Abstract Index Playlist - August 5/10
Recently, one of my Facebook friends was lamenting the state of soul music today. He asked where the Marvins, Als and Curtises were today - I'd say look no further than Bilal for a 2010 soul auteur.
In general, I believe soul music is remarkably fresh these days, maybe even at a new peak. However, 'soul music' no longer uses the same instrumentation and song structures as it did back then (though there's plenty of that to be found too, with Sharon Jones and Aloe Blacc at the forefront). Soul music today is more about African-American cultural history distilled and reimagined by talented artists. Soul music could be the cosmic swing of Flying Lotus or the high concept drama of Janelle Monae or even the spacey singalongs of Georgia Anne Muldrow (Hey! I've blogged about all three). In these cases, the Art Ensemble's maxim of "Great Black Music, ancient to future" is vividly expressed with strong knowledge of the past and mastery of global, synthetic and post-modern musical ingredients of today.
I had the pleasure of seeing Bilal with pianist Robert Glasper in Montreal recently (their collaboration "All Matter" appears on this album) and his idiosyncratic approach to vocals impressed me greatly - check my review. Applied to a full album -ten years overdue - and Bilal's way of turning around the phrasing of a song beguiles throughout. The varied production features Shafiq Husayn (naother one of my faves), Nottz and 88 Keys, but is guided by Bilal himself.
There's no mistaking the classic soul with a strong jazzy undercurrent, but it's much more than that. Bilal's reedy, Sly-meets-Prince voice runs down metaphysical and personal subjects, on top of a continuously changing musical landscape. There's some muted prog-rock, some left coast bass, slow jams, and some extremely well-constructed electronic blurps n' beeps.
Soul music (or any music) will never achieve the same kind of sales as back in the day, but it's more widespread than ever and alive with new blood. It's up to us to seek it out.
me yee owu den - k frimpong & his cubano fiestas (analog africa)
segun adewale - segun adewale (rounder)
black wars reggae - sir coxsone sound (tribesmen)
streets of gold (version) - the heptones (park heights)
flash gordon meets luke skywalker - roots radics meet jammys meet scientist (trojan)
cia - ghost (jus like music)
cloud 8 - elaquent (thinkloud)
lady (a mac moombahton mix) - modjo (no label)
constant x - onmutu mechanicks (echocord)
steam language sector 7 - zano bathroom (no label)
dancing on the wolf road - decoy feat joe mcphee (bo weavil)
barambiye/djarama - harris eisenstadt (clean feed)
nature's wrath - budos band (daptone)
candy cigarettes - black blondie (no label)
the dollar - bilal (plug research)
sycamore - j dilla (stones throw)
bim bim bim - kenlo craqnuques (no label)
crying during circumcision is a shame to the village - zorch (no label)
vitamin meathawk - fond of tigers (drip audio)
sunnyday summertime - pigeondust (no label)