Tuesday, 12 April 2011

'Jaga Jazzist - Swedenborgske Rom (Live)'

If you happen to have the patience for it, this is a treat of a performance. Its a bit of a slow burner but that is kind of the point. Sit back and let the melodies take hold. Its powerful stuff.


'Nicolaas Van Reenen - Water Blister'

If you follow the Cape Town music scene to any degree it is possible that you have come across this guy being mentioned. Nicolaas Van Reenen is the guitarist for both the instrumental band Bateleur as well as the afro-electro outfit Mshini Wam. What you might not be aware of is that Nicolaas also writes and records his own music sporadically, though he does not usually release any of it.

I have one of his tracks Water Blister here and it is a very strange outing. The guitar melody in the beginning of the track has a definite brightness about it but the textures surrounding it are far more melancholic. The vocals evoke a certain haunting nonchalance but even through their strangeness it seems there is some mutated pop sensibility hidden in them. The drums drop in after a point with precision and fury and yet rather than pushing the song into groovier territory the percussion pulls and adds even more to the moody atmosphere.

The second half of the track is a sound scape in the truest sense. The fleeting and chaotic clarinet sputtering around evokes the imagery of agitated seagulls and the dreamy guitar seems to drift precariously between lethargy and foreboding.

This sounds to me like a surf rock song written by someone who loathes the seashore. All the elements it conjures seem oppressive rather than disarming. The seagulls are stealing his food, the water is too cold, all the while he is suffering from one one hell of a hangover.

All this culminates into an interesting listening experience but one that is not particularly accessible. This will not please everyone but people with an interest in the esoteric will find something here that is understated, interesting and strangely beautiful.

oh and you can hear it here:


'Son Lux - We Are Rising'

In 2008 Ryan Lott quietly hushed out his first album under the moniker Son Lux. At War With Walls and Mazes didn't make any huge waves in the music scene but it has definitely secured him somewhat of a cult following. With its interesting take on the blending of organic and electronic elements, capped off with Ryan Lott's Strange androgynous lull of a voice, At War With Walls and Mazes sounds like the result of a talented composer trying his hardest to make a pop album and in turn failing and making something far more interesting and vital as a result.

Recently Son Lux recorded another album, We Are Rising. If you have read anything about this you are going to know at least something about how he recorded the whole thing within a month.Though this is impressive, time will tell if it ends up being the most impressive part of the album. I'm happy to announce that two weeks shy of the official release you can stream the whole album off of NPR.com. I have already given it a good few spins and  I am pleasantly surprised. He has managed to create something colourful, playful and moving. It is far less of a broody affair when compared to his d├ębut.  The orchestration and chord progressions are unmistakably of a Son Lux flavour right from the get go but it seems that the manner in which he got the performances out of the many musicians he worked with is what makes the difference. All the songs are rife with ideas and many of them feel impulsive and even unpolished in places but this gives the album a certain charm and honesty. Rather than hearing the meticulous and calculated sound of four years in a studio, On We Are Rising you are hearing the sounds of creatively charged collaborations. You can almost hear the enthusiasm the musicians must have felt in their booths after a good take.

Son Lux is definitely a musical force to watch so, if you haven't done so already, go give him a listen and decide for yourself.