Recently added Classical CDs

For this selection of new classical music CDs we spotlight some vocal works: some Baroque Italian music (sacred and secular), and a post-Romantic opera.

Pelléas et Mélisande, Debussy. Performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and soloists.
“Debussy’s only completed opera, Pelléas et Mélisande, is widely considered to be one of the 20th century’s greatest. His setting of Maurice Maeterlinck’s love triangle between Mélisande, Golaud, and his younger half-brother Pelléas, creates a distinctive and tense atmosphere – a world of ambiguity, darkness and light, life, death and love; all underpinned by Debussy’s complex and subtle harmonies, and expressive use of orchestral colour” (back cover).

Catharsis. Performed by Xavier Sabata.
Startling cover. “Around the year 1600, a group of Florentine aristocrats, inspired by ancient Greek drama, gave birth to opera. They set out to glorify human passions in such a strong way that the spectator’s soul would be cleansed. This was a process that Aristotle called catharsis. In a fascinating program featuring works by works by Orlandini, Conti, Torri, Vivaldi, Handel, Hasse, Caldara, Sarro and Ariosti, countertenor Xavier Sabata, accompanied by George Petrou and Armonia Atenea, captures these moments at the heart of legendary heroes of Baroque opera” (amazon.com).

Vespers 1610, Monteverdi. Performed by the Dunedin Consort.
Fully titled: Vespro della Beata Vergine. Recorded at the Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh, this performance – corralled by John Butt – concentrates its focus on some super vocal soloists, and features the wonderful His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts. Butt and the Dunedin Consort pay particular attention to getting the details of pitch and instrumentation spot-on, and as historically accurate as possible.

New CDs at your library

Check out some of these newly catalogued CDs, from newcomers London Grammar to veterans such as Steve Winwood and Brian Wilson. The long awaited third installment in a deluxe reissue series A New Career in a New Town by David Bowie has already been proven very popular.

New Albums

London Grammar Truth is a beautiful thing.
“Four years after their debut, English trio London Grammar returned with their sophomore set, Truth Is a Beautiful Thing, featuring production by Jon Hopkins (Imogen Heap, Coldplay), Paul Epworth (Florence + the Machine, Adele), and Greg Kurstin (Adele, Sia). Once again, vocalist Hannah Reid takes center stage with her powerful, angelic instrument, which can stir the soul at the smokiest depths before jolting everything to the heavens in a fashion much like Florence Welch or Annie Lennox.” (adapted from fishpond.co.nz)

Mount Kimbie Love what survives
“Love What Survives is the third studio album from Mount Kimbie. It is a melodic yet robust electronic record for driving with the windows down and a distillation of their career to date, mixing multiple singing voices and musical personalities, flirting with freeform experimentation, pop tropes and an expansive sonic palette. As the title suggests the record is the product of three years of intense creative development, continually honed by the duo writing and rewriting their ideas to form something wholly idiosyncratic and personal.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Killers Wonderful wonderful
“Ghosts of that sound flutter through Wonderful Wonderful, but they get pushed aside by disco struts, brooding celebrity name-drops, Mark Knopfler cameos, and Fleetwood Mac harmonies so uncannily real you’d swear Lindsey Buckingham guested on the record. Such odd juxtapositions and untrammeled ambition have been the Killers’ stock in trade since at least Sam’s Town, but the impressive thing about Wonderful Wonderful is how the Killers are able to execute Flowers’ overstuffed ideas so precisely.” (adapted from fishpond.co.nz)

Horrors V
“Stunningly assertive fifth album from The Horrors. First single ‘Machine’ sees the group at their majestic, imperial best, although the ten tracks on the album are so diverse that when the final song ‘Something To Remember Me By’ appears to channel dance, trance and ‘80s pop genres it feels like both the most natural thing in the musical world and also the most surprising. ‘V’ shows the group at the peak of their powers, exhibiting a freedom and sense of exploration that feels truly liberating.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Steve Winwood Greatest hits live
“Steve Winwood will release his FIRST-EVER live album as a solo artist this September. ‘Winwood: Greatest Hits Live’ is a new 2CD collection sourced from Steve’s personal archives of live performances. With a 23-song tracklist handpicked by Steve, featuring his best loved songs. It offers fans a definitive musical portrait of his five-decade career. The expanded 2CD gatefold package features rare, previously unreleased material touching on all aspects of Winwood’s extensive catalogue, including contemporary arrangements of the music he created with the Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind Faith, and on his classic solo recordings.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Brian Wilson Playback : the Brian Wilson anthology
“Playback: The Brian Wilson Anthology is the first-ever compilation concentrating on Brian Wilson’s solo career, and given that his discography is a bit unwieldy, it’s not a surprise that Playback is a bit misshapen. Over the course of 18 tracks, Playback samples from nearly every record Wilson released between his eponymous 1988 solo debut and 2015’s No Pier Pressure, adding two unreleased tracks.” (adapted from fishpond.co.nz)

Mastodon Cold dark place
“Only the second proper EP from the band — the songs on 2001’s Lifesblood eventually made their way onto the 2006 compilation Call of the Mastodon — three of Cold Dark Place’s cuts (“North Side Star,” “Blue Walsh,” and the brooding, acoustic- and pedal steel guitar-heavy title track) were recorded during the sessions for 2014’s Once More ‘Round the Sun, and they reflect that LP’s somber tone and predilection towards accessible hard rock songcraft.” (adapted from fishpond.co.nz)

Box sets/ Reissues

David Bowie A new career in a new town (1977-1982).
“The third installment in a comprehensive deluxe reissue series of David Bowie’s entire catalog, A New Career in a New Town (1977-1982) chronicles perhaps the most artistically ambitious phase in Bowie’s career. A New Career in a New Town is a handsome, alluring, and exceptional-sounding reissue that earns its price tag.” (adapted from fishpond.co.nz)

Verve Urban hymns [deluxe]
“Expertly catching the mood of the late-‘90s upon its release in September 1997, The Verve’s third studio outing went on to become one of the all-time classic British albums. Now, exactly twenty years on, comes this Super Deluxe expanded edition, containing a host of special features. Re-mastering was undertaken by original co-producer Chris Potter and this 5CD / 1DVD box adds all of the era’s B-sides, the previously unreleased Haigh Hall concert plus further live material and BBC sessions from 1997-1998. The DVD features the full Haigh Hall concert, the ‘The Video 96-98’ documentary, a ‘Later With Jools Holland’ appearance from November 1997 plus the promo videos.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Pink Floyd The early years 1965-1967 : Cambridge st/ation.
“Four disc (2CD + DVD + Blu-Ray) set. Covering Syd Barrett’s time with the band, from the pre-EMI demos, through the non-album hit singles and related tracks, the first volume also features previously unreleased tracks like ‘Vegetable Man’ and ‘In The Beechwoods’ (newly mixed), plus BBC session recordings. Pink Floyd have also acquired the tapes of an unreleased 1967 concert in Stockholm. The DVD/Blu-ray includes historic TV performances plus some of Pink Floyd’s own film material.” (adapted from realgroovy.co.nz)

Sit back and enjoy these Classical CD additions

Here are three CDs we slipped into the classical music collection recently!

Quartets Op. 13, 44 No. 2, 4 Pieces, Frage Op. 9, Mendelssohn. Performed by Quatuor Arod.
“The Arod Quartet, founded just four years ago in Paris, makes its debut on Erato with an album of Mendelssohn, tracing his life through his works for string quartet. The composer has been important for the ensemble, not least by helping it win two major competitions. The members of the Arod have been mentored by both the Ebène and Artemis Quartet, and they collaborate here with a further Erato artist, the mezzo-soprano Marianne Crebassa, in a performance of the song ‘Ist es wahr?'” (amazon.com).

Piano Concerto No. 2, Études-tableaux, Op. 33, Rachmaninov. Performed by Boris Giltburg and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
“Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 is one of the most passionate and beloved concertos in the repertoire, its lyricism and virtuosity charting a trajectory from darkness through idyll to dazzling triumph. The Études-tableaux, Op. 33 are richly characterised musical evocations, expressive and often explosive, that reflect a more angular, modern aspect” (cover).

An Ode on the Death of Mr Henry Purcell, John Blow. Performed by Arcangelo + soloists.
“Jonathan Cohen and Arcangelo present an ideal album of music for connoisseurs of the English Baroque – and extraordinary singing. This wonderful recital of music by John Blow features a wide range of both vocal and instrumental music. Arcangelo once again demonstrate their versatility in repertoire that will be a real discovery for many” (amazon.com).

Coming very soon: Mahler 2 performed by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; Monteverdi’s Vespers 1610.

A selection of new Classical CD additions

This week’s classical selection is brought to you by the keyboard (at a bit of a stretch): a Saint-Saëns CD featuring both the organ and two pianos, a symphony composed by a virtuoso pianist, and a compilation of works performed on the tangent piano (a bit of a rarity).

Carnival of the Animals, Organ Symphony, Saint-Saëns. Performed by the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Antonio Pappano.
“Saint-Saëns briefly paused work on his Third Symphony for a holiday in Austria, during which the whimsy of his Carnival of the Animals was born. Yet these two works – from the very same year in the composer’s life – could not be more different, and make a dramatic coupling showing two sides of a singular genius. Martha Argerich and Antonio Pappano celebrate an enduring friendship with this tribute, grand and tongue-in-cheek, to Saint-Saëns” (back cover).

Symphony No. 1, Rachmaninov. Performed live by the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy.
A live recording of Rachmaninov’s first symphony (composed when he was 22) performed last year at the Royal Festival Hall in London, this work is receiving rave reviews. Vladimir Ashkenazy, pianist and conductor extraordinaire, was recently interviewed by Presto Classical about the recording, and his thoughts on Rachmaninov and the Philharmonia Orchestra here.

Tangere, C.P.E. Bach. Performed by Alexei Lubimov.
“Russian pianist Alexei Lubimov is the rare artist who has been a trailblazer in two directions, both a champion of new music (from Cage to Silvestrov) and a dedicated interpreter of Baroque music with a passion for period instruments. In this remarkable reading of music by CPE Bach, Lubimov responds to the inventiveness of the composer’s fantasies, sonatas and rondos by making full creative use of the sonorities of the tangent piano. Briefly popular in the early 18th century, the tangent piano (whose strings are struck from beneath by wood or metal tangents and allowed to vibrate) offered greater expressiveness and intensity than the harpsichord” (amazon.com).

Check out these new CDs in our collection!

Check out some of these newly catalogued CDs in our AV collection. They include the new albums by the big names such as Foo Fighters, The National and our very own Black Seeds. Enjoy!

New Albums

Queens of the Stone Age – Villains
“New 2017 album from Josh Homme and cohorts … their first in 4 years! Produced by Mark Ronson. Includes “The Way You Used To Do”.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Foo Fighters – Concrete and gold
“9th studio album from Dave Grohl & Co.Heavy riffs, sweet melodies & lush production, “..Motorhead’s version of Sgt. Pepper… or something like that.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

The National – Sleep well beast
“New 2017 album … their first in 4 years! Recorded at multi-instrumentalist Aaron Dessner’s own studio in upstate New York. Includes “The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness”.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Black Seeds – Fabric
“Long established as one of New Zealand’s finest acts, South Pacific reggae-soul legends The Black Seeds return in September with their long awaited 6th studio album ‘Fabric’. While firmly based in the island grooves that inspired the birth of the band nearly two decades ago, The Black Seeds’ sound casts a wide net, layering funk, soul, Afrobeat, and other eclectic elements over their dub/reggae foundations. It’s “contemporary groove music with influences from soul and funk and reggae rhythms – and even rock…” explains guitarist/vocalist Barnaby Weir.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Neil Finn – Out of silence
“2017 solo album from Crowded House mainman, recorded live in one session! Produced by his son Liam, with guests including Tim Finn, Don McGlashan & EJ Barnes. Features ‘Love Is Emotional’.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Unkle – The road. Part 1
“After a rollercoaster twenty-five year career as an artist, curator and tastemaker, James Lavelle returns with UNKLE’s fifth studio album: The Road. After a productive trip to the States, Lavelle returned to London to add the finishing touches to what was shaping up to be another classic UNKLE record.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Paul Kelly – Life is fine
“With 2017’s Life Is Fine, Kelly seems to have relaxed a bit and returned to what has been familiar territory though much of his career. Life Is Fine is otherwise a set of Paul Kelly originals that find him in a largely upbeat mood while backed by his road band, most of whose members have worked with him for over 20 years.” (adapted from fishpond.co.nz)

Grizzly Bear – Painted ruins
“Grizzly Bear release their highly anticipated fifth full-length album “Painted Ruins” following up their 2012 commercial breakthrough “Shields.” The band spent the better part of two years writing and recording the eleven new compositions featured on “Painted Ruins” with the entire album produced by Grizzly Bear’s own, Chris Taylor.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Box sets/ Reissues

Kraftwerk – 3-D : the catalogue
“As with their concerts since 2009, the group designed special three-dimensional visuals for the performances, and equipped the audience members with 3-D glasses straight out of a 1950s movie theater. Box set 3-D The Catalogue is an audio document of the arrangements devised for these concerts.” (adapted from fishpond.co.nz)

Silhouettes & statues : a gothic revolution 1978-1986
“Extensive 5CD/book set exploring the evolution of the Goth movement, from the glacial post-punk of the late 1970s through positive punk and into the Batcave era, dark electronica and beyond. Features over 80 classics, rarities, album tracks & hidden gems from The Cure, Joy Division, Sisters Of Mercy, PiL, The Birthday Party, Adam And The Ants, The Mission, Southern Death Cult, Fields Of The Nephilim, and many more.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)
njoy

Stravinsky on strings: New Classical CDs

This week we highlight an interesting selection of recent classical releases including some Baroque solo music performed on period instruments, Strauss Lieder, and a collection of works for violin and piano by Stravinsky, which is interesting in that Stravinsky claimed he wasn’t fond of the combination of strings and piano (according to Presto Classical).

Twelve Fantasias for Solo Flute, Telemann. Performed by Ashley Solomon.
“This recording offers the listener a rare opportunity to hear two unique baroque flutes, both made in 1760 alongside my favourite modern copy. In combining all three on this recording I hope it opens a new sound world for the listener and breathes fresh life into these well-known works by Telemann” (Ashley Solomon, on CD cover).

Piano Concertos Nos. 25 & 26, Mozart. Performed by Francesco Piemontesi and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
“Described as a ‘stellar Mozartian’ Francesco Piemontesi finds a perfect partner in the Scottish Chamber Orchestra whose impeccable credentials are widely acknowledge. Piemontesi has performed Mozart exclusively recently, including a critically acclaimed 2015 BBC Prom, a Mozart cycle at London’s Wigmore Hall which commenced in January, 2016 and continues in 2017 and Mozart concertos with the SCO. The Swiss pianist enjoys a particular insight into Mozart gaining a useful ‘love of detail’ from his teacher Alfred Brendel, who was himself renowned for his masterly interpretations of Mozart. This recording couples consecutive yet contrasting works from Mozart’s Vienna period: K.503 represents the longest and most substantial of his concert masterpieces and K.537 provides the soloist with an audience-pleasing cadenza. Conductor Andrew Manze, well-known as a HIP pioneer, shares Piemontesi’s approach to creating an authentic performance, making this somewhat of a Mozart dream team” (amazon.com).

Music for Violin, Volume 1, Stravinsky. Performed by Ilya Gringolts and Peter Laul.
This compilation is in large part a collection of works Stravinsky wrote for his violinist friend Samuel Dushkin, the idea being that Stravinsky and Dushkin would perform them together in recitals. Other works that feature are arrangements of some of pieces taken from some of Stravinsky’s more famous efforts, The Firebird, Petrushka for example. The CD rounds out with a Stravinsky arrangement of La Marseillaise written for solo violin.

Through Life and Love, Richard Strauss. Performed by Louise Alder.
“Hailed as ‘one of the brightest lyric-sopranos of the younger generation’… Louise has been held in high critical acclaim during her early career, and has recently been declared Young Singer of the Year at the 2017 International Opera Awards. She is also no stranger to Lieder, and has worked with pianist Joseph Middleton previously at the Leeds Lieder Festival. Joseph is considered a specialist in the art of song accompaniment… Through Life and Love sees Louise and Joseph perform some of the most beautiful Lieder in the repertoire, including Strauss’ ‘Die nacht, Standchen’ and ‘Rote Rosen’… (amazon.com).

Check out these new CD arrivals!

Check out some of these newly catalogued CDs in our AV collection. They include the new albums by Arcade Fire and Lana Del Rey. Also, fantastic box-sets keep coming to our extensive collection and U2’s The Joshua Tree is back as a super deluxe box-set!

New Albums

Public Service Broadcasting / Every valley.
“The third album from Public Service Broadcasting, the brainchild of London-based J. Willgoose, Esq. who, along with his drumming companion, Wrigglesworth, and their bass player, keys and horns man extraordinaire, JFAbraham, is on a quest to inform, educate and entertain audiences around the globe On Every Valley Willgoose takes us on a journey down the mineshafts of South Wales valleys.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Lana Del Rey / Lust for life.
“For the first time on a Lana Del Rey album, we’ll hear voices besides Lana herself: Lust for Life includes guest appearances from Stevie Nicks, the Weekend, A$AP Rocky, Playboi Carti, and Sean Lennon.” (adapted from mightyape.co.nz)

Arcade Fire / Everything now.
“‘Everything Now’ is the 5th studio album from Arcade Fire. The thirteen track album features the lead single ‘Everything Now’ and was produced by Arcade Fire, Thomas Bangalter and Steve Mackey, with co-production by Markus Dravs.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Steve Earle / So you wannabe an outlaw.
So You Wannabe an Outlaw, Earle’s first album for Warner Bros. Records since 1997’s El Corazón, explores his country songwriting roots and features collaborations with Willie Nelson, Johnny Bush, and Miranda Lambert.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

David Bowie / Cracked actor (live Los Angeles ’74).
“2CD set. Finally officially released on CD! Pivotal 20-track live performance from Los Angeles in September 1974, including two songs tracks not on the “David Live” album. Recorded in-between the “Diamond Dogs” and “Philly Dogs” tours.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Box sets/Reissues

U2 / The Joshua tree [super deluxe].
“Alongside the 11-track album, the super deluxe collector’s edition includes a live recording of The Joshua Tree Tour 1987 Madison Square Garden concert; rarities and B-sides from the album’s original recording sessions; as well as 2017 remixes from Daniel Lanois, St Francis Hotel, Jacknife Lee, Steve Lillywhite and Flood; plus an 84-page hardback book of unseen personal photography shot by The Edge during the original Mojave Desert photo session in 1986.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

The Brain box : cerebral sounds of Brain Records 1972-1979.
“Music & Progressive Rock Fans rejoice as the first deluxe box set of the legendary Krautrock label BRAIN RECORDS is available. Over one year in the making this stunning and well documented 8CD box covering the glorious years of the famous BRAIN Records label will allow an unique insight into the progressive and stunning releases that occurred during that era.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Evan Dando / Baby I’m bored.
“Emerging after The Lemonheads disbanded Evan Dando returned to music first with a solo tour and Live At The Brattle Theatre then came his debut solo album Baby I m Bored . Mature and autobiographical, Baby I’m Bored is a stellar record that stripped Dando of his grunge label.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Manchester north of England : a story of independent music, Greater Manchester 1977-1993.
“From Buzzcocks to Britpop, Manchester North Of England is the ultimate tribute to the independent output of that most important and iconic of musical cities, with 146 tracks across seven CDs in a deluxe box set.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Allman Brothers Band / Brothers and sisters.
“This 40th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition features BROTHERS AND SISTERS (Original Recording Remastered), a second disc of previously unreleased Jams, Rehearsals, and Outtakes, in addition to two extra discs that feature the entire live show from Winterland in San Francisco on September 26, 1973.” (adapted from amazon.com)

More New Classical Additions

This week in new classical music we highlight a big German post-romantic symphony, a piece of minimalist piano music presided over by a virtuoso pianist, and a compilation of works by a less-well-known German composer of songs.

Symphony No. 5, Mahler. Performed by the Minnesota Orchestra with Osmo Vänskä.
“Composed in 1902, [this] purely instrumental work followed upon three symphonies that had all included vocal parts. This and the opening trumpet motif, an allusion to the rhythm that begins Beethoven’s Fifth have been interpreted as Mahler’s return to a more conventional idea of the symphonic genre. Other features are less traditional, however a sometimes bewildering mixture of musical idioms reminds us of the melting-pot that Vienna was at the time, with allusions to Austrian, Bohemian and Hungarian styles. To an unsuspecting audience, the famous Adagietto for strings and harp probably the best-known of all of Mahler’s music must also have been surprising, appearing at the heart of a work which is otherwise lavishly scored and orchestrated.” (amazon.com)

For Bunita Marcus, Morton Feldman. Performed by Marc-André Hamelin.
“‘I have no problem with notes… none at all’, was Feldman’s cryptic comment on For Bunita Marcus. Throughout the seventy-two-minute duration of this extraordinary work, notes coalesce into wisps of melody which drift softly in and out of an immense silence. You are indeed, as pianist Marc-André Hamelin writes in the booklet notes, ‘about to enter a world unlike any other.'” (amazon.com)

Songs, by Robert Franz. Performed by Robin Tritschler.
“Highly regarded by such contemporaries as Mendelssohn, Schumann and Liszt, Robert Franz wrote 279 songs over the course of a long life. For this recital, Graham Johnson and tenor Robin Tritschler perform a selection of 47 of their favorites.” (amazon.com)

Our favourite CDs this month

Our music enthusiasts John and Neil J. select their favourite music over the last few months. Check them out!

John’s picks

Real Estate – In Mind
In a world of constant change predictability can sometimes be a comforting thing and once again, indie hipster heroes, Real Estate, deliver another portion of their gorgeous laid back jangle pop. It is exactly what fans will expect –tremolo heavy guitars, lovely harmonies and bitter sweet songs, all delivered at a relaxed pace by musicians so tight as to appear telepathic – and the fact that there are no surprises is in this case a definite plus. They may be heading down exactly the same road – but it’s hard not to hope they keep doing so for a while yet.

The Handsome Family – Unseen
Another act that successfully tread a well-honed path are husband and wife alt country duo, The Handsome Family. It would be easy to assume that ten albums in they had exhausted ideas for their dark and entrancing gothic folk country sound, but this would be a mistake as, if anything, the contrary is true, with ‘Unseen’ the best record they have made for a while. The melodies are lovely, their darkly surreal stories as absorbing as ever and the playing as understated and gently off- kilter as to be expected. There was a time when The Handsome Family were a closely guarded secret amongst devout fans, until their title theme for ‘True Detective’ cast them into the spotlight, and the exposure appears to have given them a new confidence.

Grandaddy – Last Place
Well-crafted songs, unpretentious 2000’s indie-rock sensibilities, great hooks – guess what, California’s Grandaddy have made a new record after an 11 year silence! Granddaddy were always singer/songwriter Jason Lyttle’s band and it’s great to hear his esoteric, slightly melancholic slacker take on existentialist angst once again. The production is excellent – not trendy lo-fi and not over produced bombast –and gives the guitar, keyboards, occasional strings and electronics room to breathe under Lyttle’s hushed vocals to create a lovely listening experience. Grandaddy were always slightly out of place and now, probably even more so, but their workmanlike song craft and studied carelessness offer a welcome return.

The United States of America – The United States of America
Released in 1968, this was one of the most progressive records released at the time and among the first to feature electronics within a band setup. Grounded in psychedelia but influenced by the New York avant-garde experimental scene, band leader Joe Byrd recruited a group of UCLA students, well versed in John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen, to record the group’s lone self-titled LP. The record flopped, but went on to attain cult status and, apart from some of the hippie inspired lyrics such as “Lemonous petals, dissident play/ Tasting of ergot/ Dancing by night, dying by day”, it sounds remarkably contemporary with musique concrete-style tape collages, white noise, tape delay, ring-modulated fade-outs and distorted synthesizers. This re-issue includes 10 extra alternate takes.

Illum Sphere – Glass
The second album on Ninja Tune from UK electronic producer Ryan Hunn finds him ditching the vocals of his debut to present an excellent album of studied electronica. Maintaining a nice balance between abstract and melodic, the tracks wend their way through a variety of styles including minimal four to the floor, sequencer driven grooves, atmospheric ambient and dubbed out chillscapes throughout a confident and beautifully produced immersive listening experience.

Slowdive – Slowdive
It’s always a risk when a band that has attained cult status makes a new album, and the 22 years since Slowdive’s last record is a good case in point. Key figures in the early ‘90’s Shoegaze movement, Neil Halstead’s vast glistening guitar textures and Rachel Goswell’s hushed vocals, last heard on 1995’s ‘Pygmalion’, have been a huge influence on many bands over the past two decades and it is a great pleasure to discover that their 2017 album is a grandiose and spectacular comeback. Everything a fan could hope for is here – deep layers of beautifully textured guitars and lovely plaintive vocals delivering songs, wistful and reflective, within a shimmering production……. and not a guitar solo in earshot.

Gas – Narkopop
In 2000 German electronic maestro Wolfgang Voigt released ‘Pop’, a deeply immersive record, featuring layered loops of orchestral samples to create engrossing electronic ambient music that exhibited all the majesty of classical. Since then he has pretty much created a genre of beatless electronica via his annual Pop Ambient compilations that feature a wide array of electronic artists applying techno production techniques to ambient textures. ‘Narkopop’, his first full release in 17 years, is a follow up to ‘Pop’ and dives deeper into the original template, focusing on texture and reverberation and introducing sub bass pulses to create stunning symphonic electronic chamber music that is as meditative as it is unsettling.

Fazerdaze – Morningside
The latest release from Flying Nun is ‘Morningside’ the debut album by Fazerdaze, an AK band fronted by Wellington born, bedroom pop artist Amelia Murray. Receiving rave reviews worldwide, the album has even been described as ‘generation defining’ on Canadian website ‘The Review’. Since their recent Laneway performance interest in the band has skyrocketed, with their infectious jangly guitar pop finding an audience in a young generation that has been described as the ‘anxious generation’, and if that is true then it is easy to understand how comfort could be found in these simple and stylish songs. Amelia Murray has a sweet voice and her songs hold emotional resonance, revealing a wide range of feelings – anxiety, trepidation, hope, and relief – delivered via confident song structures and diverse arrangements that reveal glimpses of darkness under the apparent innocence.

Fujiya & Miyagi – Fujiya & Miyagi
Six albums in and the Brighton, UK, based band are gradually becoming underground favorites worldwide. Their latest release compiles three eps released over the past year and finds the band fine tuning their sound. They appeared pretty much fully formed back in 2002 and their idiosyncratic sound hasn’t changed a lot since then, but they have grown into a tight band that successfully blends dance floor electro with band sensibilities and their krautrock inspired electro grooves and whispered vocals are presented here with a lot of confidence.

Tycho – Epoch
Another band that bridge electronica and indie rock are Tycho from San Francisco who have developed from the solo IDM project of electronic producer Scott Hansen into one of the best known instrumental electronic bands of this era. ‘Epoch’, their fourth release, received a 2017 Grammy nomination for Best Dance/Electronic Album, which is surprising considering the amount of guitar playing and drums that feature on a record that is, essentially, an instrumental post rock album. Generally it’s a four to the floor excursion with a few tracks rhythms verging on math rock and even drum’n’bass, yet overall the swirling guitars and cascading synths maintain a steady flow of highly enjoyable grooves.

Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble – Finding Me Finding You
The demise of UK post rockers Stereolab left a gap in contemporary music, but some solace can be found in the fact that there are now two bands in Stereolabs place, with Tim Gane’s Cavern of Anti-Matter exploring further into kraut rock while Laetitia Sadier continues to create her surreal sensual pop informed by the harmonies and lush instrumentation of exotica, easy listening and tropicalia. This is her fourth record since Stereolab split in 2010, and she has proven to be an artist with a clear singular vision which she explores consistently, with the addition of subtle twist here and there. Here she presents her warmest record yet, however the beauty is lodged within shifting abstract song structures that demand a listener’s perseverance – but the effort is well rewarded.

Karriem Riggins – Headnod Suite
Not quite a jazz album and not quite a beat tape, Detroit drummer and producer Karriem Riggins’ second album contains 29 tracks, most of them less than two minutes in duration, that run together to create an engrossing listen featuring vocal snippets and instrumental samples all pushed along by very cool beats. Anyone who has enjoyed the contemporary re-invention of Afro-American fusion explored on Robert Glasper’s remix projects, which re-imagine hip-hop, jazz, electronics and soul, should find this an interesting release. Like classic instrumental hip hop releases such as ‘Donuts’ (Karriem Riggins worked with J Dilla) the multitude of sounds dissipate as quickly as they appear entrancing the attentive listener

Jah Wobble & the Invaders of the Heart – Everything Is Nothing
35 years ago it would have been impossible to foresee the bass player from Johnny Rotten’s post punk band Public Image Ltd making an album of spiritual jazz-funk, but times change and Jah Wobbles latest PledgeMusic funded record is an excellent contemporary fusion of afro-beat, jazz and polyrhythmic funk. Producer Youth has described the record as Wobble’s “Miles Davis opus”, which may be an overstatement; however, this predominantly instrumental album features ten tracks delivered by a talented group of virtuosos who never grandstand but play to the funky polyrhythmic grooves, anchored by Wobble’s dub-infused bass and former Fela Kuti drummer, Tony Allen. Featuring muted trumpet, piano, guitar, Rhodes, vibes, synth, blistering sax (courtesy of Hawkwind’s Nik Turner), flute and strings, this is a big and very funky sound that both references and pays homage to the influential afro jazz that has gone before.

Neil J’s picks

Jesca Hoop – Memories are now
The supremely talented Jesca’s latest release is another subtle, melodic, sophisticated outing. Building on her previous releases it as the cliché says “ rewards repeated listening’s”. Bound to be in many peoples best of 2017 lists when that time comes. A rather beautiful wee album.

Perfume genius – No Shape
Perfume genius’s fourth album No shape is a lush, elaborate, decadent shape shifting album of contrasts. Moving effortlessly from haunting delicate fragile melodies that still somehow sound slightly damaged or decayed to uplifting euphoric rapturous elements often in the same piece of music

Bonobo – Migration
Bonobo aka Simon Green’s latest work is a sonically rich , dreamy and downbeat piece of electronica with the odd vocal sprinkled through. Its easily his most listenable work to date.

Fleet Foxes – Crack-Up
I love the Fleet foxes first two albums and was intrigued to hear that Crack up their third outing starts exactly where the last track of their second album Helplessness blues ends. No band is attempting to do what they do with their sound. It’s really hard to describe their work but here goes experimental, orchestral, modern folk music with a close affection for music from late 1960s American West coast Scene. People like Crosby, Stills and Nash or Joni Mitchell. Its lush, its gorgeous, its seductive and it has serious intent too one of my favourites of the year.

More new classical CDs for rainy days

This week we introduce an interesting compilation of works by, and inspired by, Schubert, a recital of intimidating Russian pieces performed by a 20 year old prodigy, and a couple of 20th century cello concertos.

In Schubert’s Company. Performed by Maxim Rysanov and Riga Sinfonietta.
In Schubert’s Company presents violist Maxim Rysanov as a soloist, conductor, arranger and commissioner of new music. Alongside works including Schubert’s Symphony No.5, Violin Sonata No.3 and Polonaise for violin & orchestra are pieces from three contemporary composers who have drawn on Schubert as the source for their works. Winterreise, Erlkönig and his late Fantasy for violin & piano are among the inspirations behind this powerful recital that explores how the haunting beauty of Schubert’s music continues to influence on today’s performers, composers and music lovers alike.” (amazon.com)

À la Russe. Performed by Alexandre Kantorow.
“Not yet 20 years old, the French pianist and son of violinist and conductor Jean-Jacques Kantorow […] explores his Russian roots, in a recital that opens with Rachmaninov’s weighty First Piano Sonata, inspired by Goethe’s play Faust, and its three main characters, the scholar Faust, his beloved Gretchen and Mephistopheles, the Devil’s emissary. The nostalgic intimacy of Méditation and Passé Iointain, from Tchaikovsky’s Op. 72 collection, offers respite from the drama, but tension returns with Guido Agosti’s virtuosic piano arrangement of three extracts from Stravinsky’s Firebird. Kantorow closes his Russian recital with Mily Balakirev’s ‘oriental fantasy’ Islamey, one of the iconic works of the piano literature.” (amazon.com)

Cello Concertos, Shostakovich & Martinů. Performed by Christian Poltéra, Gilbert Varga and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin.
“The two cello concertos by Dmitri Shostakovich were both written for his friend Mstislav Rostropovich but whereas the first is rhythmic and virtuosic, the second is subdued and introverted. Composed in 1966, it is often regarded as a watershed work, heralding Shostakovich’s final stylistic period marked by a certain sombreness and a trend towards more transparent scoring. The op. 126 concerto has become somewhat overshadowed by its older, more accessible sibling, something which also applies to the second work on this disc, for completely different reasons. Having completed his Cello Concerto No. 2 in 1945, Bohuslav Martinu was unsuccessful in his attempts to interest a leading cellist in promoting it [… and the work] didn’t receive its first performance until 1965, six years after Martinu’s death.” (amazon.ca)