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
Sleep Walker - WorksVillage Again
The latest release from Japanese jazzers Sleep Walker is essentially a compilation featuring tracks which haven't made it on their albums plus their remixes of other artists' material. It kicks off with two tracks from the new 12" released on Especial, 'Quiet Dawn' and the amazing 'Wind' featuring Yukimi Nagano. The Bembe Segue fronted 'River Of Love' is also included along with their rework of Kyoto Jazz Massive's 'Eclipse' and a new take on 'Waltz For Moe', the original of which appeared on 'The Room - 10th Anniversary', a four track EP released in 2003. Their re-work of Jazzinho's 'Sim Ou Nao' is a worthy inclusion but check their blissful remix of Victor Davies 'Don't Believe A Word' from his recent 'Hear The Sound - Remixed' set.
Andy Allen, 06/07
Sleepwalker - The VoyageVillage Again
The quartet made up of Hajime Yoshizawa, Masato Nakamura, Kiyoshi Ikeda and Nobuaki Fujii are back on top form with eight more future jazz classics. As Soil and Pimps finally received a well overdue European release, it's great timing to continue the supply of Japanese jazz. We were given a taster of things to come at the end of 2005 with the Especial 12" that included "Into The Sun" featuring Bembe Segue and the title track featuring then legend Pharoah Sanders. The beautiful vocalist Yukimi Nagano has also been drafted in on "Afloat". The formula and sound we know and love continues, with loads more Flute, Piano and Saxophone solos over the baddest jazz percussion in town. Over the following months you should be guaranteed to hear the soon to be massive "Ai-No-Tabi", assuming you support the right club nights and DJs. All in all, you need this.
Simon Harrison, 08/06
Slope - Slope is DopeSonar Kollektiv
Slope has always been consistent over the years and never really put a foot wrong. Even though I write that, recently I saw some of his remixes being released and finding myself not giving them a listen. Some of the best tracks on Clara Hill's album were produced by Slope but again I didn't quite register, that is until now. This is one album that I went back to again and again over Christmas. With quality remixes from Henrick Schwarz, Meitz, Daz-I-Kue and Afronaught, plus Slope re-works of Fat Freddy's Drop, 1Luv, Deyampert and Daniel Magg this has finally woken me up to how good Slope is. Yep, he's dope!
Simon Harrison, 01/07
Sly & Robbie and Amp Fiddler - Inspiration InformationStrut Records
I can’t say I saw this coming but the wealth of talent between these three men is undisputed so nothing short of quality should be expected. Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare need no introduction. They have been laying down beats and rhythms for just about everybody for over thirty years. Amp Fiddler fine tuned his funk skills while working with George Clinton’s P-funk group. He then went on to make two critically acclaimed records, “Waltz Of A Ghetto Fly” and “Afro Strut”. On “Inspiration Information”, Amp, Sly and Robbie sound as if they’ve been working together for years. On “Crazy Day” Amp vocals glide over the mid-tempo beats and while also laying down some nice organ riffs. “Blackhouse” finds Amp dropping insightful lyrics over a soothing bouncy beat. “Lonely” is a traditional reggae track that is tailor made for Amp’s passionate vocals. Overall “Inspiration Information” is an enjoyable laidback record by two legends and a rising soul funk star that will provide good vibes and immediate satisfaction.
Reg Dancy, 09/08
Sly Johnson - The Mic BuddahHeavenly Sweetness
"The Mic Buddah" is the full length release from the multi-talented Parisian native Sly Johnson. Best known for his wide range of skills as a singer, beat-boxer and rapper. Aside from the intro "Ouverture" where he provides a glimpse of his superb beat-boxing skills. Johnson allows his rich soulful vocals to do most of the heavy lifting and that's more than enough, Highlights include "Everybody's Dancin'" laced with infectious beats and thumping bass grooves. "Why" is another delight, a hazy down-tempo tune. Vocalist Rachel Claudio drops poignant spoken word lyrics and trumpeter Eric Truffaz melodic phrasings is the icing on the cake. ."Music" is filled with blissful samba rhythms while Magic Malik steps in with warm flute melodies, Malian rapper Oxmo Puccino displays exceptional flow and is a perfect fit for this track. Gritty vocals wrapped around soulful hip-hop textures will grip your hips to force you to move. Johnson is a talent whose star can only get brighter with releases like this.
Reg Dancy, 03/16
Smoove - First ClassJalapeno Recordss
DJ/Producer Smoove has long established his allegiance to the funk and his love for Hip-Hop through his DJ sets as well as his recordings with partner Turrell. On his latest solo project “First Class”, he treats us to his exclusive remixes from an array of artists who know how to lay down a groove. “Traveling Man” is a prime example of the funk that is brewing here as Jazz & Blues singer Brenda Boykin croons over a sizzling organ grinder meets thumping bass groove. Smoove turns up the heat with some well-placed edits on “Baby Your Lovin” by Electmric Empire. “Da Wiesel” by Boogaloo Stomp evokes memories of Kool & The Gang’s “Love & Understanding” and hearing this again will get you moving on the good foot. Other highlights include “It’s My Funk” by Charlie Funk feat Afrika Bambaataa & King Kamonzi and “Son Montuno” by the Una Mas Trio. “Frist Class” is exactly that; a first rate funk and soul burner that delivers from beginning to end.
Reg Dancy, 12/12