Listen Up

Jubilant jazz, tantalizing Yoruba Tech Soul, experimental music and a farewell to Eddie Van Halen

Eli Fola: Midnight Fall

Nigeria-born, NYC-based artist Eli Fola champions Yoruba Tech Soul—a genre that fuses “traditional Nigerian sounds, electronic, jazz, house and classical music”—through his self-produced music, saxophone performances, DJ sets and beyond. Most recently, he dropped Soundscape To Freedom, a five-track EP that comprises “soundscapes for a Black person living in America,” he explains. A groovy, hypnotic single, “Midnight Fall” embodies all of the aforementioned influences. Steady percussion complements chants, saxophone solos, shakers and digital elements, forming a transcendent three-minute track.

Ana Roxanne: Camille

New from Ana Roxanne, “Camille” reflects—in moments—the LA-based artist’s affinity for choral music. Gentle and languid, the song appears on the upcoming LP Because of a Flower and unfurls over five minutes—with soft, haunting vocals; French conversation and hazy synths.

Takuya Kuroda: Moody

Japanese trumpeter Takuya Kuroda blends jazz and Afro-funk on “Moody,” a single from his sixth album, Fly Moon Die Soon. The album, out now via First Word Records, proves to be Kuroda’s most experimental. Within, he references and employs a bevy of compositions and styles: Fela Kuti’s funk, Herbie Hancock’s “Tell Me a Bedtime Story,” the Ohio Players’ “Sweet Sticky Thing,” and Thundercat’s riffs. “Moody” benefits from a wide array of influences, but the final result reflects Kuroda’s creativity and immense talent.

Xavier Omär feat. Mereba: Like I Feel

The third single from R&B recording artist Xavier Omär’s forthcoming LP if You Feel (out 23 October on RCA Records), “Like I Feel” burns slowly. The D’Mile-produced beat offers a classic, percussion-driven foundation for Omär and Mereba (full name Marian Mereba) to flourish atop. Their vocals float in harmony: airy and breathy, but impactful. By the end, the two trade crescendos, circling in the instrumental as it fades.

Van Halen: Jump

Guitar virtuoso Eddie Van Halen (born Edward Lodewijk Van Halen in Amsterdam) passed away yesterday aged 65 years old. Most of American rock band Van Halen’s songs begin with Eddie Van Halen’s soaring, spectacular, immediately recognizable guitar sound. He wrote the majority of the band’s bangers and performed as lead guitarist—adulated for his incomparable (sometimes inconceivable) guitar solos, which involved plenty of tapping the fretboard. Van Halen played other instruments, including the keyboard—and carried out various arranging and production duties in the band. Infamously, he wrote the synth line for “Jump” in 1981, but it was unanimously rejected by the other members. A couple years later, producer Ted Templeman encouraged then-frontman David Lee Roth to listen to the unrecorded song. Roth wrote some lyrics (with the help of roadie Larry Hostler) and the song appeared on the band’s sixth studio album, 1984. Synths and keyboards were all but forbidden in hard rock at the time, and the song was a risky departure for the band into pop-rock territory, but it was their most beloved (reaching #1 on the Billboard charts) and Eddie Van Halen’s chords from the Oberheim OB-Xa synthesizer became iconic.

Listen Up is published every Sunday and rounds up the new music we found throughout the week. Hear the year so far on our Spotify channel. Hero image courtesy of Takuya Kuroda