Review: Described in the accompanying press release as "the halfway point between Bollywood and Balearic", Rupa Biswas' 1982 debut "Disco Jazz" has long been a favourite of dusty-fingered diggers with a healthy bank balance and a penchant for the quirky. All four tracks are cheery, charming and superior to many "Bollywood disco" records produced in the same period. The sunny disco-boogie of "Moja Bhari Moja" is followed on side A by the delightfully eccentric, bass-powered AOR-disco/funk-rock fusion of "East West Shuffle" and the effortlessly Balearic cheeriness of "Aaj Shanibar". Best of all, though, is the exotic and intoxicating flipside cut "Ayee Morshume Be-Reham Duniya" which expertly joins the dots between cosmic rock and Balearic disco grooves for 16 spellbinding minutes.
Review: Blue Feather were a truly blue-eyed funk outfit from the Netherlands who had a prolific run in the 80s with two albums and a string of club singles to their name. "Let's Funk Tonight" was surely one of their bigger hits, and it sounds resplendent with a fresh master and the full extended version spread out across the A side here. Offering something new for the modern market, Best call upon Faze Action to flesh out this reissue with a killer dub of the track that treads softly but funks deep, just like a good dub should.
I Just Wanna (Spend A Little Time With You) (Michael Gray vocal mix) (8:40)
I Just Wanna (Spend A Little Time With You) (Michael Gray dub mix) (6:19)
I Just Wanna (Spend A Little Time With You) (vocal mix) (7:45)
I Just Wanna (Spend A Little Time With You) (instrumental mix) (6:58)
Review: For their latest trick, Yam Who's Riot label has decided to offer up a brand new edition of Alton Edwards' 1981 UK electrofunk classic "I Just Wanna (Spend A Little Time With You)". You'll find Edwards' superb original vocal version on the flip, where his part whispered, part sung vocals rise above thickset, mind-altering synth-bass, drum machine beats and some seriously punchy horn lines. The obligatory 21st century updates come courtesy of Full Intention man Michael Gray, who delivers a suitably pumped up boogie-house vocal revision before dropping a similarly chunky dub that wisely makes much of the original bassline and Edwards' whispered vocal passages.
Review: Mark Ambrose brings his years of expertise in the deeper end of the techno spectrum to bear on this latest joint for Crayon, the label he founded way back in the mid 90s. "Destiny Angel" is a stomping, expansive cut with a cinematic lilt to its sound design and melodic progression - one for people to truly travel on. "Bleeps & Bits" is a more rugged workout that digs deep into intricate rhythm programming and FX processing to create a unique future-tribal flavour. "Just Tonight" keeps the beats dynamic and broken, but with a much hookier punch and some choice vocal snippets that should find favour with all kinds of DJs.
Review: Pascal Benjamin is next up on Constant Black, following strong prior bouts from Michael James and Daniel Akbar. The Dutch producer has been dropping bombs on SlapFunk, Botanic Minds and many more in recent years, and he's sounding taut and toned on this slab of after-hours goodness. "Rascale" is one of those snaking tech house joints where the devil is in the details, crying out for a crisp soundsystem to bring the subtleties of sound design to life. "5th Snooze" is a more tightly wound affair with a subtle jazziness rubbed into its joints, while "Full Colour" brings the kind of funky bump and trippy mood you used to find on the Trapez label. "Liez" completes the set with a sharp approach that wriggles its way under the skin.
One More Round (86 House mix By Frankie Knuckles) (8:10)
Walkman (86 House mix By Brett Wilcots) (7:17)
Review: Best turn their attention to that sweet mid 80s spot when the petri dish of party music was shaken up between disco, boogie, Italo and the emergent house sound from Chicago. Claudio Simonetti was a titan of the Italian groove, but his monster jam as Kasso, "One More Round", reached the stratosphere when Windy City godfather Frankie Knuckles gave the track his Midas touch. No more justification is needed for this pressing, but don't overlook the flip which finds 80s remix supremo Brett Wilcots taking on "Walkman" and whipping up a boogie frenzy of the highest order.
Review: Two all time funk/soul classics from the Skull Snaps - a funk group active between 1963 and 1973. They were known as The Diplomats up until 1970 and released a number of singles with moderate success. Renamed Skull Snaps, they released an eponymous album on the small GSF label in 1973, before disappearing into obscurity. These selections are from the said album. New 7" reissue label Dynamite Cuts is releasing these two gems as a limited edition 500 only pressing, showcasing the two best tracks on the LP. Both have been heavily sampled in many hip-hop and club classics by Eric B. & Rakim, Digable Planets, DJ Shadow, The Prodigy and Panjabi MC to name but a few.
Review: Best known for being the backing band for countless soul singers - most notably Emilia Sisco, Willie West and Thee Baby Cuffs - Timmion Records regulars Cold Diamond & Mink have finally been given a chance to take centre stage. "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow" is the tight funk and soul combo's debut album and contains ten killer cuts from the Finnish combo in their usual jazz-flecked 1960s/early '70s funk and soul sound. Highlights are plentiful from start to finish, with the hazy bustle of "Remember Me", the super-sweet and glistening "Ain't That Love" and rush-inducing "This Is What Love Looks Like!" amongst our current favourites.
Review: Distant Worlds is a label going from strength to strength as it carries the work of underground deep techno producers celebrating that hopelessly romantic strain of UK machine music that emanated out of labels like B12 and Pure Plastic. Mihail P makes a return to the label after last year's "Multiverse EP", channeling all the right moves for a blissful trip into imagined sci-fi vistas fuelled by the box jam funk of electro and the synapse-tickling soundscapes of Tangerine Dream et al. From the dreamy delights of "Kessel Run" to the downtempo groove of "Sons Of October", this is beautifully executed music that champions electronic music with real heart and soul.
Review: Since joining the label at the turn of the millennium, Scott Morgan AKA Loscil has become one of the admirably experimental imprint's most prolific artists. "Equivalents" is Morgan's ninth album for the label and sees him offer up eight meditations on a hazy, spaced-out theme. It's a slow-burn affair, where processed melodic elements, held-note chords and drone style aural textures slowly move across the sound space. It's a formula that guarantees goodness from start to finish, with the pulsing "Equivalent 3", ghostly "Equivalent 6", Mr Cloudy-esque "Equivalent 2" and the becalmed and poignant "Equivalent 8" standing out.
Eternal Blue (Wata Igarashi Crossing remix) (7:36)
Review: REPRESS ALERT: In an age of over-information, it's refreshing to see Aurora Halal take her time with the Mutual Dreaming label, which notches up just its third release since launching in 2014. It's also the New York scene leader's first record in three years, and it's worth the wait. Some elements are familiar - Halal still has a keen instinct for heavy-hearted synth lines shaped out in bold curves, but the level of expression going into these tracks makes each one stand out like a striking painting. From the eerie mood of "Fattal 22" to the crunchy bleep workout "Nasty II", the character just oozes out of Halal's productions. With a remix from Wata Igarashi thrown into the mix as well, this is a record loaded with fresh and powerful takes on techno.
Review: London's contemporary jazz scene is so strong right now that there's not a week that passes without the release of a killer new album from one of its leading protagonists. The latest comes from Ezra Collective, which finally delivers its' debut album following a string of inspired live performances and a handful of must-have singles. Kicking off with a breezy chunk of hip-hop-jazz, "You Can't Steal My Joy" sees the hyped five-piece confidently bounce between intense, spiraling epics ("Why You Mad?"), reggae-influenced aural sunshine ("Red Whine"), polyrhythmic Afro-jazz ("Quest For Coin"), bespoke soul (Jorja Smith hook-up "Reason In Disguise"), live boom-bap hip-hop (Loyle Carner collaboration "What Am I To Do"), bustling Afro-Cuban jazz ("Chris & Jane"), picturesque piano pieces ("Philosopher II") and much more besides. As debuts go, it's mighty impressive.
Carlton Jumel Smith - "This Is What Love Looks Like" (3:47)
Jonny Benavidez - "Tell Me That You Love Me" (3:45)
Pratt & Moody - "Lost Lost Lost" (2:57)
Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators - "Paint Me In A Corner" (3:52)
Ernie Hawks & The Soul Investigators - "The Scorpio Walk" (4:57)
Wanda Felicia - "Until You're Mine" (3:19)
Bobby Oroza - "This Love" (part 1) (3:57)
Bardo Martinez & The Soul Investigators - "Bad Education" (3:53)
Emilia Sisco - "Don't Believe You Like That" (3:45)
Willie West - "I'm Still A Man" (4:31)
Review: Destination Helsinki: Daptone dig deep into the vaults of their friends at Timmion Records. Heavily championed by the likes of Nicole Willis, it's one of the most influential funk labels to come out of Finland this century, and this collection brings some of the many highlights together. The syrupy falsettos of Jonny Benavidez, the yearning lament of Pratt & Moody, the sincerity of Wanda Felicia and of course the driving focus and funk power of the Soul Investigators. The list of talent on Timmion goes on and on and this is a great snapshot of what they offer. See you in detention.
Review: Militant Detroit techno crew Scan 7 have learned much from their association with Underground Resistance, not least the benefits of myth-making and mystery. This is one of the reasons that "Between Worlds" is fast becoming one of techno's most talked about releases of 2019. Of course, the fact that it's also the seven-piece crew's first album since 2002 has added to the hype, too. So is it any good? Oh yes. Variously deep, spacey, futuristic and foreboding, the album's 13 cuts range from pitch-black acid-fired techno ("I'm Covered") and fizzing techno-funk ("Trackmasta Hoop"), to percussion-laden deep house melancholia ("Deep Roots") and punchy club electro ("It's Time"). For the most part, though, what you get is uplifting, emotion rich techno in the style of their fellow Detroit greats.
Review: This is when reissues feel like they truly do a service to music that would have certainly disappeared into obscurity - Desmond Coke was a gifted musician who sat in on sessions for the On-U Sound label amongst many other places. His sole solo record was a private press job that very nearly blinked out of existence, but Emotional Rescue have been on hand like the diligent diggers they are to rescue his heartfelt, mightily expressive boogie jams from the one dollar bin. Sunny, sweet and soulful, but also with enough depth and punch to stand up to big budget productions of the era, this is a truly wonderful find that will no doubt be a surprise to even seasoned selectors.
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: After years spent offering up impressive blends of ambient, drone, electronica and experimental drum and bass as ASC, James Clements has decided to commit more time to Comit (sorry), an alternative project which first surfaced via a debut single in 2016. Here the San Diego-based Brit delivers a first full-length excursion under the alias. There's plenty to soothe and seduce on the eight tracks stretched across two slabs of wax, from the undulating, occasionally skittish beats and sweeping chord sequences of opener "Behind Dulled Eyes" and the icy, doom-laden electronic melancholy of "Reverie", to the early Black Dog Productions flex of "Clouded Over" and the dubbed-out, slow motion bliss of "Soft Focus".
Review: 10 years ago, El Michels Affair - a hip-hop loving funk combo spearheaded by Leon Michels - released "Enter The 37th Chamber", an instrumental tribute to the world of the Wu-Tang Clan. To celebrate the record's tenth birthday, they've decided to reissue two of that album's most potent cuts. On the A-side they re-imagine Ol' Dirty Bastard's 1995 anthem "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" as a fine fusion of rousing horns, jazz-flecked hip-hop beats and vocals provided by what sounds like a children's choir. Over on side B, Raekwon's "Incarcerated Scarfaces" gets the cover version treatment, with the band peppering their deep, jazz-funk influenced groove with sharp horns and evocative electric piano solos.
Review: Artists who made club-focused music tend to debut with singles or EPs, so it's something of a surprise to find that Arno's first release is a triple-vinyl album of tasty dancefloor tracks that sit somewhere between hypnotic tech-house, warm deep house and mind-altering electro missives. As debuts go, it's very impressive, with highlights dotted across all three slabs of wax. Our current favourites include the skittishly funky electro skip of "Sacre Bleu", the sparse, bass-heavy minimal techno throb of "Start Making Sense", the ghostly deep space shuffle of "Set Me Free" and the out-there wonder of "Cleopatra Jones", where oddball electronic noises rise above a deep and drowsy bed of hazy ambient chords and densely layered drums.
Review: Although Salzburg sort Bernhard "Demuja" Weiss has previously released music on Shall Not Fade offshoot Lost Palms, this is the first time he's appeared on Kieran Williams' main label. He's delivered the goods, offering up a rock solid five-track EP that flits between loose and languid deepness (breezy opener "Do It"), locked-in late night grooves (the muscular beats, heavy bass and poignant piano samples of "Jito"), spacey, synth-laden deep house positivity (the sparkling "Can't Stop"), jazz-funk influenced mid-tempo house warmth ("Those Who") and Detroit techno influenced dancefloor futurism (the elongated deep space chords, ragged acid lines and bustling beats of "Tokyo").
Review: Surprisingly, Don Blackman originally wrote and recorded "Just Can't Stay Away" to play as the recorded message on his girlfriend's answering machine. He later included it - tweaked and turned into a mid-80s style boogie banger reminiscent of his work during that decade - on his second and final album, 2002's CD-only "Listen". Here it finally gets a vinyl release thanks to reissue specialists Melodies International. If you're a fan of boogie, electrofunk and synth-soul it should be an essential purchase, not least because it's every bit as good as more celebrated Blackman productions made earlier in his career. There are "Stereo" and "Mono" mixes to enjoy, with the former naturally offering a more refined and intoxicating listening experience.
Review: 1990s sitcom loving beat maker Felix Weatherall returns to Brainfeeder for the first time since the release of his widely acclaimed debut album as Ross From Friends, 2018's "Family Portrait". He's in fine form from the off, with title track "Epiphany" offering a wonderfully intoxicated, off-kilter blend of bustling drum machine breakbeats, hallucinatory electronics, Middle Eastern style instrumentation and razor-sharp bass. He continues on an inventive fusion trip in the form of "The Revolution", where cut-up vocal samples and bluesy guitar lines rise and fall above a densely percussive deep house groove. Also impressive is "Phantom Ratio", a slightly more driving dancefloor cut rich in skittish drums and undulating electronic melodies.
Review: What more can be said about the output of Alex 'Omar' Smith? The Detroiter's releases have perhaps been a little more varied of late than we've come to expect, but the quality nevertheless remains dizzyingly high. This white label excursion is full of floor-friendly gems, with Smith's use of classic house samples and familiar vocal samples also making it one of his most party-hearted releases for a while. Check, for example, "Catch Ya", where a much-loved turn-of-the-'90s acapella rises above bouncy New Jersey organs and snappy machine drums. "Better Believe It Baby" brilliantly wraps a chiming synth loop and R&B style vocal snippets around a chunky, disco-fired deep house beat, while "Cheat" and "Pull Ovaa" are deliciously dusty, bass-heavy deep house workouts with just the right amount of hypnotic late night charm.
Review: For their latest must-check full length, Swiss ambient and jazz enthusiasts WRWTFWW have offered up a timely reissue of Satoshi Ashikawa's previously Japan-only 1982 album "Still Way". In some quarters it's considered a triumph of Japanese minimalism - an ambient set that was equally as inspired by Erik Satie as Brian Eno. The sounds are sparse, atmospheric and alluring, with simple harp, vibraphone, piano and flute motifs taking it in turns to rise and fall across the soundspace. It's intricate, soft-focus and hugely poignant, evoking memories of similarly lauded sets by Ashikawa's countrymen Hiroshi Yoshimura and Midori Takada. In other words, it's sublime.
Review: Sammy Massamba's "Azali" originally came out in 1990. The afrobeat artist's sound is shockingly potent, fusing his roots with disco and boogie to create the stuff party dreams are made of. The song has just the necessary edge to make a classic, with the vocals leading the way through the tune beautifully. "Birika" is a slower jam, but no less bold with its keyboard brass and choice guitar solo. Aroop Roy jumps on the flip to edit "Azali", stretching out a touch and adding a little subtle drum machine jack to the beat. It's tastefully done, keeping the vibe on the original intact.