BADBADNOTGOOD — TALK MEMORY
Jazz, once a vibrant, countercultural, and avant-garde musical form, has sadly become codified, and often only rigid interpretations of what the genre “should ” sound like abound. The daring and experimental sound of composer Sun Ra and the musical prayer heard in John Coltrane’s tenor saxophone in A Love Supreme are, unfortunately, distant memories in jazz.
However, there is hope. Although they tend to eschew being labeled as a jazz band, BADBADNOTGOOD incorporates a healthy dose of what can only be described as jazz in their musical output. Originally a quartet and now a trio, the group recently released their fifth album, Talk Memory, to widespread acclaim. It’s a lean listen at eight songs and clocking in at just over 40 minutes, but the album covers quite a bit of musical ground in a short amount of time.
The first song, “Signal from the Noise, ” starts off with a mechanical hum and the sound of a signal generator being turned on, followed by a slow, pensive minor melody that carefully introduces the sonic environment listeners are entering. And then, a few minutes into the song, BADBADNOTGOOD turns on a dime, morphing the music into a fast-paced, experimental breakdown that echoes some of the best jazz-funk fusion of the 1970s à la Herbie Hancock.
Full of surprises, Talk Memory includes a collaboration with legendary zither musician Laraaji in the dreamy “Unfolding (Momentum 73) ” and string arrangements from Brazilian composer Arthur Verocai on a number of songs. Whether it be described as jazz or jazz-inspired, Talk Memory is a breath of fresh air that reminds us how invigorating and soul-enriching music can be.
BURIAL — ANTIDAWN
Although he has his contemporaries, including past collaborators such as Thom Yorke of Radiohead, there is no one quite like Burial, the musical moniker of William Emmanuel Bevan. For an artist who was completely anonymous for the first three years of his recording career, it’s no surprise that Burial maintains an air of mystery as an artist. In his music, there’s often a sense of stepping into a void, armed only with a dimly lit torch, almost like a soundtrack to the dark night of the soul. Making the darkness bearable and, even more important, meaningful is a hallmark of Burial’s approach to songwriting. In Antidawn, he continues in this vein largely without the beats that were so prevalent in previous outings. Burial has always skirted around ambient music, but in this extended play, he embraces it.
As in previous releases, vocals figure in, but only in snippets that accentuate the mood, such as in the title track, where whispers of “I’m in a bad place/with nowhere to go ” supplement the somberness. In some cases, these ghostly voices hint at hopefulness, the kind that comes when the night is darkest: right before dawn. In the opening song, “Strange Neighbourhood, ” two lonely souls meet, their solitude soothed by human connection: “When the night falls in the city/Dark is the sky/What a night for walking/I found you there/Walking nowhere. “
When the mood strikes, Antidawn is a natural choice for a meditative and rewarding listening experience gifted to us by a decidedly low-key modern master.