A Clutch of Collectives

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collective

adjective

  1. Done by people acting as a group.
    “a collective protest”

noun

  1. A cooperative enterprise.
    “the anarchist collective and bookshop”

What’s the collective noun for ‘collective’? Wiktionary defines a ‘catch’ of ‘collective nouns’ but is silent on ‘collective’ itself. I need to know because this week I want to bring to your attention two new releases by bands calling themselves a collective, and that happy coincidence has given me a flimsy theme for this post. I considered stealing ‘catch’ but that lacks imagination. ‘Collective’ is too obvious and too cute. So, as you can see, I’ve gone for ‘clutch’, which seems appropriate for small numbers like two.

The bands in question are Lydian Collective and Echo Collective. Neither of them has reached the Crotchety ears before so let’s see what that great collection of knowledge known as the Internet says about them.

lydian collective

Lydian Collective

From the About page on the Lydian Collective‘s website:

London’s Lydian Collective are … Aaron ‘Lazslo’ Wheeler (keys), Todd Baker (guitar), Ida Hollis (bass) and Sophie Alloway (drums).

The Lydian Collective sound is a unique combination of accessible melodies, accomplished musicianship, hypnotic rhythms and an uplifting vibe, which has already been drawing in audiences from around the world. A unique combination of jazz musicianship, melodies that catch the ear and the heart, and infectious rhythms …

I’ve tagged them as ‘cocktail jazz’ because their fine musicianship would draw me into the hotel bar, the infectious rhythms would sit me down and those easy-on-the-ear melodies would keep me there for just one more cherry on a cocktail stick. Or two. And if you care to join me I know the evening will just fly by.

echo collective

Echo Collective

Let me get you another Martini and I’ll tell you about Echo Collective. They are Neil Leiter, Margaret Hermant and a few of their musician friends. This Belgian-based collective brings together classically trained musicians who work with modern composers and bands as well as writing their own compositions. There doesn’t seem to be an accepted name for their style of music; it has been called post-classical, neo-classical and non-classical but I think of it as ‘classical crossover’. The instruments are orchestral but the form and structure is twenty first century. The short sample I’m giving you today, though, illustrates their approach better than any words I can write.

Kurt Overbergh of the Ancienne Belgique concert hall commissioned Echo Collective to reinterpret one of Radiohead‘s albums – either Kid A or Amnesiac. According to Leiter they chose the latter because it “had more layers, more complexity, was a little more esoteric, so there was more to chew on and add our sound to”. The result was released as the album, Echo Collective Plays Amnesiac, which gathers together all but one of the Radiohead album tracks and presents them in orchestral form. Does it work? I think so but I hope you’ll judge for yourselves.

Although both Collectives have some videos on YouTube neither of the tracks I’m highlighting today are there so I’ve put together a Spotify playlist. Track 2 is Lydian Collective‘s Lydia’s Dream then there is the original Radiohead version of Knives Out followed by Echo Collective‘s orchestral interpretation of that track.

In a fit of generosity (perhaps it’s your company, perhaps it’s the cocktails) I’ve added three bonus tracks, all of which were in my Release Radar this week. Groove of Satan from Owane‘s Yeah Whatever album provides a short, proggy/jazzy introduction and tacked on at the end there are two slower ballads: Copenhagen by Camille Christel continues the chamber orchestra feel and The Echo of You by Kira Skov and Bonnie “Prince” Billy sounds like a lost Leonard Cohen track, so much so that it even quotes the title of Dance Me To The End of Love in the lyrics.

Some collective nouns are peculiar, some are startlingly apt and some are wildly amusing. Although it’s not official I very much like a flamboyance of flamingos. Then there’s a yearning of yesterdays, a twinkling of todays and a promise of tomorrows. There are plenty more to savour here. Sadly, though, that page doesn’t list a clutch of collectives.

Girdik

union chapel, empty


We entered the draughty hall in silence. “What do you think ‘Diz?”, I said to my companion. He looked up at the vaulted ceiling and gazed for a moment at the stained glass windows. He paced down the aisle and stepped up onto the stage. He clapped his hands, twice; the sound bounced back at us like gunshots echoing in an Arizona canyon. A smile spread slowly across his face and he nodded slowly. “It will do”, he said, in English. That was his understated translation of ‘съвършен’, the word for ‘perfect’ in his native Bulgarian language.


Ediz Hafizoğlu

Ediz Hafizoğlu is a jazz drummer now living in Turkey. His band’s latest album, “Nazdrave” 13, was released a couple of weeks ago and the opening track came up in my Spotify listening this week. It’s called Girdik, which is Turkish for “we entered”. I couldn’t find Girdik on YouTube but there are studio and live versions of Cereyanlı (“draughty”) from an earlier album called just Nazdrave (“cheers” in Bulgarian). If, like me, you have never heard of mister Hafizoğlu before try one of these as a taster (studio or live, it’s your choice).

‘Draughty’: could there be a more appropriate name for a tune built around a relaxed horn section? But the Hafizoğlu band doesn’t just do breezy instrumentals. There’s a song called Mila on the earlier Nazdrave album that takes us into World music territory with a female vocal ensemble. Then there’s Eye of a Hurricane, a sweet lounge song with a solo singer, this time in English. And Girdik itself has some rocking guitar licks that remind me of David Gilmour.

It would have been unfair on Ediz Hafizoğlu to give you just one sample track; he is more versatile than that. So here’s a playlist by way of introduction.


It was draughty the first time we came here but now, packed with eager listeners, the old chapel is cosy and welcoming. Yes, it will do very well for a concert. In fact, it feels съвършен, my friend.


union chapel

Off the Radar

shadowy figure

Decisions, decisions … What shall I choose for my Track of the Week? Well, there are several good candidates on my Release Radar today.

How about Dança dos Miseráveis from the Marinheiro de Terra Firme album by Puppi, an Italian cellist based in Brazil? (The track starts at 22:54 in this YouTube video and you can ignore the first 20 seconds.)

Google Translate tells me that the language is Portuguese; the track title means “Dance of the Miserables” and the album title translates as “Landed Sailor”. This web page quotes Frederico Puppi as feeling like a perpetual outsider in his new home country – a man of the sea marooned on the land. I guess, in English, we’d say “a fish out of water”. Or, more pertinently perhaps, “a stranger in a strange land”.

That same (translated) article describes the music thus: “The album … unites the sounds of his cello with a strong electronic footprint inspired by hip hop, contemporary New York jazz and psychedelic rock”. That’s a reasonable stab at what Puppi is doing but I’d say the Dance of the Miserables is simply a rock cello track. Either way, it’s interesting enough for these pages.

But, this radar sweep has more to offer. Having started in Italy and trekked over to Brazil let’s return to Europe and visit the stylish city of Paris guided by our old friends, L’Impératrice.

There’s a funky groove in the air with seductive French accents all around us. It’s a warm evening, the wine is flowing and over the last couple of hours all the diners sharing this back street café have become our friends. “I barely speak your language”, you say to Brigitte Bardot at the next table, “but will you dance with me?”. And she accepts your invitation with a smile. Anywhere else you would be accused of flirting but here, in Paris, it’s just another way of saying “pleased to meet you”.

Our next stop is the other side of the world – Melbourne, Australia to be precise. It’s been a long, long flight and we’ve crossed too many time zones. Our body clocks need to be reset, to get back into Phase with the local time. And our hosts, Mildlife, know just how to ease us into a new routine.

The title track of their first album takes the tempo down but keeps a gentle groove going, soothing away the stiffness with what Kitty Empire of the Guardian called ‘space-kraut-jazz’. In her review of the album she hits the nail on the head when she says that it

“… falls just on the right side of the line dividing smug progressive fusions a la the Alan Parsons Project from questing psych-disco-jazz, the kind that wouldn’t sound wrong supporting Tame Impala on tour”.

Cleverly, of course, she doesn’t say which side is “the right side”, so if you dig The Alan Parsons Project or Tame Impala (or both) Mildlife‘s Phase should go down like a cold lager on a hot Australian beach.

worldwide radar

That’s quite enough travelling for this tired old man but your journey, young hobbit, is still not over. You have one more destination to visit and this one takes you completely off the terrestrial radar. It takes you all the way to Middle Earth where Isildur’s Bane will serenade you Under Your New Moon.

The sustaining power of YouTube doesn’t reach those lands of elves and orcs so you will have to take your own supplies. I have assembled a pack of essentials for you. Take care my friend and may Sauron’s eye be blind to you.

Decisions, decisions … Why choose one track when you can have four? Because those are the house rules. I admit I’ve cheated a little bit here. But I see the Fates have provided a tie-breaker. Under Your New Moon is from an album called Off the Radar so I’ll nominate that as my Track of the Week.

A Christmas Playlist

Christmas Playlist - charlie brown

I sang “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” – and they did!

As Christmas Day falls on a Sunday this year instead of a track of the week I’ve put together a Crotchety Christmas Playlist on Spotify. In the process I discovered several rather good Christmas albums. I recommend the playlist to accompany your festive turkey and afterwards I think you’ll find these yuletide collections will go down rather well:

With the exception of Pentatonix those artists are probably familiar to followers of this blog so I won’t bore you by saying anything about them. Pentatonix are a five-piece a cappella group based in Arlington, Texas. They won NBC’s The Sing-Off in 2011 and have recorded several albums since. A Pentatonix Christmas is their latest offering; it was released in October 2016. And very good it is, too.

All that remains is for me to wish you all a very merry Christmas and may all your listening be pleasurable.