THE FIFTY BEST NEW ALBUMS OF 2014-PART 2.

THE FIFTY BEST NEW ALBUMS OF 2014-PART 2.

DJ VADIM-DUBCATCHER.

For Dubcatcher, the followup to DJ Vadim’s critically acclaimed tenth album, Don’t Be Scared, he dawned the role of hip hop’s first DJ superhero. That’s apparent from the Dubcatcher’s album cover. Looking like a cross between Robin, Bananaman and Goldfinger, a vinyl wielding DJ Vadim’s raison d’être seems to be protect hip hip from bad beats. That’s something DJ Vadim has never been guilty of. 

Far from it. DJ Vadim has never been, and never will be guilty of producing bad beats. His career began twenty years ago, and since then, critical acclaim and commercial success has come DJ Vadim’s way. He’s now a globetrotting DJ who released his eleventh album Dubcatcher, om BBE Music in June 2014. Dubcatcher however, is very different to Don’t Be Scared. It sees DJ Vadim turn his back on his beloved hip hop in favour of dancehall reggae on Dubctacher. This is just the latest of numerous twists and turns in the career of DJ Vadim. 

Dubcatcher sees DJ Vadim make a welcome return to reggae. It’s a modern dancehall album, where DJ Vadim, with a little help from his musical collaborators create a fitting followup to Don’t Be Scared. The best way to describe Dubcatcher is an innovative dancehall album for the 21st century. On Dubcatcher, DJ Vadim has succeeded in reinventing his music once again. That’s what we’ve come to expect from DJ Vadim, one of modern music’s most innovative producers. Proof of that is DJ Vadim’s eleventh album Dubcatcher, which is a fitting way for DJ Vadim to celebrate twenty years in music.

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DJESSOU MORY KANTE-RIVER STRINGS: MANIKA GUITAR.

Twenty years have passed since Djessou Mory Kanté released his debut album N’na Niwalé (Merci Les Mères). Since then, Djessou Mory Kanté has established a reputation as one of the most talented African guitarists. That’s why Djessou Mory Kanté is the go-to-guitarist for the great and good of African music. However, two years ago, in May 2012, Djessou decided it was time to record his sophomore album. This became Manika Guitar, which was released on  Stern’s Music in December 2014. It marks the return of a musical master craftsman.

River Strings: Maninka Guitar is a beautiful album of stunning music. Over thirteen tracks, elements of African and Western music melt into one. last just over one hour. Elements of blues, classical, jazz and funk shine through. Mostly, though, its traditional African music that shines through on River Strings: Maninka Guitar, a truly captivating and beautiful musical journey.Its origins are in the Maninka tradition of Guinea and Mali. 

This is the music Djessou Mory Kanté grew up playing. Now he’s one of Africa’s most talented musicians. He’s akin to a musical master-craftsman. That’s apparent from the opening bars of Djessou Mory Kanté’s sophomore album River Strings: Maninka Guitar, right through to the closing notes of this beautiful, captivating, elegiac and ethereal album. 

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ENO-HYDE SOMEDAY WORLD.

Brian Eno, the Godfather of electronic music returned in June 2014 with Someday World, his collaboration with Underworld’s Karl Hyde. Billed as Eno-Hyde, and released on Warp, Someday World featured an all-star cast. They played their part in an album that didn’t disappoint.Just like every album Brian Eno has released, it’s an album that sees him move forward. 

For Brian Eno standing still is like going backwards. That’s never going to happen. Especially with three generations of groundbreaking musicians to collaborate with. The result was a genre-melting album. Everything from ambient, Afro-beat, blues, electronica, funk, jazz, pop, rock and soul melts into one during the musical journey that’s Someday World. The music veers between funky to futuristic to dark and dramatic and right through haunting and hypnotic. Other times it melodic or mesmeric. Sometimes, the music is uplifting and joyous. Especially when slick poppy hooks are unleashed on The Satellites and Witness. These tracks should introduce a new generation to Brian Eno and Karl Hyde’s music. 

Awaiting them, are a cornucopia of musical delights. That describes the Brian Eno and Karl Hyde’s music. However, cornucopia of musical delights is also the perfect description of Eno-Hyde’s critically acclaimed album Someday World. 

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FIRE! ORCHESTRA-ENTER.

The newly named Fire! Orchestra were building on the music of some of the legendary free jazz big bands. This includes the big bands of Sun Ra, Charlie Haden’s Liberation Orchestra, Mike Westbrook and Mike McGregor. There was more to the Fire! Orchestra that free jazz. They incorporated funk, blues, rock and jazz. This became apparent when the Fire! Orchestra made their tentative first steps. They played a few live shows and then, in 2013, released their live debut album Exit. It was released to widespread critical acclaim. So a year later, and Fire! Orchestra return with Enter, which was released by Rune Grammofon in July 2014.

The best way to describe Fire! Orchestra’s debut album Enter is innovative and progressive. It’s also an album that will influence a new generation of musicians. Enter showcases the sound of the twenty-nine members of the Fire! Orchestra in full flight. This was an impressive sound. Especially given their fusion of mesomorphic rock rhythms, funk, free jazz and the bluesy, soul-baring vocals of the Fire! Orchestra’s three vocalists. Add to this the scorching free jazz saxophone of Joe McPhee and Enter, has a potent, powerful and captivating sound. 

Enter is definitely an album that makes a big impression. It was written and produced by the three members of Fire!  However, it’s not just Swedish musicians that feature in the Fire! Orchestra! No. Fire! Orchestra features some of the top Scandinavian musicians. They joined forces in the Fire! Orchestra to record Enter, a groundbreaking, genre-melting album featuring ambitious, innovative and progressive music that brings back memories of musical luminaries like Sun Ra, Charlie Haden’s Liberation Orchestra, Mike Westbrook and Mike McGregor.

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HEDVIG MOLLESTAD-TRIO ENFANT TERRIBLE.

Norwegian guitar virtuoso Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen first picked up a guitar when she was just ten. It was her mother’s much loved nylon strung acoustic guitar. This was the start of a lifelong love affair with the guitar. Now twenty years later, Hedvig is now one of Europe’s finest guitarists. Hedvig’s group the Hedvig Mollestad Trio, released their third album Enfant Terrible in May 2014 on Rune Grammofon. It showcases Hedvig’s critically acclaimed guitar playing.

Enfant Terrible is, without doubt, a career defining album from the Hedvig Mollestad Trio. They seamlessly shift between musical genres. Bues, jazz, psychedelia and rock are thrown into the mix by the Hedvig Mollestad Trio’s. Sometimes, they seamlessly switch between musical genres mid track. Not every band can do this. Mind you, not every band is as talented as the Hedvig Mollestad Trio. They’re more than capable of throwing a series of curveballs, and lulling you into a false sense of security. It’s the Hedvig Mollestad Trio’s way of making sure you’re listening as they strut and swagger their way through the six tracks on Enfant Terrible.

For much of the time, the Hedvig Mollestad Trio are a hard rocking power trio. They can kick out the jams like the hardest rocking power trios. As the Hedvig Mollestad Trio kick out the jams, they bring back memories of rock legends like Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Cream. Then there’s the electric jazz of Mahavishnu Orchestra, Santana and Miles Davis between 1968 and 1975. That’s the music that’s influenced Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen growing up. The same music has inspired the music on Enfant Terrible, which is without doubt, the finest album of the Hedvig Mollestad Trio’s career.

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ERIK HONORE-HELIOGRAPHS.

Erik Honoré is no stranger to a recording studio. He’s played on, or produced, over fifty albums. These albums are all very different. They’re best described as eclectic. No wonder. This eclectic selection of albums features everyone from David Sylvian to Arve Henrikse, through Eivind Aarset, Jon Hassell and Laurie Anderson, to Brian Eno and Peter Schwalm. However, despite working with so many high profile artists, there’s one thing forty-eight year old Erik Honoré still has to do. That’s release a solo album. At last, the wait is over. Heliographs, Erik Honoré’s debut album was released by Hubro Music in 17th November 2014.

Just like each of the artists Erik has collaborated with, Erik creates music that’s groundbreaking. There’s no playing it safe for Erik Honoré on Heliographs. It’s a groundbreaking, genre-melting album. Everything from ambient, avant-garde, classical, experimental, free jazz and a hint of rock melt into one. It’s an eclectic and disparate fusion of musical influences and genres. That’s not surprising. Erik Honorè is a true musical innovator and explorer. On Heliographs, Erik Honorè dares to go, where other musicians fear to tread. 

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JARIBU AFROBEAT ARKESTRA-JARIBU. 

Over the last few years, the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra have established a reputation as one of the best live bands in Japan. That’s been the case since the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra released their debut album Afro Sound System in 2009. Released to critical acclaim, Afro Sound System won over DJs and music fans. Two years later, and JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra released their sophomore album Mediacracy in 2012. By then, JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra were being referred to as Japan’s most exciting bands. They released their third album JariBu, on Tramp Records, in June 2014. It was a fitting followup to Mediacracy.

Fans of JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra has been rewarded. JariBu is a game-changer. A delicious fusion of Afrobeat, free jazz, funk, jazz, jazz-funk, rock and soul, JariBu is without doubt, the best album the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra  have released. It surpasses the quality of their two previous album. The JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra have matured as a band musically. As a result, JariBu is a much more eclectic album.

The best way to describe JariBu is a melting pot of musical genres and influences. Mostly, the tracks are the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra’s unique brand of Neo Afrobeat. However, sometimes, the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra take diversions via Afrobeat, free jazz, funk, jazz, jazz-funk, rock and soul. This keeps things interesting. You’re never sure which direction the music is heading? Sometimes, songs explode joyously into life, becoming irresistible and hook-laden. Other times, the music is veers between dramatic and urgent, to hypnotic and mesmeric, to beautiful and joyous, right through to laid-back and mellow. Always, the music on JariBu is captivating and compelling. No wonder. This is the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra third album JariBu we’re talking about. 

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JENNY HVAL AND SUSANNA-MESHES OF VOICE.

Five years ago, in 2009, Jenny Hval and Susanna Karolina Wallumrød began writing to each other. A lot has happened to Jenny and Susanna since that initial exchange of letters. This began with Jenny and Susanna being invited to play at the Oslo Jazz Festival. Their second live performance was at the Henie Onstad Art Exchange. That was where Meshes Of Voice was recorded on 8th March 2009. Sadly, since then, Meshes Of Voice has never been released. Until now. Meshes Of Voice was released in August 2014, on Susanna’s label SusannaSonatta.

Belatedly, Meshes Of Voice will be released on Susanna’s label SusannaSonatta, on 18th August 2014. Hopefully, Meshes Of Voice won’t be the last collaboration between Jenny Hval and Susanna. After all, what could be better than another collaboration between two of the most talented and successful Norwegian singer-songwriters? They’re like yin and yang on Meshes Of Voice. Their voices are made for each other. They bring out the best in each other, and drive each other to greater musical heights. That’s apparent on Meshes Of Voice, which is a tantalising taste of two of the finest Nordic vocalists Jenny Hval and Susanna as their career unfolds. Maybe, Meshes Of Voice is just the beginning, and further collaborations between Jenny Hval and Susanna will follow? Let’s hope so. 

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JOZEF VAN WISSEM-IT IS TIME FOR YOU TO RETURN.

It was back in 2000, that avant-garde composer and baroque lutenist Jozef Van Wissem released his debut album, Retrograde Renaissance Lute. Since then, Josef has released a series of groundbreaking solo albums and collaborations. Jozef’s latest album It Is Time For You To Return, will be released by Crammed Discs in November 2014. It Is Time For You To Return is the latest instalment in Crammed Discs’ Made To Measure series. It’s also the perfect introduction to the music of a true musical innovator, Jozef Van Wissem.

For anyone yet to discover the music of avant-garde composer, and baroque lutenist, Jozef Van Wissem then It Is Time For You To Return is the perfect starting place. It’s a breathtaking aural adventure. Featuring nine understated and hypnotic tracks, It Is Time For You To Return features Jozef at his innovative best. The music is captivating, compelling, ethereal, hopeful, hypnotic, melancholy, mysterious and wistful. That’s not all. 

On several of the tracks on It Is Time For You To Return, Jozef’s lyrics are full of social comment. Jozef isn’t averse to commenting on the state of the world. His lyrics are veer between hope to hopelessness. There’s hope on Love Destroys All Evil. Confinement paints a picture of hopelessness, as days become months, months become years. All the time, the clock is ticking. Then on You Can’t Take It With You, Jozef deals with greed and avarice. Wealth and possessions, he points out, You Can’t Take It With You. These tracks are the perfect showcase for Jozef Van Wissem, as he becomes poet and philosopher, on It Is Time For You To Return.

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KASAI ALLSTARS-BEWARE THE FETISH.

2014 marked the return of the Kasai Allstars. They released their sophomore album, Beware The Fetish on Crammed Discs. It’s a double album featuring twelve-tracks of the Kasai Allstars trademark sound. The twelve tracks last over 100 minutes. They showcase the Congolese collective’s genre-melting sound. Just like their debut album, Beware The Fetish is music that you must immerse yourself in. If you do, you’ll discover music that’s irresistible, joyous, otherworldly, trance-inducing, mythical and mystical. That’s down to the fifteen members of the Kasai Allstars.

The Kasai Allstars are a collective of fifteen Congolese musicians, based in Congo’s capital Kinshasa Originally, they were members of five bands based in the Kasai region. They come from very different backgrounds. Five different ethnic backgrounds are represented in the Kasai Allstars. Different cultures, languages and musical traditions play their part in the success story that’s the Kasai Allstars. Essentially, the Kasai Allstars are a cross-cultural collaboration. They’re an example to the people of Congo, as they’re able to live side-by-side happily and peacefully. In doing so, they create their unique brand of irresistible music.

Throughout the twelve tracks on Beware The Fetish, you’re spellbound. You immerse yourself in the delights of Beware The Fetish. Surprises, subtleties and nuances are never far away. Neither is irresistible, joyous, hypnotic and hook-laden music. Whether its songs with a social conscience, or tracks to dance to, Beware The Fetish is truly irresistible. Especially, when they kick loose. That’s a joy to behold. The Kasai Allstars in full flight on Beware The Fetish, is something everyone should experience once in their life. 

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KING CREOSOTE-FROM SCOTLAND FROM LOVE.

From Scotland With Love, which was released by Domino, was a the soundtrack to a documentary feature film directed by Virginia Heath. The film was commissioned as part of the Cultural Festival, which accompanied the 2014 Commonwealth Games. They were held in Glasgow.

During the Commonwealth Games, a screening of From Scotland With Love took place on Glasgow Green. It was accompanied by live music. This was fitting. After all, Glasgow Green has been the scene of many memorable musical events. The screening of From Scotland With Love was just the latest.

As films go, From Scotland With Love is quite unusual. The seventy-five minute film features no dialogue. That’s not surprising. The documentary was created entirely from archive film material from the National Library of Scotland and the Scottish Screen Archive. With no voiceover, Virginia Heath decided to add a musical backdrop. That’s where King Creosote came in.

King Creosote provided a musical backdrop to the themes that run through the film. This includes love, loss, resistance and migration. There’s a reminder of how Scotland has changed when the film touches on urbanisation and emigration. many Scottish people emigrated to Australia, Canada and New Zealand in the fifties and sixties. From Scotland With Love also shows Scotland at work and play. There’s a sense of sadness too. Especially when reminders of Scotland’s past. 

Back then, shipbuilding, heavy industry and the fishing industry, were just three of Scotland’s industrial heavyweights. Not any more. Tragically, they’ve been brought to their knees. Another sense of sadness is when From Scotland With Love touches on the war. It’s another of the subjects King Creosote tackles on From Scotland With Love.

From Scotland With Love is a beautiful, joyous, melancholy, poignant, uplifting and wistful album. The music tugs at your heartstrings. Especially, when King Creosote is delivering vocals that are heartfelt, hopeful, needy, joyous and inspirational. King Creosote is the latest in a  long line of Scottish troubadours. His Magnus Opus, From Scotland With Love, marks a coming of age from Scotland’s newly crowned musical King, King Creosote.

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