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: Longstanding New York troupe El Michels Affair bite down on 2017 with two on-point left-sided soul jams. "Tearz" is a biggie, not least because it features Lee Fields and The Shacks. A warm, organ groove with loose breaks and drops into pure harmonic bliss, it's another spellbinding affair from the Wu-approved crew. "Verbal Intercourse" takes more of a slinkier, subtle approach with clipped horns spitting an insistent hook over sparse, twanging instrumental elements. Stunning, as always.
Review: Shots fired from the 37th chamber... The El Michels Affair's long-standing love for the Wu legacy continues on hot 45" with two more perfect covers from their last album. First up GZA's "Shadow Boxing" gets a hazy Booker T-style shakedown with those dreamy hammonds breezing through like top-down caddies. FlipGhostface Killah's "Iron Maiden" gets the swooning, woozy treatment with a breakdown that flips like a wild dream. No one does Wu covers like Leon Michels' troupe.
Review: Leon Michel's El Michels Affair has always grabbed our attention, since the very early days of the Juno website, back in the early 00s. The New York outfit, an instrumental collective that seems to change every decade, have been experimenting with jazz and all sorts of ethereal styles from across the globe. This new single, out through the trusted Big Crown label, is perhaps one of their most memorable outings of the last 5 years. The title track, "Unathi", is a mystical voyage across time and space, with psyched-out vocals riding high above a solid trip-hop groove and a marvelous array of trippy atmospherics. On the flip, "Zaharila" is a slower, moodier piece that speaks to the heart, spewing horns and tough beats from every angle, making it instantly recognizable and, yes, as seductive as most of El Michels Affair's music. Excellent.
Review: Once again, El Michels Affair is back with the second instalment of their highly acclaimed "Shaolin Series", bridging the widening gap between hip hop and instrumental soul. After the success of "Cream", the band got back in the studio and churned out two more interpretations of essential wu-bangers! The A side is an instrumental version of the landmark track "Bring The Ruckus" from the Wu Tang's breakthrough album "Enter The 36 Chambers". Stripping the track back to the bare bones, this gives a more sinister vibe to the track. Over on the flip GZA's "Duel Of The Iron Mic" get the respectful treatment, adding strings, horns and original vocal drops from the original. Essential.
Review: Deep into his chamber-lurking follow-up Wu odyssey, Leon Michels stumbled upon shy New York twosome The Shacks and convinced them to record this hazy summer-primed 45". Singer Shannon steals the show with softness and honesty as the band weave a psychedelic bed of sliding guitars and faraway harmonies. Both laced with a woozy 60s edge and beautifully playful lyrics, the whole EP sparkles with soul and talent from both The Shacks and Leon's ever-reliable troupe.