Stuart McCallum — City (28 August 2015) Ξ★ “City stranou, máme tu album City”. Hodně z toho, co projde pro progresivní rozhlasové programování, ať už je to tradičně živě do éteru nebo do internetových stanic, bylo zatlačeno do žánrových ghett nejen v poslední době. Nahrávky můžou být považované za grandiózní v rámci určité scény ale neviditelné pro 99,9% široširého světa. Dokonce i v Evropě, kde žánrově omezené formáty, běžné v USA, už nepovažují dramaturgové za vhodné teprve relativně nedávno. Je to pocit, jako by něco, co se nehodí k mainstream popu (hlavnímu proudu) a co se vymýkalo šabloně zkorumpovaných tupých hlav, vyhodilo někam na dobytčí farmy, ven — na okraj lidské společnosti. A tak tedy to, co nedokončil Hitler, úspěšně zdokonalují ředitelé většiny rádií po celé zeměkouli.
Ξ★ Tais Awards Academy naštěstí není závislá na názorech chobotnic. Máme tady album s výhodným a komfortním nadhledem ze svobodného světa. A tak třeba Sharlene Hector, zpívající ve třetí kompozici North Star, ukazuje vzorovou ukázku, jak vypadá svobodné vysílání Rádia Tais. Album odráží atmosféru rušné metropole, když se probouzí v časných ranních hodinách. Stuartovy soundscapes zapadají do duality, protože vytváří pocit ospalosti, pro někoho, kdo spí občas pod širákem, možná i pocit dobrodružství. Stejně jako práce pro The Cinematic Orchestra, jeho stopy vyvolávají obrázky vhodné pro představivost, hudba má téměř filmový rytmus a je více než vhodným materiálem pro soundtrack, pro jakoukoli nabídku filmové produkce. Pouze tři skladby z osmi (City, North Star a Said and Done) obsahují vokál, kde každý z povolaných nabízí svůj vlastní osobitý styl: JP Cooper oduševnělý noise, Fridolijn Van Poll je úplně jiná, přizpůsobuje se snové kompozici. Sophie Barker netradičními tóny a vzájemnými kombinacemi svádí posluchače až k opojení. Jako zázrakem se to všechno vejde do tohoto mixu zvuků a ještě zvedají vysokou úroveň této eklektické, přesto delikátní paraboly. Richard Spaven je od tohoto alba mým oblíbeným bubeníkem. Takový jemný a podmanivý zvuk uslyšíš pouze od vnitřně svobodného společenství lidí. © Sophie Barker, Goodwood Festival, TC.
Location: Manchester, England, United Kingdom
Album release: 28 August 2015
Record Album: Naim Jazz
1 City 4:52
2 Inhale 3:54
3 North Star 5:11
4 T–Onics 3:48
5 Effergy 5:41
6 Trio Seven 5:54
7 Mk II 4:41
8 Said and Done 4:57
Ξ★ Stuart McCallum: guitars;
Ξ★ Robin Mullarkey: bass;
Ξ★ Sean Foran: rhodes;
Ξ★ Richard Spaven: drums, synths & electronics;
Ξ★ Emma Sweeney: violin (track 6);
Ξ★ JP Cooper: vocals (track 1);
Ξ★ Sharlene Hector: vocals (track 3);
Ξ★ Fridolijn Van Poll: vocals (track 5);
Ξ★ Sophie Barker: vocals (track 8).
Ξ★ Produced by Richard SpavenReview
John Lewis, Thursday 10 September 2015 19.00 BST; Score: ★★★
Ξ★ This Manchester guitarist is best known for his work in the Cinematic Orchestra, and his solo albums occupy a similar space between modal jazz, funk and electronica. His fourth LP, exploring notions of urban space, is written with drummer and producer Richard Spaven, and features several guest singers.
Ξ★ Fridolijn van Poll contributes to the flamenco–tinged Effergy; Zero 7’s Sophie Barker sighs over the wayward beats of Said and Done; Basement Jaxx’s Sharlene Hector provides the harmonised voices for the lovely North Star; while the title track is based around cut–up fragments of JP Cooper.
Ξ★ The best tracks, however, are instrumentals. On T–Onics and Trio Seven, McCallum plays Davy Graham–style clawhammer acoustic guitar over sliced–up breakbeats, while tracks Inhale and Mk II see him providing strong, bucolic melodies that recall Pat Metheny. McCallum contributes a few highly chromatic solos, with a pleasing Grant Green tone, but seems happier blending into the background of his ominous urban soundscapes. Ξ★ http://www.theguardian.com/Review
By PHIL BARNES, Published: September 8, 2015 | Score: ★★★★
Ξ★ Much of what passes for progressive radio programming, whether that be traditional live to air or internet stations, has been pushed into genre ghettos in recent times—where a record can be enormous within a particular scene but invisible to 99.9% of the world at large. Even in Europe, where the genre constrained formats common in the USA didn’t take hold until relatively recently, it feels as if anything that does not fit a mainstream pop template has been farmed out to the margins. Genre should be no more than a shorthand, a way of quickly describing the feel of a piece of music, instead it is the fence erected by the conservative both inside and outside of a particular scene to preserve the purity of their world view — music being criticised for the ways that it does not fit a pre–conceived paradigm rather than being appreciated for what it is. What is there to stop us from listening to Public Image Ltd, next to Vijay Iyer, or Matthew Halsall next to the Pop Group and Bilal after all? Given the open mindedness of its key practitioners, it is strange that jazz suffers more than most from this nonsense — far too many want a piece of music to be played on instruments available in 1958, reference the work of the greats or be written by Rodgers and Hart or Jerome Kern before they will accept it as jazz. Ξ★ In this climate I fear for musicians like Stuart McCallum. His visual music, as befits a mainstay of the Cinematic Orchestra, treads a different path to the more usual blues rock and classically derived jazz by acknowledging the last 25 years of electronic music in terms of both sound and texture. So opener and title track "City" begins atmospherically with a fragmented sample of vocalist JP Cooper that feels like a jazz coda to Goldie's "Inner City Life" from 1995. McCallum’s track develops rapidly, like a late night cab ride through the neon of New York or Tokyo, fragments of the vocal being gradually revealed as if emanating from a car in a queue on a parallel lane that we move away from and closer to as the streams of traffic combine at different speeds. While McCallum’s guitar betrays the jazz background, the electronics work like the sort of modernist architecture that grafts the new onto the old to create something modern but with links to the worthwhile qualities of the past. If the album were a city it would be Berlin — new and old co–existing to face the future rather than perpetual return to the battles of the past.
Ξ★ Significant in this approach is the contribution of London based producer and drummer Flying Lotus live: Dorian Concept and Richard Spaven who co–writes all except the title track and produced the album, the latter being best appreciated on Naim's 24 bit FLAC version. Spaven has played with a veritable who’s who of artists at the boundaries of jazz, soul and downtempo electronica such as 4hero, Jose James and Flying Lotus. So a track like "Said and Done," featuring Zero 7 vocalist and songwriter Sophie Barker, combines McCallum’s arpeggiated guitars with vocal effects that give the track a, more mannered, mid–eighties Cocteau Twins feel before the breakbeats and phasing take over in the final section. It’s a way of blending styles, very much in keeping with club culture past, that is extremely effective — you can listen to the album on different levels and gain a subtly different experience each time. There is something of the Cocteau Twins in the ambience of "Effergy" too in a piece that balances sub bass, McCallum’s acoustic guitar lines and Fridolijn Van Poll’s ethereal vocal textures, yet there are also nods to nineties downtempo electronica in, for example, "T–Onics" which has the warmth of Air’s "Moon Safari" reimagined with jazz guitar as lead instrument.
Ξ★ The question for the listener is how much does it matter that this album does not sit comfortably in a single genre box. If you cannot countenance drum and bass or downtempo electronica, however melodic and well put together, then this is not going to be for you. If you will struggle with classic soul textures like the gorgeous synth reminiscent of Rose Royce's "Wishing on a Star" underneath the guitar and electronica on "Mk II" then I fear that you may also turn away from this collection. But if you allow this excellent album to fall between the broad genre preferences in your collection, that would be a mistake. Jazz musicians soak up influences from all of the music that interests them — part of the thrill of the music is how this comes out in their playing, blending and making sense of the apparently incongruous. Stuart McCallum has made an accessible, melodic album that deserves to be widely heard and appreciated, not ignored due to an artificially constructed genre ghetto. Highly recommended. Ξ★ http://www.allaboutjazz.com/
Website: http://stuartmccallum.com/ / http://www.fridolijn.com/ / http://www.sophiebarker.com/
Label: http://www.naimlabel.com/ © Photo credit: Peter Lodder / Fridolijn Van Poll
Biography / Press:
Ξ★ The beautiful ambient–electronica–jazz soundscape City is the new album from Manchester guitarist and composer Stuart McCallum and his second studio album for Naim. City features a handful of seasoned musicians including McCallum on guitars, Robin Mullarkey, bass (ESKA, Roisin Murphy), Sean Foran (Trichotomy), Rhodes and Richard Spaven (Flying Lotus, José James) drums, synths and electronics. Violinist Emma Sweeney guests on one track, Trio Seven. The album also features guest vocalists on four tracks, JP Cooper (newly signed to Island Records), Sharlene Hector (Basement Jaxx), Fridolijn Van Poll and Sophie Barker (Zero 7).
Ξ★ For his new album, City, McCallum steps even further into the world of electronica, whilst still maintaining that magical combination of both acoustic and electronic instruments that gives his music such a distinctive sound. However, two things make City stand out from his previous work. First, the addition of vocals and second, the decision to bring in London based drummer and producer, Richard Spaven, who he met during his time playing with Cinematic Orchestra, not only to perform, but to co–write and produce the album (all tracks are co–written by McCallum and Spaven apart from City).
Ξ★ Key tracks on the album include the evocative City; sampled extracts of JP Cooper’s ‘Something You Can’t Have’ play like glimpses of a city snatched from a car window. North Star, featuring Sharlene Hector, was written the old fashioned way, after studio computers decided to take an unscheduled rest. Effergy is simply sublime, an ambient meditation with McCallum’s guitar hinting at something darker beneath the surface, with haunting vocal textures by Fridolijn Van Poll, while Said and Done features the otherworldly vocals of Zero 7′s Sophie Barker.
Ξ★ Stuart McCallum‘s music has always thrived in that beautiful space where genres blur. With a wide range of influences from Machinedrum, Lau and Martin Simpson to Debussy, Taylor McFerrin and Burial, it’s not difficult to see how this has come about. His 2011 Naim debut, Distilled, was a series of beautiful instrumental soundscapes and glorious melodies that owed as much to dance music as it did to jazz. Since then he has been busy with a wide range of other projects, including several collaborations with British artist Linder, scoring music for the Northern Ballet and working in an acoustic duo setting with Mike Walker.
Ξ★ From jazz beginnings to DJ culture, Stuart McCallum’s music is ‘alternative jazz’ — a distillation of influences, creating a sound that is concentrated and distinctive. Not wanting to hide behind over complicated harmonic and rhythmical structures, angular and forgettable melodies, Stuart’s music is a new hybrid of composition, production and performance. It embraces simple, memorable melodies, bass lines and drum beats, with electronica and improvisation enriched by elegant orchestral writing.
Ξ★ Stuart has a wealth of experience in many different musical environments and genres. After being invited to join the Cinematic Orchestra in 2004, Stuart has performed on and contributed to the writing of the band’s critically acclaimed albums, ‘Ma Fleur’ and ‘Live At The Royal Albert Hall’. In addition he has contributed to the award winning Disney nature documentary soundtrack, ‘The Crimson Wing’, and the remix of Radiohead’s ‘Exit Music For A Film’ for Radiohead’s remix compilation album, ‘Exit Music: Songs For Radio Heads’. Memorable performances with the band include The Royal Albert Hall with the Heritage Orchestra and The London Metropolitan Orchestra, headlining The Big Chill in the UK, and playing at Montreal Jazz Festival and Coachella festival in Palm Springs.
Ξ★ In 2007 Stuart was invited to take part in the PRSF artist development scheme ‘Take Five’. A week of workshops with legendary UK saxophonist, John Surman, lead to Stuart being commissioned by Manchester Jazz Festival to write a suite of music to be performed by John and Stuart and a 10 piece chamber ensemble. The suite was performed in the beautiful setting of St Annes Church in Manchester’s City Centre and was acclaimed by both audience and critics. Stuart wrote a new suite of music for Manchester Jazz Festival in 2010, this time for a solo set which was performed live on BBC Radio 3′s flagship jazz show ’Jazz On 3′. The music was so well received by the show that it was included in its ’Best Of 2010′ review show.
Ξ★ As well as John Surman, Stuart has also performed and recorded with some of the most prominent jazz artists of today, including Kenny Wheeler, Mike Gibbs, Gwilym Simcock, Tim Garland, Laurent Robin and Laurent De Wilde.
Ξ★ “The music suggests the feel of the Cinematic Orchestra, Brian Eno and In a Silent Way–era Miles Davis” — The Guardian, UK
Ξ★ “Guitarist Stuart McCallum’s compositions are exemplary of everything that is exciting about new British jazz.” — Jazzwise, UK
Ξ★ “Simple, understated and hypnotic he had the audience locked in and silent… Living proof that less is more.” — Jez Nelson, Jazz on 3, BBC Radio 3 © Stuart McCallum