Tag Archives: Constellation

Have the first taste of The Big Mango, the forthcoming album by Land of Kush on Constellation

12 Aug

Constellation are proud to present the latest from Sam Shalabi’s Land of Kush ensemble, The Big Mango. Inspired by and dedicated to the city of Cairo (Shalabi’s home since 2011), the album rallies more than 20 Montreal musicians to create some of the most immediate, impassioned and profound work we’ve seen from Sam yet.

On an early listen, Alan Bishop of Sun City Girls and Sublime Frequencies said, “Sam Shalabi has raised the bar for modern psychedelic music by composing this epic suite for his 20-piece Land of Kush orchestra. By utilizing African, Middle Eastern, Indian, jazz, rock, and folkloric sources, The Big Mango weaves a seamless montage of styles in a transcendent way that is rarely, if ever, achieved…It will demand your attention from start to finish.

The album hits UK/EU stores 30 September. See below for more album info, including an audio sample of album track “The Pit”, or click here for the full run-down.

Stream ‘The Pit’ here: https://soundcloud.com/constellation-records/land-of-kush-the-pit-edit/s-kJqnJ

Osama (Sam) Shalabi moved to Cairo in 2011, settling in an apartment one block from Tahrir Square, in the midst of Egypt’s ‘Arab Spring’. Shalabi describes The Big Mango, his new and phenomenal work for his Land Of Kush big band, as “a love letter to Cairo” framed by “the beautiful, surreal madness of the city…as joyous, horrific, historical events were unfolding”. The music was also inspired by time spent in Dakar, where in Senegal’s music scene Sam experienced parallels to another of his central aesthetic and political touchstones, Brazilian Tropicalia, in the sense of a “positivity, complexity and radicalism in art that was also playful and joyous and wasn’t necessarily part of a ‘revolution’ but seemed to be a form of innate radicalism”. In tandem with the relative openness of Dakar’s Islamic society – with the much more prominent role and presence of women in public and private life and the relaxed physicality and sensuality of the culture in general – Senegalese music offered a powerful counterpoint and feeling of promise for Egypt’s own future. “The Big Mango” is one of the many nicknames for Cairo, but for Shalabi it also evokes the succour and sensuality of southern hemispheric music more generally, in this relation to broader socio-political movements.

Montréal remains Shalabi’s home base and the city to which he briefly returned towards the end of 2012 to reconvene the troupe of players that have helped him realize his large-scale works under the Land Of Kush moniker. Working through The Big Mango score with these local musicians culminated in two ecstatic live performances and a recording session at Montréal’s Hotel2Tango studio. This third album by Land Of Kush is arguably the group’s most focused and immediately satisfying.

For Shalabi, gender and Arab culture has been a central theme, one he took up explicitly on the previous Kush album Monogamy (2011), and which similarly drives The Big Mango, where once again a series of female vocalists drawn from Montréal’s indie rock community anchor the work and convey what in most of the North African Arab world remains a profoundly unrealized though burgeoning spirit of gender equality, participation, expression and liberation. This promise is at the heart of Shalabi’s “love letter”.

The Big Mango opens with a bubbling Fauvist stew of balafon, flute, electronics and vocalizations which abruptly segue into solo piano and saxophone improvisations – an introductory set of musical mating calls that invoke the album’s deeper conceptual and formal preoccupations. The libidinal energy of rock n’ roll is then re-situated in a heterodox Middle Eastern context as the album’s centerpiece songs unfold: ”The Pit”, “Mobil Nil”, “Drift Beguine” and “The Big Mango” each marked by propulsive female vocal performances from Ariel Engle, Katie Moore, Elizabeth Anka Vajagic and Molly Sweeney respectively.

Underpinning each of these singers is some of Land Of Kush’s s most melodically and rhythmically compelling music, conjuring a post-modern psychedelia that is truly sui generis. The band delivers the grooves and soloists unleash excursions more fluidly than ever; for many of these players, it’s the third time around embracing Shalabi’s music, getting inside the spirit of the score, and following his conduction. In combination with the peaking intensity and electricity of Sam’s compositional vision, The Big Mango coheres, sparkles and soars: a distillation of the sonic trajectory Land Of Kush has been charting for the past six years.

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Esmerine reveal new track ‘Barn Board Fire’ from brand new album, Dalmak

12 Aug
Esmerine’s new album Dalmak emphatically confirms that the group has continued writing, exploring and collaborating – definitively extending its horizons in this new iteration of the band’s trajectory. Bruce Cawdron (marimba) resigned from his seat as drummer for Godspeed You! Black Emperor in 2012, allowing him to focus more fully on Esmerine alongside co-founder and cellist Rebecca Foon (Silver Mt. Zion, Set Fire To Flames); the two principals also recruited percussionist Jamie Thompson (Unicorns, Islands) and multi-instrumentalist Brian Sanderson as full-time members to solidify the group as a writing and performing quartet.

European tours in 2011-2012 brought Esmerine to Istanbul, where the group’s enthusiastic reception led to an invitation for an artist residency in the city. Dalmak is the fruit of that visit: the majority of the album was recorded in Istanbul, where the band’s four Canadian musicians were joined by an equal number of Turkish guest players: Hakan Vreskala, Baran Aşık, Ali Kazim Akdağ and James Hakan Dedeoğlu on various instruments.

Dalmak is a Turkish verb with many connotations: to contemplate, to be absorbed in, to dive into, to bathe in, to rush into, to plummet. As a title for Esmerine’s new album, “dalmak” refers in a literal sense to immersion in the culture and music of Istanbul but also appropriately evokes the range of music that emerged from this immersion: a collection of songs that shift between meditative pulsing and enveloping restraint to headlong flights into rhythm and groove. With Dalmak, Esmerine presents some of its most richly minimal and intimate music alongside what is surely its most explosive, energized and ornate.

The Quietus have shared ‘Barn Board Fire’, a real gem and my personal favourite track from the brand new Esmerine album.
The album is a tour-de-force of cross-cultural music-making, emotive but unsentimental, deeply textured and detailed but never precious, superbly guided throughout by a balance of DIY rock, new folk and modern classical/contemporary sensibilities. On Dalmak, up-tempo rhythmic songs “Lost River Blues”, “Barn Board Fire” and “Translator’s Clos” are at the album’s core. Marimba, cello, drums, tenor banjo, bass and trumpet are joined by bendir, darbuka, erbane, meh, barama, saz and electric guitar from the local players for these centerpiece tracks, where extended melodic themes are passed around and woven through staccato grooves and polyrhythmic vamps in deeply satisfying fashion. Then, more studied cello and marimba songs “Learning To Crawl” and “White Pine” reveal the album’s gorgeously saturated warmth, depth and pulsing grit.

Constellation will release Dalmak on 2 September 2013.

 

Esmerine to release new album ‘Dalmak’ this September; sample “Translator’s Clos Part II” now

20 Jun

esmerine

When Esmerine surfaced with La Lechuza in 2011, the album signaled many things: the band’s first new recordings in six years, an expanded line-up, and a song cycle inspired by and dedicated to the life and untimely death of a dear friend and fellow musician. What wasn’t immediately clear was whether this acclaimed record would mark the opening of a new chapter for the band, or stand alone as a singular work of eulogy and homage driven by emotion and circumstance.

Esmerine’s new album Dalmak emphatically confirms that the group has indeed continued writing, exploring and collaborating – definitively extending its horizons in this new iteration of the band’s trajectory. Bruce Cawdron (marimba) resigned from his seat as drummer for Godspeed You! Black Emperor in 2012, allowing him to focus more fully on Esmerine alongside co-founder and cellist Rebecca Foon (Silver Mt. Zion, Set Fire To Flames); the two principals also recruited percussionistJamie Thompson (Unicorns, Islands) and multi-instrumentalist Brian Sanderson as full-time members to solidify the group as a writing and performing quartet.

European tours in 2011-2012 brought Esmerine to Istanbul, where the group’s enthusiastic reception led to an invitation for an artist residency in the city. Dalmak is the fruit of that visit: the majority of the album was recorded in Istanbul, where the band’s four Canadian musicians were joined by an equal number of Turkish guest players: Hakan Vreskala, Baran Aşık, Ali Kazim Akdağ and James Hakan Dedeoğlu on various instruments.

Dalmak is a Turkish verb with many connotations: to contemplate, to be absorbed in, to dive into, to bathe in, to rush into, to plummet. As a title for Esmerine’s new album, “dalmak” refers in a literal sense to immersion in the culture and music of Istanbul but also appropriately evokes the range of music that emerged from this immersion: a collection of songs that shift between meditative pulsing and enveloping restraint to headlong flights into rhythm and groove. With Dalmak, Esmerine presents some of its most richly minimal and intimate music alongside what is surely its most explosive, energized and ornate.

HEAR ONE OF THE ALBUM TRACKS “Translator’s Clos Part II” VIA THE CONSTELLATION SOUNDCLOUD PAGE OR VIA THIS DIRECT LINK:http://snd.sc/12DUGG5

The album is a tour-de-force of cross-cultural music-making, emotive but unsentimental, deeply textured and detailed but never precious, superbly guided throughout by a balance of DIY rock, new folk and modern classical/contemporary sensibilities.

With initial recording by Barkin Engin and Metin Bozkurt in Istanbul, Esmerine laid down the live bed tracks for the up-tempo rhythmic songs at the album’s core: “Lost River Blues”, “Barn Board Fire” and “Translator’s Clos”. Marimba, cello, drums, tenor banjo, bass and trumpet are joined by bendir, darbuka, erbane, meh, barama, saz and electric guitar from the local players for these centerpiece tracks, where extended melodic themes are passed around and woven through staccato grooves and polyrhythmic vamps in deeply satisfying fashion. The sessions continued back in Montréal at Breakglass Studio, where Cawdron and Foon tracked the more studied cello and marimba songs “Learning To Crawl” and “White Pine”, and where the album’s gorgeously saturated warmth, depth and pulsing grit was achieved courtesy of Breakglass head engineer Jace Lasek (Wolf Parade, The Besnard Lakes, Suuns) and Ian Ilavsky, who mixed the album alongside Beckie and Bruce.

Constellation will be releasing Dalmak on 2 September 2013.

Sarah Neufeld announces debut solo album Hero Brother on Constellation

13 May

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Sarah Neufeld is a violinist and composer based in Montréal, Canada. Best known as a member of Arcade Fire, she is also a founding member of the acclaimed contemporary instrumental ensemble Bell Orchestre and has performed and recorded with many other groups, including The Luyas, Esmerine and Little Scream.

Neufeld began developing pieces for solo violin in a more formal and focused sense in 2011, though she has made improvisation and solo composition part of her process and practice since first picking up the instrument at a young age. Neufeld counts Bela Bartok, Steve Reich, Iva Bittova and Arthur Russell among the formative influences for her solo work, in tandem with an ear for the textures and sensibilities of contemporary electro-acoustic, avant-folk and indie rock music.

Neufeld’s debut solo album Hero Brother indeed channels all of the above, flowing through shifting atmospheres and oscillating between restrained, stately ambience, emotive études, and raw kinetic energy. Small touches of wordless vocalisation, harmonium and piano supplant the violin in a few places. The album was recorded in Berlin by pianist and producer Nils Frahm, with Neufeld’s performances captured in a number of locations with site-specific acoustics, including an abandoned geodesic dome, an underground parking garage, and the legendary Studio P4 orchestral recording hall at the broadcast complex of the former GDR. Hero Brother will be released on Constellation Records in August 2013.

Sarah has recently premiered her solo music at BAM (Brooklyn), the WSO New Music Festival (Winnipeg) and Wavelength Festival (Toronto), of which Exclaim magazine wrote “the highlight of the night was most certainly Sarah Neufeld, whose compositions range from Reichian to folksy without skipping a beat; she uses violin squeals, growls, scrapes and slides to express varying emotions and stomps the stage beneath her for percussion.”

Neufeld will be touring as a soloist extensively throughout 2013-2014 alongside her ongoing commitments with Arcade Fire, including a London show at Bush Hall on Sunday 26th May.

You can stream the title track from the album here https://soundcloud.com/constellation-records/sarah-neufeld-hero-brother

TRACKLIST

1. Tower

2. Hero Brother

3. Dirt

4. You Are The Field

5. Breathing Black Ground

6. They Live On

7. Wrong Thought

8. Right Thought

9. Sprinter Fire

10. Forcelessness

11. Below

Jerusalem In My Heart – a new offering from Constellation Records

28 Jan

JIMH web cover

Jerusalem In My Heart (JIMH) is a project of contemporary Arabic and electronic music interwoven with 16mm film projections and light-based (de)constructions of space, exploring a relationship between music, visuals, projections and audience. With performances thus far occurring once or twice a year, no two JIMH events have ever been the same: configurations have ranged from solo to 35 participants, with varying degrees of stage theatrics alongside a film & visual component, using multiple projections to construct a space in constant flux. JIMH’s vocals and purposefully blown-out sonic sensibility have been the consistent thread, but neither its music nor visual propositions have ever repeated themselves – one of the reasons why JIMH has resisted for eight years any official documentation or definitive recording of the project.

JIMH was formed in 2005 by Radwan Ghazi Moumneh, a Lebanese national who has spent a large part of his adult life in Quebec and has been a fixture of the Montreal independent music community, from his early days in various notable 90s punk bands to his tireless activities over the last decade as a sound engineer, producer and co-owner of Montreal’s Hotel2Tango recording studio. Moumneh is also active in the Beirut experimental music scene, where he spends a few months every year. JIMH now consists of a core trio with French musician & producer Jérémie Regnier and Chilean visual artist & filmmaker Malena Szlam Salazar, whose two-year collaboration with Moumneh has resulted in the co-creation of JIMH’s debut album Mo7it Al-Mo7it.

JIMH forges a modern experimental Arabic music by wedding melismatic singing in classic Arabic styles and electronic compositions with contemporary electronic production. The album equally emphasizes the intimacy and narrative pace that focused, intentional studio recording allows. The result is a unique and profoundly emotive album of contemporary Arabic music, a stunningly subtle first record for a project that resisted documentation or any sort of fixity for so many years. Moumneh’s voice has become a powerfully authentic instrument, and his production techniques applying distortion, tape echos and delays to varying degrees transmit a timeless intensity to the recording. Saturated synths and the overdriven signals of Moumneh’s acoustic buzuk and zurna reinforce the reigning sensibility, providing a bracing counterpoint to the vocals and lovely, searching instrumental narratives in their own right. Szlam’s work was the source material for the album’s visual aesthetic. Szlam’s visual creation for the album derives from sequences that echo lunar notions and photographic intervals that reverberate and resonate, evoking the oscillation of time. Using frames from various hand-processed 16mm filmstrips, Szlam created a lunar sequence that consitutes the album cover artwork.

Inspired by the Lebanese educator Boutros Al-Bustani’s book Circumference of the Ocean, Mo7it Al-Mo7it signifies, in JIMH’s open and poetic interpretation, “Ocean of the Ocean.” The numeral 7 is pronounced like an h; all titles on the album are rendered in contemporary colloquial “mobile” Arabic (the transliterative characters used in Arabic phone texting).

Our words can only begin to convey just how exceptional this recording is so please do listen to a track from the album on Constellation’s Soundcloud page. Feel free to share: http://soundcloud.com/constellation-records/yudaghdegh-el-ra3ey-walal/s-Hj67c

http://www.cstrecords.com

 

Do Make Say Think play Goodbye Enemy Airship at ATP’s “Don’t Look Back” in London, 27 November

12 Oct

Do Make Say Think will perform their classic second album Goodbye Enemy Airship The Landlord Is Dead as part of the “Don’t Look Back” series presented by ATP.

The concert takes place in London at The Electric Ballroom on 27 November. TICKET LINKS HERE

The band will no doubt also tap into and play other highlights from its tremendously excellent catalogue of six albums spanning the past decade-and-a-half. This will be a very special night, featuring the Do Make Say Think core line-up of Charles Spearin, David Mitchell, James Payment, Justin Small and Ohad Benchetrit – unchanged since the group’s inception in 1996. The band will be joined by longtime “number six” member Adam Marvy.

DMST will be offering up the Airship experience at the Constellation 15th Anniversary mini-festivals in Europe this November as well.

And the band plays additional European shows joined by Sandro Perri and Eric Chenaux – scroll down a bit on the Do Make Say Think artist page for all dates.

Some reflections from Don and Ian about the band and the Goodbye Enemy Airship album:

“When Do Make Say Think handed us their new record at the end of 1999, we were floored. We knew the band had sparked something special with their first album, but for us this was still a pretty abstract feeling and experience; unlike all the other groups we were releasing in the early days, DMST didn’t live in Montréal. We were still just getting to know them, we weren’t really connected to their scene in Toronto, we weren’t seeing them personally or playing live on any regular basis, and we couldn’t be sure how the heady mix of influences on their first album might play out.

With Goodbye Enemy Airship The Landlord Is Dead, the band delivered on every promise we had projected upon them! They truly established their seriousness, originality, soulfulness and narrative depth as an instrumental rock band. The first album was a tour-de-force debut of exuberantly controlled space-jams blending psych, jazz and breakbeat – but GEATLID tapped a whole new level of emotion and compositional tension, with a sonic palette and trajectory that was more raw and elemental while equally more subtle and complex. The record’s title, pulled from a Toronto street art paste-up that also serves as the album cover, perfectly evoked the powerful mix of defiance, isolation, melancholy, escape, communion, relief and jubilation that the album’s song cycle conveys.

Yup, we were floored. In 1999, Do Make’s brilliant sophomore album felt to us like a statement by a band that was here to say, and we could only hope at the time that this might prove true. The band proved it and then some, going on to release four more awesome records in the 2000s that we think makes them one of the most consistent, conscious and unpretentious groups to explore the expressive possibilities of genre-bending hybrid instrumental rock music.”

But don’t take it from Don and Ian.

DMST really have been one of the most consistently acclaimed artists on the label. They helped gestate and inform the sound and spirit of Broken Social Scene, among others, but kept their heads down and ears attuned to their own keenly independent, non-indulgent and intuitive trajectory. In the end, quality, integrity and constancy are their own rewards and DMST are hardly alone in being a symbol for the fickleness and frivolousness that conspires against such traits being recalled and recognised more broadly. The five-person core of Do Make Say Think has remained unchanged since the earliest days; theirs has been a story of humble dedication to uncompromising creativity and friendship through music – the only clichés to which they have unapologetically succumbed!

Do Make Say Think are a band genuinely deserving of time, engagement and hard-earned cash if anyone has the chance to see them in Europe this Autumn.

Thank you for your time.