This is so irresistibly infectious and that’s all the justification required here. The title track’s taught rhythms almost play second fiddle to the punchy piano lines which pack even more swing than most. But then this does all work together so sweetly. Voodoo Effect provide a more robust version leaving the keys alone but adding some imaginative extras into the arrangement. Next, there’s the 90’s flavoured Dub which is due to its punchy, although fimilair sounding organ lines. Second track, Damnson is much grittier combining layers of agitated grooves together to produce the desired effect to complete the release.
Yet another hot release from the Tribe Records sub imprint this time with Black Sonix delivering three smoking rhythms for your delight. The grainy ‘Incidental’ opens with perfectly timed, classic sounding Deep House and is followed with the Detroit tones of 24 Steps which sizzle across strident beats. However, it’s the thumping tribal rhythms which belong to Djembe Dance that truly stand out. Fuelling passionate drums along with cool chords and snazzy snares this is the sort of soulfully charged music you don’t get to hear quite so much of now (accompanied by a fierce Beats version too).
I’d almost forgotten just how much I love Congo’s and Bongo’s but this set of three tracks from Daniel Lera supplies a choice reminder on Nicole Moudaber’s imprint. Driven by rolling grooves alongside shuffling shakers and hats plus occasionally hot R&B vocals: Have To Talk Tonight delivers atmospherically charged funk impressively. Followed by, Babbling In Dreaminess lending a tougher edge to proceedings with the more highly-strung ‘Let It Ride’ ending with yet more percussion informing the rhythms amid temptingly smoky voices.
Compassion Crew presents
Compassion Cuts, Tapes & Acetates
Pretty much essential listening. This wild yet crazy compilation of the weird, wonderful and generally out-there could be the most intriguing selection of disjointed thinking you get to hear all month – or possibly even year. Complied via Dublin’s Compassion Crew this plunges into the depths of 80’s leftfield Dance, New Wave and risky poetry. But all preformed in the best possible taste. Go listen for yourself!
Where would we be without bootlegs? After all they make for such fun, especially when the sample at hand turns out to play much better than on the original version. Toto’s ‘Africa’ is either eighties hell or Balearic heaven, depending on your point of view, but here it is re-imagined as Bless The Rains over a sea of low-slung beats, and while the music unfolds it does feel that bit special none-the-less. The vocals hits around the 4.30 mark so you can make up your mind by then. My Body’s on Fire is a much friskier affair with Janet Jackson sounding typically Jackson-esque over sassy filtered House grooves. The excellent Not In Love Anymore finishes with Michael McDonald’s warm tones and an easier tempo reflecting all the breezy soulfulness note perfectly.
Cosmic Kids & Fingerpaint
Reality on the Horizon EP
Let’s Play House
Let’s Play House was always going to be a winning name for a record label and the four tracks that go make up this EP certainly do the implication justice. Manteiga continues the vogue for ‘big in the 90’s’ vocal samples which plays over, dare I say it, happy vibes and pumping filtered action that feels very summer time indeed. Fingerpaint’s ‘Change Yr Mind’ is next up with moodier bass and loops that feel hypnotic until the rousing piano hits you hard. Cosmic Kids supply the next two tracks firstly the acid tinged, Higgs Boson. And secondly, the excellent Whisper Softly which features a sample that’s so achingly familiar that I can’t remember it. Running at a low slung tempo this sounds like a Balearic dream, hinting at the eighties while channeling today very nicely thank you.
There’s just something about this that a) scares the hell out of me (especially when played loud in a dark room) and b) I can’t get enough of. The sheer intensity of this minimalist exercise in bass and beats is nothing short of breathtaking. I also love the fact that this transcends being conveniently slotted into any one genre. Try Nebula. Then try, To Feel whose unfeasibly huge bassline sounds epic and nasty, yet sublimely funky all at the same time running alongside a dark cinematic landscape that almost defies words. Breathless.
Phil Weeks excellent Robsoul Recordings now takes a sideways step into Jazzier flavours with Around 7’s debut album, and indeed release, for his new imprint: Robsoul Jazz. Around 7 is the Parisian based Sébastien Guertau who neatly fuses together a diverse selection of inspired sights and sounds from Modern Jazz to off-beat funk. And, although there is something timeless about the way the music plays it also transcends the listening space it finds itself in i.e. it will sound great anywhere. By combining more ambient textures, such as on the opening Welcome To Basics, then by raising the tempo on Bro, the album passes through dreamy grooves straight through to hard hitting beats, and is never less than thought provoking/ exhilarating. Back To Basics is essential listening morning, noon or night.
I guess it’s fair to say that this mix by Noir for Defected’s In The House series is pretty much on the money. And in ways it captures the essence of what’s going on in House music today. Now that we have the obvious benefit of hindsight with regards to roots and influences (real and distorted) it’s telling how much this selection touches upon sounds from the past as well as hitting tomorrows tone. Also worth noting just how contemporary Sandy Rivera ‘Changes’ from 2003 still sounds today and by the time it blends neatly into Noir’s own aptly titled ‘I’m Satisfied’ somewhere around the 30 minute mark the temperature has seriously intensified. The deeper moments are well represented and the dancefloor movements reach their peaks at various points throughout the journey, but what is always truly consistent is the sheer quality of music and vocals, plus the excellence of the mix itself. If further proof is needed then simply check the playlist which opens with dOP ‘Kisses’ and ends on Shlomi Aber ‘We Dont Fit’.
Just Be aka the new solo project of Matthew Bushwacka is a delicious way to start 2013. And after all the trimmings care of 2012 this production clearly points to the direction we want to be going. After The Storm, begins by building your expectations via deep, bass-heavy beats alongside edgy percussion and then adds in vocal touches and punchy piano chords to reach the next level on the ‘Up Mix’. The ‘Deep’ version follows with a more Cosmic feel to the synthesizers along with what sound like Flutes to accompany them. Next and finally, Out Of The System adds Techno notation together with staccato drums and more spine-tingling atmosphere for your heightened pleasure.
Watch: to accompany the release Frogspawn Creative have produced a video for ‘After The Storm’
Theo Parrish The Twin Cities EP Robsoul Recordings
As you can expect from Theo Parish this music is set to challenge you while making dance. Licensed to Robsoul from Rick Wade’s Harmonie Park the title track cleverly blends old-time Jazzy vibes with abrasive percussion to sound both exploratory and feel-good. Backed by a succession of mellow piano notes and punctuated by atmospheric stabs this strange blend binds together disparate elements while retaining an evocative mood that sits somewhere between melancholy reflection and a bizarre hint of Disco, or am I imagining that? But either way this is tempting, exceptional music. Second track, Dance Sing continues further down the path of your imagination with picturesque ideas played out over equally rough beats, which this time run to over fifteen minutes, yet never once feel uninspired.
Returning with their third release sister label Fixia compliment Jamie Anderson’s original Artform with these latest productions from London based artists Roberto and Nick Dubz. Comprised of two equally striking pieces of music, however, it’s The Blind Leading The Blind that hits a particularly resonate chord. Driven by deep pulsating, tribal drums and accompanied by hypnotic ambient repetition this moves beyond the dancefloor into somewhere else creating a unique mood with its own sense of sound and voice – a great composition. Visions, on the other hand feels that bit tougher, mainly because of the Techno bass, which along with brighter synths is a perkier, more energetic affair.
How could you possibly not love this? Diynamic Music’s sister label release Kolombo’s solo debut featuring a good-time rap (albeit even funkier for being stylishly detuned) alongside fuzzy synths and a particularly, perky bassline. Meanwhile the voice intones I Want It All and then lists a series of demands – sounds reasonable. The vocal theme is then explored across the next three tracks linking the EP together like a concept. Musically the grooves never stray from the dancefloor and all feature a creative sequence of electronic events that never fail but to excite and electrify. But, let’s cut to the chase. It’s the final track, Dancing On The Floor that caps it all with a knowing, infectious chorus line to grab you coupled with a bassline which completely destroys it….
Gas Masks & Crazy-Girls
Cosmic Disco Records
Dubtribe Sound System’s maverick producer Sunshine Jones returns with this latest long player. Jam packed full of emotion this plays like sunshine for a hazy afternoon. Exploring moments of melancholy one minute, such as on the opening Fall Down, then transferring the pleasure to the dancefloor on the following Mem Mem Mem with its slap-bass and Acid extremes, the album is never afraid of taking chances with your expectations. The gorgeous Absurdity Of Possession works especially well by evoking an array of feelings with its stirring pads and deep, velvety vocals. I suspect the more you listen to Gas Masks & Crazy-Girls the more will be revealed, and its finishing Beautiful Daydream conjures all sorts of memories with the Balearic infused rhythms and spacey voices striking the perfect note (to end on ).
This Swiss based label has been releasing plenty in the way of quality for the past number of years and this also sits comfortably within that description. Opening with the EP’s title track, My Pleasure is underpinned by harsh synths cutting out a distinct edge, while the remainder peaks with building tribal drums and layers of vocal harmony. Not surprisingly then Percussive View is also big on drums and swirling delays that are once again complimented by rough synth sounds, and which again has a intriguing, hypnotic quality. You, keeps the feeling going and is the most uplifting of the three with cool organ sounds and funky bass taking you there.
If it was still safe to use the word ‘awesome’ without being sniggered at then that’s just how I would describe Always Again. It’s the opening track from Maigret Jnr’s forthcoming Sick Friends EP which is so inspired that I had to play it again, just to check I wasn’t dreaming. Powered by beautifully low-slung beats, heart-wrenching strings and topped off by a rich baritone vocal delivery this feels enigmatic, yet all too familiar – and that’s an excellent place to be.
Best Of Robsoul Recordings: Phil Weeks
Phil Weeks brings his inimitable brand of funk to the table with the release of his part of the series explaining the labels ethos since 2000. Do expect plenty of sassy samples and repetitive loops to work their way pleasurably into your brain and then take up residence. Don’t expect fluffy melodies and uninspired rhythms. The ‘Best Of’ series is an impressive succession of six mini albums from many of the labels stalwarts such as DJ Sneak, Joss Moog and DJ W!LD. Beginning as weekly releases in mid August the final instalment reaches its climax on September 14 with Fries & Bridges selection. But back to the labels head, Phil Weeks who journeys his way through tough, unrelenting beats on the excellent Jack To My Groove and winds up at the tastefully atmospheric Don’t Give Up.
Who Is The Bitch, Anyway?
Blue Note Records
Her fourth album for the prestigious Blue Note label saw Shaw release this strikingly titled long player in 1975. Influenced by the name of Richard Pryor’s That Nigger’s Crazy, which won a gammy the previous year, the album opens with a steamy dialogue between the singer and a (factitious) random client who meet in a bar. You, Me &Ethel/ Street Walkin’ Woman then rips through a tempo changing exercise in funky/ soul proving to be the most energetic song on the release. Already revered for songs such as California Soul and Woman Of The Ghetto she was impressively the first female artist to be signed to the label which happened, as late as, 1973. The selection of music here ranges from tearjerker to mid-tempo shuffles such as Davy, although even more notably Gospel as on the fiery rendition of The Lord Giveth And The Lord Taketh Away (written by Shaw). The album is always adult without ever feeling AOR or MOR with Marlena Shaw’s impassioned voice always cutting to the bone. And, is backed here by a wealth of skilful players, which are much in evidence on Loving You Was Like A Party the second most spirited track. A touch of pure class.
After having released Philadelphia International Records first album Billy Paul went on to win a Grammy for Me And Mrs Jones, which is also included on this album released in 1972. It’s hard to imagine now the impact music such as this, with its socially/ politically aware lyrics, must have had in the early seventies, especially when dwelling upon Ziggy Stardust’s cultural repercussions here in the UK the same year. And unlike his mid-sixties counterparts what became so much more exhilarating is how the raw blend of Jazz, Blues, Soul and Psychedelia expanded beyond 3 minute singles into self-aware anthems. It’s hard to argue with the hard funk of I’m I Black Enough For You or the Psychedlic Soul of Brown Baby, and certainly not with the sheer authority of Billy Paul’s smoky vocal. Or indeed with Gamble & Huff’s superlative production which still sound s as timeless as it always will do. Having said that, and after all the album is titled: 360 Degress Of… you also get a number of covers ranging from Carol King’s It’s Too Late to Elton John’s Your Song, so perhaps there’s something for everybody, as they used to say.
Love this. The capitals’ Alexis Raphael captures the invigorating sounds and feel of contemporary House music perfectly with this inspired production. Tempered by strident beats and deliciously dark sounding synths the arrangement sets you up for its fall into bassline nirvana, with a timely nod to early nineties vocal samples’ and a twist of infectious Disco toms into the bargain. Hot Natured then proceed to deepen the bass and add edgy attitude to their sublimely powerful remix, as second track I Know feels almost church-like in comparison: with heavenly Organ cumulating in a succession of hypnotic handclaps and cheeky selection of yet more classic vocal lines… 9
Cesar Coronado’s debut for the relocated Flumo label sees splashing 909 hats play off against nagging vocal snippets and cool fuzzy chords. Meanwhile, the impressive Atapy Remix gets funky with its Bass while playing pounding synthetic drums as it evolves into a creative collection of electronic notes and pads. However, it’s down to Ed Maddams Soul Dub to transform the mood of it all by breaking up the beats and adding excellent Jazzy tones to a particularly stinking sequence of events. Hats off, this is good. The Way I Feel About You replays another classic vocal from the 90’s over a suitably fashionable b-line to compliment it all stylishly. 8
Have to say I made the mistake of underestimating this when I first heard it. But, much to my delight it’s all you could hope for and more from Parisian Joss Moog, whose distinctive selection of influences hits all the right buttons. Slinky bass and infectiously funky percussion effortlessly work their way into your consciousness as Motown inspired voices and moody chords do all the rest. That Old Feeling: simple and yet totally effective. As indeed is, Xtra Bass which again plays a collection of beats and breaks as smooth dancefloor filler. The much perkier, That’s What UR follows by adding Disco flavour and the 70’s party-time inflections of Blue Paradise complete. 8
You will be well familiar with Manuel Tur reading Magazine Sixty so it’s a definite pleasure to be introducing you to his new, and second, album for Freerange. Both label and artist espouse certain qualities when it comes to the music they release and thought-provoking tracks such as new single, High Needs Low are a perfect case in point. From heavy-duty deepness to more spacious atmospheres the curiously titled album (via Salvador Dali) never fails but to thrill you with its exploration of ideas about sound and their possibilities. That may sound a touch pretentious but on songs like, Maybe Next Lifetime featuring BlakKat you can get the general idea. The cinematic collages continue through the uncertain repetition of, Mirrors and on the eerily perfect, Just Love with Elina Monova – whose probing use of vocals lifts the music above and beyond. 8
Various Artists Baker Street 5th Anniversary Baker Street Recordings
Superlative Leeds based label Baker Street celebrates its five years in existence with this collection of choice moments from its past, complimented by a selection of new remixes pointing towards the future. Split over two CD’s, with the initial featuring the new versions, let’s start with the second as it opens with Matthias Vogt’s killer remix Paul Hardy’s Swirl – which just so happens to be a favourite from last year. All the labels stalwarts are present here from Moodymanc to Jay Shepheard and Baker Street’s distinctive twist on American House music plays out fluently flitting between moods and instrumentation. The remix CD then comes care off the likes of Murray Richardson, Martijn and also includes the spectacular Lo Tech Remix of Lie To Me, so you know what quality to expect. 8
Opening with the breezy, Jazz Cafe the album develops its theme with titles like the succinctly funky standout cut, Disco On The Dancefloor and cruises through everything from deeper to techy territory with ease. Although, it’s not always as straight forward as that may sound due to the colourful use of styles which are playfully incorporated into the mix: a hint of Jazz here, a touch of Ska there. But that’s precisely what makes Basement Story quite so enjoyable. The album also includes a couple of bonus remixes and ends on the down-tempo orchestration of, The Black Cat Gismo for the sheer hell of it. 7
Don’t know why I was quite so surprised to hear Sean Miller’s gorgeously jazzy Soleil through the speakers but I can tell you I will be hearing it a whole lot more over the coming months. This thoughtful and frankly inspired production eases you into a gentle Latin groove which contains irresistible amounts of percussion along with beautifully haunting voices. Trust me this plays like a sublime treat. The title track then follows in the footsteps with even hotter rhythms accompanied this time by fevered vocals undoubtedly yearning for the return of sunshine. 9
Two killer productions for Be As One sees the label start 2012 in style. However let’s begin with Veto first by arranging the letters: d e e p a n d n a s t y and then turning up the volume as loud as it will feasibly go. You’ve got to admire the sheer intensity as this perfectly heavy production pulls little in the way of punches with its pounding groove and occasional nod to musicality feeling sexier than Santa ever did. Back to Scene feels that bit funkier – though no less grinding – with excellent shuffling drums, delicious throbbing bass notes and someone saying motherfucker rather a lot – exquisite! 9
The third excellent record this week comes from Estonia’s Merimell Sokk and as we used to say back then: TUNE! Opening with the huge Daft Acid with its set of sizzling drums and incendiary acid attitude this only needs to be heard once and you will be wishing it was 1988 all over again. The Day After Tomorrow is a more subtle though just as electrifying with its edgy yet funky drum programming sounding fresh and impressive with atmospheric pads and dark notes completing the arrangement. The Deepest finishes with the Liquatech remix exploring more of the same possibilities along with a lot of gorgeous sounds too. 8
Volume two sees Phil Weeks once again revisit another selection of Gimini’s recordings for the Cyclo label in the 90’s. Four tracks beginning with the perky though sumptuously deep Spirals take the unmistakable Chicago sound and reply it for 2012. Next up is the supremely funky Return Of The Jack which does just what it says, followed by the insistent Take Your Time featuring timeless commanding vocals and pumping beats. Wanna Push You finishes it all off with an excellent Disco/ Funk cut-up that is as much in style now as it was all the way back then…guess that says something. 8
Neil Kurland & Davidson Ospina ‘Dizzy’ Ospina Digital
I’m guessing the old style vocal sample is referencing Gillespie hence the title (or of course maybe not?) but either way this deliciously heavy duty exercise in bass and beats works a treat. Coming in two versions the voice appears on the Main Mix with punchy organ chords and a relentless arrangement doing the rest. Meanwhile The Strip Mix gets down to the nitty-gritty of the rhythm section to revel in all that’s great about this sizzling House Music production. 8