Tag: Noir Jazz

Noir – A Dark Jazz Mix Pt.2

This is the second part to the Noir – Dark Jazz mix.

On this mix we dive deeper into a blend of dark jazz, dark ambient, and other urban smoky club music. This one will be a bit more active than the first, diverging a bit further from the dark ambient elements. Again, this one deserves a glass of Scotch and your finest smoke. For late, contemplative summer evenings, in the privacy of your home or aimlessly wandering your nearest metropolis. You can find links to the albums featured below the Mixcloud player. Enjoy!
You can check out the first half here.

01. 0:00:00 Michael Arthur Holloway – Dead Weight
02. 0:05:55 Bebopovsky and the Orkestry Podyezdov
03. 0:09:55 Atrium Carceri, Cities Last Broadcast & God Body Disconnect – Miles To Midnight
04. 0:15:40 The Orchestra of Mirrored Reflections – Dissociative Fugue
05. 0:22:05 The Sarto Klyn V – A Rumour
06. 0:29:30 Elegi – Full Av Tomhet
07. 0:32:30 Bohren & der Club of Gore – Im Rauch
08. 0:37:45 Jon Hassell – Estaté (“Summer”)
09. 0:42:30 Detour Doom Project – Nightfall
10. 0:47:15 Wordclock – Where Mercy Lives
11. 0:50:45 Somewhere Off Jazz Street – Rest Your Head
12. 0:56:00 Michael Arthur Holloway – Short Change
13. 1:01:15 Atrium Carceri, Cities Last Broadcast & God Body Disconnect – The Sleep Ensemble
14. 1:06:30 L’Assassinat – Train To Lepell’s
15. 1:11:00 Gamardah Fungus – Too Much Crime In The Paradise

Noir – A Dark Jazz Mix pt.1

This mix was born of my love for crime noir, David Lynch films, and dark jazz music. The three elements come together to form a sort of otherwordly crime noir experience. Enjoy at sunset with a smoke and a glass of your favorite elixir. 
Part two will follow in the near future.

Check out the tracklist and links to the artists’ albums below the Mixcloud player.

01. 0:00:00 Dale Cooper Quartet – Aucun Cave
02. 0:06:35 Atrium Carceri, Cities Last Broadcast & God Body Disconnect – The Other Lobby
03. 0:12:20 Daniel James Dolby – Noir
04. 0:15:30 David Lynch & Dean Hurley – The Air Is On Fire: VII (Interior)
05. 0:19:40 Johnny Jewel – Windswept
06. 0:23:00 Phonothek – Heavy Thoughts
07. 0:28:30 Barry Adamson – Hollywood Sunset
08. 0:30:15 Dean Hurley – Shanghai Mysterioso
09. 0:34:45 Thelonius Monk – Round Midnight
10. 0:38:00 Wordclock – Heralds
11. 0:41:10 Musica Cthulhiana – The Unnamable
12. 0:47:35 Elegi – Vemod
13. 0:54:15 Manet – Zygomatic Bones For Days
14. 1:02:10 Phonothek – Red Moon
15. 1:06:15 Miles Davis – Generique
16. 1:08:55 Senketsu No Night Club – Megyaku

Wordclock – Heralds – Review

Artist: Wordclock
Album title: Heralds
Release date: 12 December 2017
Label: Cryo Chamber

01. Bell Ringing I
02. Bell Ringing II
03. Bell Ringing III
04. Beatrice’s Euphoria
05. St. George
06. Where Mercy Lives
07. Thames Does Flow
08. Heralds

At the youthful age of twenty-two, the Portuguese musician Pedro Pimentel has quickly solidified his position as a monumental force in the realms of dark ambient. It’s not only praise from the Cryo Chamber fan-base or label-mates that has proven Pimentel’s strengths as a musician. He’s also worked closely with Robin Finck of Nine Inch Nails on the soundtrack for the videogame Noct. All this being accomplished before most musicians have come close to finding their true calling, it’s hard to tell what Pimentel will have accomplished ten years from now.

In my opinion, his first major accomplishment has just been actualized. Heralds is the third release by Wordclock on Cryo Chamber. All the brilliant techniques Pimentel has shown over his last few albums have come to an utter climax on Heralds. This album finds itself on the fringes of the dark ambient genre, and yet it couldn’t be more in line with the goals of the genre, and particularly the Cryo Chamber label.

It’s not exactly the originality of Heralds which makes it work so well. Many of its various elements can be heard in the music of other artists such as raison d’etre, Enmarta, Phonothek and Elegi. But it’s the seemingly effortless blending of these different elements which makes Heralds praiseworthy.

The opening track brings us our first taste of this marriage of styles and techniques. Wordclock has used the piano and bass guitar previously to successful ends, but the introduction of the cello into his music has taken it to new heights. The cello, I’m convinced, is one of the best live instruments to be incorporated into dark ambient music. Each instance I’ve heard this combination throughout the last few years has been gloriously successful. For the task, Pimentel has brought back Norwegian classically trained cellist Amund Ulvestad. His skills could also be heard on the previous Wordclock album, Self Destruction Themes.

Ulvestad was first brought to my attention in 2014 as part of the Northaunt/Svartsinn split, The Borrowed World, which I still highly recommend to any readers that haven’t yet experienced it. Soon afterward, I saw him live when he toured the United States east coast performing as a duo with Svartsinn. His contributions to Heralds can’t be overstated, whenever his craft is featured the album all the better for it.

Yet, Ulvestad is far from being the only addition of note to this Wordclock release. Pimentel brings in the talents of Nuno Craveiro on the Scandinavian instrument Nyckelharpa. An instrument which has gotten some mainstream recognition recently, being used by the atmospheric black metal / Nordic folk artist Myrkur. The third addition to Heralds is George Shmanauri on trumpet. We’ve heard his trumpet work add an intriguing dark jazz flavor to his two recent albums as half of the duo Phonothek, also residing on Cryo Chamber.

When all these musicians come together, the outcome is blissful perfection. The track “Where Mercy Lives” is the crowning glory of Heralds. Pimentel brings together all of his previous experience as a solo artist and blends it with the works of these three guest musicians. Add to that some samples of choir vocals, and what we have is probably my favorite dark ambient track of the year, if not of recent years. The combination of these artists gives us a hint of what an all out dark jazz project would sound like, if they were all so inclined to create one. The music has so many noteworthy layers, that it could warrant a full review treatment itself. Suffice to say, readers must give this track their full attention, preferably through the best audio deliver system on hand, in order to appreciate the extent of its accomplishment.

It is said in the album blurb that Pimentel traveled far and wide, through Porto, London and Berlin, in order to collect the acoustic instrument sounds and field recordings necessary for completing this opus. It’s as if not only the sounds collected, but the travel itself is harnessed on Heralds. Pimentel gives us a completed album which could traverse the boundaries of dark ambient, finding praise from followers of multiple genres, including but not limited to, dark jazz, neo-classical, ambient and northern European folk.

It has been apparent since his debut, Endless, that Pimentel was a musician to keep an eye on. That sentiment has never been more apparent than now. With the release of Heralds, Pimentel shows the staggering extent of his ambition and skill as a musician and a studio technician. I simply can’t overstate the magnitude to which this album has moved me, and I strongly suspect that it will have the same effect on many, if not most, readers of this review.

Written by: Michael Barnett

Phonothek – Red Moon – Review

Artist: Phonothek
Album: Red Moon
Release date: 4 April 2017
Label: Cryo Chamber

01. Yellow Forest (feat. Keosz)
02. Last Melody (feat. Cities Last Broadcast)
03. Come In The Whisper
04. Cryo From The Abyss
05. Margo
06. In The Smell Of The Wolves
07. Mudra
08. Red Moon

Phonothek is a dark ambient act from the country of Georgia. Their first release, Lost In Fog, debuted last year on Cryo Chamber. Lost In Fog quickly caught the attention of fans and critics alike with their use of a noir jazz infused form of dark ambient. This year they release their follow-up Red Moon, which takes this style even further. Honing their sounds, Phonothek are proving to be one of the most interesting acts on Cryo Chamber. Which is no small feat considering the amount of talent backed by this young but well established record label.

On Lost In Fog we heard fleeting moments of this noir jazz infused dark ambient style. Tracks like “Old Swings” began to tap into this energy, yet “Heavy Thoughts” was the most blatant use of the format. My thoughts at the time, regarding Lost In Fog, were that Phonothek had a solid start, but would be able to distinguish themselves from the rest of the genre even more so if they directed more focus toward the use of their horns, trumpets, and trombones. Some tracks on Lost In Fog were not wholly impressive to me, while others seemed to shine a brilliance over the entire album, more than making up for a few weak points.

Red Moon certainly remedies any previous misgivings. Phonothek have chosen their path, and are now following it unapologetically. Throughout the entire album we hear these jazzy instruments taking on a life of their own. The use of viola, trombone, trumpet, horn and bariton all come together throughout Red Moon to lend an air of authenticity and real world appeal to the project. One may imagine themselves walking through the filthy alleys of New Orleans, late at night, as a thick fog hovers over the streets and the scent of refuse and the homeless sicken the senses. The darkness is perfectly blended with the noir jazz style, breathing life into Red Moon. It effortlessly pulls the listener along for a journey which won’t be soon forgotten. Of course, Phonothek may have never seen the streets of New Orleans, and certainly there are many other and older cities across the lands of Europe and Russia which would equally fit these sounds.

As if the honing of their style weren’t enough, Phonothek brought Keosz and Cities Last Broadcast along for the journey on Red Moon. The opening track “Yellow Forest” introduces us to this hazy smog ridden environment. Who better to add atmospherics to this dark urban style than Keosz, an artist who engages with the midnight city streets like few others in the genre. It is also fitting that Keosz is featured on this track, as his album, AVA, released soon after Red Moon. As mentioned in the review of AVA, Keosz and Phonothek have both stepped up their performances on these latest releases, delivering two quite memorable albums, and highlights of their careers thus far.

On “Last Melody” Phonothek made another brilliant move by adding the skills of Pär Boström’s often apocalyptic urban soundscapes that are Cities Last Broadcast. Cities Last Broadcast adds some of its more eerie and occult leaning work to “Last Melody”. We hear Boström’s falsetto voice barely cutting through the mix at one point, adding an otherworldly feeling to the track. After these two highly original and perfectly executed collaborative tracks, the rest of the album is able to commence at a running start.

As we proceed through the rest of Red Moon, we hear a style and theme that is consistent from beginning to end. Each track adds another layer to their noir-jazz midnight urban stroll. The city streets come to life at every turn. Yet, the instruments and field recordings incorporated throughout also exude an aura of occult mysteries. There is more to this story than just the envisioning of a cityscape in the nighttime hours. There is a darkness with a sense of the supernatural complementing the urban nightscapes. This part of the story is best left to the individual listeners’ imagination. Surely each person will find their own answers in the song titles and field recording cues throughout the album.

Red Moon takes all the best elements of Lost In Fog and doubles down on them. They leave behind the aspects that didn’t seem to fit their style as well. For many artists of all genres, the sophomore release is always the best indication of their longevity. Will they hone their skills further, tapping into a wealth of ideas and talents, or will they stall, grasping for new ideas where there is little left to be found? Phonothek clearly fit the latter, and they seem to be set on a path of excellence which won’t fade anytime soon.

Written by: Michael Barnett

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