THE BEST 55 NEW ALBUMS OF 2015-PART TWO.

THE BEST 55 NEW ALBUMS OF 2015-PART TWO.

BLACK MOON CIRCLE-THE STUDIO JAMS VOLUME I: YELOW NEBULA IN THE SKY.

Norwegian psychedelic space rock band Black Moon Circle are one of the rising stars of the Norwegian music scene. Their previous album Andromeda was released to critical acclaim in October 2014. A great future was forecast for the Trondheim based trio. No wonder. Black Moon Circle are one of the most talented bands in the Nordic music scene. They’re also one of the most ambitious, as they  plan to release a trilogy of studio jams. The first instalment is The Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula in the Sky. It was be released on limited edition vinyl, in August 2015, on Crispin Glover Records, and is the perfect introduction to Black Moon Circle.

They’re, essentially, a power trio, who create their unique brand of psychedelic space rock. The basis for this, is the classic rock of the sixties and seventies, psychedelia and space rock. To this, Black Moon Circle add elements of electronica, experimental music and free jazz. Seamlessly, these disparate musical genres and influences merge into something new and innovative. It’s cinematic, dramatic, futuristic, moody, rocky and as Øyvin Engan says, “intense.” 

This intensity is deliberate. It comes courtesy of the three members of Black Moon Circle. They deploy layers of fuzzy guitars, spacey, lysergic synths and a mesmeric rhythm section. When all this is combined, the result is the next instalment in the Black Moon Circle story, The Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula In The Sky. It’s without doubt the best album of Black Moon Circle’s three album career. That’s why, for anyone yet to discover Black Moon Circle, The Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula In The Sky is the perfect introduction to the Norwegian psychedelic space rock pioneers at their hard rocking best.

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BOB DYLAN-SHADOWS IN THE NIGHT.

For his thirty-ninth album, Bob Dylan inspired by the music of Frank Sinatra crooned his way through ten of his favourite jazz and pop standards on Shadows In The Night, which was released on Columbia. Shadows In The Night however,  divided opinion.

It’s safe to say that ever since the release of Shadows In The Night, it’s  an album that’s divided the opinion of even the most loyal Bob Dylan fan. They seem to either love or loath Shadows In The Night. There appears, is no middle ground. Essentially, Shadows In The Night is a Marmite album. 

Personally, I think Bob Dylan suits and should embrace the role of a crooner. His lived-in, world-weary vocal breathes life, meaning and emotion into the ten tracks on Shadows In The Night. Bob Dylan sounds as he’s lived, loved and survived to tell the tale. Although he might not have the smooth voice of Frank Sinatra, he’s the ability to bring the songs to life. He’s not so much singing songs, but sounds as if he’s lived survived them.

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BOY-WE WERE HERE.

Valeska Steiner and Sonja Glass first met in 2005, at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg. They were both students on a pop music course. A lot had happened in since then. They released their debut album Mutual friends in 2011. Since then, BOY’s star had been in the ascendancy. Their music us popular all over the world, and a countless awards have come their way. This includes a gold disc for sales of their latest album We Were Here. That’s not surprising.

We Were Here, which was released on Grönland Records, was a fitting followup to Mutual Friends. The music was variously melodic, melancholy and mischievous. Other times, it was anthemic and hook-laden. It was impossible not to be captivated by We Were Here, career defining album from BOY. The former pop music students BOY, have graduated summa cum laude with We Were Here, a carefully crafted album of hook-laden, perfect pop.

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CHRISTIAN WALLUMROD-PIANOKAMMER.

Christian Wallumrød’s recording career began nearly twenty years ago, in 1996, when the Christian Wallumrød Trio released their debut album Birch. Released to widespread critical acclaim, Birch launched the career of Christian Wallumrød. Since then, Christian Wallumrød star has been in the ascendancy. 

To the onlooker, it seems Christian Wallumrød has done everything in music. He’s worked with the great and good of Norwegian music on a variety of groundbreaking projects, and formed the Christian Wallumrød Trio, who have released five albums. Their last album, Outstairs, released in 2013, won a Spellemannspris, Norwegian Grammy. However, there’s one thing Christian Wallumrød rectified last year, when he realised his debut solo album Pianokammer on Hubro Music.

Pianokammer is a spellbinding album, of innovative, groundbreaking and genre defying music. Christian combines ambient, avant-garde, blues, experimental, free jazz and jazz. The result is a captivating collection of six songs, that are variously ambitious, bold, dark, dramatic, ethereal, haunting, hopeful, irresistible, joyous, ominous and uplifting. That’s why, Pianokammer is, without doubt, such an ambitious and captivating album from musical innovator and adventurer, Christian Wallumrød. 

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CHVRCHES-EVERY OPEN EYE.

Earlier this year, Chvrches returned returned with their sophomore album Every Open Eye. It’s the follow up to their million selling 2013 debut album The Bones Of What You Believe.  Chvrches pickup where they left off on The Bones Of What You Believe.

Every Open Eye, an album full of dance-floor fillers, anthems and beautiful ballads. The five months Chvrcges spent recording Every Open Eye was five months well spent. Every Open Eye is a stunning album, and almost flawless album.

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DALINDEO-KALLIO. 

It was back in 2003, that Dalindèo, the Finnish jazz-sextet were founded by composer and guitarist Valtteri Laurell Pöyhönen. Since then, Dalindèo have released a trio of albums.  Their debut was Open Scenes in 2007. Three years later, Dalindèo returned with Soundtrack For The Sound Eye. By then, Dalindèo’s star was in the ascendancy. Then in March 2015, Dalindèo released their third album Kallio on BBE Music.

Kalindèo are just the latest in a long line of hugely talented Scandinavian artists who are making groundbreaking music. Previously, many of these artists have come from Norway, which currently, has some of the most inventive and innovative musicians in Europe. This Nordic Wave has resulted in Norway becoming one of Europe’s musical cultural capitals. That looks like continuing for the some time. No wonder. Some of the best, and most groundbreaking music of the last few years has come out of Norway. This includes everything from ambient and avant-garde, to jazz, fusion and rock. Norway it seems, is at the vanguard of musical revolution. Will this musical revolution sweep across Scandinavia?

Let’s hope that’s the case. Hopefully, in the coming months and years, a new generation of Finnish artists and groups will produce equally innovative and ambitious music. Maybe, Kalindèo, will be the first of many Finnish artists and groups to enjoy commercial success and critical acclaim? That’s could to be the case. Especially, if they can produce music as groundbreaking and atmospheric as that on Kallio, Dalindèo’s third album.

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DAVID GILMOUR-RATTLE THAT LOCK.

After a career than spanned forty-seven years, Pink Floyd released their final album, The Endless River in 2014. It was the end of an era. Pink Floyd had been a musical institution. For six decades, Pink Floyd had provided the soundtrack to the lives of several generations. However, the end of Pink Floyd allowed Dave Gilmour to concentrate on his solo career. His first solo album post Pink Floyd, was Rattle That Lock, which was released on Columbia,  in September 2015.  Rattle That Lock was a welcome return from the former Floyd frontman.

Rattle That Lock took nearly two years, a huge cast of musicians, backing singers and an orchestra accompanied David Gilmour. He and his co-producer Phil Manzanera crafted a quite beautiful and eclectic album. There’s elements of ambient, classic rock, jazz, pop and post rock on Rattle That Lock. Seamlessly, David switches between genres. He’s just as happy delivering a soul-baring ballad like In Any Tongue as he is delivering the jazz-tinged The Girl In The Yellow Dress. Then there’s a trio of cinematic instrumentals. Each and every one of them paint pictures. However, And Then features a reflective David. It’s as if he’s remembering his fallen comrades from Pink Floyd. And Then proves a poignant way to close Rattle That Lock which is, without doubt, the finest album of David Gilmour’s career and shows that there’s life after Pink Floyd.

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DUKE ELLINGTON AND HIS ORCHESTRA-THE CONNY PLANK SESSION.

In the history of German music, Conny Plank is reverentially referred to as the “genius” by Michael Rother. He worked on some of the most innovative recordings of the seventies. This includes recording Duke Ellington and His Orchestra in 1970. 

The resultant sessions lay unreleased until earlier this year, when The Conny Plank Session was released by Grönland Records. They were a captivating musical document, that were  recorded  at Rhenus Studio, Cologne. Conny Plank coaxed, cajoled and encouraged a series of spellbinding performances from Duke Ellington and His Orchestra. As Conny takes The Duke out of comfort zone, he encourages him to head on musical voyage of discovery. To do that, Conny charmed, encouraged and flattered Duke Ellington. He did whatever it took to get the best performance from The Duke. Once The Conny Plank Session was complete, Conny let Duke Ellington hear the fruits of their labours.

As Conny and Duke Ellington listened to the six tracks, the veteran jazz musician was enthralled. He complemented Conny for his work. Somehow, he had captured Duke Ellington and His Orchestra at their best. It was one of the last great recordings The Duke made. Four years later, and sadly, The Duke was dead. However, The Conny Plank Session are a tantalising reminder of what happened when The Duke met the genius, Conny Plank.

ELEPHANT9 WITH REINE FISKE-SILVER MOUNTAIN.

For their fourth album, Silver Mountain, Elephant9 have once again joined forces with Swedish virtuoso guitarist Reine Fiske. This tantalising pan-Scandinavian collaboration has resulted in a genre-melting album of rock ’n’ jazz, prog rock and psychedelia, Silver Mountain. It was released on Rune Grammofon, and is the finest album of Elephant9’s four album career.

Not only is Silver Mountain the finest album of Elephant9’s career. It features music that’s ambitious, bold, exciting and innovative. Continually, Elephant9 push musical boundaries. To do this, they combine musical genres. Everything from ambient, the classic rock of the late-sixties and seventies, electronica, experimental, free jazz, Krautrock, prog rock, psychedelia and space rock can be heard on Sliver Mountain. It’s a captivating journey through musical genres and influences. Listen carefully, and you’ll hear everyone from Can, Hawkwind, Jimi Hendrix, Klaus Doldinger, Kraftwerk, Led Zeppelin, Neu!, Pink Floyd, Ry Cooder, The Doors and Tubeway Army. Some of these influences can be heard only briefly, while others are more noticeable. Closer to home, another of Norway’s leading bands Motorpscycho also seem to have influenced Elephant9, as they take listeners on journey through twists and turns. 

Continually, Elephant9 take twists and turns throughout Silver Mountain. They lead you down blind alleys, only to find an escape route. Out of a blistering slice of rock comes an ethereal ambient soundscape. That’s what you quickly come to expect from Elephant9 on Silver Mountain, musical pioneers extraordinaire.

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ERLAND DAHLEN-BLOSSOM BELLS.

Back in 2012, drummer and percussionist Erland Dahlen released his long-awaited, and much-anticipated debut album Rolling Bomber. By then, the forty-one year old was a veteran of the vibrant Nordic music scene. Erland Dahlen was a veteran of countless bands, including HET, Boschamaz, Kiruna, Morris, Piston Ltd, Batagraf, The Sonic Codex Orchestra and Stian Westerhus and Pale Horses. This however, was only part of the story, as Erland Dahlen was also one of Norway’s top session musicians.  Somehow, Erland Dahlen found time to record Blossom Bells, which was released on Hubro Music.

Blossom Bells is a near flawless fusion of ambient, avant garde, electronica, experimental, Krautrock, Nordic Wave, post rock, psychedelia and rock. Genres melt into one, on an album that’s variously moody and broody, to dark and dramatic, to  lysergic, otherworldly, spiritual, haunting, atmospheric and ethereal. The music on Blossom Bells is definitely cinematic. That’s the case throughout Blossom Bells. It sounds like the soundtrack to a film that’s yet to be made. Other times, the music on Blossom Bells becomes anthemic and up-lifting. Always, though, the music on Blossom Bells is captivating, cerebral, cinematic, inventive and innovative.

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