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
Forgotten Ones / Culross Close

Culross Close - Forgotten Ones

Esencia Records

Anthony Kieron, better known as K15 is firmly entrenched as a premiere producer of soul and house. With his London based quintet Culross Close he's starting to stretch out as a musician as well. The six track ep "Forgotten Ones" is a myriad of Cosmic compositions that transcend genres. The disc begins with the heavenly keys of "Fractured" a soothing intro that's a precursor for what lies ahead. The title track, one of the highlights here is filled with blissful vocal harmonies. Kieron's rhythmic rhodes are complimented by enchanting cymbals from drummer May Goode. "The Tiniest Lights Still Shine" is another winner. It's an infectious tune with a bass n drum groove with Nathaniel Jiddu's spacey moog synths on top of it. This is an inspiring and imaginative piece of work that will transport you to a spiritual mental space. The only quibble is there's only twenty five minutes of music here but essential listening nonetheless. We've come to expect nothing less than from Kieron and this is no exception.

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Reg Dancy, 03/19

Your Lifestyle / Alphabets Heaven

Alphabets Heaven - Your Lifestyle

Wotnot

Brighton based musician Alphabets Heaven's latest release "Your Lifestyle" is filled with laid back beats and atmospheric vibes. Similar to most beat tapes there's a lengthy tracklist (nineteen) but only two tunes exceed three minutes. The disc begins with the warm acoustic guitar rhythms of "Nylon". From here you're pulled into a journey of mellow moods that glides the disc along at a leisurely pace. Along the way you'll no doubt dig notable beats like "Laces", "Follow" and "Tote Bag". Like all the great beat makers Alphabets Heaven knows where to pair the right sample with the perfect beat. As a result it's the perfect mixtape for a long drive to ease your mind.

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Reg Dancy, 03/19

Poison Fruit / Ivan "Mamao" Conti

Ivan "Mamao" Conti - Poison Fruit

Far Out Recordings

It's hard to imagine that "Poison Fruit" is Ivan "Mamao" Conti's first release in over twenty years. Although the legendary drummer is one third of the infamous group Asymuth, don't expect this to be your typical Asymuth album. Instead "Poison Fruit" is filled with experimental house beats and electronic rhythms. That's due in part to London based producer Daniel Maunick. Mamao was introduced to Maunick by his son Thiago Maranhao who serves as co-producer. Tracks like "Encontro" will sound right at home with the traditional Asymuth sound. While "Bacurau" opens with explosive percussion rhythm riding a bass driven house groove. The title track goes deeper into experimental left-field house with spacey synths. As a bonus there are some superb remixes from notable DJ/Producers like Glenn Astro, Max Graef just to name a few. Samba flavored jazz fusion combined with samples and electronics pays dividends here. Mamao and Maunick connect the dots and emerge with a splendid record.

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Reg Dancy, 03/19

Farmarama / A Man Called Adam

A Man Called Adam - Farmarama

Other Records

Sally Rodgers and Steve Jones better known as A Man Called Adam return with their long awaited new release entitled "Farmarama". Like their previous releases "The Apple" and "Duende" their compositions embrace the Balearic sound we've come to expect from them. Their passion for an assortment of genres from disco to pop and house come into play here with impressive results. Evidence lies in the opener "Mountains and Waterfalls". This tropical dance track is filled with catchy loops and samples layered over an infectious percussion and horn riffs. The title track is a post-disco boogie tune with a thumping bass groove and a melody to lose yourself in. "Paul Valery at the Disco" features futuristic synths wrapped around a hypnotic groove that's bound to take you on a psychedelic trip. An engaging record that's filled with blissful as well as reflective moments. Rodgers and Jones emotive beats and rhythms will keep your head nodding from one track to the next.

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Reg Dancy, 02/19

If Music Presents: You Need This - World Jazz Grooves / Various Artists

Various Artists - If Music Presents: You Need This - World Jazz Grooves

BBE

Over the past fifteen years If Music's label head Jean Claude has built a well deserved reputation by securing quality obsure vinyl recordings. His latest "You Need This World Jazz Grooves" is no exception as he joins forces with fellow record collector Victor Kiswell. Kiswell has traveled the world in search of rare gems and returned with some quality gems here. Among the highlights are the spoken words of Billy Bang Survival Ensemble on "Illustration". "Timbuktu" is a infectious jazz tune brimming with explosive horns and percussion from Dutch Clarinet/Composer Theo Loevendie Consort. "Itwenty Five" is a tender ballad from atloist South African exile Joe Malinga. Jean Claude has delivered yet another impressive compilation. As the compilation title says, "You Need This"!

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Reg Dancy, 02/19

II / Alder Ego

Alder Ego - II

We Jazz Records

Alder Ego is a quartet formed by Helsinki based drummer Joonas Leppanen. Leppanen and his Finnish bandmates demonstrate a fluid rapport right out the gate on "Leviathan". Leppanen's splashy cymbals create colorful soundscapes for Ilkka Uksila's melodic vibes. Together they leave plenty of space for trumpeter Tomi Nikku and Saxophonist Jarno Tikka to stretch out. Uksila's soft vibes massage the gorgeous soloing from Nikku on "Flight". "Solitude" is another where Nikku and Tikka's soloing dance around Teemu Akerblom's subtle bass licks. This band doesn't break any new ground but they excel with the freedom of superb compositions from Leppanen. As great as this recording sounds I bet they're even better live. Now that would be a treat.

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Reg Dancy, 02/19

The Putbacks / The Putbacks

The Putbacks - The Putbacks

Hope Street Recordings

Melbourne's fertile music scene is the gift that keeps on giving. The Putbacks have been around for a minute but this is their first proper release. Produced by Paul Bender (Hiatus Kaiyote) their self-titled debut is filled with delicious 70s flavored acid soul funk and heavy guitar rhythms. "The Ways" is dark psychedelic funk that meshes perfectly with the raspy soulful vocals of Bilal. "Hold On" is slinky instrumental organ grinding funk with hypnotic chords. "No Man No" is a mellow groove with heavenly strings courtesy of Miquel Atwood Ferguson that channels early Charles Stepney recordings. Each of the sixteen tracks here packs a punch and serves up uncompromising gritty funk just the way we like it. After backing Emma Donovan a few years back they're ready to take center stage. If you like 70s groups like the Meters and early Stax recordings then you're gonna love this.

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Reg Dancy, 02/19

Natural Sci-Fi / Steve Spacek

Steve Spacek - Natural Sci-Fi

Eglo

Steve Spacek explores mellow cosmic funk with his second official solo release "Natural Sci Fi". The initial stages of production for this lp began in 2005 but it was put on hold while he worked on various projects. Since then Spacek has added a few wrinkles, notably the appearance of rapper Oddisee and vocalist Natalie Slade. Oddisee's effortless flow fits seamlessly on "Take Ova" while the title track is long spacious laid back funk. It's a bit disappointing there's only eight tracks but at least it ends on a high note. "Plain Site" is a dreamy tune where Slade's soulful vocals mesh beautifully with Spacek's signature falsetto over a slinky funky groove. A solid release that will leave you wanting more but will satisfy you nonetheless.

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Reg Dancy, 02/19

Naming & Blaming / The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra

The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra - Naming & Blaming

Hope Street Recordings

Hailing from Melbourne, The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra return with their long awaited sophomore lp. Over the last decade they've established themselves as a formidable group in the Afrobeat arena largely from their mesmerizing live performances. They pull no punches right from the start with the uplifting yet fiery "No Passport". "Fight So Hard" is a mellow extended tune brimming with soulful sax and lively percussion. The title track "Naming & Blaming" rides a slow burning groove that also features MC One Sixth and singer Lamine Sonko. The band's strong opinions regarding politics and social justice are wrapped around hypnotic grooves and infectious rhythms. It's a lethal combination that makes them one of the premier ensembles on the scene today paying proper respect to the Afrobeat culture.

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Reg Dancy, 02/19

Madvillain Vol 1 / Abstract Orchestra

Abstract Orchestra - Madvillain Vol 1

ATA Records

The Abstract Orchestra made quite an impression with their debut lp "Dilla". With their sophomore release MF Doom is their source of inspiration. "Madvillain Vol. 1" finds the jazz based Orchestra seamlessly incorporating hip-hop into their compositions while exploring 70s soundtracks. "ALL CAPS" starts out with simple kick snare drum beat and soothing horns before seguing into mind bending improvisation and swinging. "Raid" is a funky fender rhodes driven tune surrounded by blissful horns and strings. Bandleader Rob Mitchell's arrangements navigate between the production of Madlib and the film scores of Quincy Jones. The results are deeply satisfying and definitely worth checking out.

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Reg Dancy, 01/19

Real Time / Richard Spaven

Richard Spaven - Real Time

Fine Line Records

Richard Spaven's subtle yet exploratory drumming has become identifiable from the first few notes of his records. As satisfying as his debut "The Self" has been, "Real Time" may be even better. There's much to savor from the nine track lp starting with the lead single "Faded". Jordan Rakei's blissful vocals float above gentle atmospheric textures. Rakei shines again on the Andy Bey original "Celestial Blues", aided by Stuart McCallum's sparkling guitar playing. "Loved One" is a beautiful tune filled with ambient soundscapes and vocal harmonies. Spaven's working band of guitarist McCallum, bassist Robin Mullarkey and Oli Rockberger on keys have a chemistry that's apparent throughout the disc. Add the soulful vocals of Rakei and you have a winning formula. They emphasize an ensemble approach filled with jazz infused instrumentation combined with superb songwriting. Simply put this is an exceptional record worthy of repeated listens. Highly recommended

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Reg Dancy, 01/19

Hard Work Not Hype / Monty Luke

Monty Luke - Hard Work Not Hype

Dogmatik

"Hard Work Not Hype" is the debut  of Detroit based DJ/producer Monty Luke. Luke previously was the label manager for Carl Craig's Planet E imprint but appears ready to step out with his impressive debut. The opening track "City Lights" is filled with pulsating drum programming and emotive synths. "Move" is a shimmering electro tinged house gem while "Willie Maze" is a chilled out down-tempo delight. Luke symbolizes the new generation of Detroit producers carrying the torch for deep house and electronic music. This deeply satisfying release shows the future is in good hands

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Reg Dancy, 01/19

A Town Called Elsewhere / Killiam Shakespeare

Killiam Shakespeare - A Town Called Elsewhere

Ropeadope

There were a flurry of great lps dropping in 2015 so you're forgiven if you missed the debut of Killiam Shakespeare. The Philadelphia based band is led by the duo of Keyboardist Corey Bernhard and drummer Steve McKie. Their debut unleashed a collection of spaced out funky compositions that defies genres and proved to be deeply satisfying. Their sophomore release "A Town Called Elsewhere" builds on that debut and demonstrates a maturity in their sound. There are hypnotic instrumentals to savor like "Barry's Prophecy" and Salt & Pepper Wings". There's some vocal contributions that lift these compositions another notch as well. Chris Turner's vocals are perfectly suited for the emotive "WDTKAL". Amber Navran of Moonchild lends her sublime vocals to "The One". The disc wraps up the funky string laden "Milk, Honey, Blood & Tears". This is one of a handful of bands separating themselves from the pack. The textures and the melodies will linger with you long after the song is over. You need to get familiar with them

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Reg Dancy, 12/18

And Yet It's All Love / Fatima

Fatima - And Yet It's All Love

Eglo

Vocalist Fatima has been serenading us with future soul rhythms since landing in London in 2006. Soon after she connected with Alexander Nut, head of Eglo Records where she's consistently released an array of future soul heaters. Her sophomore release "And Yet It's All Love" follows up the 2014 critically acclaimed "Yellow Memories". That would be a tough act for anyone but Fatima seamlessly pulls  it off. "Somebody Else" highlights Fatima's soulful style augmented by the soul infused hip-hop production of JD Reid. Other notable producers include Flako, who adds another dimension with the string laden "Waltz". Purist produced two of the strongest tracks here, the gorgeous "Only" and the piano jazz infused "May I". Fatima has solidified herself as a voice to be reckoned with. No matter what style she's singing it's always a delight. This superb release has something for everyone and shouldn't be missed.

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Reg Dancy, 12/18

Lab Experiments Vol. 2 / Cookin On 3 Burners

Cookin On 3 Burners - Lab Experiments Vol. 2

Soul Messin'

"Lab Experiments Vol.2 picks up where the gritty soul of Vol.1 left off. Organist Jake Mason, guitarist Dan West and others collaborate on a number of smoking tunes with grooves to make you move. "The Jump Off" sets the disc in motion with Mason's sizzling organ riffs and West's thumping guitar licks. Up and coming vocalist Kaiit keeps the fire burning on "Warning" while Fallon Williams gritty vocals punctuate "Force Of Nature". The bands slows down the pace nice and easy on the laid back "Sunday Mumma" but this is mostly a get up and boogie affair. With notable contributions from mainstay Kylie Audist and Simon Burke, this release marks another winner from the Melbourne funk and soul group.

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Reg Dancy, 12/18

Overload / Georgia Anne Muldrow

Georgia Anne Muldrow - Overload

Brainfeeder

Ever since her spectaclur ep "Worthnothings" and her debut lp "Olesi: Fragments Of An Earth" Georgia Anne Muldrow has serenaded us with her blend of intergalactic jazz inspired funk. With her latest release "Overload" she has signed up with Brainfeeder, the label founded by visionary multi-instrumentalist producer Flying Lotus. They've known each other for years but felt that this was the right time to work together. The title track has already generated a lot of heat and rightfully so. Produced by Mike & Keys (50 Cent, Snoog Dogg) "Overload's" infectious trap infused beats and sunny chords sets the disc in motion. Dutchman Moods and Manila's Lustbass contribute two gorgeous tunes. The mellow funk of "Aerosol" and the astral stylings of "Vital Transformation". "Canadian Hillbilly" is another highlight filled with warm spiritual melodies. Muldrow and Brainfeeder have managed to make her music more accessible without compromising her core. The result is a superb release that will please loyal fans and welcome new ones.

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Reg Dancy, 12/18

Ratgrave / Ratgrave

Ratgrave - Ratgrave

Apron

Ratgrave is the duo of multi-instrumentalist Max Graef and bassist Julius Conrad. Their self titled release is filled with adventurous experimental fusion and live instrumentation. "Wilder, glib Hut" and "Fantastic Neckground" are filled with spacey synths and warped guitar rhythms. "El Schnorro" is another highlight laced with tripped out synths. "Eln Kola Bitte!" goes in a slightly different direction with blissful keys and a funky mid-tempo groove. Graef and Conrad are always finding new paths to explore their horizons. This is a musical journey that's well worth the ride.

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Reg Dancy, 12/18

Teal / Julien Dyne

Julien Dyne - Teal

Soundway

Multi-instrumentalist Julien Dyne has consistently delivered soulful mid-tempo beats for over a decade now. With his latest release "Teal" he's shifted gears towards a more up-tempo groove inspired sound. He starts off with the deep house grooves of "Design". The infectious rhythm and soulful drums will ignite listeners instantly. "Hours" has more of a laid back up-tempo groove but still satisfying. It also features gorgeous vocals from Ladi 6. "Steady" has a boogie funk vibe and features Mara TK on vocals. "Teal" has the grooves to either dance to or simply nod your head to. Dyne always has a gem or two that you can't stop listening to and this disc is no exception.

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Reg Dancy, 12/18

Resistance / Brandon Coleman

Brandon Coleman - Resistance

Brainfeeder

Brandon Coleman has been very busy this year. When he wasn't in the studio working on his debut he was serving as the keyboardist for tenor titan Kamasi Washington. He's featured using the vocoder on "Vi Lua Vi Sol" on Kamasi's latest LP "Heaven And Earth". With his debut "Resistance" he utilizes the vocoder over an collection of funk and boogie grooves while invoking some of his influences. The opening tune "Live For Today" is an infectious foot stomping boogie tune. "Sexy" is tasty funk that's reminiscent of Roger Troutman (Zapp). "Sundae" is an obvious nod to Herbie Hancock's fusion era that's elevated by N'Dambi's vocals. This is a promising debut from a rising talent from the progressive Brainfeeder label

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Reg Dancy, 11/18

People Of The Sun / Anthony Joseph

Anthony Joseph - People Of The Sun

Heavenly Sweetness

Poet/musician Anthony Joseph's latest release is his first recording in his native island of Trinidad. For Joseph the time is right spiritually to reconnect with his homeland. He has also bought his band along for the trip from France, not an easy task but the results are well worth it. There's much to savor here starting with the opening track. "Milligan" (The Ocean), a heartfelt tribute to his Father begins with burning grooves from bassist and composer Andrew John and vocals from Ella Andall's Orisha. Joseph's poetic words of wisdom dance along side the spirited percussion and horn rhythms. "Dig Out Your Eye" brims with seductive soprano sax rhythms from premiere reedist Jason Yarde, who also serves as producer. "People Of The Sun" is bursting with soca, steel pan, jazz and funk rhythms. One listen and you'll be transported to the island of Trinidad soaking in the sun and absorbing this superb collection of music. Joseph is one of our great story tellers and this album is evidence of that.

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Reg Dancy, 11/18

From The Archives Vol. 2 compiled By Volcov / Various Artists

Various Artists - From The Archives Vol. 2 compiled By Volcov

BBE

Neroli label founder Enrico Crivellaro aka Volcov demonstrated a deft ear for hidden gems with his first Volume of archives. With "From The Archives Vol 2" he compiles another impressive array of compositions ranging from soul to house and jazz infused rhythms. In a crowded field of 70s and 80s compilations Volcov decided to focus on tunes released within the last fifteen years and the ones that made the cut are simply superb. That's evident from the start with the sorely underrated Carleen Anderson's "All That Glitters". This simmering jazz tinged soul burner showcases one of the unique voices of the past twenty years. "On Space" from Ron Trent is a homage to french violinist Jean-Luc Ponty. This dreamy atmospheric gem has a touch of fusion and is heavy on groove. "The Blue Room" from Quentin Kane & Simon Sheldon is an infectious up-tempo nu soul track that gets an elevated remix from Kaidi Tathum. Other highlights include Volcov's edit of "Lawra" by drummer Tony Williams and the soulful beauty "Let The Music Play" from Collective Peace. This disc flows with one supreme track after another. As far as compilations go, this is one of the best you'll hear this year. Highly recommended.

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Reg Dancy, 11/18

Mesquite Suite / Lucky Brown & The SG's

Lucky Brown & The SG's - Mesquite Suite

Tramp

Joel Ricci aka Lucky Brown returns with his third full length release for Tramp records. "Mesquite Suite" is filled with dusty instrumental analog tinged funk. The disc opens with "Lone Heart", a slow burning funk tune in the tradition of the Menahan Street Band. "Justice" has an infectious organ grinding groove layered with sweet flute rhythms. "Glancing Meteors" is driven by funky drumming and tasty guitar licks topped off with swaying horns. A solid recording filled with inspiration from Mulatu Astatke and the aforementioned Menahan Street Band. Lucky Brown's third lp may very well be his best.

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Reg Dancy, 11/18

Cosmic Forest - The Spiritual Sounds of MPS / Various Artists

Various Artists - Cosmic Forest - The Spiritual Sounds of MPS

MPS

"Cosmic Forest", Nicola Conte's latest compilation is a journey into the vaults of Musik Produktion Schwarzwald (MPS). The German label has a catalogue of approximately 500 albums filled with Spiritual jazz composed by premiere musicians from around the world. MPS founder Hans Georg Brunner recognized the wave of 60s spiritual jazz and re-positioned the label to reflect the trend. It must have been a daunting task to choose from this collection but Conte has done an impressive job. The hypnotic "Evolution" is filled with intense rhythms by saxophonist Nathan Davis who lived in Germany during the sixties. "Revelation" is another highlight. Influenced by Eastern mysticism trumpter Hannibal Marvin Peterson's blistering solos are augmented by swirling piano melodies and percussion. The meditative "Soledad" De Murcia" has a Latin feel courtesy of Pianist Michael Naura and vibraphonist Wolfgang Schluter. There's no filler here, just a superb collection of tunes you'll want to get familiar with from an underrated label

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Reg Dancy, 10/18

The Only Sound / Jonny Drop

Jonny Drop - The Only Sound

Albert's Favourites

Drummer/beatmaker Jonny Drop's last solo release "Beat Tape" demonstrated a niche for soulful hip hop infused grooves. Since then he formed the jazz funk band The Expansions where his sound continues to evolve. On his latest solo record it's evident that his growth as an artist has gone to another level. "The Only Sound" is a warm imaginative soulful journey ripe with beautiful vocals, quality samples and instrumentation. "The Looking Glass" is an blissful mid tempo beauty that features heavenly vocals from Sarah Williams White. Grace Walker blesses the soulful guitar driven "Flashlight". "Moon Food" is tinged with psychedelic rhythms and features premiere reedist Tamar Osborn on flute. Drop seamlessly blends live drumming with loops and beats so you can't tell one from the other. It all adds up to an superb listening experience that you'll have on repeat

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Reg Dancy, 10/18

Boston Goes Disco! / Serge Gamesbourg

Serge Gamesbourg - Boston Goes Disco!

BBE

"Boston Goes Disco" is a deep drive into the underground world of late 70s early 80s Boston Disco. Boston native DJ/Producer Serge Gamesbourg shines a light on forgotten tunes from Massachusetts. Among this 20 track release are a few notable selections. "All In Good Time" by Wildlife is your typical blueprint disco number with swirling strings and a funky groove. Gamesbourg's edit of funky bass driven "I'm Gonna Get You" is a highlight. The Christopher Michael Band's "You Make Me Happy" bridges the gap between funk and Disco. Gamesbourg's edits and reworks breathes new life into these tunes. For Disco afficionados you'll certainly find some gems throughout this disc.

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Reg Dancy, 10/18