Welcome to the Guide to the Week of Music, a round-up of music news, media and releases from the wider musical world. This week, we celebrate World Oceans Day with an exploration of music indebted to our oceans. We also round-up some fascinating new music, such as the newly discovered John Coltrane recordings, alongside great tracks and accompanying visuals.
An ocean of sound
The ocean is a provider of limitless inspiration. Composers, songwriters, poets and lyricists from many walks of life have gazed upon it – finding imagery in its rich expanse and harnessing the emotion it has kindled within them. From Mendelssohn’s Hebrides overture to Otis Redding and Steve Cropper’s (Sittin On) The Dock of the Bay – there are countless examples of beautiful music, born directly of an artist’s interaction with the sea.
(Moods of the Sea – Mendelssohn’s piece and Slavko Vorkapić and John Hoffman 1941 film)
Today is World Oceans Day, a UN-recognised event celebrating our oceans, marine life and much more. The day aims to promote international collaboration and this year’s ‘action focus’ centres around the prevention of plastic pollution, encouraging solutions that work toward a healthier ocean. A healthy ocean is critical to our survival and to our art – a belief held by many, beyond the artistic world.
As well as responding to the ocean through art, humankind has enabled the ocean to stimulate art of its own, thanks to an array of modern technologies. Take the Music by Oceans project, which uses the data recorded by globally-distributed sea probes known as argo floats, as the basis for minimal composition. Composer Stef Veldhuis and Oceanographers associated with Utrecht University are working together on the project, assessing the possibility that we may be able to
Compelling also is the KEYNVOR project, initiated by Mercury KX (the label home to Solomon Grey and Ólafur Arnalds), composer Sebastian Plano and Cornish brewery Sharp’s. It is an effort to ‘empower the ocean to clean itself’: to create music from the sounds of the ocean and donate all royalties to Surfers Against Sewage. Efforts such as these may seem like a drop in the ocean, but they represent the progressive action musicians and scientists are uniting to take, in an effort to better understand and counteract, the negative impact our actions have on the ocean.
Music has reflected the sea in innumerable ways, sometimes resulting in meditative pieces that respond to a still ocean, others the energy and power of a stormy sea. Some artists have written from the perspective of the body of water, others autobiographical accounts of their relationship with it. Here’s just a small helping of ocean related music, from relaxing meditative pieces, to folk-rock, classical and contemporary electronica.
‘This is like finding a new room in the Great Pyramid’. Those the words of the great saxophonist Sonny Rollins on the discovery of ‘lost’ music by his friend and Tenor Madness collaborator John Coltrane. Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album features studio recordings of original, never-before-heard compositions, recorded by Coltrane’s classic quartet: McCoy Tyner (piano), Jimmy Garrison (bass), and Elvin Jones (drums).
It was made at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio on 6th March 1963 and these masters are produced from Van Gelder’s reference tape. Listen to Untitled Original 11383 – one of two untitled original compositions among the new set – below and find out more about the record here.
Manchester-based guitarist Stuart McCallum announced a new EP recently. Solitude is his first for Edition records and is released in mid-July. Saltburn, a beautiful acoustic track with a drifting backwash of sound, is available to stream via Bandcamp ahead of its release.
Jazz flautist, saxophonist and producer Tenderlonious premiered the opening track from his forthcoming LP The Shakedown via Stamp the Wax this week and Jason Kolar released the gorgeous Modified Perspectives – a record in keeping with today’s ocean theme.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra released a fantastic animated video to accompany Hunnybee this week. Guy Garvey and his Elbow bandmates have been digging the new record, as have critics worldwide. The video was directed and animated by Greg Sharp, with production courtesy of Truba Animation. And we almost forgot…the visuals are another play on today’s ocean theme!
Rapper J Chambers has a new video dropping via Wordplay today and experimental MC GAIKA announced his Basic Volume LP with a moody, Paco Raterta-directed visual for Crown & Key.
Finally, Darcie – who appear at Free Vibes on 22nd June – released a new music video for their single Litter. It features the duo busting some moves and even taking a faceful of glitter in the name of artistic expression. We’ll explore the brilliant single in greater depth in a forthcoming interview with the indie duo.