Adrian Younge- “Something About II” Review

Adrian Younge often gets the “Blaxploitation film soundtrack” label thrown at him, which is ultimately fair considering he did do the soundtrack for the Blaxploitation movie “Black Dynamite” in 2009. However, to me, Adrian’s music usually calls back to old grainy Italian film soundtracks with a touch of 70’s soul music on top. It sounds like if Ennio Morricone started listening to a lot of Curtis Mayfield. (This is even said by Adrian himself in a great episode of Crate Diggers that gives a lot of insight as to where he’s coming from with his music.) Either way though, Adrian always comes through with really cool projects, and this sequel to 2011’s “Something About April” is no different.

This isn’t a sequel in name only though, as the aesthetic and production styles are pretty much exactly the same. Like I said above, it invokes old film soundtracks in mood and sound. It really sounds like it came straight from some grainy 70’s movie. The production is rough, with the drums booming through the mix and really sounding like they’re being played right in front of you, and the playing is appropriately loose. It’s all pretty unkempt and gritty despite the arrangements, featuring horns, pianos, harpsichords, and guitars, being so pretty. “April Sonata” is a dreary piano led piece that invokes a rainy day, “Memories of War” is pained ballad, and “La Ballade” features gorgeous shots of what sounds like organ. The album is a jubilee of all kinds of instruments, and the compositions are routinely impressive, so it all adds up to give you nice songs to go along with the awesome aesthetic. This is also thanks in no small part to the singers, like Bilal, Laetitia Sadier, and Loren Oden, who provide great performances throughout.

“Something About April II” sets out for a very specific sound and reaches it with flying colors. If any of these descriptions sound cool to you, then this album will not disappoint because it simply accomplishes its goal so well.

 

4 stars

Standout Tracks: “Sittin’ by the Radio” “Sandrine” “La Ballade” “April Sonata”

 

 

Otacílio Melgaço- “Brutalism” Review

Brutalist architecture is a style that was popular in the 1950’s, 60’s, and mid 70’s, and is typified by giant, fortress like buildings (usually for governmental institutions), that are jagged and futuristic in design. This avant garde jazz and drone album reflects that pretty well.

This thing, like that architectural style, is disparate, and again, jagged, made out of several moving parts at once. The opening and title track is sixteen minutes long, and made out of weeping strings and wild drums that have this echo on them, so everything builds on itself and becomes pretty cacophonous. Most of this album follows a similar formula, in that the drums are echoed on themselves, and disparate elements are added on top, and everything drones along in its jagged mess. But while it definitely sounds jagged and messy, that’s the point, and surprisingly, things never get boring and I never got impatient despite these songs lacking in all melody and structure. It’s also something that can be enjoyed intently, but also in the background as things rarely get overwhelming. (Except for parts of the second track which get a little noisy.)

This thing set out a goal, which was to sound like brutalist architecture looks, and it accomplished. Its jagged nature is interesting, as are the well-produced sounds it mines up. (Especially the drums.) It’s not going to blow you away, but if an avant garde jazz album inspired by 1950’s architecture sounds like a cool idea to you, check it out, it’s harmless.

3 stars

 

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