Listen Up

A nine-movement jazz piece, Moroccan blues, a complex collage of sounds and more musical delights

Zo! + Tall Black Guy feat. Phonte, Darien Brockington + Muhsinah: Hold My Hand

Musicians and producers Zo! (aka Lorenzo Ferguson) and Tall Black Guy (aka Terrel Wallace) joined forces for the recently released Abstractions and from it comes the breezy “Hold My Hand.” The duo is responsible for all production and instrumentation, while the honeyed vocals come courtesy of Muhsinah, Darien Brockington and Phonte. The song feels free-flowing, but the crisp, polished production provides a perfect balance. A daydreamy track from an overall satisfying album.

L’Rain: Two Face

Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist L’Rain (aka Taja Cheek) will follow her eponymous 2017 album with Fatigue this June. From the album comes “Two Face,” a complex collage of sounds that’s simultaneously chaotic and perfectly polished. The swirling song employs elements of R&B and jazz, with digital effects, crisp percussion and haunting vocals. The Brooklyn-based artist says, “This is a song about a falling out with a friend. The friend was a gemini, hence the title ‘Two Face.’ The song is a disjointed imaginary conversation between us. The ‘spooky’ parts of the song have the most optimistic lyrics, and the ‘sunny’ parts have the bleakest lyrics. The song is mostly a reflection on regret, because the dissolution of our friendship was absolutely my fault and it still haunts me.”

Sons Of Kemet feat. Kojey Radical: Hustle

Sons of Kemet’s rich new track “Hustle”—featuring grime/spoken word artist Kojey Radical—is the first single from the British jazz ensemble’s forthcoming album, Black to the Future. Influenced by several genres and delivery styles, the song is dramatic and textured. Lianne La Havas lends background vocals, repeating a mantra Kojey Radical recites with a growl: “Born from the mud with the hustle inside me.” Breakdowns follow, wherein instrumentation (Shabaka Hutchings on saxophone and clarinet, Tom Skinner on drums, Theon Cross on tuba and Eddie Hick on drums) are meticulously woven together. In the video, a breathtaking dance by The Jaiy Twins unfolds.

Floating Points: Movement 1

Promises by Floating Points (aka Sam Shepherd), Pharaoh Sanders and The London Symphony Orchestra is a nine-movement jazz piece released on David Byrne’s Luaka Bop record label. Shepherd composed the work, tapped 80-year-old saxophonist Sanders for his parts and then passed it to The London Symphony Orchestra, who eventually recorded the album audiences are enjoying now. American visual artist Julie Mehretu contributed the album’s cover art. Though we’re sharing “Movement 1,” the ethereal, emotional piece’s point of entry, we recommend listening to the entire album.

Innov Gnawa: El Ghaba

Innov Gnawa’s new seven-minute single “El Ghaba” emphasizes the group’s North African roots. Hailing from Morocco, now based in NYC, the band (Ma’alem Hassan Ben Jaafer, Amino Belyamani and Ahmed Jeriouda) focuses on a genre known as Gnawa (sometimes called “Sufi Blues”), qraqeb-based music with vocal “prayers invoking saints and spirits for freedom and liberation.” Daptone co-founder Gabriel Roth produced the group’s forthcoming album, Lila, on which “El Ghaba” will appear.

Green-House: Royal Fern

From Music For Living Spaces, the debut LP by Los Angeles-based, non-binary artist Green-House (aka Olive Ardizoni), “Royal Fern” ripples with optimism, like sonic skipping stones toward the sun. “I’m trying to hit that part of the brain that’s affected by the emotional state that you’re in when you perceive something as cute,” Ardizoni says. “Cuteness and joy are gateways to compassion. It’s the gateway to empathy and activating the network in your brain that boosts moral concern for other people in the world around you.”

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 courtesy of Sons of Kemet