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The CHIRP Blog

Entries categorized as “Album Reviews” 33 results

DJ Mick writesCritical Rotation: “Miles” by Blu & Exile

Twice a month, CHIRP DJ and Features Co-Director Mick takes a deep dive into two albums currently in rotation on CHIRP's charts that he thinks are worth some special attention. If you haven't given these albums a listen in their entirety, let Mick make the case for why you should!

Blu & Exile
Miles
Dirty Science

Blu & Exile are the names of the LA hip-hop artists whose collaboration makes the uplifting, jazz-rap, throwback Miles possible, but the combination of their names could just as soon by a statement of purpose.

On the duo's first album since 2012's Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them reflects on the ways that life and death, living and not quite thriving, expectations and practicalities, projections and rebukes, and legacy and liberty intersect in the day to day life of a man of color in the United States.

All the while, using the many shades that the color blue as a symbolic filter for the ambivalence and triumph of being. Exile for his part constructs lush, living soundscapes of hybrid jazz and R'nB that sound both immediate and simultaneously distant, unmoored from time but steeped in history.

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DJ Mick writesCritical Rotation: “To Know Without Knowing” by Mulatu Astatke & Black Jesus Experience

Twice a month, CHIRP DJ and Features Co-Director Mick takes a deep dive into two albums currently in rotation on CHIRP's charts that he thinks are worth some special attention. If you haven't given these albums a listen in their entirety, let Mick make the case for why you should!

Mulatu Astatke & Black Jesus Experience
To Know Without Knowing
Agogo

There are too few words in the English language to convey the serious and profound impact which Mulatu Astatke has had on the worlds of popular music and jazz.

Born in Ethiopia but trained musically in the far off lands of London and Boston, Astatke famously saw the commonalities and dovetailing sonic contours of American jazz, Latin rhythms, and traditional Ethiopian music and was able to translate his bold experiments into exciting, and popular, forms back in his home country.

He is widely credited as the father of Ethio-Jazz, a genre he guided and crafting it during its “Golden Era” of the early 1970s. Unfortunately, his mixing of western and African influences was repressed by the government soon after it emerged, causing his legacy and the legacy of similarly visionary artists like Mahmoud Ahmed to become uncertain to say the least.

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DJ Mick writesCritical Rotation: “Tour Beats Vol. 1” by Anteloper

Twice a month, CHIRP DJ and Features Co-Director Mick takes a deep dive into two albums currently in rotation on CHIRP's charts that he thinks are worth some special attention. If you haven't given these albums a listen in their entirety, let Mick make the case for why you should!

Anteloper
Tour Beats Vol. 1
AInternational Anthem

Releases made exclusively for tours were at one point a novel concept, then a necessity, and now seemingly a quirk of the recent past. With no one touring we have seen a steady declassification of releases once only meant for archives and merch tables.

Most of these “exclusive albums” are underwhelming and were probably better left in the vault, but there are gems to be found amongst the raft of recent Bandcamp rough. One such notable is Tour Beats Vol.1 from Anteloper.

Tour Beats is the product of a month-long residency by the Red Hook native and trumpeter Jamie Branch at the studio of the Brooklyn-based community center, Pioneer Works back in 2018. Anteloper as a band began when Branch invited drummer Jason Nazary to join her in utilizing the recording space, a converted shipping container, to improvise a sound collage with her.

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DJ Mick writesCritical Rotation: “Keleketla!” by Keleketla!

Twice a month, CHIRP DJ and Features Co-Director Mick takes a deep dive into two albums currently in rotation on CHIRP's charts that he thinks are worth some special attention. If you haven't given these albums a listen in their entirety, let Mick make the case for why you should!

Keleketla!
Keleketla!
Ahead of Our Time

Keleketla! isn’t so much a band as a community. The debut, self-titled album represents a collaboration between performers from around the world’s many jazz, funk, soul and dance variants, combining the thick, slapping rhythm of the late Tony Allen, the afro-fusion foundationalism of Afla Sacke, and the trailblazing electronics of founding members, Coldcut, among many others, to envision a world beyond conflict and without suffering and want.

The album takes its name from a Sepedi phrase (one of 11[!] languages spoken in South Africa) and storytelling tradition of call and response, wherein the audience calls out keleketla! to indicate that they are prepared to listen.

The project blossomed out of the efforts of the Keleketla! Library in Johannesburg, an independent media arts organization that has been working since 2008 to preserve African culture through film, literature, and the visual arts, as well as less defined forms, while encouraging the progressive engagement with these traditions by new artists.

Through the Library’s work with the British non-profit In Place of War, an organization who seek to promote peace and positive change through creative expression, and the team of Ninja Tunes, the project grew to signify a global collaborative exercise in human solidarity, with recording sessions capturing performances in both South Africa and London.

There is no predicting what can be made possible when like minds meet, and Keleketla! is a testament to this fact.

The first track, "Future Toyi Toyi" centers the solidarity efforts of the album, named for an anti-apartheid chant, and recorded in Khayelitsha, West Cape, South Africa, it melds hip-hop with afro-beat, running in tandem with forceful vocal performances contributed by the Cape Town activist group Soundz.

A weaving synth line that winds through "Future Toyi Toyi" like silk around a spinning needle, while scissoring guitar flourishes cut through the fog of tension created by the songs layered presentation to clear a path for the listener to navigate their way through to the gratifying afro-funk of “International Love Affair,” where Brooklyn’s Antibalas step up the grooves, filling the air with warm, gusts of summery street-faire energy.

The heavy bass, free-fire synths, and brassy interjections of “Freedom Groove” give the track a sense of urgency in order to platform the peace-seeking aphorisms of The Watts Prophets, and was built from the bones of an impromptu jam session between Tony Allen and Coldcut’s Matt Black.

There are some weighty ideas dropped in the listener’s lap on Keleketla!, but if things ever get to hot, there is always the cool, graceful, glide of “Broken Light” soul-searching mellifluent, and the elegant, sweeping fusion of “Swift Gathering.”

Keleketla! is an ambitious project that largely succeeds in its efforts to demonstrate the malleability of culture and the universality of the human experience and desire for freedom. A percentage of each sale of the album will go to the non-profit In Place of War.

To learn more about Keleketla! and the story behind the album, you can check out the documentary produced for the album below. 

Mick is always writing about something he's heard. Possibly even something you'd like. You can read his stuff over at the I Thought I Heard a Sound blog.

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DJ Mick writesCritical Rotation: “APKÁ!” by Céu

Twice a month, CHIRP DJ and Features Co-Director Mick takes a deep dive into two albums currently in rotation on CHIRP's charts that he thinks are worth some special attention. If you haven't given these albums a listen in their entirety, let Mick make the case for why you should!

Céu
APKÁ!
Six Degrees

With a youthful interjection ringing out across the firmament, the clouds have once again parted, and the soft pater of dream-weaving synths have come doting your windowsill in a freckle of neon, tear-drop-shaped pigments, refracting an inpouring of sunshine, and filling your bedroom with a bloom of rainbow spender.

What could such a delightful display herald? Why, nothing short of the fifth album from the sky-lark herself, Brazilian singer and songwriter Céu, delightfully titled APKÁ!

Céu’s latest album is named for an expression often remarked by her one-year-old son. APKÁ! is apparently heard in her home whenever her son hits a certain point of satiation, either following a meal or while playing a game.

A sentiment that overlaps quite well with the moods and sounds presented on her latest album. Working with the same production team as her previous release, 2016’s Tropix, Céu continues her exploration of minimalist synth-pop and dance, wandering even farther afield of the Lauryn Hill-esque, shy-girl soul that caused her to become a ubiquitous presence at Starbucks outlets in the ‘00s.

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