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PROLE JAZZ

Songs of April 2020

April has been a month of physical lockdown, voluptuous sunny days, Zoom beers and a veritable deluge of musical wonderments.

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We released two compilations of quarantine tunes from musicians across the city's diverse scene to raise money for the wonderful Foodhall Project, and on top of that new songs have dropped like sonic rain from all the sparkling corners of the musical cloudscape of Sheffield. We counted tracks from over 50(!) different local bands and musicians this month alone. Here are some of our faves.

The Sheffield Beatles Project - All You Need is Love

The (Liverpudlian) Beatles famously stopped playing live before they released their greatest music in the late sixties. This is where the Sheffield Beatles Project have stepped in (albeit 50 years later), performing entire Beatles albums live with a full orchestra and brass section to mark the golden anniversaries of Revolver, Sgt. Pepper's, the White Album and Abbey Road. Their gigs are mind-bendingly amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and during lockdown this crew got together remotely to record the Lennon classic 'All You Need is Love'. Transcendently joyous stuff from one of Sheffield's most iconic musical projects of recent years. [HE]

Winston Hazel - Acropolis Eyes

The legendary Forgemaster has taken a bunch of samples from old records and magimixed them into a euphonious cocktail of strings, beats and shrieks, spattered with spongy bass, crinkling riffs and resonating effects. His track will take you on a journey right back to 1989, probably via Detroit. [CB]

All Girls Arson Club - Skyscanner

This is how I imagine Madonna's 'Holiday' would sound if it had been written and recorded by Wavves in 2009. It's a deliciously catchy lo-fi garage-jive banger and already the fuzzed-up song of the summer. If we don't get to go anywhere on holiday this year, well at least we have 'Skyscanner'. [CJA]

Otis Mensah - Under the Bed

'Under the Bed' casts Mensah as the youthful and wry MF Doom to Moonbather's stoned, jazz-loving Madlib in what is probably the hip-hop collaboration of the year. The rap twists and wends above a ganja-dreamt slow funk jam, Otis with flow so deft it's hypnotic. By the 30-second count he's already referenced ancient Greek myth, an impressively moustachioed dead German philosopher and Old Testament symbology. A feast of wordplay and production. [CJA]

Phillipe Oh Papa - BFSB (Minimal Animal Rework)

Inject this into your blood-filled skin bags. An experimental blend of poignant samples from Oh Papa's 'Quarantine Song', layered through mesmerising synths and guitar, and metamorphosed by Minimal Animal. Philippe Clegg has created a magnificent and perhaps quite terrifying beast. It's a true hybrid of stellar pedigree. [CB]

Life Aquatic Band - Keep Breathing

Ludic indie shapeshifters Life Aquatic Band offer solid advice on this quarantine written and recorded ditty. It starts all wistful and Bright Eyed then morphs into blissed-up afrofunk, a body-popping tropical disco outro that opens up the claustrophobia of lockdown, if only for a breath or two. This is classic LAB, inventive and playful. [OPF]

Isis Moray - The Mirror

Stepping away from hard techno and into a much more ambient style, 'The Mirror' is a song about having the courage in a relationship to see yourself through another. The track certainly has a reflective atmosphere. Jade Lauren's beautifully haunting vocals build through simple and effective melodies into a tranquil and hypnotic dance track. [CB]

Superneutral - Lothario Scenario

This skronk classic is more spectacular trumpet than flower: a psychedelic fairground ride which leaves you dizzy and nauseous and wildly elated, a fragmented fever dream in which an acid-baked Tom Waits imbibes a quart of Reveille-era Deerhoof before rambling situationist oddities in the vocal style of the super-intelligent gremlin from Gremlins 2. If this is lockdown poetry we need to invent more paper aeroplanes. [CJA]

Yusuf Yellow - Growth of the Flower

The first single from upcoming EP the yellow tape. Emotive and reflective lyrics flow through mellow hip-hip vibes. The instruments on this track are truly beautiful. Muffled drums, subtle bass, jazz piano motifs and a sparse punctuation of saxophone stage the perfect backdrop to Yusuf's poetry. [CB]

Ekialde Lendakari - Remember

Enigmatic ukulele folk guru Ekialde Lendakari penned this home-recorded song for PROLE JAZZ's debut collection of Lockdown Anthems. It's a multilingual sonic treat, a nostalgic ode to pre-quarantine life, to drinking with friends, to the warmth of social proximity. Ekialde conjures a stone-cold classic from his isolation, creating poetry from distance and a great tune that captures the mood of these strange days. [OPF]

Naguals - Hypochondria

Angsty post-punk garage outfit Naguals have released the perfect track to contemplate your disease status to. An impending sense of doom gradually leads to a crescendo of Middle Eastern-tinged reverberating guitar melodies. Bang your head to this to help to build your resilience. [CB]

Rosey PM - Quarantini

Successfully transcending the restrictions of lockdown, Quarantini is the result of an online collaboration with Jackie Moonbather. This is truly classic pyjama-jazz dream pop. Rosey's contemplative and charming lyrics are delicately sung over Jackie's characteristically distorted neo-jazz style, dissolving into an amusingly unsettling cameo from the man himself. [CB]

We Never Know - Oren Dji

Oren Dji's captivating voice carries this lilting poem of a song across a brittle landcape of gently picked ukulele. Her songbird vocal sways like a willow above a glittering stream, drawing a wry lament on the impossibility of knowing what comes next in our lives. She describes the glowing possibilities inherent in the uncertainty of our future days, the fear-root of hopes and dreams, the beauty and freedom of change. [HE]

DIMITRI - Moto Neofotosis (Natural Human Video Edit)

This track originates from the EP Adverts, Love Songs & Official Soundtracks, released last year, but it always needed a video. A traumatic love song like this can only truly be appreciated with a one-shot lingering showcase of the height of 1980s eyewear. Be prepared for emotions to flow through involuntary fist grabs. [CB]

Now that's what I call Quarantine Vol. 1: Lockdown Anthems and Now That's What I Call Quarantine Vol. 2: Sounds of Isolation are available now on Bandcamp.

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