Silent Poets - SunNocturne Records
I cannot believe it's six years since the release of the excellent "To Come", which was a typical example of me purchasing a top dollar Japanese import to see it released a few months later released in Europe for a third of the price: hey, that's the way it is nowadays. Japanese producer Michiharu Shimoda utilizes the talents of Shawn Lee, Alain Ho and Everton Nelson to create an ace downtempo - electronica - abstract hiphop piece of work. Recorded with a string orchestra conducted by Everton Nelson with haunting vocals from Shawn Lee, this is one album you should take note of. Just because it's been released in France rather than Japan doesn't mean that it shouldn't be investigated, so make the effort.
Simon Harrison, 07/06
Silhouette Brown - Silhouette BrownEther Records
This is the first full vocal album produced by Dego, who has also brought in second in command Kaidi Tatham in on the act. This is the kind of album that will become a true classic in years to come and that is not just because of the two names already mentioned. This is also due to the incredible soulful vocals of Deborah Jordon, which fit the productions perfectly, and if that isn't enough Bembe Segue is on backing vocals. Perfect for home listening and also for any club set. That should be enough reasons for you to spend your hard earned cash.
Simon Harrison, 06/05
Simba & Milton Gulli - The Heroes (A Tribute to a Tribe)BBE
On "The Heroes" (A Tribute to a Tribe) Simba & Milton Gulli visit the songbook of A Tribe Called Quest. While no doubt a daunting task, they take the wise route by maintaining the core ingredients of the classics while infusing the flavors of their Mozambican heritage. The producer MiltonGulli is well aware of jazz undertones that permeates ATCQ's music and that is evident throughout, especially on their cover of "Bonita Applebum", where they transform the original into a sublime melodic gem. The same can be said for "Electric Conversation" aided by the jazzy guitar rhythms and harmonic approach displayed throughout. Simba displays a laidback delivery to his rhyming skills that are similar to Q-Tip's but the comparison ends there. He definitely has his own voice and he holds his own with impressive results. The highlight here arguably is "God Lives Through" (I Love my God) which at first hints as a cover but morphs into a harmonic gospel lullaby that is simply irresistible. Overall Simba & Gulli demonstrate that their talent is primed for the long haul and in the process do justice to the songbook of one of hip-hop's most treasured groups. Take a trip down memory lane and in the process get introduced to Mozambican soulful hip-hop.
Reg Dancy, 08/13
Simbad - Supersonic RevelationRaw Fusion
There are DJ’s/producers dropping albums everywhere but few can boast to have an album as strong as this one. Simbad’s “Supersonic Revelation has been a couple years in the making but the wait has been well worth it. Simbad has assembled a little bit of funk, house, rnb and dancehall and the result is a soulful uplifting disc that will move your body. The immensely successful “Soul Fever” needs no introduction. This electronic funk track with the wicked synth lines was one of the biggest records of 2006.The legendary Robert Owens adds his signature vocals to the atmospheric “Someone for Me”. There’s also the title track, which has also become a huge hit, and why not? The killer organ riff and Abdul Shyllon’s lush vocals gives this the feel of a simmering downtempo house track that never builds momentum but it's bangin’ nonetheless. There are many other great selections worth mentioning so you owe it to yourself to invest in what is definitely one of the hottest releases of 2008.
Reg Dancy, 06/08
Simone Moreno - Samba MakossaSoul Dog Records
Vocalist, Simone Moreno has steadily been releasing material in her native Brazil since her self-titled debut in 1994. This, her fifth set is the first to be released outside of Brazil and was recorded in Stockholm, Sweden where she now resides. 'Samba Makossa' draws together a variety of influences from bossa nova and samba to Afro-beat and reggae. Although the album overall fails to capture my interest it does include pleasurable moments such as the funked up 'Umbabarauma' and the breezy 'Meio De Campo'. Well worth investigating for these tracks alone.
Andy Allen, 03/07
SK Radicals - Urban EclectiksFreestyle Records
There have been many groups that have presented projects as diverse as SK Radicals full length release “Urban Electriks”. Very few however have succeeded in creating a project that grooves and swings as well as this one. Sean Khan, the producer and driving force behind the group has crafted an album that weaves seamlessly between jazz and funk while demonstrating that they’re equally adept at both. Take for example the lead single “Troubled Times”, a laidback deep funk tune that speaks to the stressful climate that we’re all living under today. The following track “My Story” is a swinging jazz tune features superb piano melodies from Sean and the gorgeous vocals of Susan Allotey. “Free Yourself” is an up-tempo acid jazz flavored funk groover. Although “Urban Eclectiks” presented only ten tracks in all, each selection is quality and allows the disc to flow at steady pace while maintaining the groove throughout. It has taken Sean several years to deliver a full length project after several successful singles. Let’s hope that this is the first of many albums in the group’s future. Highly recommended.
Reg Dancy, 08/10
Ski Oakenfull - Rising SonBBE Records
Those in the know will have noticed that this was released first in Japan a few months ago but those top people at BBE have signed it for UK release. Ski had been around on the scene for years and it's always great to hear the solo productions. For this his second album he's brought in some heavy weight vocalists aka Amp Fiddler, Valerie Etienne, Earl Zinger and Chi Turner and they all sound fantastic. Most of the attention has been on the Amp Fiddler tracks which are ace but make sure you listen to the other vocal tracks because they are outstanding. BBE roll out another classic.
Simon Harrison, 07/05
Skream - Skream!Tempa
Those of you familiar with the Dub-Step scene will agree with me that this kid is the don dada of the land of Dub-Step. 'Midnight Request Line' is arguably the biggest tune in Dub-Step history and definitely the most requested. This album simply gets better by the listen, it's draws you in with it's dubbed out sub bass and musically it's up there for being one of the best albums of 2006. From the haunting opening vibe of 'Tortured Soul' it moves into dancehall and Grime territory thanks to some sweet additions from vocalists Warrior Queen and JME. These are so many influences to be felt in this album that it would be hard to pidgeonhole the album as Dub-Step. For such a young producer Skream has so much talent, like an old head on young shoulders. This didn't come off my player for weeks after I'd got it, I reckon it'll be the same for almost everyone. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Skymark - The Sound Of SilenceModern Sun Records
There's nothing like a jolt of some twisted psychedelic soul that just takes your mind on a natural high. That's the feeling one might have after listening to "The Sound Of Silence" by Skymark. Skymark, who is also a member of dj collective Soul Sociedad has crafted an album filled with irresistible hip-hop beats, jazzy grooves and warped out synth arrangements that grab your attention with vice grip intensity. Among the highlights are “Understand” and “There You Go”, both of which feature the deep voice of rapper/singer Black Spade. The latter of those two is a neck snapping organ grinding beat treat worthy of repeated listens. “Ancestral Summer” sparkles with cosmic Fender Rhodes reminiscent of early Lonnie Liston Smith classics. The cosmic vibes and the thick mellow beats are augmented by the talented singer Ovasoul 7. “Pleasure Remix” is a bit lighter than most of the tracks here but no less exotic and entertaining. Joseph Junior sprinkles his velvet voice on the track to add additional coloring to this musical canvas. As gifted as these vocalists are, these compositions stand on their own as hypnotic and imaginative slices of future soul that should propel this disc to one of the highlights of the year. Highly Recommended.
Reg Dancy, 01/11
Slakah The Beatchild - Soul Movement 2Beatchild
There are a number of credible beatmakers out there but when it comes to merging hypnotic beats and soulful rhythms few do it as well as Slakah The Beatchild. The Toronto native returns with Volume 2 of "Soul Movements" and like "Vol.1" features an array of talented vocalists also from Toronto to lift these tracks to greater heights. Among the guests is Glenn Lewis who croons over the piano driven "Number 1". On "Keep Up" songstress Ayah and Slakah venture into Deep House territory while maintaining their signature soulful sound. "Love Fool" is filled with wicked guitar rhythms and highlighted by the stirring vocals of Tamika Charles. Slakah knows the value of a tasty groove to keep the disc bumping throughout no matter what the tempo might be. There's no sophomore jinx here, just another superb record..
Reg Dancy, 04/14