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 a long distance exchange with Josh Rosenthal, founder of the fantastic Tompkins Square record label. He discussed Ryley Walker’s artistic development, his latest signing and ambitious plans for the rest of the year, in a fantastic interview. Elsewhere, we take a look at the newly announced Binker & Moses LP and share some brand new sounds and visuals to further instil that Friday feeling.
In little over a decade of operation, Tompkins Square has become one of the primary purveyors of outsider roots and experimental music. Whether unearthing rare recordings, compiling era-spanning anthologies or offering a fresh-faced folksmith their first shot in the studio – they work with a passion and integrity that has earned the label multiple Grammy nominations and attention from collectors around the world.
Described as ‘a musician’s record man’ by T Bone Burnett, founder Josh Rosenthal is the beating heart of the concern. He’s responsible for almost everything the label does and is acutely aware of the role it plays in the wider musical landscape.
‘I like to sign folks for an album or two, then they go off and do their thing.’ he states matter-of-factly. He admits to not signing many new artists, but ‘Hiss Golden Messenger, Brigid Mae Power, William Tyler, Ryley Walker,’ are among those he has scouted in recent years.
Deafman Glance hears Ryley Walker make a concerted and successful effort to explore new territory, which Josh points out is ‘what we expect from great artists.’ Reflecting on Ryley’s early material for the label, Josh explains: ‘he made the first record with Cooper Crain at Minbal Studios. I think he was just feeling his way around the studio at that point. Some of my favorite work of his is on there, even though he’s disavowed the first two albums. Ryley has pushed himself creatively and you can see a progression.’
As young artists come and go, back catalogue and anthology releases remain a constant for the label. A lover of archival work – Josh has arranged the release of material by multi-disciplinary groups such as Entourage recently, introducing audiences to long-forgotten but artistically exceptional work. Discussing his plans for the rest of the calendar year, he reveals ‘we have two Monster projects coming’ and recommends joining the label’s mailing list to be the first to know.
In addition to those major projects, Rosenthal intends to record his own LP this Winter, with a view to release next year. But in the meantime, Brighton-based multi-instrumentalist Gwenifer Raymond is a key focus. The young musician is the latest to join the roster and made a significant impression with her first shows on U.S. soil.
‘I was surprised myself when I saw her in D.C.,’ Josh admits, ‘I had seen a live video on YouTube, so I had an idea, but seeing her [in person] was quite impressive. She’s a punk, and a punk rocker and she’s from Wales, but she plays a new style of traditional music. It’s pretty extraordinary.’
Gwenifer’s debut LP arrives at the end of June and you can keep abreast of all things Tompkins Square here. Ryley Walker, whose Deafman Glance is released today via Dead Oceans, returns to Band on the Wall in November.
Binker & Moses – the London-based, multi-award-winning contemporary jazz duo – this week announced their new LP, Alive in the East. A companion piece to last year’s widely praised Journey to the mountain of forever, it was recorded at Total Refreshment Centre, where several acts from the International jazz underground have played impactful shows in recent years.
The record is an improvised affair with a different energy to its predecessor. Evan Parker and Yussef Dayes – who contributed to the second disc of Journey to the mountain of forever – are once again involved, as are harpist Tori Handsley and trumpeter Byron Wallen. ‘We just wanted to work with musicians who’s playing we loved and thought would work well together.’ Golding explained. ‘Each guest musician we collaborate with on the album is a master, not just at playing but at generating ideas in an improvised setting.’
‘…you can hear everybody reading everybody else’s mind as we’re going along,’ Golding remarked, ‘that’s what makes it appealing to me; its based on intuition rather than pre-discussed directions.’
The album is released via Gearbox records next month and Binker & Moses appear live at Band on the Wall during the Manchester Jazz Festival. Listen to a pair of exhilarating cuts from the LP below.
Fantastic Negrito premiered The Duffler, a second cut from his forthcoming album, via Rolling Stone last week. A blues-rock hybrid with the production ambition of Jack White and emotional depth of Willie Dixon, we’re bowled over by man’s latest creations and hope you are too!
LUMP, the collaborative project of Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay, released Late to the Flight earlier this week, a second cut from their forthcoming record with Dead Oceans. On the same label, Ryley Walker released album closer Spoil with the Rest, a mellow and affirming number from the Chicago-based songwriter.
Reece Williams, the Manchester-based poet, mentor and project manager affiliated with One Mic Stand, released his outstanding EP Warren last week. Largely produced by Dyslexis (one half of Project Apex with Levelz producer and DJ Metrodome), the project deals with grief and loss through candid and gripping passages of spoken word. Speaking on social media, producer Dyslexis said ‘I am honoured to have been part of this,’ adding ‘It’s truly one of the most powerful and honest lyrical performances out there. With contributions from great artists such as METRODOME, Berry Blacc and Dom Hz.’ It’s available to stream on Spotify and Apple Music and Young Identity poets return to Band on the Wall in September.
Erased Tapes have been celebrating their 10th anniversary recently and a series of new visuals includes the relaxing new cut from Arthur Jeffes & Nils Frahm.
Vulfpeck released a new studio video for Grandma, featuring famed ‘guns for hire’ David T. Walker, James Gadson alongside feature vocalist Antwaun Stanley. The tender R&B ballad must feel like familiar territory for the seventies-era session men, who played on records with Marvin Gaye and Martha Reeves respectively. Another cracker from the Vulfpeck camp, whose popularity shows no signs of fading!
Finally, Kamaal Williams and Sons of Kemet, two major players in the London jazz scene, released new visuals this week. Williams’ video was shot in Morocco and directed by Greg Barnes. Its narrative is to be continued in further videos over the coming months. Sons of Kemet’s video pertains to the entire concept of their album and is underpinned by the instrumental of My Queen is Ada Eastman. Joshua Idehen, whose poetry features on the album cut, delivers a new poetry piece in the visual.