Portishead covers ABBA, plus music videos from Erykah Badu + Robert Glasper, Thundercat and Aphex Twin in this week's music
Portishead: SOS (ABBA Cover)
In an exhilaratingly dark version of ABBA's "SOS," Portishead's Beth Gibbons brings an immense heartbreak to the Swedish group's 1975 pop song. The cover is a tribute to Jo Cox (a Batley and Spen MP who fought for refugees' rights) who was murdered last week outside a library. In this context, and in this downtempo version, the song carries much more weight, pain and sorrow. The slow-burning video ends with a quote from Cox's first-ever speech in parliament, "We have far more in common than which divides us." It's a brilliant—albeit gut-wrenching—reminder of the gun violence and violence against women that we have grown all-too-accustomed to.
Miles Davis, Robert Glasper feat. Erykah Badu: Maiysha (So Long)
Robert Glasper—longtime crusader of liberating jazz and its players from rigid definitions—took samples from Miles Davis' archive (predominately his later electric years) and collaborated with the likes of Laura Mvula, Hiatus Kaiyote, Stevie Wonder and John Scofield to create the unique and contemporary tribute album Everything's Beautiful. Erykah Badu not only lends her voice in drum machine-led bossa nova song "Maiysha (So Long)" but also her director chops in its playful music video, in which she plays a diva songstress who goes by one of her monikers—Sarah Bellam.
Aphex Twin: CIRKLON3 [ Колхозная mix ]
For the first time in 17 years, Aphex Twin (aka enigmatic producer Richard D James) has released an official music video for "CIRKLON3 [ Колхозная mix ]," filled with kids dancing in band merch and Richard D James' creepy smile masks. It's directed, edited and also stars Dublin-based 12-year-old Ryan Wyer who, back in November 2014, uploaded an absolutely weird video of himself dancing to Aphex Twin's "minipops 67 [120.2][source field mix]." His new video, generous with its FX, captures the crux of James' singularity. Aphex Twin's six-track EP Cheetah releases 8 July.
Thundercat: Song For The Dead
It's been exactly one year since Thundercat's six-track album The Beyond / Where The Giants Roam (featuring the poignant, sad-funk song "Them Changes") was released, and with the anniversary comes a new music video. "Song For The Dead" was drawn by Ryan McShane—who met Thundercat via Twitter—and blends NASA footage with animations of the caped musician, a pack of wolves, and his trusty bass guitar. Both the track and visuals lend themselves to introspection—blending ethereal views with a touch of pathos. Catch him performing with his Brainfeeder crew (Flying Lotus, Funkadelic featuring George Clinton and Parliament, Shabazz Palaces) in Oakland and LA this September.
PM Dawn: Set Adrift On Memory Bliss
Perhaps best known for their stunning Spandau Ballet-sampling, Christina Appelgate-mentioning "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss," seminal hip-hop act PM Dawn lost founding member Prince Be (aka Attrell Cordes) who passed away at 46 years old. PM Dawn sparkled during the era of bohemian-tinted hip-hop—with their shimmery, oftentimes ethereal songs. "Set Adrift..." was the first-ever hip-hop track by a black group to reach number one on Billboard’s pop singles chart, and Prince Be's vocals were (as with on other songs like "Gotta Be... Movin' On Up" and "I'd Die Without You") hippie-vibed, but rather than be endlessly positive they were tinged with struggle, self-doubt and heartache.