2014

Plectrum Electrum

  • Artist:* Prince
  • Album: * Plectrum Electrum

I had a listen to “Plectrum Electrum” this weekend. As previously indicated, this is one of two NEW albums released by Prince. On this particular album Prince, co-pilots the ship with his 3 pieces all- girl backing band “3Rd Eye Girl”. After listening to the solo album “Art Official Age”, I found it to be underwhelming. I find “Plectrum Electrum” to be the complete opposite.
I know this is completely speculative, but I feel as if this THIS is the album Prince always meant to release. His new business relationship with Warner Bros compelled him to give them something marketable in the form of “Art Official Age” while being granted the opportunity to record another album with little to no commercial considerations… (“Plectrum Electrum”).
“Plectrum Electrum” was recorded live and in analog and is devoid of some of the digital gimmicks on “Art Official Age”.
It’s not too hard to imagine that Prince did not care whether “Plectrum Electrum” sells or not considering that he gave away his previous album away for free. Hell, Prince does not even appear on the cover of “Plectrum Electrum”. To the undiscerning music buyer, the album is likely to go unnoticed on the shelf.
“Plectrum Electrum” comes with all the makings of a Rock album, extended electric guitar solos and all. Even though I prefer Prince’s Funk/Soul side, I still choose “Plectrum Electrum” because it’s honest, inspired music. “Art Official Age” comes off as contrived, for reasons already mentioned above.
All things considered, Prince finds himself in a very favourable position in his career. Where his previous relationship with Warner Bros forced him to boldly change his name in protest of what he considered creative limitation. He has now regained control of his masters, publishing rights and is able to give Warner Bros one album to SELL and one album of music HE wants to record. It’s a win win situation. I understand we’re going to have a tour promoted by Live Nation in the near future. Since Big Concerts now serves as Live Nation’s promotional partner in South Africa, I pray that one of the dates will be to the so called “motherland”.

- Bongani Mdakane

(Self procclaimed biggest Prince Fan & follower, this side of everywhere. )

Art Official Age

Artist: Prince
Album: Art Official Age

So I finally got my hands on Prince’s two new albums. As you know, Prince released a solo album “Art Official Age”, while the other album, “Plectrum Electrum” is a collaborative effort with his 3 piece all girl band “3RD Eye Girl”.

Shortly after buying “Plectrum Electrum” I forgot it in my woman’s car. Which in hindsight may have been a good thing as it allowed me to spend time (so to speak) with the solo album “Art Official Age”.

I have to be honest, apart from tracks that will be discussed later, I found “Art Official Age” to be lukewarm at best. It’s too safe, in my view. If you listen to 2004’s “Musicology” album, it was radio friendly but nowhere near superficial. Prince, in my view had difficulty striking that balance on this record.

I shall confine myself to the tracks that I did in fact unreservedly enjoy:

TIME” - An instant stand out for me! It’s a duet with protégé Andy Allo. I knew when I played it multiple times last night that it would be exalted to one of my favourite Prince cuts of all time. I love how those bass slaps are almost imposing themselves on Prince’s vocals towards the end. I’ve said many times that I prefer Prince’s chest voice over his falsetto. He ALWAYS takes it to the church when singing in his chest voice. He sings, rather shamelessly to Andy Allo: “ I’m tired of playing hard to get with an animal half my age.” I told you all Prince and Andy Allo are/were an item, those lyrics are a dead give-away. lol

THE GOLD STANDARD” – This joint is quintessential Prince! Greasy rhythm guitar and bass licks, complete with catchy horn riffs. It took me back to 1981. I’d love to see him splice his guitar to this one live.

BREAKFAST CAN WAIT” – The slight similarity in melody between this song and “Clouds” still did not deter me! I love this song. I can’t get over that sweet bass groove.

I can’t wait to listen to the “Plectrum Electrum” album. Will let you have my views on it as well.

- Bongani Mdakane

(Self procclaimed biggest Prince Fan & follower, this side of everywhere. )

Msaki - Nali’Themba EP

Artist: Msaki
Album: Nal’ithemba EP

It’s my birthday and I awake to the melody and lyrics of the song “Mfama Ziyabona” roaming freely through the haze of my morning mind:

“…Settle down my friend, Let’s go to the borders. All that’s here are now, unchartered waters…”

What a great way to start the day and my own new year as I let go of the past and enter into the unknown of what my next chapter holds.

“Mfama Ziyabona” is one song of four from Msaki’s recently released EP entitled “Nal’ithemba”. Each song is a great folk acoustic arrangement in itself with an array of musical instrumentation ranging from Guitar, Bass and Drums to Strings, Glockenspiel, Choir and Oboe. But above and within all of this accompaniment; the melodies and harmonies; beautiful and embracing as they are; carry a depth and weight of lyrical content which make you listen; invite you in and ask you to follow and believe if you would.

Msaki stands powerful with each verse and chorus, honest and true to what her heart cries, believes and gives; what has elevated her and is on offer to us all; reminding and sharing with us something greater than our day to day experience yet somehow still so intricately entwined within it if you would have it.

Its been said that love needs to find form and that intimacy needs to be whispered; a responsibility not to be taken lightly, as we allow the artist to do just that while we put the headphones on and tap play.

”And so it begins, the pulling, the pouring, the pain; the what? … Forgiveness, the flame…nothing is waste, put it all together, nothing you have faced…love pulls us together…It’s alright; it’s alright.”

In short it’s an album of hope, a call beyond the limits of fear into a perfect love and for me a reminder of a dream I once carried and one worthy to reclaim as the whisper of promise still remains, “never to leave nor forsake.”

“…Made for the deep of the sea.”

But enough from me, listen for yourself, allow the music and lyrics to _“sink
deep in the well”_ of your own soul and “hope on bravely”.

- Trevor Smith

Emily King - Seven

Artist: Emily King
Album: Seven

It was the beginning of 2012 and I was going through a pretty crappy break-up with the same guy I had had an on-and-off relationship with for about 3 years (I know, I should have seen it coming).

So to make myself feel better I promised that this time around I wouldn’t cry. For most of that period I was walking around with suppressed emotions, “I refuse to feel anything ever again,” I told myself. “Emotions are for the weak!”

A friend of mine had recently dropped a gang load of music in my laptop and as I put all the new music into my iPod, a particular album cover caught my attention

It had a woman on the cover. Her back turned, her face looking over her left shoulder at something behind her. Her eyes are hidden by the word SEVEN - splashed across the image of her in a bold, thick font

It sparked my curiosity – PLUS seven is my favourite number. So, on my way to campus. I superficially decided to listen to the album just because it had a cool cover!

“….I just don’t understand, they say love is compromise. Where does that leave us?”

And no, the tears didn’t start there. The tears started pouring down my face when she sang:

“I Just can’t stay around, with all your foolish games, its like a miracle how I made it this far”

I have never felt a song speak to me the way “Down” did.

“ You keep pulling me down down down down down, lower than I’ve ever known”

All the way to college I cried and cried but not in a sad way, rather in a way that was liberating.

And that’s exactly how I would describe this EP – Liberating. She tells stories that are honest, to the point, sweet and unbelievably relatable. Along with the light hearted melodies and a killer voice to boot – this EP is human. Knowing that you are human is liberating.

So, that’s how my love affair with Emily King’s Seven started. Each song in its own way allowed me to feel again freely. The lightness of songs such as “Ever After” “Sides” and “Every Part” restores hope in what you think may have been broken. The honesty in “Down” and “Georgia” helps you patch up old wounds. The familiarity in “No More Room” is inspiring and encouraging, while the message in “Radio” sums up why I love this EP so much.

- Ziya

Macy Gray - The ID

Artist: Macy Gray:
Album: The I.D

Here’s to the funky ones. The ones who wear funny hats and fancy pants. The ones who act “unnormal” and speak “strizange”. The ones who never dance, but always boogie. This is who, in my opinion, Macy Gray makes music for –“The Crazy Ones.” And her second studio album, The I.D, is no different.

As with most, my first introduction to Macy was through her hit single, “I try” off her debut album, On How Life Is. But it was only when she asked me to “express what is taboo in me and share my freak with the rest of the world” on Sexual Revolution, that I was lured into Macy’s wacky, colourful imagination.

The ID is a fusion of Funk, Neo-soul, Hip Hop and Rock. A party-flavourful offering that never fails to get me busting a move or four – but also balanced out with a number of slow to mid tempo songs like Sweet Baby ft. Erykah Badu, Gimme All Your Lovin’ or I Will Kill You, Forgiveness and Freak Like Me.

There is so much to Macy’s sound, that it’s only after moving past the album’s theatrical beats and her flamboyant style and iconic raspy voice, that I found 14 beautifully written stories of love, rejection, happiness, sex and even crime. Honest emotions and ideas that are real to all humans – some so real, that one might need a strong bottle of something to voice. The ID is a personal classic in my book. It has a timeless sound and feel that’s cross-pollinated with different times, cultures and genres.

It’s a unique glimpse into a manic-depressive who knows pain well enough to celebrate happiness – listen to Hay Young World and Oblivion and you’ll know.
To sum it up in her own words, The ID is “hot like hot wings with hot chocolate in hell” – Relating To A Psychopath.

- Jonas