instrumentation work in such easy tandem that it’s easy to sink into the sound and barely realise just how accomplished it really is. To pick one track feels a bit silly given the diversity on the album but Cheater features Sudan Archives so, of course, it’s a-maz-ing.
Further watching: Wilma Archer’s creepy animated video for Last Sniff featuring MF Doom.
You can find all of the tracks reviewed above in the 45 Revolutions per Minute playlist below or click to access the Future Jazz Playlist on Spotify itself.
If you like what you hear (or even if you don’t), please engage in dialogue with me @45rpm_Reviews on Twitter. And, if you’d like to receive updates weekly, please subscribe to the email list to get these recommendations sent to your inbox weekly.
– SV –