Another record showcasing the comeback of nu jazz. Smooth and easy.
Djrum – Portrait With Firewood
Nice to mention this record right after Tides as this is a great example for the same vibe but with originality that I felt lacking there. Nice atmospheres on the slow-to-mid tempo electronic axis with lots of live-sounding orchestration, even more Floex vibes, but the more complex drum patterns and the post-dubstep bassline aesthetics package it into something fresh and exciting. I really like that this is a moody record without the sadness aspect—it’s like watching rain through the window but with inspiration and wondering. Actually it’s also like a new take on nu jazz.
Nightmares On Wax – Shout Out! To Freedom…
Nu jazz sound, chilled, relaxing, smooth. Shape The Future was a huge Nightmares on Wax come-back in my life. This one is not as strong but a fair follow-up.
Flanger – Lollopy Dripper
I had a hard time decoding this record with its extremes ranging from experimental IDM to cool blue jazz. Just thinking about the aspect of this being some weirdly unique and altered jazz sound, gave me associations of The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble or even Brandt Brauer Frick. But this was something different still. And then I read this was a duo of Bernd Friedmann and Uwe Schmidt (Atom™) and it all clicked into place. It’s amazing how two artists can blend into one music in a way that you can see who brought what to the table so clearly.
In full honesty though, my favorite track here is Sweet Silence, which has no electrnics to it, but the film noir atmosphere is just irresistible.
dZihan & Kamien – IV
After Kruder & Dorfmeister’s new release here’s a new album by dZihan & Kamien. Alright, so what’s going on? Is nu jazz making a comeback or what? In any case this is a totally fine album, as good as any Couch Records release from back in the day. I’ll be instered to see whether this series continues or even someone tries something new with the future jazz angle. Maybe even Jazzanova produces something new AND worth listening to?
Kruder & Dorfmeister – 1995
Exactly what it says on the cover: the best downtempo, nu jazz, chill out sound from the golden days of the genre. Supposedly these are some old recordings found and dusted from the G-Stone studio. Sounds like time travel, smooth as ever.
Hugo Kant – Far From Home
Nu jazz with a trip hop headspace, some dub, some cinematic vibe. Feels like all the classics but not a replay.
This is the kind of record where I feel sorry for having the lack of meaningful words because I’d think I’m just repeating myself, having my same old references, usual phrases, although it really is a refreshing and fantastic album. This is why I started this blog in the first place after 10+ years of music journalism: to be a memory keeper without feeling the pressure to write much, or anything specific for that matter. But sometimes it just feels unworthy not to write some words of praise and how something is really that good. Writing’s a bitch when you feel you’ve written a lot and
there’s not much else to say it’s hard to write something new or articulate differently.
And there’s also the why: why say it differently? Just so that I can say the same thing again and I can trick myself or others into thinking that it’s something new? I could perhaps have this mission to spread info about new music that’s good, and there might be new people all the time who get the message. So that could be a why. But then what’s real tough is that you need to keep your references updated for that. I cannot keep comparing a new trip hop record to Massive Attack forever, even if that’s the best point of reference I can think of, younger people just won’t know what’s that.
I guess this was the point in the evolution of this thought when I gave up writing about music “professionally”. I ralized after a while that I didn’t want to change anyone’s opinion, I’m fine with just listening to good music myself. My idea of myself being an educator of taste became something that I started viewing as obnoxious and arrogant. Working to change other people’s thinking would mean that I’m so perfect myself that I can spare my time and energy to educate others instead of improving my own self. So even if it’s just about music, I should spend more time listening to more music and learning more about music myself rather than trying to tell others what to think or listen to.
I know a music journalist can not only be this educator but they can simply be a reporter of current events, a chronicler of what’s happening. Adding an opinion of value but not for the sake of ultimately grading things but for acting as a curator of content, filtering the vast amount of music being created (more so since Internets), and telling stories that would otherwise be hidden. This very last bit is why I think music journalism is still relevant and I respect the people who work for this. I like to think that I did this, to some extent. Still, burning energy and effort into this means that you think this is where your efforst are best placed. And I think there are way more talented and dedicated people in this area than me.
So, at the end of the day my lack of words to express myself in a way that I feel keeps being fresh and relevant is because I just don’t find doing this expression is my calling to the extent that I work on improving myself. Once I had this realization that music journalism is dead, because in the world of aggregated data, user reviews and all that it’s just not important anymore. And here’s the rundown on why I was wrong about that. Music journalism is as relevant as ever, I just don’t think that it’s me who needs to do it. And that’s why I just need to be okay with not being able to add much more to Hugo Kant’s music other than it’s really-really good.
Jupiter Jax – No Such Thing
Half moody jazzy tunes, half mid-tempo mellow house beats, nice and relaxing. The title track and Moral Dilemmas are the peak points, the previous reminding me of Miles Davis’ electronic explorations.
Skalpel – Highlight
Easy listening nu jazz. I rarely listen to this genre nowadays but it’s nice to come back to something that brings back memories of the Couch Records of dZihan & Kamien, the !K7 of Tosca, the Sonar Kollektiv of Jazzanova. Smells like sitting on a terrace on a summer night with warm breeze moving around the little paper umbrella pinned to a slice of lemon sitting on the top of a gin tonic and having no problems at all in the world.
I remember travelling to Vienna, Austria with a group of music journalist to report from a concert and during the night ride home talking about what’s hot in music, and there was this guy saying that nu jazz is the best music genre in the world and will stay forever. It was 2006. I wonder if he was right: looking at Skalpel underlines that it’s indeed here even if not topping the charts although it never have done so. Being the cornerstone music of the ruin pub revolution in Budapest was never a Billboard chart defining attribute for a genre I guess.
I remember a guy from Byron Bay, Australia who I quite randomly met at a coffee place in a small town in Hungary and who told me he had a vinyl and surf shop by the oceanside. His main reason to travel to Central Europe every year was to seek out new nu jazz records. That and pretty Hungarian girls. Anyhow, his favorite label was Couch Records, we got along quickly. He ended up leeching most of my music collection and went on to Vienna with a long list of new record ideas to collect for his shop.
Many people were crazy about nu jazz 15-20 years ago, it was an underground music movement that I never understood why stayed underground. Probably the easy listening tunes are too perfectly fit for mindless chilling on a beach and in popular use it just stuck to that lounge setting and noone really paid attention.
Various Artists – 25 Compost Records
As much as I like Compost there’s nothing groundbreaking on this compilation. It’s nothing like the Ninja Tune XX collection. Still, it’s a 5 hours long great selection of stuff for the background that doesn’t need one skip button.