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What is a Qobuzissime? It’s an award presented by Qobuz for a first or second album.

Pop or Reggae, Metal or Classical, Jazz or Blues, no genre is excluded. More often than not the award is presented to a newly discovered artist.

Sometimes it might be a particularly quirky or a crossover album from a discography.

The important aspects are uniqueness, sincerity and quality. We look for these things in the recording, the project and the sound identity.





Albums

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Contemporary Jazz - Released October 29, 2021 | We Jazz

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Qobuzissime
The Nordic countries have always offered a fascinating uniqueness in their approach to jazz. A uniqueness that is no doubt confirmed by this magnificent album by Linda Fredriksson. With Juniper, the Finnish saxophonist, already active in the Mopo trio and the Superposition quartet, demonstrates the full range of their artistic skills here. Surrounded by Tuomo Prättälä on piano (electric and acoustic), Minna Koivisto on modular synth, Olavi Louhivuori on drums and Mikael Saastamoinen on bass, Fredriksson combines themes composed over a number of years on guitar, piano and vocals (heard on 'Lempilauluni'), which have now been beautifully arranged for this group. Juniper is, according to Linda, a singer-songwriter's album but performed by an instrumental jazz band. The album is, above all, a record centred around introspection, a form of soaring meditation, that is then speckled with little findings, like the watermark rain heard on 'Neon Light' (and the 'Sky Was Trans'), the weightless opening theme...The fascination for singer-songwriters like Neil Young or Sufjan Stevens - two influences that Fredriksson notes - gives their playing a real narrative force. This ethereal, essentially acoustic style of jazz, capable of haunting digressions ('Nana - Tepalle'), also appropriates a whole electronic instrumentation that is handled with great delicacy. Fredriksson succeeds in fusing all of this disparate material, which evokes the most rudimentary folklore as well as futuristic sounds. For this album they borrow elements ranging from the music of Satie to the atypical jazz of labels such as ECM or Hubro. Binding all these ingredients together is Linda's musical touch, adopting a spiritual approach like that of Pharoah Sanders or the more free-spirited Eric Dolphy. Here's a Qobuzissime album that is invigorating and full of rare musical poetry. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Soul - Released September 24, 2021 | Roche Musique

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Describing something as bewitching is often overused. However, with Kesiena Ukochovbara aka Wayne Snow, it is more than fitting. It only takes a few second to lose oneself in this ultra-sensual neo-soul blend from this fascinating Nigerian artist who grew up in Paris and lives in Berlin. A sprinkle of pop, a dash of electro and a few pinches of jazz a little later on (Kokoroko guitarist Oscar Jerome is part of the mix), Figurine turns the codes of modern R&B upside down by tweaking only the smallest of details. Produced by Frenchman Crayon for the Roche Musique label, the album is first and foremost a vast patchwork of past, present and future sound textures—like an Afro-futurism soundtrack that fires the legacy of Marvin Gaye and Sade into a completely new realm. Though Wayne Snow's main goal here may be to conquer his own cultural and musical identity, he is also striving to answer some of the wider question of our time. As for the feeling of bewitchment, this mainly comes from the fact that this soulman, rooted in the present, never ends up sounding like an umpteenth subpar Frank Ocean. Wayne Snow is an original musician, as he shows us with this phenomenal record. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Chamber Music - Released September 17, 2021 | Orchid Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Qobuzissime
The Solem Quartet is no stranger to the classical and contemporary music world. As winners of the Jerwood Arts Live Work Fund 2020, they are one of the UK's most significant artistic voices. In addition, the ensemble stands out for its musical diversity and openness due to its involvement in innovative projects as well as collaborations with artists from different genres. Now the four musicians from England release their long-awaited debut album, The Four Quarters on Orchid Classics: a musical, transcendent journey influenced by composers from the Baroque period to the present. Despite such a diverse selection of compositions, one piece stands out as spanning the entire album: Thomas Ades' masterpiece The Four Quarters. The four movements meander through the enormous range of recordings and appear between arrangements by Henry Purcell, Florence Price, Béla Bartók and Robert Schumann. Ades' composition is based on the cycle of the day as a central metaphor - a ramble from the early hours of the morning to the depths of the night. The juxtaposition of time and space, earth and sky is also reflected in the music. In the first movement, 'Nightfalls', the violins sound fine overtones in regular patterns, the viola and cello play the deep harmony far below and thus remain grounded. Another highlight of the album is certainly the interpretation of Aaron Parker's 'easqelä'. It is the fourth movement of the five-part work 'Tuoretu', which was composed specifically for the Solem Quartet. The name was invented freely and refers to the eternal expanses of eastern England as well as the fading colours of the sunset, which, just like the sounds, merge boundlessly into one another. The melancholic, haunting viola solo, underpinned by the dim fifth and fourth parallels of the other strings, reinforces the ever-present transcendence and once again draws out the fundamental elements of the album: closeness to nature, dreamscapes and timelessness. And even though it is the penultimate track on the record, the end of the musical dream journey is far from in sight...With The Four Quarters, the Solem Quartet releases a unique and highly inspiring album that sets its own timeless anchor between contemporary art and traditional sounds. © Lena Germann/Qobuz
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Electronic - Released September 10, 2021 | Ninja Tune

Hi-Res Distinctions Qobuzissime
After making a splash in 2018 with her debut EP If U Want It, which included the hits ABC and I DON'T CARE, Park Hye Jin went on to attract attention with live performances during which she would grab the mic to sing/rap over what she was mixing on the decks. Hastily branded the new prodigy of lo-fi house, on her first album the South Korean demonstrates that her palette is actually a lot broader than that. Coming from her base in Los Angeles, you can feel the laid back spirit of Californian rap hovering over this record, which starts with a UK garage vibe (but with a powerful kick) on Let's Sing Let's Dance. Park Hye Jin raps throughout the first half of the album, with moody choruses like on Good Morning Good Night with its muffled boom bap and reverb guitar that serve to accentuate the sunny side of the track. In the same vein, note the hypnotic I Need You or Where Did I Go, as well as the artist’s gift for simple and catchy choruses with a nonchalant flow that goes back and forth between the front and the back of the sound stage.While there's a very rap flow to the record, house is never far away. You can hear small elements of it on tracks such as Whatchu Doin Later or Can I Get Your Number (which is set to be remixed very soon); you hear it in the phrasing of the choruses, or in the effects on her voice. The second part of the record is more straightforward with 4/4 beats on Sex With Me (DEFG), which follows the principle of her hit ABC with slightly more daring lyrics, and Where Are You Think, a model of lo-fi house that is much too short. Hey, Hey, Hey and Never Die raise the BPM and move towards techno, the latter brightened by a looped piano chord and a voice that disperses like steam. It all ends in a steamy trap-style fusion on Sunday ASAP and i jus wanna be happy, a track that's as cottony as they come. Out of nowhere, Park Hye Jin has built a new bridge between hip-hop and electronic music; a more than deserving Qobuzissime. © Smaël Bouaici/Qobuz
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Classical - Released September 10, 2021 | InFiné

Hi-Res Distinctions Qobuzissime
Gaspar Claus' first solo album is long overdue! Over the past fifteen years, the cellist has travelled, met and collaborated with many great artists from a multitude of backgrounds: from his father Pedro Soler to Barbara Carlotti, from Rone to Bryce Dessner. With all these influences under his belt, all that remained was for the musician to find the best possible home for the release of Tancade: the label InFiné. It's an eminently personal album as this is the first time Gaspar Claus has been out on his own. We should also salute the remarkable contributions made by Francesco Donadello and David Chalmain in mastering and mixing this record, giving it a unique sound which is rich in contrasts.The material is minimalistic; with nothing but a cello, Claus captivates with the variety of his compositions, making an infinitely diverse use of his instrument's innumerable possibilities. Pizzicatis, bowing that is alternately smooth and grating, resonance in the low notes answered by aerial high notes... a true sonic architect, this performer succeeds in making each of this work's tracks into a world of its own, each summoning unique sensations. We are drawn into the almost tribal and hypnotising trance of the percussive 'Une foule' before entering the more meditative atmosphere of the crepuscular '1999'. One can only admire Claus' genius in sculpting so much material with so few tools, the contribution of electronics being limited to a bare minimum with only discreet reverb or distortion effects.Tancade's great strength lies in the way that it never sinks into mere demonstrations of technical skill. This album is not a simple catalogue of everything a cellist can do with their instrument. On each track, the composition and execution are all determined by the atmosphere that the artist wishes to create. Gaspar Claus has created a magnificent album, full of inventiveness and poetry, which reconnects the listener with a host of age-old emotions. So it's hardly a stretch to declare that Tancade is sure to become an essential classic of the contemporary cello. © Pierre LAMY Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 10, 2021 | Rough Trade

Hi-Res Distinctions Qobuzissime
One of the most exciting punk bands of the last few years, it has been said and repeated over and over: Amyl and the Sniffers. The Australians, led by the brilliant Amy Taylor, are gradually climbing the ladder of notoriety with their explosive live performances and 'no shits given' attitude. After two EPs they recorded their first album with Joey Walker of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. This self titled album landed them the award for best rock album at the prestigious ARIA Awards, and now, here is Comfort to Me and its deformed cover. The aptly named Comfort to Me was born out of the confined period during which Amy, Bryce Wilson (drums), Dec Martens (guitar) and Fergus Romer (bass), behind closed doors in a Melbourne house, worked daily on these haunting tracks filled with a garage energy.The recipe inherited from Cro-Mags or Cosmic Psychos differs slightly from Amyl's previous releases: a repetitive and searing rhythm section; simple, raw and looped lyrics; intricate howling guitars and ultra-short tracks. The key difference: more meticulous production. But it's best to let Amy talk about that: "If I had to explain what this record is like, I'd say it's like watching an episode of One Hell of a Nanny, except the setting is the Australian car show, Fran is interested in social issues, she's read a few books, and Mr. Sheffield is drinking beer in the sun. It's a Mitsubishi Lancer going slightly over the speed limit in a school zone. It's realising how good it is to wear sweatpants to bed. It's having someone want to make you dinner when you're really tired. It's me shadow-boxing on stage, covered in sweat, instead of sitting quietly in a corner."  Here lies everything we love in a Qobuzissime! © Charlotte Saintoin/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 27, 2021 | Memphis Industries

Hi-Res Distinctions Qobuzissime
Babatunde Teemituoyo Doherty, or Baba Ali for short, is an '80s man. But there's more to him than that, as Memory Device proves. He grew up to the sounds of Prince, Michael Jackson and even Femi Kuti (who was a family friend), D'Angelo and J Dilla. A New Jersey native with Nigerian roots, Baba Ali combines the sparkle of funk, the coldness of post-punk and the effusiveness of dance music to create the stunning Memory Device. He's an aesthete in search of total art who as a high schooler formed a duo called Voices of Black: "We were like, well, we're two Black kids but we listen to Radiohead and Joy Division and all this different music, and we don't wanna feel like we're in this box anymore. We want to make music that is expansive and goes everywhere and touches on everything." This attitude lay behind the creation of the philosophy they called "Yarchism," promoting an instinct-led approach to creativity and the pursuit of the purest possible expression of one's creative vision. Ali developed this idea further while studying art at Brown. The more mature demos produced in this period caught the eye of his comrade Nicolas Jaar, who helped the pair bring out their first EP on the electro label Wolf + Lamb (Seth Troxler, Shaun Reeves), which was where Jaar himself had started out. There followed Nomad (2017) and This House (2020), two initial solo EPs influenced by the sounds of grime and the artist's repeated listening of LCD Soundsystem and Iggy Pop, whom he discovered in London where he now lives. Written in the solitude of lockdown and recorded between September 2020 and February 2021 with Al Doyle (Hot Chip, LCD Soundsystem) in East London, this first long-format release is inspired as much by James White and The Blacks as by Yves Tumor's Heaven to a Tortured Mind (2020). There's some late-'70s post-disco lurking in the heavy atmosphere of these avant-garde experiments ("Better Days," "Nuclear Family") as well as distorted vocals and depressive lyrics ("I've seen better days"). Synths predominate in this successful outing ("Nature's Curse," "Got an Idea"), with support from bass and beats ("Black Wagon") and a rounded-out sound that recalls funk and new wave ("Draggin' On," "Temp Worker"). But quite apart from the broad variety of musical references on display, what really makes this album captivating is the way the tension is maintained from one track to the next, making it the stuff of cathartic club trips. In short, a gem of a Qobuzissime, whose magic simply has to be shared. © Charlotte Saintoin/Qobuz
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Classical - Released August 27, 2021 | L'Encelade

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Qobuzissime
The extraordinary recital "Le clavecin mythologique", also for the Versailles-based label L'Encelade, provides an original pretext for a colourful and inspired exploration of the harpsichord repertoire of eighteenth-century France (mainly). Once again, the Austrian Anne Marie Dragosits lavishes us with her art for enchantment and takes us into the heart of the night, a moment conducive to dreaming and beyond that, into her imagination and world of artistic creation. Taking its origins from the idea of sleep, which came from French music (and brought to its peak by Lully in his lyrical tragedies, starting with Atys), Dragosits invites us on a journey which takes - curiously, and this is where all the interest lies - its roots in Germany between the 17th and 18th centuries and not France.The Bach dynasty is well represented on this album, from the sons to the father: Wilhelm Friedemann and his incredible Fantasia, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and his Variations on "Ich schlief, da träumte mir" that preceed a few other pieces at the opening of the programme, including the very beautiful La Mémoire Raisonnée from a set of little-known miniatures, Wq. 117. From Johann Sebastian, Anne Marie Dragosits chose the too rare Praeludium (Harpeggiando), BWV 921, a true keyboard improvisation that is full of contrasts and explosive joy, whose hybrid tone recalls Buxtehude's "stylus phantasticus". The harpsichordist then inserts, here and there, according to her own whim - and no doubt her dreams - a few pieces by Graupner, Fischer and Kuhnau. From the former, two very beautiful pieces entitled "Sommeille", taken from two different suites by the composer. On the sublime Christian Zell harpsichord of 1728 - one of the most beautiful harpsichords in the world, preserved in the Museum of Decorative Arts in Hamburg - Dragosits then deploys treasures of tenderness, as well as implacable majesty. Her playing is constantly impressive, even in the Passacaglia by Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer, the apotheosis of the first part of the programme, bursting with Lully like influences which were to have a strong influence on the young J. S. Bach.A supreme testimony to a discreet harpsichordist with a captivating musicality, this recital "Ich schlief, da träumte mir", has a highly original programme and often very subtle transitions. Bach's Komm süßer Tod followed by Kuhnau's Biblical Sonata No. 4 should not be enjoyed in any other way than on a stroll, especially as the instrument itself remains perpetually enchanting, with its incredibly deep bass and its stunningly beautiful lute playing; however if all this frightens you, perhaps start with the Sommeille from Graupner's "Febrarius" Suite: such a moment of capricious gentleness and sublime tenderness will undoubtedly not leave you by the side of the road! © Pierre-Yves Lascar/Qobuz-------For thousands of years, mankind has been concerned with the interpretation of dreams, seeking medical and philosophical explanations of all that happens to us during sleep. At the same time, mankind has been obsessed with the images of dreams – be they beautiful or terrible, like an imaginary theatre – offering a rich playground for all branches of art.Hypnos, son of night and darkness, is the god of sleep. As Ovid reports, his sons are the Oneiroi, the dream gods being, Morpheus who is able to take on human form, Phobetor, the horror who slips into the skin of wild animals and Phantasos who appears in the form of inanimate nature. Hypnos’ realm is guarded by Hesychia (calm), Aergia (indolence) and Lethe (oblivion). While Hypnos is often called the “generous one,” his twin brother is Thanatos, "the gentle death"; and often the two often appear together. These and other nocturnal visitors find their matching counterparts in music. The selection of musical pieces for this most subjectively arranged recording is as varied as night’s images. Certain titles make references to the night and dream worlds. Other works were chosen partly for describable musical reasons, partly in free association with my own subjective dream visions. A significant stake in the choice of program was claimed by the highly characteristic sound of the harpsichord by Christian Zell (1728). As one of the few surviving and playable large German harpsichords, its clarity and transparency embodies the music of the German high baroque ideally. But the great sonic difference between the warm, resonant lower manual and a very brilliant and nasal upper manual (which is nevertheless equipped with great lyrical qualities) also provides the instrument – together with its charming lute stop and a four-foot stop that is as clear as a bell, along with the roaring sonority of the coupled registers – all the colours and possibilities necessary for gallant music. (Anne Marie Dragosits) © L'Encelade
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Soul - Released July 30, 2021 | Masterworks

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Qobuzissime
Look out, we've got a phenomenon on our hands! Naia Izumi is a young artist with a talent for pluralistic grooves; a virtuoso multi-instrumentalist who draws inspiration from the history of soul music as well as rock and jazz fusion. Diagnosed with autism at the age of 16, this Georgia native, now living in California, quickly focused his attention on culture, reading dozens of books and learning several instruments, the guitar first and foremost. Naia Izumi won the Tiny Desk Contest organised by NPR in 2018, attracting the attention of many different labels wanting to sign up this endearing and unique character. From the bass to the drums, the mandolin and even the koto (the plucked string instrument used in traditional Japanese music), Naia Izumi could do it all.Izumi's unique sound is very obviously influenced by Stevie Wonder, Lauryn Hill and Musiq Soulchild, but also by legends of progressive music such as King Crimson and, above all, jazz guitarist John McLaughlin, the mastermind behind Shakti and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. His powerful signature sound of elegant chordal constructions and arpeggiated melodies is entwined with his delicate, soulful voice. Naia Izumi’s main weapon of choice is his Fender Jazzmaster ’64, on which he favours a tapping technique over strumming or plucking. However, all of this stylistic and instrumental complexity never prevents his music from remaining organic and sensual. Everything flows perfectly on A Residency in the Los Angeles Area; deep and graceful. Here’s a tender, healing groove to soothe the wounds of the world. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 25, 2021 | Partisan Records

Hi-Res Distinctions Qobuzissime
A tone of voice, words, and a dreamlike sound. When you're writing an introspective indie pop-folk song, getting these elements right will help you stand out from the crowd. Tori Zietsch, alias Maple Glider, has mastered them all, and so she has made it out in front of the pack. The Australian, who spent time in Brighton before returning home to Melbourne, can hold her own alongside Cat Power, Adrianne Lenker, Angel Olsen, Julia Jacklin and Sharon Van Etten. The subject matter she is working with might be classical and familiar (a strict, religious education, first love, an awakening to the ways of the world, solitude, distance) but To Enjoy Is the Only Thing offers a truly unique kind of intimacy. With a splash of humour here or a graceful confession there, she is always able to sidestep heavy-handedness or lukewarm cliché. But first and foremost, this record is a showcase for a sublime voice. On really stripped-down sequences, as on Be Mean, It's Kinder Than Crying, where her voice bounces off the same two repeating chords, Maple Glider is awe-inspiring. “To me”, she writes, “To Enjoy Is The Only Thing feels like walking past tinsel-covered trees in mid-September, swimming along the calanques in the south of France, frost on the hood of a car, darkness at 4pm, lightness until 10pm, a muted feeling, the perpetual grey fog that swallows the Silver Coast in Portugal, an ugly green dress, the color red, red wine, red blood, red lips, the red of a cardinal’s robe, Switzerland, my mother’s diaries, a coroner’s report, the sun on my face, the end of love”. One comes away from this album feeling deeply moved, blown away by these 35 timeless, graceful minutes... © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Classical - Released June 25, 2021 | Nonesuch

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Caroline Shaw is the definition of an artist in its purest form. She is someone who denies categorisation. Shaw began as a classically trained violinist and vocalist, and later branched out into composition and production. From there she has worked with artists such as Kanye West (The Life of Pablo; Ye) and Nas (NASIR), and has contributed to records by The National and Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry. And as if that wasn’t already an impressive resume, in 2013 Shaw not only won, but was the youngest ever recipient of a Pulitzer Prize in music for her Partita in 8 Voices, and her 2019 album Orange won a Grammy Award. Let the Soil Play Its Simple Part is a collaboration between Caroline Shaw and contemporary percussion ensemble Sō Percussion (Eric Cha-Beach, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski, and Jason Treuting). The group were given three days of gratis studio time, and three little days were all it took for them to get out this versatile, radiant and sometimes surprising album. It's a pick'n'mix of songs with lyrics inspired by their own eclectic interests: James Joyce, the Sacred Harp hymn book, a poem by Anne Carson, the Bible's Book of Ruth, the gospel standard "I’ll Fly Away," and the pop prowess of ABBA, among many others.The opening track, "To the Sky", takes its lyrics from a hymn by Anne Steele in the Sacred Harp. The album begins like haunting meditation with sprinkles of sporadic synthesiser, drum and marimba rhythms that eventually evolve into a rolling rhythm section that keeps the piece moving as Shaw's vocals soar over the top. Shaw mentions "This (hymn) I love in particular. There's a line, 'Frail solace of an hour/ So soon our transient comforts fly/ And pleasure blooms to die.' It’s meditation on the ephemeral, and I love it." This track leads into the second track "Other Song" which has a similar rhythmic groove and is accompanied by Shaw's vocals and lyrics which she wrote herself.  The title track is one of the surprises mentioned earlier, a simple duet between Shaw and Josh Quillen that only took two takes to get down. Quillen's playing is sensitive yet refined and you can feel the energy bouncing between the two artists as Shaw passes lyrics reminiscent of a lost loved one to Quillen, and he palms back soft lines of resonant melodies on the steel drum.The lyrics to "The Flood is Following Me" are quite literally just "the flood is following me," taken from James Joyce's Ulysses. Although simple, they are effective, and are accompanied by an indie-pop influenced backing. Speaking of pop music, there is another beautiful surprise right around the corner with Sō and Shaw's interpretation of the ABBA hit "Lay All Your Love on Me." This marimba/vocal duet is a darker, more sombre take on the classic that's hauntingly effective. After the familiar melody, the track then spirals into a Bach chorale accompanied by Shaw's backing harmonies, an ingenious move on the artist's behalf.  The piece progressively builds in tension as old and new are blended to create this sublimely sensitive and modern interpretation of a classic. Truly something that has never been done before.As the album progresses, each track seems to be an evolution of the one prior. "Long Ago We Counted," a duet between Jason Treuting on drum kit and solo voice, has a rough and hard to understand beginning, yet somehow we are lulled into this rolling vocal loop as it settles into a indie-rock type track.  Album closer "Some Bright Morning," based on a 12th century liturgical song, is a glorious beam of light at the of Shaw and Sō Percussion's twisted tunnel. The droning of Cha-Beach on the Hammond organ supporting the resonant vocal line is a simple but powerful close to the album.As you look through the credits, which is strongly recommended, you will find an assorted array of inspirations who have contributed to the lyrics. As you listen, the album continues to unfold into a monolithic, multifaceted masterpiece of contemporary classical, indie-pop, rock rhythm, world music inspiration and literally everything else in between. Shaw's ability to understand text and construct complete new meanings and unique settings for those words is unparalleled.  Let the Soil Play Its Simple Part is unlike anything else and defies classification; one needs to take the time to explore the ins and outs of the entire album to fully comprehend the masterstrokes of Caroline Shaw and Sō Percussion. © Jessica Porter-Langson/Qobuz
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Rock - Released June 11, 2021 | EX1 Records

Hi-Res Distinctions Qobuzissime
Van Halen was certainly the name on many people’s lips in late 2020 and early 2021. Of course, this was mainly due to the unfortunate passing of legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen on October 6th, 2020. Now we’re treated to a much more pleasing surprise with the release of his son Wolfgang’s long-awaited first solo album. The term ‘solo album’ really takes on its full meaning here, as the recently turned thirty-year-old plays every instrumental part and has been composing the entire album completely alone since 2015. The only outside help came from producer Michael ‘Elvis’ Baskette (Alter Bridge, Slash feat. Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators) who took care of the impeccable sound design. But the main attraction of this album lies elsewhere: beyond the musical and vocal performance, it’s the sense of melody that jumps out at you. Like Dave Grohl (a fitting comparison as both can be described as a one-man band), Wolfgang Van Halen hits the nail squarely on the head with strong songs that stick in your head after listening. Mammoth WVH turns almost every track into a potential single, impeccably sung and ready to sing along to all day long. Radio friendly? Absolutely. But these songs, with their lush vocal arrangements and spot on instrumentation, are far from shallow commercial tracks. Wolfgang has clearly understood the importance of avoiding simply following in his father’s footsteps, hence why the (very accomplished) guitar solos only make occasional appearances. The multi-instrumentalist opts to explore other avenues. His experience in Tremonti has of course had a strong influence on his music, but there are many other components which may appeal to fans of alternative rock groups (in the American sense of the word) such as Queens Of The Stone Age, Sevendust and, of course, Foo Fighters. When the album flirts with hard rock, we can hear the influences of the likes of Alice In Chains or Winger’s most recent productions. But, if we delve a little deeper and further back, the genetic lineage of the one-man band’s music can be so clearly traced back to the “four boys in the wind” from Liverpool. The sense of how to make a hit, the sense of chorus and the perfect timing all reflect this strong Beatles influence. Mammoth was the very first name of the band Van Halen, chosen by Wolfgang for his project with the blessing of his illustrious father and the other members of the band. It’s a nice tribute to his roots, but the even better tribute was starting his career with an album of this quality, made on his own, and free of any strong paternal influence. Wolfgang Van Halen owes his (predictable) success to his own talent alone and looks set to keep the mythical Van Halen name shining in his own way. The curious will come to see, but will stay to listen. That’s for sure! © Charlélie Arnaud/Qobuz
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Soul - Released May 21, 2021 | 4AD

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Sensuality is one of the main prerequisites for all soul music, something which Erika de Casier takes to a new level. Before Essentials, her first album which was released on her very own Independent Jeep Music label, the Portuguese-born Dane specialised in bringing dark R&B to the fore as one half of the Saint Cava duo. For her second solo album, Sensational, released on English label 4AD, Erika de Casier talks more about her inner experiences, her regrets and her desires. At the heart of her stylistic make-up lies the legacy of her 90s predecessors, from Aaliyah to Janet Jackson and Brandy among others. And although these famous 20th century voices inhabit the Dane and her style, they certainly do not impede her from venturing into new realms of possibility and sound. Whether it's the Iberian guitars of Someone to Chill With, the violins of Acceptance or the distant UK garage vibes of Drama, this feather-light, cotton-wool-soft album is enhanced with hues which are rare in modern R&B. The fragility of her vocals and the elegance of the production (all co-produced/written with her partner Natal Zaks) make Sensational one of the most original soul albums of the time. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Pop - Released May 7, 2021 | Third Man Records LLC

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Natalie Bergman has written, performed, recorded and produced this first solo album almost all by herself. It is her way of setting out a vision that belongs to her alone. Mercy is in a world of its own. Its twelve unique, spiritual songs, haunted by death and resurrection, are carried as much by her versatile voice as they are by her vintage sound, hailing from a bygone era. For a decade, Natalie Bergman had been singing with her brother Elliot in Wild Belle, an L.A.-based double-act which drew on pop, reggae, ska and psychedelia. But that part of her life fell apart when her father and stepmother were killed by a drunk driver. Having been brought up with a deep religious faith, Natalie decided to retire to an Abbey in New Mexico's Chama valley. It is there that Mercy was born in a clear act of catharsis. It is steeped in gospel music, which she regards as being the real source of rock'n'roll. This is a unique, timeless work in which the artist finds her own way to praise music's sacred nature and restorative powers. “My faith and my music are crucial to my existence. I sing a lot about home on this record. My Paradiso, my Heaven. Believing in that place has been my greatest consolation. I had an urgency and desperation to know that my father was there. His sudden death was a whirling chaos that assaulted my mind. Gospel music gives me hope. It is the good news. It’s exemplary. It can bring you truth. It can keep you alive. This album provided me with my only hope for coming back to life myself.”This return to the land of the living by way of gospel music is fascinating. It never falls into a churchy or preachy mode, going beyond faith. This album's sound and instrumentation owe as much to 1950s rock as they do to 1960s soul or to West African Highlife. Mercy is able to create the feeling of a musical style, but without ever being tethered to it. It should come as no surprise to learn that Natalie Bergman grew up in a house that resounded with the music of Dylan, Etta James, Pharoah Sanders, Lou Reed, Alton Ellis and Lucinda Williams. Nor is it a shock that she has been signed by a figure as wise as Jack White. His label, Third Man Records, is a tasteful establishment, and the artists on its roster are always well-versed in the music of the past... Death changed her life; her music can change yours: Natalie Bergman is a gift from heaven. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released April 30, 2021 | WM Germany

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In a world that is so fond of reducing and simplifying everything it comes accross, Isfar Sarabski is at risk of being nicknamed "the Azeri Tigran". But the Baku pianist is far from being a photocopy of his Armenian colleague. Of course, he comes from "the East", listens to more than just jazz, and has certainly been influenced by the folk music of his ancestors... But Isfar Sarabski is very much his own artist with his own identity. His first album Planet (a Qobuzissime!) is jazz to the bone both in its approach to improvisation and the exchanges that Sarabski develops with his impeccable rhythm section, composed of two American aces: drummer Mark Guiliana and double bassist Alan Hampton, as well as the way Sarabski integrates space into the music. A student of the prestigious Berklee College of Music and winner of the International Competition of the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2009, the 30-year-old Azeri sometimes shows flashes of Brad Mehldau – the presence of Guiliana helps the comparison – but he also ventures into the classical minimalist approach of the Nils Frahm/Max Richter/Ólafur Arnalds school... The participation of the Main Strings Ensemble and the Baku Strings Quartet amplifies links which are more impressionistic than genetic. Isfar Sarabski also has a strong sense of narrative, as shown with the respect given for Mugham tradition (a mix of jazz and traditional Azeri music largely popularised by the late Vagif Mustafazadeh) on The Edge and Novruz, for which he invited Shahriyar Imanov, a player of the târ, the long-handled lute which is a part of Azerbaijani musical culture. Even when he has fun revisiting an aria from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, he brings a flavour which is all his own. We leave Planet Sarabski with a desire to return as soon as possible, especially since this beautiful acoustic album does not show every side of Sarabski’s talent, as he is also an electro experimenter in his spare time... © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Dance - Released March 26, 2021 | Brownswood Recordings

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Time machine effect guaranteed! With STR4TA, two old hands of British groove join forces to relight the flame of 80s British funk (think Beggar & Co, Light of the World, Lynx, Atmosfear, Hi-Tension, Freeez and others like Shakatak) and the acid jazz of the 90s: Mauritian guitarist Jean-Paul Maunick - Bluey to his friends - and the Franco-Britannic Gilles Peterson, DJ, producer and head of the Acid Jazz, Talkin’ Loud and Brownswood labels. It’s impossible to talk about their STR4TA project without looking back at the group Incognito who, since 1980, have been the Rolls Royce of British soul; a no nonsense groove machine made up of intergalactic brass and choruses of hooligan-like voices in silk robes with relentless melodies. At the helm of this soul cruise, Bluey concocts a mix of perfectly sweetened ballads and the most sensual dance floor anthems. The guitarist has such a good ear for funk that names as big as Chaka Khan and his idol, George Benson, have called upon him for various productions and sessions.At the start of the 90s, Gilles Peterson introduced the UK to a type of soul that was part jazz and part R&B called acid-jazz. These were the glory days of The Brand New Heavies, Galliano, Young Disciples, Jamiroquai and Incognito, signed of course to Talkin’ Loud. This whole scene was merging Curtis Mayfield with Gil Scott-Heron and Roy Ayers with Stevie Wonder, helped, in the case of Incognito, by the voices of soul goddesses Jocelyn Brown, Carleen Anderson, Maysa and Sarah Brown… Now, in 2021, STR4TA has brought this sound back to life, infused with a dose of smooth jazz, textures worthy of the best Blaxploitation soundtracks and some big fat funk, all complimented by the modernisation of the production. Gilles and JP are joined in their studio by a gang of ex-Incognito groove virtuosos, whether permanent members or passing faces, such as bassists Randy Hope-Taylor and Francis Hylton, keyboardists Matt Cooper and Ski Oakenfull, drummer Pete Ray Biggin, saxophonist Paul Booth and Italian percussionist Francesco Mendolia. Throughout Aspects, all of them allow their sincere joy of playing to shine through, creating a live feel that makes this album all the more enjoyable. With its slapping bass, powerful vintage synths and pin point percussion to punctuate it all, STR4TA ticks all the boxes to set the dancefloor alight and get bodies moving. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 19, 2021 | Lonely Lands Records

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Make no mistake about it. Behind its mystical cover worthy of a progressive rock band from the 70s, Terra Firma hides the unclassifiable second album from Tash Sultana. Natasha is one of those who started early and alone. At the age of three, Tash's father gave them their first guitar. As a teenager, they roamed the streets of hometown Melbourne. Then they conquered the rest of the world in 2016 with the 70 million views for Jungle, the result of their prolific bedroom sessions which she broadcast on YouTube. After three EPs on Tash's own label Lonely Lands, the young Australian released Flow State in the summer of 2018, a pop-soul patchwork from their youth on which they played all of the instruments (Tash has mastered about twenty of them) using loops and effect pedals, their trademark. Since then, they've been filling stadiums and an appearing on front covers, like Rolling Stone magazine with whom they talked about the Stratocaster TC Signature dedicated to her by Fender."Terra firma is the ground and the earth, you put your feet on it to remember where you are, where you come from," says Tash, who plans to turn their dazzling success into a long-term career. Further raising the bar, Tash Sultana takes care of the musical arrangement, with the production of the records entrusted in part to Matt Corby. This can be heard from the off with the instrumental Musk, whose lustrous guitars, groovy sax, and catchy bass pave the way for the following 14 tracks that oscillate between soul, R'n'B, funk, folk and suave pop. To arrive at this rich, well-balanced, hypnotic but never redundant blend, which Tash sees as "a meeting between Aretha Franklin, Bon Iver, John Mayer and others", Tash has had to surround themselves with other talented musicians. Thus, we find the rapper Jerome Farah (Willow Tree) and Josh Cashman (Dream My Life Away), both from Melbourne, featured on the album. A masterstroke, at only 25 years old. © Charlotte Saintoin/Qobuz.
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R&B - Released January 29, 2021 | Transgressive

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Qobuzissime - Lauréat du Mercury Prize
The voice of a generation. We pinned it to Bob Dylan who didn't want to hear about it... Anaïs Oluwatoyin Estelle Marinho alias Arlo Parks reacted in the same way when we labelled her the spokesperson of Generation Z (those born between 1997 and 2010) after Super Sad Generation, her 2019 EP. Once we move on from this marketing punchline, we can begin to savour Collapsed in Sunbeams, a brilliant debut album that slaloms between R'n'B, light pop and neo trip hop. This is without doubt the deepest record of early 2021... Before writing songs, the Londoner of Chadian, French and Nigerian origin mainly wrote poetry. A big fan of Sylvia Plath, Ginsberg and Nabokov, she was quickly drawn into writing, telling stories (often her own) even before setting them to music. With its title plucked from the pages of Zadie Smith's novel, On Beauty, Collapsed in Sunbeams emphasises Parks' literary passion, which she has now completely turned to music. She tackles break-up (Caroline), unrequited love (Eugene) and addiction (Hurt) with finesse and acuity. Her bittersweet melodies confront often melancholic, sometimes sad lyrics with natural pop energy and a hypnotic voice reminiscent of Martina Topley-Bird (Tricky's ex-girlfriend), Lily Allen (a fan) or Jorja Smith. At only 20 years old, Arlo Parks is the flavor of the month and is likely to be in the limelight for many years to come. A true revelation. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 29, 2021 | City Slang

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It is a mathematical law: every ten years, a singer from England named Anna releases a first album as a document of her times. In 2011, it was Anna Calvi. In 2021, it will be Anna B Savage. A real underground singer who first appeared in 2015 with a rather confidential début EP, which she followed up with a few concerts and then nothing. There are not many who have seen her in concert, back in the time when there were concerts. But everyone who has, remembers her. With her oddly tuned guitar, as if set to play a medieval blues number, and her elusive voice, as if several people were singing through her, Anna B Savage has bewitched a small audience who are drawn to music that's different. A spiritual daughter of Cat Power, exuding a sense of strange unease, hidden behind her guitar, can become sensual, intense and desirable. A Common Turn is her first album, and it's an incomparable potion, a musical unicorn. On a base of twisted folk, Anna builds far-fetched songs that travel through musical space-time. Depending on their own points of reference, the listener will hear in the vocals and melodies echoes of Beth Gibbons (Portishead), Antony & the Johnsons, Nico, Connie Converse, Dionne Warwick or operatic jazz singers of old. Not to mention the silence. But A Common Turn is not a record to be so easily defined, and nor is it simple. The arrangements range from choirs to rhythmic dance, to this time-worn guitar. Even when her music takes a turn for the grandiloquent, Anna B Savage remains fragile, uncertain, a balancing act, erratic, as if feeling her way through her own songs. One thinks of Snow White running through the forest amid grimacing trees or waiting for the Prince's kiss in a poisoned sleep. And next to her, everyone else is a dwarf. © Stéphane Deschamps/Qobuz

Chill-out - Released January 29, 2021 | Wonderwheel Recordings

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It's been four years since Jean Dasso alias Yeahman entered the scene, first with his bass music/tropical "Ghetto Sonido" nights in Toulouse, then with the track Miniyamba (featuring the sweet vocals of singers Mina Shankha and Hajna) in 2017, which allowed him to catch the eye of Wonderwheel Recordings. Led from Brooklyn by DJ Nickodemus, the label hosts big names of the "global bass" circuit such as Quantic, Chancha Via Circuito, DJ Khalab or El Buho, and offered its first long format to Yeahman, who, honouring the image of the adventurer, went to record in Dakar, Naples, Marseille and Toulouse.The Frenchman proves right from the opening that he's got something, on the catchy dreamy samba Deelahli, with the almost erased voice of Mina Shankha, then the ultra-smooth Baixi Baixi, accompanied by the two Portuguese sisters of Aluna Project on a charango and a dembow rhythm. But Yeahman also likes square rhythms, like on Soupe au Feu and its chopped string samples, Sakoneta (and its kora made in Dakar) or GLI-F4, all supported by a silky and hypnotic house beat. We find Mina Shankha and Hajna on a cover of the Peruvian cumba standard Cariñito, then Omar Zidia. Singer and guitarist of the Tuareg group Ezza on Ouloullou, before closing this Qobuzissime journey in the Ostriconi (a paradisaical Corsican region) with the folktronica of the British producer Robin Perkins, alias El Búho, Yeahman's new label mate and undoubtedly future travel companion. © Smaël Bouaici/Qobuz