February, 2020

The second month of the year has come and gone and while a few good LPs have been released over the past 29 days, even with the extra day it’s the EPs that have drawn the attention of our ears this month. While offerings from the jazz-orientated mind of Moses Boyd (Dark Matter) and the afrobeat rhythms of Brooklyn-based Antibalas (Fu Chronicles) have been launched our way with gusto, the real excitement has come in the form of two singles hinting at full LPs in the very near future. Both feature musicians that marry rhythm and melody perfectly, making it a wonder they haven’t come together before now.

Tony Allen & Hugh Masekela

Slow Bones/We’ve Landed


These two names together should be enough to get anyone remotely into rhythm shuffling their feet and twisting the shoulders. As the drummer for Fela Kuti’s Africa 70 Tony Allen won international recognition and his most recent solo record on the legendary Blue Note, 2017’s The Source, was critically acclaimed. He has been hailed as the Afrobeat drummer, playing and releasing an insane amount of inlfuential music both as a solo artist, session recording artist and under the politically charged Fela Ransome Kuti, who’s own brand of anti-government afrocentric music brought acclaim and a cost to himself and the Africa 70. Post Fela however, Allen has experimented with bringing his unique skillset to more electronic-based music, creating fresh new styles and creating conversation about what afrobeat is and will be.

As for Hugh Masekela, the man is a musician who has brought south African jazz to the forefront of the world stage despite living in exile from his home country, leaving in 1960 after the Sharpeville Massacre and not returning until the release of Nelson Mandela. His brand of horn playing is colourful and expressive while remaining accessible to all manner of music-lovers. He performed and played on many pop numbers in his years, splitting his time between Africa and America, but always came back to his ethnic roots and playing. Masekela unfortunately passed away in January of 2018, but he leaves a long legacy of music of which this offering is a just representation.

Together, these two legends of African jazz produce such wonderful music that sounds both fresh as well as timeless. The beats coming from Allen’s more than able hands and feet tap out rhythms that pull your soul along while Masekelas playing leads you melodiously down the path to what I expect to be a fantastic album if these two singles are anything to go by. The lead single We’ve Landed truly feels like it is setting the pace for a blistering album that will have you tapping your toes and swinging your shoulders like you’re in an East Bristol community center, I’m sure Masekela would be doing the same.

Rejoice is set for release on March 20th, 2020.

Tom Misch & Yussef Dayes

What Kind of Music


Again here come two artists, albeit two far newer to the scene that Masekela and Allen. However they are arguably well on their way to jazz stardom, with both having hits on the fringes of the mainstream in the past few years. Tom Misch, the bedroom-producing multi-instrumentalist here teams up with the off-the-wall eclectic jazz drumming of Yussef Dayes to produce a single that many hope is a good representation of what’s to come. To anyone familar with both of these artists body of work the pattern and style of both is easy to take not of, but neither feels like it dominates. Instead a swirling, ebbing piece occurs, with both musicians lending parts of themselves to the song where it needs it most.

This project has been in the pipeline for a while, with both artists taking note of each other as early as 2014. Dayes’ interest in Misch was piqued when the latter started putting self-produced Youtube videos up, showcasing a lazy neosoul vibe with the complexities of newer jazz artists like Jacob Collier. Misch started following Dayes and his work after the seminal album Black Focus. Released as part of the project YussefKamaal with the young and upcoming keyboard player Kamaal Williams.

With Misch’s seemingly intrinsic understanding of harmony and chords coupled with Dayes’ equally if not more mesmerising sense of rhythm and groove, this album is surely one to watch out for. It looks to be a truly beautiful marriage of melody and groove, producing hopefully one of the best albums of the UK jazz scene this year.

What Kind of Music is set for release on 24th April, 2020.

The Age of Knowledge

How old is knowledge? The idea itself of knowing things has obviously been around for millennia, but what about what we would call knowledge?

In the west, the definition of knowledge accounts for the mathematics of perfect circles, the physics holding the moon in place and the psychology of what your neighbor will do if he finds your cat in his garden again. They are facts, backed up by empirical evidence that govern our universe and when applied, can give you an upper hand in a situation or lead you to avoid a situation entirely. In the east, knowledge is this and more. In India and China, knowledge extends more into the philosophy and mystery shaping how things work. Ancient scriptures concerning ideas on spirituality and the self are held in the same regard as those concerning the planets, as if the two may not be dissimilar in the role of wider understanding. But that is an article for another time.

For now though we look at western knowledge, and specifically those wonders of antiquity the Ancient Greeks.

Everyone can probably name at least one great Greek from around 500 BC, whether they know it or not. Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato and Hippocrates all graced the southern tip of Europe at this time. They are considered some of the greatest minds of all time, credited by many high school teachers and scholars alike as personally responsible for huge advancements in the understanding of mathematics, medicine, philosophy and physics. But at such an introverted period in Greek history, after the fall of the great empire of Mycenae around 1000 BC in what historians call the Greek Dark Ages, how did such thinking come about?

Across the Mediterranean from Greece lay the vast land of Africa and a civilization that was at that time already two-and-a-half thousand years old. Located in the north east of the continent where Egypt lies today, was the land of Kemet.

Kemet was already considered by this point (circa 500 BC) a center for learning in the ancient world. In the words of prominent historian Cheikh Anta Diop, Kemet was a “fount of scientific, religious, moral and social knowledge, the most ancient knowledge that mankind had acquired.” Not surprising when one learns that children in Kemet were raised to understand a range of disciplines in order to see themselves through life. However not all finished their studies, which is hardly surprising when you have conservatively nearly 3,000-4,500 years of collective knowledge to learn. Up to the age of four, children were nurtured by their mothers and likely other women before the role was taken over by the father. With this the young Kemites would begin to learn about the machinations of their world. They would have the universe slowly explained to them through beliefs of gods and stories, tying real knowledge with myth and fostering an interest in the natural world.

Then, at the age of seven these inquisitive minds would be enrolled at one of Kemet’s universities. Embarking on a holistic 40 year course that covered everything from geography, geometry, medicine, mathematics and astrology all the way to philosophy, religion, grammar, architecture and the realms of magic. One could hardly be surprised if only the most scholarly minds completed the nearly half a century of learning it took to become a priest of the land.

Within Kemet there were the two main universities of Waset (better known now as Thebes) and Ipet Isut (Karnak, Luxor) which had over 200,000 students passing through their gates at any one time. Although other holistic schools could be found through Africa at this time, including evidence to suggest similar centers of learning in modern day Ethiopia, Mali and Ghana, Kemet was most likely the most prolific center of education. This can be judged not just by what we find in writings of the period, but also by what we can still see in the region. The pyramids, the sphinx, all were built by Kemites and all are still standing today. But as well as being a marvel of architecture, they are a marvel of astrology and mathematics providing hidden knowledge of the seasonal solstices as well as the very circumference of the earth. Not bad for a civilization born thousands of years before the smart phone.

Of the 200,000 students that thronged through the doors of the two ancient universities of Kemet, many were from outside Kemet, travelling from all corners of Africa to study. Fewer however were from another continent entirely.

East Quantoxhead, Somerset

The north coast of Devon and Somerset have a lot in the way of beauty. If you’re after classical beauty by the way of rolling hills of heather or a landscape shaped by the twisted roots of old English Oaks, the little nook found at the southern strait of the Bristol Channel has it all. But while it holds all of these stereotypical English landscapes close to it’s chest, it also hides some more alien vistas.

Just off of the A39, between the better known Bridgwater and the famous-for-it’s-castle Dunster lies the little hamlet of East Quantoxhead. Turning off the main road, a tiny lane will lead you past a smattering of traditionally thatched cottages, slipping you back in time only slightly. Within the hamlet you’ll find a duck pond, usually home to a sprightly gaggle of geese, and a church where you can park your car for a kind donation. This Grade II listed building dates all the way back to the 14th century, a long way but not as far back as the estate itself.

The land was granted to Ralph Paganel, a Norman knight, after the conquest in the 10th century. Unbelievably no part of the estate has been sold since this original grant, the land being handed down from generation to generation where it now lies in the hands of the Lutterells. A male ancestor married into the Paganel family some centuries ago in 1207 and since then the Lutterells have had East Quantoxhead as (one of their) homes, for over 800 years.

The entrance to the ‘Court House’.

Leaving the hamlet itself and it’s cluster of historic buildings, winding down the footpath towards the sea takes you through the furrowed fields of the estate and past the gardens of the manor house. Opened only a few times a year the gardens of the Court House, as the manor house is better known, is a beautiful thing, with hidden benches and secluded spots to secrete yourself away into. For the more numerous days when the gardens are not open to the public (the house has never been) the cliffs at the end of the footpath more than make up for the mystery. While fairly shallow cliffs, they’re no white cliffs of Dover, they descend toward the beach in a tigerstripe of colour; a testament to the millennia that went into their formation. The stone beach itself wouldn’t look out of place in the Christopher Nolan movie Interstellar, as the varying rates of denudation of the shale and limestone that make up this areas geology gives way to seemingly unnatural landscapes.

Another consequence of this limestone/shale bedrock is the combination of an ancient seabed (from the limestone) layered with brittle rock (from the shale or flint). This means that fossils dating back to the Cretaceous and even the Jurassic period are often spotted and just as easily removed, to be added to amateur collections or just entertain the kids on the way home. The tight spiraled curves of the ammonite are the most commonly spotted fossil on the coast of Somerset and East Quantoxhead is no exception.

A close relative of the living but smoother shelled Nautilus, the Ammonite roamed oceans around the globe.

The varying rates of erosion have led to a shallow rockpool-heavy environment, meaning it’s one of the English coasts most diverse environments.

While appearing barren, the many angles of the rock pools and the dense cover of the seaweed in places provide a very versatile habitat, if not demanding. Animals such as the shore crab, Carcinus maenas, use this as their hunting ground. Picking at passing detritus in the swells of the changing tide or actively seeking out beached isopods and other microfauna in the fields of algae that stretch from tide line to the sea if you know where to look. This makes it a great place to take the younger family members crabbing, scampering (carefully!) across the rocks in search of their next crab-likley-ecosystem instead of the usual stood-in-the-same-place mundanity of crabbing from a pier.

On the return walk from the beach to the duck pond the Court House really comes into view. Nestled amongst the auburn trees and grey skies of winter at our time of visiting, it looks dramatic against the backdrop of the Quantock hills, where an Iron Age fort is located. On occasion, deer can be seen vaulting the fences separating the hay bales from the sea and foxes finding gaps in electric fence.

The area surrounding East Quantoxhead is just as worthy of an explore as the parish itself, and easily done. The coastal path extends both east and west, past the old limekilns towards Kilve and in the opposite direction toward the other Luttrell estate, Dunster. Limestone for the kilns was one of the old imports to this area, with a small harbour actually active near East Quantoxhead for the purpose of importing limestone and the export of alabaster over 100 years ago. Pirates were also thought to have been highly active in this area, with the south-west being an area of high smuggling activity around this time and for centuries before, with Bristol at it’s center.

But whether you have all day or just an hour to give, this little coastal treasure off of Somersets busiest A road is able to divulge something. Be it the strange beauty of the areas immediate geology or the thrill of the hunt (live or fossilized) that brings you here, it’ll be likely another reason that keeps you here as this coast is full of treasures. Smuggled or otherwise!

[All photographs copyright of Robbie Sidhu]

January, 2020


Geode Selection


If you’re still finding your way out of the haze of the Christmas period, struggling to get into the groove of work again, London-based producer Geode may have your back. Mixing a serious love of the deeper, darker dubstep found on labels like Deep Medi with the smoother sounds of garage , this first solo LP showcases Geodes ability to create soothing soundscapes with sweeping jazzy melodies that blend seamlessly into sub-bass serenades.

From the first tune this album states its intent. However it’s with the following two songs, “Ruh” and “Oblong”, that this album really gets going. If listening to “Ruh” without knowing the artists back catalogue you’d be forgiven for thinking its space-filled, echoey piano introduction could be leading into a hard hitting hip-hop beat reminiscent of Jehsts earlier productions. However instead it resolves its way into a relaxing pulse of sound, with Clara Tivey providing the tinkling keys. For me the next song, “Oblong” is the standout production from this LP. With its techy drums, simple melody and pulsing low-end, this song is actually the reason I decided to check out this LP. With the hook stuck in my head without a song name or artist attached I was hopelessly trawling through my recently saved songs trying to turn over the right stone, yet I found a boulder. The industrial sounds lead you through a relaxing yet vibey four-and-a-half minutes, you’ll be hard pressed not to be moving your head as you listen to this stepper of a soundscape.

And steppers are what this album gives you, with all twelve productions striving to provide movement to your morning or whatever time of day you give it. From the techy almost ambient “Ode” to the 2-step groove of “Variations on a Theme” this album gives a good insight into the breadth of Geodes producing skill, as well as providing a hopeful insight into what’s forthcoming from him and label Deep Heads in this coming year! My ears will certainly be open.

Rating 8/10

Standout Oblong

Iteration of Ideals

“I got to thinking ’bout the history of human nature

While this instrumental, play

Then I realized something that made me wonder if revolution was really ever the way”

— J. Cole, High for Hours

There are many factors that make this world turn in the way it does. Friendly factors, foreign factors, factors we can’t even comprehend due to the constrictions of science and society.

In a world where information is everywhere, knowledge and understanding seem to be in short supply. With a warming world and warring economies our planet can seem a little on the heavy side as of late and opinions about all of these stories fly around the internet like starlings around Rome. So what can we do?

Here at The Clueless Conscience, we try to draw on the vast amount of knowledge we have at our fingertips today and start discussion about subjects we think are interesting or that we think deserve further discussion in society. This ranges from a closer look at historical happenings to reviews of music and art, all the way through to current affairs and policy. While not free from opinion, we try our best to find all the relevant details and keep the language light so that you can make up your own mind about the subject and give us and the community your feedback. The focus is on expanding understanding in order to think more critically about the world we live in.

In the not-too-distant past a broad knowledge of many subjects was something people traveled continents for. The great minds of ancient Greece traveled to Africa and the land of Kemet (now Egypt) to learn all things about the world they inhabited, and yet now it seems a thirst for knowledge has been replaced by a hunger for the trappings of life.

We are about free and open discussion. First and foremost. Keep Learning.