When Melanie De Biasio released No Deal in 2014, it was embraced by jazz critics, DJs, and club audiences simultaneously. Gilles Peterson was so taken with its monochromatic ambient textures, stark arrangements, and clever improvisational intimations that he commissioned an album of remixes. Blackened Cities is not a conventional follow-up, but an adventurous endeavor rife with risk. The release consists of a single 24-minute track that unfolds like a suite. The conservatory-trained Belgian vocalist and flutist and her longtime musical associates – Pascal Mohy on piano, Pascal Paulus on analog synths and clavinet, and Dré Pallemaerts on drums (with guest double bassist/cellist Sam Gerstmans) – deliver a full-scale sonic drama that crosses a wide musical expanse and evokes an encyclopedia of stylistic references, yet comes across as a totally original whole. Its title comes from impressions of postindustrial cities De Biasio visited on her international tour: Detroit, Manchester, her native Charleroi; each has a storied past and a devastated façade, yet reflects its own unique beauty and tenacity.
In the five years following his last solo album Moon People, Nickodemus has continued to spread his global sound through endless DJ tours, recording in studios, and scouting new music for his acclaimed Wonderwheel label. He’s made some new friends along the way too, with his constant journeying helping culminate in the new full-length A Long Engagement, a sonic portrait of 25 years of connecting people through music.