Review: First released way back in 1992, Radio Tarifa's debut album "Rumba Argelina" has long been considered something of a global fusion classic. Reissued here on vinyl for the very first time - weirdly, it has only ever been available on CD in the past - the album has lost none of its charms. It's naturally rooted in various strains of traditional Spanish music - flamenco, Andalucian folk music and so on - but also incorporates musical elements from North African and Arabic music, with occasional nods towards tango and such obscure (but surprisingly enjoyable) styles as German medieval music.
Review: Wewantsounds' 2019 Record Store Day release takes us back to 1978 and a hard-to-find 12" single from Lebanese composer, pianist, playwright and political commentator Ziad Rahbani. "Abu Ali" is perhaps not Rahbani's best known work - in the Arab world his various albums are far more celebrated - but it is one that has chimed with Western audiences thanks to its assimilation of elements of American disco, soul and funk. The title track is something of a beast: a 10-minute epic that wraps Arabic orchestration, mazy horn refrains and prominent piano motifs around an atmospheric disco groove and intergalactic synthesizer lines. It's bonkers but brilliant, making this reissue more than welcome. On the flipside there's a chance to enjoy "Prelude (Theme from Mais El Rim)", an epic example of Rahbani's 1970s soundtrack work.
Wartilla (feat Warren Ellis, Stephen O'Malley) (4:08)
Review: Malian musicians have a rich history when it comes to turning the world on to organic, mystifying, exotic sounds. A country that - even for Africa - stands out as a hotbed of aural talent, artists hailing from the desert nation never fail to immerse and intoxicate us. Here tracks grow and groove like a hypnotist at work, embracing Western influences, not least psychedelic rock, to produce what might have happened if Jim Morrison went walkabout in the Sahara looking for inspiration. As an album, "Amadjar" is everything that description might make you hope for. Opening on the delicate, spatial guitar plucks of "Tenere Maloulat", you can see the oasis shimmering in the distance through heat vapour. Evocative stuff, from there it only pulls us in deeper into an amalgamation of sounds overflowing with an adventurous atmosphere.
Walking In A Spiral Towards The House (part 1) (11:26)
Walking In A Spiral Towards The House (part 2) (16:48)
Review: Since debuting as Grouper back in 2005, Liz Harris has delivered a swathe of experimentalist albums that explore almost every aspect of ambient and drone music. Here she launches a new project, Nivhek, via an expansive double-album of sparse, atmospheric compositions that tend towards the epic. Really, it's two albums in one. The first slab of wax is entitled "After Its Own Death" and boasts a two-part, non-stop suite of tracks built around echoing choral vocals, dark electronics and blissful bells. It's alternately melancholic, blissful and grippingly intense. In contrast, "Walking In A Spiral Towards The House", the piece stretched across both sides of the second record, is breathtakingly beautiful - a meandering, soft focus trip through chiming, reverb-laden motifs and gentle music box melodies.
Review: It's cult records and mythical artists like this that record collectors fawn over for years. Well this particular wait is now over as for the first time ever on vinyl you can now own two super rare 1980-82 tapes by Two Daughters. They were a mysterious pair affiliated with Throbbing Gristle and recorded all sorts of dark and haunting noise in Brixton for Nurse With Wound's United Dairies. This session is as freaky as they come, with muffled voices appearing out of the noise like apparitions. Hypnotic and daunting, droning and bleakly mesmeric, this music sounds to us like the shadowy corridors of an old lunatic asylum in the dead of a winter's night.
My Body (Louie Vega remix/Synth Bass instrumental) (8:58)
My Body (Louie Vega radio version) (3:46)
Review: Luther Vandross originally wrote and recorded "My Body" in 1979, though his version was never released; instead, the song was re-recorded by Stephanie Mills and included on her 1983 album "Merciless". Here we finally get a chance to hear Luther belt it out himself, with Masters At Work man Louie Vega providing production and a dizzying number of remixes. There are two bumpin' and life-affirming "Soul House" mixes (the second replacing Vandross' lead vocal with some mazy Rhodes solos), a fluid and positive "Remix/Synth Bass Mix" that packs plenty of dancefloor energy, and warmer "EOL Mix" and "EOL Dub" versions that utilize a warm bass guitar part and some tasty chord progressions. Throw in a couple of edits and instrumentals and you have a suitably epic set of reworks.
3rd Acts: ? Vs Scratch 2...Electric Boogaloo (0:53)
You Got Me (feat Erykah Badu) (4:20)
Don't See Us (4:36)
The Return To Innocence Lost (5:29)
Act Fore The End? (4:53)
Table Of Contents (part 3 - bonus track) (3:19)
What You Want (bonus track) (4:11)
Quicksand Millennium (bonus track) (4:09)
We Got You (feat Jaguar - bonus track) (1:13)
You Got Me (Drum & Bass mix - bonus track) (4:59)
You Got Me (Me Tienes remix - bonus track) (4:26)
Act Too (The Love Of My Life) (remix - bonus track) (3:29)
Y'all Know Who (bonus track) (4:04)
The Lesson (part III - bonus track) (4:53)
New Years At Jay Dee's (bonus track) (2:49)
Review: In our eyes, Questlove is one of the best drummers of the modern era. His playing skills have held down killer grooves by everyone from D'Angelo to Jill Scott, Erykah Badu to Soulquarians. His own Grammy Award winning band The Roots brought thrilling musicianship and live instrumentation to the hip hop game and are widely regarded as one of the best live acts in the genre. Their fourth album, Things Fall Apart, was their real breakthrough and is now presented here, remastered, with bonus tracks, rare photos, essays from Black Thought and Questlove and liner notes from Questlove. Essential.
Review: Way back in 1998 when Massive Attack's career-defining "Mezzanine" was first released, legendary dub technician Mad Professor cooked up some radical reworking. They now get their first official release alongside dubs of two tracks that never actually made it onto the album - Metal Banshee: a dub version of "Superpredators" which was a cover of Siouxsie and the Banshees' "Metal Postcard", and "Wire", which was actually recorded for the film "Welcome to Sarajevo". Wild effects, plenty of knob twiddling and oodles of reverb define this freaky late night collection and mark another essential release in the catalogue of the already legendary Mad Professor.
Review: Since opting to release more music under his given name, DeepChord man Rod Modell has largely stuck to dubbed-out ambience and heady drone soundscapes. His latest full-length is a little different, though, offering up club-focused cuts that mix his usual fuzzy aural textures and dub-fired motifs with up-tempo techno rhythms. By his standards, it's a very forthright set, with highlights including the noise-soaked stomp of "Reiki", the thrusting heaviness of "ITO", the hypnotic slam of "Jade" - where breezy, early morning electronics flutter away above tough drums and a mind-altering bassline - and the boisterous peak-time techno anthem "Scrawler".
Review: This 1988 debut album from Jungle Brothers eschews the use of the sampler, choosing instead to lay down these fresh beats by recorders, all looped by hand, eight bars at a time. The record also features Q-Tip for the first time on the excellent "Black Is Black" which features one of the few samples on the album as the voice of Gil Scott-Heron is stitched into the rolling beats. Smash hip-house hit "I'll House You" was added to later versions of the album and is included here with other gems like "Braggin & Boastin" and "Behind the Bush".
Review: "Sonic Citadel" marks Brians Gibson and Chippendale's seventh studio album and it is one that finds them revealing a little more of themselves than before. "Blow To The Head" is an intense opener with caustic texture, dense layers and scuzzy noise that soundtracks a manic episode, while elsewhere there are much more angular and punk influenced rhythm tracks with deathly vocals mired in gauzy riffs engulfed in dirt, grit and sandpaper sonics. Standout track "Halloween 3" is a suitably horror fuelled track of high energy, lo fi fuzz that will keep any demons away.
Review: These are heady times for fans of rare and obscure jazz albums, with essential new reissues dropping every week. Here's another, from lesser-known quintet Griot Galaxy. "Kins", their debut, was recorded over two days in September 1981 and originally appeared in stores early the following year on tiny imprint Black & White Records. This reissue replicates the original artwork and tracklist, with the cuts now sounding better than ever thanks to a tidy re-mastering job and extra-deep grooves. Musically, the six cuts on offer are wild and intergalactic in tone, with Griot Galaxy expertly combining elements of modal, spiritual jazz, free jazz, jazz-fusion and, on dancefloor-ready standout "Zenolog Aintro", bustling jazz-funk.
Review: When bands hit album four, two things can happen - or three. Some suffer from a crisis of creativity, opting to regurgitate or, worse still, stagnate. Others opt for reinvention, with as many getting it right as going well off-piste, alienating faithful fans in the process. The lucky ones, meanwhile, hit the nail on the head with their most accomplished and complete work to date. Consider Frankie Cosmos among the lucky ones, then, not that luck had much to do with it. Recorded in their New York hometown, everything about the record feels comfortable in that there's nothing forced, and yet it engages and grabs from the off. Lilting, lo-fi rock 'n' roll odes to love, life and the genre itself, anyone who's ever wondered what Cate Le Bon might sound like having a pancake breakfast with The Orielles should grab a seat at this table.
Ian Dury & The Seven Seas Players - "Spasticus Autisticus" (version) (6:57)
Material - "Over & Over" (long version) (5:38)
Was (Not Was) - "Wheel Me Out" (7:12)
Dinosaur - "Kiss Me Again" (6:53)
Don Cherry - "I Walk" (3:14)
Common Sense - "Voices Inside My Head" (6:29)
Nicky Siano - "Move" (5:45)
Indian Ocean - "School Bell/Treehouse" (10:13)
Review: Second time around for Joey Negro and Sean P's peerless collection of post-punk era New York club cuts, a compilation that proved hugely influential when it was first released way back in 2000. The track listing strangely omits one track present on the original release (the full 16-minute version of Steve Miller Band's "Macho City"), but otherwise it's a faithful reproduction. Highlights come thick and fast throughout, from the eccentric electrofunk of Yoko Ono's "Walking On Thin Ice" and P-funk influenced strut of Material's "Over And Over", to the skittish jazz-goes-dub disco bustle of Don Cherry's "I Walk" and the low-slung percussive voodoo of Nicky Siano's "Move". The undisputed master of NYC leftfield disco, Arthur Russell, is represented via cuts from Loose Joints, Dinosaur and Indian Ocean.
Review: Recorded in New York in 1966, Miriam Makeba's "Pata Pata" - her first for the legendary Reprise Records imprint - has long been considered one of the most important and influential South African albums of all time. Strut certainly thinks so and has offered up a "definitive version" that contains both mono and stereo mixes of the album, alongside new sleeve notes that tell the singer's remarkable story in vivid detail. Musically the set is rooted in jazz, but also incorporates sounds, rhythms and instrumentation not only reflective of Makeba's home country, but also nods to American soul, Latin rhythms and calypso (the latter showcasing the influence of her mentor, Harry Belafonte).
Review: Portuguese pair Antonio and Manuela Duarte made plenty of music together in the mid-to-late 1980s - mostly offering an intriguing fusion of Ash Ra style meditative kosmiche, ambient electronics, new wave style and Iberian instrumentation - but very little of it was ever released. Hence "Electricidade Estetica", a debut album made up of previously unheard recordings that have sat dormant on reel-to-reel tapes for well over three decades. It's a fine collection of tracks, all told, most of which are near impossible to accurately describe or pigeonhole. Fundamentally, they're all inventive, atmospheric and ear-pleasing, offering a fine collection of head-in-the-clouds cuts that rises above its lo-fi roots to present the Portuguese pair as previously unheralded Balearic pioneers.
Catherine Brenot - "Et Tout Est Yin Et Tout Est Yang" (club mix) (5:19)
1 Plus 1 - "Coming Up For Air" (instrumental) (5:25)
Fragile - "We've Got Tonight, Boy" (6:13)
Jarmaz - "Night City Life" (Disco remix) (3:55)
Friend Of Mine - "Just Your Pride" (4:47)
Mac & Monica - "You’re So Good To Me" (6:29)
Sala & H - "Feel The Love" (4:00)
Alexandra - "Fantasia (Fantasy)" (4:45)
Gioia - "No Secrets" (instrumental) (7:43)
Janelle - "Don't Be Shy" (dub) (6:40)
Alessandro Scellino - "Dinner In The Jungle" (Erotic mix) (6:49)
Brian Tatcher - "Hot Love" (instrumental dub version) (6:48)
Preludio - "Mysterious Nights" (4:46)
Review: Ilan Pdahtzur is as obsessive a record digger as any of his more visible peers. His particular niche is early to mid-eighties club music, and now he gets a platform to show off his skills thanks to the Spacetalk label. "Night City Life" is about music to match that exact setting - nocturnal urban metropolises with glowing neon lights shimmering in the darkness. There's a lot to love across four sides of vinyl here, from Italo disco to steamy boogie cuts and iridescent synth jams. It will make you nostalgic for a time and place you've never experienced (at least not as perfectly as this) and no doubt get plenty of dance floors on their feet.
The One O Ones - "Radio Cosmos 101" (Bals edit) (4:27)
Gemini - "Take A Chance" (4:34)
The Clean Hands Group - "Night Fly" (4:24)
The CVQ Band - "Whatever You Do" (instrumental) (4:38)
Miss - "Hip Hop" (3:06)
Metal Voices - "At The Banks Of The River" (3:44)
The Clean-Hands Group - "Shake It On" (4:03)
Gigi Flag - "Nymphomaniac" (instrumental) (5:58)
Eddy La Viny - "Havan' Hamac" (3:43)
Review: BeachFreaks Records co-founder Charles Bals is a man who knows about records - and obscure European ones at that. Club Meduse, his first compilation for Spacetalk (a label with a track record for producing these kinds of killer, crate-digging comps), is loosely designed as the soundtrack to life around a mythical (IE imaginary) Cote D'Azure resort. Musically, it gathers together the kind of hazy, soft-focus and life-affirming cuts that you would have heard at resort discos in the mid-to-late 1980s. Suffice to say that Bals' selections tend towards the rare, magical and undeniably Balearic, from the glassy-eyed, cascading jazz-funk of the Keyboys and loved-up post-boogie sweetness of Gemini's "Take a Chance", to the sparkling Euro-electro of Miss' "Hip Hop" and pitched-down drum machine chug of Gigi Flag's "Nymphomaniac (Instrumental)". Essential.
Review: The Studio One catalogue is the gift that keeps on giving, and Soul Jazz continually play Santa. This latest comprehensive collection is a great compilation of some of the best DJs and MCs to have been involved in reggae. Vital Jamaican stars like Dillinger, Prince Jazzbo and Lone Ranger all feature next to more hardcore names and some choice rare cuts. Spanning the 70s and into the mid-1980s, this 18-track offering gives a glimpse into the evolution of reggae to more digital and dancehall styles that come later, all with specially commissioned sleeve notes by Fashion Records head honcho Chris Lane.
Martha Reeves & The Vandellas - "I Can't Dance To That Music You're Playin'" (3:57)
The Jackson 5 - "The Love You Save" (4:17)
Bobby Taylor & The Vancouvers - "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" (3:43)
Sam & Dave - "Soul Sister, Brown Sugar" (3:18)
Aretha Franklin - "A Change" (3:33)
Sugar Pie DeSanto - "Go Go Power" (4:20)
Joy Lovejoy - "In Orbit" (3:52)
Judy Clay & William Bell - "Private Number" (4:30)
Review: Jobbing DJs will do well to pick this one up: it's a way to bring some original soul into your sets while also serving up some big tunes that people know and love. These careful edits pump up the sunny elements, layer in funky riffs, energetic strings and up the tempos of tried and tested classics from The Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, Sam & Dave and plenty more golden oldies. Our picks: Bobby Taylor & The Vancouvers' fine cover of "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" and Sugar Pie DeSanto's hardcore swinger "Go Go Power" that's sure to get those hips moving.
Between The Lines (feat Keyon Harrold & Sparkz) (4:42)
Introspection (feat Theo Croker) (5:00)
Cranes (In The Sky) (5:47)
I Still Believe (feat Milton Suggs) (5:41)
Elipsis (interlude) (1:07)
Dark Honey (4TheStorm) (feat Makaya McCraven) (5:48)
Pressure (instrumental) (4:41)
Lullaby (Rise & Shine) (feat Judi Jackson) (3:55)
Battle (feat Binker & Moses) (4:32)
The Mighty (feat Ben Marc) (3:31)
Review: South London pianist and composer Ashley Henry is a versatile musician who can move between all niches within his musical realm: hip hop, broken beat, jazz and fusion flows from his finger tips and all characterise his expansive and expressive new album "Beautiful Vinyl Hunter". Stellar collaborators Makaya McCraven, Judi Jackson and MC Sparkz amongst others all help enrich this album as it flows from post-bop to classic jazz to neo-soul in thrilling fashion. Rooted in tradition but with a distinctly London edge that soars to new heights, this record sets a new benchmark for the contemporary scene.
Review: Barely six weeks after dropping her debut single on River Rapid, Henrietta Smith-Rolla pops up on Skam with a surprise debut album. As first full length excursions go, "Break Before Make" is undeniably impressive. Beginning with the spooky, minor key electronics and angular IDM rhythms of "Day Turner", the 14 track set sees Smith-Rolla successfully turn her hand to bittersweet synth-wave ("And!"), dystopian pitched-down electronica ("Guess What"), spacey electro ("Work It", "Wtfwtfwtf"), clandestine electronic soundscapes (the panicked shuffle of "Blanket Ban") and grandiose sci-fi soundtrack fare ("The Middle Middle"). Throughout, the Manchester-based producer consistently delivers otherworldly musical melancholia with a panache not associated with a producer of her relative inexperience.
The Hungry Ghosts/We Live In An Old Chaos Of The Sun (20:34)
The Silence Of Animals/The Truth Is, It Wanted To Cave In (22:50)
Review: Set as a soundtrack to a series of choreographed performances from the Iceland Dance Company, "Variations On Darkness" may arguably act as a counterpart to separate Record Store Day exclusive "22 Lunar Halo". This release is a culmination of various moments of Sigur Ros' career awashed with discordant, penetrating soundscapes across the two epics, "The Hungry Ghosts/We Live In An Old Chaos Of The Sun" and "The Silence Of Animals/The Truth Is, It Wanted To Cave In". Our pick is the latter which is something of an intoxicating build-up, brought together by haphazard, glitchy samples that may even cross the IDM territory, before concluding with a suitably grandiose ending to an epic trip. A tough listen, for sure, but all the more rewarding.
Review: Shogun duo Technicolour and Komatic cut their third album to deluxe wax comprising two white 12"s and two coloured 10"s... And it sounds every bit as good as it looks. Soulful yet varied in its scope and range, it's the most confident and clearest LP the duo have given us so far as it ranges from the darker, gnarlier minimal twists of "True Believer" to the more signature flourishing orchestration of cuts like "Weightless (feat Lucy Kitchen)" and naked introspection such as "The Nightfall (feat Jono McCleery)". And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Potential drum & bass album of the year.
Review: Margaret Chardiet's semi-regular album outings as Pharmakon are always worth a listen, if only to recoil at the intensity of her unsettling blends of buzzing industrial noise, paranoid vocal screams, throbbing aural textures, forthright mangled guitar riffs and rusty, razor-sharp power electronics. "Devour" is the artist's fourth album for Sacred Bones and her first new set for two years. It explores similar sonic territory to its predecessors, offering claustrophobic, mind-mangling soundscapes that are creepy, disturbed, awe-inspiring and sonically challenging in equal measures. In some ways, calling out individual tracks as highlights seems pointless: this is a singular, ever-changing work that sees Chardiet escort us on a nightmarish journey through experimental extremes.
Review: "The Practice Of Love" is Jenny Hval's seventh full-length, and it's the sort of listen that can wash over you while you get lost in a reverie, or take you on a deeply involving inward journey if you tune in to the lyrics. Her voice is angelic, and muses on subjects like growing old, our place in the world, and the notion of intimacy. Highlights are plentiful throughout, from the fantastically strong title track with its vulnerable and tender spoken words, folky synth lullaby "Thumbsucker" and "Accident", which could well be a rave comedown with its lilting trance chords and dreamy keys. Quite the trip.
Review: Unlike much of Ennio Morricone collaborator Alessandro Alessandroni's work, 1974 set "Prisma Sonoro" was not the soundtrack to a well-known film or TV show, but rather a collection of instrumental pieces composed for a music library. It's long been regarded as one of the finest examples of Italian library music around, so it's great seeing it get the reissue treatment. Much of it is pleasingly cheery, sunny and laidback, with Alessandroni doffing a cap to folk, samba and MPB as much as easy listening, classical and soundtrack style jazz. It's typical of his versatility, of course, with the intricacy of the arrangements and subtle musical details making it a set that you can return to time and time again.
Review: Since initial release in 2003, this classic from Atmosphere has been in and out of print and received various represses as a result. It is the gift that keeps on giving, frankly, it is an album takes you on a metaphorical journey through politics, emotions and the physical. Personal stories and vulnerable truths come from Slug's rich writing and richer delivery combined with complex rhythms, cosmic synths and funky drums that all help elevate the record yet further. It might not get the props of many of its peers, but this underrated gem should be on the shelves of any discerning hip hop collector.
Review: Texan psych-funk fun time outfit Golden Dawn Arkestra get some remix treatment via this double pack from Razor-N-Tape, which leads in with Austin Ato's positively dreamy deep house version of "Children Of The Sun". JKriv takes on "Cosmic Dancer" and makes it into a slick disco-fied workout that adheres to the RNT vibe, while Dicky Trisco takes the track and makes it into a suitably interstellar strutter heavy on the synth lines. Then then the second slab of wax offers up a side each to the original versions, from the Afrobeat-indebted "Children Of The Sun" to the sweet and starry-eyed disco of "Cosmic Dancer".
Review: Given that it's called "Coloured" and appears on shocking pink vinyl, you'd expect Adam Longman Parker's debut album as Afriqua to be a decidedly vibrant and kaleidoscopic affair. It is, of course, with Longman Parker offering up tracks that mix tropical-sounding electronics, glassy-eyed synthesizer motifs, processed vocal sounds and evocative musical flourishes with jaunty, interesting rhythms that neatly sidestep conventional genre rules. It's a mixture that makes for hugely enjoyable listening, with highlights coming thick and fast. These include - though are by no means limited to - the densely layered dancefloor cheekiness of "Shout", the minimalist ambient bliss of "Noir", the hypnotic, intergalactic oddness of "Native Sun" and the bubbly club warmth of "Jumpteenth".
Review: This new album from Warmth is made up of condensed compositions from their third ambient album 'Parallel' and showcase their mastery of spiritual, pure and cathartic synth work. Listening to this is what you might imagine passing from this life to the next sounds like - all consuming and intense yet somehow empty and utterly devoid of distraction. It is a meditation in sound that subtle evolves with intricacies that real themselves upon close headphone listening. Alternatively, put it on to sooth a busy mind and allow it to send you off to sleep.
Review: Veteran grime star and rap giant Kano uses the hoodie as a symbolic crux throughout his sixth album. It's an item of clothing often associated with criminality and errant youths, but here he re-casts it as a form of protection for young black men who have a wide range of racial and societal pressures to deal with. It makes for a politically charged album with shiny electronica next to stark and prickly beats, melancholic pianos and minimal garage rhythms. A musically expansive work that crosses many styles and scenes, but remains united by Kano's ever impassioned deliveries.
Cult Hero (Do You Wanna Touch Me) (with Simon Topping
Sly Is Watching
(Vi-Vi) Vicious Games (with Josh Caffe
Review: When it comes to jackin' Chicago style acid house revivalism, few can hold a candle to Paranoid London. As this long-awaited second album proves, the duo is the undisputed masters of sweaty, TB-303 driven jack-tracks and - as recent single "(Vi-Vi) Vicious Games" and LP opener "Starting Fights" prove - classic-sounding vocal cuts that recall the glory years of Fingers, Inc in the mid-to-late 1980s. Interestingly, "PL" boasts far more collaborations than we've seen from Paranoid London before, including a string of ragged club cuts blessed with evocative spoken word vocals, a thrusting acid throb-job with lead vocals by Simon Topping and a suitably twisted, machine-driven hook up with Arthur Baker and Alan Vega (the raw and weighty "Angel Of Hell").
Review: You won't hear many albums as direct, hard hitting and confrontational as this: musing on the black experience, culture, identity, love and trauma, it is a spoken word and poetic masterclass from California born Tenesha The Wordsmith with production from Khalab. Jazz, electronic dance, afro rhythms, hip hop and broken beat all make up the grooves and beautifully frame the album's thundering truths and uncomfortable realities. At times intimate and personal, at others chest beating and empowering, it is an album that makes a lasting impact. "I hope your compassion for others grows," says Tenesha of listening to it, and surely it will.
Evidence For The Existance Of The Unconscious (9:12)
Review: Co-produced by none other than James Brown and featuring a band led by fellow funk/soul legend Dave Matthews, The Grodeck Whipperjenny's sole album has long been considered something of a must-have by heavy funk fans. Original copies have tended to be hard to come by, so this Record Store Day reissue from Now Again Records, which comes complete with a booklet telling the story of the 1970 set, should be an essential purchase. It's a curiously psychedelic affair, with string-laden, near symphonic moments (see the almost entirely beat-free "Conclusions" being joined by cuts that explore spiraling funk-rock ("Sitting Here On A Tongue") and acid-fired psychedelic rock ("Why Can't I Go Back").
The Return (feat Thando, Jace XL, Alien, Whosane) (9:16)
Don't Give Up (feat Mandarin Dreams) (4:51)
Made Us Better (feat Blue Lab beats, Boadi, Lori) (8:35)
Review: After Sampa's magic debut album it makes sense she's been signed by Ninja Tune for a follow up. Once again here the Zambian-born Australian singer-songwriter and rapper is in excellent form, delivering slick, complex verses that she says are "the most me to date". Exploring notions of race and relationships, amongst other things, her voice is couched in gorgeous broken beat, hip hop and r&b production. Highlights are plentiful throughout - "OMG" is a funky afro beat, "Any Day" is neo soul in the mould of Erykah Badu and "Final Form" is a trumpet lead, warrior queen anthem to get your chest pumping. Essential.
Review: It would be fair to say that Dadisi Komolafe is not one of American jazz's better-known flautists, having appeared on just a handful of records in the early to mid 1980s. However, his sole album on Nimbus West Records, 1983's "Hassan's Walk", has long been a collector's item amongst serious jazz heads. Happily it has now been given the reissue treatment, with a re-mastering job that guarantees exquisite sound quality throughout. The album's standout moment is undoubtedly the 15-minute title track, where Komolafe's breezy, life-affirming and occasionally powerful flute solos rise above jaunty pianos, loose-limbed drums and memorable double bass. There's plenty to set the pulse racing elsewhere, though, with the vibraphone-sporting "Calvary" and Thelonious Monk cover "Round Midnight" standing out.
Review: Throbbing Gristle's second studio album is an essential work that conjures some of the most harsh and nauseating music you can imagine (not a surprise given "Hamburger Lady" is a piece about a patient burned from the waist up and forever contained in a hospital). It was pioneering in texture and technique, and mixes both live and studio recordings into one of the band's most stylistically varied works. Creeping and haunting, confrontational and challenging from front to back, the spoken word samples from children and mutated voices will probably haunt your dreams forever, so listen with caution.
Review: Previously only available on CD back in 2001, this Best Of Fad Gadget collection finally lands on vinyl with inners including liner notes by Paul Morley. It draws on four of the cult band's most acclaimed albums and includes early singles like "Back to Nature", " Ricky's Hand; Handshake" and "Lady Shave." An undoubtedly large influence on the ensuing noise, industrial and EBM movements around Europe, this album highlights just how ahead of its time this music was with its angular guitars, dead pan vocals and twisted electronic sounds. Artful, roguish and energetic while being prescient on subjects like sexuality and mass media, this is an essential collection.
Review: In 1979, Cabaret Voltaire - then consisting of all three founder members, Richard H. Kirk, Stephen Mallinder and Chris Watson - recorded a soundtrack for an experimental film "for two projectors" by Babeth Mondini. 40 years on, that soundtrack has finally been given a release. It's similar in tone to some of the Sheffield experimentalists' other soundtrack work from the period, offering discordant, unsettling and otherworldly sound collages that fuse heavily modified and processed instrumental parts (guitar, bass, drums, clarinet, saxophone) with tape loops, sampled dialogue and the band's ever-present electronic tones. Whether you're an obsessive Cabs fan or not, it's well worth a listen. This is, after all, a slice of previously hidden musical history.
Review: This newly expanded reissue of classic Desmond Dekker compilation "Double Dekker" includes six rare bonus cuts next to the rest of the material that helped it make such an international impact. There isn't much cross over with other compilations, either, making it a must for fans of the late vocalist. Interestingly, this release was compiled after Dekker had left Trojan for the newly formed rival Creole, and it went on to become one of their biggest sellers, at the same time as putting his newer recordings into the shadows. So sink in and enjoy one of rocksteady's best.
Review: Jamaican ska vocalist Justin Hines was one of the many popular jewels on Duke Reid's Treasure Isle label. He often worked with the Dominoes backing singers and their first album, reissued here by Music On Vinyl, was reportedly a firm favourite of Bob Marley. Pure roots at its finest and straight from the mid-seventies, this is feel good music that brims with warmth and earthy vibes. It's a celebration of dreadlock culture, the beauty of the Jamaican motherland and a fine reflection of the horizontal pace of life out in the Caribbean.
Review: A true hot stepper and one of the best of its kind, this 1984 masterpiece from Ini Kamoze is heavy, real and authentic. It was actually Jamaican born artist Cecil Campbell's debut album and features spacious, slow motion dubs that invite you deep within their cavernous drums. The chattery percussion, echoing hits and loose percussion all make a real mark. "World-A-Music" has a beat fans of Damien Marley will recognise, and "General" features some of Campbells more vulnerable vocal work. For fans old and new, this is a perfect roots album with a unique perspective.
Review: Early 80s new Wave pop outfit Haircut One Hundred are best known for their big single "Love Plus One" but this album proves they were more than one trick ponies. Infusing their pop, rock and synth sound with Conga, woodwind and Brazilian percussion leads to superbly colourful tracks that brim with sunshine. There's an upbeat and youthful innocence to "Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)" that is utterly infectious, while busier post punk funk like "Love Plus One" will get you on your toes even after all these years, and "Kingsize (You're My Little Steam Whistle)" gets all sexy with its lead sax and clattering steel drum tumbles.
Review: "Do You Like My Tight Sweater?" is the album that announced Moloko to the world, but is also one of their most experimental. The dance duo's debut featured big singles like "Dominoid" and the UK Top 40 charting "Fun For Me", which was also used in the Batman & Robin soundtrack of 1997. The album finds producer Mark Brydon combining elements of trip hop, big beat, disco and electronica with Roisin Murphy's sensuous and widescreen art-pop vocals, despite the fact that at the time she had zero prior professional experience. This timely limited reissue comes on heavyweight turquoise vinyl and reminds us of a golden era of UK electronica.
Review: The late Pete Namlook remains a giant of the ambient world. His vast catalogue of works has defined and redefined the genre over and over again, often alongside fellow greats from Move D to Richie Hawtin. In 2016, however, it was Klaus Schulze at the controls alongside his German countryman and together they cooked up this eight-part adventure into cosmic ambience and psychedelic sound design. Some parts reference Eno's seminal "Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks", some are more synth heavy, Vangelis-style epics, and some dip into Detroit techno for their cues. It makes for an album as expansive as it is excellent.
Review: In 1980, Don Slepian sat down with one synthesizer - a Korg PS-3100 - and a Mellotron and recorded two lengthy pieces inspired by a mixture of new age music, formative ambient sounds and American minimalism. The results - recorded live in two takes, with no overdubs - were released on a tiny label as "New Dawn - New Music For Digital Orchestra". As this licensed reissue proves, the music remains as beautiful and beguiling as ever, with both pieces offering slowly unfurling melodies, sustained chords and the kind of twinkling electronics that would later become the hallmark of 90s ambient producers such as Pete Namlook. If you love heady horizontal soundscapes and floatation tank atmospherics, this should be an essential purchase.