Review: Last year, long-serving "global pop" innovators Deep Forest (now a solo project by co-founder Eric Mouquet) returned to action with a collaborative album co-penned by fellow "Worldbeat" veteran Daniele Gaudi. Here Moquet presents the first solo Deep Forest set since 2015, a breezy and sun-kissed set inspired by the music of Brazil. What you get is a dreamy and effortlessly melodious blend of indigenous rhythms, electronic instrumentation, dreamy chords, heartfelt vocals (in this case largely in Portuguese), ambient atmospherics and slow-motion synth-pop sensibilities. There are few surprises, but then you wouldn't expect them: after all, Mouquet is a master at producing this kind of accessible pop. If you're a fan of Deep Forest, you'll love it.
Review: Brussels-based Echo Collective is an extended crew of classically trained musicians helmed by Neil Leiter and Margaret Hermant. While they've been active for some time and worked on countless projects, Plays Amnesiac - a re-imagining of Radiohead's 2001 album of the same name - marks their full-length debut. It's an undeniably impressive collection, with Thom Yorke and company's glitchy, heavily electronic original songs re-cast as neo-classical pieces rich in arresting clarinet and oboe lines, jazzy live drums, cut-glass violins and gentle orchestration. Occasionally projects like this can feel a bit gimmicky, but Plays Amnesiac simply oozes class from start to finish. There are no cheesy gimmicks here, just sublime, classical-jazz fusion cuts that dance from the speakers like the soundtrack of a film we've yet to see.
Heaven's Mirror (feat Idris Ackamoor & David Molina)
Iyaami (feat Dele Sosimi)
Spice Routes (feat Nat Birchall)
Egosystem (Solar Noon)
Reflection (feat Nat Birchall & Liz Elensky)
New Day (feat Ahu)
Heaven's Mirror (reprise)
Minutes To Midnight For This Planet
Raga Requiem (Dusk)
Review: For one reason or another, this is Emanative's debut for London's Jazzman imprint, with the artist having touched most other like-minded labels thus far. Better late than never, we say! It also marks Nick Woodmansey's fourth studio album to date, having travelled through Space and Time, and now landing firmly on Earth. As you'd expect, mystique and experimentation are very much a core part of this LP, morphing at every turn, shifting unpredictably amid jazz flutes, deep cello bass, and a supremely sporadic drumming aesthetic that perfectly encapsulates the 'free' element of jazz. The electronics play a part too, however, adding a noticeable aura to an already atmospheric selection of sonic patterns. A beauty, from start to finish.
Review: Founded in 1981, the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble has been responsible for some sublime albums over the years. They built their reputation via a swathe of sets dedicated to free jazz and inspired improvisational workouts, but "Be Known: Ancient/Future/Music" is a little more structured and polished, with clear influences from spiritual jazz and African music. It's a blend that consistently produces impressive results, from the chant-along soul-jazz spirituality of "Be Known" and loose-limbed madness of "Blew It", to the tribal drums and soulful vocals of "Wish I Knew" and the slow-burn vibes of simmering late night cut "Ntozake".
Review: London's contemporary jazz scene is so strong right now that there's not a week that passes without the release of a killer new album from one of its leading protagonists. The latest comes from Ezra Collective, which finally delivers its' debut album following a string of inspired live performances and a handful of must-have singles. Kicking off with a breezy chunk of hip-hop-jazz, "You Can't Steal My Joy" sees the hyped five-piece confidently bounce between intense, spiraling epics ("Why You Mad?"), reggae-influenced aural sunshine ("Red Whine"), polyrhythmic Afro-jazz ("Quest For Coin"), bespoke soul (Jorja Smith hook-up "Reason In Disguise"), live boom-bap hip-hop (Loyle Carner collaboration "What Am I To Do"), bustling Afro-Cuban jazz ("Chris & Jane"), picturesque piano pieces ("Philosopher II") and much more besides. As debuts go, it's mighty impressive.