Jambinai announce ONDA

Following their recent epic performance at SXSW in Austin, Texas, Jambinai have today announced their new album ONDA, released 7th June via Bella Union and available to preorder here. The band have shared the album’s opening track “Sawtooth”, which you can watch below, and announced a run of international tour dates which can be found here.

When the three founders of Jambinai decided to, “communicate with the ordinary person who doesn’t listen to Korean traditional music,” few outsiders anticipated an extra-ordinary fusion with metal, post-rock and noise.  “Most people expect Asian traditional music to make something smooth for yoga or meditation,” says band spokesman Lee Il-woo. “We wanted to break all of that.”

Even fewer would have predicted that the likes of Jambinai would play the 2018 Winter Olympic Games closing ceremony in the city of Pyeongchang, accompanied by a troupe of geomungo (Korean zither) players – an audio-visual spectacle that such an occasion demanded. 

Says Lee, “Onda means ‘come’ in Korean. The title track has the lyric, ‘At the end of your darkness, pain will turn into the shining stars and it’s going to come to you.’ I want to cheer people up when they hear that track. Onda also means ‘wave’ in Spanish, and I also want to say the third big wave of Jambinai is coming!”

The first big wave arrived in 2010 after traditional music students Lee (guitar and piri, a bamboo oboe), Kim Bo-mi (the bow-stringed haegum) and Sim Eun-young (geomungo) joined forces and released the Jambinai EP. The trio’s debut album Différance won Best Crossover Album at the 2013 Korean Music Awards, triggering several overseas tours and the second wave of Jambinai – an international deal with Bella Union and a second album, A Hermitage. At the time, Lee cited the influence of bands like Metallica, Mogwai and Sigur Rös, but such was the trio’s energy levels, they seemed to draw more on thunderstorms, tidal waves, volcanic eruptions, blizzards and desert winds – a force of nature more than a band.

It’s hard to believe but ONDA is even more dynamic and rhythmic, with the permanent addition of Jaehyuk Choi (drums) and B.K Yu (bass), fixtures of Jambinai’s live band since 2017. The way the quintet “sticks together like gears of a clock or machine,” says Lee, is celebrated on ‘Square Wave’, a breathtaking example of Jambinai’s ability to alternate between ambient serenity and molten ferocity. 

‘Square Wave’ is also one of several ONDA cuts to feature vocals. “Voice and lyrics have strong energy, they can touch someone’s heart directly more than instruments,” Lee explains. “Also, most people don’t know Korean, so they hear our voices as sound rather than meaning. We needed more sounds on this album.”

Not that the instrumental tracks are any less momentous. Take the opening ‘Sawtooth’ (featuring Hwiseon Choi on yanggeum, a hammered dulcimer), because Lee thinks the band’s constantly shifting dynamic, “resembles the sawtooth waveform of electronic sound.”  

13 minutes long, ‘In The Woods’ is the album’s lengthiest epic, originally recorded for Jambiani’s 2010 EP and now rearranged for the expanded quintet, plus guest traditional singer Bora Kim.  The inspiration here is environmental pollution, soundtracked by eight minutes of mournful ambience that slowly builds to a shattering climax. “The earth is in serious pain,” Lee concludes.

ONDA ends on a thematic note of drama and redemption. In ‘Small Consolation’, says Lee, “a person leads their weary body to a distant glow, which is small consolation. But when they get there, it turns into a big light, big consolation and happiness.” The closing title track comes in two parts: a calm prelude (featuring Lee on saenghwang, a tall reed mouth organ) before the euphoric main course, graced by choral grandeur. Once the music dies away, the feeling is one of blissful exhaustion. 

Says Lee: “After Jambinai’s US tour of 2017, I travelled the country for a month. I was worried about my future and the music because I had quit my job for the band but we didn’t have much money and the tour was tough and tiring for everyone. But when I visited the Grand Canyon, Mother Nature cheered me up and it was felt like she was telling me, “you are doing really well. Back in Korea, I wrote more songs with confidence and happiness.” The third wave of Jambinai is here….

Lowly share ‘Stephen’

Lowly have shared their hypnotic new single ‘Stephen’, a song written on the day that Stephen Hawking died, that according to the band explores the “contemplation and sadness of what happens to the world when so many genius cells turn off and leave us.” Listen to Stephen now…

“If you stick to just what you know, your music, your art or whatever your situation is becomes stagnant”, say Denmark’s Lowly. “And we wouldn’t like to miss out on anything, just because we felt too comfortable.”

A band unafraid to reach beyond their comfort zone, Lowly thrive on the embrace of doubt and curiosity. An inquisitive spirit drives the quintet’s second album, which evolved from an open-ended process in large spaces, from lost factory halls to water towers. Released via Bella Union in April, Hifalutin brims with suggestive discoveries from its title onwards. Dictionary definitions include “pompous” and “larger than life”; the word is also antonymic with the word Lowly. However you take it, the result is the work of five people expressing themselves freely as a tight collective: focused, yet fertile with possibility.

Warmly received in Pitchfork, Uncut and elsewhere, Lowly’s debut album, Heba, was a feast of dramatic dream-pop. Yet Hifalutin is more ambitious still. The album was primarily recorded in a 150 square meter warehouse, just outside the city of Aarhus. Band members recorded their parts as individuals and as a group; meanwhile, the producer, Anders Boll, placed microphones in nooks and crannies of the enormous space, all the better to highlight the dynamics between the band members.

“We dared to be even more curious,” explains guitarist and singer Nanna Schannong, “and started recording without knowing where we would end up. This curiosity released a huge amount of trust and confidence between us: we became much more tolerant of each other’s diversity, and dared to give each other space. It also meant that some sketches suddenly became two pieces… or, that eight to nine different pieces suddenly found themselves in one song.”

A willingness to turn their backs on accepted frames of practise, for both recordings and performances, has characterized Lowly since their formation in 2014 at the music academy in Aarhus, Denmark, where they studied different subjects but forged a unique chemistry out of contrast. Last autumn, they played a concert in Brønshøj Water Tower, in the suburbs of Copenhagen, where the reverb was long and pronounced. The band had to carefully reconsider which notes and chords they could play; too many tones would muddy the sound. Pieces from this concert would find their way to Hifalutin.

As synthesizer player Kasper Staub reflects, “We want to give doubt, and curiosity, a voice. It is needed in a world characterized by obsession and goal-orientated living. You don’t need to know the answer in advance to express yourself. If we don’t allow ourselves to forget the goal, we risk missing all that we did not already know.”

Fittingly, Hifalutin is an album of many entrance points. After the glistening come-hither to wandering minds of ‘Go for a Walk’, ‘Stephen’ reflects on death, inspired by the loss of Professor Stephen Hawking. The warm currents of ‘Baglaens’ (or “backwards”) contrast sharply with the buoyant beats cluster of ‘Staples’. ‘i’ resembles a hymnal Stina Nordenstam, constantly seeking new ways into a song, while the alt-R&B-ish ‘In the Hearts’ offers an unguarded paean to connectivity: as Lowly put it: “It’s about the magnificent power of love that transcends everything and connects us all.”

These diverse songs find hidden connections to each other through the chemistry between the sounds and Boll’s productions. And, of course, through the literate, abstract lyrics, which include references to works by experimental poet Inger Christensen and Persian poet Jalal ad-Din Rumi. “Our lyrics consist of images and scenes that briefly glide into one’s field of view, and then disappear again,” co-lead singer Soffie Viemose explains. “We’d rather show something than say something quite literally.” An invitation sent from and to curious minds, Hifalutin is luminous modern pop at its most delicate and robust, assertive and open-ended.

Hifalutin will be released 12th April via Bella Union.

Liela Moss shares Eurythmics cover

Liela Moss today shares another track taken from her new 4–track EP of cover versions titled A Little Bit Of Rain due for release this Friday via Bella Union. Listen to Liela’s take on the Eurythmics’ ‘Here Comes The Rain Again’ now.

Of the EP Liela says: “Maybe because I’m a bit neurotic about tidying, sorting and indexing things in my life, I thought that creating sets of cover versions would be a good thing to record this year. I began making lists and categorising things that are related in my mind but nobody else’s! I might do a collection about Weather, Elements, Utensils (watch out for that one) … stuff that is so everyday that we forget to stop and give it a kiss. Essentially I wanted a plaything for new ways of production. Making these covers has been a learning exercise and a way to pay homage to songs that haunted my childhood, including the title which waves a little hello to luscious Karen Dalton.”

Happy Release Day Modern Nature

Today sees London’s Modern Nature release their debut EP ‘Nature’. Modern Nature – the name taken from the title of Derek Jarman’s garden diaries – is the new project of Jack Cooper, ex of Ultimate Painting / Mazes and Will Young of Beak featuring Aaron Neveu of Woods and Sunwatchers’ Jeff Tobias on saxophone. 

Previously the band shared the sprawling ‘Supernature’, an intimately atmospheric, wildly expansive 12-minute statement of intent a world away from anything any of the members have made before. It melds the relentless rhythms of Alice Coltrane’s devotional music with the pastoral haze of Fairport Convention.

As Jack Cooper explains: “The EP is based around a song called ‘Nature’ so ‘Supernature’ is a different perspective on the EP’s title track, but taken to another conclusion. It’s our most recent recording and there seems to be some sense in people hearing that first. ‘Nature’ is our take on that propulsive rhythm of A Sailor’s Life-era Fairport Convention but ‘Supernature’ is something else entirely. The band is so new, it’s hard to say who’s in and who isn’t. At the moment it’s myself and Will Young (Beak) with Aaron Neveu on drums (Woods/Herbcraft) Rupert Gillett on cello and then Jeff Tobias on saxophone (Sunwatchers). The band started as a vehicle for a wider project that Will and I spent the year putting together so it feels very exciting to be an actual band now. Every song we record or musician we gain, another door seems to open on a route that’s worth pursuing.”

Modern Nature’s first live date will be at London’s St Pancras Old Church on Monday 8th April. Tickets available here.

Hannah Cohen debuts ‘Wasting My Time’

Hannah Cohen has revealed a new single ‘Wasting My Time’, which the artist describes as: “A shout out to all the relationships that wasted my time but also helped me find my own blueprint for what’s real.” ‘Wasting My Time’ is second single to be taken from Cohen’s new album “Welcome Home”, due for release on 26 April via Bella Union.

Hannah Cohen has arrived home. From the title of her new album to the depth and beauty of the music, the Woodstock, NY-based singer-songwriter’s third album, Welcome Home, displays anew level of confidence and comfort with the many creative tools at her disposal. Cohen’s remarkably evocative voice is surrounded by dreamy, swooning in cantations, from the rippling ‘This Is Your Life’ and the slow-burning, forthright statement of ‘All I Want,’ to the soul swagger of ‘Get in Line’ and dramatic vocal leaps of ‘Wasting My Time.’

With Welcome Home, “I don’t feel I have to cover up anything, or not be able to share,” Cohen says. “There’s less to interpret, I’m more visible. And as to reflecting on the past when things didn’t go well, I’ve left that behind. It was all worth it, to make my way to this point.”

Produced by Cohen’s partner Sam Owens, the producer/writer who performs as Sam Evian, the artist began developing the material that became Welcome Home in 2017. Taking her time with the songs, she wrapped herself in the fulfilling quiet of a new home, and a new creative partnership that supported finding a clarity in her writing and vocals. Many of the songs were written on an old, nylon-string guitar painted with Hawaiian scenes of beaches and palm trees (which can be heard on ‘This Is Your Life’), that, no matter the final arrangement, gives the songs a lighter touch, a warming glow that suffuses the whole album. Listeners may find echoes of folk and R&B,radiating with vocal-powered pop production, electronic accents, and bursts of pulsing guitar/bass/drums energy. Irresistible echoes of soul enchanters such as Carrie Cleveland (an early touchstone for Cohen and Evian), Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers and their friend and sometime collaborator Nick Hakim blend with the reflective shadings of singer/writer forebears such as Carole King and Harry Nilsson.

Welcome Home is almost brutally honest in its self-examination, as Cohen couches home truths in velvet-lush settings. As she explains, “A lot of the album is about checking in with reality and taking the wheel, being honest with myself and my intentions. Being transparent as much as possible. They’re about exploring why I’m here. And the songs question love -if it’s real or something else, finding love that’s healthy, mature and supportive.”

All of Cohen’s new material was crafted in Brooklyn except ‘Big House,’ which was written in an isolated stone farmhouse in upstate NewYork where they sometimes recorded, preserving the intimacy at the core of Welcome Home. The album was mostly tracked with a live rhythm section: bassist Brian Betancourt (from Evian’s live band) and drummer Vishal Nayak (Nick Hakim). Says Cohen, “We wanted to capture the essence of the song, quickly, and not toil over details for two years.”

That straight forward immediacy marked an important change in Cohen’s relationship with her music and the recording process. After growing up around professional musicians, she moved to New York from the Bay Area at 17, an intrepid adventurer who was drawn to New York’s singer-songwriter world. “New York became my world and my community, and formed me as a person, though I have never felt settled here until the last two years.” Her first two albums, Child Bride and Pleasure Boy, document the sound of a young artist finding her feet on a stage populated by established performers, a very public evolution toward the lived-in experience and command of Welcome Home. The desire to live on her own terms has recently led her to the less-crowded vistas of Woodstock, NY, a no-less iconic musical destination.

‘Old Bruiser’ documents that feeling of escape, specifically a west coast road trip(“Made it back to the city by daylight and we turned to each other as if to ask why /did we make something special just to go and leave it all behind?”). ‘Build Me Up’ also reflects Cohen’s desire to move: “Living in the city has such extreme effects on your body, your nervous system, the constant grind, living on top of people and never really having any true personal space. I am naturally a very sensitive person, I feel a lot of energy and people are really intense in NYC. I have been inspired by that energy but after fifteen years it became exhausting trying to keep up with the grind and hustle. I wanted a change of scenery and a new pace. It was hard to let go after putting so much time and work into building my life and community,and in a way I went from one extreme to another. But I felt I needed to make a big move to break free from all the noise. Welcome Home chronicles my last year in New York City before moving on. Onward and upwards.”

Hannah Cohen’s third album “Welcome Home” is due for release 26 April via Bella Union.

Lowly share Baglaens video

With their much–anticipated second album Hifalutin due for 12th April via Bella Union, Lowly have shared a visually arresting video for current single “Baglaens”, directed by directed Danish fashion designer Henrik Vibskov. Of the video Lowly co–lead vocalist Soffie Viemose says: “Henrik Vibskov’s extrovert visual universe combined with Baglaens is a match made in heaven. We sent him the song and it came back as an explosion of colours and emotions, adding a whole new depth to the song that even we hadn’t discovered before now. We’re big admirers of Vibskov’s work and we’ve previously worked with him on stage clothing for some concerts. You rarely get emotional by watching patterns and colours but with Vibskov that’s exactly what happens. He has a way of putting a very strong human feel into every stroke and colour – which indeed is the case with this video.”

Lowly have also just announced news of a number of European tour dates to follow the release of Hifalutin, including a headline show at the Moth Club in London. Dates/info here.

“If you stick to just what you know, your music, your art or whatever your situation is becomes stagnant”, say Denmark’s Lowly. “And we wouldn’t like to miss out on anything, just because we felt too comfortable.”

A band unafraid to reach beyond their comfort zone, Lowly thrive on the embrace of doubt and curiosity. An inquisitive spirit drives the quintet’s second album, which evolved from an open-ended process in large spaces, from lost factory halls to water towers. Released via Bella Union in April, Hifalutin brims with suggestive discoveries from its title onwards. Dictionary definitions include “pompous” and “larger than life”; the word is also antonymic with the word Lowly. However you take it, the result is the work of five people expressing themselves freely as a tight collective: focused, yet fertile with possibility.

Warmly received in Pitchfork, Uncut and elsewhere, Lowly’s debut album, Heba, was a feast of dramatic dream-pop. Yet Hifalutin is more ambitious still. The album was primarily recorded in a 150 square meter warehouse, just outside the city of Aarhus. Band members recorded their parts as individuals and as a group; meanwhile, the producer, Anders Boll, placed microphones in nooks and crannies of the enormous space, all the better to highlight the dynamics between the band members.

“We dared to be even more curious,” explains guitarist and singer Nanna Schannong, “and started recording without knowing where we would end up. This curiosity released a huge amount of trust and confidence between us: we became much more tolerant of each other’s diversity, and dared to give each other space. It also meant that some sketches suddenly became two pieces… or, that eight to nine different pieces suddenly found themselves in one song.”

A willingness to turn their backs on accepted frames of practise, for both recordings and performances, has characterized Lowly since their formation in 2014 at the music academy in Aarhus, Denmark, where they studied different subjects but forged a unique chemistry out of contrast. Last autumn, they played a concert in Brønshøj Water Tower, in the suburbs of Copenhagen, where the reverb was long and pronounced. The band had to carefully reconsider which notes and chords they could play; too many tones would muddy the sound. Pieces from this concert would find their way to Hifalutin.

As synthesizer player Kasper Staub reflects, “We want to give doubt, and curiosity, a voice. It is needed in a world characterized by obsession and goal-orientated living. You don’t need to know the answer in advance to express yourself. If we don’t allow ourselves to forget the goal, we risk missing all that we did not already know.”

Fittingly, Hifalutin is an album of many entrance points. After the glistening come-hither to wandering minds of ‘Go for a Walk’, ‘Stephen’ reflects on death, inspired by the loss of Professor Stephen Hawking. The warm currents of ‘Baglaens’ (or “backwards”) contrast sharply with the buoyant beats cluster of ‘Staples’. ‘i’ resembles a hymnal Stina Nordenstam, constantly seeking new ways into a song, while the alt-R&B-ish ‘In the Hearts’ offers an unguarded paean to connectivity: as Lowly put it: “It’s about the magnificent power of love that transcends everything and connects us all.”

These diverse songs find hidden connections to each other through the chemistry between the sounds and Boll’s productions. And, of course, through the literate, abstract lyrics, which include references to works by experimental poet Inger Christensen and Persian poet Jalal ad-Din Rumi. “Our lyrics consist of images and scenes that briefly glide into one’s field of view, and then disappear again,” co-lead singer Soffie Viemose explains. “We’d rather show something than say something quite literally.” An invitation sent from and to curious minds, Hifalutin is luminous modern pop at its most delicate and robust, assertive and open-ended.