Review: Welcome to the World Of Blundetto, stick around and familiarise yourself with the delightful charms of this third album from Frenchman Maxime Guiget. With a sound spanning reggae, Latin, African, Jazz and more established on the first two Blundetto albums, World Of... finds Guiget expanding this vision for perhaps his finest work to date. Vocals naturally play a big part in World Of... with some of France's foremost Reggae voices like Biga Ranx and PupaJim featuring amongst the 12 tracks, whilst Marina Peloso's contribution to "Last Broken Bones" marks it out as an album highlight. Look out for the cover of Bob Marley's "Work" too which features New York rapper Jahdan Blakamoore and Ubiquity's ubiquitous Shawn Lee.
Review: Black Sands, the eagerly anticipated fourth album from Simon Green AKA Bonobo, is no revolutionary change from his signature sound but does come with perhaps even more subtlety and complexity than his previous offerings. Having constantly instilled a degree of integrity and value back into chill out music following the influx of Cafe Del Mar and Coffeeshop compilations, Green once again displays a musicianship that sets him apart as a true artist and producer amongst a sea of downtempo and chillout DJs. His undeniably clear understanding of composition and arrangement of live instruments has enabled Green to make an album that reaches out through diverse styles, taking influence and inspiration from wherever possible. On Black Sands, Green delves into electronic music and bass more than he did across Animal Magic, Dial "M" For Monkey or Days To Come but does so with enough subtlety and finesse to refrain from causing a radical shift in his product. Tracks like "Kiara," "We Could Forever" and "All In Forms" all utilise beats and bass in a more contemporary outlook than we are used to with Bonobo. Of course the instrumental feel is still there for all to see. Title track "Black Sands" takes this position for almost seven minutes of a horn infused waltz whereas "Kong" assumes the traditional soul-jazz Bonobo take and "Animals" lets delicate drum patterns guide us through pleasing tempo shifts. The instrumental vibe is highlighted further in the album's approach to vocals. Unlike his last album, Days To Come which was littered with vocals, Black Sands houses only three tracks that contain vocals. The breathy vocals of Andreya Triana complete tracks like "Stay the Same" and "The Keeper" turning them in more traditional songs. Black Sands is another loving crafted offering that uses orchestral arrangements but this time merged with more of a dance aesthetic. As he continues to make chillout more credible in his experimental way, it's no wonder that Bonobo is one of the biggest artists to come from the excellent Ninja Tune.
Review: If you don't yet know Mansur Brown, you soon will. Previously best known for playing guitar on Yussef Kamaal's "Black Focus" album, Mansur is a 21 year-old prodigy with a huge future ahead of him. For proof, just check "Shiroi", his debut album. Built around his virtuoso guitar playing - a fusion of the psychedelic intensity of Jimi Hendrix and the smooth bliss of jazz greats like George Benson and Pat Metheny - the set's eleven sparkling tracks variously mix and match elements of dub, instrumental hip-hop, broken beat, jazz-funk, beat-free soundscapes and hazy, suitably horizontal downtempo grooves. The results are uniformly excellent.
Review: He's perhaps best known as a member of Tedeschi Trucks Band, with whom he won the 2011 Grammy for Best Blues Album, but trumpeter, composer and producer Maurice Brown is also a successful artist in his own right, and here he presents his fourth solo album. Soul-jazz and hip-hop influences predominate, with the album moving inexorably into smoother territory as it progresses, and Talib Kweli making a guest appearance on 'Stand Up'. Bound to be big with support from the likes of Gilles Peterson and Snowboy, 'The Mood' is never less than an engaging listen.