Review: The first release from the Axis Audiophile Series. Jeff Mills has formed an electronic jazz fusion band and this 12? is a recording of their recent performance in Kobe during the TodaysArt.JP Festival. Mills manages the decks, drums and percussion and is joined Detroit legend and Underground Resistance stalwart Gerald Mitchell (Los Hermanos/Galaxy 2 Galaxy), keyboardist Yumiko Ohno and bassist Kenji Jino. "Eventide" has the same kind of urban, uplifting soul as anything Kaidi Thatham or Mark de Clive-Lowe have made and isn't bad at all! On the flip "Happy Gamma Ray" features uplifting keys and emotive chords backed by funk bass and one of Mills' unmistakeable 909 drum machine workouts. It really seems that there's no limit to this Motor City legend's creativity which has spanned nearly 30 years and we're excited about this new chapter in the Wizard's sonic universe.
Review: Theo Parrish lays down a marker for a long overdue fifth album, apparently due out later this year, with the sublime Footwork 12". Named in reference to the dance as opposed to the breakneck offshoot of Ghetto House, "Footwork" is a sublime slab of Theo with many of his trademark production touches. Think lightly brushed percussion, meandering bassline that juts out with an odd funk, and subtle yet sumptuous musical touches, all topped off by a gruff "let me see your footwork baby" croon. Those Theo fans out there that like the man to get a bit rugged will be all over "Tympanic Warfare" too, where off the grid polyrhythms cannon around the channels, augmented by an ugly bassline and dexterous keys.
The Rotating Assembly - "Seasons Of My Life" (feat Billy Lo)
Green Pickles - "Feedback" (feat Billy Lo & M Pittman)
Review: Sound Signature kick off the new year with a pleasing reissue of some smoky soul from Theo Parrish's outlet for his most jazzy tendencies. On "Seasons Of My Life" Billy Lo croons over a muted trumpet while a surprisingly rough stomp gets hammered out of a live kit. It's a dreamy, sunkissed jam with all the loose, free-flowing elements you would expect from something with Parrish's stamp on it. Marcellus Pittman helps out on "Feedback", as a sparser, meandering groove does the nasty with some restrained keys. For that Detroit beatdown flavour away from the dancefloor, this is as good as it gets.
Review: Two years ago, Thomas Xu announced himself via a fine debut 12" on Sound Signature where he shared vinyl space with Julion De'Angelo. Here he launches his own label, Steady Flight Circle, via a first full solo EP of his own. It's really rather good, with Xu combining spacey jazz-funk synths, emotive chord progressions and rich musicality with beats that tend towards the jazzy, broken and off-kilter. All three tracks feel loose, warm and immediate, as if they were jammed-out in one take. While they clearly weren't, this improvised feel is hugely endearing. From the sounds of "Different Widsoms", Xu will clearly be a producer to watch in the months and years ahead.