Archives for posts with tag: jazz

Brigid DawsonFormer Oh Sees collaborator Brigid Dawson has just released her first solo album, “Ballet of Apes”, under the name of Brigid Dawson & The Mothers Network. It’s work of transcendental psychedelic jazz & experimental pop oddness, as “The Fool” here demonstrates:

“The Fool” may be familiar to Thee Oh Sees completists as a song from the recent OCS album “Memory of a Cut Off Head”.  But here the song gains an unpredictable energy as it winds along on wonky keyboards, fluttering drums and popping bass runs until it all falls apart in a natural way at the end as the drums trip over themselves.

Musically “The Fool” here reminds me of a mellow stoned kind of take on the odd-pop jamming by 4 members of Faust playing on the first Slapp Happy album “Sort Of” while Dawson’s voice soars on melodic updrafts.

The album “Ballet of Apes” is an equally impressive and original mix of the under-explored confluence of jazz, folk, and psychedelic pop. It has a relaxed and darkly cinematic feel, with minimal arrangements in which often unlikely instruments carry the melodies. There’s nothing safe or mainstream about the album. Experimental, timeless and unconventional in places, yet it’s a very approachable and accessible collection that rewards repeated listens.

The album was recorded in front rooms and rehearsal spaces over three locations – in Rye, Victoria Australia with Mikey Young (Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Total Control), San Francisco, California with Mike Donovan (Sic Alps) and Eric Bauer, and in Greenpoint, Brooklyn New York with Jon Erickson and The Sunwatchers and draws upon that range of musical talents as well as Dawson’s own garage-psych rock history with Thee Oh Sees and its quieter psych-folk alter-ego OCS.





Mercy_ColoursSundays seem designed for Jazz. Particularly a Gloomy Sunday in winter. A recent PopLib turntable favourite has been the classic 1963 album Getz/ Gilberto by Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto featuring Antonio Carlos Jobim and vocalist Astrud Gilberto.

Mercy is a contemporary duo from New York with a recent EP of beguiling atmospheric pop-via-jazz. “Love Dust” from the EP is perfect understated and seductive Sunday jazz for underground pop lovers.

Mercy is vocalist Mercy Weiss in collaboration with Christopher Pellnat. Her voice is warm, full of distinctive character, with tone and phrasing eerily reminiscent at times of other characterful and natural contralto voices in jazz – for example long-time favourites Astrud Gilberto and Billie Holiday.

“Love Dust” has a sleepy sway and a somewhat creepy undercurrent of latent menace, like a soundtrack song for a hallucinatory dream sequence in a surrealistic French film (thinking Amelie in particular).

Mercy EP

MilouxDay 17 of NZ Music Month is something not very underground but definitely a bit pop, in the form of “Pocket” by Miloux.

Miloux (or maybe MILOUX) is Auckland musician, composer, producer Rebecca Melrose. “Pocket” is from her first release – “EP 1” – which is 5 very polished darkly soulful downbeat electronica songs. There’s a hint of jazz and trip-hop and it’s all brought together in a restrained and tasteful contemporary production.

It is a track heard a lot on Dunedin’s student radio station Radio One in recent months, soon becoming a familiar (and welcome) ear-worm.

It rekindles memories of some of the early alternative pop (‘trip hop’) electronica music from the mid-90s like Morcheeba (“Trigger Hippie”) and Sneaker Pimps (“6 Underground”), although the influences cited by Miloux are understandably the more contemporary Purity Ring, Grimes and James Blake.


Kelsey Lu_Video still

Morning After Coffee was certainly required today, waking up after trying to sleep off the shock and then sorrow last night after learning of David Bowie’s death.

In the spirit of post-Bowie discovery of mavericks operating at the edges of contemporary music, here’s a young Brooklyn, New York musician, Kelsey Lu, stumbled upon by internet happenstance today in amongst all the Bowie eulogising.

I’m not sure if “Morning After Coffee” is folk, jazz, blues or pop. Maybe it’s all of these things. She may channel some of his same uncompromising and adventurous spirit if this song and the other utterly different track on her Soundcloud profile is any indication.

“Morning After Coffee” is a hauntingly minimal song – just cello and voice. It was a good non-Bowie thing to hear today. The video is also an evocative piece of minimal and intriguing visual art in its own right.

I don’t know much about Kelsey Lu, other than she plays the cello, makes dark weird electronica as well and has collaborated with Dev Hynes/ Bloodorange and also Empress Of (she’s one of the backing singer in this video).

Bowie was unique in that he produced what was essentially pop, but which so often blurred lines between not only chart pop of different styles over the year, but also avant-garde/experimental music, pop culture, storytelling, theater, art, film and video, fashion, philosophy & goodness knows what else. And often all in the service of that chart pop song too.

He meant a lot to so many different types of people, over so many generations. The peerless music – what songs they were – re-drew boundaries over many stylistic changes. His multiple identities over the years, particularly his gender-ambiguous 1970s identity and outlandish outsider persona, made a lot of people feel better about being different; being ‘freaks’; being themselves.

There was a lot of the usual “we’ll never see his likes again” stuff too. Which may well be true – particularly if we give up looking and give up believing in others. It’s not that his type of musical genius isn’t still among us. It’s just that it’s not channeled to us now as easily as it was  when Bowie hit his stride in the 1970s and 1980s.

For example, I’d put Bjork in the same company, even though she’s not as widely known. But she’s also had a remarkable longevity as a vital and uncompromising music artist operating both within and beyond mainstream pop, and continues to explore new ways of making her art and has ‘re-invented’ her identity through her music, characters and visuals several times already.

Given the amount of music available to us today – new and old – the stratification of music into so many genres and sub-genres and the diversity of spaces for music to exist and be discovered through today, we’ve got to look harder for the Bowies of today and tomorrow

Don’t give up on the future of music. The possibilities are still endless. It just needs us to believe in that, believe in those still taking music places, and to support them with our attention and interest. It’s what Bowie would want.


Here’s my New Zealand Music month Bandcamp purchase for 6 May. Something a bit different to the music I usually champion.

Christopher El’ Truento is a producer and beatmaker for the likes of @peace and Home Brew. But the music he releases under his own name tends more towards drifting and abstract ever-morphing space-jazz constructions like these two songs released as a 7″ on Japanese label Wonderful Noise.

El’ Truento cites the quieter sounds of jazz icons like Alice Coltrane as an influence on his solo work. But I also hear something in these miniature soundscapes that reminds me of the muted exotic sounds and percussion loops on ‘Possible Worlds’ by Brian Eno/ Jon Hassell