Binker and Moses

Journey to the Mountain of Forever

The UK jazz scene is exploding. And yet already words fail us, because what this new generation of musicians are creating cannot be reduced to one word. Educated in jazz, these young pioneers are breeding a new musical animal – a restless hybrid of hip-hop, grime, funk and soul, inspired by club sounds but anchored to jazz at its core.

A central component of this evolving web of creativity is drummer and producer Moses Boyd. Boyd has quickly become a name to remember, performing and producing as a solo artist, with his band Moses Boyd Exodus, and with tenor saxophonist Binker Golding as one half of Binker and Moses.

Their second album, Journey to the Mountain of Forever, is, like its title implies, slightly laborious. But at nearly an hour and half long, recorded live, semi-improvised, and with no effects or overdubs, it’s one of the most exciting records of the year. It’s packed with ambition and intrigue, owing much of its character to the looser styles of free jazz that developed in the sixties.

The first half sees its creators play unassisted, Golding’s freewheeling sax lines slotting into Boyd’s raw and powerful fills with natural, unscripted energy. Infectious sax motifs drive much of this half – swaggering and bolshy on ‘Intoxication From The Jahvmonishi Leaves’, casual and airy on ‘Fete By The River’. At first, the minimal setup sounds bare and unfinished, but repeated listens peel away any misgivings, exposing the irresistible, naked vigour of this sincerely talented duo.

For the second half, the duo flesh out the skeleton with an array of innovative musicians. Opener ‘The Valley Of The Ultra Blacks’ dives head first into a three-way percussion jam between Boyd, Yussef Dayes and tabla player Sarathy Korwar, before the shrieking, dynamic saxophone of free jazz pioneer Evan Parker chimes through. Harpist Tori Handsley leads on serene reverie ‘Gifts From The Vibrations Of Light’, channelling the spiritual leanings of Alice Coltrane, later finding a beautiful interplay with Korwar’s tabla on album closer ‘At The Feet Of The Mountain Of Forever’. Journey demands attention and perseverance, but you should listen closely. Binker and Moses are just one act among many currently reshaping the landscape of UK jazz.

Aidan Daly

Katie Pham & The Moonbathers

Voyager

Released only four months after March's Parent's Evening EP, Voyager sounds like a companion piece, with a similar stock of Gaussian blurred guitars and enigmatic observations on relationships from Katie Pham. Despite the languid atmosphere, these are four tight tracks. No messing around. Guitarists Pham and Jack Athey resist the tempation to let the songs drift and overstay their welcome, while drummer Oliver Harrap knits the whole thing together in a satisfyingly easy-going style.

"Before I go, won't you stop and say hello?", Pham asks on 'Java Lava' (a play on the coffee brand...?), though it doesn't sound like she's losing sleep over the question. On the same track she expands her subject matter with some self-critique, noting that she's "sonically obsessed with every touch and every breath I emphasise," playfully drawing out the last word in a drawl. "People change / You don't say?" she sings on 'The Breeze Song', before declaring, "I'll stay the same." Her lyrics could be drawn from fragments of whispered conversations in the early hours, not dissimilar to the intimate dissections of The xx but without the doom and gloom.

Pham continues to explore familiar ground on closer 'Seeds', wondering whether "if it's you that I've been looking for, is it even worth the wait anymore?" over a gently chiming riff. As on Parent's Evening, the mystery in the group's music is born from the contrast between the carefree summer sounds and the words Pham is actually singing, which are more often than not imbued with uncertainty and doubt.

Voyager is coming out on limited-edition cassette and will be available at the 6 July launch party at Delicious Clam. They haven't changed the formula, but there's no need to just yet.

Sam Gregory

blakhandrecords.bandcamp.com

BadBadNotGood

BadBadNotGood

Late Night Tales, the record label which encourages artists to uncover their tastes, made the excellent choice of assigning the Canadian quartet BadBadNotGood to the task, who have compiled a seamless playlist with exceptional flow. You hardly notice the transition from one track to the next, resulting in a calming and peaceful work of art.

The album begins with the gentle drones of Boards of Canada, moving swiftly into the upbeat yet calm Brazilian vibes of Erasmo Carlos. This track sets the tone for BadBadNotGood’s global mix, featuring artists from Estonia, Ghana, France and more. This compilation makes it clear why the group have been so regularly championed by Gilles Peterson, since it sounds not too dissimilar to one of his 6Music shows. Stereolab’s track ‘The Flower Called Nowhere’ feels mysterious, like the sepia air of a Wes Anderson film, and is followed in a quirky way by Kiki Gyan’s gentle disco. The simplicity of Donnie and Joe Emerson’s track ‘Baby’ makes you feel warm and could put you straight to sleep.

The wide selection covered in this release shows that four heads are better than one. The group have compiled a truly splendid album of reflection. The quality of the work comes full circle, with a gravelly storytelling by singer, poet, writer and actress Lydia Lunch. Listeners will undoubtedly be sent into a long and satisfying slumber.

Jennifer Martino

Nadia Struiwigh

Lenticular

The real strength of electronic music is its potentially limitless pool of available sounds and Dutch producer Nadia Struiwigh has strong skills in this area. By taking familiar synth pads and mixing in new and more abstract sounds, sometimes burying them in the background and sometimes sticking them up front, Struiwigh keeps her modern sound fresh and vital on Lenticular.

Breezing in with a textured, floating ambience in the form of ‘Intrope’, Lenticular gets off to an unconventional start, humanising the wash of electronic sound with hazy guitar patterns. It's the longest track here at over eight minutes, and it's all textured ambience imbued with a strange kind of spacey optimism. Once the stuttering synths of ‘Space Tribe’ carry this soundscape forward in a more structured way and the bassy beat takes hold, the core of the album’s techno-leaning vibe is revealed.

The best tracks here, like ‘Genetically’ and the title track, take slowly progressing journeys through building layers of sound, refusing to stay still. There are regular returns to barren soundscapes in between the beat-driven moments, at times reminiscent of Swedish duo Carbon Based Lifeforms. However, the influence of the most restrained practitioners of ‘IDM’ is ever-present, the title track specifically culminating in a psychedelic dance powerhouse.

Things take a turn towards the sinister at the end, with ‘PLCS’ hinting at a much darker side to Struiwigh’s music and final track ‘010101’ submitting to hard-hitting noise and wrapping things up in completely opposite style to how they started.

The dynamic range of Lenticular is its strength, but there are few moments of real excitement. The looping music box whirl of ‘4Es’ is particularly tiresome in its repetition - the ostinato of ‘Trip in Fiction’ being a much better example of how to execute this kind of recurring idea - and in other places the more languid moments could benefit from additional melodies or samples to hold interest. However, there is much to enjoy on Lenticular when taken as an ambient techno soundtrack.

Richard Spencer