JAY GLASS DUBS x LAURA AGNUSDEI – JUNGLE SHUFFLE (The Wormhole)
Released across three highly limited coloured white label 12-inch singles, each one emblazoned with a different slogan, here we find Jay Glass Dubs tackling ‘Jungle Shuffle’ from Laura Agnusdei’s 2019 album Laurisilva. Two versions are presented – one with beats and one without. The original track was one of the many highlights on Laurisilva, finding Agnusdei taking traditional jazz reference points set to razor-sharp found rhythms. In Jay Glass Dubs’ hands, the assembled horns swirl and cascade like spiralling wraiths, a thick, omniscient drone occupying an earthy lower layer though which the horns are threaded like organic, unpredictable sonic foliage. Released November 19 2021.
MÜCHA – FALL (Frequency Domain)
Mücha is the alias of producer / DJ Amanda Butterworth. The seven tracks on latest album Fall unfold upon spindly, fragile electronics, over which Butterworth’s voice textures, occupying a territory somewhere between melancholy reflection and languid warmth. On the title track, Butterworth reprises Photek’s scissor-sharp approach to deconstructed drum ‘n’ bass, with splintered high-octane rhythms held in check by a slow-motion jazz keyboard riff. The album was inspired by a certain British monochromatic stereotype; in my head I think Burton grey suits, grey Autumn days, greying British Rail seat fabric, but I can also imagine this being how Martin Hannett might have embraced skeletal electronics if he’d still been alive today. Released November 5 2021.
JESS BRETT – EYELINE
Eyeline is the debut EP from Kidderminster’s Jess Brett. Possessing a voice of rare and arresting, earthy power, the lyrics here address everything from outdated perceptions of women, to cynicism about police power, to sexual dominance, while always retaining a healthy, impenetrable ambiguity. Brett’s five track release is carried forward on musical frameworks that nod to post-punk, with jangly guitars, inchoate synth structures and tentative melodies. The title track imagines The Smiths with keyboards, while the mournful ‘Ceiling And Freezer’ is a grim story of love and admiration for what appears to be a serial killer, its fixations glued in place by a mesmerising suite of slowly-evolving keyboard layers. Closing track ‘Xenomorph’ is like a personal, confidence-boosting mantra delivered over a turgid bed of prowling synths and whistling melodies that remains unresolved as the track winds down toward a tentative silence. Undoubtedly one to watch. Released October 14 2021.
DAN BERKSON – DIALOGUES (Freestyle)
Dialogues is an unashamedly classic jazz album, centred on a trio of Dan Berkson (piano), Andrea di Biase (bass) and Jon Scott (drums). Now based in California, Berkson is an emigré from London’s house music scene, and it’s rare to find someone so adept at switching freely between the regimentation of dance music’s grid and the complete freedom of jazz. For the most part, this is an energetic, effervescent collection, with ‘Unity’ carrying a firm expressiveness thanks to the addition of Magnus Pickering (trumpet, flugelhorn), Alan Nathoo (tenor sax) and Daniel Sadownick (percussion). ‘Sketches’ is the album’s contemplative, questing number, Berkson’s emotive piano lines resting atop a languid, casual rhythm from di Biase and Scott. With these impressive Dialogues, Berkson shows his detailed knowledge of jazz from 1950s cool tropes through to 1970s fusion. Released September 17 2021.
CARBON FIELDS – PETRICHOR (HIRU)
Carbon Fields is the alias of multi-instrumentalist Arran Poole. Petrichor, named after the smell that occurs after rainfall, finds Poole layering his post-rock guitar, bass, drums and an instrument called the bow chime over field recordings made in Saffron Walden, Falmouth and North Norfolk. The instrumentation is blurred and smudged while the background recordings, tape static and all manner of sounds rarely reveal their provenance. This is music of a quiet and considered power, perfectly evoking the complexities of nature and an inquisitive optimism reflecting back the rainfall so essential for renewal. Understated and outstanding. Released September 10 2021.
FROSTLAKE – THE WEIGHT OF CLOUDS (Discus Music)
frostlake is the project of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jan Todd. For her third album The Weight Of Clouds, Todd constructed sixteen pieces using percussion, guitars and electronics, each one freighted with a sheen of ice-covered mystery and a folky naturalism. The key to tracks like ‘Always There’ and ‘Blue Into Gold’ is Todd’s vocal, operating with a stirring capacity to move you without ever rising above quiet and reflective ruminations, seamlessly augmented by tightly-packed sonic layers drenched in obfuscating, mist-like reverb. ‘Moth People’ is the album’s oblique highlight, finding Todd reflecting on human mistakes and failures over a fragile backdrop of wobbly synths and string sounds. Music for cold mornings and contemplation. Released August 22 2021.
SOFIA KIRWAN-BAEZ – TAKE ONE AND A HALF (Autana Art)
Sofia Kirwan-Baez is a London-based opera student and talented lounge singer, often to be found hosting evenings at Barnes’s OSO Arts Centre. Her debut album was released in February and finds Kirwan-Baez at the piano, delivering eight original songs showcasing a singular approach to lyric writing that is refreshingly complex, reflecting back modern concerns and the fallibility of people and relationships. Jazz and blues influences colour songs like ‘Guess Who’, dealing with an inscrutable man who refuses to betray his true thoughts and feelings, and ‘Only If I Want To’ takes a deft and necessary swipe at male dominance. ‘Old Song’ has the feel of an unearthed standard, simultaneously heart-wrenching, humour-inflected and self-deprecating, while ‘Wasting Time’ describes a parting of ways with a sense of realism and hope. Music for low lights, late nights and a healthy pour of vintage single malt. Released February 7 2021.
Words: Mat Smith
(c) 2021 Further.