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.
The subject of many poor quality bootlegs, this concert - one of only a handful undertaken by Fripp & Eno - is routinely described as ‘legendary’. Hearing the tapes in fully restored audio quality, it's easy to understand why it attracts such reverence now and perhaps, why the shows attracted such hostility then. No Roxy Music hits, No King Crimson riffs, just a duo sitting in near darkness with a reel to reel tape recorder, improvising over the pre-recorded loops with a filmed background projection. Replace the reel to reel machine with a couple of laptops/iPads/sequencers and the core of much current live performance from electronica to hip-hop was there some thirty years in advance. At the time, audiences responded to such a glimpse of the future with booing, walkouts and general confusion.
‘1000 Watts’ is the third album from the tropical reggae- and dub-infused Quantic Presenta Flowering Inferno project. This outing sees musical explorer Will “Quantic” Holland making a more concerted foray into pure reggae-roots territory, although flashes of Holland’s Colombian influences still shine through. A sun-drenched record, the LP is charged with atmosphere and a fitting tribute to dub music’s evolution.
Both Brian Eno and John Cale have always flirted with conventional pop music throughout their careers, while reserving the right to go off on less accessible experiments, which means they've always held out the promise that they would make something as attractive as this synthesizer-dominated collection, on which Eno comes as close to the mainstream as he has since Another Green World and Cale is as catchy as he's been since Honi Soit. The result is one of the best albums either one has ever made. [A 2005 reissue added two bonus tracks: "Grandfather's House" and "You Don't Miss Your Water."]
On his 2013 release The North Borders, British producer Simon Green (aka Bonobo) continues along the organic-meets-electronic path that his 2010 release Black Sands followed, but this walk takes place as it's turning to dusk, and there are varying degrees of mist and chilliness along the way. Opener "First Fires" with Grey Reverend (singer/songwriter L.D. Brown) sounds like it could be quite warm, but it's entirely autumn-minded sweater music that wistfully wonders what to do with "faded dreams" as Green allows bits of glitchy sunlight to shine through his cloudy synth construction. "Emkay" is the clangs and echoes of a seaside port at night that wonderfully shuffles its way up to a lighthouse tune, then there's majestic songstress Erykah Badu wonderfully vibing ("We don't need no truth/Got plenty/Now it grows on trees") on "Heaven for the Sinner" over Bonobo's deep version of the broken beat. "Towers" suggests sleepy urban buildings in twilight with a vibraphone representing the little bits of life and light that will sparkle through the night, while "Don't Wait" is just before the dawn, as innocent chimes chase away the eerie things that lurk in the darkness.