Matana Roberts : Coin Coin Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile

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To call saxophonist and composer Matana Roberts‘ last full-length release, 2011’s Coin Coin Chapter One: Gens de Colour Libres, one of the best jazz albums of the century so far would be to do it something of a disservice: whilst undeniably beholden to that genre, its diversions into blues, gospel, spoken word and more – plus the fact the 16-piece big band that brought it to life included members of post-rock titans Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Thee Silver Mount Zion – meant such easy categorisation was as impossible as it was inaccurate. Despite featuring a smaller, more traditional line-up, Mississippi Moonchile – the second of twelve chapters set to make up the Coin Coin project Roberts has been developing for many years with several different groups of musicians – is just as stubborn in its refusal to be pigeonholed, and even more thrilling than its predecessor. Using a technique she describes as “panoramic sound quilting” (after the handicraft process slaves used during the Civil War to transmit secret messages), Roberts and her band – Shoko Nagai (piano), Jason Palmer (trumpet), Thomson Kneeland (double bass) and Tomas Fujiwara (drums) – explore themes of remembrance and restitution, conveying the suffering and survival of her ancestors via a tapestry of traditional African American musical forms, stitching spirituals, call and response singalongs, field songs, ragtime, swing and free jazz into a very different kind of patchwork. Evoking all manner of human emotion with its exquisitely intuitive musicianship, Moonchile is a deeply personal and genuinely moving work that pays loving tribute to the past, but like all of the composer’s work it is also defiantly forward-thinking; Roberts’ avant-garde tendencies come to the fore when tenor vocalist Jeremiah Abiah weighs in on several numbers, but whilst semi-improvised honking and opera may sound to some like a match made in hell, they actually manage to achieve a balance of gravitas and joviality that suits the tone of the piece perfectly. Similarly, Roberts’ own voice – a rousing, soulful sing-speak – is as big a part of the overall narrative as that of her instrument; often content to let Palmer’s trumpet step out of shadow of her horn to dance in the spotlight with Nakai’s sprightly piano, Roberts’ saxophone is more restrained than usual, but as a vocalist she is a commanding presence, especially scatting genealogical beat poetry on “Amma Jerusalem School” (below) and “Was The Sacred Day”. As with Gens de Colour Libres, Mississippi Moonchile feels like a history lesson, but just like that one great teacher you’ll always remember Roberts tells it with such flair, such conviction, such passion that you’ll swear you’re living through it yourself. The Coin Coin project may have another ten chapters to go, but it’s a story you’ll wish would never end.

Coin Coin Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile is out October 1 via Constellation Records

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Track of the day : Mas Ysa : Why

Thomas Arsenault was already something of a local celebrity within Brooklyn’s Kent Avenue scene before he started recording his own material under the name Mas Ysa: as a producer – working out of a studio he helped to build – he had a hand in albums by Cass McCombs and Laurel Halo amongst others, whilst his work in video art and compositions for the Rashaun Mitchell Dance Company have helped establish him as a seriously talented multi-tasker. Following recent gigs supporting artists as diverse as Deerhunter and Wu Tang Clan’s RZA, Arsenault has just offered up the first fruits of his new solo project, six thrilling minutes of impassioned emo yelping tethered to a barrage of lo-fi techno beats and some soft-edged but hard-hitting electro-pop; listen to “Why” below and look out for an EP release via Downtown Records early next year.

Track of the day : Isaiah Rashad : I Shot You Down

21 year-old Chattanooga, Tennessee MC Isaiah Rashad signed with Top Dawg Ent. back in June, which – given the calibre of his new label-mates (Kendrick Lamar, Ab Soul, ScHoolBoy Q and Jay Rock) – might seem to some like dropping a kitten into a pit with a pride of lions and telling him to prove himself. Luckily this cat has claws, and a pretty mighty roar to boot. On “I Shot You Down”, the first track he has released since his signing, Rashad animatedly dismisses the industry’s “bitch-ass rappers“, “sensitive n***as” (a veiled pop at… who, I wonder?) and overnight sensations (“Get caught up in the hype/ Your career is for a night“) over a chilled-out backdrop of jazzy flutes, noodling guitar and pitter-pattering drums, before easing into a dancehall-influenced sing-song outro. Fighting talk, perhaps, but Rashad gives the impression he can handle his business; check out the video below.

Huerco S : Colonial Patterns

Huerco S. - Colonial Patterns

By its very nature, electronic music is one of the most future-fixated forms of artistic expression, and yet – as much so as pop or rock – it seems to delight in nothing more than its own past. For his full-length debut as Huerco S, Colonial Patterns (out now via the Software label), Kansas City-based producer Brian Leeds has hit upon a rather unique way of reconciling techno’s history with its here and now: by distorting and degrading rhythmic loops and synthesized sound-beds – sometimes to the point of near inaudibility – Leeds has made a record that sounds like he buried a rucksack full of early-’90s Warp, Underground Resistance and old rave tapes in the desert and left it there for ten years before digging it up and splicing the melted, decomposed, dust-coated contents together into a series of sparse, hypnotic and occasionally oddly beautiful sound collages. Leeds calls it “Midwestern techno”, and you can understand why: many of the fourteen tracks here are chokingly arid, so sun-bleached and brittle that – at first – they seem bleak, lifeless. But like unearthed artefacts from the Native American and Pre-Columbian civilizations with which Leeds seems so obsessed (see track titles like “Quivira” and “Canticoy”), closer inspection reveals glittering goodies underneath the grime, with “‘Iinzhiid”, “Ragtime USA (Warning)” and “Prinzif” in particular showcasing Huerco S’ genre-bending, generation-spanning sound; listen below, via Dazed Digital.

Track of the day: Shit Robot : We Got A Love

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One day DFA Records will release a box set of all their great singles and it will be be about fifty hours long and every single track on it will be a solid gold killer. Case in point: the label have just released a split 12″ featuring new tracks by two of their longest-serving artists, Shit Robot and The Juan Maclean, both of which kick ass in a pretty major way.  The former’s contribution, “We Got A Love” finds the Irish producer worshipping at the altar of classic Detroit techno, assisted by stand-up comedian and closet soul singer Reggie Watts; watch the trippy video below (and check out the Maclean side, “Feel Like Movin’“, while you’re at it).

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The Cloak Ox : Shoot The Dog

In a past life, Minnesotan Andrew Broder was the main player and sole constant in Anticon-affiliated post-rock outfit Fog, as well as Yoni (Why?) Wolf’s sparring partner in avant-rap duo Hymie’s Basement, but he always felt like something of a reluctant frontman. Well, one has to assume Broder is a pretty good actor, because in his new role as leader of The Cloak Ox there is no disguising his voice, no mumbling or whispering or hiding underneath layers of electro-acoustic noise. On debut full-length Shoot The Dog (out now via Totally Gross National Product), he assumes the mantle of the consummate rock & roll showman – part strutting, swaggering young buck (on electrifying Thin Lizzy-esque barroom rockers like “Josephine” and “Talking Big”), part quietly seething choirboy (Radiohead-inspired prog jams “Hot Hands” and “King Rope“) – with such ease you have to believe that this, rather than the seemingly reticent singer of old, is the real Andrew Broder. Indeed, the role suits him well: with a trio of ex-Fog collaborators (Martin Dosh, Mark Erickson and Jeremy Ylvisaker) behind him, Broder appears to be in his element, captaining the band through the album’s many stylistic twists and turns – from slow-burning blues (opener “Yesterday’s Me”) to mid-paced funk fusion, tongue-in-cheek balladry (“Don’t Listen”) and full-on ragers (“Pigeon Lung”) – whilst ensuring the abundance of hooks never overshadow his clever (and often decidedly meta) lyrics. A impressive fresh start that embraces classic rock touchstones without bowing to them; listen to “Josephine” below, and stream the album in full over at Impose.

Track of the day: Darkside : Paper Trails

Darkside, the duo comprising minimal techno producer Nicolas Jaar and guitarist and bassist Dave Harrington, are gearing up for the release of their first full-length, Psychic, out October 8 via Jaar’s Other People label and Matador Records; they’ve already released the album’s slow-burning, 11 minute-long opener “Golden Arrow“, and now they continue the teaser campaign with “Paper Trails”, a simmering melting pot of stuttering, clipped funk and bluesy post-rock. Listen below.

Track of the day: Pusha T ft. Kendrick Lamar : Nosetalgia

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Ex- (?) Clipse rapper Pusha T has been promising his debut solo album proper for what seems like forever, or at least since he hooked up with Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music crew a few years back, and on October 8 – after a couple of solid mixtapes and more classic guest verses than we can remember – My Name Is My Name will finally hit stores. We’ve already heard “Who I Am” and “Numbers On The Board“, and now comes “Nosetalgia”, a KRS One-sampling, Nottz-produced creeper that proves there’s life in Pusha’s favourite lyrical topic – slanging coke (duh!) – yet. Lots of features on the album, from Rick Ross, Kanye, Pharrell, 2 Chainz, Future and more, and this one stars Foam Hands’ favourite Kendrick Lamar; listen below.

Yuppies

As someone who remembers (vaguely) what the ’80s were like the first time around, the word “yuppies” conjures up images of arrogant, Wall Street Journal-studying Donald Trump wannabes bleating “Buy! Sell!” into brick-sized cellphones in the middle of some painfully expensive wine bar. Omaha’s Yuppies – the band whose eponymous debut album is out this week via Andrew Savage (of Parquet Courts‘) Dull Tools label – sound as though they have very little in common with those loathsome creatures, or their modern, high-fiving, frat-bro city trader equivalents; in fact, come the day when the world’s economy finally collapses completely, you kinda get the feeling this group would be first in line to offer their services – free of charge – as the house band for the anarchists’ victory party. Not that their music is particularly political; if anything they give the impression of not really caring about anything besides having a good time. With frills-free, straight-to-tape takes, rabble-rousing spoken intros (“Alright, alright, we’re going for a ride/ Whether you like it or not/ Grab your things, collect your thoughts/ We’re going for a ride, alright, alright“) and songs rear-ending each other like an 11-car pile-up, Yuppies could almost pass for a live record: sloppy enough to remind you that rock & roll is a messy business, but sharp enough to convince doubters that they are more than capable of holding their own with the big boys. Indebted – but not beholden – to ’70s punk and ’80s indie (frontman Jack Begley sounds like the spawn of Jonathan Richman and Frank Black), with occasional forays into droning Sonic Youth-style art-rock, it’s an effortlessly energetic document of a band hitting their stride at full speed, and a rambunctious reminder of why you fell in love with guitar rock in the first place. Check out a trio of tracks (“A Ride”, “What’s That?” and “Hitchin’ A Ride”) below, and stream the whole thing via Pitchfork Advance.

Track of the day: Four Tet : Parallel Jalebi

Four Tet announces new full-length Beautiful Rewind; ah, the beauty of mid-90s video rental policy

Fifteen years and six albums into his solo career, Kieran Hebden AKA Four Tet has yet to release a bad record, so you shouldn’t really need any more reasons to get excited about his forthcoming seventh long-player Beautiful Rewind, but here’s one anyway. Following on from jacking first preview “Kool FM“, new teaser “Parallel Jalebi” shares more common ground with earlier works (Pause, Rounds) than Hebden’s more recent dancefloor-focused output, layering glitchy floating synths over a gently propulsive hip hop beat to blissfully psychedelic effect. No date for the album yet, but Hebden has hinted that he’ll rush-release it on his own Text label as soon as physical copies are ready; listen below.