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Miles Davis – Cool and Collected

I suppose Cool and Collected in a Haphazard Fashion doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but it would probably be more accurate.

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I can credit Cool and Collected with getting one thing right: Miles Davis was cool. His music, his presence, exuded cool. The problem with that is – no matter how scrupulous your selection – one cannot distill cool into thirteen tracks, no matter how good. If Miles Davis is to be compiled in any fashion, it should be at least five disks long. Or, better yet, it should just be a giant crate containing everything the man ever recorded. But thirteen tracks does not do him justice.

As with nearly everything Miles Davis recorded, the tracks on Cool and Collected are miles above almost anything else ever recorded. Never content to let his music stagnate, Davis would evolve his music with every release, keeping him constantly at the forefront of everything happening in jazz. He practically invented cool jazz on his seminal album Birth of the Cool. But Cool and Collected contains an entire ZERO tracks from that release. I fail to understand why not even one number from that landmark release is included here. It has “cool” in the title, for fuck’s sake. Also overlooked is Bitches Brew, yet another groundbreaking album (“groundbreaking” is a running theme of Davis’ career).

I wish I could slather praise on the deserving music collected here, but ultimately I am reviewing a collection. Sadly, it is a collection that would serve only the mildly interested uninitiated casual listener. The collection is described as the “most essential music,” but the oversight of two of the man’s best albums renders that claim untrue. Of course, the selections are still good. “So What,” which opens the collection (and it’s original home, Kind of Blue) is arguably the ultimate piece that Davis ever composed (I emphasize “arguably”). But the Carlos Santana augmented remix of “It’s about That Time,” though intriguing, not “essential.” I suppose Cool and Collected in a Haphazard Fashion doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but it would probably be more accurate.

(Legacy Recordings)

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Hatchie – Keepsake

Keepsake, the debut album by Brisbane dream pop artist Hatchie is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars

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Hatchie Keepsake

Brisbane indie-pop artist Hatchie (known to her friends and family as Harriette Pilbeam) is in the envious position of being a pop artist unspoiled by the many trappings of what it is to be a modern pop artist. Unlike some of her contemporaries who craft music by committee or with Sheeran-like self-importance, Hatchie is as of now, unsullied by the pressures of the cookie-cutter pop machine. Hatchie’s debut full length is a showcase for a talent who is supremely confident and composed in her abilities, and Keepsake is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars. The album is also a wonderful throwback to pop’s dreamy 60s influences that shuffle in and out of this delirium while working alongside distinctly more current musical touches.

There is the lush dream pop sounds of “Without a Blush”, taking cues from the best of what Stars and Goldfrapp conjure but heaping a tonne of Pilbeam’s charisma on it. Like her vocals, “Without a Blush” has this elegance that has the ability to elevate songs from being beautiful to grand. It is the kind of vocal elegance that really shines through on songs like the skittering, beat-driven “Obsessed” and the alternative, guitar-fuelled (yay!) “When I Get Out”. Indie/electronic closer “Keep” is a wonderful end to proceedings.

However, the great strength of Keepsake is not just its composure in how all the songs have been put together. It is also this genuine, natural-sounding quality that permeates the album- nothing overly written, overly produced or put together by research groups or music analysts. It just sounds like talent. We can argue that much of pop music is constructed to appease the moment- designed to grab as much attention as possible in an A.D.D. world. And sure, that can be said about almost any kind of music, but the resulting aural tone of Keepsake is anything but transient or transparent.

The best way to combat tepid chart-topping music is to write better pop songs. Songs like “Her Own Heart” and the disco-toned “Stay” are examples of pop music that come across as timeless. We are moved by the songs found on Keepsake when we listen to them today. And I suspect that in 10 years time, or in 20, we will most likely feel the same. It is rare to find the sort of ageless beauty you find on Keepsake.

(Heavenly Recordings)

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