Review: Tathan, Mensah and Dego get brow deep in bruk science once again with three supreme grooves. "Sunday Avuncular" is a rampant fire that's sparked with minimal elements but suddenly whips up into a full uptempo storm. "Bauxite, Gypsum & Limestone" is the smooth talker of the set with its soulful boogie tones and a momentum that gets more and more direct as the track develops. Finally "Mononymous Persons" concludes this special 12" with a staccato beat and groove so wet 2000 Black should consider selling special branded towels. Exceptional.
Habbanera (Leo Mas & Fabrice alternate remix) (6:41)
Review: Over the years, Italian eccentrics 291out have proved tricky to pin down. While their releases are rooted in the spacey end of the jazz-funk spectrum, they also touch on film soundtracks, quirky electronica and meandering progressive rock. This time out they're operating on a Latin tinged jazz-rock tip, with crunchy guitars, fuzz-soaked horns, rubbery bass and eyes-closed electric piano motifs rising above a head-nodding groove. The band's included "Alternative Version" is noticeably wilder and more intense, with a looser beat and a greater number of mind-mangling horn solos. In terms of remixes, you'll find Italian veterans Leo Mas and Fabrice at the controls. Their A-side revision sounds a little like a jazzier take on Italian Balearic rock merchants Almunia, while their flipside "Alternative Remix" is a bounding, peak-time-ready jazz-house workout.
Review: Italian ensemble 291out are known for many things, though it's their love of dadaist ideas and mind-bending jazz-funk fusion that linger in the memory. They rather enjoy collaborating with others, too. Having previously released a hook-up with Bop on Early Sounds, they've now joined forces with Ivan "Flyme" Cibien as 291outer space. The result is a deliciously out-there and intergalactic set of sparkling, synth-laden epics that variously draw inspiration from Italian futurism, jazz-funk, classic sci-fi, organic house, ambient jazz soundscapes and cosmic disco. To enhance the EP's star gazing credentials, closing cut "Criogenesys" features a spoken word vocal that tells the (imagined) tale of a particularly memorable voyage into deep space.
Review: We've long felt that there's something in the water down in Melbourne. Australia's second city is home to a surprisingly high number of talented producers, musicians and DJs. The latest outfit primed for international success is 30/70, a nine-piece collective that's has been doing its thing since the middle of the decade. Elevate, their first 12" for Rhythm Section International, offers an expansive showcase for their genre-bending, fusion-heavy style, where bustling jazz instrumentation and seriously soulful vocals are effortlessly blended with elements of Afrobeat, jazz-funk, broken beat, hip-hop and hazy downtempo grooves. It's a deliciously warm and summery set of tracks, all told, suggesting that 30/70 will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.
Review: Building on the heat of last year's "Devil Made Me Do It", Alex Puddu's Afro Soul Prophecy returns with more smoking jazz fusions. "Red Light District" is as hot and illicit as the title suggests thanks to its prominent drums and heated horn work. "The Game Of Love" plays the perfect counter with its much softer, sentimental swoons and loungey dynamics. Instant summer soul soothers.
Review: Earlier in the month, Parisian producer Afshin joined forces with Kiss My Black Jazz and served up a brilliant, two-track missive of jazz-funk and blues-house reworks on G.A.M.M. Here they reunite for round two. This time round, they begin by reworking a shuffling, chant-along Afro-Brazilian gem of unknown origin, extending the carnival-ready percussive intro before unleashing the shuffling, sun-kissed samba rhythm and some of the sweetest vocals this side of a sing-along in a chocolate factory. Over on side B they give a similar tune to a killer chunk of reggae-funk fusion rich in warm dub bass, bongo-laden beats, bluesy guitar solos, fuzzy horns and James Brown style guttural vocals.
Review: Bahrandi-born British jazz musician Yazz Ahmed bagged a critical hit with sophomore set "La Saboteuse", an album described by one reviewer as "a modern jazz masterpiece". While that critic may not feel the same way about this alternative remix EP, we reckon it's another storming release. Hector Plimmer kicks things off with a wonderfully exotic, broken beats-meets-jazz-funk revision of "The Lost Pearl" that packs a real low-end punch, before DJ Khalab places Ahmed's poignant horn solos atop a crackling, high tempo lo-fi beat on his fine rework of "Jamil Jamal". The album's inherent Arabic influences shine through loud and clear on Blacksea Nao Mayo's hard to pigeonhole - but thrillingly heavy - version of "Al Emadi" - while Ahmed and Langley's re-make of "Spindrifting" is a lilting, intergalactic ambient jazz treat.
Review: Back in 2016, legendary Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen approached techno pioneer Jeff Mills with the idea of working together. A series of live gigs and off-the-radar studio sessions followed, with the first fruits of their joint efforts finally appearing on this must-have 10". As you'd expect, the duo's collaborative work combines Allen's traditional Nigerian polyrhythms, traditional Afrobeat instrumentation, and the far-sighted, sci-fi inspired electronic futurism that has always marked out Mills' work. The result is a quartet of cuts that could arguably be described as retro-futurist Afro-tech - all delay-laden beats, basslines and organs subtly sparring with gentle acid lines, Motor City electronics, beguiling deep space textures and shimmering, 31st century motifs. It's arguably Allen's stylistic contributions that dominate, but that's no bad thing.
Review: Take a listen to the four cuts that make up Jackson Almond's WotNot Music debut, "Open Your Head", and you'll hear a myriad of influences and musical reference points. That the DJ/producer has managed to get them to compliment each other is particularly impressive. Check, for example, the jaunty U.S garage/jazz-funk/broken beat/Afro-house fusion of "EEYE", for starters, or the sparkling opener "Open Your Head", where glistening guitars and marimba style melodies ride a rubbery synth bassline and rich, life-affirming chords. Almond's love of layered percussion is once again evident on the piano-sporting, sun-kissed deep house shuffle of "Common", while "People, Places, Things in Spaces" sees him pepper a jazzy, off-kilter deep house groove with the kind of spacey jazz-funk synths that were once a hallmark of Herbie Hancock albums.
Review: Some 18 months after it appeared on Amp Fiddler's ace "Amp Dog Knights" LP, "Keep Coming" is given the remix treatment by a quartet of hugely talented producers. The headline rework comes from Ninja Tune signee Jayda G, whose effortlessly soulful version not only makes great use of the Detroit veteran's brilliant vocals and keys, but also flits between smoky deep house and sweaty, percussive madness. Elsewhere, Jahn Cloud and Meftah offer up some sweet post R&B beats, Julian Dyne re-casts it as a Latin-tinged chunk of beatdown brilliance and Brenk Sinatra does his best impression of Motor City beat-makers Platinum Pied Pipers.
Review: This is Berliner Ant Orange's third release for Cologne's Karaoke Kalk and forms something resembling a trilogy for the label, while introducing more electronic ingredients and taking an increasingly exploratory approach to rhythm and composition. From the sexy and dusty late-night deepness of the dynamic opener "Right There", the super lo-slung funk of "Drunk In The Trunk", the evocative slo-mo soul of "Comfort Zone" or the tense yet mesmerizing neo-jazz of "Rudi Goes Offline" - this album truly marks a turning point in Ant Orange's sound. The name of the label comes from the 'Koeln-Kalk' district where the label started out. Over the past 20 years the label has amounted a superb catalog totalling well over 90 releases by a dazzling array of artists spanning the broadest possible spectrum of musical output.
Review: Founded in 2017, Ronin Arkestra is a fusionist jazz/electronica collective from Tokyo founded by broken beat keys-man Mark de Clive-Lowe. Given that the band includes some of the finest players in Japan's contemporary jazz scene - most notably members of Kyoto Jazz Massive, WONK and Sleepwalker - you'd expect this first outing on Albert's Favourites to be rather good. It is, of course, with the band sashaying between dubbed-out soundscape jazz ("Stranger Searching"), sun-bright jazz-funk influenced positivity ("Redeye Reprisal"), loose-limbed, semi-improvised intensity ("The Silk Road Prelude") and, most notably, an awe-inspiring 21st century re-imagining of John Coltrane classic "A Love Supreme".
Review: From his early releases for the mythical Greta Cottage Workshop, outsider house specialist Arnheim has come a long way, and his own Barbara Recordings is now on its way to ruling the downtempo game! In fact, Arnheim's sound are more on the inside than the outside, if this new EP is anything to go by; "Get On With The Looking" is on a Mahogani Music tip, while "Do You Know" stutters its off-kilter groove with magnificent elegance, and "Becoming Welcome" breaks out some fine jazz melodies in what sounds like a truly well-balanced piece of music that sits outside of the generic 'club' atmosphere. Quality assured.
Andrew Ashong - "The Way She Moves" (short version)
Review: At first glance, the pairing of Forest Hill resident Andrew Ashong and Sound Signature boss Theo Parrish would seem strange. But the duo have worked together previously with the Ghanaian born vocalist (and supposed owner of a vinyl collection that would make most record shops look like a car boot sale) lending his soulful tones to Parrish's excellent nine minute plus translation of the Hot Chip and Spiritualised affiliated About Group. Whereas that collaboration was more about Ashong's voice being just one element of a production that was undoubtedly Parrish, the three tracks present on the Flowers EP look to showcase what a talent the Londoner is. Those trademark dust filled stacatto rhythms are present in the opening title track, but they never swamp Ashong's killer vocal delivery, while "Take It Slow" is bonafide D funk of the highest order. After the brutal, divisive nature of Theo's kung fu experimentalism on the Any Other Styles EP, these three tracks show him in a wholly new light and hopefully Parrish and Ashong will be making much more music together.
Review: Despite not releasing all that much in 2018, Canadian nu-jazz combo BADBADNOTGOOD's reputation continued to rise. That was in no small part due to their eye-catching collaboration with Little Dragon, which resulted in the digital release of "Tried" back in September. Now the track has been given a deserved seven-inch single release by Ninja Tune. With LD lead vocalist Yukimi Nagano doing her best to channel the spirit of Minnie Riperton, "Tried" has a similarly languid, jazz/folk/soul fusion feel as some of the best works by Rotary Connection. BADBADNOTGOOD's admiration of the Charles Stepney-produced band comes through loud and clear through the choice of instruments and arrangements. For further proof, check the accompanying flipside instrumental mix.
Review: Back Pluwatsch, or simply Bajka, is an Indian-born, South-African raised singer with diverse catalogue of music, and an equally compelling set of vocal chords. Her voice was first picked up by London's Jazzman circa 2005, and has travelled across other like like Ubiquity, Raw Tapes, and even on NYC house-techno conglomerate, Ibadan. Philophon feels like a much more natural place for her music to prosper on, a label that's been on our radar since day one, and always comes heavily recommended. "The World" is a true pearl of a song, charged and catapulted into the ether by a deep, raw percussive sway and, of course, Bajka's singular voice. "Invisible Joy" is a similarly deep and tropical, but here the tone is much more jazzy, reminding us of Sun Ra in places. All in all, this is some pretty killer material.
Review: A timely revisit to two of the stand out covers on Italian jazz/lounge posterboy Andrea Balducci's 2012 album Bloom. "Spooky" is a soft, sweet and succinctly measured take on Shapiro and Middlebrooks' mid 60s standard while "Hurts So Bad" is a respectful twist on Weinstein, Harshman and Randazzo's similar era classic that was made famous by Linda Ronstadt years later.
Review: Although he released a couple of albums and a smattering of singles during a ten-year career, Max Berlin is arguably only remembered for sleazy 1987 single "Elle et Moi". The track has long been considered something of a left-of-centre anthem amongst DJs who dig Italo-era European disco. This timely reissue pairs the now well-known vocal version - where Berlin does his best Serge Gainsbourg impression over bubbly synths, eyes-closed guitar solos, bongo-heavy percussion and post-disco orchestration - with the lesser-known instrumental take. This is effectively a DJ-friendly Dub; the influence of dub reggae productions can be heard in Berlin's use of delay-laden harmonica lines amongst the twinkling Rhodes keys, bumped-up beats and sweeping synth chords.
Review: Immaculate street soul that more than lives up to its name, "So Cool" swoons and cruises on a loose wavey synth groove laced with lazy horns and a stumbling set of kicks. An authentic 80s boogie homage with warm echoes of Amp Fiddler-style sincerity, it's got summer stamped all over it. Liquid Beat affiliate Buscrates flips in a warm-as-toast version that has boogie stamped all over it. Balmy class.
Review: Boddhi Satva's highly tribalistic strain of house music has been at the top of our minds for a while, and riding high on our digging radars. This is because the artist has managed to tell his own story and detach himself from momentary scenes or fashions. Instead, tracks like "Ngnari Konon" use the house formula only as a backing rhythm, and with the help of Africa's Oumou Sangare, Satva produces what is more of a world music piece. The same goes for "Nankoumandjan", but "Benefit" strays closer to something like UK bassline thanks to its jump-up beat and r&b-style vocals by Omar, while "Fighting Spirit" is what you would call a classic 'bass house' joint, filled with gargling low-ends and plenty of sweet tribalism. Sick.
Review: Boddhi Satva is a Central African hi-tech (though he'd call it Ancestral) soul merchant via Belgium who has featured everywhere from Innervisions, Yoruba, BBE and of course Vega: which he's sure known as a staple of. "Love Will" (main mix) is darkly restrained yet seductive futurism: the kind of track that Derrick May or Dixon would play mid set for some life affirming moments on the dancefloor. The instrumental version up next forgoes Bilal's spiritual vocals to let those rusty spitfire rhythm patterns and sparkling synths do the work. The Ancestral Soul mix goes for more of an Afro sound with its tribal elements accentuated by some brilliant bongo and steel drum action.
Review: Astonishingly, Boogaloo's re-make of Pharoah Sanders classic "You've Gotta Have Freedom" is now 24 years old. It was originally included on the B-side of the jazz-loving Swedish hip-hop outfit's 1995 EP "Humongous Steps (Back Down To London)", but arguably became more widely known when it was reissued by G.A.M.M. on 12" in 2003. Here it appears on 7" for the first time, with the band's vocal version - a positive, life-affirming delight that brilliantly flits between sections faithful to Sanders' version and rapped section underpinned by live hip-hop breaks - being accompanied by an equally impressive instrumental take. If it's not already in your collection, this edition should be an essential purchase.
Paciencia De Jo (Tall Black Guy remix instrumental)
Bosq Of Whiskey Barons (feat Tita Lima)
Paciencia De Jo (original instrumental - remix)
Review: One of the many highlights from his album Bosq Y Orquesta De Madera, "Paciencia De Jo" shows Whiskey Baron Bosq at his most sedate and soulful. A future Balearic classic blessed with the heart-melting vocals of Tita Lima, it oozes sunset charm throughout. For this special white vinyl release Ubiquity have invited Tall Black Guy to the fray for a stunning re-touch. Retaining the lush vibes of the original while adding a smooth sense of jazz and additional percussion, it complements the original with every soulful ebb and flow. Paciencia is a virtue, possess it if you can!
Review: Seminal Manchester street soul from 96; Bovel's "Check 4 U" had anthem status in clubs and on pirates throughout the city at the time but suffered limited pressing and an OG copy has been known to be priced at 2000 quid. Revitalised by Ruf Dug and Bovel herself, it now comes complete with a superb UKG update from Metrodome which maintains the feel of the era but with the pace and punch of the times. Limited to 1000 copies.
Review: Bruno E has plenty of history in the field of future jazz and downtempo, and now he's been snapped up by D3 to deliver some of that cold-chilling lounge business with some interesting remixers on board. Pat Van Dyke is up first, creating a blissful version of "Ventos De Outono" that feels as cosy as a warm fire and a glass of whisky on an autumn evening. The original version of the track is actually a peppier affair with a broken beat lilt that wouldn't sound out of place alongside the Dego and Kaidi Tatham crew. Kirk Degiorgio is a natural fit for another remix given his jazzy roots, and his swirling techno treatment is the perfection lotion to pour over Bruno E's excellent original ingredients.
Review: Theo Parrish's Wildheart imprint has seriously impressed since its first release last year. The label's aesthetic is simple: good music. While the previous two releases have featured established artists such as Tony Allen and Dego, this latest EP comes from Living Proof-member, Budgie. Having established himself as an eclectic selector up until now - his boogie-centred sets causing quite a stir on the dancefloor each time we've seen him play out - he comes through with his debut productions for the London-Detroit label. There's no real way to describe this release, where shreds of funk, hip-hop and soul are mashed up so tightly that they've grown a life of their own. In fact, when you hear it through, it almost sounds like one full track; a vibrant and grooving mass of crunchy beats, mesmerising harmonics and devious little samples. We're certainly looking forward to hearing Budgie's upcoming blends of neo-soul. Heartily recommended to fans of most cuts on Stones Throw or PPU.
Review: Since going solo last year, former Onra collaborator Byron Blaylock has yet to put a foot wrong. Each successive 12" has brought with it a swathe of killer new jams straddling the blurred lines between soul, jazz, hip-hop, deep house and jazz-funk. There's more of the same on Leaving This Planet, the Alabama-raised producer's first EP for the mighty Eglo. So while opener "Song for a Friend" is a superior, jazz-flecked deep house bumper smothered in killer electric piano solos, the track that follows, "Mind, Body & Soul" is a squelchy tech-jazz masterpiece. It's the same story on the flip, as floor-friendly jazz-breaks ("Blow Your Mind") make way for a heady trip into intergalactic jazz-funk territory ("SSDP"). As the worn-out old saying goes, this is "all killer, no filler".
Review: Casbah strikes again with a powerful homage to the NYC foundations with this juicy, insatiably funky piece of disco soul. Driven by a belting vocal from Angela Goode, there's a strong sense of timelessness, honesty and raw funk that smacks with authenticity and one of the funkiest slap-bass breakdowns you'll hear all year. Chicago's Rahaan takes the remix duties with a pumping contemporary disco cut while Casbah strips things back himself for the essential DJ tool that is the percussion edit. Feel the love.
Review: Bouncing his time between Antibalas and his Marcos Garcia and Chico Mann projects, Chico returns after several years of silence with a sweet slice of lolloping broken soul. With its soft padded synths and cotton wool hug of Kendra Morris's vocals, there's a delicate tumble to proceedings as we nod and slide into a sound that's remained in its own soul universe since emerging almost 20 years ago. When done as well and with as much authenticity as this, it's timeless.