Review: Here's something to seriously set the pulse racing: a limited-edition quintuple "Brazil 45s" boxset curated by the effervescent DJ Format, and featuring ten tracks unearthed on his most recent crate-digging trip to South America. In keeping with his much-loved style, most of the material can be loosely described as "psyche break-beat", all of which was initially recorded and released in the 1960s and '70s. That means a blend of hallucinatory Brazilian funk and soul rich in sweaty, often densely layered drums, booming basslines, trippy vocals, eccentric production, mazy Hammond organ lines and rousing horns. The quality bar is set so high that picking individual highlights is tough; suffice to say, you need all ten tunes in your life (and in your record box).
Takeo Yamashita - "A Touch Of Japanese Tone" (4:21)
Tadaaki Misago & Tokyo Cuban Boys - "Jongara Reggae" (3:38)
Chikara Ueda & The Power Station - "Cloudy" (6:08)
Chumei Watanabe - "Downtown Blues" (3:38)
Kifu Mitsuhashi - "Hanagasa Ondo" (2:51)
Monica Lassen & The Sounds - "Incitation" (5:29)
Norio Maeda, Jiro Inagaki & The All-Stars - "Go Go A Go Go" (3:19)
Akira Ishikawa & Count Buffalo & The Jazz Rock Band - "The Sidewinder" (2:41)
Masahiko Sato, Jiro Inagaki & Big Soul Media - "Sniper's Snooze" (6:42)
Review: Some compilations manage to both educate, inform and educate in equal measure; this fine collection from Japanese crate diggers DJ Yoshizawa Dynamite and Chintam is one such set. Comprising mostly little-known tracks recorded by Japanese artists between 1968 and '70, it offers up a wealth of cuts inspired by American jazz-funk "rare groove". There's much to admire across the ten tracks, from the mazy Rhodes solos, fizzing big band jazz grooves and traditional Eastern instrumentation of Toshiko Yonekawa's "Soran Bushi", and the languidly-slung brilliance of Tadaki Misago and Tokyo Cuban Boys' multi-faceted musical fusion "Jongara Reggae", to the Jimi Hendrix-goes-funk heaviness of "Incitation" by Monica Lassen & The Sounds, and the drums-driven dancefloor madness of Masahiko Sato Jiro Inagaki & Big Soul Media's "Sniper's Snooze". Recommended.
Review: Black Cash & Theo AKA Thelonious Beats are Galaxy Sound Co's most experienced editors, having served up already nine excellent offerings on this label. Their latest careful bit of studio splicing work is again a cosmic and mind expanding jazz funk fusion with righteous grooves and life-affirming riffs. The A-aide is a sweet and seductive sound that comes up from below to sweep you off your feet and carry you away to the stars, then 'The Moving Finger' is a little more rooted on planet earth with its knotted bass riffs, glowing harmonies and rickety lead guitar riff, all finished off with some spiritual sax work.
Review: Blue Note Re:imagined is a carefully curated collection of brand-new covers of classic material from the legendary label as served up by a selection of the UK scene's most exciting young talents including Ezra Collective, Nubya Garcia and Brit Award-winning Jorja Smith. For this latest 7" it's Jordan Rakei, who actually hails from Aus, but let's not get mad about that because the super smooth soul singer reaches new heights on the free flowing, heart opening 'Wind Parade'. Jazz pianist Alfa Mist takes care of the flip with a suitably cosmic exploration on 'Galaxy' that pairs live, busy drums and soaring synths with rich chords.
Review: Not to be confused with the mascara-clad indie rock band of the same name, Placebo was a 1970s Belgian jazz-funk combo founded by legendary European jazzman Marc Moulin. Within the rare groove and jazz-dance community, the group's sophomore set 1973 has long been considered a hard-to-find "must-have". Here Matasuna Records celebrates reaching a quarter-century of releases by offering up a seven-inch featuring two of the album's most celebrated cuts. A-side 'Polk' is a genuine jazz-funk delight: a storming dancefloor workout in which mazy, ever-more-intense electric piano solos ride a relaxed but floor-friendly groove. Flipside 'Balek' is, if anything, even better, with spacey synths, sharp horn lines and fluid electric piano solos sparring over another leisurely groove.
Street Dreams (feat Miguel Atwood Ferguson) (2:12)
One More Time (3:10)
1989 (feat Miguel Atwood Ferguson) (3:25)
Toulouse (feat Miguel Atwood Ferguson) (2:48)
Big Rick (3:29)
Save Me (feat Mach Hommy) (5:57)
Mr Wu (3:37)
Hold On (feat Lauren Faith) (3:12)
Early Prayer (5:02)
Review: Given that keyboardist and producer Kamaal Williams' 2018 debut album "The Return" was such a rip-roaring success critically and commercially, hopes are naturally sky-high for this delayed sequel. Happily, we can confirm that Williams has arguably excelled himself on "Wu Hen", once again blurring the boundaries between jazz-funk, seductive downtempo grooves, hazy space jazz, deep house influenced dancefloor workouts (see "Mr Wu", whose title references his other artistic alias, Henry Wu) and soft-focus soul - all with the assistance of an expanded line-up of guest musicians and vocalists. Perhaps the biggest impact is made by Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, a composer whose string arrangements add an ear-catching new dimension to Williams work. Stunning stuff all told.