Album, Musical architects, Newness for your ears Chicago, Midnite Kisses For Ruby Tears, Phraim
Phraim is one of the very few artists who can (and do) drag me out of my blog hiatus when they release a new project. If you have been following this site, or my radio show, you already know that the Chicago resident is one of my favourite producers. Therefore, when I discovered recently that he was planning on releasing his fourth full-length album today, I was quite excited. After the incredible Silver Lined, Kasbah Moments, and Scars To Prove It, the talented producer now presents the beautifully named Midnite Kisses For Ruby Tears. In case you are not familiar with him, check out previous blog posts about Phraim, including a very interesting audio interview we did. Now, one thing I love about him is that while you can always recognize his touch, all of his projects are quite different. Some things are recurrent, like the witty wordplay in track titles, the cinematic dimension, or the influence of travel, but the overall themes and sonorities are always unique.
With this brand-new offering, Phraim seems to have opted for much more concise musical treats, as most of the tracks are under 3 minutes, often closer to 2 minutes. On the one hand, this makes greedy me a bit frustrated, as I would love to listen to those tracks for a much longer period of time and discover how they could evolve. However, it is also a way to keep the listener on their toes, as atmospheres and ambiances change regularly.
When it comes to the title, I have to admit I looked up “ruby tears” because I had a feeling it could be a famous saying or something like that. When I discovered it was actually a flower, I was both intrigued as to what that was supposed to mean in the context of the title and mischievous in my decision to stick to my own interpretation. Yes, when I saw the title for the first time, and discovered the gorgeous cover artwork for the album, I decided it was a reference to a beautiful lady crying precious tears. Whatever the case may be, both the title and the picture hint at music dedicated to love and a muse. The “Midnight Kisses” part of the title only reinforces the sentiment, and I was therefore ready for a beautiful journey through emotions and feelings even before I hit the play button. If this album sounds slightly less cohesive than its predecessors, I could still feel a specific direction and imagine how and why the music was created through the lens of love and relationships. In addition to this theme, the wordplay in the title of the tracks, as well as the various sonorities, makes the idea of travel quite obvious. Then again, love is a journey, so that fits perfectly.
In terms of actual music and sounds, Phraim makes a clear departure from his latest project, Scars To Prove It, which was much more electronic than others, and comes back to very melodic tracks. From the samples to the notes played by the producer, there is much to please your ears in Midnite Kisses For Ruby Tears. Speaking of the differences and evolution from previous projects, the artist himself says that the album is “indeed a senior release of sorts”. Confirming my first impression, he adds that “while it combines heart from past production, something about the formula of MKFRT is clearly different. Evolved, but grounded. Keen.” The feeling I get is that both the man and the artist have indeed grown, and it’s a beautiful thing to behold and hear.
As the project ends on “Hopeful Headaches”, I am equally optimistic about music and love after listening to the whole album. That’s probably why I had to start all over again, and again. Without a doubt, Midnite Kisses For Ruby Tears will join Phraim’s previous three projects at the very top of the list of the albums I listen to the most. It should be on yours too.
Now that you know more about Midnite Kisses For Ruby Tears, you can listen to the album and purchase it on Phraim’s Bandcamp. Enjoy the journey, support, and spread the word!
Find out more about Phraim on Bandcamp & Twitter
Musical architects Avenging Wind, Chicago, Fathom 9, Memphis
Avenging Wind aka Fathom 9 was one of the very few artists who have my unconditional support. From the day I discovered his album Untitled (Pulse Beta), when GQ Tha Teacha put me on his music (thank you so much!), to his very last release, I always bought all his projects, often before I listened to them, because I knew they would be amazing. He never disappointed. I can’t pretend we were as close lately as we used to be, back in some kind of golden age for Twitter and this blog, but we still communicated every now and then and I could always count on him to share my podcasts, whether or not I played his music. He would also send me “exclusives” and that’s something I greatly appreciated. Contrary to certain bloggers who are interested in exposure, views and hype, I find it way more interesting to connect with artists on a personal level. This is why Avenging Wind’s passing hurts so much. We may not have been lifelong friends, but I have a deep appreciation for him and I do feel like I lost a friend yesterday. While I didn’t know much about his personal life, his music allowed me to relate to him and know at least a few sides of his numerous personalities. A very talented producer, MC, poet, all around amazing artist, fellow Gemini, man of contradictions, he put his heart and soul into his music. From smooth, dreamy soundscapes to hard-hitting beats with jazzy samples and militant rhymes over martial instrumentals, his music was eclectic but always beautiful and powerful. An incredible wordsmith, he was extremely candid when expressing his thoughts and feelings, which is obviously admirable and inspiring. His poetry is very relatable to me, whether he talks about life and inspiration in general, physical desire and relationships, or music and social issues. It is quite rare to find an artist whose work is reflecting your own ideas and for that I am eternally grateful.
He has been on my mind heavily since I learnt the news and I can’t quite believe he’s actually gone. I was still hoping I could finally meet him one day, see him on stage, and work on a project with him. I guess it was not meant to be, in this lifetime at least. This is yet another reminder for me, after my uncle’s passing this summer, that life is indeed fragile and you never know what tomorrow may bring. One day you’re here, the next you’re gone. What will people remember about you? I know Avenging Wind wanted to make sure his contribution to the world would be a lasting one, and his artistic legacy is indeed a beautiful imprint he left on the world. While his body is no longer here on Earth, his soul lives on, and his words and music should be read and heard for many years to come. I will make it my mission to ensure as many people as possible know about this wonderful human being and beautiful soul who left us way too soon. Today is a very sad day, but I am also grateful to have known Avenging Wind and what is important now is to celebrate his life and art, and remember the beautiful memories he created through his music.
If you are not familiar with Avenging Wind aka Fathom 9, I urge you to listen to his music, to have a better understanding of just how important and powerful it is. I am glad we finally got to do an interview last year, after talking about it for months (years?), as it was a way to learn more about him and his album Dump Truck Blues: Battle Cry of The Wanderlust. Now, let me share a few of my favourites with you.
Find out more on his Bandcamp page for Fathom 9 and Avenging Wind, on Soundcloud: Fathom 9 and Avenging Wind, and on YouTube
Album, Musical architects, Newness for your ears Chicago, Phraim, Scars To Prove It
Whenever I have been away from this blog for months and do not really plan on updating it, I can always count on a few artists to release a project so amazing, beautiful and powerful that I won’t have a choice but to come back here and share it with you. Phraim is one of those artists. Last time I told you about him, he had just released his sophomore album, the enchanting Kasbah Moments. Today, the Chicago-based producer offers us a third full-length album, the wonderful Scars To Prove It, and I am very happy to tell you about it now. Just before I go into more details, I just wanted to highlight the power of this project (and great music in general), as it helped me snap out of my PTDS (Post Travel Depression Syndrome) and the gloomy mood I have been in since I came back from my amazing trip to New York City and spent days under grim London skies.
Besides the inspiring power of the album, what I always appreciate about Phraim is his tendency to craft detailed, multi-layered concept albums. After his debut release Silver Lined, created after and inspired by the passing of his grandmother (something that was easy for me to relate to), and the beautiful musical journey to the Middle East that was Kasbah Moments, the producer now delves into darker territories with Scars To Prove It, as the project is centred around “invasion” and the physical or mental scars left by difficult experiences and life trials. Once again, this is something I can definitely relate to. I am actually struggling with a few of those scars at the moment and it’s always a great thing to know that other people go through similar predicaments (even though the triggers and weapons creating the scars are not the same at all), but decide to use music as an outlet for their pain. As always I may read too much into this, but that’s just how I do. There is also an obvious reference to war and armed conflict, which could very well be taken literally, considering the current state of the world. This is something that has become quite difficult to ignore nowadays, and I appreciate the duality (or multiplicity, actually) of the album, since it can be interpreted in different ways.
The music itself is a delightful addition of a myriad of details, one of Phraim’s trademarks, which was already mentioned when I told you about Kasbah Moments. As was the case when listening to that previous album, I found myself imagining the “musical architect”, who clearly deserves the nickname, spending hours and hours on each track, making sure they sound as perfect as he wanted them to sound, and adding tiny details that make them whole. While the overall atmosphere on Scars To Prove It is more electronic than the producer’s previous endeavours, I am not one to complain. Variety is the spice of life and I really appreciate when artists provide their listeners with something new with each project. What’s the point of creating a different piece of music otherwise?
Finally, something that Phraim prides himself on, and that is quite obvious here, once again, is the cinematic quality of the project. Try listening to it at full volume while closing your eyes and tell me you don’t visualise specific scenes in your head… Whether it is cruising in a car in the streets of the Windy City at night trying to fight your demons, walking along your nearest lake/river/ocean and indulging into a quiet session of introspection, or simply reminiscing on days long gone, the project is sure to create snapshots in your mind and will most likely become the soundtrack for special moments, real or imagined. Listening to the album as I type, I have to admit quite a few thoughts and emotions go through my mind and heart, and I am truly grateful for music’s ability to take me to different places and times. Traveling without moving indeed…
I guess I’ll stop my rambling for now, but not before I urge you to give the album a listen and to add it to your collection. Also, if you are a film director, please get in touch with Phraim. I would love to see what a creative mind could do with such a beautiful and inspiring soundtrack.
Now that you know a bit more about Scars To Prove It, go listen and buy the album on Phraim’s Bandcamp page, or simply by clicking on the link below. Enjoy the journey!
Find out more about Phraim on Twitter
Audio, Interview, Musical architects Chicago, interview, Kasbah Moments, Phraim, Silver Lined
Last time I told you about Phraim, when I introduced you to his amazing album entitled Kasbah Moments, I promised you an interview with the talented Chicago-based producer would be coming soon. Well, it looks like soon was a bit longer than expected, but I am really happy and excited to present this interview now. While listening to a project created by an artist is usually a good way to get familiar with them, I always find it quite interesting to actually meet them or at least communicate with them, to understand their universe better. I was fortunate enough to meet Phraim on my first trip to Chicago, among many other talented artists, and I already told you how much I loved Silver Lined and Kasbah Moments, so it is of course a pleasure for me to finally feature the man himself on this blog. In this very interesting interview, the producer-MC-photographer-writer-etc. tells us more about how he got started with music, what other artistic activities he would like to explore, the creation and concept of Kasbah Moments, and much more. As was the case with my audio interview with Phoenix James, I included several tracks in between questions, so that you can discover what beautiful music Phraim can create. I need to thank him for taking some time to answer my questions and I really hope you will enjoy this interview and the music as much as I do. Without further delay, here is Phraim, in his own words…
Discover the interview after the jump… More
Album, Musical architects, Newness for your ears Chicago, Kasbah Moments, Phraim
I know, I know… I haven’t blogged in forever and many of you probably wonder what’s going on with me. Well, I won’t go into details, as this is not a personal blog, but I apologise to all the artists I should/could have written about in the past months. I may or may not catch up on all the posts I was planning on writing, but tonight something special happened. So special that I feel compelled to write again! It’s as if inspiration was coming from a very distant place and possessed me entirely a few minutes ago. This fire I feel burning inside at the moment makes it impossible for me to do anything but type these words and experience a wonderful moment of pure musical ecstasy. In case you are not familiar with my tendency to get carried away at times, you may think I’m slightly crazy, but if you know me and read most of my previous posts, you already have an idea of how totally subjective and irrational I can be when it comes to music I love. So… after quite a lengthy introduction, it is now time I tell you what mesmerised me tonight, what incredible thing took over me and encouraged me to update the blog again. More
French touch, Musical architects, UK talent Circles on the water, Imperial Sugar, Like You Never, Ricardo Iamuuri, Roller Girl, Saneyes, Ty, video, Willy Sunshine
It’s been a while since I last posted one of those video updates and since my eyes were blessed by several wonderful visuals in the past days and weeks, I thought it was high time I shared them with you. If you follow the blog regularly, you probably know that I generally don’t post single videos but sometimes the beauty, originality or inspirational message carried by a handful of them tickles my interest. This time around, I have an incredible selection of four videos from artists coming from the States, the UK, Switzerland and France. Variety is the spice of life! The genres and themes of the song are varied as well, which makes for an interesting melting-pot. Anyway, enough rambling for now, let me tell you about the first one…
Album, Musical architects, Newness for your ears Blazo, Hip Hop Speakeasy, Poland, Reflections
Ever wonder what a serene soundtrack to a peaceful and relaxing Sunday might be like? Well, I found one of the most sensual instrumental projects that could do just that. This album is pure quality beats, inspired by the one and only Nujabes. I actually received this album as a music submission, but nonetheless, it was a awe-inspiring album that I was lucky to “discover”. The exotic instrumentals all feature some nice piano and even some jazz elements. Each track takes your mind on a peaceful journey through sound; it is quite an experience. Overall the album is top quality and showcases some eclectic beats if you’re looking for any; not anything hardcore, rugged, or ‘boom-bap’ style – purely majestic. There’s just something about this album that is so calming, it is definitely a must-have for a sunny weekend afternoon playlist. My personal favorite is “Heartbeat” (feat. Nieve) so you should definitely check that out. By the way, don’t forget to check out Blazo’s other stuff on his BandCamp. So, my rating…
I recommend this album to any fan of trip hop and producers/artists such as Nujabes and Emancipator. More
Album, Musical architects, Newness for your ears Carminelitta, Journey, Obii Say, Sinitus Tempo, Substantial
I have to admit I haven’t been incredibly inspired lately, hence the lack of updates, but once again Sinitus Tempo came to my rescue and saved the day with another one of those incredible albums he is known for. Greatly inspired by jazz, Journey is as beautiful as ever and its title is very appropriate. I often use the metaphor of music as a journey and this is something that is make obvious here. Once you press play, close your eyes and let the music guide you, your mind will wander within you and to distant places, while you relax and simply enjoy the ride. Life is also a journey and the various tracks on the album could be considered as snapshots, where different people share their own experience, adding their piece to the puzzle and taking us with them on a stroll. I have to say I am extremely proud and happy to be featured on this project, as was the case with Sinitus Tempo’s previous album Koyo. I absolutely loved the instrumental he sent me and was very excited to record something over it.
Musical architects, Spotlight Black Radio, Indaba Music, Move Love, remix, Robert Glasper Experiment
As my brain is about to explode and can’t possibly allow me to create the write-up I was planning on posting today, I will share some info and great music with you instead. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Robert Glasper and the other three members of his “Experiment” (Casey Benjamin, Derrick Hodge and Chris Dave), released an amazing album yesterday, entitled Black Radio. Already described by many as one the best albums of 2012, it is clearly a work of art, bridging the gap between jazz, soul and hip-hop. The list of guests featured on Black Radio is simply impressive, consisting of regular collaborators as well as newcomers, who all complement the incredible instrumentation perfectly and make the album as breathtaking as it is. Now, this is not an album review so I will let you discover the release for yourself, but I wanted to share with you and an event that has agitated producers and music lovers alike for quite a few weeks now. To garner attention around the album, Robert Glasper decided to launch a remix contest through Indaba Music, where the first prize is probably causing heavy drooling from producers. The challenge is to remix Move Love, a track available on Black Radio that features the group KING and the lucky winner will receive $500, as well as a recorded piano sample by Robert Glasper to use royalty-free in an original composition and an autographed copy of the album.
As many of the producers I appreciate entered the contest and all of them did an amazing job, I wanted to put them under my spotlight, to help you vote (as if that could be easy…), but also to showcase their amazing skills. At the moment I am typing this, fellow Londoner Sid Mercutio is ranking at the first position, which is quite incredible, but I know things can change. Best of luck to all the contestants and it is now time to indulge in some excellent music.
Listen to the remixes after the jump More
EP, Musical architects, Newness for your ears Eric Lau, Fatima, Guilty Simpson, Kilawatt, London, Olivier Daysoul, The Mission EP, UK
I know this is not brand-new and you probably heard about it already, but I’m sure you’re eager to read what I have to say about it. Right?! Ok, so I’ve been following Eric Lau and his releases for a little while and I really appreciate his production. It is therefore always a pleasure to hear he has a new project out. I was also fortunate enough to interview the London-based producer for Word Is Bond a couple of months ago and he had very interesting things to say. With The Mission EP, Eric Lau teams up once again with Guilty Simpson, after a first collaboration on For The D back in 2007 and I have to admit the two of them form a winning team and obviously enjoy working together. The combination of the MC’s voice and the producer’s music may leave some skeptical on paper, but the EP proves that it actually works extremely well and they complement each other perfectly. Coming back to hip-hop production but sprinkling it with touches of soul, jazz and funk, Eric Lau proves his versatility and the extent of his talent. To make the project complete, he added the incredibly beautiful voices of Fatima and Olivier Daysoul, that make some of the tracks slightly emotional and enchanted my ears, as well as the skills of musicians Chris “Daddy” Dave, Alex Bonfanti and Damu The Fudgemunk.