The multi-instrumentalist Jack Wyllie (Portico Quartet/Szun Waves) presents his new project Paradise Cinema. It was recorded in Dakar, Senegal in collaboration with mbalax percussionists Khadim Mbaye (saba drums) and Tons Sambe (tama drums). The impressionistic and dream-like quality of ‘Paradise Cinema’ is a stunningly effective realisation of Wyllie’s experience, in ahypnagogic state of aural consciousness. Atmospherically ‘Paradise Cinema’ is vaporous and enigmatic, but also percussive; existing in a paradoxical sound-space that’s amorphous,yet still purposeful, serene, but propulsive and aesthetically sharp. Khadim Mbaye and Tons Sambe, provide the rhythmic backbone of the record. There are traditional elements of mbalax rhythm, but it is often deconstructed or played at tempos outside of the tradition, so while it hints at a location it occupies a space outside of any specific region. ‘Paradise Cinema’ is also informed by notions of hauntology – a philosophical concept originating in the work of French philosopher Jacques Derrida– on possible futures that were never realised andhow directions taken in the past can haunt the present. On the album’s title Wyllie comments, ”there are a handful of old cinemas in Dakar – these big modernist buildings dotted around the city built around independence. They’re old and derelict now, but feel to me like monuments to that period, when the city was flooded with utopian ideas about its potential futures.” As such it sits closely to 4thworld music – situated in an imagined culture and time that never came to pass. And while it contains rhythmic references to Senegal it combines these elements with ambient and minimalist music to produce a sound that sits outside of any tradition.
vinyl / CD
Originally isused back in 2015 and now selling for silly money on Discogs and Ebay, Gondwana Records is announcing the re-release of Matthew Halsall & The Gondwana Orchestra’s tribute to Allice Coltrane / Journey in Satchidananda and Blue Nile. Featuring Matthew Halsall trumpet, Lisa Mallett flute, Rachael Gladwin harp, Taz Modi piano, Gavin Barras bass, Gaz Hughes drums and Nat Birchall percussion and recorded at the legendary Maida Vale Studios.
Guiding Spirit was second album by Nat Birchall for the fledgling Manchester label Gondwana Records back in 2010. The follow-up to the remarkable debut of Akhenaten found him exploring different textures using percussion and instruments like the kora and the harp. It was also the first time Nat had recorded on the soprano saxophone, featured here on the songs Keep the Light Shining and Higher Regions. Nat reveals a concept on the instrument quite unlike most other contemporary players of the higher-pitched horn, his sound more akin to the keening tone of the Indian shenai master, Bismillah Khan, perfectly in keeping with the music’s more “Eastern” sounding leanings. The music here is firmly rooted in the modal jazz world of Pharoah Sanders, Alice Coltrane and others who sought to expand upon the avenues of expression originally forged by John Coltrane in the heady days of the early 1960s. As has often been pointed out by commentators however, this is no pastiche or “re-make”. This is the real thing, played absolutely in the now, but played from and in the spirit of then. Originally released only in CD format, Jazzman Records are proud to make this music available on vinyl for the first time.
Akhenaten was the first album Nat Birchall released via the then brand-new Gondwana Records label in Manchester. Originally only released on CD this is the first time this classic recording has been made available on vinyl. The album on the whole features a quartet, and is expanded to a quintet on the title track where UK trumpet virtuoso Matthew Halsall joins in with a stunning solo. The album explores deep, hymn-like themes at length, finding much to say on the relatively simple melodies and arrangements. Nat and his fellow band members play here with the selfless motivation and focus that’s required to allow them to tap deep into the human psyche, producing music that is soulful and stately. Very different from most modern jazz styles played nowadays, the music has a timeless beauty that will stand the test of time.