Music Reviews

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Elements Beyond / Osunlade

Osunlade - Elements Beyond

Strictly Rhythm

In less than a decade Osunlade's become something of a phenomena to those that resolutely support the underground house scene. To be frank before 1999 I didn't really know anything about the deep house, Afro, broken beat, soul spirited producer, DJ and musician native of New York. Setting up Yoruba Records over seven years ago, opened up many doors for him, namely acquiring himself a record and distribution deal with UK independent Soul Jazz records, which definitely helped to put him on the map following his 'Paradigm' debut offering for the said label. Offloading many LP, DJ mix compilations and singles for any credible label worth its salt both in England, Japan and Europe, it's a wonder how the Nigerian ordained priest of his Ifa faith, who lived for a while in Puerto Rico and now presently resides in Greece manages to find the time come up with any fresh material as he has done on his latest 'Elements Beyond' magnificent project. Its shortly due for release on the new repackaged, rebranded Strictly Rhythm label - thanks to Simon Dunmore of Defected. For fans of his work expect no real surprises in terms of genres; from the minimalist approaches of dreamy techno on "139th Street", the rather hauntingly demure ripplings of "A Monk's Tale", the middle eastern subtleties of "Frequencies" to the appealing disco funk homage of the seventies on "Momma's Groove" which sit alongside each other with the greatest of ease. Other highlights include the rap timing monologue of Lotus A on the "Cream" love ballad, whereas the beats per minute drive full throttle but not manically on the Afro house musing called "April". The one and only disappointing feature "Queen's Battle" has a horde of foul language that totally ruins the track's production of what could have been adopted by today's funk devotees. As far a comebacks go Strictly have made a good move showing that they have moved with the times in the sounds of house. Kicking off with a class name as Osunlade should prove a solid investment on all sides, be you a DJ or a collector, you'll dig this for sure.

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Marcia Carr, 06/07

Rebirth / Osunlade

Osunlade - Rebirth

Yoruba Records

When you think of Osunlade, you think of spiritual house music of the highest order. You will find nothing of the sort on his latest release “Rebirth”, instead you’re treated to an assortment of down tempo nusoul compositions written and produced by the man himself. Each song packs plenty of lyrical depth and has a personal feel overall. “Paint Me A Picture” is a warm atmospheric gem driven by a gorgeous piano melody that will take your mind to a peaceful place. “The Dating Game”, the first single released has an easy going uptempo groove that captures that signature Osunlade sound. “Complacent” is a pretty acoustic tune with strings about a person pursuing their passions once and for all instead of years of pursuing the dreams of others. Overall “Rebirth” is a nice laidback record to relax to on lazy afternoons. It also demonstrates an artist with immeasurable talent who continues to grow and expand his music in all directions.

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Reg Dancy, 07/10

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

74 Club / Otis Trio

Otis Trio - 74 Club

Far Out Recordings

Far out can always be relied upon to bring us the finest in Brazilian music and this debut album from Otis Trio is no exception. Whilst the core group are indeed a trio on 74 Club they have greatly expanded the band to produce a very full jazz sound. There’s plenty of vibes on offer here which is always sure to draw me in and although there is a tendency to head off into free-jazz territory in places there are some beautiful moments. Try the brooding No Oceano and Montag’s Dream, a heady spiritual piece.

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Andy Allen, 02/14

The Legend / Oum Kalsoum

Oum Kalsoum - The Legend

Manteca

The Voice of Egypt and indeed a legend, whose recording career began in the 1920's and by the 1940's had elevated her to true stardom. Her "Thursday Night is Oum Kalsoum Night" radio show was a huge success which lasted until shortly before her death in 1975. This double CD contains 18 tracks over two CDs covering two hours of superb music.

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Graham Radley, 03/07

Seya / Oumou Sangare

Oumou Sangare - Seya

World Circuit

Brilliant release (first in 6 years although 1996 was her last full international release ) for the Malian star, this really is a superb collection of 11 tracks which leave you wanting more and more. A more mature, harder edge, than previous releases, with a positive flow to the groove and a respect for the tradition which reflects a woman happy in her skin and riding the crest of a musical wave. Superb.

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Graham Radley, 05/09

Idlewild / Outkast

Outkast - Idlewild

La Face

If you're reading this expecting me to tell you that it's no where near as good as Speakerboxx/Love Below, then I'll apologise in advance. Those of you who thought Outkast would carry on where that double album left off will be bitterly disappointed. This Outkast CD is more like the whole Outkast package rolled into one mighty fine album. Back writing and producing as a duo, Big Boi and Andre 3000 push all the right buttons in the funked up hippity hopperty style that we've come to respect them for. The usual Outkast format sees tracks separated by interludes, with most of the tracks being of more of a mellow tempo with emphasis on the lyrics and the tightest production you're gonna hear anywhere. Outkast never fail to be original with their songs, and you'll be jigging along to this album if you give it time. The only thing I can criticise Outkast for with this album is that they invited Macy Gray to sing on one of the tracks. Oh well, I suppose that's why they invented the skip button.

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Jax, 10/06

 / Owusu & Hannibal

Owusu & Hannibal -

Ubiquity Records

On their debut album Owusu & Hannibal serve up a platter of twisted down-tempo electro-soul. 'Delirium' and 'What It's About' from the 12" are present but my advise is to check 'Lonnie's Secret' which really draws you in after a couple of plays, the blissful 'Elephants' and the super slinky 80s influenced 2 stepper 'Le Fox'.

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Andy Allen, 11/06

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