Review: Those who've studied Tony Allen's distinctive drumming style often cite Art Blakey as an influence, so it's little surprise to find him paying tribute to the legendary jazz drummer on this superb album. Joined by his regular band, Allen covers a quartet of tracks written and recorded by Blakey and his band, the Jazz Messengers. The results are predictably impressive, with Allen's loose and polyrhythmic percussion providing a rock solid foundation for the horns, piano and double bass that sits atop. It's naturally closer to all-out jazz than to Afrobeat, but still bristles with the kind of punchy horns and life-affirming playing that characterizes Allen's work. "Thunder Suite", in which Allen drops a number of sweaty drum solos, is particularly potent.
Review: Emotional Rescue return to the work of Noel Williams as King Sporty. The Miami-based Jamaican made some seminal, stunning music that presaged the increasing importance of synthesisers in disco and dance music overall. This time the label have decided to give a regal airing to a cut previously only available squeezed onto the Deep Reggae Roots LP. "Safari" is a heady brew that keeps a necessary skank in the groove while channeling the nagging funk of The Meters and heading somewhere exotic. At just under four minutes, it's the kind of jam that warrants an extended treatment, and who better to do a respectful job than Lexx, who more than doubles the run time of the track on the B side.
Review: If you're looking for some "militant dubstep bass weight" (as the accompanying hype sheet calls it), then we'd heartily recommend this limited-edition outing from Foundation Audio founder Chad Dubz and occasional label artist Quasar. They hit the ground running with creepy, atmospheric and spaced-out A-side "Fantomatique", where fizzing electronic noises, dubbed-out synth sounds and frankly foreboding audio textures drift around a tweaked wobble style bassline and head-nodding deep dubstep beats. Flipside "Vox Dub" is even more dubbed-out, with mangled, mutilated male vocal samples and echoing background chords weaving in and out of another bassbin-bothering, mind-altering late-night groove.
Review: In 1976, seven Cabo Verdean musicians going by the name Voz Di Sanicolau gathered in a small recording studio in Rotterdam where they laid down an album of fearsome coladeira songs inspired by the music of their home island of Sao Nicolau.
The album took only a few days to record, which may explain the unexpected urgency that fires each track. Treble-soaked electric guitar lines snake back and forth through percussion-and-cavaquinho driven rhythms rooted in the sound of the islands established by the previous generation of Cabo Verdean emigres; subtle keyboards wash through the background, and the vocals, traded between Joana Do Rosario and To-Ze, alternately push the music forward and soar above it. The resulting album is both deeply felt and fiercely executed, and in its grooves one hears the sound of some of the finest Cabo Verdean musicians of their era locked in complete unity of purpose.
It should have been the beginning of something extraordinary; but the pressures of making ends meet forced the musicians back to their day jobs, and Voz Di Sanicolau vanished as quickly as they had appeared, leaving their lone album, Fundo de Mare Palinha, as sole proof of their existence. Forty-four years later the album sounds as fresh as it did the day it was recorded. It is unknown if dutch sound engineer Frans Rolland, who oversaw the recordings, knew he was helping to make history: during these sessions, Joana Do Rosario, whose majestic vocals were crucial to the sound of Voz Di Sanicolau, became the first Cabo Verdean woman ever to appear on a long playing record.
Review: Butch has been turning out essential club sounds for many years. He has a wide range of styles in his arsenal and always manages to come up with original ideas despite being so prolific for so long. "Joe Le Taxi" is a mad acid cut that has off-grid claps, drunken kicks and a female vocal lost in it all. It's the sort of unhinged tune to drop at the peak of the night and watch the reaction from afar. On the flip is an Acid Tool version that is even more wonky and unhinged, with the squirrelling acid line doing even more work.
Review: It was 1975 that KC and The Sunshine Band first put out their huge "I Get Lifted" tune, and its a prime example of the era's funk and disco fusion sound. The playful bass wobbles down low while the elastic vocals do plenty of tricks up top. Add in all manner of subtle percussive sounds and little key riffs and the whole track slowly but surely gets the club in raptures. On the flip side, Nordic disco master Todd Terje serve sup an edit that beefs up the drums and adds some extra effects for good measure.
Review: Back in 2016, legendary Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen approached techno pioneer Jeff Mills with the idea of working together. A series of live gigs and off-the-radar studio sessions followed, with the first fruits of their joint efforts finally appearing on this must-have 10". As you'd expect, the duo's collaborative work combines Allen's traditional Nigerian polyrhythms, traditional Afrobeat instrumentation, and the far-sighted, sci-fi inspired electronic futurism that has always marked out Mills' work. The result is a quartet of cuts that could arguably be described as retro-futurist Afro-tech - all delay-laden beats, basslines and organs subtly sparring with gentle acid lines, Motor City electronics, beguiling deep space textures and shimmering, 31st century motifs. It's arguably Allen's stylistic contributions that dominate, but that's no bad thing.
Review: PSYTH launches with the debut EP from Rob Shields. With a delicate urgency driven by a pulsating post-punk bassline, Shards
lavishes layer upon rich layer of sound, evoking the cool grooves of Peaking Lights and Chromatics, while a shimmering vocal
sample from Rebecca Sawyer adds an otherworldly sense of longing that echoes through the soul of the release. Silhouetted appears
more conventional and dance-floor friendly next to Shards, but under the surface is something unique and strangely exotic. A
mantra-like melody loop gives a nod to minimalist composer Terry Riley and his solo organ works, while world instruments such as
an African kalimba and Tibetan singing bowl only heighten the hypnotic and intoxicating quality even further.
I Have Been Waiting For You (DJ Duckcomb Digimix) (7:19)
Review: Emotional Rescue serve up a balmy curveball cut perfect for the summer months. Glen Ricks "I've Been Waiting For You" was originally released back in 1983 on the highly collectible Seraff label and recently reissued by the label (ERC081). Here, as an accompanying release to that boogie version is a 1990 digital rework for the Xterminator label. With a distinctive swung riddim and smoothly incorporated dubbed out chords, Ricks' vocal channels the most soulful Jamaican deliveries, sealing the deal on this evergreen jam that sounds great in original and version forms. DJ Duckcomb steps up with a tender "Digimix" that retains the dusty crunch of the original with just a little extra bite in the beats.
Review: Belgian producer UC Beatz lands on Masterworks with two impeccable deep house cuts that nod to the sterling reputation he enjoys within the scene. "Mojoy" is a simmering jam with that raw 'in the room' flavour you'd expect from Moodymann, a sweet vocal sample and a rhythm section that teases as much as it moves. When the chords drop, it's sure to sway the crowd without losing the intimacy set up in the track's earlier moments. "Exotic Fruitz" has a similar production style, and that background bar chatter is back again to fill the space with a cosy atmosphere, but here the keys are more forthright and vibing in the direction of sunnier climes.
Review: D3 Elements clocks up release number five here by offering up a full EP to Zhao-Ski, who previously appeared on the VA EP release in 2014. What he serves up are a clutch of instrumental hip hop tracks that speak to the soul.
Zhao-Ski has been a key figure on the Detroit scene for years. A DJ since his teens and owner of the Black Operation Records label since the 90s, he has produced as part of collectives, played live with MCs and has been mentored by the famous Mad Mike Banks. As such his credentials and skills are long established, so he makes a welcome return to the D3 ranks.
'Enter the Void' opens things up with louche, sun kissed beats that immediately brighten up your world. 'Mischief Meadow' has tumbling drums, trilling keys and lots of dusty atmospherics and 'Warning Signs' marries spoken world snippets with jazzy percussive, slowly funky drums and woozy pads that lull you into a wholly relaxed state. On the flip, 'Tight and Upright' is all about the huge over sized drums, snares and cymbal splashes that are all miked up super closely, then 'Time Reimagined' starts with some filmic and evocative vocals and sound design before a trumpet led groove unravels in stoned trip hop fashion. Overall, this is a magically compelling and authentic little ride through the mind of Detroit's hip hop king, Zhao-Ski.
Review: The latest artist to deliver a volume in digital download specialists Masterworks Music's occasional "Master Series" of vinyl EPs is Dirtytwo, a Scandinavian duo best-known for their releases on Local k and Razor 'N' Tape Reserve. A-side "Consensual" is a genuinely deep and immersive affair driven forwards by echoing electric piano stabs, hissing ride cymbals and addictive bass, all topped off by glassy-eyed vocal samples of what sounds like Motown legend Marvin Gaye. Flipside "Get Down & Get With It" is an altogether sweatier and sleazier affair, closer in tone to the pair's various loved-up and peak-time-ready singles on Local Talk. It's rather good, though we still prefer the tactile and huggable A-side.
Review: Moochin' About's Record Store Day 2017 offering is something of a treat for jazz fans: a tasty 10" featuring an unreleased Alice Coltrane improvisation, recorded in Poland in 1987, on one side, and a delightful etching of a lotus flower on the other. Musically, the A-side sees Coltrane in harpist mode, delivering a spontaneous workout the rapidly jumps between strummed chords, plucked notes and frequent bursts of twinkling melody. At some points, it's blissful and becalmed, at others fizzes with the same kind of excitement you'd expect from freestyle jazz. At nearly 12 minutes in length it's something of an epic, but will hold your attention throughout.
Review: For the latest missive on their fast-rising DET313 label, Gary Martin and Yossi Amoyal have dug deep into the archives of Martin's long-running Teknotika Records imprint. First up on the A-side is a re-mastered version of "A City At Night", a Martin cut from 1990 that mixes the futurist intent of Motor City techno with chunkier, UK style techno grooves and the kind of stabs and musical flourishes more associated with Robert Hood or Terrence Parker records. Side B boasts a freshly extended edit of another Martin gem - this time under the Gigi Galaxy alias - from 1994. "The Dream" more than lives up to its title, with Martin wrapping restless bass, starry lead lines, alien electronics and sumptuous chords around a hypnotic deep techno groove.
Review: French edit maestro Chevals has been busy with releases on Whiskey Disco, Kolour LTD, Tropical Disco and Editorial over the past year. That should tell you all you need to know about how seriously rated this guy is in the scene, and it's no different as he lands on Masterworks with this tasteful 10" gem. "It's Just A Feelin" is an infectiously upbeat heater that brings out the best elements of disco and house in perfect synergy. "The Way U Move" is a dreamier affair with more overt funk stylings and a subtly cosmic tint to the keys - one to get starry eyed and sway to.
Review: Barefoot Beats is a series of EPs released on Mareh Music, a record label based in Sao Paulo whose people are also the curators of the Mareh music festival in Boipeba - a remote island in Bahia. For their label's ninth edition, Rio de Janeiro's Joutro Mundo (Midnight Riot/Outra) delivers an edit of a lovely neon-lit boogie down number on "Revele", while on the flip the man from New York City Jkriv (Razor-N-Tape) gets a deep, soulful and life-affirming number into the mix with "Povo De Zambi".