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beautiful, more often than not shiver-inducing, Outlaster unleashes ten songs from a 21st century siren. (Brian Donaldson) beast. Saxophonist and clarinettist James Allsopp and drummer Tim Giles have already made their mark at the more experimental end
JAZZ JOHN SCOFIELD & VINCE MENDOZA 54 (EmArcy Records) ●●●●●
of the current UK jazz spectrum with their band Fraud, and are joined here by Kit Downes, formerly of Empirical, on the Hammond.
What ensues is a no- holds-barred mix of raw, free, jazz-inspired blowing with abstracted soundscapes, built around Allsopp’s enigmatically-titled compositions. There is a bit of a hit-and-miss feel overall, but when they hit their stride the trio create powerful, absorbing music that owes little to jazz conventions but much to jazz’s informing sense of creative freedom. (Kenny Mathieson)
WORLD SALSA CELTICA En Vivo en el Norte Discos León ●●●●●
There’s no escaping the exhilarating energy and musicianship captured in this live recording of the final gig of the 2009 ‘Salsa Celtica All Stars’ tour recorded in the beautiful Universal Hall of the Findhorn Community on the northeast coast.
Celebrating fifteen years on the road, from the smouldering opening when Lina Rocha and Ricardo Pompa’s voices draw you into their heady Latin-Celtic brew to the final Rumba Encore, these guys from South America, Ireland, New York and Scotland weave fabulous funk and jazz solos through their stunning canvas. (Jan Fairley)
US guitarist John Scofield was a recent guest of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra in a scintillating programme of arrangements of music from both Miles Davis’ electric phase and Scofield’s own jazz- fusion tunes. This album sees him working with an even bigger band, the 54-strong Metropole Orkest from Holland, a combination of jazz big band with orchestral strings and winds. The project also reunites him with arranger/composer Vince Mendoza, the current artistic director of the Dutch orchestra. Once again the music takes the form of arrangements of pieces originally written for small groups, seven by Scofield and two by Mendoza, who wrote most of the arrangements (Florian Ross and Jim McNeely also contributed one each). As in Scotland, Scofield is in electrifying form as the principal soloist, the Dutch soloists step up to the mark in style, and the music emerges in its new colours in very enjoyable fashion, with the orchestral textures never allowed to be too dominant. (Kenny Mathieson)
JAZZ THE GOLDEN AGE OF STEAM Raspberry Tongue (Babel Records) ●●●●● Although the line-up of sax, Hammond organ and drums suggests the classic soul jazz units of the late 50s and 60s, The Golden Age of Steam is a very different
The Magic Numbers The Runaway (Heavenly) ●●●●● Everything we’ve come to expect from Romeo & co – lush harmonies, whimsical melodies – but without that vital pop edge that infused the earlier work, or at least the singles. Radar Brothers The Illustrated Garden (Chemikal Underground) ●●●●● Slightly unbalanced psychedelic pop with a summery glow to it; feels like being in Tim Burton’s garden during the ‘69 Summer of Love.
Tiefschwarz Chocolate (Souvenir) ●●●●● Less-than-thrilling collection of minimal deep house tracks from the Stuttgart duo, that fail to inspire any more than the most non- committal of head nods. Wintersleep New Inheritors (One- Four-Seven) ●●●●● ‘Trace Decay’, ‘Mausoleum’, ‘Terrible Man’ – these guys might sound like a better- orchestrated Editors, but one does wish they’d introduce some lightness to their bleak palette.
Uffie Sex, Dreams and Denim Jeans (Ed Banger) ●●●●● 2006: Uffie releases electro-pop filth ‘Pop the Glock’. Four years later, this album continues the theme – but the iron’s no longer hot, and it sounds like a weird-accented Ke$ha vs La Roux.
Thomas Traux Sonic Dreamer (SL) ●●●●● Think analogue Patrick Wolf. Ratchet up the bizarre factor and sprinkle with Beck. Add the cardboard sets from The Science of Sleep, some Neil Hannon-esque humour, and voila! It’s Thomas Traux! Genius. (Niki Boyle)
27 May–10 June 2010 THE LIST 75
POP SWIMMER ONE Dead Orchestras (Biphonic Records) ●●●●●
There’s a Manchester-based twosome called Hurts currently making a humungous splash in modern pop with their emotional blend of smart electronic epics. And while we love them, The List can’t help but smile about it. After all, we know that Swimmer One were there first, way back in 2002 in fact, and they pull it off just as impressively – only with a lot less fuss. In case you missed it, 2007’s The Regional Variations was the perfect
introduction to this Edinburgh-based band (now expanded to a trio with the addition of Laura Cameron Lewis); as they debuted a celebrated sound that saw them compared to everyone from Pulp and Belle and Sebastian to The Blue Nile and The Pet Shop Boys. But as this staggering second effort proves, it was only a taste of what they could do. Dead Orchestras kicks off with two pacey, undulating synth-driven tracks in classic Swimmer One style, but it’s when we hit ‘The Erskine Bridge’ that things get really interesting. You see, those openers are great examples of the kind of existential electro pop Andrew Eaton and Hamish Brown are now surely able to knock out in their sleep, but the latter with its heartbreaking lyrics – ‘I’m sorry for all of the pain, I’m sorry for all of the heartbreak I caused you’ – makes way for a run of songs that show the band exploring a more deeply introspective and melancholy side.
Highlights? There are too many to mention, but make sure you at least give ‘Here’s Your Train, Safe Home’, ‘You Have Fallen Way Short Of Our Expectations’ and ‘The Fakester Resurrection’ a spin; as these subtle and beautifully rendered works prove exactly why Swimmer One are one of the most captivating and unique pop acts around. (Camilla Pia)
this, her most lush offering to date, she blares out the pain, with ‘The Familiar Way’ a
FOLK ROCK NINA NASTASIA Outlaster (FatCat) ●●●●● Should you happen to have the severe misfortune of being stranded on a leaky boat in a most callous storm, the soundtrack in your head to accompany this horror will most likely be sung by Nina Nastasia. In
shanty tango of unbridled terror and ‘What’s Out There’ a frantic escape through the woods aboard a lame nag. During her less manic moments, she offers up the sweeping melodies of an Aimee Mann while never forgetting she’s housed in the unsettling skin of a latter-day Mary Margaret O’Hara. Often