Three Record Reviews – Fela Kuti, Tarwater, Split Ambient

Fela Kuti – Remastered Box Set

a621f22cFela Kuti may be the most groundbreaking musical artist of the last half-century. Fusing already canonized forms such as jazz, funk, psychedelic rock and traditional chants, Kuti not only created the genre afro-beat, but he delivered those sounds to a world that was, up to that point, largely willing to ignore such innovations.

Ignore these beats, no more. During the 1970’s, Kuti crafted more than a dozen memorable albums, from the eclectic “Shakara” in 1972 to the more political and controversial, “Zombie” five years later. Each brings a slice of Kuti’s signature sound and ideals to vibrant life. Already staple recordings for any serious collector, now the bulk of Kuti’s album catalog is being re-issued by The Knitting Factory in a series of box-sets. The first release was “curated” by hip-hop impresario, ?uestlove, the second by Ginger Baker. The third, most current, has been brought out by luminary producer and musician, Brian Eno. The aforementioned records are part of Eno’s contribution, in addition to five others. The fascination with Fela’s music is endless and whether this is your first dip, or one to serve as a reminder, the time is now to indulge where the ground was broken.

To get your hands on one of these rare, dynamic albums, check out The Knitting Factory site. Be warned though, production was limited to 2,000 total pieces.

Tarwater – Adrift

BB183_TARWATER_adrift_RGBConfession, I had never heard German, post-rock duo Tarwater before venturing down the rabbit hole that is Adrift, their tenth album and first in the last three years. After just a few bars off the opening track “The Tape” though I was hopelessly hooked, whether by the bleak undertones, the delightful poly-rhythmic constructions, or the austere, Ian Curtis styled vocals, I’m not quite certain.

Bernd Jestram and Ronald Lippock are the Berlin-based artists responsible for these lovely, one-of-a-kind compositions. My challenge with the record (if you can call this a genuine challenge) was with its flow. Each song is so unique, filled with an enigma worthy of singular exploration. I kept wanting to go back, listen again (like I did, over and over, with “Ray”, “Rice And Fish” and “They Told Me In The Alley”) consider and repeat.

My advice? Listen when you have the space.

You can find out more about Tarwater here, at their website.

Aires/Rui P. Arande/Earthly Beasts – Split EP

a1136238030_10The minimalist, ambient music scene is alive and apparently quite well in Portugal, especially when viewed through the work, Rui P. Arande. He brings copious talent (in addition to being an ambient artist, he also contributes to noise/black metal band Ecos) to a three track, split release with Aires, produced by Earthly Beasts.

The first track, provided by Aries, “Soviet Cosmos In Favilla” opens with a series of discordant mechanized sounds, arranged like chimes, out of which build a slow series of down keys. Arande is next with the arresting “Turdus Merula” the longest and sparsest of all songs.The culmination provides a similar mood, introspective, perhaps a little dreary, perfect for long shadowed afternoons and cool evenings.

This album is available for free here . You can read more about these artists on the label site.