Music Reviews

Show: New reviews | Artists beginning with: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0-9 | Compilations
Travel Light / Children Of Zeus

Children Of Zeus - Travel Light

First Word

Tyler Daley and Konny Kon, better known as Children Of Zeus have been in the game for two decades. Daley appeared under the moniker Hoodman and Kon appearing in a number of groups as a DJ, beatmaker and MC. They first met in 2005 and soon after released three critically acclaimed singles and an EP on First Word records. Their impressive full length debut features an array of talented artists emerging from the burgeoning soul scene in Manchester. "Travel Light" is drenched in laidback rhodes driven hip hop soul and the results are deeply satisfying. Daley's smooth tenor vocals are a complement to Kon's hard hitting rhymnes. On "The Story So Far" Konny and Mc Mstr1 trade bars over a soulful hip hop inspired neck snapping drum beat. "The Heart Beat" is mellowed out 70s soul well suited for Daley's vocals and Kon's poignant verses. Up and coming vocalist LayFullStop lays down blissful vocals on "Fear Of A Flat Planet" and "Hard Work" is dub style lovers rock. Each of these thirteen tracks pack a punch and will be worthy of repeated listens. This is a very strong debut and certainly of the best lps of the year.

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Reg Dancy, 09/18

Tradition / Soothsayers

Soothsayers - Tradition

Wah Wah 45s

The South London Afro Dub collective Soothsayers have been enlightening listeners about social issues through stimulating dub rhythms for two decades. "Tradition" is their first full length release for Wah Wah 45s and it's filled with thought provoking messages layered over a thumping sounds system. "Sleepwalking" is inspired by Fela Kuti so having Dele Sosimi on vocals makes perfect sense. "Take Me High" is filled with hypnotic guitar rhythms and features the falsetto of Cornell Campbell. "Natural Mystic" starts out with a warm flute solo followed by hypnotic horns and percussion that will take you on a journey to the Motherland. Overall an engaging record loaded with strong instrumentation and good vibrations.

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Reg Dancy, 09/18

The Pool / Jazzanova

Jazzanova - The Pool

Sonar Kollektiv

There are a select number of groups that can remain relevant despite not releasing an album within the last decade but Jazzanova is one of the exceptions to that rule. Team members Alex Barck, Claas Brieler, Axel Reinemer, Jorgen Von Knoblauch and Stefan Leisering have anything but idle as they've been working on various projects. Their growth as musicians are evident on this release. "The Pool" embarks on a myriad of musical styles with assistance from an impressive group of friends old and new. One of those new friends is rapper Oddisee who kicks off the disc with the brooding albeit painfully short hip hop gem "Now". "Follow Your Feel" is an upbeat soulful tune featuring Pete Josef on vocals. "Sincere" is filled with minimalist synth grooves and features up and coming vocalist Noah Slee. Jamie Cullum's uplifting vocals will pluck your heart strings on the haunting ballad "Let's Live Well". There's much more here to savor and that's no surprise. A Jazzanova album has never disappointed and this one is no exception.

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Reg Dancy, 09/18

Sound Almighty / Nat Birchall Meets Al Breadwinner

Nat Birchall Meets Al Breadwinner - Sound Almighty

Tradition Disc

Manchester based Tenor Saxophonist Nat Birchall has carved out an impressive resume of spiritual jazz recordings, specifically on Matthew Halsall's Gondwana label. On "Sound Almighty" he teams up with Al Breadwinner & the Breadwinners, a reggae group also based in Manchester. Birchall's fluid horn floats seamlessly across the Breadwinners rhythm section that features Vin Gordon on Trombone, David Fullwood on Trumpet and Stally on Baritone sax. Founder Al Breadwinner's guitar rhythms and percussion bring it all together. The ten track disc flows with meditative traditional reggae dub rhythms. Among the highlights are "Ancient Wisdom" and "Freedom Skank". "Amiak Dub" is hypnotic dub at it's best. An impressive collaboration that's worthy of repeated listens.

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Reg Dancy, 09/18

The Lewis Express / The Lewis Express

The Lewis Express - The Lewis Express

ATA Records

Based in Leeds, The Lewis Express pays tribute to the sixties soul jazz trio Young Holt that also featured famed pianist Ramsey Lewis. With recurring members from the ATA label they revisit a time where jazz and RnB lived side by side. "Love Can Turn A Man" is a slow burning piano driven tune featuring pianist George Cooper. "Cancao De Momento" is an upbeat funky Latin tune with a stirring piano intro followed up with spirited percussion from Pete Williams. "Brother Move On" is a classic soul jazz tune that features funky horn arrangements to complement the double bass work of Neil Innes. This is another strong release from the emerging ATA label that will get a warm reception from funk and soul enthusiasts.

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Reg Dancy, 08/18

Music 4 Alternative Souls / DJ Simon S

DJ Simon S - Music 4 Alternative Souls

Futuristica

DJ/Producer Simon S has been at the helm of Futuristica for well over a decade. Few labels have consistently released as much high quality downtempo grooves and jazz infused soulful hip hop during this period. The aptly titled "Music 4 Alternative Souls" is filled with dreamy tracks and thought provoking hip hop that sink into your body and warm your soul. "Looking" is sublime downtempo soul by vocalist J.Mcfysian. Newcomer Georgie Sweet's tender vocals are a delight on the blissful "Half Human". Rapper Jack Jones spits poignant verses on the gritty "Slick". There's some notable remixes as well. K15 reworks "For You" into a lush house stomper and Mecca 83's layered beats on "Beautiful" are also a highlight. This superb release is just a snapshot of the notable contributions from the Futuristica family. Press play, lean back and enjoy.

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Reg Dancy, 08/18

Heaven and Earth / Kamasi Washington

Kamasi Washington - Heaven and Earth

Young Turks

With "Heaven and Earth" Kamasi Washington picks up where "The Epic" left off. Like "The Epic" this is a triple lp filled with orchestral arrangements, a angelic choir and an array of talented musicians from his hometown of Los Angeles. The title reflects Kamasi's view into the world and it's potential vs it's struggle. "Fists of Fury" is transformed from a Bruce Lee soundtrack to an anthem for justice that features Dwight Trible among others on vocals. "Hub Tones" is a blistering cover of a Freddie Hubbard original that features Chris Gray on trumpet. There's plenty of notable Kamasi compositions as well. "Vi Lua Vi Sol" is a soft melodic tune that features Branden Coleman on keys and the vocoder. Trombonist Ryan Porter applies warm solos as well. "One Of One" is another fiery tune that brings it all together. A climatic arrangement supported by the choir, a strong rhythm section and blistering horns from Washington and Gray. Simply another superb release from a rising star who shows no signs of slowing down

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Reg Dancy, 08/18

The Shakedown / Tenderlonious

Tenderlonious - The Shakedown

22a

After a slew of impressive EPs, Ed Cawthorne aka Tenderlonious drops a proper full length album. "The Shakedown" features his current band the 22a Orchestra, a collective of like minded musicians who know how to groove. The album was recorded in one session and the vibe is laid back 70s jazz and soul styles. "Expansion", a chilled out fender rhodes driven tunes filled with spirited drumming from Yussef Dayes and Reginald Omas on percussion. Cawthorne's flute soloing dances over the beat and figures prominently throughout this session. "Yussef's Groove" highlights Dayes prowess in driving the rhythm. "SV Disco" is a nod to Detroit hip-hop group Slum Village. The track is laced with an infectious bass groove courtesy of Fergus Ireland and tasty keys from Hamish Balfour. Tenderlonious had already made a name for himself for dropping infectious beats and heavy grooves. He's steadily evolving into a formidable jazz musician as well.

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Reg Dancy, 08/18

Time Grove Roots / Time Grove

Time Grove - Time Grove Roots

Wah Wah 45s

Time Grove Roots is the brainchild of Pianist Nitai Hershkovits and beatmaker/producer Rejoicer. Joined by an array of equally talented musicians, they've created an amalgation of atmospheric soundscapes wrapped in jazz, funk, and other musical styles. Among the highlights are "The Navigator", where drummer Sol Monk lays down a studdering hypnotic beat for vocalist Shuzin. Guest vocalist Georgia Anne Muldrow sounds right at home on the haunting piano driven "Sattelite Dish". "The Chase After Tomorrow" is a down-tempo tune filled with frenzied beats by Bemet aka Rejoicer and Hod Moshonov plus vocalist KerenDun. "My Turn" is a dreamy composition from Hershkovits filled with adventurous soloing from dynamic guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel. This is an engaging release that's filled with pleasant surprises and comes together beautifully. Definitely worth checking out.

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Reg Dancy, 08/18

Free As The Birds / Jay Phelps

Jay Phelps - Free As The Birds

Ropeadope

Vancouver native Jay Phelps began making a name for himself at home before deciding to move to London at age Seventeen. While establishing himself he proceeded to co-lead the jazz group known as Empirical to critical acclaim. With his sophomore solo release the Trumpeter is ready to expand his sound. "Free As The Birds" kicks off with ethereal intro "Of The World" showcasing his warm tone and soft vocals. "Amphitrite's Bounty" is another blissful beauty filled with warm keys. Things get a bit more adventurous midway through the disc when Phelps partners up with some of New York's premiere musicians. Phelps soloing syncs up beautifully with David Binney's alto and the wordless melodies of Emillia Martensson on "Flash". Pianist John Escreet's dazzling flurries raises the track to even greater heights. The sparkling samba tinged title track brims with joy in part due to Nilson Batata's lively percussion and Martina DeSilva's soft vocals. The entire disc is a delight and worthy of repeated listens. There's a lot to like here from Phelps and he's one to keep an eye on for sure.

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Reg Dancy, 07/18

Palmares Fantasy / Sean Khan

Sean Khan - Palmares Fantasy

Far Out Recordings

Saxophonist Sean Khan heads to Rio De Janeiro to collaborate with the iconic multi-instrumentalist Hermeto Pascoal. You could say that these two are kindred spirits when it comes to improvisation. Their quest for freedom and being in the moment is heard throughout on tracks like "Montreux". This Pascoal original finds him creating rhythms with the use of a teapot and a pint of water. Khan's phrasings are subtle but resonate nonetheless. Another Pascoal cover. the breezy jazz funk "Tudo Que Voce Podia Ser" features the sublime vocals of Rio native Sabrina Malheiros. Khan's own compositions hit the mark as well. The orchestral "Moment Of Collapse" is draped in wind swept strings and the beautiful vocals of Heidi Vogel. "The Blonde" finds them swinging hard and having a good time. Bassist Paulo Russo and Asymuth drummer Jim Mullen keep the rhythm percolating at a fever pitch and laying the groundwork for Khan's soloing. Inspired by the 17th Century settlement of Palmares in Brazil's Alagoas region, Khan takes the listener on an astral journey that is pure bliss. Khan and Pascoal together are a real treat that you shouldn't miss.

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Reg Dancy, 07/18

It's A World Before You / Kaidi Tatham

Kaidi Tatham - It's A World Before You

First Word

One of the pioneers of the West London broken beat scene, Kaidi Tatham continues to push his music forward with a sparkling new lp. "It's A World Before You" is filled with breathless up-tempo broken beat and nu soul grooves filled with optimistic vibes. The opener "Joyous" is simply that, an uplifting banger laced with jolting keys and bass. "Out Here On My Own" is mid-tempo soul featuring label mates Children Of Zeus. The title track is another up-tempo heater. It's also the only one where he shares instrumental duties in which he's joined by kindred spirit and broken beat stalwart Dego. Together their keyboard arrangements along with Tatham's drum programming shine through. Mixed by producer extraodianaire Eric Lau who knows how master a recording with the best of them. It adds up to a superb recording that will stay on repeat this summer.

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Reg Dancy, 07/18

Wvr Bvby / Wvr Bvby

Wvr Bvby - Wvr Bvby

Plug Seven

Pronounced "War Baby", Wvr Bvby is an eight piece band from Melbourne. Their debut for Plug Seven records is a mesmerizing collection of high energy compositions built around meditative rhythms and a hypnotic horn section. Lead/Bassist Carl Lindeberg demonstrates strong songwriting skills on all but 2 tracks here and allows freedom for everyone to shine. "Magnetic Ruins" is filled with swaying horns and seductive rhodes playing from Phoebe Elsworth who also wrote the tune. "BSP" kicks off with engaging guitar licks from Joseph Orton followed up with breezy flute melodies from Erica Tucceri. The band's sublime melodies steadily builds towards a dramatic orchestrated climax. The finale "And Another Thing" is a ten minute number that follows the same formula. Superb songwriting layered with strong musicianship throughout as opposed to long winded jam sessions. Overall an impressive release from yet another talented band from Melbourne that deserves your attention.

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Reg Dancy, 07/18

Jack Of All Trades / Lack Of Afro

Lack Of Afro - Jack Of All Trades

LOA Records

Multi-instrumentalist Adam Gibbons aka Lack Of Afro's aptly titled "Jack Of All Trades" finds him stretching out across a myriad of genres. As a result we suggest you dust off your party shoes and get into the assortment of grooves he's delivered. Whatever your taste is there's plenty here to get your motor running here. "Reach Out (Talk To Me)" is a classic soul floor burner with a tasty guitar groove featuring crooner Elliot Cole. "Only You & Me" is a funky Disco floor filler that features Alyssa & Camila Recchio. Wax & Herbal are two MCs that know how to get the party jumping and they demonstrate on "Back In Business" and "Take It Up A Notch". Gibbons finds room for a little rock and folk as well with "Over & Out" and "Home" respectively. Gibbon's sixth lp is much like previous releases, well produced and packed with tasty grooves. Loyal fans are in for a treat and new fans will be equally pleased.

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Reg Dancy, 07/18

Y-OTIS / Otis Sandsjo

Otis Sandsjo - Y-OTIS

Wejazz

This is the debut album from Swedish native and Berlin based Saxophonist Otis Sandsjo. "Y-OTIS" is filled with dazzling compositions built around wobbly polyrhythms and electronics. Bassist Frans Petter Eldh, who also produced the album knows how to shake things up end move in an exploratory direction. On engaging tracks like "Yung" and "BOO!", Sandsjo's melodic riffs meld seamlessly with glorious interaction from pianist Elias Stemeseder. "Sun Sun" is another abstract tune that kicks off with heavy beats from drummer Tilo Weber followed by hazy horn riffs and imaginative keys. Each member of this quartet has received their share of praise from the jazz community but they're unafraid to soar beyond the boundaries. This is a creative gem that you shouldn't miss.

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Reg Dancy, 07/18

Waaju / Waaju

Waaju - Waaju

Olindo Records

Waaju is a quintet specializing in Afro Caribbean funk with a touch of jazz. The London based band have collaborated with a number of acts like Ashley Henry, Jordan Rakei and others. Although it's only an ep with five tracks they leave a lasting impression with infectious compositions and sparkling performances. The energetic opening track "Ali's Mall"is filled with pulsating percussion and warm guitar arrangements. It's also a nod to Malian guitarist Ali Farka Toure, a huge influence on the band. The polyrhythmnic "Kaolack" has sketches of dub and features sparkling cerebral electric guitar playing from Tal Janes. "Waaju" is filled with spirited percussion from Ernesto Marichales. Sam Rapley's Tenor sax is also a highlight. One can only hope that this is just the appetizer and a full length lp will be forthcoming. It should be a certainty based on the strength of this engaging record.

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Reg Dancy, 07/18

Shamal Wind / Chip Wickham

Chip Wickham - Shamal Wind

Lovemonk

With "Shamal Wind" flutist/saxophonist Chip Wickham draws inspiration from Arabian influences. Specifically Doha, a land rooted in ancient cultures and a destination for him to recover from throat Cancer. A new perspective on life inspires him to release five albums within the next five years. For now let's just enjoy this engaging record. Recorded in Madrid, Wickham's band is comprised of musicians from Spain as well as the UK who were part of the soul jazz circuit he helped cultivate from years past. On the sublime title "Shamal Wind", Wickham's warm touch receives harmonic support from Ton Risco on vibes. "Snake Eyes" is a explosive tune that showcases Wickham's fluttering expressive flute and Phil Wilkinson's prowess on keys. Matthew Halsall jumps aboard and combines warm melodies on the splendid modal ballad "The Mirage". Wickham is following the lineage of Spiritual jazz multi-instrumentalists like Yusef Lateef and Sahib Shihab. It's a blessing that he's restored his health and contributing superb compositions once again.

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Reg Dancy, 06/18

Earth / Emanative

Emanative - Earth

Jazzman

Nick Woodmansey aka Emanative's 2009 release "Space" was a celestial beauty of cosmic compositions. That astral journey would lead to "The Light Years Of The Darkness", the first release for the Steve Reid Foundation. Through that project he would connect with a number of like minded musicians that would inspire a deeper dive into his spirituality, which brings us to "Earth". Emanative's latest release focuses on African, Indian and Middle Eastern influences. Among the highlights are "Heaven's Mirror", enhanced by The Pyramids Idris Ackamoor's psychedelic horn riffs and David Molina's deep bass grooves. "Iyaami" sets the tone with a five minute balafon solo before seguing into a slow simmering Afrobeat groove for vocalist Dele Sosimi. "Sandhyavandanam" is a meditative tune with a hypnotic bass and Tabla rhythms. Nat Birchall contributes his tenor sax melodies to "Spice Route Suite" and "Reflection". The latter features heavenly vocal harmonies from Liz Elensky. Other notable contributors throughout this disc include Jessica Lauren, Sarathy Korwar, Tamar Osborn, Ben Hadwen and Ahu just to name a few. Woodmansey set a high bar with his previous projects yet he has easily surpassed them with a tremendous record.

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Reg Dancy, 06/18

Let Your Light Shine On / Nicola Conte

Nicola Conte - Let Your Light Shine On

MPS

Once known as simply a DJ/Producer, Nicola Conte has turned himself into a credible guitarist as well. "Let Your Light Shine On", his first release for MPS records showcases his own playing along with his band Spiritual Galaxy. The band members are a accomplish group who are joined by an A-list of guest stars. Together they blaze through an array of jazz infused Afro soul compositions. Trombonist Glantuca Petrella's coloring behind the beautiful vocals of Bridgette Amofah on the sun drenched "Space Dimensions" is a delight. Another lovely voice, Zara Mac Farlane serenades us with her tender vocals on the soulful sublime "Ogun". "Mystic Revolution" and "Me Do Wo" are two mellow Afrobeat tunes that feature trumpeter Theo Coker and alto saxophonist Logan Richardson. Every track stands on it's own and worth playing throughout. Conte's sparkling release emanates positive vibes during restless times and makes for a joyful listen.

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Reg Dancy, 06/18

Stranger In The Mirror / Jake Mason

Jake Mason - Stranger In The Mirror

Soul Messin

Jake Mason previously occupied the Organ chair for the funk group Cookin' On 3 Burners steps out on his own with his full length debut. "Stranger In The Mirror" is a blues rooted soul jazz Organ trio made famously by stalwarts such as Jimmy Smith and Jack Mc Duff. The ten track disc is filled primarily with laid back swaying soul grooves but some tasty funky numbers as well. Mason and company dial it up on the hot buttered track "Rib Eye". Guitarist James Sherlock stretches out but leaves room for guest saxophonist Paul Williamson to shine. They ease up on the gas with the burnin ballad "People Two & One". They close out with the toe tappin' "Candy Smack", ensuring that everyone's having a groovin' good time. This trio has played together for more than 20 years and are having as much fun as ever. You're certain to enjoy the ride as well.

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Reg Dancy, 06/18

Ancient Lights / Uniting Of Opposites

Uniting Of Opposites - Ancient Lights

Tru Thoughts

Uniting of Opposites is the trio of Tim Liken, Clem Alford and Ben Hazelton. "Ancient Lights" blends electronica with classical Middle Eastern rhythms and the results are quite enjoyable. The opener "Mint" is a spirited tune that features Idris Rahman on Clarinet. Rahman's phrasings figure prominently on The title track which includes Marcina Arnold on vocals. "Dr Roach" is a drum, bass and clarinet interplay where Rahman's solos dance around drummer Eddie Hick's energetic rhythms. "Car Number 27" and "The Uniting Of Opposites" are more traditional Indian meditative compositions that feature Manjeet Singh Rasiya on Tabla and Alford on the Sitar. Overall the trio's modernistic take pays dividends and breathes new life into the rich Indian musical legacy.

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Reg Dancy, 06/18

The Subtle Art Of Distraction / The Magnificent Tape Band

The Magnificent Tape Band - The Subtle Art Of Distraction

ATA Recordds

The Magnificent Tape Band is made up of ATA Records founders Neil Innes & Pete Williams. Their eight track lp is psychedelic soul filled with sophisticated compositions and arrangements. Top that off with the powerful soulful vocals of Sheffield born Rachel Modest and you have a recording that would fit alongside the 60s Stax recordings. The disc kicks off with "Let The Church Say", stirring organ grinding ballad that showcases her gospel roots. "When I Saw You" is another soul ballad where Modest's falsetto is complemented by Gareth Wilkin's heavenly harp melodies. "Not That Kind Of Woman" is filled with sublime strings and hypnotic guitar rhythms. Modest's falsetto will evoke images of Russell Tompkins Jr of the Stylistics but she clearly has her own sound. This is a tremendous debut and a must have for fans of classic soul.

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Reg Dancy, 06/18

Starting Today / Joe Armon-Jones

Joe Armon-Jones - Starting Today

Brownswood

There's a wave of up and coming UK musicians interconnected and revitalizing the Jazz scene. They're not subscribing to the jazz genre but pushing the boundaries in all matter of styles. Right in the middle of it all is pianist Joe Armon-Jones. Jones last appeared with the Ezra Collective and more recently the Brownswood compilation "We Out Here" which featured Nubya Garcia, drummer Moses Boyd and other newcomers. With his full length debut he's ready to take center stage. Jones opens up with the scorching title track "Starting Today". Joined by roots reggae poet Asheber, Jones dynamic flurries on Fender Rhodes are accompanied by Garcia on tenor sax and trumpeter Dylan Jones. They shift gears on "Mollison Dub", a blissed out dub groove named after Ezra Collective Saxophonist James Mollison. Mollison pairs with fellow tenor Garcia on the track as well. David Mrakpor adds warm rumbling bass lines over Jones's chords. "London's Face" is a spirited tune that features drummers Boyd and Kwake Bass along with Oscar Jerome on vocals. This is a superb demonstration of Jones wide musical palette, not to mention his deft touch on the keys. You'll want to seek out his other collaborations but only after repeated listens of this enjoyable record.

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Reg Dancy, 06/18

Endless Light / Space Ghost

Space Ghost - Endless Light

Tartelet

Oakland producer Space Ghost's second lp "Endless Light" is an amalgamation of 80s synth grooves sprinkled over melodic tempos ranging from funk to house. "Color Waves" is mid-tempo cosmic funk with sparse drum programming and synths. On standout tracks "Following A Vision" and "Eyes Closed", Ghost developes a pattern of building a house tempo before settling back into mellow atmospheric beats and synths. "Strong Heart" is a dreamy down-tempo voyage that features him on the vocoder. Space Ghost cultivates his own sound with this release by pushing the boundaries of soul, ambience and electronica. In a crowded electronic field he's emerging as a standout.

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Reg Dancy, 06/18

Wild World / Space Invadas

Space Invadas - Wild World

Invada Records

Hard to believe it's been seven years since Steve Spacek and Ashley Anderson aka Katalyst last appeared on the scene. That doesn't seem to matter for the duo known as Space Invadas are as sharp as ever. With their new lp "Wild World" Katalyst lays the foundation with classic soul inspired samples with an analog sound and beats tailor made for Spacek's falsetto vocals. That's apparent right out the gate with "Welcome". Katalyst laces the track with heavy beats for Spacek and Melbourne vocalist Natalie Slade's sweet soulful vocals to soar. The title track is a hip-hop soulful banger where rapper Remi and spacek wax poetic about the state of affairs in the world today. "Don't Ever Look Back" has a percussion filled Latin vibe while "Say Something" is a mellowed out love song. This is a tightly produced lp with twelve strong tracks. Katalyst has distinguished himself as a premier producer while Spacek's recognizable voice is always a delight. These two make quite a team and it's great to have them back.

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Reg Dancy, 06/18