Review: Efficient Space's latest release is certainly an intriguing one. It was sparked by the discovery of a CD copy of an obscure, mid-'90s album made by the late Victorian musician Peter Mumme and three Aboriginal songmen from the Yolngu people of the Arnhem Land in Australia's Northern territory. Uniquely, the album - here reissued under a new title with an additional unreleased piece - mixed the singers' traditional vocals with impeccable ambient soundscapes, gently pulsating electronic rhythms and the kind of fluid and wide-eyed synthesizer melodies more often found on '80s new age recordings. The results still sound remarkable and, thanks to the Yolngu singing style, surprisingly haunting.
Review: Klaus Waldeck is well aware that his most commercially successful album, 2007's 1920s and '30s-influenced "Ballroom Stories", played a role in defining the electro-swing sound. While he's spent the 11 years since trying to shake off these shackles, his latest album, "Atlantic Ballroom", is at least in part a sequel of sorts. There's little actual electro-swing, though many of his influences - blues, classic jazz, tango, Dave Brubeck, Henry Mancini, John Barry and Lalo Schifrin amongst there - are apparent in this album, peppered with vintage downtempo grooves and smoky Viennese electronics. The results are by and large hugely enjoyable, with the presence of some of the producer's most trusted vocalists and collaborators giving the whole thing a joyful, celebratory feel.
Review: There's a growing feeling both inside and outside jazz that Kamasi Washington could well turn out to be one of the style's all-time greats. He's certainly making all the right moves, delivering thought-provoking concept albums of eyebrow-raising length that simply refuse to settle on one sound, rhythm, style or sub-genre. Heaven & Earth, his first album for almost three years, continues this trend, comprising angry instrumental answers to America's growing issues with class division and racism, Rotary Connection style workouts, Sun Ra-esque spiritual workouts, funk and soul-influenced burners, spiraling choral and orchestral affairs, and electric fusions of rubbery synth-funk and mind-altering jazz-blues. Typically, the results are never less than sublime, with Washington's virtuoso saxophone playing taking centre stage throughout.
Review: Norwegian jazz pianist and composer Bugge Wesseltoft rose to prominence in the late 1990s on the back of a string of records that joined the dots between jazz, techno and hip-hop. Since then he's collaborated with many electronic producers - Laurent Garnier and Henrik Schwarz included - so it's little surprise to see him joining forces with Scandolearic hero Prins Thomas. The eponymous set was recorded at Oslo's legendary Rainbow Studio, where the pair improvised for a couple of days before editing down the results. There's much to admire, from the spaced-out brushed percussion and sorrowful piano of "Sin Tempo", liquid ambient vibes of "Norte Do Brasil" and wonky kraut-jazz bubbler "Bar Asfalt", to the slowly building brilliance of 16-minute opener "Furuberget". File under "ambient jazz".
Review: Kamaal Williams has described The Return, his debut solo album, as "a natural evolution from the Yussef Kamaal project". Yet while that was made in collaboration with drummer Yussef Kamaal and played around with jazz in its myriad forms, The Return sees the man sometimes known as Henry Wu stamp his own mark on proceedings. So while "visionary jazz" (as the press release puts it) is his aim, this manifests itself in a range of ways. Contrast, for example, the leisurely jazz-funk flex and stoned feel of opener "Salaam" with the more groove-driven, dancefloor vibes of "High Roller", where sinewy strings tumble down over hip-hop influenced live house beats, meandering Herbie Hancock style synths and a superb bassline.
Review: Dub revisionist Wrongtom has an impressive track record when it comes to dub-wise collaborations. For the latest in his ongoing Meets... series, he's joined forces with veteran UK mic man the Ragga Twins, offering up a swathe of new cuts featuring their distinctive, all-action Jamaican mic chatter. Predictably, it's a weighty and hugely entertaining set that doffs a cap to the duo's 1980s dancehall roots whilst retaining the reverb and echo-laden dub sound that the producer is renowned for. Amongst the 14 tracks you'll find a swathe of club-ready treats, from the Spaghetti Western horns and rolling riddims of "Woah!" and digi-dub wobble of "Hard Drugs" (an anti-narcotics warning), to the upbeat strut of closer "Follow Fashion".