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
Conversation Peace / Damu The Fudgemunk

Damu The Fudgemunk - Conversation Peace

Def Presse

"Conversation Peace", the latest release from Damu the Fudgemunk is the culmination of beats, rhythms and cinematic soundcapes compiled from the storied archive of KPM/EMI records. The London based music library has amassed over 30,000 pieces of vinyl dating back to 1956. They have forged an arrangement with fellow London label Def Presse to open the vault and Damu is the first to reap the benefits. The Washington DC based DJ/Producer flew to London after wrapping up his critically acclaimed release "Ocean Bridges". He spent over a week crate digging, compiled some hidden gems and chopped it up. In addition, a few friends dropped in that shared his musical vision for the project. The result is a nine track banger that delivers straight fire right out of the gate. "Power of Mind" is classic boom bap hip-hop armed with head nodding beats, jazz infused vibraphone samples and razor sharp verses from Raw Poetic. On "God Speed" rapper Blu spits over string laden rhythms and beats reminiscent of seventies cinematic action soundtracks. Nitty Scott and Damu are working together for the first time. She sounds right at home over the ambient soundscapes of "Four Better or Worse Pt.1". Damu is coy about where he uses samples or live instrumentation on each track, preferring to leave it up to the listener to determine. No doubt you'll spend more time nodding your head from start to finish. Damu is on fire and this is provides definitesatisfaction.

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Reg Dancy, 10/21

Regrowth / Sampology

Sampology - Regrowth

Middle Name Records

On the strength of two impressive EPs, Brisbane native DJ/Producer Sampology embarks on an atmospheric journey with "Regrowth". The disc is filled with sublime recordings intended to heal the soul during these trying times. "Suffer and Swim" is one of many highlights, a warm and blissful composition heightened by warm guitar rhythms courtesy of Beau Diako and the blissful vocals of 30/70 member Allysha Joy. "Reassemble" is another delight that features James Chatburn's soft falsetto vocals layered over tender guitar strokes and subtle horn arrangements. "Ten Foot Flowers" starts out with spiritual hymns laced with hypnotic tenor sax melodies that gives way to a brooding mid-tempo groove. Once again Austrailia blesses us with an essential album from their deep pool of emerging artists. While the first EPs featured tasty doses of sampling, "Regrowth" flourishes with live instrumentation throughout. As I was listening to this record, I was instantly transported to somewhere on a beach comforted by a warm Summer breeze. Your imagination may take you somewhere else but not without this marvelous record.

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Reg Dancy, 10/21

We Famous / The Kondi Band

The Kondi Band - We Famous

Strut

"We Famous", the sophomore release from Sierra Leonean native Sorie Kondi, DJ/Producer Chief Boima and Will LV better known as The Kondi Band. The ten track disc are filled with West African rhythms, specifically Freetown Sierra Leone. Boima discovered Kondi through a youtube video and eventually arranged for him to travel to the States. During that visit the duo scheduled five live dates and eventually made their way to the studio. "We Famous", four years in the making is the follow up to their 2016 debut. "Don't Follow Sweetness" is an infectious tune highlighting Kondi's vocals as well as his mastery of the thumb piano. "She Doesn't Love You" is enhanced by Boima's use of electronics and features guest vocals from fellow Sierra Leone native Mariama Jalloh. "It's God's World" is another dance floor filler with an infectious groove that features Sweatson Klank. This is another winner from Strut records who have a knack for finding hidden gems. None any bigger than Kondi.

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Reg Dancy, 09/21

Wolo So / Balimaya Project

Balimaya Project - Wolo So

Jazz Re:freshed

The Balimaya project is a collective of Uk musicians collaborating on Mande music. Mande is a family of ethnic groups from West Africa. Led by UK based Djembe musician Yahael Camara Onono, the group consists of members of burgeoning bands Kokoroko and Seed Ensemble. "Soninka Patronba" begins with warm percussions and a brimming horn section. The tune shifts tempos from mellow to spirited high energy grooves. "City Of God" is a meditative blend of Kora, trumpet and Trombone rhythms. "Dakan" is another polyrhythmnic tune bursting with hypnotic percussions, soothing keys and sublime horn arrangements. A marvelous record that flows with spirited energy and enthusiasm. This is a showcase of the abundance of talented UK musicians with a foundation of Jazz and their pulse on the Mande culture.

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Reg Dancy, 09/21

Take A Shot / The Fantastics

The Fantastics - Take A Shot

BBE

Hard to believe it's been nine years since The Fantastics last full length release. The band turned over their roster and only two members remain from the original lineup. Recently they have gone out on the road to try out their new material and based on this new release, the audience gave marks. "Take Another Shot", their third lp is filled with high energy funk and soul jazz compositions that have become their trademark. Keyboardist Greg Boraman, one of the original members has tapped into new blood to push the band's music forward. Guitarist James Byron brings an open minded approach to genre bending compositions resonating throughout the recording. Vocalist Selene Fleming's resume includes appearances with Incognito and Leroy Hutson. She punctuates a number of tunes here like "Say You Will" and "Can't Decide". The latter is an organ fueled psychedelic tune with rip roaring guitars. Mark Norton's melodic flute is front and center on the mellow soul jazz tunes "Better Than Dead" and "Oblique". Overall it's a strong ten track album that will certainly satisfy your soul jazz palette.

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Reg Dancy, 09/21

That Special Sauce / Jerome Thomas

Jerome Thomas - That Special Sauce

Rhythm Section

Hackney based vocalist Jerome Thomas has been building a reputation as soul singer to keep an eye on for a number of years. Various projects over the have offered a tease of his velvet falsetto. Once you caught a listen you were left wondering when are we gonna get more? Well, the wait is over. "That special Sauce", Thomas's full length debut on Rhythm Section International is filled with hot buttered soul gems dripping with sensuality and romanticism. Thomas ecshews electronics in favor of a six piece band and the result is an organic session that provides the canvas for his passionate lyrics. On the slow burning "Secret" Thomas's subdued yet seductive vocals sets the mood for an intimate connection. "Settle Down" is fueled by the subtle yet poignant bass licks. The laidback drumming is in the pocket and tailor made for Kwesi Mcintosh's melodic bass grooves sprinkled throughout the disc. Despite the fact there's only seven tracks here you'll get caught up in the rapture nonetheless. Simply stated this is blue lights in the basement music from a rising star in UK soul.

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Reg Dancy, 09/21

Mind Beats Vol.1 / Inkswel

Inkswel - Mind Beats Vol.1

Inner Tribe

It has been a busy year for Austrailian producer Jules Habib aka InksWel. He dropped the deeply satisfying "Astral Love" earlier this year. Now he returns with the intergalactic beat tape "Mind Beats Vol.1". Inkswel chops up an array of dark and moody beats surrounded with outtakes of interviews of Sun Ra. Among the highlights are "Journey For All Men" filled with spacey chords and thick beats. "War" is another banger laced with cosmic synths and features rapper Social Change. "One For Doom" is a fitting tribute to the late iconic rapper. In fact if you're fans of Doom or beatmakers such as Madlib then you'll certainly vibe to this.

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Reg Dancy, 09/21

Euphoria / KVRVBO

KVRVBO - Euphoria

Stay True Sounds

"Euphoria" is the debut full length release from KVRVBO (pronounced Karabo). KVRVBO is one of a number of talented DJ/Producers to emerge from the meteoric house music scene in South Africa. With two critically acclaimed EPs under his belt under the impressive label Stay True Sounds, this record is an ode to classic house and he represents himself very well here. "Conspiracy" is a perfect example of that. A traditional four to the floor banger with warm emotive synth lines juxtaposed against a pulsating rhythm. "O Flopo" is a mid-tempo Afro house tune armed with a gentle thumping bass groove. It's also one of the few vocal tracks here and features Okay GOD. KVRVBO slows down the pace with "Call For Truth". A meditative tune filled with potent poetic words of wisdom on top of a steady hypnotic beat. KVRVBO taps into his musical roots to create a deep house gem with his signature sound combined with classic deep house rhythms. A triumphant release that should put him all over the map.

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Reg Dancy, 08/21

Reconnection / Rafael Moraes

Rafael Moraes - Reconnection

Yoruba records

Eight years since his debut, Rafael Moraes returns with his sophomore release "Reconnection". Moraes stepped back into the studio and emerged with an album loaded with infectious Afro house compositions that sink into your body and is certain to lift your spirits. "Fingers" features fellow labelmate Jesse Gannon and erupts with spirited percussion, swaying piano and lush vocal harmonies. Nadiirah Shakoor is another long time Yoruba soul contributor and her warm soulful vocals ignite the deep house gem "In Love Again". "No Escaping" is another heater where Moraes is joined by premier DJ/Producer Aroop Roy, who adds his mix of Afro, funk and Latin rhythms. Moraes combines an array of musical sensibilities that takes the album beyond the dance floor. This is deep house at it's best and a long overdue gem.

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Reg Dancy, 08/21

My Last Album / Barton Think

Barton Think - My Last Album

Time Is The Enemy

The enigmatic Barton Think reveals very little about himself but his music is speaking volumes. "My Last Album" is filled with an assortment of genre bending grooves enhanced by an array of talented vocalists and MCs. "Beautiful Place" is a mid-tempo soul burner fronted by broken beat pioneer Colonel Red with assistance from Dynamite MC. Colonel Red also appears on "Voices" is a reflective downtempo tune. "In The Dark" has a percolating beat punctuated by the feathery vocals of Denitia. "I Can't See" is a tasty instrumental filled with jazzy hip hop beats. Let's hope this isn't Barton's "last" album because he certainly has more to offer based on the strength of this impressive release.

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Reg Dancy, 08/21

Virgo Stellar / As Valet

As Valet - Virgo Stellar

Futuristica

Parisian Producer/beat maker As Valet, former member of the group Electric Conversation delivers a deep dish of soulful electronic grooves with "Virgo Stellar". Valet's abstract compositions underline his skill at cultivating an ecosystem of sublime electronica. Whether it's downtempo or infectious deep house, the result is a deep dish of musical goodness. "Come True" is a warm and mellow house gem that glides underneath the blissful vocals of former Electric Conversation member LaNote, who is featured throughout the disc. "Verite' Sur L'amour" has a deep and percolating beat that is augmented by the vocals of J.Mcfysian and LaNote. "Lab E Aint" is the lone instrumental and is a slice of heaven due in part to the sublime blending of electronica, wordless harmonies and atmospheric grooves. This is a terrific release from a producer who shamefully remains under the radar. This release should provide the shine he rightfully deserves.

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Reg Dancy, 07/21

City Of All / Makez

Makez - City Of All

Heist Recordings

The Amsterdam based duo known as Makez's full length debut "City Of All" is the follow up to their impressive 2019 debut EP "Different Planets". Like their EP, this release is filled with big bold infectious house and down-tempo grooves. "Not So Different" is loaded with masculine energy, pulsating beats and guest vocals courtesy of Lyma. "Feel The Same" is another banger with a big majestic sound, heightened by bombastic cymbals and soaring vocals that punctuate the groove. The duo demonstrate their range as producers isn't beholden to house. "Looking Up" is a slow burning down-tempo tune augmented by the seductive vocals of Allysha Joy. "Orbit" is an orgasmic blend of jazz, latin and funk that has a meditative quality to it. There's a deep well of warmth to these compositions. The house tracks aren't just for dance floor consumption, they're perfectly suited for any setting. The other tunes are equally impressive. These guys are showcasing a lot of talent here. They've crafted a superb album that should make them a household names before long.

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Reg Dancy, 07/21

Anthology Vol 1 and 2 / Jimpster

Jimpster - Anthology Vol 1 and 2

Freerange

Dj/Producer Jamie Odell aka Jimpster has been on the short list of premier DJs for the past twenty five years.  He has released numerous timeless house tracks on his label Freerange records as well as other labels. With the release of the Anthology Vol 1 & 2 lp, we take a moment or several hours to celebrate some of his acclaimed recordings. As one might expect, this two disc set is loaded with bangers. "Sleeper" is heart pounding house with equal parts warmth, groove and heavy beats. "One" is infectious house with vocal assistance from Casamena. Jimpster's production is on point as the momentum builds throughout the track until it reaches a fever pitch. The digital version of this lp features a couple of down-tempo tunes perfect to shift your mood and give your feet a rest. "The Sun Comes Up" is one of those tunes to help you unwind after a night of clubbing. Or it's simply just a high quality chillout track. This disc is a great place to add some classics from a DJ still on top of his game.

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Reg Dancy, 07/21

Revealing / Gizelle Smith

Gizelle Smith - Revealing

Jalapeno Records

Manchester based vocalist Gizelle Smith returns with her latest lp entitled "Revealing". The soul and funk chanteuse's third full length release takes a shift from the high octane raw soul compositions she's become known for. Like all of us, the past year took a toll on Smith. Aside from the pandemic she also lost her Dad Joe, former musical director for legendary Motown group The Four Tops. She decided to scratch her original compositions and came up with the material we're treated to here. The opener "Agony Road" has a catchy guitar hook and provides the perfect canvas for Smith's restrained but potent vocals. "Better Remember" is a mellow tune fueled by a wicked wah wah guitar pedal and a soulful rhythm section. Smith shows a softer side as she confronts social distancing and the anxieties that come along with it. "Riot Cars" and "The Girl Who Cried Snow" have a rock tinged edge to them yet Smith sounds right at home. Although she's been in the game for more than a decade, Smith has just scratch the surface. This marvelous lp showcases a new side to her and you're gonna to love the results.

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Reg Dancy, 07/21

Multi / Mista Monk

Mista Monk - Multi

Inner Tribe

Austrailian based rapper Liam Monkhouse aka Mista Monk brings a truck load of funk on his new release "Multi". Monk has partnered up with an array of like minded eclectic artists who relate to his vision of forward thinking soul music and hip-hop. "Crossroads" packs a load of boom bap as Monk spits hard hitting rhymnes along with vocal assistance from fellow Austrailian native Laneous. "Mind Zone" is a laid back soulful number with an impressive cast. Fellow rapper Illa J jumps on board alongside Pugz Alomz, Lord Lobe and vocalist Charli Umami of Plantself. "This Is For..." is another favorite with thumping beats certain to get your head nod on. "Rains" is a wicked dub track that provides a nice change of pace. Produced by notable producer Inkswell, "Multi" is quality hip-hop. There's plenty of funk, supreme vocals and beats by the pound that will warrant several spins.

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Reg Dancy, 07/21

Good Love / Wheel Up

Wheel Up - Good Love

Tru Thoughts

Danny Wheeler aka DJ Wheel Up releases his much anticipated full length debut "Good Love". Wheeler teams up with broken beat pioneer Afonaut from Bugz In The Attic fame as well as his own solo projects. The essence of broken beat personifies this disc and the lead track "Good Love" is evidence of that. The infectious banger features Alabama based rapper Blint Story and vocalist Destiny Will and ignites instant body movement. It's certain to find it's way onto several DJs playlist. "Rise Above" is another Bruk flavored classic that features drum n bass duo Pola & Bryson, aka "Abacus". Blint Story shows up again on the politically tinged Bruk banger "Stay For Long" which is woefully too short at under three minutes. Bembe Segue, a long time contributor to a number of Broken beat compositions with a number of artists displays her unique vocals to the boogie groover "Fusion". "Good Love" is a triumph that celebrates broken beat and club culture. It's an album filled with joyful vibes that deserves heavy rotation.

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Reg Dancy, 06/21

The Negative Positive / Dego

Dego - The Negative Positive

2000 Black

"The Negative Positive", the latest from DJ/Producer Dego is filled with instrumental grooves and tasty vocal treats. Dego seamlessly blurs the lines between soul, boogie and broken beat and has built an impressive catalog since his partnership with Marc Mac as 4Hero. Under his 2000 black label, he has released countless grooves and bangers for himself as well as collaborations with mainstays like Kaidi Tathum, Lord & Ranks among others. With this release Dego has pulled back the tempo but the tracks still pack quite a punch. "This Is A Message To You" is one of the strongest tunes here. A catchy mid-tempo tune enhanced by Nadine Charles lovely vocals. The title is filled with effusive beats and funky synths. Vocalist Samii warms up the laid back boogie tune "Recovered Memories". For moments when you need to chill this record will serve as the perfect antidote.

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Reg Dancy, 06/21

Beaches In Your Soul / Rolf Zielke

Rolf Zielke - Beaches In Your Soul

Agogo

Pianist Rolf Zielke's engaging release "Beaches In Your Soul" is a tasty stew of contemporary Jazz with a tinge of Brazilian and Middle Eastern influences as well. Zielke and his band come out the gate swinging on the elegant "Awakening". Saxophonist Stephan Abel's warm yet robust melodies are the perfect compliment to Zielke's shimmering flourishes. Cellist Stephen Braun adds another layer of melodic brilliance on strings. Braun shines even brighter on "Night Sea Journey", a blissful atmospheric composition. Mohannad Nasser's strumming on the oud adds a touch of a Middle Eastern vibe woven together perfectly. Zielke's elegant playing and arrangements will evoke images of Bill Evans but he's clearly carving out an identity for himself here. "Okavango Serenade" is a lovely ballad enhanced by Trumpeter Beeny Brown's sublime melodies. Zielke's playing and songwriting are top notch. The musicians on board here rise to the occasion. He has demonstrated a great deal of creativity by weaving a multitude of cultures into a deeply satisfying set. No doubt more attention will be coming his way.

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Reg Dancy, 06/21

Flamingo Pier / Flamingo Pier

Flamingo Pier - Flamingo Pier

Soundway

New Zealand collective Flamingo Pier's self titled full length debut is filled with punchy Disco, funky boogie and infectious house tunes. This album builds on the highly regarded EPs released in 2019 and 2020. The nine track release packs quite a punch right out of the gate. "Eternal" has elements of classic Disco with soaring strings, sweet horns and infectious drums courtesy of label mate Julien Dyne. Another label mate, saxophonist Nathan Haines shares production duties on the tasty house banger "Last Call". The eight minute banger will be an instant floor filler for many DJs. "Make You Wonder" has a percolating guitar infused boogie groove. The entire disc has an uplifting vibe that stems from a year of being in lockdown. The band was finally able to gather together in the studio and the energy manifested into a joyful recording that's certain to make you dance, toe tap or however you choose to move.

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Reg Dancy, 06/21

The Rich Will Only Be Defeated When Running For Their Lives / Anthony Joseph

Anthony Joseph - The Rich Will Only Be Defeated When Running For Their Lives

Heavenly Sweetness

"The Rich Will Only Be Defeated When Running For Their Lives" is the latest offering of spoken word brilliance from Anthony Joseph. The poet's latest release is a jam fest filled with Afro Caribbean rhythms fronted by a powerhouse lineup. Jason Yarde, who also serves as producer serenades us with his buoyant Alto and baritone sax on several tracks. On the opener "Kamau", Shabaka Hutchings brooding bass clarinet slivers into your body while Colin Webster's fiery Tenor dances on top of the infectious groove. The tune is a tribute to Barbadian poet Kamau Brathwaite who passed away in early 2020. "Calling England Home" is a slow burning number about a man trying to find his place in a new country for decades before feeling at home. "Language" is another long playing heater that pays tribute to Jamaican Poet Anthony McNeill. Drummer Rod Youngs sets the stage with heart pounding rhythms while creating space for others. Tenor titan Denys Baptiste muscular Tenor sends shivers while Webster switches from Tenor to Baritone and delivers with spine tingling soloing. The horn players aren't the only stars here. Parisian pianist Florian Pellisser finds his place within the delicious groove on "Swing Praxis" to add colorful melodies. Bassist Andrew John is superb at laying down a delicious groove and keeping your head on a swivel throughout the disc. As for Joseph, he's at his absolute best as he dives deep into his Caribbean roots. Quite simply it's another masterpiece from Joseph. He's the gift who keeps on giving. He's an absolute treasure and this record is among the best to emerge this year.

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Reg Dancy, 05/21

Orla / Caravela

Caravela - Orla

None More Records

"Orla", the full length debut from Caravela is filled with sublime Afro-Brazilian rhythms. Vocalist Ines Loubet Franco's warm and melodic vocals enanate from her native Portuguese to her recent experiences in Brazil. There's a purity to her voice that few can match. When you combine that with the band's driving percussive rhythms you have an intoxicating mix to quench your musical palette. "Vale Do Capao" blossoms with hypnotic electric guitar rhythms from Telmo Souza that simmer while Jansen Santana's percussion will immediately lift your spirits. "Um E Melo" is a slow burning delight that features emotive spoken word from Dizraeli. The seven track release is laced with organic grooves that speak to social issues from Brazil to Cape Verde. This superb release demonstrate a deep rhythmic palette that will take you on glorious ride. Don't miss it.

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Reg Dancy, 05/21

Love Stories EP / Sun Circle

Sun Circle - Love Stories EP

Futuristica

"Life Stories EP" is the first release from Simon Skolfield and Deborah Jordan since 2009's "Reborn". The duo certainly has been busy during that span with Jordan's solo projects and Skofield's array of production credits for his Futuristica label. With all the activity it's a pleasant surprise that they found time for this splendid six track EP. The disc kicks off beautifully with "Cry". The steady deliberate down-tempo beat and heavenly melody create a perfect canvas for Jordan's hauntingly beautiful vocals. "My Heart" oozes with emotion. Jordan's heartfelt lyrics combined with the sublime classical instrumentation will tug at your heart strings. The title track is another down-tempo treat filled with warm keys and strings. Marc Rapson's rework adds a little more bounce while transforming it into an atmospheric gem. Sun Circle delivers a marvelous EP that is warm, fresh and lush. The Futuristica family continues to gift us with one superb recording after another.

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Reg Dancy, 05/21

Sound Ancestors / Madlib

Madlib - Sound Ancestors

Madlib Invasion

DJ/Producer Otis Jackson aka Madlib refuses to stay in one lane. His roots in hip-hop are firm and his deep dive into jazz and Brazilian music has elevated him well beyond your average beat maker. With his latest release "Sound Ancestors" he hands over hundreds of beats to Kieran Hebden aka Four Tet. Hebden hand picks and re-masters some of the beat conductoer's unreleased gems and knocks it out of the park. "Road Of The Lonely Ones" is a prime example. Madlib weaves together a classic 70s soul vocal sample over a drum snare beat. "Dirtknock" is vintage neck snapping hip-hop. "Duumbiyay" is another testament to the master of his craft. The tune features what started as acapella of children singing and culminates with spiritual jazz rhythms and live instrumentation woven together. Hebden arranges the entire disc with a nice flow so you're treated to one prime cut after another. With hundreds of tracks in his posession here's hoping another album like this one will be on the way.

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Reg Dancy, 04/21

After Dark / Amanda Whiting

Amanda Whiting - After Dark

Jazzman Records

"After Dark" is the new release from harpist Amanda Whiting. Ms Whiting has performed with a number fo jazz and soul luminaries from Jamie Cullum to Matthew Halsall's Gondwana orchestra. Whiting has played the harp since the age of 6 but mainly played classical music. She started building her chops in jazz in recent years and she hasn't look back. Based on this release the years of study have paid off. The disc starts out in a modal mood. "Messed Up" highlights Whiting's gentle flourishes juxtaposed with the splash of drummer John Robinson's high hat. "Stay For One" is a melancholy tune that features fellow Gondwana member Chip Wickham on flute. Wickham shows up again on the swinging tune "The Feist". Whiting ebbs and flows around Wickham warm melodies. The harp has become more promiment than ever. Let's hope this is just the beginning of delightful recordings from Whiting. Jazzman records never disappoints and this release is no exception.

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Reg Dancy, 04/21

Love Is / Prequel

Prequel - Love Is

Rhythm Section International

DJ/Producer Prequel has delighted us with an array of moody house tracks and eps over the years. With his full length debut "Love Is" he fuses hip-hop jazz and house to give his perspective on love. It's a concept album about the highs and lows from family to relationships. Prequel takes his production prowess to another level with the aid of some of Melbourne's bottomless pit of talented musicians. The dark and moody "When Love Is New" armed with a pulsating bottom that echoes Motor City house. It also features amazing string arrangements courtesy of violinist Tamil Rogeon. "Violeiro" sparkles with Brazilian rhythms aligned with punchy beats. "All I'm Missing Is You" has a dizzying piano melody that takes you on an enjoyable ride. The remarkable "Love Is" is a meditative gem that features the emotive spoken word vocals of Cazeaux O.S.L.O. The album also ebbs and flows with jazzy sophisticated interludes that fits the mood. While there may be a touch of heartache here there's plenty of euphoria that's punctuated by these recordings. Prequel steps out of his comfort zone just a bit and creates a deeply satisfying debut. Few producers have explored a sound and a topic as marvelous as this record.

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Reg Dancy, 04/21