Browsing Tag

Jazz Fusion

Andreas Fevos (feat. Alex Bappo) – Metamorphosis: Live the Scintillating Sonic Fantasy

For his debut solo single, Metamorphosis, which came after touring Europe as a concert pianist, the Athens-born pianist, composer and producer, Andreas Fevos collaborated with Alex Bappo to set a strikingly narrative jazz score.

Together, they created a theatrically vibrant feat of jazz, which starts with the rapid tempo of neoclassic keys before the complexity of the time signatures consumes you within the extended release that exhibits Fevos’s love for theatre and storytelling. With interludes between the wild yet professionally tamed progressions, you just can’t help living in this constantly evolving metamorphically scintillating sonic fantasy.

With a PhD in Piano Performance and currently a PhD candidate in Composition for Visual Media at UCLA, you can rest assured that you’re in extremely deft hands through the often-times frantic expression of his ingenuity.

Metamorphosis was officially released on October 22nd; stream it on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Interview: Poseidon’s Alley led us through the ingenuity in his sophomore album, Blackberries, which unravels as a nostalgically juiced amalgam of prog-rock, synthwave and jazz

After pouring jazzy synthwave tones served with a slice of prog-rock panache in our ears with his sophomore album, Blackberries, the classically-trained LA-based artist, Poseidon’s Alley spilt his genre-melding secrets.

Poseidon’s Alley, welcome to A&R Factory! Can you tell us a little about your sophomore album, Blackberries?

“Thanks! Blackberries is an album that I would describe as genre-bending, groove-based instrumental music. It’s my second LP under the “Poseidon’s Alley” moniker, and I think personally it’s a big step up both production and composition-wise. Unlike my debut album — which I think sounds a little bit more eclectic, abstract, and overall happier — Blackberries is pretty moody throughout and tries to paint these dark, synth-y soundscapes layered with dreamy guitar lines that feel nostalgic, wistful, and even melodramatic at times.

I worked on the album on and off from 2018 to 2022, a period of time that obviously includes the pandemic as well as some personal loss that I went through. So, not the easiest of times for me, or most people, and I think you’ll hear that reflected pretty well through these mostly minor key vibes happening on the record. In fact, I actually let the album sit 85% finished without touching anything for over a year, before finally pulling myself out of the mire and finishing what I started. I called the album Blackberries in a little nod to the Pacific Northwest where they grow (and I live), as sort of a personal “silver lining” metaphor — that these thorny, painful plants still ultimately produce something sweet.”

It’s quite the melting pot of genres; was this something that happened naturally?

“Yes — my compositional style, I would probably compare to abstract painting. Other than the mood I’m in when I start a piece, I don’t really push myself consciously in any direction — I just go where my ear takes me. I actually kind of wish my music wasn’t quite so hard to pin down, because it makes it incredibly difficult to fit yourself in these narrow boxes that the big Spotify playlists kinda require you to be in. First of all, I make instrumental music, which is already sort of disqualifying yourself for a lot of listeners. Besides not having vocals, I’m too synthwave for the prog-style playlists, too guitar-forward for the synthwave playlists, and too complex for some of the lo-fi or indietronica playlists.

But at the end of the day, I’m going to follow the classic Rick Rubin advice and just make the music that I want to hear, rather than artificially trying to stick to a style just to more easily find an audience. And when people do click with Poseidon’s Alley — which, when they do, is thanks in large part to several smaller playlist curators who have found and generously featured me — the response I’ve gotten has been really encouraging to just be myself.”

The spacey amalgam of prog, synthwave and jazz is definitely something we have never heard before; what inspired the album?

“It’s a pure, subconscious reflection of the music that has inspired and impacted me the most in my life. Until my late 20s, I really mostly listened to (and played) guitar-centric prog rock. As a music student and professor, I’ve naturally gone quite deep into classical and jazz for years at a time. That background really forms the basis of the way I approach musical structure, which is classical, and the way I hear and think about harmony, which is jazz. And in the last few years, synthwave, chillwave, vaporwave, all of that stuff really scratched this strong nostalgic itch I have for the 80s and early 90s, and the vibes of the world during my early childhood.

Anyway, I think on most of the songs on Blackberries, the influences are pretty evenly blended. But you also have tracks like “Farewell, August Macke” which is like an “Alfa Mist meets Men I Trust”-inspired jazz tune. You can really hear the Dream Theater-esque prog rock influence on “Gatsby’s Green Light” and “Object Permanence” at the end of the album. And I think “Knight of the Mirrors” and “Rosa Californica” are the two biggest love letters to the retrowave artists that inspire me like Lazerhawk, A.L.I.S.O.N., Lucy in Disguise, and Eagle Eyed Tiger.”

How did your classical training interplay with writing Blackberries and bringing it to life?

“My classical training was the best thing that ever happened to me as a musician just in general because it gave me the context and tools to understand what I’m doing harmonically and melodically instead of just fumbling around in the dark hoping to get lucky. I’m biased as a music educator, but I strongly feel that internalized knowledge of music theory just opens up these amazing worlds of possibilities for a composer, and helps to push and evolve your ear in ways that make music more rich and exciting.

My classical training started with my amazing guitar teacher Rick Sailon who gave me a head start as a teenager, continued at Los Angeles Valley College and Cal State University Northridge, and finished after grad school at the University of Southern California. Once you’ve gone through that many years of thinking about music through this theory-based framework, it’s kind of impossible to turn it off. But I wouldn’t want to!”

Who was involved in the making of your new album?

“I wrote, played, and mixed everything on the album. My incredibly talented fiancée Monica does all the album artwork for Poseidon’s Alley. And it was mastered by Elliot James Mulhern who’s an audio legend in LA.”

You’re a part-time music professor too; what do you think your students would have to say about the release?

“That’s a great question — they’re usually surprised that someone who spends most of his time talking about Beethoven, Bach, and Charlie Parker creates music like this in his spare time, and not, like, string quartets or something. To my beloved students, all I can say is: smash that like and follow button for the Spotify algorithm!”

Are there any future releases in the pipeline?

“This definitely won’t be the last Poseidon’s Alley album. I feel my ability as a composer and recording engineer are getting stronger with every song I work on, and I’m excited to keep building on that. After the darkness explored on Blackberries, I wouldn’t be surprised if the next album is quite a bit lighter. I’m super inspired by the music I’ve been listening to lately including Khruangbin, Her’s, Men I Trust, Hello Meteor, and Pacific Coliseum. So, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear those influences reflected back on the next LP! But yeah, my focus for the next few months is on trying to support Blackberries and get it into the ears of people who would dig this kind of music, but maybe don’t know it exists yet.”

Check out Poseidon’s Alley on Spotify, Instagram and his official website.

Interview by Amelia Vandergast

Roc Flowers elevated the airwaves with his ground-breaking LP, Ovision

Roc Flowers became the Mike Patton of his generation with the launch of his genre-melding gospel album, Ovision, featuring various artists, including Fabrizio Bosso, Max Ionata, Stefano De Donato, Francesco Cherubini, Leonardo Volo, and Toti Panzanelli.

The opening single, God is Blue, starts with a quiescent neo-classic deliverance of jazzy pop tones, before hushed harmonic vocal lines and rap bars recontextualise the soundscape in scintillating fashion.

Not only would you be hard-pressed to find another artist delivering such a cathartic fusionist sound, but Roc Flowers also ensures that you’re left so sated that you’ll want for nothing while immersing yourself in this exploratory album which covers plenty of the tonal spectrum while indulging you in Gospel-Esque soul.

It’s easy listening as you’ve never known it before. The reference to Peaches in track 3 in the lyric “I can move the pussy like Peaches but I’d rather get our souls into deepness” was completely unexpected, but my god, it was appreciated. It truly is an LP that keeps on giving.

Ovision is now available to stream on all major platforms via this link.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Charlie O’Brien walks us through dreamy jazz pop nostalgia on ‘Ingrim Street’

Taken from his forthcoming fifth album, Fire and Foam, Charlie O’Brien’s mellow pop folk serenade, Ingrim Street, is a jazzy amble through sepia-tinged memories that allow you to revisit your own sentimental destinations of nostalgia.

His fifth album is Charlie O’Brien’s first departure from his trad Irish roots. The melodious ease of the dreamy soundscape has no obvious connotations of experimentalism through its delicious entrenchment in unbridled soul, noted through the lofty 50s pop vocals and the brass section, which came as a courtesy from the Mexico-hailing artists Luis Zautla and Alejandro Cristobal.

In a time of such rampant disillusion, records such as these are worth their weight in gold. We can’t wait to see where this album takes O’Brien and his achingly beautiful talent.

Ingrim Street will be available to stream from October 20th, along with the rest of his album, Fire and Foam. Catch it on SoundCloud.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

 

N.O.A & The Goodest Ones keep the spirit of multicultural soul alive in ‘Say Things’

N.O.A & The Goodest Ones

N.O.A & The Goodest Ones’ latest single, Say Things, is a melting pot of genre, style, and culture. Through the upliftingly smooth brass section, you will soak in nuances of jazz; through the rhythm section, you will find nods to funk and reggae, and the vocals transfuse some of the sweetest vocally-delivered catharsis you could care to drink in.

With the RnB harmonies gelling with the rap bars from Tray God Tha MC over the mellifluous flow of the melodies, Say Things is a conversation you will want to indulge in time and time again. The spirit of soul is well and truly alive through this timeless record. It is escapism music at its finest.

Say Things will officially release on October 14th. Check it out for yourselves on Spotify and connect with N.O.A & The Goodest Ones on Instagram.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Slip into the sonorous soul of Jamie Toomey’s latest single, My Love is Real, featuring Syauqi Destanika

Taken from the sophomore album, Second Sunlight, from the eclectic Irish musician Jamie Toomey, the ambient jazzy RnB single, which comes laced with loungey folky instrumentation, My Love is Real, featuring Syauqi Destanika is a mesmeric offering of sincerity.

The tenderness to the uniquely uplifting melodies amplifies the luxe Gospel-Esque vocal timbre of the Indonesian vocalist, Syauqi Destanika, to the nth degree in the stripped-back soundscape which makes minimal demands on your attention but tugs on your heartstrings all the more viscerally for it.

You can delve into My Love is Real for yourselves from September 23rd by heading over to SoundCloud.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Spener blurred the lines between indie-rock and neo-soul in his compassion-driven single, Dial Away

North of England-born, Barcelona-based artist Spener blurred the lines between indie-rock and jazzy neo-soul in his slickly smooth seminal single, Dial Away.

I’m not entirely sure what is more enamouring in Dial Away, the euphonically consoling soundscape or the lyrical compassion that extends a sense of unconditional empathy that is scarcely found elsewhere to the listener.

While the mainstream media leaves us inclined to believe that artists like Amy Winehouse only come around once in a generation, Spener blows that notion out of the water with the sheer visceralism of his down-to-earth candour that can easily become addictive through his hook-laden vocal lines.

Dial Away is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Get your good vibes straight from the source in ORAL P’s blister of Afropop bliss, Give Me Love O

East Nigeria-hailing Afropop artist ORAL P has captured international audiences since his 2018 debut; in his first release of 2022, Give Me Love O, he’s as soulfully versatile as ever.

With its jazzy undertones and rich Afrobeat flavour, Give Me Love O falls into that rare category of music that throws away commercialism, embraces a brand of soul that knows no borders and oozes commercial potential as a result of the vibrantly innate good vibes. With Give Me Love O on your playlists, you will always have a source of serotonin.

The Radio Edit of Give Me Love O is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Basia Bartz has released her feverishly pure piano-pop score, All Your Pages (Read Like Mine)

Basia Bartz

After an outtake-y intro which strips any air of pretension from the soundscape from the outset, the Poland-born and raised, London-residing singer-songwriter Basia Bartz careers into a smooth experimental jazz-pop ensemble with her latest single, All Your Pages (Read Like Mine).

Even though it’s scarcely imaginable that a contemporary artist can conjure as much soulfully demure alchemy as Peggy Lee did with Fever, that is exactly what Basia Bartz beguiles with.

Her name as a solo artist may be relatively unheard. As a violinist, she’s worked alongside Boxer Rebellion, Maisha, Ben Walker and Josienne Clarke, Dan Raza, The Penny Black Remedy, Cherise Adams-Burnett, Tankus The Henge, Trent Miller, Ian Prowse, Tom McRae, Jamie Lenman, Ferries & Sylvester, Catherine Rudie and the Kisses, Jason McNiff, The Clientele, ESE & The Vooduu People, Gabriel Moreno, Adam Beattie and many more.

Inspired by those very same artists, she started training as a vocalist and composer before releasing her debut single, A Girl at Dusk, in 2022. Her third single, All Your Pages, is her soulful take on a groove-led feat of piano pop which unravels as an honest expression of female sensuality. God knows we needed someone to put the innocence back into affection after Nikki Minaj defiled all that was sacred about those moments that are just as tenderly captivating as the swinging piano riffs in All Your Pages.

All Your Pages will launch on Bandcamp on June 3rd before releasing across all other platforms on June 21st.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Marco Pastoré Cammarino delivered a smoky plaintive soul serenade with his latest single, Empty Bus

Remorse may be the overarching emotion within the Italian, Lisbon-based singer-songwriter and guitarist Marco Pastoré Cammarino’s latest single, Empty Bus; sonically, it progressively drifts across the tonal spectrum to stand as a testament to the artist’s aptitude for melodic expression.

After a plaintively sparse intro that suckers you into the melancholy, the smoky jazz horns, Nile Rodger-Esque guitar chops and seductive keys make for an aphrodisiacal platform for Marco Pastoré Cammarino’s just as knee-weakening vocal timbre.

Towards the outro, Marco Pastoré Cammarino’s rock influences collide with the soundscape in an entirely unexpected, indulgently appreciated style. In short, Empty Bus is a single that never stops giving the gravitas.

Empty Bus is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast