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Sonic surprises on 'Currents'; 'Pomegranates' runs deeper than weird

Sonic surprises on 'Currents'; 'Pomegranates' runs deeper than weird
Tame Impala frontman Kevin Parker (Matt Sav)

Tame Impala, "Currents" (Interscope). The songs on the new album by Australian songwriter, singer and primary Tame Impala member Kevin Parker double down on the tripped-out psychedelia of his earlier work. But "Currents" accomplishes this through a lightness of touch and a broader palette. As on the 2012 breakout hit "Elephant," Parker loves surprise sonic maneuvers. "Past Life" opens with a pitch-bent spoken-word piece before moving into a down-tempo exploration of reincarnation. "The Moment" shines through a blend of odd synth-pop tones, a catchy melody and a finger-snapped beat. Throughout, "Currents" wends through bridges and hooks that glisten with modernity.

Nicolas Jaar, "Pomegranates" (free download). On its own, electronic music composer Nicolas Jaar's new score to the 1969 film "The Color of Pomegranates" is a striking experience. Dense with floating, beatless synthetic washes interrupted by sublime moments of galloping electronic rhythms, the score offers a new angle on a visually rich film. Jaar recently released his rework, which he created out of various extant recordings, as a free download. Better, though, is to visit YouTube to simultaneously experience the visual and aural feasts.

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In notes accompanying the release, Jaar describes being "dumbfounded" by the late Armenian director Sergei Parajanov's feature film when he first saw it, but he also "felt the aesthetic made complete sense with the strange themes I had been obsessed with over the last couple of years." Jaar went on a two-day bender syncing his music with the film, and the result is what he describes as "a weird collage of the ambient music I had made over the last two years." That's true, but the results run much deeper than mere weirdness.

Jill Scott, "Closure" (Blues Babe/Atlantic). The new song by Scott features solid cowbell action throughout, an essential ingredient that propels the minimal funk track in a curious direction. The artist, whose work throughout her career has been consistently surprising, rose as part of the so-called neo-soul movement of the early '00s, but "Closure" is hardly a throwback. Rather, the defiant track, from her forthcoming studio album, "Woman," is hard soul that vibes with 21st century spirit.

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