Renowned for their raucous live shows, Norwegian quartet Pom Poko today share the video for brand new track Leg Day. Having released their debut album Birthday earlier this year through Bella Union this new track heralds news of further UK shows – including a run of dates as guests of label-mate Ezra Furman and follows previously sold-out shows at The Shacklewell Arms and The Lexington in London.
Presenting some context, the band explain; “Leg Day is one of our personal live favourites, because it’s so dancey and usually gets our pulse up quite a bit. The song was written over the course of a year, while we figured out how it should be played, before we found its final form as a Frankenstein distorted disco song about superheros and appreciating one’s legs, and recorded it as the sole inhabitants of a small northern Italian village.”
Pom Poko’s sweetly pop-punk melodies and disco-fried art-rock eruptions together with a sense of free-firing spirit, balls-out individuality is highlighted on Birthday and mirrored no less so in an exhilarating live set. A busy summer in attendance at numerous European festivals is followed by a welcome return to these shores including their biggest UK show to date at London’s Scala. The band then return for a run of shows as guests of label-mate Ezra Furman in November – the full live itinerary is:
30 Parkfest, Berlin (RadioEins) DE
01 End Of The Road Festival, Dorset UK
12 Twisterella, Middlesbrough UK
13 Sneaky Pete´s, Edinburgh UK
14 Phase One, Liverpool UK
15 Hyde Park Book Club, Leeds UK
16 BBC6 live session, Manchester UK
17 Deaf Institute, Manchester UK
18 Wild Paths, Norwich UK
19 Simple Things, Bristol UK
21 The Hope & Ruin, Brighton UK
22 The Joiners, Southampton UK
23 Scala, London UK
24 The Hope & Ruin, Brighton UK
25 Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff UK
26 Hare & Hounds, Birmingham UK
11 QMU, Glasgow UK **
12 Albert Hall, Manchester UK* *
13 O2 Academy, Bristol UK **
14 O2 Forum Kentish Town, London UK **
24 Vega Small Hall, København DK **
26 Debaser Strand, Stockholm SE **
** supporting Ezra Furman
There’s just so much fun to be had with the Norwegian’s art-rock band’s gloriously unhinged debut, an eccentric work that’s no slave to algorithm.”
“Pom Poko go for broke on their debut album, throwing everything they have against the wall with
Afghan singer Elaha Soroor and award-winning music/producer duo Kefaya (Al MacSween & Giuliano Modarelli) have joined forces for a mighty and mesmerising new album, Songs Of Our Mothers; a fresh, vibrant take on Afghan folk music filtered through myriad forms, from spiritual jazz and dub to Indian classical music and electronica. The album will be released 27th September via Bella Union and is available to preorder here. Today, they share the second single to be taken from the album, titled ‘Charsi’. According to the collective “Charsi is typical of northern Afghan music, a style made famous by folk musician Mir Maftoon. A charsi is a weed smoker or ‘pot-head’. Women across the world are shamed or prevented from being able to drink, smoke and party. In this song, the woman invites the macho guy to calm down, have fun and have come together as equals.”
Songs Of Our Mothers is a collection of folk songs traditionally performed by Afghan women, drawing on Elaha’s own experience of fleeing Afghanistan and the struggle faced by many other female artists. The US and Western-backed regimes that came to dominate Afghanistan in the latter part of the 20th century created a climate of heightened patriarchal oppression and persecution of women.
These songs tell stories of joy, pain and resilience, passed from mother to daughter in times of hardship and oppression whilst also celebrating femininity, sensuality and the spirit of resistance. As Elaha says, this album is for “those women around the world whose image has been erased, and whose voice has been forbidden.”
Born in Iran into a family of Afghan-Hazara refugees, and returning to Afghanistan in 2004, Elaha Soroor first rose to fame through the reality TV show Afghan Star. Her rising popularity in a society known for its persecution of female performers combined with her outspoken views on women’s rights led to an environment of serious personal danger and Elaha was eventually forced to flee Afghanistan.
After arriving in London as a refugee, Elaha was introduced to guitarist Giuliano Modarelli and pianist Al MacSween, founders of award-winning international collective Kefaya. Driven by a shared desire to use music as a tool for political dialogue and action, together they forged the themes, concept and sound of Songs Of Our Mothers.
“Our first album was very eclectic with multiple different styles and languages. Although there are still many different musical influences on this album, we liked the idea of collaborating with a specific artist and concept and felt Elaha had something very special to offer both artistically and politically” says Al and Giuliano.
The bulk of the album was arranged and recorded in just a few days in Oxford with long-time Kefaya drummer Joost Hendrickx. Al and Giuliano produced and further developed the album, with contributions from a host of world renowned musicians, including Mohsen Namjoo (voice), Manos Achalinotopolous (clarinet), Yazz Ahmed (flugelhorn), Sarathy Korwar (tabla/dolak),Tamar Osborn (baritone sax), Sardor Mirzakhojaev (dambura), Gurdain Singh Rayatt (tabla), Jyotsna Srikanth (violin), Camilo Tirado (live electronics) and Sam Vickary (double bass).
The international line-up, spanning homelands such as UK, Italy, India, Iran & Greece, reflects the album’s global perspective and the way that Kefaya work in collaboration, drawing on multiple sounds and outlooks to present a united front of spirited musical and political expression.
As Elaha says: “In the eyes of the world, Afghan identity is defined by terrorism, war, the Taliban and uneducated, domesticated women who need help. I have tried to show other associations with Afghanistan such as the beauty of my mother language (Farsi) and the diversity of our music. Although women are currently facing extreme violence in Afghanistan, I see a lot of similar problems encountered in different ways in Western countries and across the world. This is part of a universal struggle.”
Songs Of Our Mothers by Kefaya + Elaha Soroor will be released 27th September via Bella Union and is available to preorder here.
Broen are pleased to announced the release of their new LP, Do You See the Falling Leaves?, due for release on 18 October via Bella Union. Today they reveal the album’s first single ‘Lines’.
Broen return with eyes open to new vistas on their second album, Do You See The Falling Leaves?. Back in 2017, Norway’s experi-pop quintet brought exuberant reserves of intelligence, positivity and warm-spirited commonality to the world-building bustles of jazz, funk, psychedelia, electronics and hip-hop on their international debut, I Love Art. Due for release via Bella Union on 18 October, 2019, Do You See the Falling Leaves? extends its predecessor’s vision and expands its brightly generous worldview, opening the door to mindful, invigorating and mind-bogglingly inventive ways of composing, engaging and connecting: with nature, with each other, with their own potential.
As Anja Lauvdal (synths, piano) explains, finding ways to connect is a core theme. Even if EE Cummings’ classic minimalist poem ‘l(a’ was not an influence on the album, its use of a falling leaf to symbolise loneliness clicked with Anja. “I thought that was a nice comment to the title/theme of the record. People can use each other and nature around us to feel connected instead of lonely. The opposite of loneliness is maybe to be connected – as an individual – but also connected to the world. In a way, ‘do you see the falling leaves’ then also means ‘do you see the lonely people’, and that you can open your eyes or reach out a hand.”
Broen’s eyes are sharp from opener ‘Where Is Passion’, where singer Marianna Røe asks “Where is history… peace… love hiding?” over amniotic ripples of effects and piano. When she breaks surface to seek out “passion, complexity, duality, singularity” and more, the song leaps to funky, playful, searching life with her. Like sunshine prog-pop on a mindful mission, the radiant title-track seeks to define true engagement – rather than mere distraction – over fluent backdrops of synths, ever-shifting in tune with its lyrical explorations.
Elsewhere, Broen match meaning to method with fresh punch and focused purpose. The funk-pop urgency of ‘Dorian Grays’ mirrors its encouragement to live in the now. While ‘Never Was’ lives in its delicately introspective moment, the knottily explosive ‘Lines’ frames an urgent call to embrace possibility.
Certainly, Broen are open to curveballs. “A couple of the songs are pure love songs, which is nice because we didn’t have a big repertoire of those,” Marianna deadpans. Dreamy and dappled, ‘Bring It Closer’ and ‘Shut Down’ harbour beautiful twists on romantic sentiments. Around them, contrasts mount. ‘Free World’ issues stingingly satirical critiques of divisiveness; ‘Bubbles’ mounts an effervescent take on cultural polarisation. Finally, ‘Strings’ mirrors its invitation to loosen our tethers in an unmoored saxophone break, floating into space in preparation for – presumably – more new perspectives to come.
To prepare for Do You See…, Broen brainstormed themes. “We wanted it to have a positive message,”
Marianna explains, “but some songs ended
up more aggressive than positive. That’s because we wanted to explore what it
means to be human in this world and in a capitalistic society, and also the
historical aspect of it. Why do we keep making the same mistakes? We also wanted
to talk about nature. Some songs use images from nature as metaphors but we
also wanted to get into our relationship with nature.”
Meanwhile, Røe (vocals),
Lauvdal (synths, piano), Heida Karine Johannesdottir (tuba), Hans Hulbækmo
(drums) and Lars Ove Stene Fossheim (guitars) dug deep into their collaborative
relationships. Although intra-band bonds stretch back to Broen’s time as music
students, they stretch themselves anew on Do
You See…. The instrumentation is “more
naked”, says Lars Ove, than usual. Heida’s tuba is played untreated; Anja
plays more piano. Fresh noises include Lars Ove’s synth guitar and guest Signe
Emmeluth’s sax. The songs were developed in the studio, flipping Broen’s
tendency to explore them live before recording. “Because we have so many great possibilities inside this wonderful
band, we try to challenge each other to find other ways of thinking all the
time,” Anja explains.
This can sometimes take the form of navigating a “big bowl of influence soup”, says Lars Ove, who namechecks Laurie Anderson, Portishead, Mahmoud Ahmed, Neil Young, Mariah Carey, TLC and more. Marianna adds Destiny’s Child and Joy Division to the broth. Mostly, though, Broen deal in distinction. Anja references a Village Voice essay in which US writer Jessica Hopper praises the – predominantly – female-driven best albums of 2018 for transporting listeners to “discrete new worlds”. These albums, Hopper argues, recognise raw realities but also imagine a life “beyond chaos, strife, and dysfunction”. Likewise, Do You See… rises above mere genre-juggling in its self-contained, forward-thinking intent. “I never think of our music as a ‘mix of things’,” says Anja. “It’s more its own world.”
Certain constants supported Broen’s commitment to the new. Like their debut, Do You See… was recorded in Oslo’s Studio Paradiso. Noel Summerville (mastering) and Jaga Jazzist’s Marcus Forsgren (mixing, co-voice on ‘Lines’) returned to assist.
Broen’s new LP “Do You See the Falling Leaves?” is due for release 18 October via Bella Union.
With their much–anticipated debut album How To Live due for release 23rd August via Bella Union, and already the subject of excellent reviews in the likes of Q, MOJO and Uncut, Modern Nature have today shared a new track entitled “Séance” from the LP. Of the track Modern Nature frontman Jack Cooper says: “Séance closes out the first half of the album and the intention was for it to represent an anxiety episode that descends into a breakdown, hence the cut up tape edits and collapse. The themes in the words hopefully come across in the way we played the song… It’s taught and stuttering, Will’s organ melody moving against the rhythm is my favourite part of the album. The ‘take shelter’ line is lifted from the Jeff Nichols film of the same name… the perfect study of existential dread and impending doom. I think it’s a pretty topical song…”
“A creative evolution from Cooper’s previous music, with a quiet new clarity and purpose at play.” MOJO – 4 stars ****
“An open and expansive project, manifested in a sound that lashes woody, folky textures to an insistent motorik pulse.” Uncut – 8/10
“There’s a real ambition to Modern Nature’s debut album… Pastoral prog and horizon–chasing Krautrock push onwards, while organ drone and saxophone add to the exploratory mood.” Q – 4 stars ****
“Taking their cues from the tender falsetto of English folkman Nick Drake, the free-form rhythms of Alice Coltrane and the rattling guitars of Radiohead, Modern Nature’s debut EP is a sprawling journey through an imagined natural landscape.” The Observer (Ones to Watch)
You can catch Modern Nature live in the UK this summer and fall, including at the newly announced in-store appearances the weekend of release. Full dates can be found here.