Guide to the week of music: checking in with J. Chambers, plus your radio catch-up, new sounds and visuals

Welcome to our Guide to the week of music, a round-up of music news, media and releases relating to the Band on the Wall programme and wider musical world. This week, we had the pleasure of catching up with J. Chambers, as he prepares to release new work in the wake of a collaboration with Doc Brown. In addition, we’ve plenty of new sounds and visuals to share with you and a few fantastic radio sessions to catch up with this weekend.

J Chambers on new music and Mount Street

Taking a break can be imperative, especially where creativity is concerned. Whether that’s recharging the batteries or breaking the cycle to try something new, it can reap creative rewards for artists in all walks of life. Doc Brown returned to rap having found success as a comic and writer, doing so with fresh ideas and renewed enthusiasm. J Chambers, who collaborated with the comic and rapper late last year, has taken in new sights and sounds. He returns with a new project next month and we were pleased to catch-up with him ahead of its arrival.

You shared some new artwork recently in anticipation of the new release. What can you tell us about what you’ve been cooking up in the time since Moment of Silence II: The Road to Perdition?

JC: ‘The new image serves as a snippet of what’s to come, I posted promo artwork a few days ago which is for the first release from the new body of work, due to be released later this year. The project is called “NLND” which stands for new levels new devils.

Since MOS2 I’ve mainly been taking time out from music to focus on some other things, I’ve been taking trips recently exploring other countries and just spending time with my girlfriend, friends and family. Around November time after I released GTN ft. Doc Brown I started work on the project, which is in its final completion stages. I’m excited to put out new music and to show you guys the progression lyrically and sonically.’

Who produced the artwork and is there more to come? Was the styling inspired by any existing work?

JC: ‘All the artwork for the upcoming singles and the new project were created by Perri Runion, she’s been a really good addition to the process. I essentially sent her hear the project in it’s demo stages and she sent back a few ideas and we developed it from there.

The styling from the project was inspired by the lyrical content. It’s a lot more laid bare and simplistic lyrically and the production is way more mature. As I’m growing I want the music to grow with me, that’s always the goal.’

Can you tell us about the significance of New Mount Street in relation to some of your recent freestyles?

JC: ‘New mount street is where the studio I use is, the theme of those freestyles is me just venting and expressing whatever I am feeling at that time. I don’t usually the pick the instrumentals, my friend Lewis picks them and I just express myself on them.

I enjoy putting out little freestyles like the new mount street series in-between releases as it allows you lot to hear what I’ve been going through and where my head is whilst working on new material.’

What did you take away from your collaboration with Doc Brown – an artist who started in rap, moved into new areas of work only to return as a more mature artist?

JC: ‘Doc is a really cool guy, we’ve kept in contact since the release and have some more plans in store for you guys so look it for that. I guess I took away the lesson that no matter how much success you experience, you can always be humble. Doc came up met me, we shot the video and had a beer and just hung out. He was a regular guy and I only kind of remembered how big he was when he was talking about being on Ricky Gervais’ world tour the week before. He’s definitely a shining example of how every successful artist should carry themselves and I learnt a lot from him. New levels new devils is coming soon and make sure you check my social media for the details of the first release coming June 2nd.’

Radio catch-up

Smoove & Turrell, who begin a tour in support of their new album very soon, appeared on Craig Charles Funk & Soul show last weekend. Charles played five cuts from the group, including their new single You’re Gone ft. Izo FitzRoy and asked some probing questions about the new record. He played great cuts by Amadou & Mariam, Maceo Parker and Marlene Shaw too – all adding to quality of the mixtape. John Turrell told us this week that  ‘tour prep has all been done and we can’t wait to get out on the road to show people what this album is all about’. Listen to Craig’s show in preparation for their Band on the Wall show at the end of the month.

Elsewhere, Gilles Peterson presented a show from the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, which featured a number of Band on the Wall-affiliated artists and some amazing music to boot. Courtney Pine was on hand to chat to Gilles and expressed his admiration for collaborator Omar, stating ‘if I was asked the question: who epitomises British, urban, modern-day, underground, rebellious, off-the-cuff music, it would be him!’ Gilles played tracks from Dinosaur, Alfa Mist and a live cuts by Seun Kuti & Egypt ‘80, who return to Band on the Wall in the Autumn.

Finally, not Alfa Mist but Alpha Maid, delivered a fantastic show for NTS radio earlier in the week, which fans of the On-U sound catalogue, industrial music and experimental rock will certainly dig!

New sounds

Thumbscrew, the experimental jazz trio comprised of Mary Halvorson, Michael Formanek and Tomas Fujiwara, released two tracks on the newly revamped Cuneiform Records this week. Words That Rhyme is an original composition from their collection Ours, while The Peacocks is a cover version from its companion piece, Theirs. The albums were ‘born out of a residency at Pittsburgh’s City of Asylum’ and Words That Rhyme features some great interplay in the latter sections, while demonstrating Halvorson’s beautiful semi-acoustic tone throughout. Elsewhere on the avant-garde trio tip: Daniel Carter, William Parker and Matthew Shipp release Seraphic Light next week. The live recording, laden with acoustic reverberation, was described as ‘one of the best albums of the year, if not one of the best free jazz albums ever’ by Stef at the Free Jazz Collective. See if you agree with the emphatic statement by checking out the record via AUM Fidelity.

Manchester based post-punk outfit ILL, who played a Free Vibes show earlier this year, release their debut full length record We Are Ill today. Elsewhere, Brisbane-based post-punkers The Goon Sax published a new track from their forthcoming album, which like ILL’s new material, may well appeal to fans of Fingerprintz, The Fall and others.

Chip Whickham premiered his new track Snake Eyes via CLASH this week and R+R=NOW – a new ensemble led by Robert Glasper and Terrace Martin for Blue Note records – released their first cut from their project Collagically Speaking.

Finally, a shout out to Chicago’s International Anthem records, who released the new project by Ben LaMar Gay last Friday and have another killer record in the works from Dos Santos. Ryley Walker, himself a Chicago native, called Downtown Castles Can Never Block The Sun the best record he’s heard all year in a recent Tweet – pretty assured praise from musical adventurer, who returns to Band on the Wall later in the year.

New visuals

Bokanté – the GroundUP music ensemble fusing sounds characteristic of ethnic music from various cultures and locations – published a new video from their Dreamland studio series this week. The track An Ni Chans features on their record Strange Circles and Malika Tirolien’s stacked vocals are a prominent feature, as are the rhythms of their three man percussion section.

Bob Reynolds, who often accompanies Bokanté members Michael League, Chris McQueen and Bob Lanzetti on stage with Snarky Puppy, continued his video series too, ahead of the release of his quartet album next week. If you’ve never seen a five string bass played with a slide before, you’re going to want to check out what Janek Gwizdala achieves doing so!

Manchester’s Children of Zeus released a video accompanying the tracks from their new 7” single this week and finally Brighter Sound released a short film about the recent week-long artistic residency led by Field Music.