THE FIFTY BEST NEW ALBUMS OF 2014-PART 3.

THE FIFTY BEST NEW ALBUMS OF 2014-PART 3.

KROKOFANT-KROKOFANT.

What do you get if you cross a crocodile with an elephant? A Krokofant. For those not familiar with this surreal hybrid, then you’ve never heard the popular Norwegian children’s song. The Krokofant has been described as “a lumbering trumpeting beast with a fearsome array of teeth in its snapping jaws.” However, Krokofant is also one of the name of Norwegian jazz most exciting and pioneering groups, whose debut album Krokofant was released on Rune Grammofon in March 2014.

Krokofant create music that’s not just bold and brave, but inventive, innovative and influential. That’s why Krokofant are leaders of this new and innovative musical movement that’s sweeping the Nordic region. Word is spreading about this trio of musical pioneers. There’s a reason for this. 

Their music. Krokofant are determined to push musical boundaries. They’re constantly seeking to reinvent themselves and their music. That’s why Krokofant’s music can be described as variously dramatic, challenging, futuristic, moody, cinematic, understated and pensive. Every song is different and full of subtleties and nuances. Seamlessly, Krokofant change direction, and your hear another side to their music. Then musical influences and genres melt into one thanks to one of the most talented and groundbreaking Norwegian bands, Krokofant. Their debut album Krokofant showcases one of the most exciting, innovative and talented groups  I’ve heard in a long time.

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BEVERLEY MARTYN-THE PHOENIX AND THE FUTURE.

It’s nearly fifty years ago since Beverley Martyn made her recording debut. This was as a member of The Levee Breakers. They were a jug band which featured Mac McGann, Johnny Joyce and Beverley. Their debut single was Babe, I’m Leaving You, which they released on Parlophone in 1965. Beverley was just sixteen and already, The Levee Breakers were a regular fixture on the folk circuit. Beverley Martyn seemed destined for a great things. However, since 1965, Beverley has only released two solo albums. Her latest is Beverley’s sophomore album, The Phoenix and The Turtle, was recently released by Les Cousins’ label. 

Beverley Martyn is an artist who could and should’ve enjoyed commercial success and critical acclaim. However, Beverley has been a stranger too long. She’s only released two albums since her solo career began in 1966. That’s not enough to do her talent justice. With her talent as a singer and songwriter, Beverley Martyn should be a huge star. Maybe, after the commercial failure of her her earlier solo material and the her collaborations with John Martyn, Beverley was reluctant to record any more albums. After all, it must be soul destroying for an artist who doesn’t receive the recognition it deserves. Who can blame them for turning their back on their solo career? That’s what Beverley did.

Thankfully, she’s made a belated comeback with The Phoenix and the Turtle. On The Phoenix and the Turtle Beverley combines folk, country, blues and rock on The Phoenix and the Turtle. The nine songs are variously beautiful, poignant and wistful. Heartbreak and hurt sits side-by-side pathos and melancholia. Beverley’s lyrics have a cinematic quality and each of the songs to life. As a result, The Phoenix and the Turtle is like a series of musical journeys, where Beverley takes on the role of narrator. You’re captivated and spellbound by what’s the finest album of Beverley’s solo career, The Phoenix and the Turtle.

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MOGWAI-RAVE TAPES.

Rave Tapes, which was released on Rock Action Records, was one of the most anticipated albums of 2014. The big question was, what direction Mogwai’s music would head? After all, Mogwai’s music never stands still. It’s in a constant state of evolution. That’s no bad thing. Standing still is akin to going backwards in Mogwai’s book. On Rave Tapes, Mogwai’s music continues to evolve. Musical  genres and influences melt into one. One of the most prominent influences was Krautrock. Add to this ambient, avant-garde, electronica, experimental, indie rock and rock. We hear different sides to Mogwai on Rave Tapes. Whether it’s fuzzy soundscapes or kicking out the jams, Mogwai don’t disappoint on Rave Tapes. 

Rave Tapes, another album of ambitious, bold, challenging, influential and innovative music. This is music full of nuances, subtleties and surprises. During a ten track journey through ambient, avant garde, classic rock, electronica, experimental, indie rock and Krautrock, Mogwai push musical boundaries to their limits and beyond. During these ten tracks, the music constantly changes. You never know what’s about to happen. The only thing you can expect, is the unexpected. That’s no bad thing though. After all, we’d be complaining if Rave Tapes was full of predictable music. It’s not. Far from it.

Throughout Rave Tapes, Mowai’s music constantly changes. Sometimes, it’s hard to believe it’s the same band. The music veers between wistful, melancholy and pensive, to dark, dramatic and disturbing. It’s also eerie and moody. Sometimes, it’s beautiful and melancholy. The music on Rave Tapes is always ambitious, bold, challenging, influential and innovative as Mogwai take you on a genre-hopping musical journey that is Rave Tapes.

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MOSTER-INNER EARTH.

The best way to describe Moster, is a Norwegian supergroup. Moster was founded by Bushman’s Revenge saxophonist and bandleader Kjetil Møster in 2010. He brought onboard some of the most talented Norwegian musicians of their generation. They made their debut at the Kongsberg Jazz Festival in 2010. Three years later, Moster released their long awaited debut album, Edvard Lygre Møster. Now, a year later, Moster returned in October 2014, with Inner Earth, which was released on Hubro Music.Stylistically, Inner Earth is very different from Edvard Lygre Møster. It was an album that was perceived as spontaneous, direct and fierce. Recorded live, Kjetil Møster remembers the band finding their sound on-stage. Fortunately, the show was being taped and was issued as Edvard Lygre Møster. Inner Earth which will be released by Hubro Music in October 2014, is very different.

The perfect description of Inner Earth, is a musical journey. Moster veer between avant garde, experimental, free jazz, jazz, prog rock, psychedelia and classic rock. Prog rock and psychedelia play prominent roles on Inner Earth. So does free jazz, on this compelling musical journey through Inner Earth. This journey veers between slow, moody and broody, to dramatic and  ferocious. Other times, it’s dreamy,  futuristic, lysergic and otherworldly. Then sometimes, Inner Earth becomes cinematic and melodic, as slow washes of music shiver, shimmer and glimmer. Always though, Inner Earth is an ambitious and innovative, magical musical mystery tour through musical genres, with Norwegian supergroup Moster as your musical tour guides.

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MOEBIUS-STORY-LEIDECKER-SNOWGHOST PEICES.

One of the most eagerly awaked recent releases is Snowghost Pieces, a collaboration between Dieter Moebius of Cluster and Americans Tim Story and Jon Leidecker. This might seem like an unlikely collaboration, given how different the three musician’s pasts are. That’s not the case though. Each of the musicians have one thing in common. They’re all innovative musicians whose raison d’être is to create groundbreaking music. That’s apparent on Snowghost Pieces, which was released on the Bureau label, in June 2014.

Snowghost Pieces is music that’s challenging and cerebral. It’s music to make you think, and music that sometimes, will take you out of your comfort area. Especially when you hear the futuristic soundscapes. They’re innovative and have a dramatic, cinematic sound. Moebius-Story-Leidecke paint pictures with your music. All you need to do is open your mind and absorb this groundbreaking, cinematic music. Let your imagination run riot and you’ll hear this music’s full potential. Turn up the volume and let Snowghost Places assail and surround you. Experience and absorb what is without doubt one of the best electronic albums of 2014.

Everything from ambient, avant garde, electronica and experimental music combine to create Snowghost Places. It’s an album that’s guaranteed to change your mood and make you think. Captivating and compelling, it’s moody, broody, dramatic, pensive and thoughtful. Snowghost Places is also melancholy, ethereal and beautiful. These are just a few of the words to describe Snowghost Places. It’s an album that variously, washes over you, embraces you, and forces you to think, as it paints pictures in your mind’s eye. Snowghost Places is best described as the soundtrack to a film that’s yet to be made. Instead, for the time being, you supply the pictures to Snowghost Places.

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MOSKUS-MESTERTYVEN.

It was back in 2012 that pioneering jazz trio, Moskus, released their critically acclaimed debut album, Salmesykkel. A lot has happened since then. In 2013, Moskus were nominated for two Spellemannspris. They’re the Norwegian equivalent of a Grammy. Moskus were nominated for the highly prized best jazz album and best new act. For the three members of Moskus, this was the perfect start to their recording career. Two years later, Moskus return with their sophomore album Mestertyven, which will be released by Hubro Music in May 2014. Mestertyven marks a change in approach and direction from Morkus. 

On Mestertyven, Moskus continue to create pioneering and ambitious music. There’s no chance that Moskus would stand still. That’s not what they’re about. Far from it. For Moskus, every album has to be a step forward. Mostkus’ raison d’être is to create music that’s innovative and challenges musical norms. To do this, Moskus draw inspiration from various sources. This includes free jazz legends like Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus, Albert Ayler and Sun Ra. They also reference ambient pioneers like Brian Eno and Harold Budd. There’s even a nod to  Irmin Schmidt of Can’s soundtracks. The more you listen to Mestertyven, the more influences you hear. Everything from Afro-Cuban, ambient, avant garde, experimental, free jazz and jazz can be heard on Mestertyven. This results in music that’s variously ambitious, beautiful, challenging, dark, dramatic, ethereal, eerie, evocative, haunting, hypnotic and mesmeric. Mestertyven is also groundbreaking music from a band who had a vision.

When Moskus entered the Risør Church, where they recorded Mestertyven, they knew how they wanted their sophomore album to sound. There was no searching for an elusive sound. Instead, they plugged in pressed play. Moskus embarked upon a lengthy and inventive jam session.  Every single idea was recorded. This made sense. There was no chance that a moment of genius would be missed. Songs were recorded from their genesis to fruition. Songs evolved on the tapes. Others took shape later when Moskus edited the tapes. Gradually, Mestertyven took shape. Eventually, Mestertyven, Moskus’ long-awaited sophomore album was finished. It’s an album that’s been well worth the two year wait. 

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MOTORPSYCHO-BEHIND THE SUN.

This year, Motorpsycho, one of Norway’s most successful bands celebrated their twenty-fifth anniversary with the release of Behind The Sun, which will be released in March 2014, on Rune Grammon. Motorpsycho were formed in Trondheim, central Norway in 1989. Since then, Motorpsycho have become a musical institution. They’ve released over twenty-albums. Their debut album was 1991s Lobotomizer. Demon Box followed in 1993, and Timothy’s Monster in 1994. Since then, Motorpsycho have averaged nearly an album a year. That’s no mean feat. Especially considering Motorpsycho have established a reputation as group who constantly reinvent themselves and their music. 

Ever since their debut album 1991s Lobotomizer, then 1993s Demon Box 1994s  Timothy’s Monster, Motorpsycho have been establishing a reputation as one of Norway’s most successful bands. Now Motorpsycho are Norwegian rock royalty. They’re a musical institution not just in Norway, but across Europe. Over the last twenty years, word has spread about Motorpsycho. However, there are still people who haven’t heard Motorpsycho. That’s where Behind The Sun comes in.

For anyone yet to discover Motorpsycho, Behind The Sun is the perfect place to start. Behind The Sun is a reminder that there are still groups capable of making rock music. This isn’t just any rock music. No. Motorpsycho make what I’d describe as classic rock music. So much so, that Behind The Sun is an album that could’ve been recorded anytime over the last forty years. It draws inspiration from everyone from The Byrds, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath and Def Leopard. The result is the hard rocking Behind The Sun, where Motorpsycho keep the flag flying for classic rock, in all its glories.

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MR BIRD-LO-FI CLASSICS. 

Mr. Bird’s Lo-Fi Classics, which was released in July 2014,  by BBE Music, is best described as a homage to your beloved mixtape. It’s guaranteed to bring memories flooding back. Especially if your mixtape was funky and oozed soulfulness. That’s the case with Mr. Bird’s Lo-Fi Classics, which features two funky cats doing what they do best, making music. This isn’t just any music though. It’s sweet, soulful and full of poppy hooks. Even better, the music has an old school sound. It’s a reminder of the music on your beloved mixtape. There’s a reason for this. It has not been over compressed. This means you can hear Lo-Fi Classics full dynamic range. That’s a rarity in modern music. Usually, modern music has been over compressed, due to the ongoing loudness war. Thankfully, Lo-Fi Classics hasn’t been a victim of the loudness war. Even better, the music flows.   

That’s thanks to Mr. Bird. Remembering how much care, time and attention it took to make a mixtape, Mr. Bird has lovingly sequence Lo-Fi Classics. This means Lo-Fi Classics is a reminder of the classic hip hop soul of the nineties. Having said that, the music is totally unique. No wonder. Look at the two men behind Lo-Fi Classics, Mr. Bird and Greg Blackman.  

Many of the songs tell a story Lo-Fi Classic. There’s songs about love, love lost, heartbreak, hurt and hope. They’re delivered by Greg Blackman, who breathes life, meaning and emotion to the songs. He delivers the lyrics as if he’s lived them. It sounds as if Greg has felt the pain, heartbreak, hurt and sadness that he’s singing about. Thankfully, it sounds as if he’s also experienced the happiness, hope and joy he sings about on Lo-Fi Classics, the perfect replacement for your music cherished, mixtape.  

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1982-A/B.

For A/B, the fourth album from enigmatic Norwegian improvisational trio 1982, they drew inspiration from the past for another groundbreaking album. A/B, which was released on Hubro Music, in May 2014, is the followup to 2012s 1982 + B.J. Cole. This was the third album 1982 had released since they formed back in 2007. A/B harks back to the age of the vinyl album and is the latest chapter in the 1982 story. 

The 1982 story began back in 2007. That’s when Sigbjørn Apeland, Øyvind Skarbø and Nils Økland formed what was essentially a Norwegian supergroup consisting of innovative musicals. Each member of 1982 was an experienced and inventive musician. They’d all played on albums by other bands. Nils Økland had already released a trio of solo albums. 1982 would become a vehicle to showcase their collective talents. 

A/B, which is the fourth album from Norwegian improvisational trio 1982, is without doubt, the best album of their career. Flawless describes this Nordic minimalist epic. So does innovative, understated, wistful, melancholy, dramatic, dreamy, eerie, beautiful, broody, moody and haunting. Other times, A/B is emotive and tugs at your heartstrings. It’s also music that’s beautiful, complex and full of nuances. The music is multilayered, spectral and full of textures. A/B are all these things and more as 1982 seamlessly, mix musical genres. Everything from ambient, avant garde, classical, drone, experimental, free jazz and jazz is combined by 1982. The result is A/B an album of groundbreaking sonic journeys, from Norwegian improvisational trio 1982. 

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ORLANDO JULIUS WITH THE HELIOCENTRICS-JAIYEDE AFRO.

Nowadays, collaborations are commonplace in modern music. So much so, that many music lovers have become complacent. However, the new collaboration between Orlando Julius and The Heliocentrics, Jaiyede Afro, is guaranteed to refresh even the most jaded musical palettes. That’s no surprise. This is a collaboration between one of the legends of African music Orlando Julius, and The Heliocentrics, who are one of London’s most exciting groups. As collaborations go, it’s a tantalising prospect. There’s more to Jaiyede Afro which was recently released by Strut Records, than a collaboration between two musical cultures and genres. Jaiyede Afro is also a fusion between two generations of musicians.

During the Jaiyede Afro, Orlando Julius The Heliocentrics create a captivating, genre-melting album, Jaiyede Afro which was recently released by Strut Records. Everything from Afro-beat, dub, free jazz, funk, highlife, jazz, psychedelia and rock melt into one. Jaiyede Afro is a case of expect the unexpected. 

You never quite know which direction Jaiyede Afro is heading. It’s the ultimate music mystery tour. Curveballs are thrown. They wrong foot you. You think Jaiyede Afro is heading in one direction. Then Orlando Julius The Heliocentrics do the musical equivalent of a handbrake turn. Suddenly, you hare off in the opposite direction. Subtleties and surprises then assail your senses. Sometimes it’s far from subtle. However, it’s jazzy, joyous, funky, soulful and truly irresistible. It’s a truly captivating, mesmeric and tantalising journey, one you wish would never end. When it does, you press play again and enjoy the glorious magical musical mystery tour that is Jaiyede Afro once again. 

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