Hear records to hold close and why, from releases this week and last.
Dave Okumu recently suffered a near death experience onstage in Lagos. Halfway through a collaboration, he swapped guitars with King Sunny Adé, and was electrocuted horrifically. It was a shocking, strange incident, and I for one am incredibly glad he’s on the mend. Not only because he’s, very seriously, one of the best musicians of his generation, and a valued collaborator of some of our fellow favourites Jessie Ware, Gwilym Gold and Mica Levi, but because he’s also one of the kindest. He has virtuosity unfashionable in this day and age, and his band, The Invisible, combines this sheer talent with an open-hearted sincerity and almost earnest belief in the power of music equally odd.
‘Rispah’ follows their Mercury Prize nominated debut and proves beyond a doubt that this unlikely trip of jazz-leaning musicians are one of the capital’s most subtle and clever. It’s a pure, simple record that beats and gives and doesn’t let up its crystalline, sad sound. Referencing soul, jazz, trip hop, IDM and African music, while never over-complicating or hiding behind influences, ‘Rispah’ allows itself to balance on single notes, trusting the listener to break with the soft tone at the start of What Happened or the drum roll of Surrender or the echoing out of Protection. It’s a marvellous record, from one of our most valued bands, and you all should be very glad Dave is better. [CRJ]
Buy The Invisible – ‘Rispah’ [Ninja Tune]
d’Eon – ‘LP’ [Hippos In Tanks]
‘LP’ is a heart-on-sleeve album. Better yet, an entrails-on-the-table album. For d’Eon has done more than lay himself bare on his extraordinary new record; he’s peeled back his skin and stripped to the nerve. What is revealed is a deep-set paranoia about the vast, sinister horizons of our digital world, articulated in jungle rhythms, biting lyrics and reversed vocals. A paranoia that is strewn, raw and sinewy, throughout ‘LP’s cascading landscapes and left to glisten and wink in the record’s dawn light. However, in revealing so much, with so much care and honesty, d’Eon prompts wonder and recognition rather than unease. For despite the subject matter, ‘LP’ is a wholly sensual album, a joyful record. Religious allegory, so often teeth-grindingly dry on record, is recast – like the stained glass that graces his album cover – as a source of beauty and infinite light and learning on ‘LP’. While its spirit may be secular, its soul flies. In taking the risk of questioning, d’Eon’s second album is bolder, purer, surer about not being sure. [RS]
Buy d’Eon – ‘LP’ [Hippos In Tanks] at Boomkat
DJ Rashad – ‘TEKLIFE Vol. 1’ [Lit City Trax]
Gunfire beats, ricocheting rhythms, stripped samples, and those all important sharp drums whip-cracking. All so far so juke. But where DJ Rashad rises above most others is his control. His compositions are never messy, everything tangled together into a short space of time. Instead he manages to draw out all the quick moving parts his songs are made from steadily, building a rumbling whole thick with tension, songs crawling with their own special groove, while still jerking with irrepressible energy. An album that shows footwork is alive and kicking, and still continues to grow and surprise. [TEE]
Buy DJ Rashad – ‘TEKLIFE Vol. 1’ [Lit City Trax] at Boomkat
Hot Chip – ‘In Our Heads’ [Domino Records]
Hot Chip: 12 years on from the ‘Mexico’ EP, as impossible not to like as ever. But are they as easy to love as they used to be? The answer is a happy if ever so slightly equivocal yes. It’s a more focussed band that we hear than on previous albums, with the famous Alexis-Joe / pop-club tension smoother than before. As such, much of the stranger shapes that Hot Chip pulled themselves into have been toned down into a more classical classy shape. With their plaintive love songs and gorgeous production shining brighter and rounder than ever, it speaks true to the weird boys at school who got famous, then started families. The shape is not new, and it won’t shock, but the simplicity and sincerity here are unfault-able. [CRJ]
Buy Hot Chip – ‘In Our Heads’ [Domino Records]