Review: For Record Store Day 2018, UK downbeat legends Zero 7 present an exclusive collectors box set. The package contains seven 7"s, containing 14 tracks picked by Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker themselves. Featuring their acclaimed collaborations with Sia, Sophie Barker, Mozez, Jose Gonzalez and Martha Tilston among others. This is the first time some of these tracks have been made available on such format. Four tracks are taken from 2001's Simple Things LP, a further three are taken from their 2004 album When It Falls, four from The Garden (2006) and the final two come from the 2009 album Yeah Ghost. Artwork is by the band's original design collaborator (Julian House) and the sleeves are colour coded - placed into a cruciform overwrap sleeve with heavyweight vinyl.
Review: It was way back in 2008 when Dave Jones AKA Zed Bias joined forces in the studio with U.S hip-hop and house legend DJ Spinna and Manchester soul songstress Fyza. For one reason or another, the resultant track, "FWD & Back" was never released. Having recently rediscovered it on an old hard drive, Jones has decided to release it on Biasonic. The seven-inch contains both vocal and instrumental versions, with the former hitting home hardest thanks to Fyza's fine vocal, which reminded us a little of classic broken beat cuts by Bugz In The Attic and Neon Phusion. Musically, the backing track doffs a cap to those West London acts, too, as well as Jones' soul-fired bruk-up project for Hospital Records, Phuturistix.
Review: Cultures Of Soul's Brasileiro Treasure Box Of Funk & Soul unleashes two more once-rare gems on 45: recently spotted on The Man From Unkle soundtrack, tropicalia fusionist Tommy Ze gets fuzzy and frenetic with "Jimmy Renda Se". With its deep cut, loose string riff, rhythmic Q&A vocals and occasional strings, it's one of many reminders of how out there Tommy was. Flip for the equally unique and alluring "Kizumbau" where Eduardo and his troupe let us imagine what life would have been like if The Doors and Babe Ruth were Brazilian and collaborated.
Review: Since its release in 1973, Ze Roberto's debut single "Lotus 72 D" has become something of an in-demand item amongst collectors of soul-fired Brazilian "MPB". So much so, in fact, that Mr Bongo has licensed it and served up this 7" reissue. In its original A-side form, the track is a carnival-ready slab of samba-soul brilliance rich in razor-sharp horn blasts, rich bass guitar, punchy hand-percussion and twinkling jazz piano solos. Roberto's confident vocals take centre stage, inviting us towards the dancefloor. Over on the flip you'll find a "Fast Version" of Roberto's tribute to 1972 Formula 1 champ Emerson Fittipaldi. This has a slightly more dancefloor-centric tempo, an effect achieved when it was accidentally pitched up for inclusion on a 2001 compilation.
Review: George Btp has many strings to his bow, from his work as Dan Piu to his Allstar Motomusic aliases and his deepArtSounds label. His Zarenzeit band with Robert P has been quietly cruising since the mid 90s, although first surfaced on deepArtSounds in 2016 with the Black Inside album. Now the project returns with a limited 7" release for fellow deep house traveler Dubbyman's Deep Explorer label, and the results are as seductive and subliminal as you would expect. "Before Midnight" fuses swirling galaxies of high end synth work with a snappy electro funk backbeat, which Dubbyman reworks on the flip into one of his trademark deeper than deep dancefloor cuts.
Review: Another superb afrofunk outing from Renata Do Valle's Hello Sailor as he and Tom Noble dig deep and apply a little cosmic edit craft. Marthe Zambo's horn-tooting, key-tickling soul gun "Alu" gets a little tempo touch, a thrust in the kick department and a lavish synth solo breakdown. Meanwhile on the B the latent funk and insistent swing of Nigerian legend Sonny Okosuns' "My Ancestors" is given a perfect and respectful lick of contemporary production paint and a little cosmic polish. Hello indeed.
Review: It would be fair to say that Timi Yuro's "As Long As There Is You" is a sought-after single. Something of a "holy grail" amongst soul collectors, original copies of the 1969 7" on Liberty Records regularly change hands for upwards of 1,000 quid. Happily, you can now acquire a fresh copy for a fraction of the cost thanks to this facsimile Expansions reissue. Fuzzy, heartfelt, stomping and blessed with wall of sound style production, "As Long As There Is You" is the kind of sad-but-happy track that used to make Northern Soul dancers go weak at the knees. Yuro's Central American influences can be heard loud and clear on "It'll Never Be Over For Me", where Mariachi style trumpet lines and sweeping strings rise above a heavy, bossa-influenced groove.
Disco Baby (Floating Points & Red Greg edit) (3:55)
Review: If online chatter is to be believed, this tasty 7" from Floating Points' Melodies label is one of the most keenly anticipated disco releases of the year. For starters, the A-side boasts an obscure (but in demand) solo production from Manhattan Transfer keyboardist Yaron Gershovsky. "Disco Baby" is a prime chunk of jaunty, jazz-funk influenced disco-funk, the keyboardist's own jammed-out riffs and solos taking pride of place in the mix alongside punchy horns and a lolloping groove. Arguably even better, though, is Floating Points and Red Greg's flipside re-edit, which plays around with the original version's all-too-short drum break before letting the synths, keys and horns really sparkle.