English Music Artists

Bluesfest 2017 – An Awe Inspiring Wealth of Musical Experience

Byron Bay Bluesfest is all about the music. It’s not a festival you go to find a patch of luscious green grass to chill out on and catch up with friends. For starters you’re not likely to find such grass or any other festival spaces to chill out comfortably (unless you pay hundreds extra to sit on a couch in the VIP bar). And besides that there’s just so many incredible artists playing on its five stages throughout the five-day Easter festival to keep you on the move and happily engrossed in music.

Mary J Blige live concert 2017

Mary J Blige at Bluesfest 2017

Over its 28 year history Bluesfest has continued to diversify its line-up extending beyond “blues and roots” music to include more hip hop, funk, soul, jazz and reggae acts so there’s something to satisfy the broadest range of tastes.

Nas live concert 2017

Nas at Bluesfest 2017

No matter your musical taste and even where an act mightn’t be your cup of tea, what you’re sure to find on just about any Bluesfest stage are musicians and vocalists who are highly skilled, accomplished masters and mistresses of their craft; and who each have a wealth of experience in playing and performing. Thinking about the collective skills and experience of all Bluesfest 2017 artists combined, is both mind-boggling and awe-inspiring.

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Those gold standard levels of musicianship make for plenty of special music moments to be found during the festival. You know the ones I mean: those completely-present, thoughtless, blissful moments that make life feel so much better than however it might actually be at the time.

This year I found most of my special moments with Michael Kiwanuka, Miles Electric Band, Nas and The Soul Rebels, Roy Ayers, Laura Mvula, Snarky Puppy, Mavis Staples, Mary J Blige and Booker T.  Check out glimpses of those shows below- and look elsewhere for the low-down on shows by other 2017 artists including Santana, Gregory Porter, Patti Smith, Buddy Guy, Beth Hart, Nikki Hill, Busby Marou, Courtney Barnett, The Doobie Brothers and Neil Finn.

Miles Electric Band

First up there was that absolute sublime found in hearing and seeing the stunning chops of the multi-generational members of Miles Electric Band paying contemporary homage to Miles Davis’ electronic era.

Christian Scott - trumpet

Christian Scott with Miles Electric Band

The group’s second festival show, where the band seemed way more relaxed and wasn’t plagued by the sound issues of the first , fell on Blackbyrd McKnight’s birthday with the band acknowledging that in the most subtle and beautiful of musical ways.

Blackbyrd McKnight - Miles Electric Band concert 2017

Blackbyrd McKnight

Check out a track below from an album you mightn’t yet have discovered- Blackbyrd McKnight’s solo project ’bout Funkin’ Time – as well as video snippets from Miles Electric Band’s Bluesfest shows.

Blackbyrd McKnight - 'bout funkin' time

“Funkin Where You Belong” by Blackbyrd McKnight

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Nas & The Soul Rebels

Then came the delightful experience of hearing Nas perfectly spitting poetic rhymes with positive, inspiring messages accompanied by the sounds of a DJ and live instrumentation by New Orleans band The Soul Rebels (a perfect combo yes?). Nas threw the crowd back into the golden sounds of hip hop days gone, to cassette tapes and the forever-lasting influence of Michael Jackson’s music.

Nas live concert 2017

Nas

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Michael Kiwanuka

A spiritual experience of the highest order was also found in hearing the unique, old-soul voice of Michael Kiwanuka live-  especially when accompanied by his supporting female vocalist for some songs like ‘Rule the World’. He and his band opened both Bluesfest shows with the slow instrumental build-up of ‘Cold Little Heart’ before performing most other tracks from the latest album Love & Hate, ‘Home Again’ and a timely Prince cover, introduced with a bold statement to the effect that “without Prince, there would be no music”.

Michael Kiwanuka live concert - Bluesfest 2017

Michael Kiwanuka

Michael Kiwanuka’s Australian shows kicked off a long list of tour dates you can get along to over coming months in the U.K, U.S.A and Europe. In the meantime treat your ears to the song below from Love & Hate, check out video footage from his Bluesfest shows and hear more Michael Kiwanuka music here. Any good local music store should have both albums to buy and keep in your beloved-forever-after collection 🙂 .

Michael Kiwanuka - Love & Hate

“Place I Belong” by Michael Kiwanuka 

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Roy Ayers

Both of Roy Ayers’ festival shows were nothing short of instrumental sublime. It was a joy to see this funk-soul-jazz legend in his late 70s, still creating magic on the vibraphone and visibly taking great pleasure in creating live music with his band.

Roy Ayers live concert - Bluesfest 2017

Roy Ayers

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Mavis Staples

At one of her earlier festival shows Mavis Staples told the crowd in no uncertain terms: “You know, my sisters are The Staple Sisters. We’ve been taking you all down for 60 years. And. I. ain’t. tired.”. Now although she (justifiably) looked a little worn by the end of her final show, the overwhelming feeling in the crowd seemed to be that Ms. Mavis Staples just gets better and better with age.

Mavis Staples live concert - Bluesfest 2017

Mavis Staples

Snarky Puppy

There were also all those good vibes brought to Australian stages again by contemporary instrumental jazz maestros Snarky Puppy – this time around with the personal added bonus for me of Bobby Sparks II being amongst them on organ/keys next to Shaun Martin.

Snarky Puppy live concert - Bluesfest 2017

Snarky Puppy

Bobby Sparks - Snarky Puppy concert 2017

Bobby Sparks II

Snarky Puppy live concert - Bluesfest 2017

Shaun Martin

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Mary J Blige

Watching the ever-strong and sassy Mary J Blige completely fill and command the largest stage space any one performer gave themselves at the festival (with her band and support vocalists positioned around the outer stage edge) brought more musical and visual delight.

Mary J Blige live concert 2017

Mary J Blige

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Booker T

Booker T inspired ear-to-ear smiles as he effortlessly bust it out on the organ alongside his son Ted Jones on guitar and other band members, performing a bunch of beloved Stax Records label classics like ‘Green Onions’.

Booker T Jones concert - Bluesfest 2017

Booker T Jones & Ted Jones

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Laura Mvula

Hearing and feeling the power of Laura Mvula’s vocal abilities live as she sang emotively about those places of darkness in which light can be found; and in her own words “making music that helps people”, was a blessed festival experience too.

Laura Mvula live concert 2017

Laura Mvula

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One of the greatest pleasures in being at all those shows was witnessing how each artist on stage clearly respects, encourages and appreciates the others’ musicianship and skills; and takes great pleasure in making music together. From Booker T joining his band on stage, walking to and acknowledging the members one-by-one before sitting down at his organ to play; to seeing Roy Ayers listen intently and smile at music made by his younger band members; to hearing the spokesperson or leader of each group take the time in their set to introduce all individual band members for the crowd to show their appreciation to.

Roy Ayers concert - Bluesfest 2017Roy Ayers live concert - Bluesfest 2017

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I’m certainly grateful to all the stunning musicians and vocalists who I heard perform at Bluesfest 2017; who created those special moments of music bliss. I wish I could tell you every one of their names. Blessed and enriched are all festival folk for their individual experiences- and for the existence of Byron Bay Bluesfest.

Michael Kiwanuka live concert - Bluesfest 2017

You can check out more Bluesfest 2017 photos on Facebook and additional live video footage on YouTube or Vimeo.

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Ten Albums of 2016 That Made Life Sweeter

Blessed we are for the music albums of 2016 that made this life feel a whole lot sweeter. Thankful are we to the artists who created those albums. Some, like Kendrick Lamar’s untitled unmastered, came quickly after his last and were released unexpectedly. Other albums like De La Soul’s and the Anonymous Nobody, and The Diary Of from dearly-departed legend J Dilla, were an insanely-long time in coming.

Below are sample tracks from ten albums of 2016 that likely brought happiness to lovers of jazz, hip hop, R&B and reggae music. All can be found in hard copy and added to your Forever-After Music Collection if you haven’t already done so- including in their most supreme format, on sweet sweet vinyl.

1. Anderson .Paak- Malibu

Anderson Paak - Malibu

“Heart Don’t Stand A Chance”

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2. BADBADNOTGOOD- IV

Badbadnotgood - IV (2016)

“And That, Too”

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Hear more tracks from IV and watch video footage of  BADBADNOTGOOD performing live here

3. De La Soul- and the Anonymous Nobody

De La Soul - and the Anonymous Nobody

“Drawn” featuring Little Dragon

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Find more tracks from and the Anonymous Nobody here.

4. J Dilla- The Diary Of

J Dilla - The Diary Of

“The Ex” featuring Bilal

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5. Kaytranada- 99.9%

Kaytranada - 99.9%

“Breakdance Lesson N.1”

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6. Kendrick Lamar- untitled unmastered

Kendrick Lamar - untitled unmastered

“untitled 08 09.06.2014”

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Check out live concert footage of Kendrick Lamar performing at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016 here.

7. Michael Kiwanuka- Love And Hate

Michael Kiwanuka - Love & Hate

“Cold Little Heart”

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Find more tracks from Love & Hate here.

8. Miles Davis and Robert Glasper- Everything’s Beautiful

Miles Davis and Robert Glasper - Everything's Beautiful

“Right On Brotha”  featuring Stevie Wonder

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Find more tracks from Everything’s Beautiful here.

9. NxWorries- Yes Lawd!

NX Worries - Yes Lawd!

“Khadijah”

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10. Stephen “Ragga” MarleyRevelation Pt. II: The Fruit Of Life

Stephen Marley - Revelation Pt. 2 - The Fruit of Life

“Scars On My Feet” featuring Waka Flocka

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Find more tracks from Revelation Pt. II: The Fruit Of Life here.

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Blessed will we continue to be in 2017 for the existence of those ten albums in our music collections – as well as all new musical delights coming our way this year. Thanks to all artists worldwide who create, record and play music for us live. Life could be unbearable without them, and hopefully we never have to find out.

Kendrick Lamar live concert 2016

Kendrick Lamar live at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

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Michael Kiwanuka – Love & Hate

The new album from London’s Michael Kiwanuka, Love & Hate, is a unique and special gift of music in 2016 amongst the rest.

Michael Kiwanuka - Love & Hate

Love & Hate (2016)

Why?

Well for starters because Michael Kiwanuka’s super-soulful voice sounds like no other in the world. When you’ve heard it once it’s instantly recognisable as his voice the next and every time after. And there’s no other word for the sound of that voice except divine.

Also because unlike the shallow of much music today, Love & Hate’s lyrics are of substance and meaning – sung by Michael Kiwanuka with pure and honest emotion. Rife with feelings of doubt, despair, heartache and just the occasional flash of hope, they’re unlikely to evoke images of walking under blue skies and sunshine. But this is the stuff that makes up life; things we can all relate to at one time or another. The human condition will always involve some heartache, probably some doubt too.

But it most definitely should not involve racial inequalities. Not now. Not ever. But despicably, in fact it does. And despicably in fact it has done for a large part of human history. Love & Hate‘s second track “Black Man In A White World” is a much-needed reminder of both that shameful past and the shameful present. That these (and so many other) lyrics being written today is the truth for “black” men and women of the world is deeply tragic. Thankfully there are artists like Michael Kiwanuka singing about those injustices for everyone to hear and heed.

Michael Kiwanuka - Home Again

Love & Hate is special too because of its warmth of sound that cosily enwraps you. That warmth makes perfect sense considering Micahel Kiwanuka’s heavy use of analogue equipment and humans playing real drum kits, guitars, horns, violins, cellos, bass and piano which haven’t been unnecessarily “improved” [manipulated] through excessive production techniques (thanks to Dangermouse, Inflo & Paul Butler).

And finally, in what other soul music made in 2016 can you hear orchestral strings in its mix alongside wailing electric guitar sounds reminiscent of 1970’s Pink Floyd or Parliament-Funkadelic? Not many I’d guess.

Michael Kiwanuka is an incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist and artist. Love & Hate is a gorgeous sounding record and a rare and special musical gem in today’s world of music.

Check out these two sample tracks from the album. Remember they’re just compressed mp3-versions of all the sounds Michael Kiwanuka and his collaborators created. If you like what you hear thank them for creating this music and support them to make more by getting on down to your local record store to buy the album.

Michael Kiwanuka - Love & Hate

Love & Hate (2016)

“Black Man In A White World” –  Love & Hate

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“Rule The World” –  Love & Hate

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You can also get your hands on Michael Kiwanuka’s first studio album Home Again. Like Love & Hate, it’s full of musical blessings of the warm, soulful, old-school kind.

Michael Kiwanuka - Home Again

Home Again (2012)

“Home Again” – Michael Kiwanuka – Home Again

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And of course find yourself the ultimate Michael Kiwanuka experience at his upcoming live shows around the world.

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Native Sun: Hip Hop+Afrobeat+Sunshine+Love On Foot

So much music being created by artists in this world. So many barriers to getting it heard, properly valued, sold and any money into their pockets. We all know it’s a travesty of epic proportions.

To all the artists who share their music with me digitally: thank you, and, I’m truly sorry. Lots of it I simply won’t have the time nor energy to spend attached to a computer to hear.

I’m an old fashioned girl when it comes to finding music. I want to use my feet whenever I can- to physically go out into the world and scour record stores; act on recommendations from real people I talk with in those music stores and elsewhere about the music we love; take a cd home from an awesome live gig; or buy it directly from artists I find sharing their music in streets and plazas.

I swear my methods are much more fun and healthier than excess computer time.

Hormigas Negrasvinyl records - Kingston, JamaicaSupport Sweet Music in public spaces

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It’s in that context I give kudos to London-based music duo Native Sun for using their minds and feet to speak of and sell their music to the many folks of a similarly-styled musical ilk to them, waiting in line for doors to open at D’Angelo & The Vanguard’s Roundhouse show. The fact that they did so was reason enough to hand over my valuable English pounds for their take-home album Indigenous Soundwaves; and to share some of its sounds here on their behalf.

Native Sun - Indigenous Soundwaves

Indigenous Soundwaves (2012)

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“Hip Hop, Afrobeat, a little Sunshine and lots of Love” from Native Sun 2012 via Indigenous Soundwaves

‘Out of the Box (feat. Akala)’ –  Native Sun

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‘Original Inhabitants’ – Native Sun

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…and “Hip Hop, Afrobeat, a little Sunshine and lots of Love” from Native Sun 2015 via the single Day By Day’:

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If Native Sun’s sounds are up your musical alley the bonus prize is the opportunity to buy them [relatively] direct from the artists.

Native Sun

Mohammed Yahya & Sarina Leah   (photo by Bumi Thomas)

 

Native Sun plus everyone else out there – keep making music. Please. May you make it heard in the world; and may humankind support and encourage you to do so.

That’s Beaver’s good old-fashioned dream. 🙂

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Roots Manuva, Leon Bridges & Human Snails at Citadel Festival 2015

On a sunny, blue-sky London day I found my way to the inaugural Citadel Festival 2015 for two reasons: to experience an uncommon live performance by veteran Londonite rapper Roots Manuva – and to hear the music of the young, up-and-coming Texan soul artist Leon Bridges.

Roots Manuva concert live at Citadel Festival 2015Leon Bridges live concert at Citadel Festival 2015

Roots Manuva

Roots Manuva came first – the casually, constantly moving rapper of substance and depth Rodney Smith, with a band of bass, drums, keys/samples/synths players and two gorgeous, soulful female back-up vocalists joining him.

He delivered some sounds from the forthcoming new album, but most tracks performed were from beloved albums of old, wonderfully recreated to sound fresh – and extra special with the living energy of a band.

By the end of the Roots Manuva set my ticket and trek out to Citadel was already well worth it.

Roots Manuva concert live at Citadel Festival 2015

Roots Manuva at Citadel Festival 2015

Watch a video here of Roots Manuva performing the ever-popular Witness (1 Hope)  [“Witness to Fitness”] at Citadel Festival:

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Past Roots Manuva’s records you probably have on vinyl in your music collection already yes? You can hear his most recent release “Facety 2:11” here and wait like me for the new album coming later this year.

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Leon Bridges

Leon Bridges was up next- and while his band sound-checked, dressed in finely-pressed identical satin vests, ties, jackets and cowboy hats, I found myself asking someone next to me if I was at the right stage. Turns out I was, then reminding myself to ignore my conditioned preconceptions about what a 2015 soul band will probably look like.

When the show started and the seemingly-humble Leon Bridges fronted the band on stage, proceeding to showcase the beautifully-soulful songs from his debut album Coming Home so reminiscent of the glorious sounds of old, a joyful smile appeared on my face and my body was moved into action.

Leon Bridges live concert at Citadel Festival 2015

Leon Bridges at Citadel Festival 2015

Throughout the rest of their all-too-short set I couldn’t help but look around me and confusedly wonder Why of Why? I was in the wonderfully multi-cultural melting pot of London hearing the musical goodness I was, surrounded by festival folks of the mostly Anglo-Saxon kind, most of them standing still.

Leon Bridges’ much-hyped debut album Coming Home was released digitally in June. It’s all goodness and then some – and like always, I’m waiting patiently till it’s released in hard copy.

You can check out a video here of one of the tracks from that album, “River”, performed by Leon Bridges solo at Citadel Festival 2015.


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More of Citadel Festival?

Did I find much more than Roots Manuva and Leon Bridges at Citadel Festival 2015? Umm, not really. In fairness to the festival, there were lots of musical and non-musical things going on around the Victoria Park site.

Citadel Festival 2015

But as appealing as the tequila bar, blind-folded human snail races and hula hooping looked,  I just wasn’t up for dealing with the dust, the crowds and the long lines for (sold-out) food and drinks.

Citadel Festival 2015

More importantly the other acts on the bill just weren’t up my personal musical alley – and with the Roots Manuva and Leon Bridges shows done and dusted, I had already achieved what I went to the festival for, and was well and truly satisfied.

I did allow myself the added musical bonus of catching Seun Kuti carrying on the AfroBeat tradition in his usual energetic, gyrating form alongside the stunning musicianship of dearly-departed Fela Kuti’s band Egypt 80.

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 concert - Citadel Festival 2015

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 at Citadel Festival 2015

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Thanks to Citadel Festival 2015 for the live Roots Manuva, Leon Bridges and Seun Kuti experiences 🙂 .

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A Blessed Musical Day With Eric Harland & Co.

It’s a blessed musical day when a Beaver finds herself arrive in Amsterdam to hear about an Eric Harland, Dave Holland, Chris Potter and Lionel Loueke show starting in two hours; buy a randomly-seated ticket and turn up to the gig to discover she’s seated a few metres behind Eric Harland on drum kit – with the other three remarkably-talented jazz cats next to him on stage making awe-inspiring music together.

Eric Harland, Dave Holland, Chris Potter & Lionel Loueke live at Bimhuis, Amsterdam 2015

Each of those four artists have their own long career histories in jazz and world music. Just to name a few artists of many, double-bassist Dave Holland’s history includes work with Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock; guitarist Lionel Loueke with Herbie Hancock; saxophonist Chris Potter with Pat Metheny; and drummer Eric Harland with a long and evolving list of the Who’s Who in the contemporary jazz world.

Playing together on stage at Amsterdam’s Bimhuis Theatre, they took us on a sound journey aboard the groove train, through funky town, down and dirty into blues land, across the seas to West Africa and through many diverse landscapes of jazz.  Every moment of that journey had my jaw dropping in awe and my mouth open wide with a joyful smile.

My ears stayed with all four players but given my vantage point so close to Eric Harland, I couldn’t keep my eyes off his masterful hands on the kit (especially after interviewing him recently then missing out on sold-out tickets to his Voyager shows at Melbourne International Jazz Festival).

Eric Harland live at Bimhuis, Amsterdam 2015

Two sets, one standing ovation, an encore and a second standing ovation later, I turned to the young jazz head next to me and said “Wow. That was amazing“. He shook his head at me and replied matter-of-factly “Of course it was. What else did you expect from those four?”.

And so went Beaver’s spontaneously blessed Wednesday in Amsterdam with Eric Harland, Dave Holland, Chris Potter and Lionel Loueke 🙂 .

Get a glimpse of the musical goodness with these snippets from the show…

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E is for Electronic Music Infiltration

‘E’ in Beaver’s A to Z of Fusion goes to the sounds of electronic music for their like-it-or-not, rapid infiltration of almost every type of music in just about every part of the world since their beginnings at the end of the 19th century.

electronic music

A Shallow History of Infiltration

The history of electronic music is long and involved.  It’s not a story I’m qualified to properly tell, nor do I want to try. The over-simplified, short, sketchy version is this…

The Beatles - Moog SynthesizerFirst came the creation of electronic musical instruments like synthesizers. The Beatles weaved them into their music in the late 1960’s, as did artists before them. Pink Floyd did too, even Herbie Hancock, and countless artists since them.

The development of electronic music technologies continued, including digital audio to rapidly thereafter replace analog.

The creation of music using only electronic means became increasingly common.

Computer software advanced. Access to computers and other technologies became easier for most of the world.

electronic music

Certainly electronic music got its grips on ‘less-developed’ (ie. poorer) parts of the world sooner than the richer ones, but it eventually infiltrated just about everywhere. Seven years ago in Havana you can imagine my dismay when a young man in the technologically un-advanced, insulated Cuban bubble, proudly played me the reggaeton (an electronic-music-Evil) track he’d just finished making on his archaic equipment.

Some consequences of the world’s electronic music infiltration I’m into, some I am most definitely not.

Post-Infiltration

Nowadays it’s rare to find music made in the warm, living analog world. That’s a tragedy of epic proportions. Thankfully some artists still deliver it – most recently D’Angelo with Black Messiah, and regularly by Will Holland (aka Quantic).

Digital music consumption now dominates – another tragedy of epic proportions.

Nowadays and for a long time it’s been open to any man, woman or their dog with a computer to make music on it. It’s great that so much creativity is flowing from people around the world, but the truth is that I have little tolerance for listening to music produced wholly and solely in the electronic domain.

It’s not all doom and gloom though – the infiltration of electronic music has had its benefits too. Today some of my favorite music from around the world is by artists/groups who innovatively utilise and blend the sounds of electronic instruments into their musical mix whilst valuing and maintaining the living, human, conventional sounds.

It is the sounds of those instruments, and the people playing them, that is the living chi of music. They make the music sound and feel alive to me. They physically and emotionally connect me to the music. Without that living element, with purely electronic sounds, the music is a lost cause for my ears.

Infiltration Samples

Check out these sample tracks by a handful of contemporary artists from different countries who mix up the sounds of electronica and the living to produce killer musical results. Remember these are just super-compressed mp3 versions of the songs. Buy the music on vinyl where you can, or at least cd, to hear it in its full, living sound glory.

1. NGAIIRE (Papua New Guinea/Australia)

Lamentations (2013) - Ngaiire

NGAIIRE – Lamentations (2013)

‘Fireflies’ – NGAIIRE – Lamentations

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Check out more NGAIIRE music + footage from live shows here.

2. Flying Lotus (USA)

Flying Lotus - You're Dead! (2014)

Flying Lotus – You’re Dead! (2014)

‘Never Catch Me’ – Flying Lotus feat. Kendrick Lamar – You’re Dead! 

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Flying Lotus - Until The Quiet Comes (2012)

Flying Lotus – Until The Quiet Comes (2012)

‘See Thru To U’ – Flying Lotus  feat. Erykah Badu – Until The Quiet Comes

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Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma (2010)

Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma (2010)

‘German Haircut’ – Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma

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Check out more Flying Lotus music here and stay tuned for a rundown of his upcoming live performances in Australia.

3. Will Holland – aka Quantic (UK)

Tropidelico - The Quantic Soul Orchestra - Tropidelico

The Quantic Soul Orchestra – Tropidélico (2007)

‘I Just Fell In Love Again’ – The Quantic Soul Orchestra – Tropidélico

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Check out more Quantic tracks + footage of his DJ set at WOMADelaide 2014  here.

4. Myele Manzana (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

Myele Manzanza - One (2012)

Myele Manzanza – One (2013)

‘Elvin’s Brew’ – Myele Manzanza  – One

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5. Hiatus Kaiyote (Australia)

Hiatus Kaiyote - Tawk Tomahawk

Hiatus Kaiyote – Tawk Tomahawk (2013)

‘Sphinx Gate’ – Hiatus Kaiyote – Tawk Tomahawk

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Hear more Hiatus Kaiyote tracks + videos of live shows here.

6. Sidestepper (UK + Colombia)

(pioneers in live/electro Colombian fusion)

Sidestepper live at WOMADelaide 2011

Sidestepper live at WOMADelaide 2011

Sidestepper - 3AM: In Beats We Trust (2003)

Sidestepper – 3AM: In Beats We Trust (2003)

‘In The Beats We Trust’ – Sidestepper – 3AM: In Beats We Trust

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7. Bajofondo (Argentina + Uruguay) 

(pioneers in Latin American live/electro fusion)

Bajofondo - Mar Dulce (2007)

Bajofondo – Mar Dulce (2007)

‘Pa’ Bailar’ – Bajofondo Tango Club – Mar Dulce

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Hear more Bajofondo tracks + videos from a live show in Bogota here.

8. Roberto Fonseca (Cuba)

Roberto Fonseca - Yo (2012)

Roberto Fonseca – Yo (2013)

‘Rachel’ – Roberto Fonseca – Yo

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Hear more Roberta Fonseca tracks + videos from his live performance at WOMADelaide 2014 here.

9. Electric Wire Hustle (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

Electric Wire Hustle (2010)

Electric Wire Hustle (2010)

‘Burn’ – Electric Wire Hustle

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10. Little Dragon (Sweden)

Little Dragon - Ritual Union

Little Dragon – Ritual Union (2012)

‘Please Turn’ – Little Dragon – Ritual Union 

 

Hear more Little Dragon songs + videos from live shows here.

Little Dragon live at Oxford Art Factory, Sydney

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So musical people, what say you about the infilitration of electronic music…like it, or not?

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D is for ‘Dancehall Electro Hip Hop’ – ℅ P-Money and Gappy Ranks

Hip hop I love, most Dancehall not. The only dancehall music I have in my collection are videos from live shows in Jamaica.

But dancehall melded with hip hop, that’s a different story – one I’m more into hearing. Dancehall joins my cd collection for the first time in the form of P-Money and Gappy Rank’s new dancehall/electro/hip hop EP The Baddest.

P-Money and Gappy Ranks - The Baddest EP (2014)

P-Money and Gappy Ranks – The Baddest EP (2014)

‘D’ then in Beaver’s A to Z of Fusion goes to ‘Dancehall Electro Hip Hop’ – care of P-Money and Gappy Ranks. Their collaboration on this EP is another example of the very cool musical things that happen when artists from different parts of the world get together, mix up music styles and create unique new sounds.

The Lighter ‘D’: P-Money and Gappy Ranks

P-Money if you don’t know, is a hip-hop DJ and producer from the magical musical lands of Aotearoa/New Zealand. The Baddest is released by P-Money in decade no. 2 of having his production fingers in many solo and collaborative musical pies. P-Money’s craftsmanship on The Baddest EP is impressive as always – and ultimately the reason a dancehall cd made its way into my collection to stay.

Gappy Ranks hails from England. He’s responsible for vocals and/or production on a long list of dancehall music releases he’s made solo or with other artists from the U.K, Europe and Jamaica – including the Jamaican ‘King of Dancehall’ himself, Beenie Man.  His vocals on The Baddest are a good match for P-Money’s production.

P-Money and Gappy Ranks

P-Money and Gappy Ranks

The EP has 8 beautifully-bass-heavy tracks, each sounding more electro, or dancehall, or hip-hop flavoured than the next. Three are remixed versions of the opening song (and previously released single) ‘Baddest’. One is by Houston producer Ape Drums and another (sampled below) features New Zealand hip hop MC Sid Diamond (aka Young Sid).

P-Money and Gappy Ranks - The Baddest EP (2014)

The Baddest might have snuck its dancehall ways into my music collection for its hip hop (and P-Money) ways, but it is still dancehall. That means lyrically you’ll get light.  Gappy Ranks swears his love for his Mamma til he dies, wants us to follow him on Instagram, affirms his remaining loyalty to the “old crew” now his dreams have come true and boasts of being “sicker than bipolar”. You get the idea yes?

You can check out sample tracks from The Baddest EP  here. They’re just mp3’s. If you want to hear all the sounds P-Money and Gappy Ranks recorded, order the EP in hard copy from Amplifer or get it on your feet at a good record store 🙂 .

P-Money and Gappy Ranks - The Baddest EP (2014)

P-Money and Gappy Ranks – The Baddest EP (2014)

P-Money and Gappy Ranks – ‘Fire Shot’ – The Baddest 

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P-Money and Gappy Ranks – ‘Baddest (Remix feat. Sid Diamond)’ – The Baddest

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The Darker ‘D’s

D’ definitely has some darker ‘fusions’ than the light dancehall/electro/hip hop one P-Money and Gappy Ranks have delivered with The Baddest EP:-

Darkstep – a style of darkcore jungle that takes its signature sinister feel and fuses it with upbeat breakbeats and ambient noises, creating an excessively chaotic tone.

Deathcore – fusion of death and punk metal.

Deathdoom – fusion of death and doom metal.

Deathgrind – fusion of death metal and grindcore.

Death industrial – fusion of death and industrial metal, linked heavily to the power electronics scene.

I’m pretty sure the fusions starting with ‘dark’ and ‘death’ won’t ever find their way into my music collection like P-Money and Gappy Ranks’ has.

What about yours?

P-Money and Gappy Ranks

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Look Around The Corner – Quantic & Alice Russell With The Combo Bárbaro

I bought Look Around The Corner without ever having heard one note from the album.

Quantic + Alice Russell + The Combo Bárbaro made it.  What more did I need to know?

Quantic & Alice Russell with the Combo Bárbaro - Look Around the Corner (2012)

Quantic (aka Will Holland) – whose many differently-flavoured, all fantastic musical concoctions you already know, and if you don’t can check out here.

Will Holland (aka Quantic) @ WOMADelaide 2014

Quantic DJ Set @ WOMADelaide 2014

Alice Russell – whose beautiful soul music and inspiring lyrics have been heard and loved by me and countless others in the world in the know about her, for a long time.  If you’re not in that group of Knowers, sample Alice Russell’s music below.

Quantic & Alice Russell with the Combo Barbaro - Look Around the Corner

Alice Russell

The Combo Bárbaro – a collective of incredibly experienced and brilliant (mostly Latin) musicians with whom Will Holland/Quantic has collaborated with on past albums.

Quantic And His Combo Barbaro - Tradition In Transition

So did my blind faith in Quantic, Alice Russell and The Combo Bárbaro based on their much-loved past musical creations pay off? Did I get my money’s worth in buying Look Around The Corner?

The amount of play-time this album’s had so far already, tells me Yes to both questions. More importantly the very unique sounds of this music mean I’ll probably want to listen to it for a lifetime.  And that’s ultimately what makes any album become part of the “most valuable” group in my music collection.

Quantic & Alice Russell with the Combo Barbaro - Look Around the Corner (2012)

Look Around The Corner is fusion as defined here in Beaver Land. Great fusion. Twelve tracks of soul and funk tastefully and subtlely blended with the sounds of Latin jazz, cumbia and boogaloo. Ain’t no music in the world I’ve yet heard that sounds like the music created here by Quantic, Alice Russell and The Combo Bárbaro.

The sounds of the violin in this group’s music (Mike Simmonds) adds an especially unique sound to the mix. As does the magic of Peru’s Alfredito Linares’ hands on the piano.

Check out these sample tracks (mp3-only versions) from Look Around The Corner. The album was released by Tru Thoughts and feel-in-your-hands, smell-through-your-nose, see-with-your-eyes, good sound quality versions are super-easy to buy direct through their site. Or you can find it at any good independent record store yes? Look Around The Corner even comes in sweet vinyl.

Quantic & Alice Russell with The Combo Barbaro - Look Around the Corner (2012)

Quantic & Alice Russell with the Combo Barbaro - Look Around the Corner (2012)

‘I’d Cry’ – Look Around The Corner – Quantic & Alice Russell with The Combo Bárbaro

 

The next track’s here for Alfredito Linares’ piano especially – and because this great contemporary take on a 1974 song covered by many artists since, is a great reflection of the fabulous global evolution of music.

‘I’ll Keep My Light In My Window’ – Look Around The Corner – Quantic & Alice Russell with The Combo Bárbaro

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Anyone who’s not yet in that group of ‘Knowers and lovers of Alice Russell music’ can check out these here sample tracks from my favourite of her solo albums Under The Munka Moon

Alice Russell - Under the Munka Moon (2004)

Alice Russell – Under the Munka Moon (2004)

‘Someday’ – Under The Munka Moon – Alice Russell

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‘Tired Little One’ – Under The Munka Moon – Alice Russell

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You can also buy Alice Russell’s albums on-line through Tru Thoughts.

If you’re not yet convinced you need to buy Look Around The Corner for yourself, you can check out a video here of Will Holland, Alice Russell and The Combo Bárbaro recording the album’s title track at Sonido Del Valle, Will Holland’s recording studio in Cali. The short glimpse of the delightfully-vast vinyl collection is enough reason alone to watch. The music played in it is more.

Quantic & Alice Russell with the Combo Barbaro - Look Around the Corner (2012)

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Magnetica – Quantic At His Most Diverse Yet

Each album I hear from U.K producer and musician Will Holland, the latest being Magnetica (released as Quantic), I wonder at how one artist can be responsible for producing so many musically-diverse bodies of work of such goodness.

Quantic (aka Will Holland) @ WOMADelaide 2014

Will Holland (aka Quantic)

Magnetica probably contains the most diversity of all Will Holland’s previous albums so far. Thirteen tracks, each one totally different to the next in terms of music genres, vocal languages and contributing musicians and singers from different corners of the globe.

Quantic - Magnetica (2014)

Magnetica (2014) – Quantic

You’ll hear on Magnetica

The sounds of music from Brazil, Colombia, England, Ethiopia, Angola and Jamaica…

Elements of folk, soul, jazz, groove, curulao, kuduro, semba, chandé, electronica, highlife, cumbia, reggae, dub, ska, dancehall, salsa & more…

Vocals sung in English, Portugese, Amharic, Spanish and English – including by Quantic himself ending Magnetica with the beautiful, dreamy track ‘Painting Silhouettes’…

…and instrumental and vocal contributions from incredible worldwide artists including Pongo Love, Alice Russell, Dereb the Ambassador, Shinehead, Nidia Góngora, Julio Ernesto “Fruko” Estrada, Michi Sarmiento, Angel Hernandez, Thalma de Freitas, Iara Rennó and Anibal Velasquez.

The common thread amongst it all is Quantic’s always great tastes in music and innovative electronic production style.

I love musical (and all other diversity) – I am a Gemini 🙂 . I love the particular musical styles that make up the mix of Magnetica. I was also already a long-time fan of many of the contributing artists on this album – as well as Will Holland himself. For those and other reasons, Magnetica has already had countless listens by me over the past month and will get many, many more in my lifetime.

Quantic - Magnetica (2014)

Magnetica

Given the diversity of tracks on Magnetica, picking ‘sample’ ones to give you an idea of the album’s sound is almost impossible.

I’m choosing ‘Sol Clap’ just because I’m a sucker for horns and the song brings back good memories of dancing to it amongst the trees at Quantic’s recent DJ set at WOMADelaide 2014 (check out the video below).  ‘Arada’ is here because I’m excited about checking out a live Dereb the Ambassador gig at The Basement in Sydney next week.

Quantic - Magnetica (2014)

Magnetica (2014) – Quantic

‘Sol Clap’ – Quantic – Magnetica

 

‘Arada (Featuring Dereb The Ambassador)’ – Quantic – Magnetica

 

Hear all the sounds of the diverse musical goodness on the album in non-mp3 format – and have them in your music collection forever after – by buying Magnetica on vinyl or cd from your local independent record store or through Quantic’s label Tru Thoughts.

Quantic - Magnetica (2014)

Magnetica

You can also read more about and hear sample tracks from Will Holland / Quantic’s other music projects here.

And check out a video of a recent Quantic DJ set in Australia at WOMADelaide 2014 here…

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