2020 has begun! It’ll take quite something to top last year’s musical shenanigans, which have been extravagant and diverse, a veritable earfest of all kinds of noises, from intergalactic jazz to rainbowed skronk to banshee folk oddments. Here at PROLE JAZZ we’ve been enjoying taking stock of 2019 by chatting to our musical buddies up and down the country, and hearing their take on things on the year just past.
Today’s episode of From the Mouths of Babes is #5 in this raucous series (check out #4, #3, #2 and #1 here!). We teleported journalistic provocateur Oliver Porpoise Firefly to various locations to quiz some of our favourite people in the musical galaxy of 2019.
He talked with Ben Powling of serpentine afrobeaters Vipertime, music journalist, radio host and deejay Tina Edwards of Worldwide FM, Al Juddy of batshit psych jammers Halloumati & piratic mayhem makers Seas of Mirth, Tim Feben, curator of Folk Forest festival and guitar lord with King Capsice and Pete ‘Piwi” White of polyrhythmic funk gurus Drymbago, promoter extraordinaire the legendary Racubah Sound System and Afrophonic crate diggers Ostinato Records.
Here’s what went down, folks! Read on!
Oliver: OK people, hit me with your lists… what were your favourite records of the year?
Ben: Sarathy Korwar – More Arriving. Driving, percussive jazz from London-based drummer Sarathy Korwar, featuring a host of Indian MCs, beautiful spoken-word passages and scalding saxophone playing from Tamar Osborn.
Also Kim Gordon – No Home Record. Kim’s debut solo record is a belting set of grunge bangers. Worth the wait.
Tina: Femina – Perlas and Conchas; Jaimie Branch – Fly Or Die II; Sampa the Great – The Return; 30/70 Collective – Fluid Motion; Daniel Maunick – Macumba Quebrada
Al: Flamingods – Levitation, Bilge Pump – We Love You, Nubiyan Twist – Jungle Run
Tim: Always trick to pick a favourite album, but special mention for 2019 has to go out for Nubiyan Twist‘s Jungle Run and KOKOROKO‘s debut EP – Kokoroko. Both fantastic efforts at fusing sounds and influences, which in today’s melting pot of music is where all the magic is for me.
Pete: Jambu E Os Miticos Sons Da Amazonia, Analog Africa Records. Great compilation of rare northern Brazilian music from the Para state that crosses Brazilian rhythms with Cumbia, funk and jazz. Totally amazing music.
Straight From the Decks: GUTS Tropical music compilation on Heavenly Sweetness label. Another great comp from the summer showcasing records from DJ Guts vast collection that highlights dance music from the French Caribbean, Brazil and beyond. Dance floor magic.
Oliver: Cool choices! I totally love KOKOROKO‘s EP, it has mad deep soul and vibe, especially Abusey Junction. Jaimie Branch and Sarathy Korwar and Jambu too… insane music!! So everyone: how about your live highlights of 2019?
Ben: Fat White Family and Viagra Boys at Brudenell Social Club in May. This double bill was a bath of sleaze, sweat and depravity. All band members looked like characters from an Irvine Welsh novel with some of the most questionable haircuts I’ve ever seen. Viagra Boys frontman Sebastian Murphy writhed in lager and cables while the band delivered a pounding set of post-punk and garage. Fat White Family were hideously magnificent. Their triumphant set of squalid glam, punk and disco dug deep into their back catalogue and new album Serfs Up!
Tina: Top live show has to be Bjork’s Cornucopia, I went to the premiere in Brooklyn and it was like no production I’ve ever seen. Visually unforgettable and an incredible gig all round.
Al: I managed to see Melt Yourself Down for the first time in years. They’ve still got their victorious brass-led punchy sound that carries into their new record, which is one thing I’m looking forward to for.
Tim: Best live show is much more difficult still. Yussef Dayes at the Folk Forest, Township Rebellion at Noisily, The Comet is Coming at Latitude (with my mum!) and possibly even Oh Papa earlier in the year at Regather. Got to rate those guys from Sheffield, great sound.
Pete: Live highlight of 2019 was a newly reformed Grupo Pilon from Cabo Verde who we were lucky enough to book and have come play for us in North Wales. Great band, genuine Funaná dance music. Got the place jumping and everyone smiling ear to ear.
Oliver: Amen to all that! Especially Oh Papa, I caught them a couple of times over festival season in Sheffield, love their languid honeyed indie vibe. And Melt Yourself Down … mmmhmm… very difficult to beat the double sax attack for wild and feral sound explosions! So what’s in store for 2019? What are you looking forward to the most?
Ben: The second album from The Sorcerers is due some time in 2020 and I can’t wait. This band is the soundtrack to a horror film set in 70s Ethiopia, except the music is born out of a garage in Leeds.
Ben Powling is Leeds’ premiere sax player and plays with local afrobeat icons Mansion of Snakes, ethio-jazzers Vipertime, Howling Ric and the Rocketeers and World Service Project
Tina: I’m intrigued to see how the roaring 20s will continue the Jazz Age…
Tina Edwards is a broadcaster, music journalist and DJ. Check out her show on Worldwide FM for wild jazz and fusion joy noises!
Al: Next year – apart from the new Melt Yourself Down album, i’m a massive sucker for Tame Impala. 5 years in the making/festering? I’m dripping with excitement for their new album.
Al is chief mischief maker for global (mother) folkers Hallouminati and shanty purveying aquababes Seas of Mirth. Check out their new album here!
Tim: For 2020 I’m most looking forward to making music myself, and I’m chomping at the bit to get stuck into the next thing. I have several irons in the fire at the mo which is exciting (for me). Last year was all about really getting to know the piano (I didn’t quite finish that but made a good start:), now its all about composing music for tv/film, arranging strings and finishing my music for a 20 person ensemble. I should mentioned we have a pretty special Folk Forest line up for 2020 brewing, while I’m here!
Tim Feben works with Regather to curate the fantastic and innovative independent music festival Folk Forest (which is not just folk!) and is guitarist in postrock gurus King Capisce and rumoured psychedelicists Woolly Mammoth.
Pete: I’m most looking forward to Sweet As Broken Dates 2 which we will be helping release in 2020 on Ostinato Records as a follow up to the last compilation of ‘lost’ Somalian music that came out in 2017 and ended up getting nominated for a Grammy in the ‘Best Historical Album’ category.
Pete plays in afrofunk joy deliverers Drymbago, promotes loads of legendary gigs across North Wales and works with Ostinato and Barbes records