Prezident Markon’s New Singles Round-up (Okvsho, Ivan Llanes, EDKUB, Sonoras Mil, Nina Camillo, Arthur Melo and more)30 January, 2024
Winter begone and banish thy chilly blues! Here are some timely singles to instil a glow of warmer climes within thee, gentle reader. (Sorry, I’ve been reading a biography of Jane Austen and the good woman’s prose has sorely afflicted me.) As Clive Myrie of Mastermind fame would say, Let’s go!
Aterciopelados, Susana Baca, Dr. Shenka: “Liberté (ft. Bunbury”
Here’s a worthy one with which to kick things off. It came out in December and I really shouldn’t have missed it – particularly as it’s a song written to mark the 75th anniversary of the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Composed by Héctor Buitrago, the song pays tribute to Human Rights activists around the world, with the Colombian Aterciopelados, the Peruvian Susan Baca, the Mexican Dr. Shenka and the Spaniard Enrique Bunbury all raising their impassioned voices, mics and instruments to demand Freedom.
Okvsho with AKIRA: “Pasitos Jaguari”
Rather less defiant but more my cup of herbal tea is this somewhat enigmatic slice of trap-jazz, or whatever you want to call it, from two Swiss brothers known as Okvsho (try pronouncing that one with a mouthful of muesli), along with the Argentinean vocalist, AKIRA. He whispers, he speaks, he raps, he subtly distorts his voice with a vocoder; he does everything in fact but sing. But he certainly leaves his mark on this track from the brothers’ forthcoming album, A Place Between Us. It’s apparently inspired by Alfa Mist, among others, so I shall be listening keenly when the time comes.
Babo Moreno: “Rei Da Pesca”
Talking of Alfa Mist, this second-generation Brazilian drummer based in London has played with that particular luminary of the London hip-hop-jazz scene – not to mention George Ezra, Jacob Collier, Jamie Cullum and Jools Holland. Great horns, great percussion and a funky beat, what else could you ask from a “Fishing King”? Maybe an album? Hold your horses; it’s on its way.
Ivan Llanes: “Habana-New York”
Last month, I featured the first single from this young New York-based Cuban percussionist and singer’s imminent debut album, La Vida Misma. Judging by this second single, our collective anticipation should be keen. There’s nothing startlingly new, but it’s just good old-fashioned, beautifully performed, nicely sung salsa, for want of a better generic term. Married a Brazilian woman, our Seňor Llanes and talks of how the music he plays “represents my personal and professional life, having the genres I’ve been exposed to, performed, and interacted with Cuban, American, and Brazilian music.”
EDKUB: “Color de Rosas”
Sticking to a Cuban theme, here’s a charming single born of a collaboration between Fred Sumi, a Swiss composer-producer and bass player, and top Cuban musicians and vocalists. It’s taken from the band’s debut album, YAYA, and both music and images exude the kind of warm and joyful glow that makes me want to pack my bags for Havana.
Jalmy: “Coisa de Sotaque”
Talking of warmth, I would think that this kind of physical proximity would send the thermometer to red-hot. Who is Jalmy? Clearly a good mover with a certain charisma. He’s also part of the duo BAVI, as well as a singer, songwriter, producer and guitarist who’s been a prominent figure in the Bahian independent scene for 15 years or so. The number comes from his six-track EP, Movimento Vol. II, which blends the sway of Bahian music with electric Latin rhythms. Move that body!
I missed this fruity, frothy single when it came out at the back end of last year. While it’s a little late in the day, there’s a new single out next month and an eponymous album on the horizon, so why not? Valebol, as the video suggests, is a duo: constituting the Panamanian Chicago-based drummer Daniel Villarreal of Dos Santos renown, whose first album under his own name, Panamá 77, was one of the most enjoyable Latin jazz albums of recent years, and multi-instrumentalist Vivian McConnell, whose voice recalls the airy, ethereal tones of Elizabeth Fraser. Lovely stuff!
Sonoras Mil: “Ay, Mi Estúpida Razón”
I was a bit slow off the mark (pun intended, I’m ashamed to admit) with this one, too. It’s great, so bear with me. The mix of genres is every bit as quirky as the video. The music is delightful, whacky and quite original. This Colombian group is evidently one to watch.
Neysa Blay: “Úsame”
The Puerto Rican artist describes this as “a rock song that speaks about excess and of a huge sexual appetite,” so pardon any indiscretion in my selection. Rock of the ’80s age is not normally my bag, but I like the grossly over-the-top way in which she parodies all those pouting, posturing male counterparts from back when leatherette trousers were tight and hair was big and frizzy. By turning the dial up to 11, Ms. Blay proves herself worthy of Spinal Tap.
Nina Camillo: “Flor da Pele”
After that bit of sonic mayhem, it’s a relief to get back to Brazil. So by way of total contrast, here’s the delicious new single by the indecently young singer who also wrote and produced this yummy morsel of jazz-inflected pop music. I’m guessing that we’re looking out on a smog-bound São Paulo and that she is not singing about the recently departed legendary footballer, but corrections please on a postcard.
João Sobral: “Correnteza do Coração”
Still in Brazil and still with the younger generation of artists, here’s a lovely single by a singer-songwriter who seems to fit snugly into a bracket occupied by the likes of Sessa and Bruno Berle and even perhaps Vinicius Cantuaria. Wearing its heart unashamedly on its sleeve, it’s what you might loosely term nova bossa nova. I’m told that Gilles Peterson for one has acknowledged Sobral’s talent. Given that kind of blessing upon him, you’d better watch this space.
Before we bid farewell to Brazil and its sun-kissed sandy shores, we shouldn’t omit this rather delightful single by a rather delightful trio based in Paraná. Tuyo are the two sisters Soares and Jean Machado. According to sister Lio, the song encourages the listener to embrace the present and find joy in the small achievements of life amid the hectic pace of the 21st century. Well, they certainly seem to have found the secret of a happy, carefree life, and we’ll see later this year whether the new album builds on the radiant joie de vivre of the single.
Barzo & Soy Emilia: “Fajnie”
There’s only one place to go after such radiance – to the dance floor! Time to bliss out in the company of the Costa Rican DJ and producer who has collaborated with the likes of Nickodemus and Lagartijeando, and here with the Colombian bass player, singer and composer, Juanita Carvajal. As Soy Emilia she was nominated for Best New Artist and the 2020 Latin Grammy awards. This electro-Latin-dance song is, I am told, an ode to living in peace and harmony with other people. There’s a vital lesson to be learnt there somewhere, but I’m too busy practising my moves.
Palka – “Panamá Libre”
It’s bloody murder on the dance floor. All those steamy, sweaty bodies. But what can you do when it’s this irresistible? It’s one track taken from the Panamanian DJ, producer, whatever’s four-track EP and second release for the estimable Earthly Measures label. It’s a winning combination of electro-beats and acoustic instruments like the ever-glorious marimba. There are some interesting Japanese tints, too, to his re-mix of “Aicha Konten”.
Arthur Melo: “Na Avenida com Benito”
Here’s a splendid video for a terrific song. I have a feeling I’ve seen that B movie hidden among all the visual effects, but can’t for the life of me… Never mind. What you need to know is that Arthur Melo studied film at university, that this second single (after a three-year break) heralds a forthcoming album produced by Kassim (who has done the deed for Caetano Veloso among others) and called Mirantes Emocionais (or “emotional viewpoints”), which pays homage to the Brazilian singer’s musical heroes from the ’70s and ’80s. I’d call that a winning combination.
Hermanos Gutiérrez: “Blood Milk Moon”
We’ll wind up with one more of my tardy selections. It’s our trusty Swiss-Ecuadorian guitar duo, but they’re fast becoming massive, so they won’t mind if I’m a few weeks late. As usual, it’s sumptuous and atmospheric, rich with the smell of the American south-west. Just close your eyes and wade in the water of the Rio Grande under a blood milk moon.
And on that note, may I bid you a hearty adieu. Thank you for reading, thank you for listening.
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