Binker & Moses - Journey to the Mountain of ForeverGearbox Records
Binker Golding and Moses Boyd are part of the collective of young musicians emerging on the vibrant London scene. As Binker and Moses they remind us just how engaging a drum and sax duo can be without the reliance of a chordal instrument. The duo explores a a variety of moods with Golding's adventurous solos servng as the lead voice. "Trees On Fire" finds Binker swinging with a flurry of energy that builds throughout while Boyd infectious rhythms equally holds his own. "The Valley Of The Ultra Blacks" find Golding on soprano and unleashing a flurry of spirted soloing while Boyd's mighty percussion asserts itself with high energy. With fifteen tracks of their own compositions and inspired by the great duets of the past. Binker and Moses come out swinging and produce one of the best records of the year. I'm already looking forward to their next release.
Reg Dancy, 11/17
Bismillah Khan - The Shennai's Humble MasterSaregama
Double CD of some of shenai master Bismillah Khan's most important recordings between 1959 and 1989. The first CD is "with Party" whilst the second has two tracks from the 1959 film "Goonj Uthi Shehnai" plus some collaborative work with V.G.Jog and with Vilayat Khan. Superb, Indian classical music at its finest.
Graham Radley, 12/07
Black Britanyaa - The Windrush Vol. 2Abduction Entertainment
East London’s Black Britanyaa serves up thought provoking hip hop with reggae flavored drum n bass rhythms. The group draws upon the black heroes of the rich British heritage as well as speaking to the youth of today. The disc starts out with “The Excursion”, a song that pays homage to the black pioneers in UK soul like Sade, Soul to Soul and Loose Ends. “Wha Gwan” is an upbeat joyful track that talks about celebrating life and has a Middle Eastern feel to it thanks to the flute playing that complements the thumping bass. “Illegal Aliens” is a cover of Sting’s hit “Englishman In New York” except they flip the script and speak on life as a black man in Britain. Another favorite is “Libation” which features the soulful voice of UK soul man Omar. The “Windrush Vol. 2” is a solid combination of banging beats and conscious lyrics. Black Britanyaa does its part to ensure that UK hip hop is in good hands.
Reg Dancy, 12/08
Black Grass - ThreeCatskills Records
This is Black Grass’s third album on Brighton’s Catskills record label and, as usual, his productions skills are crisp, clean and tight, like a tiger. The man’s versatility knows no bounds and he takes his core Hip-Hop approach and applies it, on ‘Three’, to Reggae, Funk, Boogie, Latin vibes and all things in between. Whatever the variation though, the Black Grass sound essentially always has the feel-good factor at its heart and, although this is no bad thing, I have to confess to finding the boppy, twanging, Jurassic 5-esque Hip-Hop style (that is so eagerly embraced in the UK) a little tired. The real standouts on ‘Three’ all seem to appear whenever Dionne Charles turns up on vocal duties. ‘Without Your Love’ cuts a fine figure of a freestyle boogie number that would slot seamlessly into a classic Unabombers DJ set, whilst ‘How Much Can You Take’ and ‘Hold Fire’ are two prime cuts of soulful Funk that respect the authentic ingredients and shy away from any semblance of ‘fusion’.
Tom Breslin, 10/08
Black Jazz Consortium - RE:Actions Of LightSoul People Music
Under the guise of Black Jazz Consortium Fred Peterkin comes with an outstanding debut set. Although there are subtle jazz influences 'RE:Actions Of Light' is a journey into deep house. Heavy beats are built upon with layers of percussion, swirling synths, and occasional vocal snippets to create a heady and atmospheric listening experience. 'Blessings' and 'More Love Please pt.1' really hit the spot but pay particular attention to the broken rhythms of 'Seeing The Way Through' which should reach anthem status at the likes of Liquid Fusion and Co Op.
Andy Allen, 08/07
Blaktroniks - Ready, Set, Blow...Tokyo Dawn
Is it me or has Tokyo Dawn records just been smashing it over the last several years with futuristic funk and infectious dance tracks from an eclectic group of artists worldwide. Peter Opolopo knows talent when he hears it and with the Oakland USA based duo Edd Dee Pee and X-Ray aka Blaktroniks, the bangers just keep on coming. “Ready, Set, Blow..” is a spacey electronic collage of combustible funk, warm soulful grooves and other alternative offerings that pushes the boundaries and seduces you into repeated listens. Among the prime cuts are “It’s All Right Now” and “Special Kind Of Love”, two laidback organic soulful cuts that feature Alicia Renee on vocals. “Strawberry Cough” is one of many highlights, a moog induced warp bending electronic banger. “Dot 2 Dot” is an atmospheric beat treat filled with spacey synths. “Dying Game” is a soulful tune filled with dreamy soundscapes and is one of several down-tempo tracks that wrap up the disc. With eighteen tracks, Blaktroniks hit you hard yet kill you softly with their wicked electronic arrangements that should propel them to greater heights.
Reg Dancy, 05/12
Blick Bassy - LemanWorld Connection
First solo CD from cameroon’s rising star who is part of the Bassa ethnic group (originally nomads from Egypt). He grew up surrounded by music, not only Bassa musical traditions but his familys collection of music from Western soul greats like Marvin Gaye. He then moved to Paris in 2005 where he worked with many top African musicians like Manu Dibango. Those influences now unite on ‘Leman’ with the soulfulness of Gaye enriching his African traditional heritage. Great debut.
Graham Radley, 05/09
Blundetto - Warm My SoulHeavenly Sweetness
Max Guiguet aka Blundetto has shown a flair for beats and rhythms. After turning heads with his 2010 release “Bad Bad Things” he returns with the superb “Warm My Soul”. Blundetto’s sophomore release is filled with jazzy tinged soulful rhythms merged with reggae beats and a talented array of vocalists. On “Hercules” Blundetto teams up with multi-instrumentalist Shawn Lee to create a slow burning reggae groover highlighted by the vocals of Hugh Coltman. Rapper Aqueel drops lyrical commentary over the down-tempo “It’s All About”. Courtney Johns falsetto delights on “Treat me like that”. Overall this eleven track disc doesn’t have a weak song in sight and provides fresh arrangements to some familiar reggae grooves. Blundetto is definitely one to keep an eye on as a producer on the rise.
Reg Dancy, 07/12
Boards Of Canada - The Campfire HeadphaseWarp Records
These boys from Scotland are the real deal in electronica. Everything they do is highly anticipated in the world of the laptop hugging and beard stroking fraternity. They rarely give interviews or do photo shoots, preferring to communicate through their music. Respect. This is their third full album, following on from 1999’s excellent ‘Geogaddi’. On first listen I like it a lot, on second listen I realise why. The Campfire Headphase is sublime electronica for all seasons. I would say this sounds more like their Skam stuff and ‘Music Has The Right To Children’ than the later stuff. There are dreamier guitar scapes and fewer oddities on the beat front. But it’s very in sounding with the usual Boards Of Canada work. For those who like their beats (less) then this won’t disappoint. It’s another gem from Boards Of Canada released once again on the greatest electronic label to ever grace record shops.
Bobby Matos - The Best OfUbiquity Records
This retrospective of Bobby Matos' recordings for the Ubiquity/Luv N Haight subsidiary Cubop is a must for any fan of Latin jazz. Much of the material here is aimed directly at the dance floor and whilst you can't help being drawn in by the intoxicating rhythms it's the gentler moments which appeal to me the most. His versions of John Coltrane's 'Naima' and Pharoah Sanders' 'The Creator Has A Master Plan' are both outstanding as is his take on Miles' 'So What'. If you've overlooked Bobby Matos in the past and feel the urge to acquaint yourself with his music, then this album is a great place to start.
Andy Allen, 10/07