Review : Nostalgia 77 - The Sleepwalking Society
PopmattersBenedic Lamdin is probably most famous for his role as an outside producer and something of a remixer than for his original work behind his own moniker Nostalgia 77. Notably, he jazzed and funked up the sadly now departed White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army”, injecting the song with a soulful undercurrent that was arguably missing from the original. Well, it’s been four years since the last Nostalgia 77 album, but Lamdin is back in action and this time he’s brought a secret weapon along with him in tow for The Sleepwalking Society, his fourth studio album. That would be the so-far unknown German singer Josa Peit, who has a pair of smoking, sultry pipes that draws immediate comparisons to a much more baritone Norah Jones at times, while lilting angelically at others.
I predict big things for Peit, based on the evidence here, for she is a force to be reckoned with, augmenting the hazy, late-night, dreamy quality of the recording that she backs up on seven of its nine tracks. I don’t know if she’s the next Esperanda Spalding in that she’s going to pull off an upset Grammy win next year, or even be nominated for that matter—owing that The Sleepwalking Society is on a tiny U.K. indie, and we all know that, barring Arcade Fire’s win, the Grammys generally don’t reward independent acts—but listening to her is a seductive experience. Peit’s inclusion also notes a more marked change-up in Nostalgia 77’s sound: whereas the previous albums were mostly instrumental affairs, and Lamdin is more known as a jazz producer who has called on a klatch of featured singers here and there, this is a song-oriented affair featuring only Peit as a vocalist with the slightest hints of blues and folk permeating throughout. (Given that this is something of a departure, the album’s cover art is stark and plain, almost as though it were heralding a bootleg rather than a proper LP.) However, jazz is the main course on The Sleepwalking Society, and the album has a laid-back, sleepy feel to it that would be the perfect soundtrack for closing time in your neighbourhood lounge. This is music best appreciated with a martini glass in your hand, though the concoction should definitely be stirred and not shaken....full text
BbcNostalgia 77 is the working name of Benedic Lamdin, a prolific producer who's produced 11 albums in a variety of guises since 2004. His music encompasses everything from sample-based compositions to collaborations with real, live musicians of the calibre of Keith and Julie Tippett, amongst others. The Sleepwalking Society, the fourth Nostalgia 77 album, very much falls into the latter category, this time placing the German singer Josa Peit centre-stage.
Album opener Sleepwalker states its case with emphatic rhythm, bluesy vocals, winds and roaring organ while Golden Morning delights with its softly played snare drums, wood-toned double bass and Peit's hushed yet heartfelt vocals. Mockingbird features lyrical sax that falls like dappled sunlight on a melancholic ode to loneliness which slowly disappears into silence.
Strings introduce Cherry and then pause to reveal plucked acoustic guitar and Peit's clear-toned lament before picking up the melody and carrying the song through to its end. The tonal colour of the entire album is a sepia-edged cyan: encompassing as it does a reflective range of jazz and folk-inflected blues that explores the uncertainty of life and the hurt of failed relationships. The Sleepwalking Society ends with Hush, an almost nine-minute threnody that wistfully sounds out one last aftermath at a stately pace. ...full text
PotholesinmyblogOne of the greatest things about music, and the artists who make the music, is their ability to give. Hear me out here: music gives its listeners something that we can enjoy, or perhaps on a deeper level, use to help us make meaning of our surroundings. Musicians (and here I speak of true artists) give their voice to the world, often acting as our modern-day storytellers. But what I find most impressive is when musicians give a spotlight to other musicians.
Ben Lamdin, better known as Nostalgia 77, is remarkable at repeatedly giving the spotlight to new artists, helping them share their voice with the world. For example, he put many casual jazz fans onto Lizzy Parks and Keith and Julie Tippett. And for his fourth Nostalgia 77 album, he does it again – this time allowing German songstress, Josa Peit, to take center stage. It’d be overkill to ramble off the names that Ben has worked with and shared his spotlight with, which is one of the reasons it makes it difficult to fathom that this, The Sleepwalking Society, can possibly be just his fourth studio album as Nostalgia 77.
Fresh off of his Skeletons afrobeat side project from 2010, Ben maintains a bit of this world influence for Sleepwalking. In fact, there is a curious amalgam of all sorts of influences here – from afrobeat to deep funk, to jazz, electronic and hip-hop – Ben and Josa blend it all into a spectacular nine-song exhibition. Most notable is the album’s standout piece, “Blue Shadow”, which sets Josa Peit against light afrobeat percussion and sultry trumpets and horns. In fact, it would not be a stretch by any means to say that Peit sounds rather like Amy Winehouse in her vocals here – complete with the allure of lust and mystery.
Other tracks take on a more direct genre approaches. “Beautiful Life” is a pure jazz track – and an incredibly fine one at that. Meanwhile, “Mockingbird” takes a more folk-like stance, adding to the rustic feeling of the entire album. The production on the album is subtle, with the rewards lying in finite details. In other words, don’t come into this album expecting some big beat hip-hop mixed in – that’s just not what this one’s really about. All the while, Peit is in top form vocally, never missing a note....full text
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