We take a look at this week hotest music releases, including Iceland’s Bjork
Michael Kiwanuka – Love & Hate:If you like your soul music understatedly robust, warm and fizzing with feeling, Michael Kiwanuka is your man. Love & Hate is the 2012 BBC Sound Of poll winner’s follow up to Home Again, his Mercury MusicPrize nominated debut – and it is blissful.
Recorded with Grammy award-winning producer Danger Mouse, it has an ease to it and a confidence that has your hips dipping and swaying without you even realising. Kiwanuka’s yearning vocals on the languid I’ll Never Love are rich and buttery, while on Black Man In A White World he stomps and clatters powerfully.
This year, that Mercury Music Prize should undoubtedly be his. Ella Walker
Bjork –Vulnicura Live: Vulnicura is Bjork’s ninth studio album, and this special live edition features 14 songs performed by the singer on her 2015 Vulnicura tour. From the get go, with opener Stonemilker, the strings are foregrounded and lush-sounding. They have a Bond-theme vernacular to their swooping seriousness, while it isn’t until History Of Touches that the electronics of her collaborators, Arca and The Haxan Cloak step up. The heavily manipulated vocal samples and fast-swirl of grainy synthesizer noise lend a contemporary feel which is hardly surprising given how clued into new developments Bjork is. Her collaborators are carefully selected and put their own stamps on her music whilst being fully absorbed in her artistic vision. Peter Simpson
Samm Henshaw –The Sound Experiment:Last year was a breakthrough for 22-year-old Samm Henshaw. His first EP, The Sound Experiment. Named one of Spotify’s ‘Best New Artists’ and Google Play’s ‘One to Watch’ for 2016, anticipations were high for this second EP. Whilst the opener, Our Love, showcases Henshaw’s impressive vocal range, the chorus lacks punch and the repetitive country folk guitar riff is grinding. The rest of the EP is much more cool, modern and soulful, making comparisons to Frank Ocean justifiable. Night Calls epitomises Henshaw’s strength; his expressive, tuneful voice complemented by a stripped-back guitar accompaniment. The Sound Experiment 2 will certainly add colour to a drab day, perhaps just skip the first track... Jared Tinslay
Roisin Murphy – Take Her Up to Monto:Roisin Murphy is hard-wired for eclecticism – from her clothes to her vocals, and Take Her Up To Monto, the former Moloko singer’s fourth solo record, is true to form. Slices of jangly electronica and minimalist bass are spattered by bursts of off-kilter piano chords, swamps of keyboard slamming and percussion instruments you’d usually find in a reception classroom. Opener Mastermind is sweet and spare, peppered with squeaky synthetic sounds, which on Pretty Garden sound over-arranged, too orchestrated and distracting – although it does have sass. Whatever is a skewed lullaby, while Nervous Sleep draws you in. It’s interesting and challenging, if not overly enjoyable. Sometimes though you just want Murphy to make something that’s actually catchy. Ella Walker
Rachmaninoff – Vespers:Born in Wakefield where he became a Cathedral chorister, John Scott has for the past eleven years been the distinguished Organist and Director of Music at St Thomas’s Church, on Fifth Avenue in New York, his choir today regarded as the leading ensemble in the Anglican tradition in the United States. Here they have recorded one of the most beautiful sacred works also known as the All-Night Vigil, its extended length of almost an hour forming part of the Russian Orthodox Church main feasts. StThomas’s ideal blend of mature male singers and boy trebles, does miss out on those haunting sounds of Slav deep basses, but is otherwise a highly recommendable release recorded in the atmospheric backdrop of a vast church (Resonus RES10169). David Denton