Review: If you're a talented soul vocalist who wants an authentically fuzzy late 1960s sound, you could do worse than join forces with Timmion Records' in-house backing band, Cold Diamond & Mink. They're in fine form here providing admirable backing to rising star Carlton Jumel Smith. "Love Our Love Affair" is undeniably attractive, with Smith's confident and emotion-rich vocal rising above the band's hazy horns, languid trumpet solos, sun-bright guitar licks and lolloping, hip-hop style funk-soul beats. As is customary, the band's tidy instrumental version can be found - and enjoyed - on the flip.
Review: Stefano Tirone has been a stalwart of the Italian scene since making his debut on legendary Italian house label Calypso Records way back in 1992. Since then, his productions have become increasingly more jazz and soul focused, with a sizeable side order of groovy downtempo beats. His latest seven-inch single begins with "Try My Love", a hazy chunk of head-nodding jazz-funk/soul fusion rich in languid synthesizer solos, lazy grooves, hazy horns and soulful vocals. It's really good all told, though we'd argue that flipside "Odoya" - a wiggling chunk of Afro-tinged mid-tempo funk - is even better. Either way, it's another rock solid release from the effervescent Tirone.
This Is What You Are (feat The High Five Quintet - radio edit) (4:21)
This Is What You Are (The Brazilian Rime) (4:53)
Review: "This Is What You Are" is undoubtedly Mario Biondi's most celebrated work. He first sung it for original composers Was A Bee in 2004, before re-recording it for his debut album (alongside the High Five Quintet) in 2006. Since then it has been reissued or remixed on numerous occasions. Here it gets reissued on a tidy 7" single, with a punchy radio edit - a swinging, Sunday afternoon style chunk of Latin soul-jazz rich in jaunty grooves, soaring orchestration and smooth vocals - being joined by the "Brazilian Rime" rework. This tasty re-recording re-casts the song as a breezy, samba-fired slab of early 1970s style Brazilian MPB. It's an inspired interpretation and could well become the definitive version of the track.
Review: There will always be a place for politically charged records, but lines like "The government man bring the working man down to his knees/It's time to take a stand against the government man" seem particularly relevant right now. It's the lead cry on the a-side of this new 7" from eight-piece band Christel & The Goldmaster AllStars who have a bold two piece horn section driving along this fusion of ska, reggae and rock which was first recorded in 1998 and has recently been unearthed. The flipside version has sci-fi studio effects and warped synths layered in for extra trippiness.
Cult Hero (Do You Wanna Touch Me) (album edit) (6:45)
Cult Hero (Do You Wanna Touch Me) (club mix) (5:47)
Cult Hero (Do You Wanna Touch Me) (Slow) (7:29)
Review: House and techno badboys Paranoid London are proceeding the release of their second album with a bunch of singles from it. First up is "Cult Hero" featuring Simon Topping - one of many guest vocalists on the full length. It's a bristling acid house cut with tight, corrugated drums and relentless 303 mania ripping up the groove. Topping's deadpan vocals are layered over the top and bring to mind the more anthemic work of Depeche Mode. "Club Mix" is even more caustic and kinetic, while closer "Slow Mix" strips back everything but for the lunching drums and demonic vocals of Topping.
Review: Balearic disco maestro Max Essa has named his latest EP in honour of "Barkhan Dunes" - those wind created, crescent shaped sand dunes often found in deserts. Quite how this fits with the music on offer isn't explained, though the Balearic-minded music offered up is excellent. Check first "The Price You Pay (For Loving That Way)", an arpeggio-driven slab of sun-kissed nu-disco/Balearic house fusion rich in life-affirming Rhodes chords, twinkling synth lines and delay-laden saxophone solos. "Kites At Nemoto Beach" is a gently unfurling ambient soundscape full of drowsy vocal harmonies, while closing cut "Sundowning" sees Essa wrap glistening guitars and thickset synth bass around a bubbly mid-tempo drum machine rhythm.
Review: Resurgent Welsh techno wizard DJ Guy launches his own label with a fresh batch of deep diving jams that put the soul back in the machine. From the twinkling, starry-eyed delights of "Music Is Life" to the horizontal meditation of "Interplanetary," this is immaculately executed electronica in the fine tradition of UK trailblazers like B12 that sounds as fresh as it did in the 90s. "Warmth In Rhythm" sports a nagging house groove to suck you in with ease, while "Propulsion State" fires off a dazzling arpeggio that heads skywards with a twitchy electro backbone for company. Top shelf tackle from a seriously talented cat.
Review: Long running dub dons Nice Up! unveil a brand new talent on their latest: that man is Escape Roots, a Glaswegian producer and Mungo's HiFi's Walk n Skank resident who calls upon vocalist Dandelion to muse on the many different joys of ganga. Riding on classic dancehall rhythms with hooky guitar riffs and tumbling claps, Dandelion touches on toothpaste, butter, soap and the titular Ganga Socks. It's tongue in cheek, head in the clouds stuff that will have you skanking for days. For those who like it more stripped back, flipside "Version" is where it's at.
Review: Metalheadz might be celebrating 25 years in the game in 2019, but they are not spending too much time looking back. Instead, Goldie's vital label continues to serve up forward looking drum & bass, this time from Jem One. A year after his debut on the label he's back with another varied three tracker. Form the swirling pads of liquid roller "Lotus" to the more angsty, tightly coiled drums of old school jungle cut "Transpose" and on to darkened minimal stepper "The Hardcore", there is a lot to love here.
Review: Silas & Snare continue the heat on Madam X's Kaizen with their second single on the label this year. As always there's no letting up in terms of aesthetic, melting pot and energy. All sitting somewhere in the techno/hardcore/dub axis, "Pressure" lives up to its name with a rolling break, and warped grime basses, "Dreamscape" creates intensity with a loopy vocal hook and densely coded sense of tension while "Whistle Blower" brings us home on a deeper, more broken tip where noises aren't all what they seem. Feeling the pressure yet?
Review: Saxophonist and keyboardist Jorja Chalmers has accomplished much over the course of her career - she's toured and recorded extensively with Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music - but debut album "Human Again" marks the first time she's stood centre stage as a solo artist. She has all the ingredients to succeed on her own, though: a bold look, a supportive label in Italians Do It Better and a signature style that's in turns creepy, claustrophobic, cinematic, atmospheric and seductive. More importantly, "Human Again" is superb, offering a synthesizer-powered mix of dark ambient instrumentals, David Lynch style soundtrack pieces, drowsy and clandestine sounding songs and cuts that wrap her distinctive saxophone solos around the most evocative of electronic soundscapes.
Review: Alchemy Dubs have cooked up more heat here with a ninth 7" that is a collaboration between Ojah and Jamaican singer Ras Tavaris. "Long Run" is a live mixed, proudly analogue cut with a stepper rhythm overlaid by Tavaris' important lyric work that muses on plenty of contemporary issues. Some lively percussion adds character and a flip-side instrumental dub lays even more fantastic studio work. That this one comes in a hand-stamped, hand-numbered, thick custom sleeve and is limited to 500 units makes it all the more collectable.