Grammy Award-winning gospel and CCM singer Israel Houghton and his group New Breed deliver the second installment in their Alive series of concert albums with Covered: Alive in Asia. Recorded during an extensive 2014 tour of Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Singapore, and other Asian nations, Israel & New Breed offer up a passionate, high-energy worship spectacle that features guests like BJ Putnam, Tye Tribbett, and Yolanda Adams. The album arrives ten years after the group's acclaimed Alive in South Africa concert album.
In 2001, Ekkehard Ehlers released a compositional cycle of abstract tributes to artistic personalities. Released as a string of five EPs and singles on Staubgold and Bottrop-Boy throughout 2001 and early 2002, they were later culled and issued by Staubgold as Ekkehard Ehlers Plays in May of that year. The album comprises ten tracks, two per artist. Ehlers' music never references the works of its namesakes.
Instead it draws inspiration from a certain state that the music of Cornelius Cardew, Albert Ayler, and Robert Johnson, the films of John Cassavetes, and the writings of Hubert Fichte create in Ehlers' mind. Although each set has its own character, associating it with the corresponding artist simply doesn't work -- and to add to the intentional confusion, the order in which the EPs' titles are listed on the front cover and the actual track list given in the booklet differ. Ehlers' music draws on German experimental ambient and minimal techno, but also post-rock melancholy and drone-based improvisation. The best pieces are the two "Ekkehard Ehlers Plays Albert Ayler" tracks, featuring slow cello notes (almost drones) by Anka Hirsch. They sound like funeral marches. The two "Ekkehard Ehlers Plays Hubert Fichte" tracks, with delicate guitar work by Joseph Suchy, also captivate. On the other hand, the dancefloor-friendly beat in the concluding "Ekkehard Ehlers Plays Robert Johnson" brings things to an awkward end.
This album generates its own universe of cultural references but, beyond its conceptual side, it draws the listener into a highly introspective sound world, slow-changing and mesmerizing. It eschews the clichés of clicks + cuts, microsound, or any other trend rooted in experimental electronica at the time, making it definitely one of the strongest, most personal artistic statements of 2002. Highly recommended.
Michio Kurihara's sublime solo debut is an impressionist concept record that refracts the golden radiance of the magic hour, its nine songs drawing inspiration from nine different sunsets spanning across the calendar year. A largely instrumental effort, Sunset Notes is foremost a showcase for Kurihara's remarkable guitar work -- his leads soar like exotic birds in flight, brilliantly evoking the moods and colors of the solitary moments in time the songs capture.
This impressive, moody release from the nearly 20-year-old group Legendary Pink Dots starts assertively.
"Dissonance" earns its title from an over-modulated crunch of a rhythm married to a reverberated Western acoustic guitar rhythm. Over this, vocalist Edward Ka-Spel (now the Prophet Qa'Sepel) intones a surreal tale of incarceration for the criminal that does not harmonize with society. The harsh crunch continues on into an instrumental track, "Jasz," and its glimpses of shards broken from the sounds of piano and saxophone. Before pivoting into mostly more ambient and reflective pieces Legendary Pink Dots is known for, you are treated to the strongest track of this collection.
"As Long As It's Purple and Green" is a telling and lucid exploration of a psychotic's inner workings more recited (with a snarl) than sung over a breakbeat and loops similar to those in "Jasz." Again, the self-defined individual finds himself instantly cast out and confined from society at large. The ending is, of course, dissonant. Thus passing the storm, nine selections of Legendary meditation mixed with some upbeat numbers like more breakbeat and horn in "Zoo" and the heavy metal guitar in "Is It Something I Said?" follow. Of these, "Ghost" begins in the tranquility of an electric piano melody to breed the sanguine looped chant "blood on the door/blood on the stairs..." "A Sunset for a Swan" is perhaps the most quirky, sounding as it does like a New Orleans street band singing Syd Barrett poetry with electronica/carnival production.