It feels increasingly hard to tune in right now. Perhaps that’s why Felony seems fresh in uncertain times. Under usual circumstances this might effortlessly breeze by, referencing the soulfulness of past glories, sounding like a cruise on a hot summer’s day – windows down, roof off. But as good music translates, traversing timelines this combination of Northern reflections alongside shuffling, funky drums plus uplifting horn strikes and piano does it just right. Flipped by the poppier sounds of Rile Em Up (feat. Andy Cooper & Marietta Smith) an albums worth in the shape of Say The Word will also be with you soon.
Excellent new release on Hot Since 82’s label with the original version sounding inescapably big in all the right places. Fuelled by driving percussion and a grinding bassline that feels irresistibly funky, plus with the vocal line adding just the right slice of melody, this soon climaxes via a blaze of synthesiser colouring the arrangement. Remixes come from Mendo who pumps up the rhythm with fresh vocal samples and fiery snares hits, and from Get Physical’s Fabio Gianelli who injects Acid flavour into his first-rate version giving the vocals a new lease of life with an evolving sense of tension crafted from a sizzling blend of synths.
You don’t have to love Jazz to dig this but of course you should already do so in the first place! I guess the title track refers to one of great pianists of last century, Thelonious Monk whose innovative genius has yet to be bettered in this millennium. The arrangement is a piecing collection of notes that fall into place as the music evolves with moody pads and edgy atmosphere’s accompanying the jazzy notation to produce a startlingly cool piece of music that also hints at the roots of House. An Evening At Urban Spree happens next with spoken words adding bite to the brutal, snazzy percussion alongside blazing Saxophone. The more organic On The Loose (Feat. Elbi) ends on a deeper tip with soulfully charged vocals feeling bittersweet over a piano adornment, rich in life and cinematic in scope.
Two new tracks go to make up this latest release from Asymmetric with the Greek Dj’s Dazzling by name and nature certainly sounding epic. Love the strange concoction of off-the-wall sound effects that lend this a jagged edge while the straight-up drums and rumbling bass supply an inexcusably big punch to the production. Second original, Consistency then fuses gritty Acid synths together with crisp drums again producing music high on atmosphere that sounds even more impactful the louder it gets!
Ahh, the sound of summer soul music. Just as the title says: life is good. Spend time and check this raspy, emotive vocal delivery which says something about the state of play that’s actually worth saying. The sassy guitar and drums backing sound all the better with the rousing horn section plus good old bv’s supporting too. Lots of mixes to choose from beside the classy original with special attention going to Technimatic’s blissful yet energetic D&B which is quite possibly even better.
Time to get excited. Upside Down is a selection of favourite remixes for Jazzanova from the last eight years and at the very, very least highlights all the elements which make the collective such a vital piece of our musical jigsaw: good song-writing and forward-thinking musicianship that encompasses both real and virtual instruments. In ways you only have to look at the list of remixers to see the picture so I’ll mention just a few: Alex Barck, Henrik Schwarz and Ame and so the list travels on… The collection never feels like it’s merely replaying the past but building upon it with fresh technology and invigorating vocals – and of course Paul Randolph and Ben Westbeech sing here too. Needless to say that there isn’t one filler on here, indeed all tracks are standout moments! 9
& the original version of Jazzanova ‘I Can See’ feat. Ben Westbeech
Leo Zero ‘Acid Life’ Leo Trax
The album begins with a voice: Let’s Go! Well then, lets! What’s so exciting about this album is that it replays all its Chicago/ Detroit influences all in one go and never feels less than party time. But back to that opening track which bangs out sexy Hi-Nrg syncopation like it never went out of fashion and needs to be heard LOUD. More Jackin’ rhythms follow swiftly with Body Music and fly through a selection of classic drum and bass sounds booming straight out of the late eighties, although sometimes seen from today’s perspective such as on Electricity with its cinematic stabs and crescendo of big drums or on the finishing intricate funk of Warehouse Style. Marcel’s vocals feature virtually throughout and add warmth to acid attitude. Don’t say revival – it never went away in the first place. 8
Luca C and Brigante ‘Invisible Cities’ Southern Fried
Hats off to Southern Fried for releasing this perfect summer (mini) album smack bang in the middle of winter – I makes the end of January feel a whole lot warmer. This really is a refreshing listen and for those of a Balearic disposition plays out gentle electronic atmospheres along with cool, soulful feeling vocals. For those not of that persuasion you may well hate it but ho-hum. The Beach typifies it all. At times Invisible Cities is slightly dreamy and California, at others stylishly European and Vangelis. Can that ever be a bad thing? 8
Next as part of a series of single releases, which eventually cumulate as an entire album collection, this nugget from Knee Deep is the latest to be remixed. Aaron Ross turns it on big time with one of his strongest mixes to date, and as a fan of drums and most definitely bass this sees sizzling beats and percussion combine perfectly with a delicious bassline and synths on the Main Mix. There’s also a Deep Mix which is deeper and a Brothers version that feels polite in comparison. 8
Kraak and Smaak ‘Hold Back Love (feat Lex Empress)’ Jalapeno Records
If you’re a sucker for that early eighties Boogie sound then this is for you plain and simple. Although that’s not to say Lex Empress doesn’t deliver with tastefully sassy vocals or also that the D-train etc vibes aren’t irresistible either – they are. Remixes come from the excellent Lovebirds who twist the groove into deeper territory to let the chorus feel that bit more powerful when it hits, Analog People in a Digital World give it a more provocative edge, while Neighbour and Elan B play around with jazzy touches on their playful dub-wise take. 8
T.E.E. aka Turzi Electronique Experience follows up his 2006 album Made Under Authority with this machine made masterstroke which joins the dots through the European experience from Eno to Kraftwerk and beyond. There’s something particularly emotive about this sequence of mood enhancing music whether that be the guitar highs of Croyance, or the echoes of Floyd on Enfance, or even on the space disco of Deviance this long player makes each journey a notable one. You could almost say this is an exceptional album, perhaps because it’s not trying to play anybodies game but its own, and while it’s always easy to guess at reference points, the bottom line here is the emotional response this music generates. 9
Kraak & Smaak feat. Romanthony
‘Let’s Go Back’
‘Let’s go back, the future is the past’ clever lyric and one that says it all about this single which has been lifted from their recent third album, Electric Hustle. The breezy melodies of the album version are certainly accessible but in this case it’s the remixes which work best. It is of course great to hear Romanthony again after his handful of Azuli Records gems from the early nineties and both Chocolate Puma and Solomun do his voice poetic justice. The former by powerfully updating those sounds (reminiscent of Morales) with heavy beats and moody chords, and boy do the vocals sound good here. While the latter get dirty with rumbling basslines and epic electronics. A f**king good single then. 9
Ruben F’s latest for Deep Edition makes you feel like being in a club with the lights down low with the speakers playing this loud and deep. The drums are irresistibly crunchy, the chords simple yet telling and the vocal tops it all off perfectly on the apt, Feel Good. Oh Yeah, follows in a similar vein until the unfeasibly funky bassline arrives mid-point and quite frankly has to be heard to be understood. Don’t Worry, gets tougher featuring some more neat vocal and a nagging organ coupled with fabulous percussion while, Making Love finishes off this excellent EP. One talented producer…9