Ice flows: Penguin Cafe, Barbican, London

Penguin Cafe’s recent performance at London’s Barbican Centre is likely to go down, in my own personal annals, as one of my favourite concerts of all time. It still feels like hyperbole to type that: it was only a few weeks ago. But how can I explain? – that wave of euphoria that carries you…

Continental lift: Rebeca Omordia, ‘African Pianism’; the African Concert Series

This marvellous disc contains multitudes. The variety of sounds and styles packed into its generous 77 minutes showcases not only the infinite intrigue of a music too little-heard until now, but the lightly-worn virtuosity of Omordia herself. (Important note: for the facts/background underpinning this post, I’m indebted to Robert Matthew-Walker’s invaluable booklet notes which, in…

The dark ascending: Dead Space Chamber Music, ‘The Black Hours’

This is music at once vivid, immediate – and at the same time, otherworldly, almost surreal. In its heady combination of genres, approaches and sounds, the album feels both timeless and original. In the best sense, it’s a sonic trap, daring you to identify familiar elements and motifs, only to snatch them away and re-purpose…

Retrospecstive 2021: slight return

One more look in the rear-view mirror before 2021 disappears completely… After the multi-course blowout of choosing 25 recordings of the year, this is more of a digestif, if you will. A few events and developments that gave me cause for celebration: one each for pop, classical, TV, media and film. Bon ‘Voyage’: the return…

Retrospecstive 2021: Adrian Ainsworth’s 25 recordings of the year

As ever, blood, sweat, tears and several industrial-strength mugs of tea have gone into this year’s round-up. Even while the ongoing impact of the pandemic continues to make musicians’ lives uncertain at best and hellish at worst, they have still managed to do us listeners proud. I have already written about some of the below…

Album release: Georgia Train, ‘Needles & Pinches’

Here is a singer-songwriter confessional that blasts new energy into the genre. Violently resistant to any cliché, the entire album walks a tightrope between the accessible and avant-garde: unflinching, uncompromising and ultimately unforgettable. Georgia Train has already built up a rich back catalogue. I first heard her music as one half of duo Bitter Ruin…

Two of US: Lucas Meachem & Irina Meachem, ‘Shall We Gather’

This is a big, bold, beautiful beast of an album: a concept recital that uses song to grapple with belonging, community and how those noble aims align with what it means to be American. Let me say at the outset that this is a bravura performance by both singer and pianist. This may be a…

Portal remains: Wyndow, ‘Wyndow’

Even when dealing with highly original, individual talents, sometimes musicians collaborate and produce something so complete that – not only do you wonder how they never found each other before – it also sounds like they’ve already been working together for years. This is the case with the self-titled debut album by Wyndow, whose core…

‘Historical Fiction’ Forshaw brings sax to the baroque.

Karine Hetherington from ArtMuseLondon caught up with composer and saxophonist, Christian Forshaw, and soprano Grace Davidson, shortly before the release of their latest album, Historical Fiction. Christian’s arrangement of Handel’s ‘Eternal Source of Light Divine’ has already attracted 36,000 views on YouTube and was featured on Classic FM.  Christian and Grace, what are your earliest musical memories? C: Beatles and choral…