It doesn’t come much funkier, or for that matter better, then their 1974 debut single, Do It (â€˜Til You’re Satisfied). If the smoky vocals and Rap don’t infect your groovy intent then the sure-fire instrumentation sparked by the guitar, organ, horns and drums must surely will. But then of course it was produced by none other than Tom Moulton. And talking of smokin’ so was Peace Pipe too. However, this excellent compilation comprises of a varied selection curated from the group’s seven studio albums and highlights the bands rugged dancefloor determination such as the self-titled Express but also shares their more soulful side via the playful melodies of proto-Disco gem: That’s What I Want For You baby (from 1974’s debut album). It’s all spread over two glorious discs of sound and take it from me that this will put a determined spring in your step any time of year, day or night.
Been looking forward to hearing this LP from Mr Lionni for some time now, but while it’s no easy feat to pull off an albums worth of self-penned, captivating Dance music it’s achieved admirably here. The title track sets the tone with sassy, shuffling beats combining with funky synth lines fusing the past to the present perfectly. The notable instrumentation continues on Black Orchid as sultry strings are accompanied pulsating bass, although the long player is by no means devoid of the human voice. Robert Owens makes his presence felt on Time Stands Still, with the first single lifted from album featuring Rachel Fraser, Take Me With You doing likewise. There are some lovely instrumental sequences along the way too with Lost Souls pitching an emotive set of chords across a hypnotic array of beats and bass. The deep feel of this album will no doubt appeal to most out there, but having said that this never seems ponderous or underplayed – it’s always bang on target.
It did take a second listen but glad I did as Howie B and Joe Hirst’s magical blend of sci-fi weirdness alongside theÂ brutal bass and pulsating tribal drumming is all quite startling. Frankies City, is all that and more while packing more atmosphere into its unnerving 4.37 than most. Authentication, is a lighter proposition/ listen but none the less a stunning one which hints at minimalism while feeling positive, and dare I say even uplifting in the process with rousing, emotional strings plus zero beats. It’s a collaboration with the visual artist from Italy, Fabio Paleari and was made for an exhibit in Turin. The art in noise.
If it’s dark, brooding intensity you’re after that you’ll find your dreams coming true with this release. Not to put too fine a point on it but the opening About Mary is a deliciously sinister, even compelling listen. Striking drum effects offset the moody, whirling drone with Borg like voices that collectively make imperfect sense. The more hopeful sounding Jazz is next with a stripped back set of punchy drums giving the only possible clue for its namesake. Make A Wish then injects more energy into the bass along with brighter keys, leaving Then It Happened to supply some vocal relief albeit via more dark tales. A captivating set of productions that may well astound you.
How could you not love this combination of fiery Latin, percussion accompanied by soaring Flute and Disco sensibilities on the JC Edit of Dream Alive? But then how could you not love the remainder either: Ups and Downs is sure-fire funky, Pass The Music On exquisitely soulful, with the proceeding second Dr Edit (edit) feeling frisky on the sizzling up-tempo vocoder led Never Let Go. Good time Disco-funk for all the family from this Dublin based label.
The Salsoul Orchestra
Magic Journey (Expanded Edition)
Salsoul Records/ BBR
Any album containing Run Away is a priceless gem as this beautifully sung and orchestrated production cutely testifies. Loleatta Holloway provides the timeless vocals and the track appears in both its album version plus the extended Danny Krivit Re-Edit. Besides that the albums succession of skillful players breathe life into everything from sassy Latin vibes through to gutsy rock n roll with main man Vincent Montanan Jr. very much at the controls. The excellent Getaway provides another instrumental excursion while the opening It’s A New Day supply’s more party-time Disco moments. This edition also features Walter Gibbons reworking of Magic Bird Of Fire which runs into eight minutes of Congo fuelled bliss, and is always worth your time.
The Light Fantastic
Rush Hour Recordings
Tom Trago’s third album simmers with electronic tension dancing between light and dark moments during the course of its duration. Summing up the excitement are plenty of great tracks such as the For The Children which combines frisky beats, buzzy stabs and vocals to stunning effect, plus the aptly named Jack Me with sleazy Chicago styled rhythms accompanied by suitably daring vocals. The Acid inspiration then continues on Cosmic Blacksmith but as the album doesn’t sit still for too long the style soon changes again with the excellent Two Together pumped full of blistering Disco energy. The Wrong Right, is another notable production with its shuffling percussion and haunted piano motif preceding, I Still Desire which ends on yet another angle with its dark thread of brooding bass and tastefully moody vocals.
There’s something about the succession of descending notes on Sweet Dazing that just makes you want to turn the volume up. And when you do the brittle combination of punctuating beats and raw-edged stabs sounds all the sweeter. This is an excellent House Music production from Japan which isn’t really bettered by the remainder of the EP, but, when it’s this good. Purple comes close in intensity, while Smoky City has an almost jazzy feel to the rolling piano, and Limitation is anything but with funky chord progressions feeling bright and breezy.
release: Traxsource promo September 2. General September 23
Modular Recordings new imprint proceeds with Naysayer and Gilsum’s follow up to last years In Mind. And is another trip through moody atmospherics that are hard not to be enthralled in. Deep, pulsating keys offset the awkward drums creating a sense of unease which the sampled words then make perfect sense off. The John Robers remix adds funky, wonky beats to a his version proving a shade lighter, while second track Blue sees more typically House bass play over uncomplicated rhythms and punctuating synths. The Eliphino Remix gives it more attitude with tougher instrumentation, but its the title track which leaves the indelible impression after all…
release: September 9
Former in 1975 the Bahamas based band went on to score two huge dancefloor numbers beginning in 77 with Do What You Want To Do, a track which very much has stood the test of time (listen below). The second being At Midnight with its Latin infused percussion and soaring chorus which you will find here via its superlative 12â€ version. Saturday Night, is also worth your attention while rest of the album sways between good-time funk and disco with the emphasis most definitely on the funk. But for all you need to know about the band and this 1979 self titled album check Steven E. Flemming Jr’s significant sleeve notes.
Art Of Tones
Elephants & Flies
Lazy Days Recordings
Ludovic Llorca aka Art Of Tones first release on the label comprises three originals plus one dub version. And it’s all too easy for me to say that title track Elephants is a simply outstanding slice of music that cuts the atmosphere it generates with a knife. I’d be intrigued to know what the Elephant reference is, but in the meantime this captivating exploration of tones sees punchy keys and swirling notes feel cinematic and thoughtful against a backdrop of shuffling rhythms and stinking sounds. The Dub tweaks the elements providing something altogether more dancefloor orientated, although doesn’t capture quite the same emotions. Next Myself, My Body has bluesy voices over tougher beats, bass and accompanying strings, while The Right Movement’s intense, jazzy inflections provide yet another reason to pay attention.
Another Darius Syrossian production, time for another killer bassline. I’ll Do Anything does anything but disappoint with its funky Detroit flavoured bass offset by soulful vocals and abrasive yet seductive drums. Straightforward and straight to the point, how could you not like this? The remix is from label heads Leftwing & Kody and they give it a fresh sheen with snare rolls and infectious House riffs complimenting the original perfectly. Second track I’m Not Weird, You’re Just Normal says all that needs to be said as jazzy keys get lost in another slammin’ succession of big time beats completing a great debut for this brand new label.
Don’t know why, but I wasn’t expecting Bonar Bradberry’s vocal to be quite so appealing in such an infectious way, but it is. The title tracks deep, shuffling rhythms underpin it all as the voice intones with a uniquely English quality which provides such a refreshing change here, that of course and that the music’s so hot too. Mario Basanov provides the remix with trademark eighties influences sounding tastefully funky as always, and indeed gives the vocal that extra something. Rollerball doesn’t have the same charm but is none the less is an atmospheric journey through the landscape of European electronics.
Overground/ Underground? Never mind all that. I’d much rather this deeper, funky number in the charts then most of the rest of it. Lifted from their album and with remixes forthcoming their latest single sees Howard Lawrence on vocals sounding rather fine. Judge it all for yourself….
release: August 18
Hold Your Horses – Expanded Edition
You know that expression: beg, borrow or steal? Well, this is exactly what they were referring to. Time to get very excited!! The history bit reads a little something like this: After scoring major dance classics such as Let No Man Put Asunder in 1977 the group went on to record their second album also in part produced by Norman Harris, but now with the additional magic of Tom Moulton and Thor Baldursson was released in 1979. Not only does it include Let Me Down Easy but also the seminal Love Thang with that â€˜gets you every time’ vocal delivery from the trio, and Double Cross which both appear here via various remixes including Larry Levan, Tee Scott and Bobby DJ Guttadaro. Once again there a superlative sleeve notes care off Christian John Wikane whose invaluable reading of history is essential.
This latest and most excellent set of tracks from Joel Alter are my favourites from the producer to date. No Way captures a melancholy yet uplifting mood which not only pulls on the heartstrings but also hits you hard with a heavy-duty bottom end that is all but nasty. Opposites attract. The Drum again attacks the senses with rough bass, atmospheric voices and an almost jazzy attitude. Ed Davenport then tackles No Way by turning it upside down with harder stabs and fiery snares talking centre stage. Jitterbug finishes with a swing in the tail and striking chords again playing your emotions without words.
It’s almost as if you just need to hear the bassline on its own and you would be satisfied, although when the kick and claps hit it all makes perfect sense. Love the way this is so effortlessly funky, uncomplicated yet imaginatively musical as the chords evolve and the Acid gets slightly twisted. The original version of One Four Green was released on Andy Blake’s World Unknown imprint in 2011 but makes a very welcome return today proving that the past can also sound very much like the future. Remixes come from Deep Space Orchestra giving it more Techno feel, to Perseus Traxx who playfully rework the original elements, leaving Jonny Aux to break it all down to the bare essentials. Essential.
Stefan Braatz Pres. Crack Jack
Unreleased Traxx EP
SoulDeep Inc. Records
Stefan Braatz’s EP for SoulDeep comprises of four equally impressive tracks that will reignite that classic sound of Chicago to you all over again. Yes it’s a homage but one that feels fresh with two tracks: Jacks Nation and especially Acid Music each offering their own blistering take on the Acid sound of the late eighties. Chicago Skyline meanwhile delves into a deeper landscape with moody keys and tastefully spoken words telling a story as does the next production T.R.A.X.X which also probes similar territory.
Having inevitably reached the colour Black the series now enters its tenth year with the same impact with which they began. The music is still first-rate, soulful yet provocative and as you play through the numbers you’ve got to say there is no sign of filler here. Opening with the Nebraska remix of Salvatore Freda’s Luv Can’t Hurt you get the sense of history compacted by a contemporary flair that defines the label so easily. And, as you ease into the proceeding Set Me Free by Willie Graff & Tuccillo you know you’re in good company. Moving between deeper moments, Tech and Disco and most points in between the selection features the labels releases over the past year, along with some new exclusives that notably finish with Mark Hand’s sublime bass-warming Don’t Take It All Away. A second CD then sees everything blended neatly together for your extended listening pleasure.
The third album for review this week is by far the most diverse. And number 3 in the Parisien series continues its dedication to exposing fresh French talent. Put it this way if you know of a nightclub that plays such an exciting and wildly imaginative set of music then please let us know? From Toys low-slung and emotive â€˜Noise’ straight through to the cosmopolitan Disco of Cinema and Le Crayon, and on to the chiming guitars of You, the compilation breathes fresh life into jaded eyes. Just to highlight the variation FAUVE â€˜Kane’ pushes the envelope still further with haunting sentiments and retro guitars feeling cinematic and tastefully mysterious, while the finale from Saint Michel â€˜Don’t Bother’ does likewise except with synthesizers accompanied by a more melancholy twist. Next please.
bbr/ Philadelphia International Records
The really don’t make them like this anymore which is why it’s such a joy to listen to Big Break Records Expanded Anniversary Edition all over again. Forty years after its original release and the power of the music and sheer exaltation of the vocals still remain very much intact. There probably couldn’t be a more apt opener that the energetic â€˜Put Your Hands Together’ but that’s not to forget the album’s title is about Slavery – the title track being particularly poignant and you only need to look closely at the cover art too. That said you’d be a fool to ignore powerhouse grooves such as the timely message of For The Love Of Money or the original version of Now That We Found Love that sees the ballad sound very different to the later Third World version. Now digitally remastered you can soak up all those soulful strings and horns in their full glory via the original sublime Gamble & Huff production, and hear where dance music was pointing to next. For the full picture and story sleeve notes by PopMatters Christian John Wikane are invaluable.
Mic Newman & Garry Todd
The Shelter EP
Inspired by the legendary New York club the ep’s title track will transport you right back to the early nineties days of heady organ riffs and swinging drums rhythms. If you fancy the sound of that then The Shelter pushes all those buttons with chopped-up vocals and high pitched strings holding the tension, along with Acid twists and abrasive beats. Sex, Drugs & Sausage Rolls, meanwhile dispenses with the past with a more in tune reading of the present exploring hot, tribal rhythms and fizzy electronics to perfection, with an impressive deeper remix coming from Tom Craven & James Cotterill. Next, Swing Down featuring Garry Todd solo reinvigorates the tempo with an impassioned Soul vocal blazing across more shuffling hi-hats and brash snares. Burnski provides a killer remix with funkier bass and building loops driving headlong into oblivion Ã la DJ Pierre. The Penny Farthing Dairies is the final track from the pair this time utilising Acid notes and spaced-aged electronics to complete what is a first rate EP.
The mere fact of a collaboration between Cabaret Voltaire’s Stephen Mallinder and Fila Brazillia’s Steve Cobby should speak volumes in itself. The music certainly does, especially when played Loud.Â And it should also come as little surprise that the two names involved infuse their music with a hugely diverse set of influences, from industrial noise to Dub, to Afro-funk and Jazzy beyond. After all, Cabaret Voltaire where one of the UK’s chief instigators of electronic music from the late seventies, while Filla Brazillia carried the flag on into the 90’s andÂ the 00’s. The album opens with the abrasive dancefloor orientated Rob A Bank Rob but also quickly plays with tempo, mood and warmth on proceeding tracks such as Scissormouth. In fact the albums diversity is its strength, plus of course the ingenious use of sound and production that clearly set Can You Hear Me Mutha?…apart.
David Shaw and The Beat
So It Goes
Her Majestys Ship
David Shaw’s â€˜So It Goes’ blends together varying moments and joy and pain through the medium of his own infectious brand of electro-pop/ funk. Which, is by no means a negative term as the music balancesÂ upon a delicate edge, laced with dramatic tension and underlying moodiness. It’s as much about the vocals icy cool as it is about the hooky synthesiser riffs, which on the excellent No More White Horses and the acoustic strumming Single Serving Friend are irresistible. Released on his own imprint the album also boasts a cover The TheÂ Â ‘Infected’ and ends on a ten minute exploration of the title that clashes ideas together from Giorgio Moroder to Depeche Mode, and is worth every second.
release: October 29
One of the most captivating productions this week comes from Bluford Duck, who follows up â€˜Wait’ (released on Noir Music) with this hypnotic journey into repetition. Built around a juicy bassline, fleeting vocals and crisp drums this has a certain melancholy quality which is hard to pin down, but which defies the logic by sounding heavenly. Patrick Podage & Nikola Kotevski’s remix replays the elements adding extra punch, leaving Jesus Pablo’s tinkling piano and his remix with Adam Brass to give the track yet another texture via the choice of classic chords.
You could say that they don’t make them like this anymore. You would right too. But, if they did then surely it would merely be nostalgic, indulging in retrospection and so on and onâ€¦
The point is of course that it was made in the first place and without music like this the world would be all the duller for it. Delusions, was released in 1977 and the sheer strength of the vocals and music has stood the test of durability from the then to now. It’s worth saying that these timely re-releases from bbr should be essential editions to add to your CD collection, either to inform you, or to relish. It’s all in the way that the vocals weave their sensual spell across the often sublime playing, often reaching exhilaration on moments such as Dr. Love and Let No Man Put Asunder – both replayed and sampled over the course of the nineties, and will no doubt provide yet more inspiration for this new generation. Also of note is their cover of Stevie Wonder’s Love Having You Around, plus that the various 12â€ remixes from the likes of Tom Moulton and Frankie Knuckles are included too to give you perspective. Produced by Baker-Harris-Young this couldn’t sound any better, or indeed any more vibrant. The sleeve notes will tell you the full story behind the headline, but for now try the links below and surprise yourself…
The Salsoul Orchestra
The Salsoul Orchestra
Listening to The Salsoul Orchestra it becomes easy to understand why some people choose to live in the past, despite 1975 seeming like such a very long time ago. Never-the-less their blend of fiery Latin inspired Disco will always stand out because of the punch it packs, and with those dreamy minor chords playing so perfectly together your imagination is left free to run riot. Can’t say there is a filler on here and if the horn blasts, string lines and Vincent Montana Jr’s sublime vibes sometimes feel noticeably familiar then that’s because some of the players have also played on various other classics, both on Salsoul and beyond. However, I guess for me three tracks are particularly indispensible: Chicago Bus Stop (Ohh, I Love It), Tale Of Three Cities, and You’re Just The Right Size. All sassy, each suggestive in their own right – the latter’s title couldn’t be more direct! And, as with all in this series of reissues from bbr the accompanying sleeve notes are essential reading. Go try it on for yourself.
Rob Pearson & Jay Dynan
The Babestation EP
It’s tempting to speculate about the meaning of the EP’s title, but…l’ll pass on that for now. The confidence of this production is obvious as the bassline and drums entice you straight from the off. In fact, it’s one of those combinations that could simply run on a loop and you would repeatedly love it. Babestation, employs unnerving sounds and fx, and feels consistently imaginative with that said killer combination running the duration alongside minimal appearances from Trumpet and deadpan voices. Naughty Von Shuffler continues the theme with its dark blend of Tech sensibilities and crisp values, while third track Neigh Your Neighbour feels friskier with perky percussion and expanding sounds. Label boss Jamie Anderson rounds things off with a deeper interpretation which, as always, hits the spot.
Berlin producers Werner Niedermeier and Sefty Sersseludis are the names behind Soul Camp Recordings and now bring their captivating sound to Something Different. The label’s been busy of late and for me this is one of their strongest releases to date with I Wonder If You Know combining atmospheric electronics together with sharp European synth lines and beguiling, tripped out voices. There’s something almost early 90’s Murk about this, so can’t think of any better compliment than that for this invigorating piece of music. Sean Danke provides a great remix by adding extra energy to the drums while retaining the sense of mystery. Leaving, Baby Don’t Go to again creatively fuse the dots together, while still feeling emotive, and surprisingly, even more powerful via the inclusion of some fevered stabs.
Something about this production lends itself to a dark room and a Function One sound system. Opening track, Gritty Tails is one of the most involving recordings I’ve heard in a while when it comes down to tension building blocks. Someone is clearly very talented. I for one can’t get enough of the explosive sounds which pepper the arrangement, and the devastatingly simple array of drums that couldn’t feel huger if they tried. In fact, I’m going to play it again – LOUDER. The two remaining tracks are no less impressive with Nocturnal coming a close second…
One of the reasons Dance have been so very exciting over the past number of years is down to the sheer breadth of music which reside within the House Music bracket. Not that that hasn’t always been the case of course, there’s just something particularly exhilarating about the clash of ideas being generated between the USA and Europe -Â just as much as the revived sounds of the early 90’s continue to reinvigorate the genre too. What that in mind Scarlett Nina’s amazing sounds and devilish moods fit the bill perfectly. The End, sends shivers along with staccato guitar notes and sinister, tripped-out voices inducing a powerful reaction to this notably original production. As you might expect Tone Of Arc the remix is stunning with pulsating organ and vocal treatments building the tension with typical aplomb, while the Special Case version twists the bass into something altogether more sinister on their equally impressive take. Who Am I To Disagree, explores the same atmospheres with electronic funk and the remix comes from David K Marabunta Remix whose haunting techno also fits the bill.
Waze & Odyssey
Dance, Yeah, How?
This Is Music Ltd
And so the story continues with this killer production from Waze & Odyssey whose deft blend of classic House influences are creatively put to the test. This moves beyond a simple revival of sounds by developing its theme with expansive pads and clever vocal twists that complete the moody yet uplifting arrangement. Love the thumping Kick drum and chiming, deep bass which underpins the rich mood generated by the remaining sounds. Try for yourself.
Release: exclusive to Beatport Sept 24. October 8 on general release
Gently side-stepping Dance music for the duration of this limited 7â€ vinyl and digital EP we revisit Maigret Jnr once again purely because this is so f**king good. For lovers of slightly melancholy, though conversely, uplifting music will greatly benefit from what’s on offer. You may already know the anthemic beauty of Always Again, which starts with the prophetic line â€˜Silence is Golden’ but if not its swirling strings and heart beating drums are a joy to behold.Â New track, Breathe feels every bit as good covering the same territory emotionally, with poignant piano and rich baritone vocals sounding just as impressive. While the title track, Sick Friends dares to lift the sound with a heavier beat and bassline, although while this doesn’t have quite the same impact it still works neatly.
Love Is The Message
Philadelphia International Records/ bbr
If this album only contained two tracks it would still be worth its weight in gold. For within just under eleven minutes of music this 1973 release went a long way to define what became known as the Disco sound. The first track Love Is The Message is simply a seminal classic featuring Early Young’s masterful drumming, who alongside the striking keyboards, emotive Strings, strident Bass and blazing Saxophone cumulates into a sequence of one of my (and many others) favourite all time dance grooves. It all sounds so effortless, yet so completely stunning. The second track TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia) featured for a time as Soul Train’s theme and also provided a hit single for the label. Again the instrumentation is flawless, supremely funky and must have felt oh so good way back then, as it also does right now. Plus of course, it featured the sassy vocals of The Three Degrees. Both tracks appear in their original, and more importantly, their extended form with Tom Moulton’s epic reworking of â€˜Love Is…’Â adding vocals from The Three Degrees while highlighting the keyboard and rhythm section with devastating flair – a genius at work. While TSOP again expands the rhythm section into something seminal and heavenly. It really doesn’t get much better.
TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia) Original 12″ Version with Soul Train dancers…
Earl Young drums…
Salsoul Records/ bbr
Next to Philadelphia International Records, Salsoul was the other 70’s American dance label which had the greatest impact and influence both then and today.Â Their debut album featured the powerhouse vocals of James Williams, Joseph Harris, Charles Whittington, and Leonard â€˜Butch’ Davis whose range spanned the very depths of Soul to the dizzying heights of explosive Disco. Produced by one time Philly producer (the legendary) Norman Harris the album features three timeless cuts that defy history: Ten Percent, Everyman, and My Love Is Free. All of which pack more emotional punch then most music can muster today in terms of emotion vocally, alongside poignant funkiness. Although,Â that’s not so surprising as the players included Early Young, Vince Montana Jr. and Bunny Sigler amongst many significant others. The package also contains the first commercially available 12â€ single (1976): the superlative Walter Gibbons version of the title track which sounds every bit as powerful as production does today, along with Tom Moulton’s gorgeous mix of My Love Is Free, and Joe Claussell’s remix of Everyman. Despite the fact that these tracks overshadow the remainder of the songs that shouldn’t deter you from soaking up the rest, as they all display those wonderful voices and sumptuous grooves in their full glory. A truly classic album.
The original Walter Gibbons 12â€ Mix of â€˜Ten Percent’
Double Exposure â€˜Everyman’
Salsoul Records/ bbr
And last but certainly not least this week is this gem from Instant Funk which also appeared on the Salsoul label. Released in 1979 their second album again contains a classic which defined the band: Got My Mind Made Up (You Can Get It Girl). Appearing both as the album version and with the full Larry Levan remix, which clocks in just shy of ten minutes, this proves to be peerless funk. Everything about this production is just right from the fanfare of Horns which intro, straight through to the sassy percussion, and devastating bass and guitar combination upon which the soaring vocals aim skyward. Again, the remainder of the album has plenty of other gems such as Crying and the hard-core Don’t You Want To Party, while they explore notable Jazz-fusion on Wide World Of Sports. The band also played on the likes of â€˜Shame’, Archie Bell & The Drells â€˜Let’s Groove’ and South Shore Commission â€˜Free Man’ so the familiarity of their playing just goes to prove how good they where/ are. A classic production from Bunny Sigler and engineered by Bob Last.
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 itâ€¦.
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.Â 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 â€˜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.
Â 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 â€˜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.
Deniz Kurtel’s second album defies time and space with a collection smouldering electronics that fuse technologyÂ together with provocative vocals and emotive synthesisers. The Way We Live goes a long way in proving just how excellent music is at the moment, from the opening I Knew This Would Happen, which is one of the most atmospheric pieces of music so far this year, through to the exquisitely rapped Right On featuring Michael Franti. While this is more about horizontal listening there is an occasional nod towards he dancefloor such as on the Soul Clap collaboration, Safe Word – the album being enriched throughout withÂ an amalgamation of impressive guest artists. By and large the album feels like sharing someone else’s introspection – which is what I think art is supposed to be about after all, isn’t it?
Various Moon Harbour InHouse Vol. 4 Mixed by Dan Drastic
Matthias Tanzmann’s Leipzig based label again delivers another selection of captivating productions, which in this case have been provocatively mixed together by Dan Drastic and whose own percussion fuelled Freaks and Geeks makes its timely appearance too. Despite being three years since the last one standards haven’t slipped either, with the likes of Guido Scheinder’s excellent Luna sitting alongside music from Marinez and of course Tanzmann himself. Watch out for Reboot’s devastating Bucaboca if you like your bass twisted and Luna City Express, Ultimo if you’re more into seductive atmosphere!
The mystery unfolds as Cocoon’s yearly compilation now explores the lovely letter L. Standing for the love of… the music here builds from Tale Of Us & Visionquest’sÂ ambient foundations of Equilibrio and then twists and turns through a first rate selection of electronic music. The sounds get progressively heavier, though all contain that funky intensity associated with Sven Vath’s label, and while it would be easier to simply say that all the tracks are good/great it has to be said that there are some particular standouts: Tim Green’s shuffling Curious Green, Sian’s buzzing East Of Eden and Daniel Stefanik’s expansive Everything Goes Green which also goes to finish off this highly recommended compilation.
Five tracks go to make up this debut release for the label and there’s something almost restrained, yet deeply intense, about the way the opening production Runner plays out. Its imaginative use of vocal snippets and old school – sounding very new school – stabs work with the shuffling rhythms to become purely addictive. Some of the same principles apply to Things with its warmer, funkier bassline and this again hits the spot. Amore then explores more in the way of spacious tones, while the more apt Attitude goes tougher with yet more vocal cut-ups and moody keys, leavingÂ the equally impressive Standing to end on a -Â not feeling too blue in the process -Jazz note.
Sassafras comprises of label bosses’ Mirus (Norway)Â Paul Loraine (U.K) and Dominic Plaza (Sweden) who along with seriously hot sounding vocalist Nikol Kollars (Hawaii) have combined to deliver one of the more curious highlights this week. Deep, stripped back grooves set the scene whileÂ haunting spoken vocals sizzle suggestivelyÂ on top, accompanied by the occasional burst of organ and spaced out fx. The Hatikvah remix then treats the voice and adds in even moodier sounds, while Paul Loraine flavours it heavily with percussion,Â and Vlad Malinovskiy’s remixÂ pumps it up still further for the dancefloor. Though for me the original is best.
Matt Tolfrey and Lazaro Casanova feat. Nikko Gibler LAX EP Culprit
Three heads are clearly better than one as this new ep goes to prove from Culprit. LAX begins with deep beats and ends up with a punchy tech bassline competing for your attention along with striking tribal snares, edgy keys and voices which all feel tastefully irresistible. Globe, then provides another thoughtful collection of ideas which this time play intriguing keyboards over quick fire eighties percussion, leaving Metronomy to get deeper with gorgeous lush bass and mood enhancing synths to round off.
Nigel Hayes Northern Lights Part 2 EP Intelligent Audio
The multi- talented Nigel Hayes shows what all the fuss is about with this new selection of carefully crafted grooves that lean heavily on the Jazz/ Funk side of life – good. Whether it’s the squelchy funk of the opening Santos or indeed the â€˜Expansion’s’ flavoured Jazz Funk this unquestionably plays like a touch of class. Moody Cha Cha’s excellently titled number finishes off with jazzed-up percussion and sassy vocals combined neatly with expressive horns, though not before the Northern Lights has the chance to shine in your direction with gorgeous piano, double bass and cool muted trumpet.
Next in bbr’s superlative series of reissues sees the legendary Odyssey’s 1980 album get a fresh make over, and as is the custom with the label it’s accompanied by invaluable sleeve notes. No matter what you may, or may not, think of Use It Up And wear It Out (which is also on here) the group wrote many bone fide classics such as Going Back To My Roots and Native New Yorker in their time. But back to Hang Together and its opening title track displays the musical and vocal process which made them famous and this you can also witness on supremely funky Don’t Tell Me Tell Her. But as was the want at that time some bands filled out their albums with ballads and even flirted with other styles of music, although not always successfully. Never the less this is excellently produced by Sandy Linzer at NYC’s Hit Factory…