Tag Archives: jazz

SIMON JEFFERIS: ‘Vibrations.’

It would be terribly insensitive to say there’s anything ‘good’ to come from this dreadful situation the world finds itself in right now.
We have to accept that, for the immediate time being at least, Nature holds the upper hand but we need make best of the position we find ourselves in.

In my case, that means Saturday afternoons sat in the house listening to the radio instead of following my local football team. And that has resulted in my experiencing new sounds via the Gilles Peterson show on Radio 6Music.

Which, in turn, when skipping through Bandcamp the other day, I for the first time, checked out a forthcoming album that was portrayed as straddling the ‘jazz fusion,’ ‘hip-hop’ and neo-soul’ categories.

Now, I’m just a beginner when it comes to these genres of music. I’m more of a shallow, in your face, punk / rock kinda guy, but even I can tell ‘Vibrations,’ by SIMON JEFFERIS is pure class.

Brixton based multi-instrumentalist Simon has garnered a burgeoning reputation throughout London hip-hop circles these past few years for not only his music, but also his production skills.

This new album would appear to be his first since the ‘SJ’s Pockets – Vol 1′ EP back in 2017, though there have been several other digital tracks released along the way.

From the four tracks currently available to stream, ‘Vibrations‘ would certainly seem to be worth the wait. ‘White Rabbit,‘ is slow-funky, featuring the warm vocals of Rosie Lowe, while ‘High Grade,‘ is a smooth, slow burner which has the feel of a lovely, deep, chilled pillow for your head to sink into. There’s a lot going on in this track and each listen brings something new to the fore.

Something In The Water,’ makes me think of early Saturday evenings as I listen to Craig Charles’ show on the radio, and groove (in a very inelegant and sort of bad Dad Dancing way) around the kitchen with a couple of beers in hand as I prepare the meal. Like I’ve said, I’m new to this style of music, but this track, reminds me of The Meters and Deodato. (Apologies if I’m way out on this!)

My favourite track though, so far, is ‘Back 2 Ours.’ Featuring the rapped vocals of Abhi the Nomad, this one fuses a laid back jazz groove with hip-hop rhymes and beats.

I know I’m old, and only just about getting my head around accepting the concept of digital music – but THIS album is surely one to be listened to in its physical format. Some music is made for vinyl – this is one.

Oh – and thank you Gilles Peterson / Simon Jefferis for opening my ears to differnt styles of music. I’ll definitely be back for more.

Vibrations’ is released in both vinyl and digital formats via DeepMatter on June 12th 2020)

WOLF PRAYER: ‘Echoes of the Second Sun.’

Just last night, when writing about German band wolf prayer, and the track ‘Desert,’ I mentioned that they ‘…  won’t commit to this tagging, although not completely denying it either. The album, I’m assured, contains some surprising tracks. I’m intrigued.’

The tagging to which I referred, relates to the one of ‘stoner’ which seems to be thrown in their direction. Now, having heard the whole ‘Echoes of the Second Sun,’ album, I understand why they are slightly reticent to simply accept the description of their music.

I have been writing about new music, either for this blog or Artrocker Magazine, for about thirteen years; I have been to countless gigs and seen innumerable bands of all musical genres. Well, almost

Yet it still amazes me how bands can come up with new sounds; new amalgamations of styles; experiments that blossom into something big.

And this is exactly what wolf prayer have done with this, their debut album.

Take the opening track, for example:
Average Man,’ opens opens with what sounds a roaring guitar feedback, drops into a quiet riff, before the bass line and pounding drums take over. The riff permeates all this though, and immediately that ‘stoner’ tag comes back into focus. The vocal style would add confirmation. As does the searing guitar solo.

But then, with about a minute and a half remaining of the seven minutes long track, all that has gone before vanishes. Just like that. And in its place – quiet, synths / keyboards in like an old school Prog Rock style. I know – it kind of sounds ridiculous, but this exemplifies my earlier point of experiments that blossom.

It does actually work!

The second track, ‘According To The Rule,’ is a dark and moody, heavy riff-laden doom style song. Think Linkin Park on Mogadon. But better.

‘Desert‘ follows. Then comes ‘Shapeshifter’ – an aptly named track that takes on various forms and moods throughout its seven minute duration.

New Morning,’ opens quietly, explodes into life with the pounding drums and huge guitar riffs, drops away and then erupts again for a prolonged spell with searing guitar fighting the drums for prominence. And here comes ‘surprise’ number two – half way through this track (guess how long it lasts – yup, seven minutes!) there is a two minute or so breakdown when a muted and funky bass line gives way to some far-out jazzy keyboards. It’s all very Deodata’s version of ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra,’ if you ask me. But I love it!

But don’t worry, riff lovers – the final minute and a half sees their return!

Like A Fool,’ is more straightforward – booming and gloomy, pissed-off stoner style – although the plucked guitar in the final third gives it something slightly different just ahead of pace picking up and racing towards the conclusion.

‘Strings Like A Puppet,’ is I think the most mono-tempo track on the album. Slow, slothful and threatening with fuzzed-up, buzzing guitar

Feed My Brain‘ closes the album – all fifty minutes or so, if my arithmetic is correct. It’s a slow burner, is this one. It moves in steps, like a classical piece would do in ‘movements’ and grows in intensity with each section before finally dropping away the band leave the building. Actually. Yes – the band leave the building.

I have to nail my colours to the mast here – I love this album.

I love the heavy, conventional sounds. I love it for incorporating some ‘desert’ rock alongside ‘stoner.’ I love it for the surprises, the little funky and jazzy interludes.

But most of all I love it for the courage shown by a band in this field to experiment – and to pull it off.

This could be the best twenty Euros you’ll spend in a long time.
(The link above is for the coloured vinyl release, not the ‘bundle’ as shown below.)


Leon Redbone and Roky Erickson

I was saddened to hear last night about the passing of two musical legends.

I first came across the music of Leon Redbone when he appeared on The Old Grey Whistle Test. It must have been around the time his ‘Double Trouble’ album was launched, so that would put it around 1977. Back then, of course, I was right into my punk music, so it was strange that I should find an attraction in the off kilter jazz style of some really uncool looking dude in a Panama hat.

The following day, I recall going into the tiny, old-time Virgin Records shop in Cambridge Street, Glasgow and buying Leon’s new release. I loved it so much that a few weeks later, I asked the store to order me a copy of the 1975 release, ‘On The Track.‘ Both still grace my record shelves.

Looking back, I think that quite perversely, I took to Leon Redbone‘s music and character because he was so different. He didn’t conform. He had an individual style of dress and music.

Perhaps he was more 70s original ‘punk’ than we could ever have thought.

******



I was a bit of a late-comer to the psyche and psychedelic scene. But when i finally arrived, it was the music of The 13th Floor Elevators that convinced me I’d been a bit of a pratt for ignoring this style of music for so long

Roky Erickson founded the band back in 1965 and is regarded as one of the instigators of the psychedelic rock genre. Sadly, he endured years of mental health issues, at a time when enforced electroconvulsive therapy was considered a ‘cure’ for paranoid schizophrenia


Arrested in 1969 for possession of marijuana and facing a possible ten year stretch, he pleaded guilty on the basis of insanity in an effort to avoid jail. The authorities though, were keen to punish Roky, and indeed the band, for their outspoken views and use of hallucinogenic substances. He was promptly sent to Austin State Hospital, from where he escaped several times before ultimately being incarcerated at Rusk State Hospital for three years. It was here that Roky was again subjected to more electroconvulsive ‘therapy.’

Roky suffered mental health issues for many years, but in 2007 he managed to wean himself off his medication and started playing again, and a year later he toured the American West Coast with The Black Angels as his ‘backing band.’

In May 2015, the circle was completed when Roky played the Levitation Festival in Austin, Texas with the original members of The 13th Floor Elevators.

Footnote: Four years ago this month, when I was still ‘small-time dealing’ in records, I sold an 8 x 7″ singles box set, on multi-coloured vinyl, for £39. This is now selling for around £150.
I’m
STILL a pratt!