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Undomondo: The Age of Pleasure
The Age of Pleasure, Noname, Grails, Kayhan Kalhor and Toumani Diabaté, Jantra, Bill Brewster, Why is Music Getting Sadder?
I’ve been thinking for some time that long and packed newsletters are not suitable for the “attention span deficit” society we’ve turned into.
First, as a writer I don’t have the undivided attention to write one so by the time I come up with the time things have already gone stale. Second, readers don’t have time to read everything in the longer newsletters and at least some of the stuff goes overlooked and unappreciated.
Third, there are increasingly amazing new short formats on music, YouTube shorts, TikTok and Instagram that I think writing about music might be a diminishing form.
Sure there are still spectacular writers (I read this great piece by Ted Gioia), but since I'm not one of them, I’ve decided to write shorter newsletters - perhaps with no more than 3 or 5 items per week. I will now be taking up the adage of “write less and send more” until I decide to stop writing altogether, because we’re getting replaced by AI anyway.
Kayhan Kalhor and Toumani Diabaté (Real World Records/#worldmusic)
“The Sky Is the Same Colour Everywhere” is a spiritual meditation - best listened to in one sitting - by two master musicians and culture bearers of centuries-old musical traditions based on Persian and Malian repertoires on kamancheh and kora (harp/lute).
The Age of Pleasure (#R&B,soul,hip-hop)
Althought I’ve named only one for the sake of this headline, there have been four albums that came up during summer by black female soul/jazz/hip-hop artists, that constitute “The Age of Pleasure” for me.
In some particular order, Janelle Monáe’s The Age of Pleasure, Noname’s Sundial Meshell Ndegeocello’s The Omnichord Real Book, and Cleo Sol’s Gold are all astounding with a great feature cadre (Jkay, Common, billy woods, Jeff Parker, H.E.R, Brandee Younger and more!) as well.
I can’t decide which I like better but I’ve never been interested in Janelle’s music before, so I’ll say it pleasantly surprised me. Here’s a short playlist of my fave tunes of these albums, which might or might not be the basis for the next Undomondo Discover Weekly playlist.
Grails - Anches En Maat (Temporary Residence/#stoner)
We haven’t heard from Grails since 6 long years and although Holy Sons might be my fave band, it’s obviously not the same! Psychedelic cinematics meet stoner grooves on this again on Temporary Residence, oh how we missed you Grails!. And if you had missed the “Daughters of Bilitis” the “Sisters of Bilitis” have arrived!
PS: a mini check about what Bilitis was catapulted me first to “The Songs of Bilitis” the poem by Pierre Louÿs, then from there to the erotic movie which has a wonderful soundtrack by Francis Lai, and finally to the American lesbian civil and political rights organization the “Daughters of Bilitis”.. so is Bilitis it a nickname for.. clitoris? You decide!
Inspired by Laura Groves' brand of 80's new wave revival and Lael Neale's electro pop and cinematic ambience, I’ve done a 20 song playlist featuring Japanese krautrockers Maya Ongaku, ambient queen Sarah Davachi, Madeline Kenney, Jonny Nash, new album by UK nujazzmaster Matthew Halsall, ambient drone from Imaginary Softwoods, Avalon Emerson’s home-listening electro pop album, Eartheater covering System of a Down’s Chop Suey, even a Blur track that I liked from the new album!
"I selected a handful of 45s from my tatty, yet resilient 45s box that represented what I think of as psychedelic. There's nothing here that sounds much like Jimi Hendrix or the Grateful Dead, but to me Norman Whitfield was as psychedelic as they were and these records come from that same tradition led by producers like Norman. Hope you enjoy."
Elsewhere around the Net
♩ Jantra: the Sudanese synth wizard waging raves against war (Far Out)
“He doesn’t write songs – ha! He just freestyles as he plays for parties for hours and hours on end. We had to sit down with him and choose on-the-fly melodies that he had generated to craft narrative arcs of songs. We had to literally make each song from scratch using a selection of his freestyled melodies and then work with them to turn them into proper tracks with dance record sensibilities. It was a process, but he was extremely patient and cooperative.”
♩Floating Points on his landmark album with Pharoah Sanders (The Guardian)
“This could be his last record. So that last phrase he played, I was like: ‘This could be his last recorded phrase.’ All those things are going through my head.
♩ How Come Peggy Gou “(It Goes Like) NaNaNa” Sounds So Familiar? [Jarred Jermaine’s Shorts]
♩Moodymann - The Spirit of Detroit [Resident Advisor]
"If you're looking for the hottest DJ to work the crowd, I'm most definitely the wrong person to call, but I will share my environment," he said. "I'm coming to bring Detroit to your stage. Whatever I play, I'm probably at home or somewhere else listening to it. I'm not there to give you what you want. But you might hear something that you need."
Passing into history
♩The Bold Legacy of Jaimie Branch [Bandcamp Daily]
The death of jaimie branch in August 2022 was an immeasurable loss. The trumpeter, singer, composer, and improviser was one of the greatest talents of her generation and at 39, had so much yet to give. Her ability to combine experimentation with melody, groove, and a strong sense of social justice was remarkable, winning her fans far beyond the jazz community. Her final album with her ensemble, Fly or Die Fly or Die Fly or Die ((world war)), keeps that legacy alive.
♩Remembering Steve Roden, By Lawrence English [The Quietus]
In this world there are some artists who listen so very deeply, who cherish the minor, the incidental, the unexpected, the hushed; Steve Roden was one such artist. Not only did he cast his ears outward, with a generosity equalled only by his curiosity, but he asked us to do the same. Together, we leaned into a world of sound so rich that we might not believe it could be possible. Steve not only guided us to and through that world, but he created it.
Thanks for reading! If you like what you hear/read please share with fellow music lovers!.