wed 08/12/2021

New Music Reviews

Bellows, Komedia, Brighton

Thomas H Green

The exploratory outer edges of jazz have been rich and fecund in recent years. Among other things, bands such as MoHa and The Thing have pushed jazz into avant-garde noise and heavy rock, wild-haired drummer Seb Rochford has come up with project after project that fascinates far outside the jazz community and even Radiohead have been accused of dabbling. It's in this area that Bellows reside, musical territory that doesn't yet fall under strict genre categorization but touches on post-rock,...

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The xx, Village Underground, Shoreditch

joe Muggs

Browsing through various past reviews of The xx, two adjectives which occur time and again are “fragile” and “tentative”. These are wrong – but understandable.

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Matthew Herbert, British Council 75th anniversary concert, Barbican

Robert Sandall Matthew Herbert, band leader extraordinaire

Before Matthew Herbert’s triumphantly anarchic appearance in the second half, stiflingly good taste ruled at last night’s concert at the Barbican. Middle-aged suits were out in force to celebrate the British Council’s 75th anniversary and a comfortable faith in liberal values permeated the hall, and the bill.

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McAlmont & Nyman, Union Chapel

Robert Sandall

It’s taken David McAlmont over 15 years to find the right outlet for his remarkable voice and songs but, fingers crossed, it looks as if he's finally done it. In prospect, McAlmont's collaboration with Michael Nyman and his band, which received its first public airing last night at the Union Chapel, seems rather random. What, you might well ask, has a man with the vocal chops of a soul legend such as Curtis Mayfield got to say to a minimalist composer and soundtrack specialist with a gift...

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Nyman McAlmont, Union Chapel

Robert Sandall

It’s taken David McAlmont over 15 years to find the right outlet for his remarkable voice and songs but, fingers crossed, it looks as if he's finally done it. In prospect, McAlmont's collaboration with Michael Nyman and his band, which received its first public airing last night at the Union Chapel, seems rather random. What, you might well ask, has a man with the vocal chops of a soul legend such as Curtis Mayfield got to say to a minimalist composer and soundtrack specialist with a gift for...

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Krautrock: The Rebirth of Germany, BBC Four

Adam Sweeting

It's over-egging it a bit to equate Krautrock with the entire rebirth of Germany. It's also slightly jarring to entitle the film Krautrock when its narrator then blames the World War Two-obsessed British music press for inventing such a disparaging term (cue supplementary evidence of Spike Milligan and John Cleese pretending to be Nazis.)

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Spandau Ballet, O2 Arena

Robert Sandall

The success of Spandau Ballet's ecstatically received reunion lies in no small part in its impeccable timing. The band could hardly have chosen a better moment to re-form and revisit their well stocked catalogue of 1980s hits. Not only are their original fans now stuck firmly into middle age and feeling the usual nostalgia for the soundtrack of their youth, but a younger generation of listeners has at last decided that Eighties pop is cool.

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Sara Tavares, Jazz Cafe

howard Male A lightness of touch and an instinct for melody make Sara Tavares's music unique

Portuguese singer-songwriter Sara Tavares trades in understatement. She strokes rather than strums guitar chords, her two percussionists are more likely to brush a drum than whack it hard, and her soft close-to-the-mike voice specialises in gentle yearning rather than soul-girl histrionics. So the intimate space of the Jazz Café seems much better suited to her than, say, the Barbican where she had the unenviable task earlier this year of being a viable support act to the larger-than-life Malian...

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Indigo Girls, O2 Academy, Bristol

Veronica Lee

It’s interesting to ponder why, after 22 years in the business, the Indigo Girls aren’t more successful or better known outside the cognoscenti and their very loyal fanbase. Their intricate harmonies and beautifully constructed guitar-based folk-rock has attracted many fans (and sometime collaborators) in the music industry - from Natalie Merchant and Ani DiFranco to Lucinda Williams and REM - and one of their albums went platinum. They even won a Grammy, so what’s not to like?

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Wolfgang Voigt as Gas, Barbican

joe Muggs

It comes to something when the logic of a German act calling themselves “Gas” is the least troubling element of a perfomance. Not that Wolfgang Voigt's ambient music, or the slowly-evolving digital art of Petra Hollenbach projected on the Barbican's cinema screen, contained any obvious shock tactics – but the whole 80 minutes created just about as unsettling an experience as one could imagine from abstracted sound and image.

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