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St. Vincent’s virtuosity and vice

St. Vincent’s virtuosity and vice

​…plus the new sound of jazz, and other musical notes

​…plus the new sound of jazz, and other musical notes

October/November 2017

“[I] got a crush on tragedy,” sings Annie Clark on her new album, Masseduction. Ever since she began recording under the name St. Vincent in 2007, Clark, a Grammy-award-winning musician and songwriter from Texas, has courted themes of sorrow, betrayal, fear and lust. Not that you notice at first. Her music, which invites comparison to David Bowie’s, is dazzlingly complicated – on her first album she played 13 instruments, from the guitar to the vibraphone and clavieta. But once you adjust to her virtuosity, you start to see the characters in her songs. On “Masseduction”, in a voice that is by turns coquettish, venomous and world-weary, she conjures brittle lovers and righteous addicts, everyday people with stretched smiles papering over the cracks. They are sad stories, all. And yet, with her wry wit and slick sound, she imbues her cast with a noirish glamour. Only St. Vincent could make tragedy this seductive. ~ CHARLIE McCANN
Masseduction Oct 13th

The entertainer
Perhaps the clue lies in her reading habits. Yuja Wang (pictured), a sensational Chinese pianist, is as partial to “something trashy” as she is to Immanuel Kant or Virginia Woolf. This unapologetic blend of high and low sets her apart on the concert stage too, where she delights just as much in the monumental heft of a Beethoven sonata as a fizzy little encore. (She is also something of a fashion plate, invariably performing in killer heels and dresses with plunging necklines.) Such unpretentiousness is rare among performers of Yuja’s calibre, especially pianists, who tend towards high-mindedness. Audiences adore her playing, which combines technique with entertainment; precision with poetry. Having won admirers around the globe, the fearless firecracker will play a string of dates this autumn which will see her revisiting her favourite repertoire, the Russian romantics: Rachmaninov, Shostakovich and Prokofiev. Yuja says she cherishes these composers for their “passionate” music; you can hear the devotion in every note. ~ CLEMENCY BURTON-HILL
Yuja Wang Miami Beach, Oct 14th-15th; Gothenburg, Oct 25th-27th; Frankfurt, Nov 10th; Washington, DC, Nov 30th-Dec 2nd

Jazz’s new groove
Until 2016, Terrace Martin, a Los Angeles musician, was best known as a producer and saxophonist who had worked with Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder and Snoop Dogg. But that year he released a solo recording which showcased his skill as a bold innovator. Folding rhythm and blues, vocals and electronic instruments into jazz, “Velvet Portraits” forged an original sound – and was nominated for a Grammy award. With his follow-up, The Pollyseeds: Sounds of Crenshaw Vol. 1, Martin picks up where he left off, mixing his jazzy saxophone and soulful grooves into eclectic, edgy compositions with the help of his hand-picked band. On songs like “Don’t Trip” and “Feelings of the World”, he pays homage to his roots: to the gospel, rhythm and blues and hip-hop he spent his childhood listening to, and to Crenshaw, the African-American neighbourhood in Los Angeles where he grew up. Like Kamasi Washington, the jazz saxophonist and composer with whom he often collaborates, Martin is making an argument for why jazz should be cross-pollinated with other genres. “Sounds of Crenshaw” makes his case. ~ PATRICK COLE
The Pollyseeds: Sounds of Crenshaw Vol. 1 out now

Drum roll for Nídia
The sounds of the Afro-Lusophone diaspora explode on Nídia é Má, Nídia é Fudida (Nídia is badass, Nídia is dope), the debut album from Nídia, a 20-year-old producer from Lisbon. She pits the rudimentary drum machines and synthesisers of Angola’s carnivalesque kuduro, Portugal’s exhilarating batida, and its crude, steamy tarraxo against each other so that they form a dense, chicken-wire mesh of sound. Her fervid, rhythmic aggression is as unrelenting as the early work of Aphex Twin, a British electronic musician, or Chicago’s footwork scene. She made the record entirely on her computer, but it doesn’t sound that way – her grimy drums seem to ricochet around you. Each brief song hammers stuttering vocal samples against compact synth melodies, an approach she uses to diverse ends: “Arme” and “Toma” are intimidating, whereas “Puro Tarraxo”, with its popped-bubble synths, feels like it was made for street parties. This is a confident album – the swaggering “Mulher Profissional” means “professional woman”. Yet on “I Miss My Ghetto”, a melancholy tribute to home, Nídia shows that she is vulnerable, too. ~ LAURA SNAPES
Nídia é Má, Nídia é Fudida out now

To listen to a selection of songs from these pages, search “spotify:user: 1843mag” on Spotify

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