Pino Palladino & Blake Mills, Nubiyan Twist + more: our five favourite records of the week

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Pino Palladino & Blake Mills, Nubiyan Twist + more: our five favourite records of the week

Words by Will Brewster

Explore the freshest sounds of the week.

Friday is here, which means it’s release day for a bunch of artists at home and around the world. With so many hot releases out there to tuck into, we’ve compiled some of the best to present to you for the weekend.

Today, we’re tucking into a masterful collaborative effort from two of the most dynamic session instrumentalists of the modern era with Pino Palladino and Blake Mills’ Notes With Attachments, plus a hot pack of grooves from London’s Nubiyan Twist, Tulliah’s new EP, Mindy Meng Wang and Tim Shiel’s awe-inspiring quarantine collaboration and a wild adventure into the mind of Ehsan Gelsi.

This week’s hot picks:

  • Pino Palladino & Blake Mills – Notes With Attachments
  • Nubiyan Twist – Freedom Fables
  • Mindy Meng Wang 王萌 & Tim Shiel – Nervous Energy 一触即
  • Tulliah – Fre$h Hugs
  • Ehsan Gelsi – Ephemera

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Pino Palladino & Blake Mills – Notes With Attachments

There’s not many bassists out there who can lay claim to the level of the clout that Pino Palladino can. Across his career, he’s collaborated with everyone from D’Angelo, Erykah Badu and John Mayer through to Eric Clapton, Adele and The Who, with his thumping flatwound tone and less-is-more approach towards groove totally revolutionising the way the bass is both performed and mixed on record.

For Notes With Attachments, which stands as his first-ever record of originals, the Welsh session giant has enlisted the assistance of six-string virtuoso and lauded producer Blake Mills to deliver eight avant-garde compositions that hold testament to the uncanny instrumental talents of both men. It’s spontaneous, ambiguous and ultimately enthralling, and serves as a must-listen for any keen guitarist or bassist looking to pick up a few tricks from two masters of the game.

‘Just Wrong’ sets a fine tone for Notes With Attachments with Sam Gendel’s harmonised saxophones and Pino’s creeping polyrhythmic basslines, with ‘Soundwalk’ and ‘Ekuté’ acting as another showcase of Palladino’s irresistible feel across the fretboard – the latter also serving as a flex for Mills’ knowledge of chord inversions and production nuances.

Meanwhile, ‘Djurkel’ is a masterfully arranged and mixed track that stands up as one of the record’s strongest moments with its heavy horns and staccato strings, while ‘Chris Dave’ sees Mills and Palladino spotlight the percussive talents of the song’s titular genius in spectacular fashion. ‘Man Form Molise’ holds up as Notes With Attachments’ most spacious moments and boasts some great off-kilter playing from Mills, while ‘Off The Cuff’ ends things in style with Pino dishing out a short-yet-sweet chord progression to once again remind you of his mastery over the instrument.

To hear these two work together so fluidly on such a wonderful full-length project is a true treat for any musician to experience – hopefully, there’s a lot more from where this came from.

Nubiyan Twist – Freedom Fables

A slinky, head-snapping collaborative affair from UK Afro-Jazz nonet Nubiyan Twist, Freedom Fables pairs the grooves of the London-based group with a smattering of feature vocalists such as Pat Thomas, Ego Ella May and Soweto Kinch. It’s as much as a celebration of Africa’s rich musical diaspora as it is a stone cold dance party, and should serve to satisfy the palate of all those who find solace in funk, soul, Afrobeat, jazz and all things in between.

‘Morning Light’ kicks off the party with a stank neo-soul stomp packed with liquid guitars and rising synth pads, while ‘Tittle Tattle’ and ‘Ma Wonka’ see Nubiyan Twist delve right into Afrobeat territory, with scattered percussion and punishing horns complementing the presence of respective guests CHERISE and Pat Thomas.

‘Buckle Up’ sees the group take a Dilla-tinged detour with an impeccably performed groove, while ‘Keeper’ marks one of the album’s most jazzy moments before ‘If I Know’ and ‘Flow’ offers two back-to-back Afrobeat and neo-soul jams, the latter marking CHERISE’s third and finest feature appearance. As great as these guest appearances might be across Freedom Fables, ultimately, it’s Nubiyan Twist who shine brightest here, with their dynamic chemistry and musical interplay going the distance to make this one worthy of remembering.

Mindy Meng Wang 王萌 & Tim Shiel – Nervous Energy 一触即

A collaborative affair pieced together over the course of the pandemic, Nervous Energy sees the worlds of Mindy Meng Wang and Tim Shiel collide in spectacular fashion. Constructed around Mindy’s transcendental guzheng playing and bolstered by Shiel’s dance music sensibilities, the project combines Eastern melodies with skittish breakbeats and slippery synths and samples for a truly intriguing sonic affair.

‘Sleeping Tiger On The Bund’ fuses a rollicking Four Tet-esque rhythm with gentle guzheng plucks and flurries of reversed arpeggios to create icy textures, while ‘Body of Water (What Is Love)’ delivers a delicious breakbeat and some killer synth work to reinforce Mindy’s sparse melodies. ‘Hidden Qi’, meanwhile, verges on dub and trip-hop territory with its stoned drum programming, with the song unpredictably darting between keys to make it all the more enticing.

Finishing up on the slow-burning build of ‘My Love Is Not What It Was’ – yet another breakbeat tour-de-force for Shiel, and a stellar showcase of Mindy’s traditional technique – Nervous Energy is a magical collision of sound and style that offers something new with every fresh listen.

Tulliah – Fre$h Hugs

Tulliah is a 19 year old singer-songwriter hailing from the Mornington Peninsula, who carries a knack for writing emotionally heightened songs in the vein of Aldous Harding and Whitney. On her debut EP Fre$h Hugs, she seeks to solidify her emerging status as one to keep an eye on, fusing soft instrumentation with narrative-based lyricism over six pleasantly performed and produced tracks.

‘Just My Type (A Little Bit Lonely)’ pairs Tulliah’s blissful, smooth harmonies with a twisting bassline and textured acoustic guitar, while a sparse piano accompanies the young songwriter on ‘Take It Off Now Boy’ to construct one of the EP’s most harrowing moments.

‘Okay’ follows things with another sparse cut that’s made all the more unique with its soaring string arrangements and well-laid harmonies, with ‘Distant Dreams’ rounding out the project with a fairly conventional pop number that features some unsuspecting production tricks courtesy of Dean Tuza. A fine introduction to an artist who seems poised to churn out some very strong songs ahead.

Ehsan Gelsi – Ephemera 

Ehsan Gelsi is a Melbourne-based producer and synth wrangler who’s previously worked alongside everyone from Calvin Harris and Carl Cox all the way to Snoop Dogg. He’s an acclaimed master of modular synthesis – his many YouTube jams with a hulking Moog System 55 will prove that for you if you harbour any doubts – yet his latest project spotlights a much more unique instrument: the gargantuous  6024 pipe organ that sits within Melbourne’s Town Hall.

Ephemera, which arrives tomorrow after Gelsi takes to the Town Hall to perform it in full tonight, consists of two sprawling compositions that make heady use of the organ in addition to other synths and live percussion. As Gelsi discovered, the organ boasts MIDI in and out, enabling him to feed it into a vast array of synchronised hardware to harvest its enormous sounds and embed them within his own electronic context.

Given how unique this project really is, I don’t want to give too much away as to how it sounds just in the off chance you choose to attend tonight’s show. That being said – it’s fucking fantastic. Make sure to listen to it when it drops tomorrow, and if you can, get down and see it in action tonight: it’ll be an experience you’ll likely never forget.

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