Given the depth of Jaga Jazzist's sophistication and their wide-ranging musical vision that encompasses everything from free jazz to hip-hop, from techno to funk, from rock to modern composition, this Norwegian ensemble is a natural partner for a collaboration with the internationally renowned Britten Sinfonia under the direction of Christian Eggen. The material was chosen from JJ's catalog (particularly from the One-Armed Bandit album, which they were touring in support of), and is beautifully arranged, performed, and recorded. While the lengthy treatment of "One-Armed Bandit" opens with strings, brass, and winds playing something that resembles a cadenza from one of the Sinfonia's namesake's symphonies, it quickly quiets down into the nearly pastoral for a few minutes before JJ enters with a persistent beat-head pulse, and the piece morphs into a symphonic, progressive jazz workout with a fantastic array of colors.
Finally bored with ambient music, a genre he pioneered in the 1970s, pop polymath Brian Eno emerged with Another Day on Earth, his first solo recording of "conventional" songs since Another Green World. From the rhythm track of opening song "This," the sound is unmistakable. A quirky hook covered in layers of atmosphere and a bouncy loop, it's a smart little tune with additional guitars by Leo Abrahams. Lyrically, Eno's process is poetic, employing not only his own strategies, but a computer generating words as well. At three-and-a-half minutes, it's a fine pop song, albeit one that would never get played on the radio.
In Octave Minds, his collaboration with German producer Boys Noize, Chilly Gonzales sounds more comfortable than ever in the same harmony-arranging role he did on Daft Punk’s ‘Random Access Memories’. There’s not a smidgen of his hokey rap-style vocal here: instead, glacial piano familiar to fans of his 2010 album ‘Ivory Tower’ and a double dose of playfulness from Boys Noize and guest Chance The Rapper, the latter on the Pharrell-aping ‘Tap Dance’. ‘Initals KK’ borrows harmonies from New Order’s ‘True Faith’, while ‘In Silence’ goes from James Blake throb to loungy piano. Though not without corniness (see ‘Done Deal”s wanky guitar solo) ‘Octave Minds’ is a chilled, cinematic trip powered by Chilly’s piano chords.
There is something going on in Cuba that is, quite simply, raising the bar on music of all kinds. An incredibly talented and visionary group of Cuban millennials are reimagining their African roots through a lens that filters, jazz, soul and funk. And Daymé Arocena is literally giving voice to this movement.
He is an acclaimed composer / pianist living in Kyoto who is active in collaboration with Ryuichi Sakamoto, Shiro Takaya, Noda Hideki etc, who has been active in a wide range of fields from post-classical to contemporary art, performing arts, Mitoshihiko's new album "Landscape in Portrait" will be released from <Beat Records>.