What Artist Did You Fall In Love With In 2015? Three staffers from NPR Music tell Audie Cornish about a futurist Congolese band, a couple of house-music Kiwis in London and the unreleased recordings of a pianist who dated Doris Duke.

What Artist Did You Fall In Love With In 2015?

What Artist Did You Fall In Love With In 2015?

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What artist did you fall in love with in 2015? NPR's Audie Cornish invited three members of NPR Music's staff to tell her about one artist each discovered this year.


Mbongwana Star

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"I love this song and its album, From Kinshasa To The Moon, for how this group from Kinshasa has taken traditional Congolese band music and shot it straight into some future sound — electronica, post-punk, funk, etc. — through a scrim of modern production, with layers of distortion, reverb and metallic percussion. To me, this is densely layered dance music for the alienated, floating out in space.

"The band also has an interesting story: Mbongwana Star ("Change Star"), working with an Irish producer named Doctor L (Liam Farrell), has risen out of the ashes of another group, Staff Benda Bilili, that totally imploded a couple of years ago." -- Anastasia Tsioulcas


Chaos In The CBD

"It represents a movement in the dance world toward softer, smoother deep house — arguably an instinctual drift away from the hard beats of mainstream EDM — and epitomizes the jazzy vibes that have been enticing dance producers this year. Jazz is, in some ways, the antithesis of electronic music, and yet artists like Floating Points and Flying Lotus have made a point of using the tools of tomorrow to explore the music of yesterday.

"Biographically speaking, Chaos In The CBD (the CBD is the New Zealand equivalent of "Downtown") are Kiwi brothers Louis and Ben Helliker-Hales, who moved to the Peckham neighborhood of London a few years ago and wrote this song about their new community. (And, yes, two brothers making deep house in London does sound familiar.)" -- Otis Hart


Joe Castro

"Every so often, you get these stories in jazz too crazy to be true. Joe Castro is one of them. I had never heard of the pianist before this year, when a record label dropped a six-disc box set of his collected unreleased recordings called Lush Life: A Musical Journey. He was a talented musician, the son of Mexican immigrants, who fell in love with the richest woman in the world, Doris Duke, the philanthropist and heiress to a tobacco fortune. Their relationship was off and on, but it had some major upside: He didn't have to worry about money, musicians often came to her mansion in the Hollywood Hills to jam, and he even got money to begin a small record label called Clover Records.

"The box set collects some of those jam sessions, with major California musicians like Teddy Wilson, Stan Getz and Oscar Pettiford, as well as some unreleased Clover Records dates. This track is from an unreleased Joe Castro Big Band date; it's a slow, sultry blues featuring Teddy Edwards on sax and Castro taking a nice solo on piano." — Patrick Jarenwattananon