Various Artists - Chrome Children Volume 2Stones Throw Records
California-based Stones Throw, home to head-honcho Peanut Butter Wolf and leading light Madlib, is undoubtedly one of the world's most exciting and productive independent Hip Hop labels, and any new compilation from such a label is always cause for celebration. Far from predictable, Chrome Children 2 pulls together a collection that includes not only Hip Hop, but Jazz and Disco-tinged Funk and Electro (in the true sense of the word) as well. The featured Hip Hop matches some the hottest emcees around - Guilty Simpson, Aloe Blacc, M.E.D - with some of the most forward-thinking producers around - think Dabrye, Four Tet, Danny Breaks and Madlib himself - and the end result is satisfying indeed. For me though, the stand-outs are the Egon re-edit of the Clifford Nyren Disco-funker 'Keep Running Away' and 'Murder', by the rather comically named James Pants.
Tom Breslin, 04/07
Various Artists - Computer Incarnations for World Peace II selected by Gerd JansonSonar Kollektiv
This is the second volume in what should, hopefully, become an established series and the focus this time is not on the pioneering producers of the ‘80s, but on the contemporary electronic music most directly influenced by those flag-planting disco forefathers. Selected once again by Running Back head honcho Gerd Janson, but left unmixed, the music comes from the cream of the Nu-disco crop in the form of Todd Terje, Prins Thomas, Maurice Fulton, Ray Mang et al. You know the score; 100 - 110 well placed beats per minute, dominated by firm bass-lines and awash with dreamy synths and weird effects. This is a great collection and the inclusion of Mark E’s ‘Fighter’ - an exclusive to this CD - is the worth the money alone.
Tom Breslin, 05/08
Various Artists - Contemporary JazzTramp Records
German label Tramp records founder Tobias Kirmayer follows up his Contemporary Funk release with the Contemporary Jazz compilation. Kirmayer displays his love for jazz on all levels by selecting a variety of different styles from the spiritual minded composition of “Starlings Talk” by Deep Jazz to the greasy soul flavored “Sugar’s Boogaloo” by Sugarman 3. Other highlights include “A Vision Part 1” by Das Goldene Zeltalter, an organic gem that is enhanced by the raspy vocals of Bajka. The disc wraps up with the laidback modal jazz influenced “Hier Kommit Die Laterne” by the German quintet Hipnosis. There is an added incentive to this compilation in that several songs were previously unreleased. It would have been a shame to keep these quality recordings locked up. To his credit, Tobias shines a light on the music as well as a group of musicians that may not be on your radar but once you hear them you’ll no doubt make the effort to dig a little deeper for more of their recordings.
Reg Dancy, 10/10
Various Artists - Controversy A Tribute To PrinceRapster
Generally, I’m not a big fan of remakes, especially an entire album. So initially I was skeptical of the “A Tribute To Prince” project. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised when I sat down to listen to it. What’s refreshing about this collection are the alternative takes each artist brings to the table. D’Angelo comes out of hiding to deliver a lively version of “She’s always In My Hair”. Blue States takes “Alphabet Street” and turns it into an atmospheric trip hop offering that is very satisfying. Osunlade’s rendition of “Crazy You” is also tastefully done. It may be the only track here that might bear some similarities the original. Broadway Project puts a cinematic spin on “The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker” and, as a result, creates a song that aims for the depths of your soul. Kudos to the musicians involved in this project. This is how remakes are supposed to be done. It’s a beautiful thing when artists tear a song apart and recreate it all over again. This is wonderful work that deserves to be heard.
Reg Dancy, 04/08
Various Artists - Coopr8 Presents Our Music Our Culture Vol. 1Muthas of Invention
This digital release is the first in a quarterly series from Coopr8, the latest incarnation of the much-loved Co-Op spirit, and it’s all pretty straight forward really. It’s a collection of premium quality music from some of the most talented and dedicated proponents of the broken beat sound around, including Ayro, Simbad, Bugz, Domu, Karizma, Colonel Red, Restless Soul and Marc Mac. That’s quite a line-up I’m sure you’ll agree, and for anyone who, like me, was beginning to feel rather depressed about the gaping chasm that’s been left in club land by the end of the bi-weekly Co-Op party, this is truly essential listening. I defy you not to be warmed and heartened by the supreme quality of these broken grooves.
Tom Breslin, 01/09
Various Artists - Cosmic Forest - The Spiritual Sounds of MPSMPS
"Cosmic Forest", Nicola Conte's latest compilation is a journey into the vaults of Musik Produktion Schwarzwald (MPS). The German label has a catalogue of approximately 500 albums filled with Spiritual jazz composed by premiere musicians from around the world. MPS founder Hans Georg Brunner recognized the wave of 60s spiritual jazz and re-positioned the label to reflect the trend. It must have been a daunting task to choose from this collection but Conte has done an impressive job. The hypnotic "Evolution" is filled with intense rhythms by saxophonist Nathan Davis who lived in Germany during the sixties. "Revelation" is another highlight. Influenced by Eastern mysticism trumpter Hannibal Marvin Peterson's blistering solos are augmented by swirling piano melodies and percussion. The meditative "Soledad" De Murcia" has a Latin feel courtesy of Pianist Michael Naura and vibraphonist Wolfgang Schluter. There's no filler here, just a superb collection of tunes you'll want to get familiar with from an underrated label
Reg Dancy, 10/18
Various Artists - Creative Musicians Vol.2Perfect Toy Records
For me Jazzman Records and BBE have dominated funk compilations over the last few years, with DJs like Gerald Jazzman, Keb Darge, DJ Shadow and Kenny Dope etc digging deep. Now Perfect Toy has enlisted Tom Wieland to hunt into his extensive record collection to compile volume 2 of Creative Musicians. Here are 19 outstanding recordings, released some 30 years ago in very limited quantities, or never receiving a commercial release at all. Rather than spending hours searching the net, warehouses and paying big bucks, just get down to your local record shop and buy.
Simon Harrison, 05/05
Various Artists - DC Recordings Presents: Death Before DistemperDC Recordings
J Saul Kane aka Depth Charge has been delivering quality beats on his very own DC Recordings label for over 10 years. It's a label that has definitely carried the quality not quantity ethos and with the upsurge of cosmic disco'ed out dub electro tunes around at the moment, Kane has got a very fruitful array of artists producing some very twanged out stuff on DC. This superb compilation just dips into some of those artists talents. Emperor Machine, Kelpe, Padded Cell and Depth Charge are among some of the contributors to some great bass-lines, some clean drumming and some seriously spaced out synth noises. This album will keep you interested from start to end. Recommended.
Various Artists - Deepblak Presents Blaktropolis Vol. 2Deepblak Recordings
My first trip through the city of Blaktropolis (aka, Blaktropolis Vol.1) was rather impressive. The city was filled with musical nourishment that took my mind to a far away place, kept my head nodding and my feet moving throughout my stay. Well my second trip through the city (aka, Blaktropolis Vol.2) offers all that and more. Aybee Deepblak, the resident towns keeper and musical director featured an assortment of essential house tracks on his 2008 release and with his latest effort he expands his horizons a little further. Highlights include “Void” a bass heavy mid-tempo gem with a wicked groove courtesy of seventeen year old Shen-7. “5 Spot” by Afrikan Sciences is a real highlight filled with moving arrangements enhanced by live instrumentation and spiritual influences. Of course there a number of dance that deserves honorable mention. “Out On The Dance Floor featuring Erik Rico” is the bumping kind of four to the floor track that will have you turning up the volume the moment it begins. “Every Kind Of Way” featuring Omega Brooks is soulful house music at its best, a gorgeous melody, an irresistible groove and elegant vocals that soar. Aybee continues to create rhythmic quality music to soothe your soul and rattle your bones. There is much more to savor than I’ve already mentioned so I would suggest adding this recording to your collection to receive the experience. You won’t be disappointed.
Reg Dancy, 10/10
Various Artists - Destination BoogieZ Records
Following on from last year's brilliant 'The Soul Of Disco' compilation, Joey Negro and Sean P again put their heads together, this time coming up with a selection of 20 boogie rarities. To these ears some of the tracks really haven't aged well and suffer from the crashing drum machine and synth effects so prevalent during the 80s. However there are some real delights contained within, namely Mid Air's 'Ease Out', C Brand's epic 'Wired For Games' and Lowrell Simon's sought after masterpiece 'Love Massage'. Other worthy inclusions are Vera Brown & The Rich Girls' 'Living Too Fast', 'Am I Gonna Be The One' from Colors, Samson & Delilah's 'I Can Feel Your Love (Slippin' Away)' and the gospel flavoured 'I Am Going To Love Him' by Sanctuary. Takes me back to the days of wet look perms, headbands and formation dancing!
Andy Allen, 03/06