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Album reviews: Atoms for Peace | Mogwai | Donald Black

We review the rest of the week’s albums

POP

Atoms For Peace

Amok

XL Recordings, £11.99

* * *

The sexier names in Thom Yorke’s funky new project will doubtless garner more attention, but the key presence is Nigel Godrich. He is the glue holding all the disparate elements together, making sense of it all.

Despite the distraction of Flea’s involvement on sabbatical from the Chili Peppers, or esteemed drummer Joey Waronker, it is hard to think of this as anything other than a Yorke solo record.

Judge, Jury And Executioner is a prime piece of taut electronica, while Stuck Together Pieces restructures the guitar and bass dynamic to produce a new ambient feel.

CS

Download this: Judge Jury And Executioner, Default

Mogwai

Les Revenants Soundtrack

Rock Action, £11.99

* * * *

Stuart Braithwaite’s noiseniks were designed for projects such as this, the often delicate musical arrangements contrasting with the brutal titles attached to them, such as Kill Jester or This Messiah Needs Watching.

Mogwai are no strangers to soundtracks, and the most celebrated was their soundscaping of the football documentary Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait in 2006. This is less dark, to the point of being occasionally frothy.

Whisky Time lilts gently, before a rare rhetorical question, What Are They Doing In Heaven Today?, boasting an even rarer vocal. Just to remind you this is Mogwai we are talking about here, the closing Wizard Motor cranks up the volume in style.

CS

Download this: All of it

JAZZ

Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra: Duke Ellington

Black, Brown And Beige

Naxos 8.559737, £5.99

* * * *

Duke Ellington’s majestic, spirituals-infused Black, Brown And Beige, the composer’s first full-blown suite – which broke down barriers between jazz and classical music, and irritated critics from both disciplines when it was premiered by the Ellington band at the Carnegie Hall in 1943 – is the centrepiece of this impressive CD by the Buffalo Philharmonic, conducted by JoAnn Falletta. It’s well complemented by Ellington’s rarely heard Three Black Kings ballet and The River Suite.

Alison Kerr

Download this: Beige, Martin Luther King

FOLK

Donald Black

Dreams And Dances

Macmeanmna SKYECD55, £12.99

* * * *

The expert harmonica player heaps bagpipe tunes in amongst the country music, a contemporary Fergie MacDonald lament called Afghanistan, and “slow and sad Gaelic airs”. His repertoire here, as the most professional and accomplished of Scottish moothie players – and accompanied by piano, guitar, fiddle and cello – is firmly rooted in Gaelic music and the old Argyllshire traditions, and includes at least half a dozen of those slow and evocative airs. The rest is a mix of waltzes, jigs, marches and reels – the latter three punched out as if by a tight melodeon-led Highland dance band, but with precise breath control, while Black lets his feelings hang out in the Gaelic Medley of three slow waltzes.

Norman Chalmers

Download this: Macleod’s Reels

CLASSICAL

Amanda Roocroft, Joseph Middleton

Tell Me The Truth About Love

Champs Hill CHRCD040, £11.99

* * * * *

This beautifully packaged recording brings together songs around the conceit of a weekend love affair, beginning with an innocent young girl’s wonders and fears (the album’s title song, a setting by Benjamin Britten of a poem by WH Auden). The CD moves through a variety of emotions to its close: Britten’s version of the traditional Early One Morning.

In between, there is much to enjoy, not only in the quality of this well-paired performance, but in the emotional range displayed in a series of musical vignettes.

If anything, the emotions tend to be contained, held by the words and the music, with little room for high drama, or conversely for frivolity. Nevertheless, well worth hearing.

Alexander Bryce

Download this: Weill, Je Ne T’aime Pas

 

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