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Album Review Tirolien's a rare treasure, Liverpool sounds great and MacFarlane's mesmeric

MICHAL BONCZA and JAMES NALTON review the latest releases from Bokante and Metropole Orkest, Tea Street Band and Kitty MacFarlane

Kitty MacFarlane
Namer of Clouds
(Navigator Records)
★★★★

TITLED after Luke Howard, who in 1802 gave clouds their names, this collection of songs delights with the poetry of its lyrics. “There was a time when all that was known/Of our skies was danger and dIvine.”

That literary quality rewards the most on these ephemeral narratives from Kitty MacFarlane that are discoveries and adventures supported, with sublime elegance, by a group of thoughtful instrumentalists.

The intriguing Sea Silk, the touching lullaby Dawn and Dark, the rousing Man, Friendship — about the flooded Somerset Downs — or Gerard Manley Hopkins’s 150 years-old Inversnaid serve to remind, without a trace of sentimentality, of the inescapable practicalities of the fragile but utterly symbiotic human bond with nature.

The melancholy Appalachian ballad Frozen Charlotte, a castigation of vanity, is an apt reminder.

Michal Boncza

Tea Street Band
Frequency
(Modern Sky UK)
★★★★★

THE TEA Street Band are back with album number two, a sure progression from their first. While retaining similar influences, it takes them in new directions with the electronic elements now more prominent than the Durutti Column-tinged guitars which nevertheless remain intact from the first offering.

It’s perhaps more reminiscent of New Order this time around, via some Balearic trance, with unmistakably Liverpudlian melodies placed on top.

Frequency by name — and using the full spectrum of frequencies by nature, from grooving bass to bright guitar and electronics — the driving beats on opener Givin’ It Back and potential club classic Feel It are pleasantly interrupted by the uplifting tones of tracks such as Coming Up.

This versatility is epitomised by singles Marseille Blues and Only Love, making this album a step forward for a band among those helping to keep Liverpool on the music map.

James Nalton

Bokante and Metropole Orkest
What Heat
(Real World Records)
★★★★★

FROM the first bars of All The Way Home you sense this is one of those rare moments of musical revelation, reinforced when the mesmerising voice of Malika Tirolien, whose Guadeloupe Creole has a wondrous percussive flow, joins in.

She and Snarky Puppy's Michael League started Bokante (Exchange) online, developing the musical project around Tirolien's narratives of racism, apathy, refugee crisis, unity and hope. “Some heavy stuff,” says League, who elaborated the music concepts.

Enter the Metropole Orkest with its conductor Jules Buckley. It is he who oversees the phenomenal, exhilarating harmony between the two groups — almost without musical precedent.

The pounding Reparasyons (Reparations), infectious Fanm (Woman) or glorious Maison en Feu (House on Fire) are but three of eight astonishing tracks that nourish, soothe and exalt with abundantly spirited, stupendous collective achievement.

Michal Boncza

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