Major label’s aren’t necessarily on my musical radar, so it was only by chance that I found about the new project by Moritz von Oswald (hat tip to Matthias!) In recent years, the dub techno veteran was involved in several collaborations, ranging from rather unlikely reworks of classical material to his fairly recent album with Juan Atkins. For his latest record, he teamed up with Norwegian jazz trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer and the project was released on Universal earlier this month.
A few minutes into my first listen, and my mind already plays an updated version of Louie Malle’s 1958 movie Ascenseur pour l’échafaud, based in the cold concrete landscape of 21st century Berlin. The comparison is as simple and obvious as it might sound: Molvaer’s playing is taking the part of the original Miles Davis soundtrack, while von Oswald’s doings add a sense of reverbing urban night life. That said, one might argue whether the record would’ve worked better as an actual soundtrack, but in the end that depends on your listening habits or your willingness to submit yourself to an album of one kind of sound. To make up your mind, head over to German website Die Zeit for a full album stream.
1/1 was released earlier this month and is available on vinyl, CD and digital.
There were many rumors about the new Jazzanova album weeks prior to its anticipated release. Six years after their debut In Between, the founders of Berlin’s Sonar Kollektiv would deliver a new album, produced and recorded like it’s the 1960s again. However, not everybody seemed to have welcomed that idea, some forums reacted fairly sceptical about it, pushing Jazzanova next to Amy Winehouse. Me in contrast, I was very excited and welcomed that approach.
Maybe all those rumours and previews from the last weeks made me hope for an uplifting soul album, from start to finish. The first three tracks supported that hope, but what followed was going into various directions. So it’s not exactly a concept albums in my book.01. Look What You’re Doin’ To Me (feat. Phonte)
02. Let Me Show Ya (feat. Paul Randolph)
03. I Can See (feat. Ben Westbeech)
04. Lie (feat. Thief)
05. Little Bird (feat. José James)
06. Rockin’ You Eternally (feat. Leon Ware & Dwele)
07. So Far From Home (feat. Phonte)
08. What Do You Want? (feat. Joe Dukie)
09. Lucky Girl (feat. Paul Randolph)
10. Gafiera (feat. Azymuth & Pedro Martins)
11. Morning Scapes (feat. Bembe Segue)
12. Dial A Cliché (feat. Paul Randolph)
13. Let Me Show Ya (feat. Paul Randolph – Henrik Schwarz remix)
The opener was one of the first tunes playing on various podcasts, Phonte of Little Brother scoring with his smooth soulful vocals on Look What You’re Doin’ To Me. Up next is Detroit’s Paul Randolph, who also contributes the vocals on two more tracks. I must say, though Let Me Show Ya is a tight tracks, it is also very mainstream-accessible. But it doesn’t hurt at all. Ben Westbeech raises the bar with his superb vocals on I Can See, a very joyful soul/beat track.
At this point I loved the album already, with two tracks having conquered my heart. Unfortunately the album can’t or doesn’t want to keep up with that. Thief fails on adding something to the track Lie, his vocals are simply too fragile – which I noticed from his live-performances earlier. With José James next in the cue, I thought there is nothing to worry about. But it was before Dwele and Leon Ware on Rockin’ You Eternally, the album’s next quality track. Followed by the second track with Phonte, rapping this time: So Far From Home, a funky hip hop track that would’ve worked equally as a soul number.
Well, I decided not to make a final verdict on the album yet, so I won’t give you a full review – it want to be fair and give it more time. From the remaining tracks, the Azymuth and the Bembe Segue tracks were stand out. Jazzanova will surely get the deserved attention, especially with Universal/Verve behind them. It should find a wide audience and will could well be remembered as their best album yet. However, there remains a small disappointment for myself, I want more of those retro-soul tunes!
Oh, Jazzanova also have a new website, much inspired by the Of All The Things album cover. There you will find additional information or simply buy the album. It’s supposed to be available in multiple editions, the review was for the Japanese Edition, it has the Henrik Schwarz remix of Let Me Show Ya as bonus track. The release-dates of the album differ immensely, here’s what I found out:
Oct 15, 2008 – Japan
Oct 21, 2008 – USA
Oct 24, 2008 – Austria, Germany, Switzerland
Oct 27, 2008 – France, Greecy
Oct 28, 2008 – Spain
Oct 31, 2008 – Netherlands
Nov 10, 2008 – Portugal
Jan 2009 – United Kingdom
As mentioned above, the album can be ordered from Juno or JazzEcho, but it should also be available on iTunes soon!