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 essential releases you need to hear. Happy listening – and don’t forget to hit the links and support the artists.
Etuk Ubong – Africa Today
Nigerian trumpeter, composer and bandleader Etuk Ubong has unveiled his new album, titled ‘Africa Today’ on Night Dreamer. Recorded live and cut direct-to-disc over two days at Artone Studio in Holland, it’s 11-tracks combined not only afrobeat, highlife and jazz, but also the ritualistic drumming of Ekombi. Championed by Gilles Peterson and hailed by none other than Seun Kuti as “one of the best things to come out of Lagos”, Ubong has crafted a style he calls “Earth Music. Every track oozes with his phenomenal playing, and I don’t have a favourite song as the LP is just such a complete and incredible body of work. Rarely today is an album so-infused with this much political edge, vibrancy and deep spirituality. A unique release in every way and for every mesmerising minute.
Vibration Black Finger – Can You See What I’m Trying To Say
Regular readers will know I’m a big fan of the recent output by Lascelle’ Lascelles’ Gordon whether that’s his work with Woven Entity or Vibration Black Finger. Can You See What I’m Trying To Say, the second album from VBF is an absolute masterclass as they zigzag across an array of moods and styles, always deep and heavy. Its title,’ Can You See What I’m Trying to Say’ comes from a quote from the great alto saxophonist’, Marion Brown. Created over the last three years, with Gordon mostly forsaking conventional recording studios with musicians, and using ideas he had on various formats (cassettes, mini disc, DATs & reel to reel) and field recordings. The opening and closing tracks’ Empty Streets’ and ‘Only in a Dream’ are the only songs on the record that were recorded live in the studio. Drawing inspiration from the obscure spiritual jazz collectives of the 1970s once again he enlists the help of vocalists Ebony Rose and Maggie Nichols. Standouts include the soul-stirring ‘Empty Streets’ and the epic ‘Acting For Liberation 1’ and part 2 which is enriched by the vocals of Maggie Nichols. The closer ‘Only In A Dream’ is a soaring fitting final tune. There are several killer short instrumentals too, such as ‘Adrianna’, ‘Gutkind’s Dream’ and ‘Twelve Wire Bird’. Only listened to this twice, but already I know this is a serious contender for jazz album of the year.
Fabiano do Nascimento – Prelúdio
Brazilian guitarist Fabiano do Nascimento takes us on a folkloric journey through warm Bossa textures and samba grooves with his new Prelúdio LP. The album consists of ten original tracks that find him drawing inspiration from the likes of Baden Powell, Hermeto Pascoal, Carioca, Tenorio Jr., Rosinha de Valença. Once again, do Nascimento delivers a collection of Brasilian jazz, bossa-nova and samba as experienced through the mind and able fingers of an expansive musician. As with previous releases he calls on his longtime drummer Ricardo “Tiki” Pasillas. Soothing, quiet and gentle songs to warm your ears. Especially recommended for fans of Rosinha de Valença, Arthur Verocai and Hermeto Pascoal.
Wilma Archer – Within A Western Circular
Within A Western Circular has sat in our pile of albums to listen to for some time, and although we’re a few months late with this one, we had to share it with you. London-based producer and multi-instrumentalist Wilma Archer (formerly Silme) enlists an impressive range of guest artists including MF DOOM, Samuel T. Herring (Future Islands), Sudan Archives, and Laura Groves, who all contribute vocals to his vibrant, dextrous compositions. Inspired by the books of John Fante, the project focuses on themes such as greed, love and loyalty. The music is multi-layered, honouring his acoustic heritage and influence, and builds a sonic universe that commands contemporary references to everything from Frank Zappa to Yasuaki Shimuzu, Robert Wyatt to Arthur Russell. Although the album works as a complete creation. ‘Decades’, ‘The Boon’, ‘Cures & Wounds’ and ‘Cheater’ particularly stand out for me. An impressive debut under his new nom-de-plume.
William Ryan Fritch – The Letdown
‘The Letdown’ from multi-instrumentalist William Ryan Fritch kicks off Lost Tribe Sound’s new label series “Built Upon A Fearful Void.” The series will introduce fifteen new albums to the label’s roster over the next year, five of which will come courtesy of Fritch, including a new release as his, alter ego, Vieo Abiungo. But back to ‘The Letdown’ which sees WRF crafting highly atmospheric, slightly eerie, experimental electroacoustics, modern classical and noir jazz gems. Unique, fun and varied listen to this album at night while sipping on your favourite tipple of choice. Press play and expect-the-unexpected.