1 Luv - NeophiliaSonar Kollektiv
The internet has been great for previewing tracks before buying, making life so much easier that queueing up in a record shop each week, whilst you wait for a wanna-be scratch pervert, or even for working out what you want to buy before entering a shop. I listened to "Neophilia" when it was released in Japan in 2006 but the sixty second previews did not give this album justice. I really should have known after their "Black Sunshine". The highlight of this album are the songs with Amalia Townsend, who's been getting us all in a tizz with Opolopo and gaining a name for herself in Vancouver's jazz scene. This is a really nice album and like all Sonar releases, you need to give this a listen.
Simon Harrison, 05/07
1000 Names - Toys Room CombatEklektik Records
Casio Blaster and 99 Mistakes, better known as 1000 Names take you on an adventure in experimental breakbeats and instrumental hip-hop on their full length debut, “Toys Room Combat”. The duo has been a favorite of underground artists for their ability to mash up modern day and futuristic hip-hop beats as well as expanding their wizardry on rare undiscovered grooves. Their inventive producing skills are evident on tracks like the funky hip-hop driven “It started as a remix”. “Cloudride” features the rap duo 215 The freshest Kidz and is one of only four tracks with a guest appearance. Other highlights are “Ant on my bottom” and “Simmer down” which features C Mont. The majority of the cuts are barely exceeding three minutes but the idea is not to settle into one groove for too long. If you’re a fan of Madlib or J Dilla then you’ll certainly enjoy this.
Reg Dancy, 12/09
2000 Black - Next A Set A RockersThird-Ear Recordings - Japan
Whenever Dego and Kaidi Tatham get together the results are nothing short of exceptional. Folks may be more familiar with Dego as one half of 4 Hero and Kaidi from his work with Bugz In The Attic. If only we can get them to record together more often. After all, it has been seven years from the last 2000 Black album. Well all is forgiven now that we have “Next A Set A Rockers”. Dego and Kaidi have once again assembled a collection of soulful broken beat jams filled with warm chords, funky beats and a collection of great vocalists. The disc starts off with the mid tempo “Simple Sacrifice”. The sweet lovely voice of Nadine Charles just glides over Kaidi’s keyboard arrangements and serves as a perfect appetizer to the main course of treats that lie ahead. Kaidi works his magic again on “A Little More”, gorgeous chords and soulful vocals by “Baby”. “Dealt A Bad Hand” features the vocals of the dynamic Vanessa Freeman (Reel People). Rapper Ty closes out the disc with the energetic “Hey There”. With other notable appearances by “Face”, Lady Alma and Rasiyah, this is truly broken soul of the highest quality. If you enjoy the work of 4 Hero, you’ll definitely enjoy this. This isn’t easy to find but certainly worth the effort.
Reg Dancy, 09/08
2020 Soundsystem - No Order20:20 vision recordings
Ralph Lawson has reached legendary status in my home county (YORKSHIRE). This has been done by working hard throughout his entire career and most certainly because of his out and out loyalty to Back To Basics - A World wide dance music institution that in my mind is in it's own league. Anyone who's seen Ralph DJ at Basics over the last 15 years will be able to vouch that his presence is legendary and that he's one of the nicest peeps you is ever gonna meet in this industry. But that's enough about Ralph. His band - 2020 Soundsystem conjure up a superb debut album that ooze's with the freshest of beats side by side with quality vocals and supersonic bass-lines. This whole album slides along without one bad tune. The opening track 'Hit The Fan' is probably my favourite with it's retro synths and bubbling bass, The Glass collaboration on the title track is a 'must turn up louder track' and The Tape has been echoing around clubland for a while now to a great reception. These tracks work so well in this format, but if you're really gonna feel this vibe then be sure to check out the band live. Ralph & Co. I salute you!
4 Hero - Play with the ChangesRaw Canvas Records
Dego and Marc return after six years with another sure to be classic and sought after album. From the moment I pressed play I knew this was another album I will treasure for years to come. Proceedings kick off with the Rotary Connection style "Morning Child" with beautiful vocals from Carina Andersson, who sounds amazingly similar to Minnie Ripperton and, of course, featured on the cover of "Les Fleur". The guests are, of course, top notch but I bet people were queueing up to work with the duo. They include Jody Watley, Talita Long, Larry Mizell, Face, Phonte, Bembe Segue & Kaidi Taitham to pick a few at random and all sound wonderful with the strings, drums and beautiful arrangements. Also watch out for the cover of "Superwomen" featuring Terry D: it's up there with the best of their previous re-works. A little late for album of 2006 but it'll be certainly up there in 2007, mark my words.
Simon Harrison, 12/06
40 Winks - Retrospect SuiteProject Mooncircle
Weedy, one half of the duo known as 40 Winks compiles a collection of Spiritual Jazz edits. Weedy does a superb job of weaving beats and rhythms together as though he was playing one continuous tune. Despite the fact that only four selections are over three minutes the disc hits the mark by setting the tone for deep soulful jazz vibes that fuels your body and lifts your spirit. Weedy sets the mood with a sampling of Nina Simone on “For Us”. “Nocturnal” is rhythmic Afro-soul with blustering horns. “The Blue” is filled with heavenly rhythms by way of the Harp layered over some funky drumming. As far as edits go, “Retrospect Suite” is a work of art, a very satisfying listen and is worthy of your attention.
Reg Dancy, 02/13
4Hero Presents - ExtensionsRaw Canvas Records
4Hero receives the ultimate compliment when various artists provide alternate takes on their rich catalogue of timeless music. “Extensions” features an acclaimed list of musicians who transform their tunes into an elegant acoustic jazz ensemble. The Sonar Kollektiv Orchester starts things off with “Universal Love”, which becomes a symphonic beauty that is augmented by the vocals of Clara Hill, Esther Cowens and Wilson Michaels. The Robert Mitchell Trio does a masterful job by turning “Third Stream” into an acoustic gem. With so many superb performances it’s difficult to select a standout but Ayanna Witter-Johnson’s cover of “Give In” certainly deserves honorable mention. Ayanna, who has performed with Courtney Pine’s Jazz Warriors has such a beautiful voice that it’s a crime she doesn’t have her own album to listen to. Other highlights include the Sub Ensemble’s version of “Humans” and “Star Chasers” gets flipped into an acoustic folk jazz. This marvelous collection will not only satisfy 4Hero fans but will invite an entire new audience to the legacy that Marc Mac and Dego have built.
Reg Dancy, 11/09