New music

Reviews of this week’s CD releases


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POP/ROCK Taylor Janzen

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Taylor Janzen

I Live in Patterns

(Glassnote / Arts & Crafts)

Taylor Janzen had a version of her debut full-length album recorded and ready to go before the COVID-19 pandemic settled over the globe and sent us all into lockdown, where many of us spent months upon months poking, prodding at and re-examining our lives and our work. Janzen’s first two, attention-getting EPs, 2017’s Interpersonal and 2019’s Shouting Matches, had already revealed the young Winnipeg singer/songwriter as an introvert, prone to sifting her feelings to sort out exactly what she means to say. So it wasn’t a huge surprise to learn that she decided to rewrite, re-record and restructure the entire project.

Janzen now describes I Live in Patterns as “one big anthology of the last few years of my life.” That may be what it represents to her, given all the time and effort she put into the album, but the record doesn’t sound like a disjointed compendium. There’s a cohesive and coherent sonic theme to these 10 songs, a resonant blend of Janzen’s spare, folkie earnestness with modern indie and alt-pop production values. Local producer Roman Clarke did much of the boardwork here, with L.A. heavyweight Jennifer Dicilveo weighing in on the percussively buzzy Nightmare and the atmospheric, acoustic-based Something Better, and the result is a collection that places Janzen adjacent to the likes of Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus (all of Boygenius, for that matter), or U.K. trio Daughter.

A lot of this material is the sound of a young person struggling with the strictures of her upbringing and emerging, blinking, into the world, while at the same time sharing her journey, with all its fear and doubt and hope. Push It Down, the album’s third track, is a breezy pop tune, yet its refrain reveals that “sooner or later it all comes out.” On Hotline, she sings that she “never grew out of trying to hurt myself“ and Nightmare is about suffering a panic attack on an airplane. Don’t be mistaken, though. This is more of an empathetic ride than a harrowing one, and there’s strength and resilience here, too. Designated Driver describes white-knuckling it through life, regardless; while the piano balladry of Patience is a paean to working through one’s problems. It’s Alright begins with Janzen asking a pastor how he can be so sure, but the song (and the album) ultimately resolves itself as she realizes she must learn to accept the process of making progress. ★★★★ out of five

STREAM THESE: Push It Down, Something Better, I Live in Patterns (feat. Alix Page)

— John Kendle


Depeche Mode

Memento Mori (Columbia Records)

And then there were only two. Depeche Mode have always been a genre unto itself: a vibe, a sort of feedback loop that is timeless yet nostalgic, dark, edgy, a little too dark sometimes but always so cool. Their 15th studio album, titled Memento Mori, (Latin for “remember you will die”) feels both like a tribute to founding member and keyboardist Andy Fletcher, who died in May 2022 and left the duo of Dave Gahan and Martin Gore, and a mission statement of their music.

The 12 tracks are fully Depeche, fully intoxicating in sound, artistically evocative and sometimes puzzling (like the compelling but strange Caroline’s Monkey). The music is staring lovingly into the abyss and asking it to love it back; death is always hovering on the periphery of the sound, a grunge, industrial, rainy sound also filled with a strange kindness.

Soul with Me is an incredible ballad where Gahan’s voice changes to an unrecognizable pitch, while Before We Drown is an electro sexy tune, while My Cosmos Is Mine has a dramatic tempo to it that works. Ghost Again hooks you with its deep fry bass and People Are Good engages the aural with an unusual vibrato.

Depeche Mode might be facing their own mortality but their power as musicians stretches into infinity.

— Cristina Jaleru, The Associated Press


Jacques Kuba Séguin

Parfum No 1 (ODD SOUND)

Polish-Canadian trumpeter and composer Jacques Kuba Séguin performs regularly in Poland as well as in North America. With this release he gives us music inspired by his fascination with the sense of smell. The compositions reflect this appeal with hints of the power of smell in stirring and provoking memories of childhood and earlier experiences. Notes indicate this album could be the first of La Trilogie des Odeurs. His quintet drawing the concept together has Jean-Michel Pilc on piano, Elizabeth Shepherd on vocals, Rémi-Jean LeBlanc on bass and Kevin Warren on drums.

Whatever level of any sense memory this music might open for you, it is beautiful enough to engage you thoroughly. The overriding mood is reflective and peaceful. There are dissonances and flurries of notes on many tracks, but nothing jars a wonderful sense of well-being. Séguin’s trumpet is predominantly subdued, and Pilc’s piano is gorgeous. The rhythm duo keep all the pieces together while Shepherd’s amazingly clear and simple phrases are totally linked. Tracks like Promesse de Souvenirs bring stronger emotions and complex rhythms along with peaceful resolution. Je Suis Là has a hummable melodic base with Shepherd’s voice telling the story and is a real highlight of the album. The opening track, La Danse du Hasard sets the stage and has an effective bass continuo I loved. Each composition demonstrates Séguin’s skill at capturing moods and rolling the music around them like a familiar blanket.

In fact if I have anything other than total praise here it is that the album is quite short — at 34 minutes it is almost EP length. I simply wanted more of this beautiful music. I suppose I’ll have to wait for the other parts of the trilogy. In the meantime, this is a lush beginning. ★★★★1/2 out of five

STREAM THESE: Je Suis Là, La Danse du Hasard

— Keith Black


Ricercar Consort & Philippe Pierlot

Buxtehude: Salvator Mundi (Mirare Classical)

Four years after their prior release, Membra Jesu Nostri, the Ricercar Consort led by conductor/viola da gambist Philippe Pierlot performs soulful cantatas by German-Danish composer/organist Dieterich Buxtehude, (mostly) based on Jesus’ Passion and Resurrection and just in time for Eastertide.

The vocal ensemble comprised of sopranos Hanna Bayodi-Hirt and Yetzabel Arias; David Sagastume, alto; Hugo Hymas, tenor; and Mathias Vieweg bring each of the 10 musical offerings to life, including Jesu meines Lebens Leben, and Befiehl dem Engel, as album highlights.

Others include Ich bin die Auferstehung und das Leben, now punctuated by brass, and highlighted further by rugged strings, as well as the three-part Herzlich lieb hab ich Dich, o Herr. However the jewel in the crown is Furwahr, er trug unsere Krankheit, with its dramatic tone painting, intensely expressive chromatic lines and abrupt pauses capturing the agony of suffering and death, as well as ultimately the hope for life eternal. ★★★★ out of five

STREAM THIS: Furwahr, er trug unsere Krankheit

— Holly Harris

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