With so much good music coming through thick and fast, it’s easy for albums to drop online and go overlooked. Check out our weekly mini-guide to the best new records you need to hear – stream music from Clear Path Ensemble, Moses Boyd, Youth Stand Up!, C+S Kreme and Mckaya McCraven. If you like what you hear, hit the links and support the artists.
Clear Path Ensemble – Clear Path Ensemble
Cory Champion steps away from producing left field house and techno under the guise of Borrowed CS. On Clear Path Ensemble the Wellington-based artist offers up ten tracks of psychedelia and spiritual jazz goodness. Having spent many years playing the drums alongside some of New Zealand’s most talented musicians in the revered Wellington jam session scene this release presents a bold new musical tapestry. It is an amalgamation of the energy and spirit that the Wellington scene encompasses. A very very good record indeed, one that will receive repeated listens in the coming months..
Moses Boyd – Dark Matter
Dark Matter is the debut solo offering from Moses Boyd, who last caught our ear with the sublime collaborative archival album Displaced Diaspora. The LP opens with ‘Stranger Than Fiction’ which starts slowly with an almost ambient feel, the tracks gentle textures make way for chiming cymbals; more layers are added, kicking it into life and veering off in a new direction. The second half of the track encompasses a more rugged sound with his powerful drum-work accompanied by soaring horn lines and a sprinkling of elements from afrobeat, hip hop and techno. Elsewhere Poppy Ajudha lays down an impressive vocal performance over the stuttering broken beat on ‘Shades of You’ that’s followed by ‘Dancing in the Dark’ which features the powerful and distinctive tones of Obongjayar. This all happens before you even get to the sublime jazz stepper ‘Gone 2 Far’ with Joe Armon-Jones. We could go on listing all the tracks because seriously there isn’t a duff one on this record. This killer collection is yet another testament as to why you need to pay close attention to this guy!
Youth Stand Up – Youth Stand United
Five years on from Optimo’s Autonomous Africa’s label Youth Stand Up! album comes the second instalment. Recorded both at Green Door and at TCI’s new studio in Ghana with Golden Teacher’s Laurie Pitt at the controls and Green Door’s Stuart and Emily Evans on mixing duties the new set blends afrobeat, dub, post and experimental grooves. Youth Stand United features backing tracks contributed by members of Golden Teacher, Pu$$y Mothers, Whilst, Kaputt, and Sordid Sound System, with vocals provided by the musicians from TCI. Over six songs, it oscillates from the left-field disco of Diloeshutubui to the Juju-electro odyssey of Gidi to the Joe-Meek-meets-William Onyeabor space-age gospel pop of Nobody Knows. All proceeds from Youth Stand United will go towards a scholarship fund for musicians from Tafi Atome, Ghana. Support folks!
C+S Kreme – Snoopy
CS + Kreme the duo comprised of Conrad Standish and Sam Karmel drop their debut album, and it’s a beauty. The eight-track LP expands on the stripped-down chamber-pop sound of previous EPs for Total Stasis and The Trilogy Tapes. Snoopy sees the pair pushing themselves to expand the boundaries of their sound with elements of baroque instrumentals, psychedelia, trip-hop, spiritual jazz and Avant classical all coming to the fore. The opening track ‘Saint’ is a transformative journey of strange organ sounds and Conrad’s silky tones. The meditative trip-hop of ‘Faun House’ has a serene aura to it. ‘Blue Flu’ is a gloriously dark and gloomy affair with a pounding beat that will turn your stomach inside out. The album concludes with ‘Mount Warning’, which stretches their sound into the murky edges of ambient pop waters. It features both members of HTRK (Jonnine Standish and Nigel Yang) and composer James Rushford. Although it’s only February, this project is already a strong album of the year contender!
Makaya McCraven – We’re New Again
We’re New Again is a reimaging of the legendary US musician, poet and author Gil Scott-Heron’s final album, I’m New Here, by the supremely gifted Makaya McCraven. The album previously had a remake when Jamie xx remixed it in 2011, now McCraven strips away the electronics and gives it a full jazz makeover. Using just Scott-Heron’s vocals as the frame in which to build upon McCraven enlisted the help of frequent collaborators Brandee Younger (harp), Jeff Parker (guitar), and Junius Paul (bass) to breathe new life into the album while being respectful to the original work. Highlights are many with ‘Running’, ‘Blessed Parents’ ‘The Crutch’ and his rumbling reinterpretation of ‘New York You’re Killing Me’ being my faves. A gorgeous reimagined collection.