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Articles by Gareth Thompson

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Gravity Project: The Gravity Project

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Born in Osaka, Japan, the veteran costume designer Junko Koshino has thrived on opposing images. Be-tentacled alien women can be expected to appear next to Greek goddesses in her shows. Her philosophy has thus been described as taikyoku, the Japanese word for “extreme opposites." Here comes the relevant bit... Now consider Masaki Nakamura, a young star of the shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo-flute) who has performed at Koshino's fashion shows but also in castles, shrines and temples. More extreme opposites, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Hanna Paulsberg Concept + Magnus Broo: Daughter Of The Sun

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Fourteen centuries before Cleopatra, queen Hatshepsut became one of the few women to rule Egypt. Artworks at the time portrayed her with masculine muscles and a Pharaonic beard, but these icons were smashed to smithereens in Hatshepsut's burial chamber. Clearly she upset the male hierarchy back then. Three and a half thousand years later, this fourth album from Norwegian artist Hanna Paulsberg is dedicated to Hatshepsut and all women who fight for recognition. Paulsberg's father was a jazz ...

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Bruno Raberg: Tailwind

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In a 2005 interview, double bassist Bruno Råberg discussed how Scandinavian music reflects the country's vast mountains and forests. “You can see very far and that calmness and meditative spirituality comes through," he says. Born in Sweden, but a longtime resident of Boston, you sense Råberg still carries his homeland close to the heart. For sure his acclaimed composing has touched base with many cultures. His previous range includes the lush Music For Strings & Soloists (Orbis Music, ...

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Ran Blake & Christine Correa: Streaming

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Back in 1946, Ran Blake watched The Spiral Staircase and was rather freaked. This classic chiller's opening scene shows a silent film flickering whilst a woman accompanies the visuals on piano. Blake later composed his own piano sketches for each character and wrote fan letters to the entire cast. His only reply came from Carlton, the housekeeper's sleepy bulldog, via a paw print autograph. Blake also claims a childhood interest in Irish ghost stories and church spirituals. Thus ...

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Fabled: Short Stories

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Anyone who has ever pulled pints for a living probably has some stories to tell. Sam Rapley, the leader of Fabled, used to work behind the bar in Manchester's renowned Band On The Wall club. A favoured site during World War II, its jazz acts often played on during air raids. Legend has it that twenty-four thousand beers were sold there one public holiday. Rapley wouldn't know such excess on his latterday shifts, but he surely found the ...

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Szun Waves: New Hymn To Freedom

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Pythagoras had this notion that the Sun, Moon and planets all emit their own unique hum. Put simply, as these orbs travel through space they produce certain sound waves. Ever wondered what that might actually sound like? Wonder no more, for this second album from vanguard jazz trio Szun Waves is surely what Pythagoras had in mind. That is, if he could have predicted the later inventions by Adolphe Sax and Robert Moog. Introducing them briefly, we have ...

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Gilad Hekselman: Ask For Chaos

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Be careful what you ask for if chaos is on the wish list. Israeli-born guitarist Gilad Hekselman invited disorder on this, his sixth outing, by employing two distinct backing bands. And there is fun to be had in spotting discrepancies between the combos. Representing the more avant elements are Zuperoctave, whilst a touch of trad comes via gHex Trio who were urged by Hekselman to keep him on his toes. The album's title draws on the political climate ...

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Konstantinos Papachristou: The Darkness Of A Fairy Tale

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This is far from the first jazz album to send some wandering soul on a voyage. Among others, Chris Potter's record The Sirens (ECM, 2013) was inspired by Homer's epic saga The Odyssey. Now comes Greek artist Konstantinos Papachristou with a very modern quest, wherein a man seeks the meaning of life amid our material distractions. Papachristou has openly stated he kept ECM's legacy in mind when recording this work. Apart from Potter's classic, some others from the ...

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Moskus: Mirakler

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Not every picture paints a thousand words, but some are more symbolic than others. Take the cover of Moskus's new album, which depicts a hip young hiker facing a two-horned beast in the wilderness. But is the animal real, a mere figment, or even an applied image? And what of that rock pile between them, painted a rather lurid yellow? This fourth album from the Norwegian trio also poses many questions. The first being, what the heck are ...

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Claudia Döffinger: Monochrome

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The turkey trot and tango became so popular by 1914 that the Vatican saw fit to denounce them. American ballrooms, once invaded by European dance steps, were now throbbing to these sexier moves. In his eminent book, The History Of Jazz, author Ted Gioia argues that such new currents in social dancing also forced a change on music. Jazz orchestras in New York were thus being dictated from the dance floor, not the bandstand. The great era of ...