Nomads of Hope — Breaking the Circles for a While
(Papaver, 2014, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2014-10-15Over the last few decades (I started noticing it in the mid-80s or thereabouts), a new musical configuration has developed, as exemplified by many trip-hop groups. This prototype consists of a man who plays a lot of instruments and a woman who sings, usually in a breathy ("ethereal") voice, sometimes in a more jazzy or powerful way. Often, but not always, it's the man who writes the material — there's less consistency in this area. Sometimes the woman plays some instruments as well; nearly always, the man is the producer/engineer, and keyboards are his main instruments. This pattern has been repeated so often I don't have to name names for readers to think of examples. But that's the prototype, and in art there are no absolute rules, so there's actually a fair amount of sonic variety even within this field. Sweden's Nomads of Hope represent one variation on the pattern. Johan Hedrén plays a variety of instruments; Ingemo Rylander sings and also plays several instruments (and did the cover art as well); there are a few guest appearances. Both are alumni of the respected prog band Kultivator, but Nomads takes them pretty far from the Canterbury sound of that band. Influences (and instruments) from around the world come into play, and there are similarities to the world/space/folk style inhabited by such groups as Sky Cries Mary and Azigza. But this is also somewhat of a "bedroom project," setting an intimate scale rather than going for big sonic impact. Percussion is present on several tracks, though it never dominates. Instead, we get gentle grooves set up on guitar or keyboards (often vintage sounds like Rhodes or Mellotron) by Hedrén, while Rylander provides ornamentation on her harps, recorders, and whistles. On top of this gentle base, Rylander sings lovely melodies, occasionally reminding me of Anneli Drecker (Bel Canto). Sometimes I wish they'd just let loose and go for a big percussion-heavy groove, but this band is more about subtle moods than jumping up and dancing. It's a beautiful recording, and I look forward to hearing more from them in the future.
Related artist(s): Nomads of Hope
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more