Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Jonathan Hultén - Chants from Another Place, album review

Gertrude Says Beautiful is Beautiful is Beautiful

This is a beautiful collection of acoustic folk songs, beautifully sung with beautiful harmonies - so full of beautiful intentions.

It is hard to explain, but the death metal precursor-influence of Tribulation guitarist Jonathan Hultén is evident in all – and no, I can’t explain that. Mentioning I hear the folk sound of Ian Anderson’s early Jethro Tull folk sound doesn’t fill the void either.

Despite the album’s title this isn’t linked to chanting. There are hymnal tones throughout and this gives it the overall feel of a sombre beauty. I am reminded of Zakk Wylde from Black Label Society and his solo journeys into harmonious territory – there is a magical opposition between the heavy to the peaceful [a crude antithesis] where the latter is the embodiment of all the former isn’t.

Is it a compulsive urge to differ? To counter? To balance?

I suspect not.

And there is no articulation of the opposition in the ‘la/la/la/la/la/la/ing’ of a sweet song like Holy Woods. That the next Where Devils Weep is as sweetly soothing – with whistling – confirms it quite simply is what it is. Comparisons I have read to folk icons like Nick Drake and John Martyn seem entirely misplaced. Simon and Garfunkel on Where Devils Weep, however, would do nicely. But that is a singular touchstone.

Friday, 6 March 2020

African Head Charge - Churchical Chant Of The Iyabinghi, album review

Meditative Fever Dub Sequenced

New to me, this is a series of ‘outtakes from the classic Songs Of Praise and In Pursuit Of Shashamane Land albums, compiled by On-U archivist Patrick Dokter from the original tapes and expertly sequenced to work as an immersive listening experience’ [quote from the band’s Bandcamp page] so that’s two albums I have to check out in full.

Don’t be put off by the sheer beautiful bliss of opener Peace and Happiness or the punchier but still melodious soul shaman-effect of subsequent Jungle Law – it does get wilder, especially when confronting the percussion and other of Pitched Fever and Dervish Dub.

If you like your yin and yang, or just testing how long it takes to shift from peace and serenity to energised, then this ‘sequenced work’ is designed for you.

I like it all, obviously, but that opening meditation is glorious.

Get it here

Eye Music 49

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Giorgi Mikadze - Georgian Microjamz, album review

Microtonal Magic

This is a superb album – best I have heard in a long time.

I was going to focus immediately on the slight dissonance of its sound, ‘slight’ quite a crucial qualifier, and then doing some reading I realised this is microtonal so perhaps there are many out there who understand this well.

Well, for me this adds such a distinctive otherness to its sound, other than Western, and it works beautifully throughout across all instrumentation, though much of this is to do with the influence and playing of guitarist David “Fuze” Fiuczynski. The beauty is in the nearness to what the ear expects – perhaps of that conventional jazz fusion sound – and the fact it is not in any way cacophonous for that dissension.

There are additional sounds in the vocals of Georgian choir Ensemble Basiani, and singer Nana Valishvili contributes an extraordinary vocal to Moaning which is otherwise a punchy riff-driven number, her emotive elegy to soldiers who died in the Georgia and Russia conflict of 2008 adding a layer to the empathetic discord of Mikadze’s potent microtonal keyboard playing.

The Ensemble Basiani sings on five tracks, including penultimate Lazhgvash which combines their choric harmonising with guitar/keyboard microtonal competition in another sweet confrontation. In closer Tseruli, the staccato beats of Panagiotis Andreou on fretless bass and Sean Wright on drums join Mikadze, Fiuczynski and the Ensemble for a rousing runaround of sound.

A wonderful album. I can’t wait to listen again – tomorrow now as I have written this late in the evening wanting to celebrate immediately my thrill on hearing.

Get it here.