Nala Sinephro, Space 1.8, Warp ****

So where are we speaking of the celestial? Brandee Younger's Somewhere Different was a little bit of a let-down compared with the harpist's work on Force Majeure last year. And while staying with harp Tori Handsley's excellent record for Cadillac …

Published: 18 Nov 2021. Updated: 15 days.

So where are we speaking of the celestial? Brandee Younger's Somewhere Different was a little bit of a let-down compared with the harpist's work on Force Majeure last year. And while staying with harp Tori Handsley's excellent record for Cadillac was one of the best in a Dorothy Ashby vein. Even better in terms of an all-round compositional conception, less melodious than Tori's, certainly as archetypal chill-out music these mostly short 'Space' pieces, with a whopping 17-minute-plus 'Space 8' at the end is Space 1.8. The work of Caribbean-Belgian pedal harpist-composer Nala Sinephro, an unknown to most before this significant record, also surfaced remixing Nubya Garcia. Afrofuturist in a sense and sitting alongside spiritual-jazz sounds inevitably, characterised by long involving vamps with only glacial chord changes now and then, the album was recorded at home and in a Wanstead, east London, studio in 2018-19 when Sinephro was still in her early-twenties. Other musicians on the album include saxophonist James Mollison who is excellent, guitarist Shirley Tetteh, drummer Eddie Hick from Sons of Kemet, Dwayne Kilvington and Jake Long of Maisha. Go for the long 'Space 8' as it sums up and is characteristic of the whole album most of all.

Stephen Graham

Nala Sinephro, above

Tags: Albums and EPsNew artists breaking through

Ayumi Tanaka trio, Subaqueous Silence, ECM ***

''Subaqueous'' is another way of saying ''existing, formed, or taking place in or under water.'' Stillness is key on opener 'Ruins'. Perhaps that's not a surprise if you take the title naming conceit to its logical conclusion. The work of the …

Published: 17 Nov 2021. Updated: 16 days.

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''Subaqueous'' is another way of saying ''existing, formed, or taking place in or under water.''

Stillness is key on opener 'Ruins'. Perhaps that's not a surprise if you take the title naming conceit to its logical conclusion. The work of the avant-garde and highly serious Japanese pianist Ayumi Tanaka who lives in Norway and made a firm impression on the fine Thomas Strønen album Bayou released earlier in 2021, the trio is a passive vehicle for the leader. Bassist Christian Meaas Svendsen is starkly scything in response on 'Black Rain' a piece that is both harrowing and intense. Per Oddvar Johansen on drums, familiar from his work with Helge Lien, starts to make his presence felt on the second 'Ruins' track.

Tanaka has a very original sound in the sparse and weighty avant-garde traditions of the Masabumi Kikuchi-like world compellingly entered into and isn't afraid to manipulate silence for effect. But the trio is mostly underused. A solo piano album from Tanaka might be more interesting. The title track at the end has a serenity which is the album's calling card and is easily the best track and certainly where the bassist at the very least is best heard. SG