Needle on the Record: Philip Glass, Electribe 101, Mdou Moctar and more


Philip Glass disappoints with third Bowie homage

Filharmonie Brno, Dennis Russell Davies, Angelique Kidjo & Christian Schmitt | Symphony No 12: Lodger | ★ ★

Composer Philip Glass has created a massive amount of work during his lifetime, now 85 year old his output includes film scores, 15 operas, chamber music, music for string quartets, solo piano pieces and hundreds of other compositions. Along the way he’s also collaborated with electronic musicians like Aphex Twin, remixed S-Express, and team up with Allen Ginsberg and Paul McCartney.

In 1992 Glass unveiled his first symphony, based around the instrumental tracks from David Bowie’s 1977 album it was highly acclaimed. Low was the first of a trilogy of albums that Bowie made with Brian Eno while based in Berlin.

Glass returned to their work for the basis of his fourth symphony, in 1996 Heroes, again named after the corresponding Bowie work, moved into a more commercial space, orchestrating not just the lesser known instrumental numbers but also creating an orchestral version of the much loved title track.

Glass draws inspiration from the work of Bowie and Eno, but also eaves his own distinctive style into the composition. So much more than a simple orchestral version of the tunes, it really is a meeting of three important artists.

In 2019 Glass revealed his third symphony, this time based around the last of Bowie’s Berlin albums Lodger. When performed live, critics didn’t love it, which might explain why it’s taken a while to arrive as a recording.

For Lodger, Glass taken a different approach. Rather than basing the work on Bowie and Eno’s musical themes, it is based around the lyrics. Unlike the other two symphonies this time round there is a vocalist. Angelique Kidjo is an acclaimed artist but here she appears discordant with the musical surrounding, her voice an interruption to the symphonic sounds, rather than an element wrapped within them.

The combination of organ, lots of drums, an operatic vocal, and a blistering brass section make this a bombastic and difficult to listen to offering. Incredibly disappointing, but as Meatloaf declared – two out of three ‘aint bad. Listen to the first two Bowie inspired symphonies instead, or jump ahead to Glass Symphony No. 13 (coming soon) and 14 (already out).

Mdou Moctar’s excellent ‘Afrique Victime’ albums gets an deluxe release

Mdou Moctar is a Tuareg performer based in Niger who has made six albums of music, his most recent record  Afrique Victime is his second to get an international release. Last year it made the ‘best of’ lists of many music critics.

Now the album is getting a deluxe version release that includes previously unreleased tunes, demo versions and live tracks. His music melds traditional sounds and psychedelic rock. His 2019 album Ilana (The Creator) is equally good.

Tik Tok unearths a lost classic

TikToker Zach Smith shared a song he came across. Surender to Me was an unreleased song his Dad recorded back in the early 80’s. It’s an absolute killer funk tune and now it’s been released!

Fresh Tracks 

HAAi – Bodies of Water another great track from HAAI, look out for her album Baby, We’re Descending out later this year Giiven – Losing Colours this trio who hail from Poland, Austria and Canada deliver a sing-a-long and enchanting single Logan Lynn – Is There Anyone Else Like This In The World (Bright Lights Bright Lights Remix) definitely channeling classic 90’s house sounds Klangkarusssell – Home (Burak Yeter Remix) the original track is lovely, but this remix gives it a classic 80’s vibe Maria Die Ruhe – Skin filled with violins, piano and beats, this sounds a bit like Madonna’s Ray of Light era Daniel Rossen – Unpeopled Space former Grizzly Bear and Department of Eagles member delivers a intriguing folkish jam Kalopsia – Retrospect sumptuous slice of pop perfection Belief, Boom Bip & Haai featuring Stella Mozgawa – I Want to Be (HAAi remix) you just can’t have too much HAAi, for late night dancing in the dark Donna Summer – I Love Little Pills you might have to search to find a copy this awesome mash-up of Green Velvet and Donna Summer, two classics! DJ Poolboi and Flowdan – Easy some hip hop that would be well suited for a ballroom moment Odesza featuring Bettye LaVette – The Last Goodbye it treads into Moby territory but it’s uplifting and soulful.          

Toro Y Moi gets mellow and funky with ‘The Loop’ 

Toro y Moi, a.k.a Chaz Bear, has shared the third song from his forthcoming album Mahal which will be out in April. The Loop arrives with a video showing Chaz as he joyously traverses the Bay Area by GoCar, skateboard, and a customized Mahal Jeepney alongside friends.

the seventh studio album from Bear under the Toro y Moi moniker, and fans have already been treated to the singles Postman, and Magazine, whoch was a collaboration with Salami Rose Joe Louis.

Toro Y Moi, first emerged as part of the chillwave scene more than a decade ago but his subsequent releases have traversed a variety of styles including psych-rock, deep house, hip-hop and R&B.

Electribe 101’s second album finally gets a release after 30 years

Electribe 101 formed in the late 80’s bringing together a group of Birmingham based musicians and singer Billie Ray Martin who hailed from Berlin. They’re music combined blues, soul, house and psychedelic elements. They emerged as the music scene in Britain embraced acid house and moved into trip hop.

Billie Ray Martin also featured on tracks for S-Express, most notably their hit Hey Music Lover. After a couple of singles the band’s debut album Electribal Memories came out to mostly positive reviews. Their song Talking With Myself would go on to be remixed by The Beloved, Frankie Knuckles and Larry Heard.

The band went on to record a second album Electribal Soul, but the band were dumped by the label before it’s release. Billy Ray Martin went on to have a solo career, scoring a hug hit with Your Loving Arms.

Now that lost album is getting a release, the 10 track album, plus an additional alternatve version of one the tunes will come out on 18th March. Lead single Insatiable Love is available now.

Graeme Watson 

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