Music reviews: The Kinks, Rufus Du Sol, Gaye Su Akyol, Ambre Hammond and more
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Music reviews: The Kinks, Rufus Du Sol, Gaye Su Akyol, Ambre Hammond and more

TURKISH Gaye Su Akyol

ISTIKRARLI HAYAL HAKIKATTIR (Dunganga/Glitterbeat)

Turkish singer Gaye Su Akyol: a confident and provocative voice.

Turkish singer Gaye Su Akyol: a confident and provocative voice.Credit:Aylin Gungor

★★★★☆

The title of singer, multi-instrumentalist and visual artist Gaye Su Akyol's third solo album translates as Consistent Fantasy is Reality, and in her liner notes she writes, "Dreams keep you awake and it is time to wake up!" A maverick of Istanbul's music scene, Akyol navigates her way through an increasingly tense political and social atmosphere, responding to global growth in militarism, parochialism and authoritarianism with music that sets out to destroy borders. For Akyol, dreaming is an essential, prescient act of defiance, rather than one of fanciful, passive conformity. This is a subversive, freewheeling and yet meticulously-crafted conceptual album, in which Turkish classical and folk elements are interwoven with surf guitars, analogue synths and electronica. The eclectic compositions evoke Turkish psychedelic rock legend Barış Manco (the one cover being a song of his), Dick Dale, Jon Hassell, early Frank Zappa, Grace Jones and Nirvana, but the sound feels organic throughout, never falling into the trap of pastiche. With this focused, theatrical, unconventional, highly enjoyable recording, Akyol establishes herself as a confident, perceptive and provocative voice in modern music. EUGENE ULMAN

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ROCK The Kinks

ARE THE VILLAGE GREEN PRESERVATION SOCIETY (BMG)

★★★★☆

In November 1968 there could not have been a record more anachronistic record than this. While Hendrix and Zeppelin were setting their controls for the heart of the sun, Ray Davies got nostalgic for both a fading England and his own youthful innocence. But being Ray Davies, there's also a sardonic edge to his whimsical reverie. The title track acts as an overture, as he croons "God save little shops, china cups and virginity" over a bucolic shuffle. Old photos, steam-powered trains, riversides and village churches are littered throughout jauntily arranged songs, and on Do You Remember Walter? Davies reminisces about an old friend and worries about what they have both become. This 50th anniversary edition includes bonus singles and B-sides, some of which could have made the initial cut: Lavender Hill, Rosemary Rose and the previously unreleased Time Song all fit the concept well, and could have replaced more jarring original choices Phenomenal Cat, Monica and Wicked Annabella. A half-century gives any album a sepia-tinged aura, but in truth this already had that patina in 1968, and you can hear its influence on everything from Blur's Parklife to You Am I's Hourly, Daily. BARRY DIVOLA

AFRO/REGGAE The Palm Wine Ambassadors

SHADY CABAL (azobell.bandcamp.com)

★★★★☆

Is there a sound closer to heaven than the kora? More than any other instrument it defines the texture of Byron Bay's Palm Wine Ambassadors, with its ability to drape melody across rhythm in such a way that the harder lines of the groove become shrouded in its own celestial beauty. The player here is Jason Burns, in a band that has more sonic surprises up its sleeve, with bassist Armando Ornano also able to turn to bansuri flute, and singer Chris Chandler doubling on saxophone. The supple, understated grooves – a mix of West African and reggae – are maintained by percussionists Steve Nugent and Elliott Orr and drummer Josh Bell, with guitarist Azo bell swapping duties between skanky rhythms and some enthralling solos. Chandler's singing of the band's original songs is laid-back, and mostly mixed within the fabric of the music, the exception being the anti-war anthem Scream ("the man with the weapon won't bring peace"). The gentle Bahia (on which the kora and bansuri) intersect) and the lilting Brother Hymn give a pretty good idea of how music would sound in Paradise – were there such a place. Perhaps it is Byron Bay. The locals seem to think so. JOHN SHAND

ELECTRONIC Rufus Du Sol

SOLACE (Sony)

Stars★★★★½

Sydney trio Rufus Du Sol return with their third studio album, Solace, a triumphant record that lives up to its name. Retreating to California to record, they found inspiration in the mystical and psychedelic landscapes of the Golden State. A refined track-list of nine songs leaves no room for mistakes, and Rufus make every moment count. Opener Treat You Better is a diaristic delight and the highlight of the album, building from a single organ and layered vocals to an all-out euphoric, modulating beat. Every song that follows is executed with the same finesse. Electronic music is often thought of as harsh and unlistenable, but Solace is delicate and incredibly sophisticated in its production. The lyrics hinge on one central theme of yearning, whether that be for change, company or space. On Underwater the melancholy pleading "Save me now/before I give up" is paradoxical to the whirring, upbeat production. Often they pay homage to the pioneers that came before them, No Place being reminiscent of Underworld's heavy synths, while the title track has a glimmer of Giorgio Moroder. Solace achieves so much in 42 minutes, and is testament to the burgeoning success of Rufus Du Sol. KISH LAL

FOLK Loudon Wainwright III

YEARS IN THE MAKING (Proper/Planet)

★★★½☆

Loudon Wainwright's genius lies in his ability to take everyday events (a dead skunk in the middle of the road, going swimming in summer, getting drunk as a teenager) and craft them into unforgettable, resonant truths. This double album doesn't do that. Spread across 42 tracks, this is Wainwright's "audiobiography" from his days as a folkie (there's a version of Stewball); through his dalliance with musicals (Smokey Joe's Cafe); Happy Birthday sung by his children, Rufus and Martha; a huge family singalong (Meet the Wainwrights); radio advertisements; a friendly endorsement from his childhood neighbour, Liza Minnelli; and covers of songs by Dylan, Woody Guthrie and Richard Thompson. It's all accompanied by a booklet full of esoteric memorabilia. including a eulogistic telegram from Elton John and a generous note from Johnny Cash. Most of the songs – either recorded live or studio out-takes – are obscure. One of the few exceptions is Your Mother and I, about his failed marriage to Kate McGarrigle, which includes the unforgettable line, "We both fell in love/Love's a very deep hole." Treasure this as a complement, but not a substitute, to all the other great albums he's recorded. BRUCE ELDER

SOLO PIANO Ambre Hammond

NIGHT FLOWERS (nightflowersmusic.com)

★★★☆☆

Ambre Hammond is a multi-talented performer and composer (who also has a keen social conscience and fascinating back story, much personal charisma, and is available for keynote addresses). Here she has teamed up with photographer James O'Toole to create a series of 24 miniatures pairing photos of flowers with musical excursions and, in her words, "immortalising the flower forever". The photos are of – you guessed – flowers at night, dramatically lit to show single, sculptural images against a black background, occasionally spritzed with water, or possibly dew or tropical rain. The saturated colours and truncated blooms look spookily artificial. The piano accompaniment to each picture is unremarkable: a meditative, sometimes sparse, sometimes busy series of improvisatory explorations. Hammond draws a delicate, lucent sound from the piano, redolent throughout with snatches of Chopin, Gershwin and Bach, which reveal her lifetime of dedication to the instrument. It's lovely but, in the end, it's hard to conceive of this as more than background music: music to accompany, but not overwhelm, an art exhibition. The album will last longer than the blooms, but immortality is pushing it. HARRIET CUNNINGHAM