Review: Amerigo's The Big Payback series finds him bring together some fantasy all stars for his "J.B. and The Soul Mates" tribute concept. Here, James Brown's music is reworked, edited and chopped together with the work of hip hop giant Notorious BIG. It results in speaker blasting, floor filling, ass wiggling jams that mash up all the most iconic verses and choruses from each singer with their most recognisable guitar riffs, drum breaks and samples. It's a colourful collage that is as fun as it is funky.
Review: Under the Special Request alias, Paul Woolford has released some stellar music this year. Astonishingly, "Offworld" is his third album of 2019; it could well be the best, too. It explores different sonic territory too, drawing heavily on electro, futurist Detroit techno, Boards of Canada style IDM and the slick 1980s productions of Jam and Lewis. The result is a stunningly beautiful, spacey and far-sighted set that contains some of Woolford's most emotion-rich work to date - and that's saying something. It also finishes in stunning style with an impeccable remix/re-make of the Grid's "Floatation" that sounds like the best early 90s Orb remix you've never heard.
Review: Holden's 2006 debut album was an astonishing one that gets a timely reissue on double crystal-clear splatter vinyl. A high watermark for proudly synthetic and computer made music, it was the bold arrival of an artist who endures as an innovator to this day. "The Idiots Are Winning" is a masterclass in unhinged grooves, glitchy electronic sounds and mutant sounds that set a new benchmark in experimental textures, sound design and dance floor clout. "Idiot" is the standout banger, "Lump" is more trippy and heat workout, and "10101" is the twitchy and mesmeric workout you cannot escape. Music as idiosyncratic as this doesn't come along too often, and even 13 years left it still sounds fresh.
Review: Following a string of sizzling singles released over the best part of a decade, The Pendletons (AKA E Da Boss of Myron & E fame and Bay Area producer Trailer Limon) has finally got round to recording a debut album. It's something of a slick, soulful and groovy affair, offering a mix of breezy West Coast grooves, sun-kissed instrumentation, snaking horn solos, colourful synthesizer lines and oodles of soul-powered vocals from the group and guests including Howard Johnson, K-Maxx and Gizelle Smith. While it's something of a time capsule, stylistically at least, few do this kind of warm, glassy-eyed nostalgia better. Put it this way: it's every bit as good as we'd hoped for and much more besides.
Review: When it comes to offering up albums of carnival-ready Latin-soul, it could be argued that Gabriele Poso is in a league of his own. Certainly, his 2018 set for BBE, "Awakening" was superb, and this follow-up on Soundway is every bit as good. The South American influences - think samba, Azymuth sytle jazz-funk, Brazilian boogie, MPB etc -catch the ear throughout, alongside his extensive use of warming synthesizers, sun-kissed electronics and his own voice, which seems to get richer and more seductive with each successive release. The quality threshold remains so high throughout that it's barely worth picking out highlights: it's literally "all good", and you really should check out the album when you get a chance.
You Hung - "The Truth Was Different" (live) (5:04)
Fret - "Helicopter Rig" (4:51)
Concrete Fench - "Track 5" (2:46)
Simon Shreeve - "The Space Between Cultures" (4:50)
Obelus - "Scale Reference" (4:29)
Layne - "Raising Up, Removal" (4:22)
Khrone & Mjolsness - "5th Recording 7" (5:43)
DVA Damas - "People Say I'm Cool"
Review: This fine compilation from Regis' Downwards label has been trailed as a kind of "family portrait" of where the imprint stands in 2019, offering a slew of exclusive tracks including a heap of cross-generational collaborations. There is plenty to set the pulse racing throughout the collection. "EBM supergroup" You Hung impresses via the moody and clanking, mid-80s industrial vibes of "The Truth Was Different (Live)", while Obelus' "Scale Reference" sounds like Richard D James after a particularly potent bong hit. Simon Shreeve's "The Space Between Cultures" is a creepy slab of ambient/noise fusion, Layne's "Raising Up, Removal" is a delightfully out there journey into metallic electro headiness and DVA Damas' sub-heavy cut "People Say I'm Cool" is as stylish and, let's face it, cool as the title suggests.
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: It's been seen years since ambient maestro Jonny Nash realised with Kyle Martin as Land Of Light. This return is a glorious one, however, and was written and composed over the course of two years. It is a fantastically spacious record that places you in the middle of the stereo field as acoustic instruments, contact microphones and Martin's self-built modular synthesiser all add timbre, texture and tone to the mix. Organic yet otherworldly, it is music that soundtracks a beautiful void and will leave you feeling utterly replenished over the course of eight subtly majestic and absorbing tracks.
Americo Brito & Djarama - "Rapaz Novo E Malandro" (7:32)
Cabo Verde Show - "Terra Longe" (3:30)
Elisio Vieira - "Tchon Di Somada" (4:20)
Vlu - "Rua D'Lisboa" (5:45)
Galaxia 2000 - "Coracao Dum Criola" (3:55)
Mendes & Mendes - "Mitamiyo" (5:24)
Danny Carvalho - "Roncanbai" (4:37)
Mendes & Mendes - "Walkman" (4:50)
Jose Casimiro - "La Mamai Ta Bem" (5:01)
Elisio Vieira - "Bem Di Fora" (5:35)
Zeca & Zeze Di Nha Reinalda - "Mocinhos" (4:24)
Review: Rotterdam is one of the many big port cities around the world that welcomed a high number of Cape Verdean immigrants. In the 1970s, Americo Brito was one of them and he soon got involved with the local music scene and found an ever larger community of likeminded talents. He took to the stage with his band and made for a buzzy little scene that found them tour with their own sound system. Here he works with Rotterdam local Arp Frique to serve up Cape Verdean music old and new with plenty of traditional Funana and Coladeira sounds next to jams influenced by wave, disco and funk, jazz, reggae and Latin pop.
Me! I Diconnect From You (BBC Peel Session) (3:07)
Down In The Park (BBC Peel Session) (4:18)
I Nearly Married A Human (BBC Peel Session) (6:38)
Review: Beggars Banquet turn to their Arkive arm for this 40th anniversary edition of Tubeway Army's classic early works. "The First Recordings", from 1979 has been identically sequenced as the original release with early versions of the tracks. Alongside hits "Replicas" and "Are "Friends" Electric?", our picks of the batch are "Me! I Disconnect From You", an archetypal deadpan delivery with mechanical grooves, the grungy and rock-laced "Only A Downstat" and lovable robo-pop "We Have A Technical".
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.
Review: On his 2008 debut album "Where You Go, I Go Too", Hans-Peter Lindstrom offered up a grandiose vision that was almost cinematic in scope. His new album, "On A Clear Day I Can See You Forever", opts for a similar approach, delivering a quartet of atmospheric, moody and filmic cuts that slowly rise, fall and unfurl throughout their duration. Whether or not he becomes Norway's answer to Vangelis, that's the kind of vibe we get from stunningly icy and alien ambient opener "On A Clear Day I Can See You Forever" and the bubbly, uptempo throb of "Really Deep Snow". It's there, too, on the outer-space bliss of "Swing Low Sweet LFO" (we chuckled, at least) - think Radiophonic Workshop meets Jean-Michel Jarre - and the melancholic, modular-sounding beauty of clicking and echoing closing cut "As If No One Is Here". In a word: stunning.
Review: Last year, NYC based revivalist "gospel quartet" group the Harlem Gospel Travelers finally made their vinyl debut album after five years wowing audiences on the live circuit. 12 months later, they're finally ready to release their first full-length excursion. A nostalgic trip through 1950s and 1960s style gospel-based rhythms and blues, soul, funk and doo-wop, the album's greatest strength - aside from the authenticity of the music and production of course - is the group's incredible vocals. Brilliantly arranged harmonies play a big part, though the lead vocals (shared between all four members) are little less than stunning.
Shine On Through (feat Mountain & Karina Ramage) (4:11)
Kosa (feat Keeno) (5:58)
The Encounter (feat Bop) (5:40)
Miles Ahead (feat DJ Marky) (4:11)
Morning Sunrise (feat Danny Wheeler, G Force & Blu James) (4:55)
Tokyo '96 (feat SPY) (5:24)
Show Me How You Feel (feat Lorna King) (4:52)
Dive (feat Polaris) (5:42)
Liberta (feat Urbandawn) (4:34)
Living For (feat Paul T & Edward Oberon) (5:28)
Transparent (feat Whiney) (4:57)
Mystic Crystals (feat Technimatic) (5:16)
Nexus (feat Pola & Bryson) (4:13)
Merchant Blessing (feat MC Conrad) (4:31)
Review: Makato is often cited as one of the pioneering founders of Japan's drum & bass scene. He's now up to his sixth studio album and it finds his airy, rolling, sweet flowing beats all present and correct. "Tomodachi Sessions" derived from a series of collaborations with close friends who have all played a part in his 25 year career. DJ Marky, S.P.Y, Bop and MC Conrad all feature and lend their own personalities to an album that offers celebratory hands in the air tracks like "Shine On Through" next to more late night dancers like "Transparent" and melodic explorations like "Show Me How You Feel".
Review: Felipe Salmon and Rafael Pereira aka Dengue Dengue Dengue's third album is an exploration of Afro-Peruvian musical traditions laced with their usual sense of so-called tropical futures and off beat rhythmic patterns. It makes for hypnotic grooves that are loose and jumbled, organic and fully authentic especially when members of the Ballumbrosio family, who are experts in traditional rhythmic styles like lando, festejo and crioullo music, as well as traditional dances and instruments like the quijada, have helped create this album. Fleshing out the drums are fizzes and woodblocks, smeared synthwork and occasional Latin vocals that drift to the top as the bass roams down low. An intoxicating listen that transports you to another world entirely.
Review: Brooklyn talent Your Old Droog is a brightly emerging star on the hip hop scene. He has a voice that reminds us a little of the one and only Common, and his flow is just as smooth, his storytelling just as lucid, and his delivery just as easy to parse. Cool, calm and collected, his raps anchor each tune and "Looseys", a long out of print album still sounds as fresh as ever. It has contributions from Joey Bada$$, Styles P, and Rast RFC, as well as beats made by acclaimed names such was Oh No, Black Milk, Statik Selektah, and Jonwayne.
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.
Late For Sum (Kincaid Sleep Deprived version) (5:24)
What's The Time? (Kincaid remix) (5:59)
Distant Storm (Kincaid remix) (6:36)
Not A Priority (Kincaid remix) (6:10)
I Smashed Your Phone (Kincaid Wolfish remix) (5:22)
Review: This is a second release from the familia collaborative duo of Kincaid and his dad Blancmange. Their first EP made a big mark when it landed on Moscoman's Disco Halal imprint and now they back it up with more sludgy electronics, deconstructed dark disco and coldwave synth styles. "Late For Sum" opens in mysterious, spacious fashion before a Kincaid version reworks it into something more propulsive for the club. The darkened mood and trippy synths continue on "What's The Time?" while the b side offers exotic Middle Eastern disco, cosmic melodies and stark electro-techno with real panache.
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: "Dreams Are Not Enough" is not only the first Telefon Tel Aviv album for a decade, but also the first since the accidental death of founder member Charles Cooper the same year. It's perhaps understandable, then, that the album is bittersweet and melancholic in tone, with surviving member John Eustis offering up a range of drowsy, dream-like songs and instrumentals - think layered ambient, gentle Balearic synth-pop and tear-jerking late night soundscapes - that seem more laden with feeling than anything he or Cooper released during the band's successful early years. It's a genuinely beautiful, poignant and picturesque set capable of stirring emotions in even the most steely of listeners, and a fitting tribute - if, indeed, it was meant to be - to Telefon Tel Aviv's missing member.
Review: The latest instalment in Into The Light Records' ongoing "International Series" comes from Max Santilli, an Australian multi-instrumentalist previously best known for working alongside Jacob Fugar in Angophora. "Surface" is Santilli's debut solo album and has been compiled from an archive of home studio recordings made between 2016 and 2018. Predictably, it's rather good, with Santilli wrapping drowsy, slowly shifting musical flourishes (guitars, synths etc) around gentle, sun-kissed rhythms and suitably spacey chords. Throughout, the Sydney-based musician offers subtle nods towards his various inspirations (the ambient-jazz fusion of Michael Bierylo, Steve Hillage's timeless early ambient works and the intricate acoustic guitar playing of Steve Tibbetts and Miguel Herrero) while forging his own distinctly lo-fi and otherworldly path.
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".
Smile (feat Ms Dezy, Aloe Blacc, Latoiya Williams) (4:12)
Fruitful (feat Sean Biggs) (4:31)
Big Mel (2:56)
Review: Cali-bred, Nevada-based couple G&D aka Georgia and Dudley have long been dealing in lyrically challenging hip hop that brings racial issues to the fore. More relevant and impassioned than ever in the era of Trump and his MAGA nonsense, Dudley says of this new album, "Truth fucks with people. This ain't just music; it's a message and a tool to raise up the spirit of the black race". As such the album mixes up those ideas with g-funk, soul, 70s funk, psychedelic sounds and contemporary beat making into an album that runs the gamut of emotions and will keep you coming back for more.
Review: A Lou Rebecca full length has been on the cards for a while and now it lands a year after her breakout and self-titled "Lou" EP. The Austin-based Parisian synth-pop singer makes music that is nuanced with romanticism and driven by soft but decisive drum patterns that make you want to bop. There are vibrant songs with contemporary sensibilities, rich pop nuggets and darker tacks like "Break It Apart" but it is when Lou is at her most happy and outgoing that she sounds best for our money. Check the lovely, harmonically smooth ditty that is "Desire" for proof.
Review: Renowned studio wizard Prince Fatty finally follows 2015's "The Clone Theory" album with a second studio long player jam packed with heavy dubs and top notch guests. "In The Viper's Shadow" is a real hotlist of dub kingpins with the likes of Tippa Irie, George Dekker, Earl 16 and Horseman all contributing to a melting pot of sounds that spans multiple eras and influences. Many of these tracks have been popular during Prince Fatty's live shows over the last couple of years, from the soul infused cover of the Temptations' "Get Ready" to the sun kissed and lumpy drums and endless reverb of "Everything Crash". Timeless stuff.
Review: Vic Mars spent many years in Nagoya, Japan, and it shows in the delicate beauty of his compositions. Fusing understated elegance with the lilting folk traditions of the British Isles, his music is equal parts pastoral and ethereal. Following plenty of previous appearances on boutique London label Clay Pipe, he returns with "Inner Roads & Outer Paths", a thoroughly calming sojourn through fingerpicked guitar refrains, plaintive piano and plenty more instrumentation besides. There's a subtle tint of processing that lends an otherworldly edge to the ambience Mars is imparting - a truly soul-nourishing departure from the intensity of the modern age.
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: Hiroki Takahashi has delivered compelling ambient long players to Not Not Fun, Muzan Editions and more besides, but his most prominent works to date have landed on Where To Now?. Following the "Where To Be Vol. 2" cassette and "Raum" LP, he's back with the frankly gorgeous "Sonne Und Wasser", an EP that further highlights his exploration of crystalline ambience. "Nymphaea" and "Pollen" hover in glacial suspension, with pealing chimes ringing out their richly resonant tones over sustained notes pitched to melancholic perfection. "Photosynthese" centres on fragile sequenced patterns, while "Wurzel" occupies its own particularly wistful mood, played in a key distinct from the three prior pieces.
Review: Root Down is an experimental album from 1994 when The Beastie Boys locked themselves in a rehearsal space and went to town on studio experimentation and live jamming. It came between "Paul's Boutique" and "Check Your Head" and resulted in two previously unreleased versions of the title track and snippets of music recorded while on tour in Europe. There is the typical Beastie Boys mix of floor rocking riffs but with funky new flows stitched in and thus charts the period in which the band went from their post punk guitar roots to a more new-groove driven sound.
Review: Many may know Seungyoung Lee AKA Mogwaa from his superb EPs and singles on Starwave, which sit somewhere between chillwave, boogie, proto-house and Italo-disco. There have been plenty of signs of his musical dexterity, though, and its' this side of his chameleon-like character that come to the fore on debut album "07307". While decidedly Balearic in vibe and tone, the album's nine instrumental soundscapes draw on a dizzying array of influences, from the synthesizer-based sounds he's known for to jazz, ambient, new age, dubbed-out synth-pop, Turkish style psychedelia and spaced-out movie soundtracks. In other words, it's a hugely enjoyable, atmospheric and alluring musical trip that surprises and delights at every turn.