Review: Five years ago, Portishead front woman Beth Gibbons joined forces with the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra to perform Henryk Gorecki's "Symphony Number 3 (Symphony Of Sorrowful Songs)" at the National Opera Grand Theatre in Warsaw. Here, the recording of the concert is finally given a release. It's a stunning suite of classical pieces, with the orchestra making short work of Gorecki's swelling movements and deeply melancholic musical motifs. Gibbons is in particularly fine form, transforming herself into an operatic artist and accurately delivers the stunning, Polish-language pieces. It's an astonishing performance and nothing like we've ever heard from her before. The 24-minute opening track is, in particular, breathtaking.
Review: Since returning to action last year following a near eight-year hiatus, Pete Swanson and Jed Binderman's Freedom To Spend label has been on an impressive run of form. Predictably "Music and Poetry of the Kesh" is another doozy. It was first released on cassette way back in 1985 and saw experimental composer Todd Barton (then still finding his feet in music) and science fiction writer and poet Ursula K De Guin join forces for the first and only time. It's a curious but thoroughly absorbing and entertaining set that mixes and mangles spoken word passages, experimental choral pieces, crackling filed recordings, dreamy analogue electronics, Berlin School ambient, elements of pastoral folk and more than a few nods towards the giants of American minimalism.
Review: The latest release on Rohs! records ambient focused sub-label, Lontano Series, comes from Seki Takashi, an artist whose thoughtful, experimental work frequently blurs the boundaries between ambient, drone and modern classical. "Faded Clothes" explores similar sonic territory, slowly slinking between the discordant electronic tones and mournful strings of "I Don't Have an Umbrella", the droning, deep space atmospherics of "Stuffy Atmosphere", the sustained cinematic intensity of "March In Silence" and the gentle, emotion-rich ambient movements of "Sit Down & Do Nothing" and "You Keep Repeating". It's a heady and intoxicating mixture all told, with the combination of experimentalism and soundtrack style orchestration giving the album a particularly widescreen feel.
U Ma Ngi Hamba Nawe Thuli U Bizwa I Peacock (When I Walk With Thuli, They Call Her Peacock)
Thembalami (My Trustworthy)
Sesi U Hi Komba Mihlolo (My Sister, She Is A Miracle)
Mandela U Humile Jele (Mandela Is Released From Jail)
Koko Rebolele (Please Open The Door For Us)
Tanda Tula Se Yi Cincile (Tanda Tula Has Changed)
Mosadi Yo Mobotsi (A Beautiful Woman)
Tamanini (Hello, Hello)
N'wa Maxalana A Nga Ala Ntumbuluko (Nwamaxalana Refuses The Nature)
A Kuri Na Xinyenyana (There Was A Bird In The Garden) Dolphin
Mukutsuri Hosi Ya Mina (You Are My Saviour) Eric
Yehova Xikwembu Xanga (God Is My King) Eric
Rirandzu Ra Yesu (Love Of Jesus) Pretty
U Nga Rili Nwana Sesi (Please Don't Cry My Baby Sister) Chris
Lo Machine Wa Khuluma (Talking Machine) Chris
Ngiri Ngiri Wo Ngirimele Kaya (Iam Walking Home) Chris
La La Go Nna (Rest With Me) Clenny
Joko Ya Hao E Bobebe (God's Belief Makes My Heart Free) Clenny
Tatana Hi Vana Va Wena (Father, We Are Your Children) Chris
Xisaka Xa Tuva Manguvalawa (The Nest Of A Bird) Magie
Tanda Tula Se Yi Cincile (Tanda Tula Has Changed) Jenette
Modimo A Li Teng A Kgo Na Matata (When God Is Around There Is No Problem) Harry
Keya Morata U Wa Ntata (I Love God & He Loves Me) Stars
Wa La Matsidiso (Matsidiso Is Crying)
Madume Dume Dume (Hello Everyone)
Review: Superpitcher first stumbled on the Tanda Tula camp staff choir whilst on a safari holiday in South Africa. Having fallen in love with their energetic Shangaan sing-alongs and polyrhythmic drum rhythms, he offered to record a CD for them to sell in that shop. Happily, he's now decided to make it available to a wider audience via the Hippie Dance label he founded with Pachanga Boys partner Rebodello back in 2011. It's thoroughly absorbing, all told, thanks in part to Superpitcher's ability to capture the choir "live" in all their pomp. The combination of enthusiastic vocals, tribalistic rhythms, impromptu percussive accompaniments and bags of atmosphere makes for life-affirming listening.
Review: Jazz-man Greg Foat has always been more open-minded and eclectic than many give him credit for, delivering nods to pastoral folk, movie soundtracks and library music amongst his more jazz-focused output. Even so, "Photosynthesis" is still a curveball, featuring as it does drowsy and mostly leisurely soundscapes that move from Radiophonic Workshop influenced weird-outs and mutant lounge music, to stoned horizontal grooves and post trip-hop soundscapes. Interestingly, some of the album's standout moments come laden with woozy electric pianos and the kind of hazy, slow motion guitar motifs that evoke mental images of long, drawn-out sunsets.