Mondo Times 2023 #1: Childhood Mc'Donalds
Ryuichi Sakamoto, Shabason & Krgovich, Amanda Whiting,
Hope you are finely tucked in 2023, and things are going your way. Now that the 2022 re-listen and list season is over, I have commenced listening to new stuff. Here are some recent updates on new music and music-related news.
IN HEAVY ROTATION
Just as I was getting to terms with the wonderful tribute compilation for Mr. Sakamoto, I chanced upon his 2023 release simply titled 12. A diary of ambient/drone vignettes with reverb drenched piano. This is the original “background music to study to”. Almost B&W, sombre and highly refined.
On 21 January 2021, Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto announced that he was ill again. “From now on, I will be living alongside cancer,” he wrote in a note posted on his website. “But, I am hoping to make music for a little while longer.” True to his word, his fifteenth solo studio album 12 collects together twelve pieces of music of varying development, each recorded on the day of its corresponding title from March 2021 to March 2022, mostly on piano and synthesiser. Arranged chronologically, it acts as a sort of instrumental diary. [The Quietus]
Shabason & Krgovich
If I had a band, I would fervently hope that Mr. Shabason would be playing the saxophone. The sounds he conjures is in an incredible latent space of 80’s 90’s nostalgia, cyberpunk, doom jazz, tv series etc. Both warm and chilled at the same time, this is yet another wonderful album under their belt. — Please also check out Delicate Steve’s After Hours if you love this one!
Harpist Amanda Whiting is a name I recently got to know, through the always wonderful Jazzman Records. Might she be a reincarnation of Dorothy Ashby with her own twist. This is delightful afternoon listening while turning a page or two.
Summoning the nocturnal mood suggested by the album’s title, Whiting’s harp flows and cascades, dances and alights, broods and haunts, informed by a deep understanding of both classical and jazz music, ultimately revealing a top-drawer composer with rare melodic gifts at the top of her game.
Who said it better?
There’s a tiny little song called “Fikratchin” sung by Menelik Wossenatchew and orchestrated by the boss Mulatu Astatke, I’m sure you’d be familiar with if you are into Ethiopian jazz. I was searching through Spotify for a possible different version or an original, when I ran into a more recent cover version by Akale Wube, which led to this short dittie “Who said it better?”. I’ve always thought the original is unsurpassable, yet the vocals on this one by Genet Asefa breathes a wonderful new soul to this peace.. What do you think?
Fievel is Glauque
I’ve posted on twitter about this little album before pointing at's interview, and lo and behold, I got some replies from the Fievel main man Zach Philips. Their albums are wonderful lo-fi pop vignettes, cassette tapes, weird, baroque and artsy just how we like it.
First Undomondo Discover Weekly after the 2022 Best of list. I’ve moved that playlist to here, if you still want to check it out.
This new one starts with great ambient music from Christina Vantzou, ambient country from Andrew Tuttle, jazz w/ Harpist Amanda Whiting featured above, UK jazz from Natural Lateral, guitar jazz from Julian Lage, world folk/pop from Mexico (Natalia Lafourcade), Norway (Ævestaden), Sweden (Sara Parkman, Gwenno (Wales), Altin Gun (Turkey/Belgium) and more electronic and experimental stuff from Horse Lords, Bitchin Bajas, Misha Sultan and Andrew Wasylk... Enjoy!
Around the Net
♩Amoeba Music asks, ‘What’s in your bag?’ and no algorithm can compete
We don't discover music that way too often, either. So much of today's taste-making power resides in the mindless algorithmic recommendations made by musical streaming services - corporate interests doing everything in their power to lock listeners into sedative playlists, corralling our ears into tidy silos of prolonged engagement. "What's In My Bag?" feels almost heroically antithetical to those bleak playlist-ification tactics. It steers us toward unexpected sounds via human beings telling human stories [LINK]
♩‘The end of an era’: Stevie Nicks, David Geffen, Paul Simon remember music exec Mo Ostin [LINK]
For almost four decades at the famed Warner Bros. offices in Burbank, Ostin, who died on Sunday at the age of 95, lived up to Sinatra’s trust, putting him high on the short list of towering U.S. label heads that includes the likes of Clive Davis, Ahmet Ertegun, David Geffen, Berry Gordy, Jimmy Iovine and Jerry Moss.
♩A List of Things People Blamed on Jazz: [Mastodon thread]
Yellow Magic Orchestra founder Yukihiro Takahashi has passed away aged 70.
It is ironic & sad to have both Ryuichi Sakamoto (who is battling with cancer) and Yukihiro Takahashi on the same newsletter, with two different propositions. As for Mr. Takahashi, I will always have the video below to cherish. Our icons are going one by one, and I’m gutted about it.
Mr. Takahashi and Yellow Magic Orchestra, which he founded in 1978 with the musicians Ryuichi Sakamoto and Haruomi Hosono, were often ranked alongside the German electronic group Kraftwerk as pioneers in electronic music and significant influences on emergent genres like hip-hop, New Wave and techno. [NY Times]
I would be lying if I said I knew much about the Crosby canon, but I know a few CSNY and Byrds songs as much as the next guy. RIP!
♩ David Crosby’s 15 Essential Songs
Singer-songwriter-guitarist David Crosby, a founding member of two popular and enormously influential ’60s rock units, the Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash (later Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young), has died, his representative says. He was 81 years old. A cause of death has not been revealed.
Well with that I bid you adieu, hope you can check some links and enjoy the newsletter. If you do, please send it along to friends!