Best physical media of March: Moon Safari, James Cameron classic, Japanese jazz and more

This month's releases included a host of quality films, books and albums

MD12. MADRID, 02/05/08.- En 1998, un dúo francés llamado Air y formado por dos chicos de Versalles, Jean-Benoit Dunckel y Nicolas Godin, sorprendió al mundo con su álbum de debut, ''Moon safari'', un disco que diez años más tarde figura ya entre los más influyentes de la música electrónica. El aniversario se celebra ahora con una edición especial del álbum, que incluye, junto a las diez canciones originales del disco, un CD extra con remezclas, maquetas y versiones en directo, así como un DVD con la película rodada por el artista Mike Mills sobre las actuaciones del grupo.Claude Gassian***SÓLO USO EDITORIAL*** ( Credit Picture ©EFE/ZUMA Press ) (Credit Image: © EFE/
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Some media releases deserve more than a passing stream. This March, several physical releases of films, books and music albums have been drawing attention.

From an often-overlooked science fiction experience by blockbuster filmmaker James Cameron to a deluxe deep-dive into one of the most influential electronic albums of the contemporary era, here are our picks of the month.

Funk Tide: Tokyo Jazz-Funk from Electric Bird 1978-87 (March 15)

In 1977, so-called crossover jazz was all the rage, with artists such as Bob James and Earl Klugh earning a huge following in the US and abroad. Influential Japanese producer Shigeyuki Kawashima saw an opportunity.

Clubs across Tokyo were full of talented musicians producing an innovative jazz funk sound of their own and he felt the world was ready to hear. Through his label, Electric Bird, he put a host of talented Japanese musicians into studios in Tokyo in New York to lay down their new sound – sun-drenched jazz folk like no-one had heard before.

While Kawashima may not have found the international fame and fortune he craved, the music itself was excellent, leading it to find a cult following in jazz communities around the world and inspiring a new collection of some of its under-appreciated classics from cult French label WeWantSounds, released this month.

Titled Funk Tide, the vinyl release is curated by Tokyo-based expert DJ Notoya, who curated a selection of eight songs released between 1978 and 1987, all from the peak of Nippon jazz funk.

William Mullally, arts and culture editor

The Abyss (released March 12)

Before he tackled Terminator 2, filmmaker James Cameron wanted to test the computer-generated imagery technology he had innovated in the 1989 deep-sea science fiction experience The Abyss.

The film stars Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Michael Biehn and tells the story of a diving team tasked with investigating the disappearance of a nuclear submarine.

The film excels in showcasing Cameron’s love of the sea and has blueprints of choices and techniques that can be found in most of his subsequent films.

It has been released alongside two other Cameron films, Aliens and True Lies, which have both been slammed by online reviewers for having sub-par AI-led restorations and remasters. The Abyss's release seems to garner the least amount of criticism among the three.

The Abyss was previously difficult to obtain on home video, making it a sought-after experience. Thankfully with a new 4K release, more people can now enjoy the thrills and scares of being underwater.

Faisal Salah, gaming and social writer

Chick Corea: Sardinia (released March 22)

Chick Corea’s prowess as an interpreter of classical music shines in Sardinia. The album, which originally came out in 2023, is now finally out on vinyl. A large part of it was recorded live in November 2018, as Corea performed with Orchestra da Camera Della Sardegna and conductor Simone Pittau as a special guest during the Annual Cultural Festival at Mogoro, Sardinia.

Corea died just over two years later, in February 2021, and Sardinia was one of his last recorded live performances. More than that, it was a culmination of the late jazz maestro’s ability to reinterpret classical composition, in this case, providing new twists to the works of Mozart and George Gershwin.

Filled with frisky melodic phrases and with unexpected turns of emotion, Sardinia is cutting-edge in the way it toes between the lines of sheet music, often capering into improvisations.

“I wanted to tell everybody that Mozart wrote 27 piano concertos. This one in C minor is Number 24, and some parts of the concerto will be improvised sessions,” Corea says in the album’s introductory track, making it clear that the performance ahead would be full of surprises, no matter how well you may be acquainted with the Classical composer’s oeuvre.

From Concerto Number 24 in C Minor, Corea moves into Gershwin’s works, culminating the performance with the US composer’s most famous piece of music Rhapsody in Blue. Again, however, Corea is not so interested in staying true to the original composition. Rather, he uses it as a springboard, effortlessly taking Gershwin’s melodies to new frontiers.

Sardinia is a quintessential work to have on vinyl. As the medium dictates works to be listened from beginning to end, the performance makes the most of that experience, slackening and pulling tension while subverting conventions of what a live classical performance should be like.

Razmig Bedirian, arts and culture writer

The Manchurian Candidate (released March 19)

Despite being a remake, Jonathan Demme’s The Manchurian Candidate does what only a small number of remakes have ever managed – be better than the original.

Starring Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber and Meryl Streep, the film is set in the aftermath of the US involvement in the Gulf War but says more about the country’s state of mind after the events of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Exploring themes of PTSD, political zealotry and being controlled for malicious purposes, the film combines these subjects to produce an exciting thriller with incredible performances from a very talented cast.

The underrated remake celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, and now fans can purchase a new 4K release from Kino Lorber that looks better than ever.

Faisal Salah, gaming and social writer

Air's Moon Safari – 25th Anniversary Limited Edition (March 8)

Air’s landmark debut album Moon Safari was released in 1998, but listen to it now and you’ll find it has barely aged a day. The group, made up of French duo Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel, remain hugely influential, having inspired a legion of imitators, not to mention giving birth to an entire genre of what is now called downtempo electronica.

Fans of ambient, jazz, or the cult YouTube accounts that churn out lo-fi beats to study to, will find plenty to get lost in here, particularly as the LP features melodies and emotions that give the proceedings a decidedly organic feel – something few since have captured with the transcendent balance found here.

To (belatedly) celebrate the album’s 25th anniversary, the band have released a two-CD (a form of media having its own physical comeback in some circles) and Blu-ray set, featuring rare and unreleased material, not to mention a Spatial Atmos audio version of the original album for a novel immersive experience. The set also includes the 1999 documentary Eating, Sleeping, Waiting and Playing from director Mike Mills (20th Century Women), as he followed the group on their first tour.

William Mullally, arts and culture editor

Middle East Archive: An Archive of Love (released March 15)

The latest edition of An Archive of Love is now available from Middle East Archive. The platform that aims to archive and revive historical visual narratives from the Middle East and North Africa have added three new photos to the photography coffee table book, which is now selling on their website.

An Archive of Love is a true celebration of Arab joy across generations and regions. Stunning and candid street photography captures an array of manifestations of love taken between the late 1960s up to early 2022 from countries such as Algeria, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Oman, Yemen, UAE, Palestine and more. The shots were taken by a wide range of photographers including of Iranian Attar Abbas, Frenchman Raymond Depardon, Moroccan Rachid Ouettassi.

A coffee-table book is a beautiful object. A book about love, specifically about how love exists in all its forms in the region, stunningly captured and designed, is a wonderful addition to a library.

From familial bonds to spiritual connections and romantic moments, love in all its facets is captured in An Archive of Love through subtle, endearing, and universal ways.

Maan Jalal, arts and culture writer

Updated: March 27, 2024, 7:46 AM