Hard on the heels of their divisive Blue album released last fall this follow up is a live album that plays to their strength as a forward thinking but accessible band that has one thing that lifts them over many of their colleagues: a wonderful sense of humor. This was lost during their atom by atom reconstruction of the Miles Davis Kind of Blue LP, but here they are on home turf, ripping through lengthy medleys of their own original music, as always mostly named after small towns in Pennsylvania. MOPDTK consists of Jon Irabagon on saxophones, Moppa Elliott on bass, Kevin Shea on drums and Peter Evans on trumpet.
Jaga Jazzist, the Norwegian multi-instrumental boundary-busters, may occupy a niche, but it feels like an enduringly spacious and fertile one, where sounds that recall everything from Weather Report to big-band jazz, krautrock, Radiohead or even the Pat Metheny Group intertwine. Last year’s 20th anniversary retrospective was fascinatingly diverse, but Starfire – conceived in composer Lars Horntveth’s new Los Angeles home, rather than in Oslo – is a more densely layered and studio-dominated deployment of this band’s awesome resources. The title track is classic Jazzist: a sound like the Shadows driven by a marching-band thump skids through power-chord guitar hooks and Zappaesque melodic zigzags; the atmospheric Big City Music is a masterly balance of quickfire rhythm-section ingenuity and the instrumental diversity of guitars, keys and brass. The tunes remain quirkily dramatic and the thematic scene-shifting spectacular, but a little thinning-out would have let Jaga Jazzist’s uniquely mercurial music breathe more.
On September 15th, Dependence 2017, the new label compilation of the German premiere industrial label Dependent is being released. As always the compilation is full with exclusive tracks and mixes of the Dependent label repertoire, but hardly ever could we assemble and deliver so many strong and so diverse songs on one single disc: The atmospheric electronic composition of the soundtrack VOLT by Alec Empire sets a moody intro to be sharply contrasted by Dependent spearhead acts like Covenant & MESH.