I didn’t know what to expect what I first came across ALASKALASKA. The group was described by the oft-used terms “boundary-less” and “outliers,” but I was curious. The debut album, The Dots, is a journey into the heart of the future-facing jazz underground of South London, and if the South London scene is new to you, this playlist is for you. Here is ALASKALASKA’s introduction to it. Enjoy.
—Keenan Kush, Talkhouse Operations Manager
KOKOROKO — “Uman”
Party time! This tune wraps up West African influences and pushes toward more dynamic London new-jazz really nicely in the rhythm section, and Oscar Jerome’s guitar playing is so slick. It’s diverse and fun and sounds like Peckham to me.
Mellah — “Numb”
Mellah are great, and Liam is a good friend of ours. He built us a rehearsal studio once and we’ve done quite a few shows together. His music is honest, nostalgic, politically charged, and sounds well-travelled while still being intrinsically South London.
Moses Boyd — “Rye Lane Shuffle”
Moses Boyd is at the forefront of London and UK Jazz at the moment. He’s a ridiculous drummer and has been a part of lots of pioneering jazz projects in the last few years. Rye Lane is the main high street in Peckham, and this track matches it in menace, excitement, edge, and vibrancy.
Horsey — “Arms & Legs”
Like a vaudevillian blues-jazz Twin Peaks dream sequence soundtrack. The band includes Jacob Read (Jerkcurb — also worth looking up) and toured with King Krule last year; getting to see them live in sparkly suits is fun and surreal.
Wilma Archer & Amber Mark — “Like A Hunger”
Not sure if it’s strictly South London, but I love the production and arrangements on this track; it’s really addictive and dark. Will Archer’s stuff is really exciting and he will do huge things.
Jockstrap — “Hayley”
We first saw Jockstrap last year — they supported us at a gig at Corsica (Elephant & Castle) and we were blown away by the combination of jarring vocals, clunky jazz synth, bossa percussion and flute work. The production on their EP is really cool.
The Mantis Opera — “Symbiosis”
We’ve known the Mantis boys for a while now, and seeing them live is such a treat. It’s so complex, engaging, and anarchic. Mashing together art-rock, electro, experimental jazz ideologies and making you feel confused and aroused.
Sorry — “Starstruck”
Another band we’ve been fortunate to play a few gigs with. They’re young and talented and their music is clever. Asha’s lyrics are great and the editing and production on this track is really effective. Love the bit-crushed guitar noises and the erratic vocal effects.
Tirzah — “Gladly”
Tirzah and her collaborator/producer Mica Levi (Micachu) have really pushed boundaries on a few releases now; been an important part of the South London scene, and a real testament to DIY music making. It’s beautifully minimalist and unusual and British.
Lucy Lu & Puma Blue — “Fakery”
Puma Blue and Lucy Lu have been around for a little while, and we’ve been able to meet them and their band(s) a few times. They’re really nice people and brilliant musicians, and have crafted an amazing blend of D’Angelo-esque Neo-Soul with crooning Chet Baker-y vocals and chord progressions. It’s got a really “classic” character while still sounding fresh and relevant.
Westerman & Bullion — “Roads (Bullion Remix)”
A bit of a different side to the current London music scene, Westerman has this really unique singer-songwriter style, reminiscent of Arthur Russell and John Martyn which really appeals to me, but produced by Bullion, who is an old friend and collaborator of ours and a great person. Westerman’s music is interesting and poetic and his EP Ark is worth a look.
Wu-Lu & Binisa Bonner — “Sailor”
I don’t really know much about Wu-Lu, but I love his style of production and the dark, ominous tones lying through this track. The blend of soulful harmonies and strings and dirty rhythm is fucking cool.
Alfa Mist — “Brian”
Those chords! This feels so live and exciting. Collaborator with people like Jordan Rakei and Yussef Dayes, Alpha Mist’s more chilled Jazz approach music is really considered and mature and at times melancholic, and I really hope I can see him play live soon.
You can catch ALASKALASKA on tour this month:
5/14 — The Green Door Store – Brighton, UK
5/15 — Omeara – London, UK
5/16 — Hare & Hounds – Birmingham, UK
5/17 — Hyde Park Book Club – Leeds, UK
5/19 — Yes – Manchester, UK
5/20 — The Hug and Pint – Glasgow, UK
5/22 — Rough Trade – Bristol, UK
(Photo Credit: Elliott Arndt)