Music Reviews

Show: New reviews | Artists beginning with: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0-9 | Compilations
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Endless Light / Space Ghost

Space Ghost - Endless Light

Tartelet

Oakland producer Space Ghost's second lp "Endless Light" is an amalgamation of 80s synth grooves sprinkled over melodic tempos ranging from funk to house. "Color Waves" is mid-tempo cosmic funk with sparse drum programming and synths. On standout tracks "Following A Vision" and "Eyes Closed", Ghost developes a pattern of building a house tempo before settling back into mellow atmospheric beats and synths. "Strong Heart" is a dreamy down-tempo voyage that features him on the vocoder. Space Ghost cultivates his own sound with this release by pushing the boundaries of soul, ambience and electronica. In a crowded electronic field he's emerging as a standout.

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Reg Dancy, 06/18

Soul:Fi / Space Invadas

Space Invadas - Soul:Fi

BBE Records

If you haven’t had this conversation yet, you will one day explain to your kids or somebody else’s kid that music didn’t always require a drum machine to make beats, or a sample wasn’t necessary to capture the right hook or feature the right voice. The days of lo-fi recordings are from another place in time but when played today you can’t help but get lifted by the raw soul seeping into your veins. It has been a daunting task to bridge the gap from the old to the new but the Space Invadas are more than capable of filling that role. Producer Ashley Anderson, aka Katalyst and vocalist Steve Spacek are on a mission to bring you soul music in its purest form and suffice to say, you’ll gladly come along for the ride. Their debut, “Soul Fi” starts out by transporting you to a time when soul music was the norm and not the exception. Upon arrival, you’re treated to “Imaginist”, a funky track that merges a fierce rhythm guitar groove and lush strings that serves as the canvas for Spacek’s falsetto voice.  “Super Sweet” is another uptempo foot stomper that finds vocalists Fantine and Spacek playfully flirting with one another over a wicked bass groove and drum beat. “Ready Or Not” is an midtempo gem that utilizes The Delfonics sample of the same name that was so successful for the Fugees mid nineties hit. Spacek sprinkles his voice over the rhythm section and transforms the track into his own. On “Way We Feel”, The Space Invadas bring the pace down to a slow burn and create a sultry slow jam reminiscent of Love Unlimited classics. Indeed “Soul Fi” has all the ingredients of a soul classic and would serve as the antidote for any party in need of a funk injection. This is certainly one of the best early full length releases of 2011.

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Reg Dancy, 03/11

Wild World / Space Invadas

Space Invadas - Wild World

Invada Records

Hard to believe it's been seven years since Steve Spacek and Ashley Anderson aka Katalyst last appeared on the scene. That doesn't seem to matter for the duo known as Space Invadas are as sharp as ever. With their new lp "Wild World" Katalyst lays the foundation with classic soul inspired samples with an analog sound and beats tailor made for Spacek's falsetto vocals. That's apparent right out the gate with "Welcome". Katalyst laces the track with heavy beats for Spacek and Melbourne vocalist Natalie Slade's sweet soulful vocals to soar. The title track is a hip-hop soulful banger where rapper Remi and spacek wax poetic about the state of affairs in the world today. "Don't Ever Look Back" has a percussion filled Latin vibe while "Say Something" is a mellowed out love song. This is a tightly produced lp with twelve strong tracks. Katalyst has distinguished himself as a premier producer while Spacek's recognizable voice is always a delight. These two make quite a team and it's great to have them back.

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Reg Dancy, 06/18

Introducing Spam Allstars / Spam Allstars

Spam Allstars - Introducing Spam Allstars

Introducing

This CD takes material from the Miami bands’ earlier CDs and introduces them to a hopefully wider audience. The band state their mission is to ‘blend improvisational electronic elements and turntables with Latin, funk, hip-hop and dub to create a sound that is unique – an electronic descarga.’ Excellent musicians combined with a love of playing live give them a real chilled buzz. Very much one to discover, if you’ve not already of course.

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Graham Radley, 09/08

I / Spanky Wilson & The Quantic Soul Orchestra

Spanky Wilson & The Quantic Soul Orchestra - I

Tru Thoughts Recordings

A few years ago Will Holland went in search of Spanky Wilson to feature on his 2001 album "Mishaps Happening", and of course the anthem "Don't joke with a hungry man" bowled everyone over. I would have loved to have seen his face when she agreed to record an album with him: he must have been smiling for weeks. The Quantic Soul Orchestra side of Will's productions is funk at its best and with Spanky on vocals it was never ever going to fail. The tracks are not obvious and do take a little getting used to but to me it's another classic Quantic collaboration.

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Simon Harrison, 10/06

Bonfire / Speeka

Speeka - Bonfire

Wah Wah 45s

Matt Smooth and Rob Mac are back with their second album under the alias Speeka and it makes me wonder how they have time with all the other projects they've got under their belt. With the guys known more for their hip-hop roots than their jazz or funk, they take all those influences and turn them into a wonderful folk style album. This is a beautiful album that will have you wanting more after each play. My copy arrived in the middle of the postal strike, so I was able to give this album the attention it deserves. One of the catchiest tracks I've heard this year is "Better Inside", which has all the elements of a hit, if only the nation wasn't so obsessed with reality TV music shows. With a good balance of instrumentals and vocal productions, this will more than keep you happy through the dark winter months. Yet another excellent release from Wah Wah 45s.

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Simon Harrison, 01/08

Night Vision / Spirit Catcher

Spirit Catcher - Night Vision

2020 Vision Recordings

After several 12" releases under their belt the Belgian duo, Jean Vanesse and Thomas Sohet, aka Spirit Catcher deliver their debut album for the Leeds based 2020 Vision Recordings. It's packed full of quality electro-boogie house and includes both 'Sweet Deal' and 'Time Emulator' from the recent single. To these ears though the standouts are the mid-tempo grooves 'Space Crash' and 'Motown Spring', the latter featuring a rock steady bass line, atmospheric keys and dreamy filtered harmonies. Trust me this is the bomb!

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Andy Allen, 02/07

Living On The Venus Express / Spoonface

Spoonface - Living On The Venus Express

Faada

Spoonface’s velvet tonsils have graced numerous productions over the past few years from house and broken-beat to R&B. His debut album follows a slightly different path though, focusing largely on acoustic folk orientated material. Of which ‘We Don’t Need To’, with its’ Spanish guitar flurries works particularly well but also check the mellow digital soul cut ‘It’s All Love’.

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Andy Allen, 03/08

St Germain / St Germain

St Germain - St Germain

Nonesuch

Fifteen years is a long gap between album releases, especially when your previous LP is the critically acclaimed "Tourist". For DJ/Producer Ludovic Navarre better known as St Germain it was necessary to go in another direction As a result he embarked on an inspirational path that led him to the rhythms of West Africa and the blues. This creative journey has culminated into an extraordinary collaboration with Malian guitarist Guimba Kouyate. The new self-titled LP showcases Navarre's superb use of loops and sampling in conjunction with strong musicianship from Kouyate and others. "Real Blues" is a myriad of rhythms ranging from the wooden vibe like Balafon to Kouyate's electric guitar riffs. Not to mention the sampling of Lightnin' Hopkins. "Sittin Here" is bursting with infectious percussion and Kouyate's soloing and vocals. "How Dare You"once again features Kouyate's vocals alongside the sampled vocals of Lightnin' Hopkins. This union of the Blues and the music of Mali feels like a perfect marriage.  In addition Navarre's superb use of electronics complements the compositions as opposed to overpowering it. Make no mistake, this is a tremendous achievement.

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Reg Dancy, 02/16

All In A Day / Stee Downes

Stee Downes - All In A Day

Sonar Kollektiv

Dublin born Stee Downes debut “All In A Day” is an amalgamation of harmonious 60’s pop, soul and funk. After ten years as a dj and performing live shows with the likes of Amp Fiddler and Bugz In The Attic, Stee hooked up with friend and musical confidant Ishfaq to work on his record. The result is a laidback feel good record that is warm and melodic. Highlights include “Asunder”, a mid tempo tune with simple lyrics to sing along to (“You could fill my dreams with Asunder”). “What’s Wrong with Groovin’” employs the same format with the exception of the samba like breaks filled with cool percussion work and strings. “What I’m Feeling” might be my favorite, a gorgeous bossa nova beat with slick guitar licks and funky horns. Stee Downes may not be known to most but “All In A Day” will make everyone get familiar with him. His voice isn’t overpowering but he doesn’t try to do what he can’t do. What he can do is create quality music with warm harmonic arrangements. This is an impressive debut by Stee Downes and is certainly worth checking out.

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Reg Dancy, 10/08

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