Happy Release Day Sumie

Having released her sophomore album back in late 2017, Sumie today releases a follow up EP, titled Mirou featuring four new tracks. Watch the video for ‘Moon’ below, which was filmed at the beautiful Gothenburg Botanical Gardens…

Sumie will play two intimate shows to celebrate the EP release in the Autumn of this year, including a performance at London’s Southbank Center. Dates + details below…

4th October – London – Future Tense (Southbank Center)

28th November – Gothenburg – Oceanen

Creep Show debut ‘Uneffable’

With their first ever UK tour just a few weeks away in early October, Creep Show today share a new single, “Uneffable”. The original track was made in Cornwall at Memetune studios by Stephen Mallinder, Phil Winter and Benge using ancient drum machines and modular synths (Casio DDD1 and ARP2500). However, it was finished in Iceland: “I wanted a trip to Iceland to see John’s studio full of brand-new-vintage synths”, says Benge and he actually means it! So 12 hours later, without a lagoon, fjord or waterfall in sight, he found himself sitting down at the new ARP Odyssey clone made by Korg, and a vintage Roland Juno 106 with John Grant in Reykjavík. “We spent a few days working on the track,” he adds. “John did the vocals in a monotone voice and I played with an MXR pitch shifter to put the weird robot-like intonation back into his voice.” Job done, he jetted straight back to the UK.

Stephen Mallinder sums up Uneffable’s birth as “a track built from bits of electricity and static, shaped in Icelandic lava and Cornish granite. Sprinkled with love and irony from the honey tones of John Grant. Creep Show are a group made of impeccable taste and technology who live far clung corners of the world, seriously challenging the capabilities of sat nav, and mysteriously come together by casting spells…”

Creep Show brings together John Grant with the dark analogue electro of Wrangler (Stephen Mallinder / Phil Winter / Benge). Recorded in Cornwall with a lifetime’s collection of drum machines and synthesisers assembled by Benge and explored by every member of Creep Show,  the band’s acclaimed debut album Mr Dynamite conveys real sense of freedom in the shackles-off grooves, channelling the early pioneering spirit of the Sugarhill Gang through wires and random electric noise. 

See HERE for full list of Creep Show live shows.

Mercury Rev debut ‘Louisiana Man’ with

Earlier this year, Mercury Rev released the much adored track-by-track resurrection of Bobbie Gentry’s 1968 overlooked masterwork ‘The Delta Sweete’. The album featured an unmatched roster of female vocals from Susanne Sundfør, Norah Jones, Margo Price, Phoebe Bridgers, Lucinda Williams, Vashti Bunyan, Rachel Goswell (Slowdive), Susanne Sundfør, Lætitia Sadier (Stereolab), Marissa Nadler, Kaela Sinclair (M83) and more. 

Today, Mercury Rev are pleased to announce a limited 7” vinyl featuring a brand new cover of Bobbie Gentry’s ‘Louisiana Man’ with vocals from Erika Wennerstrom, which is available to stream now. Of the collaboration, Wennerstrom says, “I grew up listening to Bobbie Gentry. I realized while working on this project just how much she has influenced the way I developed my voice and song writing over the years. Whenever Ode to Billie Joe came on the radio my mom and I would sing every word. I’ve been a big fan of Mercury Rev for a long time as well. I’m thrilled and honored to be a part of this project.”

Pre-order your copy of the limited edition 7” vinyl HERE, due for release 8th November exclusively via the Bella Union store .

Critical acclaim for The Delta Sweete Revisited, out now on Bella Union

“A stunning collection, resting on a sumptuous cushion of hazy, echoing sounds… A treasure.” Evening Standard – 5 stars *****

“An audacious remake of Bobbie Gentry’s masterpiece, here rebooted with tender opulence, affectionate awe, and full commitment to a widescreen, almost transcendental experience… All the women here rise to the occasion, audibly honoured to salute Gentry.” MOJO – 4 Stars ****

“Laetitia Sadier’s delicate reading of Mornin Glory and Hope Sandoval’s reimagining of Big Boss Man are highlights, but there isn’t really a wrong turn anywhere… A gem of an album.” Sunday Times (Album of the Week)

“A beautiful suite of music that guides a new generation to one of the great lost albums of the 1960s.” The Times – 4 stars ****

“Mercury Rev, antennae always twitching to big–sky Americana, redirect attention to the record’s soulful crosscurrents with this celebration… A grand tribute.” Q

“The stately arrangements subtly embellish the sultry originals… A classic.” The Observer – 4 stars ****

“Gentry’s country–soul masterpiece has been remoulded with orchestral nuance and a healthy dose of the Rev’s innate dreaminess.” Record Collector – 4 stars ****

“Full marks to Mercury Rev for corralling an impressive array of female vocalists to revive the daring and dreamy swamp masterpiece… A quality, deeply–felt labour of love.” The Mirror – 4 stars ****

“Sumptuous arrangements and fabulous performances from Margo Price, Susanne Sundfør and Beth Orton.” The Guardian

“They handle this suite of vignettes with care, kicking off with the soothing tones of Norah Jones followed by the sultry sound of Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval.” The i Paper – 4 stars ****

“Mercury Rev bring woozy psychedelia covering her second and finest album, employing fine female singers to achieve their vision.” The Sun – 4 stars ****

“Mercury Rev have reimagined Gentry’s country–soul classic beautifully… Gorgeous and intuitive singing by Norah Jones, Hope Sandoval and Margo Price make their respective tracks the record’s highlights, each bringing a distinct point of view and vivid energy to the new arrangements.” Uncut

“Mercury Rev lend the songs a fresh vitality, replacing the swamp–blues and country–soul of the originals by framing Gentry’s vivid storytelling with haunting atmospherics and melodic strings.” Daily Mail – 4 stars ****

“An inspired move, giving Bobbie’s songs a dense, spookily atmospheric makeover.” Shindig – 4 Stars ****

“An esoteric choice but fuelled by Gentry’s wonderful songs and a remarkable array of guest singers.” Mail On Sunday – 4 stars ****

Kefaya announce UK tour

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 announce news of their UK tour, which includes two album release shows at Rough Trade, as well as a headline show at London’s Rich Mix. To celebrate this they have shared a video for the previously released single ‘Charsi’ that premiered today on The Playground.

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.”

Early praise for Kefaya + Elaha Soroor…

“A thoroughly modern, multicultural masterpiece… In an era of increasing isolationism, misogyny and religious fundamentalism, this album becomes a defiant celebration of freedom and internationalism.” Uncut –9/10

“Takes traditional Afghan folk songs and give them thoroughly modern settings… Soroor sounds as at home singing Farsi–language reggae, Indian jazz, Maghrebi pop or post–punk… Kefaya delight in tracing Elaha’s journey, crossing sonic borders into Iran, Armenia, Turkey and North Africa.” MOJO – 4 stars ****

“Embraces freedom and charges down boundaries.” Clash

Songs Of Our Mothers by Kefaya + Elaha Soroor will be released 27th September via Bella Union and is available to preorder here.

Soundwalk Collective with Patti Smith announce ‘Mummer Love’

A sonic cross-continental experience, Mummer Love is the second album in the Perfect Vision triptych collaboration between Soundwalk Collective and Patti Smith. The album, which features guest contributions from Phillip Glass, Mulatu Astatke, and the Sufi Group of Sheikh Ibrahim, will be released 8th November via Bella Union and is available to preorder here. The first track entitled “Eternity” has been shared…

For this body of work, Soundwalk Collective journeyed to Africa to explore the intricacies of Arthur Rimbaud’s most obscure period. After leaving France and what he deemed the ‘western stagnation’, Rimbaud found himself in Harar, Ethiopia – an epicenter of Sufism in Africa. Sufi practise focuses on the renunciation of worldly things, the purification of the soul and the mystical contemplation of God’s nature. Sufism is a mystical form of Islam, and its music is about reaching a communal ecstatic state, and once you find yourself there, you are granted access to the unknown. The Soundwalk Collectivespent time with the Sufi group of Sheikh Ibrahim to record their music and chants in the shrine with the use of Audio-Technica microphones. “You obtain connections to other levels of yourself and consciousness,” Stephan Crasneanscki mentions of the musical process. “This connection, like poetry, is a universal language. A language of the soul, for the soul.”

As with the other albums in the triptych, the Collective searched for hidden, earthy sounds that hold memories and embed existence. For Mummer Love, they also found themselves recording under the tree where Rimbaud photographed the shrine of Sheik Abadir Umar ar-Rida al Harari, the founder of the holy city Harar. “As the rain fell, I wondered if I was hearing the drops hitting the leaves the same way Rimbaud did 140 years ago,” Crasneanscki says. These sounds and Sufi chants coexist with Patti Smith’s interpretation of Rimbaud’s poems, as she recites and sings among them in a call and response, sharing the same musical and spiritual space.

Smith’s only poem is the title track “Mummer Love”, written to Rimbaud; her words are rooted in multiple aspects of the self: from the passion of a lover to the care of a mother, and everything in between. Further contributions to this album come from Mulatu Astatke, widely considered the father of Ethio-jazz, and Phillip Glass, who’s long felt a connection to Sufi music – here coming together and evoking a call and response between piano and vocals of the Sufi masters. It is simultaneously the first time Glass collaborates with Smith, and so Harar becomes an extraordinary meeting place for all to celebrate the beauty of Rimbaud’s work.

Referring to the overall work, Smith likens the project to a fourth mind equation. “Because we are working with other people’s work, and not just reading it but channelling these people, they become a fourth mind. We are Rimbaud, you, I, and the work,” Smith says in conversation with Crasneanscki. The unification of all minds together magnifies its power and potential. “It makes me think of Rimbaud’s energy, his strong will,” Smith says. “If we, the living, send out radio and energy waves, the energy of those last poems is still reverberating. It can’t be silenced, because we understand that this work and the artists are not dead, they find life when we are recording them.”

Entitled The Perfect Vision, this musical triptych, which has been co-produced with Leonardo Heiblum and supported by the Analogue Foundation, aims to go beyond 20/20 vision and explore a dimension that exists on a non-physical plane. What one can physically see is only the beginning – this project transcends what we think we see, by multiplying experiences, languages and energies. “We went through places like Mexico, Ethiopia and India to search for a perfect vision, in spaces where you can still feel a sacred presence – where the Gods are still among you,” says Crasneanscki. “In this idea of perfect vision, there is the idea of oneness, and with that comes a sense of supreme love.”

Mummer Love will be released 8th November, to mark the anniversary of the death of Arthur Rimbaud, on 10th November (1891).

Broen share ‘Strings’

Broen are pleased to reveal their new single ‘Strings,’ taken from their forthcoming LP, Do You See the Falling Leaves?, due for release on 18 October via Bella Union.

Speaking about the track, the band say: “When life goes ahead without you, but you’re in the middle of it. And it’s hard to know what’s up and what’s down. You feel that everything melts together and gets blurred. And you’re just being drifted by the stream. You don’t know what your dreams are and what you want, or even what’s dream and what’s reality. The only thing that’s true is nature, that you’re always a part of, when everything else goes around.”

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.

But all bets will be off live, where Broen revel in reinvention. Anja recalls a recent trio of shows played “for fun” at Khartoum, a small bar in Oslo, where they found new, playful, thoughtful ways to navigate their songs. “I think we’re going to do more of that – try to find spaces that make us feel like stuff can happen. For us, the music has to be able to move.” A snapshot of a fluent band in motion, Do You See the Falling Leaves? is a glorious spur to Broen’s ongoing explorations.

Broen’s new LP “Do You See the Falling Leaves?” is due for release 18 October via Bella Union.