Bluesfest 2016: Embracing Contemporary Hip Hop, Soul & Jazz Of The Highest Order

Blessed be lovers of innovative contemporary hip hop, R&B, funk and jazz music for the gift of consecutive live performances by Kendrick Lamar, D’Angelo, Kamasi Washington and Hiatus Kaiyote on the one stage at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016.

Hiatus Kaiyote live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

Hiatus Kaiyote

Kamasi Washington live concert 2016

Kamasi Washington

Kendrick Lamar live concert - Bluesfest 2016 - Australia

Kendrick Lamar

D'Angelo And The Vanguard concert 2016

D’Angelo

If you’re one of those music lovers you’ll know that every single one of the many musicians and vocalists who performed on stage with those artists on Thursday and Saturday nights (minus Kendrick Lamar on Saturday) are amongst the most skilful, talented and innovative creators of funkified jazz and soul music in the world right now. Having been influenced by and collaborating on each others’ music projects, all of them were in perfect company together on the main stage. And anyone lucky enough to be there would have found themselves in musical heaven – mesmerised by each and every sublime sound delivered by those artists.

Hiatus Kaiyote

As musical creators Melbourne’s “future-soul” group Hiatus Kaiyote earned their place on a bill with Kendrick Lamar, D’Angelo, Kamasi Washington and their accompanying artists. As live instrumentalists, vocalists and performers on stage in the flesh at Bluesfest, Hiatus Kayote undoubtedly demonstrated their rightful place amongst them to audiences made up of both punters and those contemporary music peers alike.

Hiatus Kaiyote live concert - Australia 2016

Hiatus Kaiyote at Bluesfest 2016

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As well as delivering a welcome acknowledgment of the passing of the great hip hop creator Phife Dawg during their Thursday set, Nai Palm (vocals/guitars/keys), Simon Mavin (keys/samples), Paul Bender (bass), Perrin Moss (drums) and their three background vocalists delivered two stunning sets of songs drawn mainly from Choose Your Weapon and including a new song on the video below, and as always; showed audiences their unique “multi-dimensional, polyrhythmic gangster” sound is at its most supreme when heard live.

Kamasi Washington

The inclusion of L.A-based saxophonist Kamasi Washington in the 2016 line-up was a welcome surprise after the cancellation of his first visit to Australia last year when Soulfest folded at the last minute.

Kamasi Washington live concert - Bluesfest 2016 Australia

Kamasi Washington at Bluesfest 2016

Each Bluesfest show Kamasi Washington performed with The Next Step / West Coast Get Down sounded unique. But both were definitely a family affair; a collective affair; and a humble and respectful one. Parts of Kamasi Washington’s recent jazz masterpiece The Epic were performed as well as some new music by him. But this was not a one-man Kamasi Washington show. It was a showcase of the sublime funkified jazz music and skills of all the incredible artists on stage with him who grew up playing music together. Everyone had their moments to shine during the sets and when it wasn’t their turn they listened, enjoyed, and appreciated what they heard from one other.

Ryan Porter and Kamasi Washington live concert 016

Ryan Porter w/ Kamasi Washington

Audiences were treated to the sounds of Kamasi Washington playing with his father Ricky Washington (who “taught him everything he knows”) on flute and with Ryan Porter (“one of his mentors”) on trombone; drum solos and drum-offs between Ronald Bruner Jr and Tony Austin; a jam between Kamasi Washington and Ronald Bruner Jr (“like they’ve being doing together since he got his first drum-kit at 3 years old”); a must-hear song “Abraham”  about to be released by double-bass player/vocalist Miles Mosley, and another from keyboardist Brandon Coleman; with vocals by Patrice Quinn (“the most beautiful voice he’s heard”).

Brandon Coleman live concert Australia 2016

Brandon Coleman

Miles Mosley live concert - Bluesfest 2016 Australia

Miles Mosley

Kamasi Washington & Ricky Washington live concert 2016

Ricky & Kamasi Washington

Ronald Bruner Jr live concert 2016

Ronald Bruner Jr

Tony Austin live concert Australia 2016

Tony Austin

Patrice Quinn live Australia 2016

Patrice Quinn

Kamasi Washington and the other artists who joined him on Australian stages undoubtedly gained a huge number of new admirers. Hopefully that brings any or all of them back again to play soon.

Check out snippets of video footage from Kamasi Washington’s two Bluesfest 2016 shows below and hear sample tracks from The Epic (2015) here.




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D’Angelo And The Vanguard

Accompanying D’Angelo at his Bluesfest shows were Jesse Johnson and Isaiah Sharkey on guitars, Chris “Daddy” Dave on drums, Rocco Palladino on bass, Bobby Ray Sparks on keys/samples and Jermaine Holmes and Charles “Red” Middleton on background vocals.

D'Angelo & Jesse Johnson live - Bluesfest 2016

D’Angelo & Jesse Johnson at Bluesfest 2016

Despite a curious set list taking audiences back to the glorious D’Angelo eras of Brown Sugar and Voodoowith only glimpses of the more recent ground-breaking album Black Messiah, D’Angelo and the 7 sublimely-skilled musicians and vocalists with him on stage delivered delightfully funky, soulful, rocked-out performances that were technically flawless.

D'Angelo concert - Bluesfest 2016, Australia

D’Angelo himself dazzled and seduced the crowd with his skills and artistry on guitar and piano, his contagiously-huge smile and his other-wordly vocal range. He left no doubt that he’s a musician, artist and performer of extraordinary genius in contemporary times, akin to the most legendary of funk, R&B and rock greats of our musical history.

D'Angelo concert - Bluesfest 2016, Australia

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Check out a video of the grammy-award winning Black Messiah song “Really Love”, performed live at Bluesfest on Saturday.


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Click here for more videos & photos from all 4 of D’Angelo’s Australian shows this time around.

Kendrick Lamar

Thankfully Bluesfest ignored any naysayers who questioned Kendrick Lamar headlining a festival that might have started as “blues and roots” 27 years ago – but long ago moved forward to expand it’s line-up for the musical good of the broader population.

Before Kendrick Lamar’s set I wondered how the complex musical wonder of To Pimp A Butterfly would translate in the live arena. But the Compton rapper brought a killer band on tour with him. That live instrumentation combined with the sharp and clear lyrical flow delivered by Kendrick Lamar with 100% passion and conviction, simply commanded attention and awe through every moment of the 75 minute set that flew by in a flash. From start to finish Kendrick Lamar made it abundantly clear that the experience of hearing his music performed live is profoundly more brilliant than the studio-version.

Kendrick Lamar live concert - Bluesfest 2016 - Australia

Kendrick Lamar at Bluesfest 2016

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Check out these video snippets from Kendrick Lamar’s Bluesfest show plus a sample track below from the newly-released album untitled unmastered (2016).

Kendrick Lamar - untitled unmastered (2016)x
Kendrick Lamar – untitled 02 | 06.23.2014 – untitled unmastered (2016)

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Bluesfest Appreciation

Byron Bay Bluesfest – this year was a dream.

In my book Kendrick Lamar, D’Angelo, The Vanguard, Kamasi Washington, The Next Step, West Coast Get Down and Hiatus Kaiyote are the artists in the world right now creating the freshest sounding, most innovative blends of funk, soul, R&B, hip hop and jazz. All except Hiatus Kaiyote (Melbourne-based), Bluesfest brought those artists a long way to deliver spectacular live performances on Australian shores.  In doing so they filled a big gap left by the cancellation of Soulfest – “Australia’s first annual neo-soul, jazz & hip hop festival” which didn’t make it to its second year.

Thanks go to Bluesfest for embracing those contemporary artists and delivering the most blessed of line-ups in 2016!

D'Angelo concert Australia 2016

D’Angelo

Hiatus Kaiyote live concert Australia 2016

Hiatus Kaiyote

Kendrick Lamar live concert - Bluesfest 2016 - Australia

Kendrick Lamar

Kamasi Washington live concert 2016

Kamasi Washington

Note: Despite feeling 100% satisfied by my Bluesfest 2016 experience, it was a limited one for sure. I went for 2 of 5 festival days, stayed at 1 of 6 festival stages and heard only 4 of 82 acts on the bill. A whole other world of music was happening over the five festival days – from Tom Jones to Allen Stone through to The Wailers – and a range of performing indigenous artists at the festival within the festival- Boomerang. I just can’t tell you about them here.

But you can check in to Beaver on the Beats on Facebook for more festival photos coming of D’Angelo, Hiatus Kaiyote, Kendrick Lamar and Kamasi Washington. :)

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D’Angelo Live In Australia – One, Two, Three, Four

After experiencing the first three of D’Angelo’s four incredible Australian shows, I was mysteriously left feeling less than fully satisfied. It didn’t make sense when D’Angelo and The mini Vanguard touring with him had just delivered flawless, stunning performances to Melbourne, Sydney and Byron Bay Bluesfest audiences.

D'Angelo concert Australia 2016

#1 – Melbourne’s Palais Theatre

D'Angelo concert Australia 2016

# 2 – Sydney Opera House

D'Angelo live concert - Bluesfest 2016

# 3 – Byron Bay Bluesfest

 

 

 

 

 

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D’Angelo, Every Time

D’Angelo’s phenomenal vocal range and delivery as well as his skills on piano and guitar, are unquestionable. They are simply and absolutely sublime to hear live – every time.

D'Angelo concert Australia 2016

So is Michael “D’Angelo” Archer’s joyful high energy and super-smooth, confident engagement with the crowd. Man or woman, even if you only care about the sounds of music, who out there wouldn’t blush if D’angelo looked you in the eye and pointed at you while ever-so-naturally singing “I feel like makin’ love to you” in his voice from on high?

D'Angelo concert - Bluesfest 2016, Australia

At all his Australian shows D’Angelo undoubtedly demonstrated he’s a musician, artist and performer of equal wonder to the legendary R&B, funk and soul artists who influenced and shaped him. Some of them he payed tribute to in his sets (“She’s Always In My Hair” by Prince, “Red Hot Mama” by Funkadelic and “Brent Fischer Interlude” by Black Messiah collaborator Brent Fischer). D’Angelo does all those artists and their music justice, and then some. And how many contemporary artists can we say that about in 2016?

D'Angelo live concert Australia 2016

No I don’t think my slight and mysterious dissatisfaction was about D’Angelo’s performances. They made me smile from ear to ear in awe.

The [mini] Vanguard 

Did I miss hearing the distinctive bass sounds of Pino Palladino, the live horns and the gorgeous complementary female vocals of Kendra Foster or Joi Gilliam usually heard with The Vanguard? Sure I did. But their absence alone wasn’t leaving me with that feeling.

Because technically the seven insanely-skilled musicians on stage with D’Angelo played and sang almost flawlessly. Although he appeared nervous or daunted at times, Pino’s son Rocco Palladino did an admirable job on bass. And any opportunity to hear Chris “Daddy” Dave on drums, Jesse Johnson and Isaiah Sharkey on guitars, Bobby Ray Sparks on keys/samples or Jermaine Holmes and Charles “Red” Middleton on background vocals…is a blessed one I would gleefully take any time. They all killed it. And I appreciated hearing every note they played and sang on Australian stages.

D'Angelo concert Australia 2016

Chris Dave (l) – Isaiah Sharkey (m)

Jesse Johnson - D'Angelo & The Vanguard 2016

Jesse Johnson

Rocco Palladino with The Vanguard- Bluesfest 2016

Rocco Palladino

D'Angelo And The Vanguard concert Australia 2016

Bobby Sparks (r)

Jermaine Holmes - D'Angelo concert 2016

Jermaine Holmes

D'Angelo And The Vanguard concert Australia 2016

Red Middleton (l) – Chris Dave (m) – Isaiah Sharkey (r)

Looking Back

Was it the group’s set-list choices that left me wanting more? Maybe a little. In my world every song they played is a “Beloved Forever-After Song”. It’s true that all were arranged and delivered in funked-up, rocked-out, soulful brilliance. And hearing each one made me happy.

But a set made up of “Brown Sugar”; three/four jams on other artists’ songs, four/five songs from Voodoo (“Devil’s Pie”“Chicken Grease”“Untitled (How Does It Feel)”“Left & Right”, “Feel Like Makin’ Love”); and only three from Black Messiah (“The Charade”“Really Love”“Back To The Future”/ “Sugah Daddy” at Bluesfest)…curiously felt like a look back to the distant (albeit magnificent) past.

D'Angelo concert Australia 2016

Objectively the set choice might’ve been the safe bet when playing to Australian audiences made up of admirers from different D’Angelo eras. But for disciples who love every song he and his collaborators ever created, but appreciate the group’s artistry even more since the release of Black Messiah; and for newer disciples (including many young musicians there) because of Black Messiah, only hearing a small part of that album felt strange. Especially after they spent the past year promoting it through North America and Europe on The Second Coming Tour.

DAngelo - Black Messiah (2014)

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“Aint That Easy” – Black Messiah (2014)

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“The Show”

Maybe my mysterious feeling was about being delivered a “show”. I guess when you reach the professional playing levels D’Angelo And The Vanguard have, with their intense tour schedule performing show after show in different cities, having a pre-formulated, programmed “show” for perfect and tight execution on cue by a lot of musicians and crew might be more necessary, or pragmatic, or safer.

But the flip-side to that is a loss of organic spontaneity – musically and otherwise. As an audience member I still crave that spontaneity no matter how incredible the show is. No matter how amusing it might be to see D’Angelo mimic kissing a woman “way down there”; or how much I like seeing he, Jesse Johnson and Isaiah Sharkey come together with their guitars in those moments. It makes me wonder if creative artists performing on stage also crave it at some point on their touring road.

D'Angelo And The Vanguard concert Australia 2016

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Fourth, Final, Full Satisfaction

Whatever the mysterious, probably unreasonable thing that left me feeling not-quite-full after three incredible D’Angelo shows, it disappeared and mattered not once the the fourth and final Australian show happened on Saturday night at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016.

D'Angelo concert - Bluesfest 2016, Australia

# 4 – Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

Finally and inexplicably all seemed as it naturally should be at a D’Angelo gig. With everyone seemingly vibin’ on the experience, together. The set-list was nearly the same but as a Byron Bay sider might say: there was some indescribably-different type of musical and energetic magic that happened at Saturday’s closing show…leaving peeps there connected, loved-up and on high. It was created collectively by everyone there of course, hopefully felt by them too.

D'Angelo live concert - Bluesfest 2016

Everyone at Melbourne, Sydney and Bluesfest shows (and others around the world) had their very own experience of D’Angelo And The Vanguard live. Maybe it was nothing at all like mine. Surely it was special.

Leave a comment if you want to share yours – we wanna hear it!

D'Angelo live concert Australia 2016

Visit Beaver on the Beats on Facebook for more photos from these & other D’Angelo And The Vanguard shows; click a link for individual shows: London Roundhouse (2015) –  Melbourne Soulfest 2014 Brisbane Soulfest 2014; and check back here soon for Byron Bay Bluesfest’s dream main stage line-up with Kendrick Lamar, D’Angelo, Kamasi Washington & West Coast Get Down and Hiatus Kaiyote.

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Orishas Reunited For New Album

Orishas only did two things that troubled me during their 11 years together creating stunning, one-of-a-kind Cuban hip hop music. The first was featuring Pitbull on one of their tracks “Quien Te Dijo” – and there ain’t no way of ever undoing that.

The second and much more devastating thing was their decision to split up in 2010.  All five Orishas albums have been on high listening and dancing rotation since- well and truly part of my Love & Appreciate For Forever-After Music Collection. But each listen still made me wish for new Orishas music to add to it (I’m greedy I know).

Six years on and the trio has remedied that selfish trouble of mine by delivering the super-exciting news of their reunion.

How far that reunion goes beyond the recently-recorded single is anyone’s guess. Hopefully it involves the recording of many more Orishas albums to come and the blessed opportunity for fans around the world to have themselves the live Orishas experience. It’s one I never got to have- and since the split thought I never could. With this news Orishas goes back up high on my Live Music Bucket List, in hope.

Orishas are Yotuel Romero Manzanares, Roldán González Rivero and Hiram Riveri Medina (“Ruzzo”). If their music-making history is at all reflective of what’s to come, the world is in for a special treat. The elements that make up their distinctive sound – the very different rap flows of Ruzzo and Yotuel, the heavenly singing voice (+ guitar & bass) of Roldán and the beautiful sounds of traditional Afro-Cuban rhythms seamlessly fused with modern hip hop beats and live instrumentation – with lyrical stories, sentiments and slang dearly particular to Cuba…ain’t found anywhere else in this wide world of music.

Orishas

If you don’t already know and appreciate the musical goodness of Orishas check out these sample tracks from their albums past- and watch the Orishas space to hear new music they’re gifting the world in 2016.

Orishas - A Lo Cubano (1999)Orishas – “A Lo Cubano” – A Lo Cubano (1999)

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Orishas - Emigrante (2002)Orishas – “Niños” – Emigrante (2002)

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Orishas - El Kilo (2005)Orishas – “Al Que Le Guste” – El Kilo (2005)

 

 

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Orishas - Antidiotico (2007)

Orishas – “Que Vola?” – Antidiotico (2007)

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Orishas - Cosita Buena (2008)

Orishas – “Machete” – Cosita Buena (2008)

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Get any or all of those hard-copy Orishas albums into your own music collection here.

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Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly: The Art Of Music In 2015

With each passing year of life the rarer it seems I hear new music that sounds truly fresh and innovative to me; new music that makes me feel excited about the art of music and its contemporary evolution. Lots of new albums were released in 2015. Only three spring to mind that gave me that excitement.

One was Hiatus Kaiyote’s Choose Your Weapon. The second was The Epic by Kamasi Washington.

Hiatus Kaiyote - Choose Your Weapon (2015)

Hiatus Kaiyote – Choose Your Weapon (2015)

Kamasi Washington - The Epic (2015)

Kamasi Washington – The Epic (2015)

Finally for 2015, the album that got me the most excited, was Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly.

Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly (2015)

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly (2015)

Knock yourself out reading and watching the countless reviews and opinions on To Pimp A Butterfly published throughout the world this past year. All that matters is this: The Compton rapper and dozens of his equally brilliant musical collaborators succeeded in sampling, revamping and creating anew the super-tastiest sounds of soul, jazz and funk wrapped in a hip hop masterpiece beyond compare in 2015. And if you haven’t already, get your hands on To Pimp A Butterfly in its most sublime format (vinyl of course) to hear and take pleasure in all its sonic intricacies for forever-after.

Folks who choose to buy their music digitally or take it for free; who don’t see the full album credits unless they go looking on-line and mightn’t know which artists created To Pimp A Butterfly’s 16 magnificent tracks other than Kendrick Lamar and listed “feature” artists…take the time to learn now. Their names matter. All of them are stunning contemporary artists in their own rights – and collectively they and Kendrick Duckworth Lamar made magic with To Pimp A Butterfly.

Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly (2015)

Kendrick Lamar feat. George Clinton & Thundercat – “Wesley’s Theory”

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“Wesley’s Theory” written by Kendrick Duckworth, George Clinton, Steven Ellison, Ronald Colson, Stephen Bruner & Boris Gardiner; Produced by Flying Lotus & Ronald “Flippa” Colson; Additional Production by Sounwave & Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner; Recorded by Derek “MixedByAli” Ali & James “The White Black Man” Hunt; Mixed by MixedByAli; Horns & Alto Saxophone- Terrace Martin; Trumpet- Josef Leimberg; Background Vocals- Dr. Dre, Anna Wise, Ash Riser, Josef Leimberg & Whitney Alford. Contains elements of “Every Nigger Is a Star” by Boris Gardiner.

Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly (2015)

Kendrick Lamar – “You Aint Gotta Lie (Momma Said)”

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“You Aint Gotta Lie (Momma Said)” written by Kendrick Duckworth, Terrace Martin, Rose McKinney, Josef Leimberg & Mark Spears; Produced by LoveDragon; Recorded by Derek “MixedByAli” Ali, James “The White Black Man” Hunt & Matt Schaeffer; Mixed by MixedByAli; Keyboards- Sounwave & Terrace Martin; Alto Saxophone/Vocoder- Terrace Martin; Trumpet- Josef Leimberg; Percussion- Larrance Dopson; Guitar- Marlon Williams; Background Vocals- Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner, Preston Harris, Wyann Vaughn & JaVonte.

“For Free? (Interlude)”

Written by Kendrick Duckworth, Terrace Martin & Rose McKinney; Produced by Terrace Martin; Recorded by Derek “MixedByAli” Ali & James “The White Black Man” Hunt; Mixed by MixedByAli; Drums- Robert Sput Searight; Piano- Robert Glasper; Bass- Brandon Owens; Organ- Craig Brockman; Guitar- Marlon Williams; Alto Saxophone- Terrace Martin; Background Vocals- Anna Wise & Darlene Tibbs.

“King Kunta”

Written by Kendrick Duckworth, Mark Spears, Johnny Burns, Michael Jackson, Ahmad Lewis, Stefan Gordy & D. Blake; Produced by Sounwave; Additional Production by Terrace Martin; Recorded by Derek “MixedByAli” Ali, James “The White Black Man” Hunt & Matt Schaeffer; Mixed by MixedByAli; Bass- Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner; Additional Guitar- Marlon Williams & Matt Schaeffer; Background Vocals- Whitney Alford.

“King Kunta” contains: interpolations of “Get Nekkid” by Johnny Burns & D. Blake; resung lyrics from “Smooth Criminal” by Michael Jackson; elements from “The Payback” by James Brown/Fred Wesley/J.Stark and from “We Want the Funk” by A. Lewis & S. Gordy.

“Institutionalized” feat. Bilal, Anna Wise & Snoop Dogg

Written by Kendrick Duckworth, Columbus Smith & Fredrik Halldin; Produced by Rahki & Fredrik “Tommy Black” Halldin; Recorded by Derek “MixedByAli” Ali & James “The White Black Man” Hunt; Mixed by MixedByAli; Keyboards- Sam Barsh; Clarinet- Pedro Castro; Cello- Gabriel Noel; Violin- Paul Cartwright; Background Vocals- Taz Arnold a.k.a. Ti$a.

“These Walls” feat. Bilal, Anna Wise & Thundercat

Written by Kendrick Duckworth, Terrace Martin, Larrance Dopson, James Fauntleroy & Rose McKinney; Produced by Terrace Martin & Larrance Dopson of 1500 or Nothin’; Additional Production by Sounwave; Recorded by Derek “MixedByAli” Ali & James “The White Black Man” Hunt; Mixed by MixedByAli; Guitar- Marlon Williams & Gregory Moore; Keyboards- Robert Glasper, Larrance Dopson & Terrace Martin; Percussion- Larrance Dopson; Alto Saxophone- Terrace Martin; Trumpet- Josef Leimberg; Additional Bass- Thundercat.

“u”

Written by Kendrick Duckworth, Taz Arnold & Michael Brown; Produced by Taz Arnold a.k.a. Ti$a & WhoAreI; Additional Production by Sounwave; Recorded by Derek “MixedByAli” Ali & Matt Schaeffer; Mixed by MixedByAli; Alto Saxophone/Keyboards- Terrace Martin; Tenor Saxophone- Kamasi Washington; Baritone Saxophone- Adam Turchin; Guitar- Marlon Williams; Background Vocals- Bilal, Jessica Vielmas & SZA.

“Alright”

Written by Kendrick Duckworth, Pharrell Williams & Mark Spears; Produced by Pharrell Williams & Sounwave; Recorded by James “The White Black Man” Hunt; Mixed by Derek “MixedByAli” Ali; Alto Saxophone- Terrace Martin; Background Vocals- Pharrell Williams, Candace Wakefield & Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner.

“For Sale? (Interlude)”

Written by Kendrick Duckworth & Taz Arnold; Produced by Taz Arnold a.k.a. Ti$a; Additional Production by Sounwave & Terrace Martin; Recorded by Derek “MixedByAli” Ali; Mixed by MixedByAli; Alto Saxophone/Keyboards- Terrace Martin; Trumpet- Josef Leimberg; Background Vocals- Bilal, Ti$a, Preston Harris & SZA.

“Momma”

Written by Kendrick Duckworth, Glen Boothe, Taz Arnold, Sylvester Stewart, Lalah Hathaway, Rahsaan Patterson & Rex Rideout; Produced by Knxwledge & Taz Arnold a.k.a. Ti$a; Recorded by Derek “MixedByAli” Ali & James “The White Black Man” Hunt; Mixed by MixedByAli; Alto Saxophone/Keyboards/Vocoder- Terrace Martin; Background Vocals- Lalah Hathaway & Bilal.

“Momma” contains elements of “Wishful Thinkin” by S. Stewart as performed by Sly & The Family Stone, ”On Your Own” written by Lalah Hathaway, R. Patterson, & R. Rideout; samples from “On Your Own” performed by Lalah Hathaway, from the album Self Portrait.

Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly (2015)

“Hood Politics”

Written by Kendrick Duckworth, Donte Perkins, Mark Spears, Stephen Bruner & S. Stevens; Produced by Tae Beast, Sounwave & Thundercat; Recorded by Derek “MixedByAli” Ali & James “The White Black Man” Hunt; Mixed by MixedByAli; Keyboards- Terrace Martin & Robert Sput Searight; Background Vocals-  Bilal, Anna Wise, Preston Harris & Dion Friley. “Hood Politics” includes sample of “All for Myself” (S. Stevens).

“How Much a Dollar Cost” feat. James Fauntleroy  & Ronald Isley

Written by Kendrick Duckworth, Terrace Martin, Josef Leimberg, Rose McKinney, James Fauntleroy & Ronald Isley; Produced by LoveDragon; Recorded by Derek “MixedByAli” Ali, James “The White Black Man” Hunt & Matt Schaeffer; Mixed by MixedByAli; Alto Saxophone/Keyboards- Terrace Martin; Trumpet- Josef Leimberg; Percussion- Larrance Dopson; Guitar- Marlon Williams; Ronald Isley’s verse recorded by Thomas Burns.

“Complexion (A Zulu Love)” feat. Rapsody

Written by Kendrick Duckworth, Stephen Bruner, Mark Spears & Marlanna Evans; Produced by Thundercat & Sounwave; Additional Production- Terrace Martin & Antydote; Recorded by Derek “MixedByAli” Ali & Matt Schaeffer; Mixed by MixedByAli; Keyboards- Terrace Martin & Robert Glasper; Alto Saxophone- Terrace Martin; Trumpet- Josef Leimberg; Percussion- Larrance Dopson; Background Vocals- Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner, Lalah Hathaway, Talkbox Monte & JaVonte; Background Vocals/Scratches- Pete Rock; Rapsody’s verse recorded by 9th Wonder.

Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly (2015)

“The Blacker the Berry”

Written by Kendrick Duckworth, Matthew Samuels, Stephen Kozmeniuk, Ken Lewis, Brent Kolatalo, Jefferey Campbell, Alexander Izquierdo & Zale Epstein; Produced by Boi-1da & Koz; Additional Production- Terrace Martin; Additional Drum Programming & Additional Engineering- Katalyst; Recorded by Derek “MixedByAli” Ali, James “The White Black Man” Hunt & Matt Schaeffer; Mixed by MixedByAli; Drums- Ronald Bruner Jr; Keyboards- Robert Glasper; Bass- Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner; Alto Saxophone- Terrace Martin; Percussion- Larrance Dopson; Background Vocals- Lalah Hathaway.

“i”

Written by Kendrick Duckworth, Columbus Smith, Ronald Isley, O’Kelly Isley, Ernie Isley, Marvin Isley, Rudolph Isley & Christopher Jasper; Produced by Rahki; Recorded by Derek “MixedByAli” Ali, James “The White Black Man” Hunt & Matt Schaeffer; Mixed by MixedByAli; Mix Assistants- The White Black Man & Matt Schaeffer; Keyboards- Sam Barsh; Guitar- Keith Askey; Drums- Kendall Lewis; Bass- Chris Smith & Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner; Percussion- Rahki; Background Vocals- Taz Arnold a.k.a. Ti$a, William Swept, Candace Wakefield, Devon Downing, Edwin Orellana, Dave Free & Dion Friley; Additional Vocals- Ronald Isley, recorded by Thomas Burns. “i” contains portions of “That Lady” by Ronald Isley, Christopher Jasper, O’Kelly Isley, Ernie Isley, Marvin Isley & Rudolph Isley.

“Mortal Man”

Written by Kendrick Duckworth, Mark Spears, Stephen Bruner & F. Anikulapo; Produced by Sounwave; Recorded by Derek “MixedByAli” Ali, James “The White Black Man” Hunt & Matt Schaeffer; Mixed by MixedByAli; Bass- Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner; Keyboards- Robert Glasper & Junius Bervine; Guitar- Marlon Williams; Alto Saxophone- Terrace Martin; Trumpet- Josef Leimberg & Ambrose Akinmusire; Background vocals- James Fauntleroy & JaVonte; String Arrangements by Kamasi Washington, Sounwave & Terrace Martin.

“Mortal Man” contains: elements of “I No Get Eye for Back” by F. Anikulapo  and excerpts from “I No Get Eye for Back” as performed by Houston Person; features parts from the music journalist Mats Nileskar’s 2Pac Shakur interview in New York, November 1994.

Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly (2015)

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The Return of Blackalicious – Imani Vol. 1

Old school hip hop duo Chief Excel and Gift of Gab are back in fine form with their first new Blackalicious album since 2005.

Imani Vol. 1 is the first of three new Blackalicious album instalments they say are coming.

Blackalicious - Imani Vol. 1 (2015)

Blackalicious – Imani: Vol 1 (2015)

Anything I have to say about the nitty gritty of its 20 tracks matters not really. Sufficed to say Imani Vol. 1 is a refreshing throwback to glory days of hip hop gone.

Instrumentally producer Chief Xcel and a handful of live players on drums, bass, guitar, keys, horns and strings have created a diversity of sounds crossing funk, blues, jazz, soul, R&B, rock and dub.

Lyrically, Gift of Gab (with his killer, high speed flow) and another handful of guest vocalists and MCs bring positive messages of hope, faith, perseverance and love – in spite of and despite the struggles life deals us.

All in all the Blackalicious crew has created sounds of music that will command your attention again and again; and, all things being equal, give you the experience of feeling better, feeling good, feeling inspired, feeling hopeful and, feeling that your body must move.

What more do you need from your hip hop?

Blackalicious - Imani Vol. 1 (2015)

Check out two sample tracks from Imani Vol. 1 here – remembering as always, they are compressed mp3 versions only. For the full sound goodness, buy the album on vinyl or cd here.

Blackalicious - Imani Vol. 1 (2015)

Blackalicious – “Blacka”

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Blackalicious (feat. Lateef, Lyrics Born, Monophonics & DJ D Sharp)- “Alpha And Omega”


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‘F’ Must Be For Funk

‘F’ in the A to Z of Fusion must go to Funk.

Why? Because put simply and personally, funk on the downbeat (like reggae’s offbeat) moves my body into action and takes me to a higher, happier place than any other breed of music in this world. More generally, because funk music in its original and many evolving forms of fusion since, makes up a huge chunk of the timelessly-sublime music available in the world to listen to, love and most definitely cherish, forever-after.

George Clinton live concert - Electric Ballroom, London 2015

George Clinton live at Electric Ballroom, London 2015

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The Birth of Funk

A fusion of R&B, soul and jazz, funk music was brewing in the 50’s before being characterised as a genre in the mid-60’s with James Brown and his signature “on the one” groove.

James Brown - The Godfather of Funk

James Brown - I Got You (I Feel Good)

 

James Brown – “I Got You (I Feel Good)” (1965)

 

 

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Funk Fusion

Since the 60’s funk music has evolved into countless other musical forms through its fusion with pop, jazz, rock, metal, electro, highlife, gangsta rap and more – including Fela Kuti’s development of Afrobeat in the 70’s – and hip hop since the 80’s via its heavy sampling of funk tunes.

The Funk Collection

These names here are just some of the world’s many artists who’ve contributed to the evolution of funk music: anywhere from dabbling in it, to living and breathing the funk. If their music is not already known and loved by you, it can be from now and forever hereafter…

Horace Silver. Cannonball Adderley. Little Richard. James Brown. Sly Stone. George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic. The Meters. Earth, Wind & Fire. Fred Wesley. Cameo. Brides of Funkenstein. War. Maceo Parker. Larry Graham. Parlet. Bootsy’s Rubber Band. Dyke and the Blazers. Marva Whitney. Bernadette Cooper. Klymaxx. Ohio Players. Chaka Khan. The Commodores. Steve Arrington. Lyn Collins. Cymande. Zapp. Madame X. The Isley Brothers. Stevie Wonder. Mother’s Finest. Vicki Anderson. Slave. Labelle. Platypus. Sheila E. Lakeside. Betty Davis. The Bar-Kays. Buddy Miles. Con Funk Shon. The Horny Horns. Lynn Mabry.  Kool & The Gang. Mallia Franklin. Sun. Starleana Young. Heatwave. Miles Davis. Roy Ayers. Millie Jackson. Herbie Hancock. Patrice Rushen. Fela Kuti. Femi Kuti. Seun Kuti. Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Living Colour. Brooklyn Funk Essentials. Afrika BambaataaFishbone. Dam Funk. Prince. Rick James. The Dazz Band. Jesse Johnson. Brand New Heavies. JamiroquaiMe’shell Ndegeocello. D’Angelo. Erykah Badu. The Soul RebelsSharon Jones. The Bamboos. The Cactus Channel. The Putbacks.

Sly & The Family Stone - Fresh (1973)x

Sly & The Family Stone – “Thankful N’ Thoughtful” – Fresh (1973)

 

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The collective of visionary funk artists and the music they’ve created throughout its history remind us always that universal possibilities, musical and otherwise, are limitless.

Longevity in Funk

From that collective there’s one whose name we can link to almost every funk variety in its history. One who has contributed to keeping the funk, glorious funk alive in countless reinvented forms according to changing times and musical landscapes since its beginnings until today. That artist is George Clinton – working alongside the many revolving artists within the Parliament Funkadelic / P-Funk collective.

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic live at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Late last year George Clinton released the 3-disc masterpiece First Ya Gotta Shake The Gateand has been delivering the funk live on worldwide stages since alongside a multi-generational group of artists. His grandkiddies and Garrett Shider (son of dearly departed Parliament Funkadelic guitarist Garry Shider) are amongst them. So too is the legendary Blackbyrd McKnight.

Funkadelic - First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate (2014)

 

George Clinton & Funkadelic -“Yesterdejavu” –  First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate (2014)

 

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Blackbyrd McKnight + George Clinton - Parliament Funkadelic concert 2015

George Clinton (l) + Blackbyrd McKnight (c) + Garrett Shider (r)

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The Survival of Funk

Hopefully George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic were right when they sang “the funk will survive just like it always has”.  Certainly it will in some form at least. But an artist promising “the whole funk, nothin’ but the funk” is a rare find in the world these days. For my ears that’s a shame, for sure.

So it gives me hope when I hear that artists like Brooklyn Funk Essentials are helping the funk survive with the recent release of their album Funk Aint’ Ova – the first in seven years.

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It’s reason to feel excited about hearing the new sounds created by funk legends Cymande on their first album in decades – A Simple Act of Faith – just released and available to buy here, with the vinyl coming in January.

Cymande - A Simple Act Of Faith (2015)

A Simple Act of Faith

And reason to count our blessings for contemporary artists like D’Angelo And The Vanguard and Australia’s Hiatus Kaiyote for incorporating the funk sounds of old into new musical blends of a totally fresh and innovative kind.

D'Angelo live at Melbourne Soulfest 2014

D’Angelo live at Melbourne Soulfest 2014

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D'Angelo - Black Messiah (2014)

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D’Angelo And The Vanguard- “Sugah Daddy”- Black Messiah

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No matter what the future holds for the creation of new funk music, we’ll always have reason to count our blessings for all the timelessly-sublime music created through funk history so far. It’s in our world to listen to, love and cherish forever-after. And for that, the world and us mere humans who live within it, are a whole lot richer. Amen.

More of the Funky Kind

Indulge in more sounds of funk here. Click on a photo to check out video footage of live performances and/or sample tracks by that artist.

Erykah Badu live at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Erykah Badu

Prince

Prince

Larry Graham live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Larry Graham

Femi Kuti & The Positive Force live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Femi Kuti

Fred Wesley

Fred Wesley

D'Angelo & The Vanguard live concert at London Roundhouse

D’Angelo

Hiatus Kaiyote live at WOMADelaide 2014

Hiatus Kaiyote

Herbie Hancock concert - Melbourne International Jazz Festival 2015

Herbie Hancock

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George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Parliament Funkadelic

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Got other beloved Funkateers in your music collection whose names are missing from the list above? Do tell.

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The Putbacks – “Kung Fu Pyramids” Sweet Vinyl-Style

HopeStreet Recordings unfailingly gives its music releases a description that stimulates the imagination; that invites you to press play and enter into a kooky adventure. I’d usually call copying and pasting the exact contents of a press release to be a lazy Beaver’s game. But what the label says about “Kung Fu Pyramids” and it’s B-side “Snake Eyes” by Melbourne’s funk outfit The Putbacks just shouldn’t be messed with. Not by this Beaver anyway.

For the fighters, Kung Fu Pyramids is a slice of dark, guitar-driven, psychedelic, martial arts funk. For the gamblers, the brooding downtempo minimalism of Snake Eyes is an ode to the joys of Mia, dice game of champions.

Pressing play to enter this instrumental funk adventure with The Putbacks will bring wonderful rewards you won’t find elsewhere.

Putting the needle down on your super-limited edition 7-inch vinyl copy you can buy through HopeStreet from 9.00 a.m. tomorrow (as part of Independent Label Week), will bring even greater rewards.

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Fat Freddys Drop – Beyond Easy Skanking

Every album so far delivered by Fat Freddys Drop has brilliantly captured and showcased the unique blends of soul, jazz, funk, R&B, reggae and dub that New Zealand music is known and loved for. Those albums have also captured the spirit and sounds of the epic live Fat Freddys Drop journeys – from which the group built their grass-roots following and ultimate success, way back since their beginnings in the late 90s.

Fat Freddys Drop live in Brisbane - Blackbird Tour 2013

Fat Freddys Drop live at the Tivoli, Australia

In many ways the new album Bays repeats that Fat Freddys history, in others not.

Fat Freddys Drop - Bays (2015)

Bays (2015)

More so than ever before, Bays captures Fat Freddys Drop creating music in the studio rather than in the live arena. Like always, studio-style includes recording equipment and techniques at their most superior (analogue of course), pressed to sweet vinyl. The gentle, soulful voice of Dallas Tamaira is the only one you’ll find on this FFD album, consistently soothing you throughout. The subtle, perfectly-placed horn lines of Toby Laing, Joe Lindsay and Scott Towers are still present. So too are the living guitar and keyboard sounds of Tehimana Kerr and Iain Gordon.

Fat Freddys Drop - Bays

And yes Bays definitely delivers familiar doses of soul, funk, R&B and feel-good, easy skanking within its ten tracks. But this time around you’ll get a heavier-than-ever-before dose of techno rhythms in the mix. For some people those sounds will be welcome, for others they might bring discomfort. Either way, Fat Freddys Drop remain as true as always to the expression of their own evolution, independent of and unconstrained by the expectations of a label or others.

Love Bays or not. Take it or leave it. Whatever you do, at least try it.

I tried and took – ie. went to my local record store and bought it for my Forever-After Collection. And super-surprisingly, it was the epic techno-heavy journey of track 8 on Bays (“Cortina Motors”) that finally convinced me to do so. Producer and MPC genius Chris “Mu” Faiumu (who donated the base track) and the rest of Fat Freddys Drop have here achieved the unthinkable for me: made the experience of listening to techno rhythms an enjoyable and body-moving one.

Fat Freddys Drop concert - WOMADelaide 2014

Mu with Fat Freddys Drop live at WOMADelaide 2014

The killer groove of the album’s ninth and final track “Novak”, cemented my decision without doubt that I’d be a lot poorer if I didn’t have Bays in my music collection.

Check out these (mp3 only) samples of those two all-convincing tracks.

Fat Freddys Drop - Bays

Fat Freddys Drop – “Cortina Motors” – Bays
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Fat Freddys Drop – “Novak” – Bays
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Buy the whole of Bays direct from Fat Freddys Drop  here.

And be sure to find the live experience where you can. That’s generally where the most Fat Freddys Drop magic happens. Peeps around the world get their chance soon with upcoming tours happening in Aotearoa / New Zealand, Australia, the U.K. and Europe.

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Who Is Jill Scott?

Who is Jill Scott? Well, having never met the woman I’m not qualified to say. But the words and sounds Jill Scott has created and shared with the world in the five studio albums she’s released over the last 15 years, including the most recent Woman, give us a pretty good idea of all we need to know.

Jill Scott - Woman

Woman (2015)

Our introductory glimpses of Jill Scott came in 2000 with her magnificent debut album Who Is Jill Scott? Words And Sounds Vol. 1.

Jill Scott - Who Is Jill Scott?

 “Jilltro” – Who Is Jill Scott? 

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We know from “Jilltro”, from Woman’s closing track “Beautiful Love” and every Jill Scott song in between, that this North Philly artist is a beautiful poet, a stunning multi-dimensional singer and a prolific storyteller who has consistently delivered easy-listening, easy-dancing blends of soul, jazz, funk, R&B, hip hop and (now) country music, to the world.

Jill Scott - The Light of the Sun (2011)

The Light of The Sun (2011)

Jill Scott- The Real Thing

The Real Thing: Words And Sounds Vol. 3 (2007)

Jill Scott - Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds Vol. 2

Beautifully Human: Words And Sounds Vol. 2 (2004)

 

 

 

 

 

We know that on all those songs we have the pleasure of hearing Jill Scott’s divine voice singing and speaking words dripping with raw, honest, sensual emotion; telling stories of everyday human living we can all relate to around friendship, family, heartache, love and desire in their many healthy and unhealthy forms, food and play. That through those beautifully-human lyrical stories, Jill Scott unashamedly shows us both her vulnerabilities and overriding strengths – from which we get the distinct feeling she is a sensitive, passionate and powerful woman demonstrating the importance of love, compassion and humour by example.

Jill Scott - Woman (2015)

Finally, I know personally that on every Jill Scott album (Woman included) I find songs delivered in a way that make me feel stronger, happier and more hopeful. That’s an incredibly-special gift from Jill Scott to me – and to everyone else in this world moved by her music and her voice.

Listen here to 2 of Woman’s 16 tracks. Remember these are just mp3 versions, compressed glimpses of all the sounds recorded by Jill Scott and her musical collaborators; that there are 14 more songs on the album, all of which are fundamental parts of the whole of Woman; and to buy the real deal in its entirety is to thank Jill Scott for creating these beautiful sounds and words to enjoy, and to support her in making more.

Jill Scott - Woman

“Can’t Wait” – Woman

…with Pino Palladino (The Vanguard) on bass playing what for me, are the sublimest of all instrumental sounds on the album.

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“Coming To You” – Woman

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The whole album Woman is of course available to buy from your local, independent record store.

The extra-blessed can find themselves the ultimate Jill Scott experience: hearing her sing songs of old and new, live on stage. I expected to be amongst the Blessed this weekend at Soulfest 2015 – but am instead part of a cast of thousands devastated by the festival’s last minute cancellation :( . Jill Scott’s name has to stay on my Live Music Bucket List for now.

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Georgia Anne Muldrow Accentuating The Positive

Georgia Anne Muldrow’s most recent album A Thoughtiverse Unmarred, is a fabulous and timely reminder of how very much the world (both humans and the precious environment we live in) benefits from having positive musical messengers like her within it.

During its twelve tracks of hip hop beats and rhymes soaked in funk and soul, Georgia Anne Muldrow’s conscious words unfailingly accentuate the positive over the negative. They encourage love and compassion over hate – call for equality and fairness over injustice and discrimination – promote diversity and spirituality over the monocultural and materialistic – advocate for peace over conflict – and champion self determination, hope and triumph over one’s disadvantaged social, political and economic circumstances.

Georgia Anne Muldrow - A Thoughtiverse Unmarred

A Thoughtiverse Unmarred (2015)

The bonus is that those positive lyrical messages from Georgia Anne Muldrow and featured rappers Declaime (aka Dudley Perkins) and MP Is Free come with music wholly produced by Chris Keys, all together likely to make you feel good and want to dance with them.

Check out two sample tracks from A Thoughtiverse Unmarred here, remembering they’re just compressed mp3 versions of the real deal. You can buy the full album in all its goodness (including finding a copy on sweet vinyl) to cherish forever-after amongst the other gems of your music collection.

Georgia Anne Muldrow - A Thoughtiverse Unmarred

Georgia Anne Muldrow – “Monoculture” – A Thoughtiverse Unmarred

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Georgia Anne Muldrow – “Child Shot” – A Thoughtiverse Unmarred

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