Neneh Mariann Karlsson (better know as Neneh Cherry) has returned to tumultuous times more engaged and punchier than ever with her fifth solo studio album Broken Politics.
Since announcing the new record, she has shared singles about the European refugee crisis (Kong) and the worldwide tragedy of gun violence (Shot Gun Shack) all produced by frequent collaborator Kieran Hebden (aka Four Tet).
Today she shares two new single from the highly anticipated record; Synchronised Devotion and Natural Skin Deep.
Synchronised Devotion is a mesmerizing beat-free piano and vibraphone nocturne. Neneh takes a tone between rapping, free association and singing her lyrics describing the new record’s approach when it says; “it’s my politics living in a slow jam”.
It’s heart-rending song and a testament to Neneh’s feeling about the creative process with Kieran on this record. "It was one of the best writing periods I've had in a really long time. I got out of the waiting room and into the inner sanctum”. Perhaps helping Neneh into that space was the recording taking place in Woodstock, New York at Creative Music Studio, which is owned by German-born jazz pianist Karl Berger.
In a moment of synchronicity (or ‘synchronizität’) Karl played vibraphone on many of Neneh’s stepfather Don Cherry’s best recordings (including the legendary minimalist record Köln – February 23, 1975 concert with Terry Riley, Don and him) as well as playing on this track. "Being in a studio with was like being in a familiar space" Neneh says. "It was easy to reach into myself for the feelings I needed to be in tune with a song and at night, I would have dinner with Ingrid (his wife) and Karl. They'd tell stories about my father.” The resonances continue across the second single dropped from the album today, Natural Skin Deep, a propulsive break-driven piece of jazz-rap (shared today via Adult Swim). Four Tet has knowingly sampled Ornette Coleman’s 1969 track “Growing Up” for the breakdown (which features Don Cherry on cornet. Lyrically, Neneh is unrelenting in aiming her poetic barbs at colonisation; “Here’s one for The Great Sioux Nation/ Bla bla bla for a generation/ no living on station/ pumping that black gold over the hill/ recycle evolution while killing free will, free will”.
Broken Politics is out now on Smalltown Supersound via AWAL Recordings. The album artwork was created by Turner Prize winning artist Wolfgang Tillmans. Wolfgang has been hailed as the most important documentarian of his generation of London and Berlins’ club and gay world.