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 may have missed – stream music from Koyil, Kassa Overall, Sam Gendel, Alfa Mist and Emma Jean Thackray. If you like what you hear, hit the links and support the artists.
Koyil – Healing Cycles
Fresh from his collaborative adventures with Mårble and Psee, Ukrainian producer Lev Zhitskiy aka Koyil unveils his debut solo album. On Healing Cycles he presents six far-ranging new age and ambient explorations that range from the darting sounds of opener’ A Glimmer of Light’ to the meditative, slo-mo percussive groove of ‘Al Alba’. Elsewhere ‘Shustari’ dances between dreamy electronics and heavy percussive drums before ‘MiEs’ kicks in with crisp bongo rhythms, and twisted toms that sit on top of a serene ambient backdrop. Koyil continues to cement his growing status as one to watch. Highly recommended.
Kassa Overall – I Think I’m Good
Following his incredibly diverse and exciting Go Get Ice Cream and Listen to Jazz LP from early last year, New York-based artist Kassa Overall makes a more than welcome return with his new full-length I Think I’m Good. On his second album, Overall tackles his experience with mental illness while seamlessly blending the best elements of hip hop, beat making and jazz music. Demonstrating his wide-ranging artistry the LP is a dizzying collage of stunning vocal contributions (J Hoard shines on three tracks), passionate lyrics and ambitious instrumentation. The LP features a core of both up-and-coming and established New York players including Joel Ross, Morgan Guerin, Brandee Younger, Theo Croker and Vijay Iyer among others who all help to enrich the album. With his virtuoso talents matched by his determination and ambition, Overall has released another masterpiece. This will easily find a place in my Top 10 albums of 2020.
Sam Gendel – Satin Doll
Recorded in Sam Gendel’s native California, Satin Doll features three musicians—Gendel on saxophone, Gabe Noel on electric bass, and Philippe Melanson on electronic percussion. Across the 13-song set you’ll find the trio engaging in simultaneous synchronised sonic construction/destruction of well-known jazz standards, including Miles Davis’ ‘Freddie Freeloader’, Charles Mingus’ ‘Goodbye Porkpie Hat’, and Duke Ellington’s ‘Satin Doll’. Ambitious, eloquent and colourful, the Satin Doll LP sees Gendel status as a unqiue voice in the jazz world continue to ascend to higher heights. He’s still not made a bad record.
Alfa Mist – For My Ones
Doesn’t get more perfect than this! For a few years now, Alfa Mist has been making ear-pleasing melancholy jazz with touches of alternative hip-hop and soul. For his latest endeavour, he explores six deeply meditative solo piano improvisations. The start to finish listen really is a lovely, intricate, yet seemingly effortlessly journey that floats from brooding to tender to uplifting and back again. Another fine release from Alfa Mist with all the consistency and quality we’ve come to expect.
Emma Jean Thackray – Rain Dance
Multi-instrumentalist, composer, bandleader and producer Emma-Jean Thackray recently launched a new label called Movementt. The label’s first release is an EP from Thackray herself called Rain Dance. The A-side 12” features Rain Dance / Wisdom ( a reimagining of Rain Dance from her Ley Lines EP) a particularly potent track, with Thackray and her band turning the song into a near 8-minute voyage through jazz and psychedelia. ‘Movementt’ showcases her talents as a one-woman band and is aptly titled with its swinging Theo Parrish-style vibes and slick trumpet solo. At the same time ‘Open’ and ‘Open (again)’ finds EJT sampling herself to create new worlds. Employing a crunchy, skewed beat, wonky horn lines and sweet harmonies the track skips effortlessly through hip hop, jazz and soul. With a multitude of genres and a fresh approach to music all rolled into one bundle; this EP is one you can’t afford to miss. Please don’t stop playing this one; we know we won’t.