Best New Albums Of 2017-Part 3.

Cluster-Konzerte 1972-1977. 

Label: Bureau B.

Although Cluster released seven studio albums between 1971 and 1979, they were also a legendary live band, whose marathon concerts usually lasted six hours or more. Sadly, Cluster never released a live album during the seventies. The nearest most people got to hearing Cluster live was when they heard Live In der Fabrik, a fifteen minute epic that featured on Cluster II in 1972. Since then, Cluster have never released an album of live material from the seventies. That was until the release of Konzerte 1972-1977, which features recordings from two Cluster concerts. These recordings are a tantalising reminder of what Cluster live in the seventies sounded like. Konzerte 1972-1977 is the musical equivalent of time travel, and transports the listener back to seventies, when Cluster was in their musical prime.

Conrad Schnitzler/Schneider-Con-Struct.

Label: Bureau B.

Just over five years after the death of Conrad Schnitzler, the fourth instalment in the Con-Struct series was released. This time, it was a collaboration between Conrad Schnitzler and Schneider TM. As collaborations go, it’s truly compelling and captivating project that resulted in an album of cinematic soundscapes. They were constructed by Schneider TM using sounds from Conrad Schnitzler’s vast archive that was assembled over four decades. Schneider TM delved deep into the archives in search of sounds and inspiration, and found plenty of both. These sounds were used to construct the fourth and best instalment of the Con-Struct series.

Danish String Quartet-Last Leaf.

Label: ECM Records.

Nowadays, the Danish String Quartet is regarded by many critics as the most exciting young string quartets in Europe, if not the world. They’ve been breathing new life and meaning into contemporary compositions and the classical repertoire. However, when the Danish String Quartet released their debut album Wood Works in 2014 it was a foray into Nordic folk music. So too, is the Danish String Quartet’s much-anticipated sophomore album Last Leaf. It’s another captivating and near flawless foray into the world of Nordic folk music from the Danish String Quartet who further enhanced their reputation on Last Leaf.

David Virelles, Ramon Diaz and Nosotros Ensemble-Gnosis.

Label: ECM Records.

Nowadays, Chilean composer and pianist David Virelles calls New York home. That was where he recorded Gnosis, at Avatar Studios in May 2016. It’s an album which was inspired by various cultures, and where David Virelles explores transculturation and traditions, and also the complexities of Cuban music. This includes the sacred, secular and ritualistic. However, the music on Gnosis could only have been written by a truly talented modern musician whose able to look at the music from an improviser’s point of view. His ability to do so, results in a fascinating album where David Virelles sees the musicians as “several families functioning within one unit: this dynamic symbolises multicultural interaction.” This is interesting, ambitious, exciting and thought-provoking concept and an exceptional album of improv.

Der Plan-Unkapitulierbar.

Label: Bureau B.

Last year, Der Plan embarked upon the next chapter of a story that began in 1979, when the band was formed. By 1992, the three members of Der Plan found that their business was taking up so much of their time, that it was overshadowing their music. Sadly, Der Plan never released another album until 2017, when they returned after a twenty-five years with Unkapitulierbar It’s magical mystery tour, where the music veers between melodic and memorable to dark and dramatic to dreamy and lysergic. Other times, it’s dubby, otherworldly and cinematic. Always though, the music is ambitious, and it’s impossible to second guess Der Plan. They throw curveball and spring surprises during Unkapitulierbar which marks the welcome return of comeback kings Der Plan.

Dieter Moebius-Musik für Metropolis.

Label: Bureau B.

After Dieter Moebius was invited to perform music to accompany a screening of Fritz Lang’s legendary silent film Metropolis, he decided to record a full-length album featuring the music from the Metropolis project. Recording began in 2012, but wasn’t completed by the time of Dieter Moebius’ death in 2015. That wasn’t the end of the project, and three of Dieter Moebius’ friends completed Musik für Metropolis. They played their part in soundscapes that were atmospheric, dramatic, futuristic, melodic, menacing, mesmeric, poignant and full of tension. Always the filmic music on Musik für Metropolis captivates and compels as Dieter Moebius paints pictures with music.

DJ Vadim and Blackstone–Double Sided

Label: BBE. 

Just three years after Blackstone made her debut on DJ Vadim’s Dubcatcher album, the pair have equal billing on Double Sided. This is reminder of why Blackstone is regarded as one of music’s rising stars. Proof if any was needed is Double Sided, where Blackstone’s vocals veer between traditional soul and Nu Soul. Meanwhile, DJ Vadim leashes an array of drum machines, synths and guitars, which are augmented by guest artists. They play their part in the sound and success of Double Sided which is without doubt one of DJ Vadim’s best albums. The reason for this is the addition of Katrina Blackstone, who steps out of the shadows and takes centre-stage and plays a starring role on Double Sided, the much-anticipated collaboration between DJ Vadim and Blackstone. 

Eberhard Kranemann and Harald Grosskopf-Krautwerk.

Label: Bureau B. 

Although Eberhard Kranemann and Harald Grosskop are now two of German music’s elder statesmen, Krautwerk shows that they’re still capable of creating ambitious, innovative and genre-melting music. It veers between anthemic, joyous uplifting, to dark, moody and broody, and other times dramatic, futuristic and mesmeric. Krautwerk is also psychedelic, cinematic and always captivates as contemporary and futuristic music combine. Sometimes, Eberhard Kranemann and Harald Grosskopf make the music of tomorrow, today on Krautwerk, an album of carefully crafted cinematic soundscapes. 

Eivind Opsvik-Overseas V.

Label: Loyal Label.

When Eivind Opsvik returned with Overseas V last year, it was an ambitious, inventive, innovative and genre-melting music. He was  accompanied by his band Overseas as they fused disparate musical genres including everything from avant-garde and art rock to free jazz funk and fusion and even, post punk and progressive jazz. The result was a captivating musical journey where the soundscapes are concise and immediate. They’re also atmospheric, edgy, challenging, melodic, hook-laden and rhythmic. While rhythm is more important than melody and atmosphere on Overseas V, the music is still cinematic on what’s Eivind Opsvik’s finest hour.

Erik Honoré-Unrest. 

Label: Hubro Music.

Although Erik Honoré’s career has spanned four decades, he only released his debut album Heliographs in 2014. Three-years later, and Erik Honoré returns with his eagerly awaited sophomore album Unrest. It’s another ambitious album of imaginative, innovative and influential music as befits one of the leading lights of the Norwegian music scene. However, Erik Honoré reaches new heights on Unrest, which is a captivating album which feature a mixture of intensity, darkness, drama, emotion and ethereal beauty, that sometimes, features a ruminative sound that invites reflection as one of Norwegian music’s pioneers, paints pictures with his cinematic soundscapes.



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