Charles Schillings & Robert Owens – Me Time – Haçienda Records (HAC 051)

H is the History, Hacienda, House. It’s a numbers game too. It is also about the addiction to nostalgia. Which is precisely why this production by Charles Schillings provides such a sense of release as the music feels like an escape from the past, sounding beautifully 2022, primed with a title that is also self-defining for a slice of contemporary culture.

Opening yet another chapter Me Time features the instantly unmistakable vocals of Robert Owens who neatly links 1980’s Chicago to now like there was no tomorrow. The music itself invigorates by sequencing fiery drum brakes together with rolling basslines alongside a punctuating edge generated by hotwired synth lines to produce something that is powerfully direct, a sentiment that is likewise contained within the message the words have to say. Original and Mix.

Release: April 6


Armando Mendes – Parallel Universe – Turquoise Records

Beginning at the start with this thought. Some music is more important, more meaningful than others. That is not to be elitist, it’s simply a statement of truth. Listening to Armando Mendes journey into experience conjures up that implication as sounds, moods and musical possibility are all visited upon the listener via a joyous intent. The first thing that strikes you here is the sheer breadth of sight and notation which has been soaked up and then transferred through the stereo of life. Quality and imagination are bywords. For example experience the warm, poignancy noted across the beautifully haunting Things U Do 2 Me, Acid is then consumed by the grainy rhythms of the fierce Acid Yardies, while the soulful tear of Robert Owens is laid bare upon No Regrets – with one of his finest vocals. Never sticking to a single idea the music evolves in many exciting ways such as on the ambient bliss generated by MS20 Interlude, leaving darker impressions to contrast with One Night in Bangkok, or on the sublime electrics of Parallel Universe. It’s all just about discovery. But back to the very beginning as Ithaka ignites the thought-provoking This Life’s All We Got in low-slung, funky ways by breathing the anticipation of life into all the happens next.

Release: February 7

Berkson & What – Keep On feat. Robert Owens (Tim Engelhardt Remixes) – Poker Flat Recordings

Does twenty years feel like a long time to you? Perhaps not if you’ve reached a certain vintage, but in the end it’s all about the music and how it survives exposure to the ticking clock. Celebrating that timespan then is a series of remixes with this from Tim Engelhardt beginning the sequence in two parts. Saluting, Keep On and featuring the unmistakable time honoured voice of one Robert Owens, Remix A highlights all of the vocal goodness on offer, alongside its timely message, over a bed of electronically charged rhythms feeling that bit loser with an addictive, shuffling funkiness very much in evidence. Remix B injects a little extra energy rearranging the song over brisker drums and freshly squeezed sounds. Although, either way this is a classic moment to add the labels already robust canon.

Release: August 16

Catz ‘N Dogz – The Feelings Factory – DIRTYBIRD

Comprised of two tracks this new release from DIRTYBIRD has the undoubted pleasure of Robert Owens voice featuring on the opening Fine Feeling. Which feels reassuringly familiar as grainy Organ hits loop into distraction, offset by big splashing hi-hats and dirty bass. It’s an interesting combination of soulful elements plus the low-down and as such works in irresistible fashion. The intentionally pounding Factory Settings in conjunction with Joseph Ashworth follows with nagging synth lines poking at solidly funky, syncopated drums and bass accompanied by a whirwind of deliciously dangerously fizzy stabs and noises. Again undeniably wonderful.

Release: June 8




KCTDL627_2000x2000_300dpiTony Lionni
Just a Little More

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.

Release: November 25

Howie B
Frankies City ft. Joe Hirst
HB Recordings

629.5It did take a second listen but glad I did as Howie B and Joe Hirst’s magical blend of sci-fi weirdness alongside the  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.

Release: November 25

Make A Wish EP
Act Natural Records

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.

Tape Edit 006

checkHow 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.

Release: December 2

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.