Weekly Bits 22/2011

As we’ve lost one of the greatest, Gil Scott-Heron, many people dug out their favourite records and payed tribute. Check these from Gilles Peterson, Benji B, Twit One, Black Classical, Ennio Styles, DJ Mayhem, Cookin Soul, Melting Pot or the previously recommended JJ Smoking Sessions. There are probably 500 more of these, but maybe you should start buying his albums instead – if you don’t have them by now.

The city of Munich will host an exhibition on electronic pioneers Kraftwerk later this year in autumn. I’m particularly interested in its catalogue, Kraftwerk: 3D, which should make it to regular bookstores around the world.

FACT Magazine had quite some exciting album news this week, including Zomby’s Dedication, Silkie’s City Limits Vol. 2 and Björk’s iPad album. There were some links up for a stream of Zomby’s album, but they currently don’t seem to work

Frsh Slcts not only put up the second part of the Analogue Monsta Mix, you can also get a free Suzi Analogue EP from the same link.

More free music comes from Georgia Anne Muldrow, who gives away last year’s SomeOthaShip via Bandcamp

Aus Music’s Midland did an exclusive mixtape for URB Mag. So did Dego for W Hotels, but it’s kinda hard to find (click on Living Room, then switch to playlist mode.) Lastly, here is another Kutmah mix for the Sketchbook radio show.

Let’s go back to Gil Scott-Heron one more time: Ninja Mixdump just posted an old concert from 1977. You can listen to the stream on Mixcloud or find the download link over here.

Peace Go With You, Brother

Another legend has left us, but there’s hardly anyone I’m gonna miss more than Gil Scott-Heron. His work released in the seventies and the early eighties, Small Talk at 145th and Lenox, Pieces of a Man, Free Will, Reflections, Moving Target and especially the music he recorded with Brian Jackson are all essential.

Gil Scott-Heron © Charles Stewart

A recommended guide through his career is this issue of JJ’s Smoking Sessions, which not only showcases some of Gil’s stronges recordings, but which is also spiced up with samples from a 2004 documentary produced by the BBC.

Peace go with you, brother. Wherever you go. Rest in Peace!

Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie xx – We’re New Here

Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie xx - We're New Here

Cover Artwork

To the day a year ago, I didn’t show much love for the original album, I’m New Here, the first Gil Scott-Heron record in over a decade. And while my opinion remains unchanged, writing a bad review on one of my biggest heroes, left a bad after taste. But then again, I consider that review more as a guide to the good music Gil has recorded over the decades, mainly the late seventies and the early eighties.

However, lucky for me, this new album full of reworks by Jamie xx makes up for last year’s disappointment and gives me the chance to make with peace my conscience.01. I’m New Here
02. Home
03. I’ve Been Me (interlude)
04. Running
05. My Cloud
06. Certain Things (interlude)
07. The Crutch
08. Ur Soul & Mine
09. Parents (interlude)
10. Piano Player
11. NY Is Killing Me
12. Jazz (interlude)
13. I’ll Take Care Of U
My point of criticism back then was the attempt to package Gil’s lyrics into a modern world sound, for it failed by giving it the touch of records made more than 10 years ago. Jamie xx, however, seems like the perfect choice, the right man at the right time. Due to my lack of interest in bands like The xx, I was only recently introduced to his solo work, more dancefloor oriented music, somewhere between house and dubstep, with a touch of Joy Orbison, Ramadanman or James Blake. Arguably a modern sound.

The result is a forward thinking record, deep and playful, perfect headphone music. It works surprisingly well with Gil’s vocals, the very same I still criticized on the original, but they probably just needed the right context. Maintaining the overall sound scheme, Jamie xx made an album you can listen to in one flow, from start to finish, over and over again.

Longtime fans of Gil Scott-Heron might not approve of the record, but chances are they already felt the same about its predecessor. In his review for XLR8R, Michael Byrne mentions the lack Gil Scott-Heron’s persona on the record, something I agree with, but then I probably care more about the consistency of the finished work and leave aside questions about the artists original intent.

Limited Edition Vinyl Box Set

“We’re New Here” is available on CD, LP and digital, the vinyl included a free download of the MP3s (oddly enough with misspelled tags.) If you buy directly from the label, you can also get your hands on a limited edition boxset (pictured above) including CDs and heavyweight vinyl of both the album and its instrumental versions, as well as two photo prints.

May 30, 2011 Check this interview with Jamie xx in which he talks about working with Gil Scott-Heron, who sadly passed away this weekend

Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie xx – We’re New Here

While being a huge fan of Gil Scott-Heron, his latest album I’m New Here was one of my biggest disappointments this year. The “modern” approach ended up being a weak copy of Tricky’s output back in the nineties and the sad shape of Gil’s voice could not add anything good to that.

A year after the release, Jamie xx (of The xx) is coming up with his interpretations of 13 songs from the album. Judging from the track below, the outcome might actually be ahead of the original.

01. I’m New Here
02. Home
03. I’ve Been Me (Interlude)
04. Running
05. My Cloud
06. Certain Things (Interlude)
07. The Crutch
08. Ur Soul and Mine
09. Parents (Interlude)
10. Piano Player
11. NY Is Killing Me
12. Jazz (Interlude)
13. I’ll Take Care Of U

The remix album “We’re New Here” will be out on February 21st, 2011, coming in a vinyl box set, CD or digital download. Pre-order your copy now and get the track above today.

Feb 21, 2010 The album is out today and the whole product looks just fantastic, especially the vinyl box-set that comes with an extra LP with the instrumentals

Gil Scott-Heron – I’m New Here

Cover Artwork

It doesn’t happen often that I’m writing a bad review, and it’s kinda tragic that it happens, or has to happen, to one of my (if not the) greatest heroes: Gil Scott-Heron. I wasn’t too excited when I first heard the rumour of a new album, but then again I didn’t want to miss out on anything. And with one of my other heroes (actually a heroine) making a very respectable comeback last year, Grace Jones released her album Hurricane, I definitely wanted to give it a try.

In short, the album is the disappointment of the year for me. Sure, the year is still young and a lot can happen in the remaining 10 months, but maybe you understand my disappointment better if you know where my love for Gil Scott-Heron’s (old) music comes from.

Gil Scott-Heron found his way into my collection through a best-of compilation, which combined his first two studio albums, Pieces Of A Man and Free Will, the former being probably his best known record. Gil writes the most profound lyrics I have come across, combining socio-critical topics with his unique witty humour. While studying at Lincoln University, he met Brian Jackson with whom he soon started recording music. Scott-Heron’s lyrics and Jackson’s music soon proofed to be a match made in heaven. If Gil was the brain, Brian was the heart and the soul. Their collaboration lasted for about 10 years and in that time they recorded 9 albums together, the most important records Gil Scott-Heron has made to date.

Some years back, BBC4 produced the documentary Storm Music about the life of Gil Scott-Heron, interviewing many of his contemporaries. If you want to find out about Gil Scott-Heron, this is probably the best way to do so.01. On Coming From A Broken Home (part 1)
02. Me & The Devil
03. I’m New Here
04. Your Soul & Mine
05. Parents (interlude)
06. I’ll Take Care Of You
07. Being Blessed (interlude)
08. Where Did The Night Go
09. I Was Guided (interlude)
10. New York Is Killing Me
11. Certain Things (interlude)
12. Running
13. The Crutch
14. I’ve Been Me (interlude)
15. On Coming From A Broken Home (part 2)

There is no soul on “I’m New Here”, no jazz or funk, no groove! Someone at the label decided to give the music a modern touch, which could have worked – it has worked for others. Unfortunately, the music isn’t exactly modern, in its darkness it reminds me more of  what Tricky did – 10 years ago! I wonder what a legend the album could have been, if the likes of Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, ?uestlove or Kaidi Tatham had been involved. Apart from the music, one has to say that Scott-Heron isn’t a young rascal anymore and his tongue no longer the sharpest – his voice got all sore and rusty. One might find a hint for that on the (terrible) cover for the record, but having suffered from drug addiction and imprisonment, it’s maybe no suprise after all and in the eye of the beholder.

One has to have great respect for the fact XL Records‘ Richard Russell brought Gil back to the studio and ultimately to the minds of music lovers – new or old. Personally, I think publishing a book or a CD with poems would’ve been the better choice. But then again, there were quite many good reviews and Gilles Peterson even crowned it Album Of The Week a while back. I can’t shake off the feeling that some of them, especially the major publications, tried to make up ignoring Gil Scott-Heron’s music in the past, or actually awarded him for his lifetime achievement – not for the new album.

The good news for die hard fans is the vinyl version of the album, as it includes acoustic reinterpretations of some old material, including the classics “Winter In America” or “Home Is Where The Hatred Is”.

Bonus Tracks:
C1. Piano Player (intro)
C2. Home Is Where The Hatred Is
C3. Winter In America
D1. Jazz (interlude)
D2. Is That Jazz
D3. A Place To Go (interlude)
D4. My Cloud For those who are new to Gil Scott-Heron and don’t get “I’m New Here”, let me recommend you some gems. Basically, you should check out all his music released between 1970 and 1982. My personal favourites are 1980, Secrets and Bridges, but you should probably begin with Pieces Of A Man and Winter In America.

As for this record, you can get it on CD, double-LP or the digital release. The Japanese CD has two bonus tracks that are also featured on the vinyl.

Weekly Bits 2/2010

It’s been a while since the last weekly bits, but now that the new website is complete there should be more time for regular posts.

British duo Autechre are back with a new album. It’s their 10th already and it will be released in March on Warp Records. Titled “Oversteps”, it will be available as a deluxe vinyl edition designed by TDR among other formats. They have also announced a tour through Europe, kicking of on March 11.

Another legendary comeback this year is made by Gil Scott-Heron, whose new album I’m New Here will be released on February 8. You can already have a look at his new video for Me and The Devil.

BlastKid has posted a good read on European Jazz for the LaidBack blog. This is only an appetizer for his forthcoming radioshow, in which he will play the music mentioned.

Stuttgart’s Motor City Drum Ensemble has mixed the latest podcast for XLR8R, in which he plays lots of classic house tracks and a few new tunes as well.

You never go wrong paying Sonic Router a visit, but this week was truly exceptional. Following the Best of Ruffage Sessions came an exclusive mix from Blue Daisy, one of the most exciting names to look out for this year.

The Bleep store has announced a most compelling offer this week, for only 30 dollars/euros/pounds you can buy the Top 100 Tracks of 2009. Be quick, the offer is only valid for two weeks!

If you’re looking for some free music instead, have a look at these unreleased demos from Dwele.

From the previous week is the BBC Live Session from Four Tet. Comes with both audio and video.

Weekly Bits 23/2009

In the latest addition of the Six Million Steps podcast, you will experience one of the nicest selection of Gil Scott-Heron tunes, spiced up with bridges taken from interviews with the man and life companions. A recommended download!

Juan Atkins, Detroit innovator and The Teacher of Techno speaks to Clash Music about his beginnings in productions and his upcoming live shows with the Model 500 Band.

Another mixtape from Domu is available for download on the SpaceBass blog. A forty-five minutes selection of boogie and funk tunes.

Belgian blog Laid Back has a nice trailer of a documentary called Megunica. Director Lorenzo Fonda filmed street artist BLU, who let his travels through Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Argentina inspire his unique motion graffiti style.

Another visual treat can be found on this Flickr page, where classic record covers where overworked to resemble the look of vintage Penguin Books.