Foreign Exchange - Leave It All BehindHard Boiled
Phonte and Nicolay have the task of following up a classic in “Connected”. Four years after its release, I still can’t get enough of it. So how do they follow that up? They respond by delivering another winner that met my approval within minutes of the fist spin. Simply put, “Leave It All Behind” is a great record that meshes soul, hip-hop, electronica and immediately generates good vibes while marveling at the cohesion that exists among this group. On the opening track “Daykeeper”, you’re instantly drawn to the warm dreamy chords and the soulful beats. Phonte opens the track not rapping but singing in a soft tone while Muhsinah blesses the chorus with her dynamic vocals. “Take Off The Blues” is blissful soul sung by camp member Darrien Brockington. “If She Breaks Your Heart” provides more soulful melodies while Yahzarah provides her customary sweet soulful vocals. You may be a little disappointed that Phonte only raps on two tracks here but once you get past that, you’ll be rewarded with an inspired hip-hop soul banger that was definitely worth the wait. Phonte and Nicolay complement each other so well that you expect nothing less than the outstanding work that exists on this disc. Highly Recommended.
Reg Dancy, 11/08
Four Tet - Dj Kicks Compilationk7
A match made in heaven: the superb 'DJ Kicks' mix series from K7 teaming up with one of eclecticism's true masters - Four Tet's Kieran Hebden. This, believe it or not, is number 26 in the DJ Kicks series and once again fulfil's the high standards of the previous selections. This 20 track mix album really is full of talent, 'If I Were Only A Child Again' by Curtis Mayfield features early on, there is a belter from Madvillain plus the excellent 'Psychosomatic' from personal faves Model 500. The mood rounds off with some Cabaret Voltaire and Gong in the mix with hip hop from Group Home and Showbiz & A.G. The final slice comes in the form of 'Flutter' from the truly brilliant Autechre and that's that. Another spot-on selection from a DJ Kicks compiler. From now on when people ask me the dreaded question, "What sort of music are you into?". I'm just gonna tell em' to listen to this album because it just about covers the lot. Well, well worth a listen.
Four Tet - Everything EcstaticDomino Records
It seems like Kieran Hebden aka Four Tet has been getting some serious attention over the pond recently. He's just finished remixes for Madib and Jaydee's Madvillian and his next single 'Sun Drums and Soil' is remixed by Sa-Ra, so what a perfect time to release his fourth instalment. You must be aware from the start that this is intense and downright mad but don't let that put you off because it's very cleverly produced, with all manner of influences mixed in the pot. Look out for the limited double vinyl because hidden in there is the full album on cd, perfect for home listening.
Simon Harrison, 06/05
Frameworks - TidesFirst Word
Matt Brewer aka Frameworks' 2012 four track EP "Varnish" was a hypnotic string laden gem that displayed a deft touch as a songwriter and producer. With his full length release "Tides" he picks up where he left off with a superb collection of orchestral electronica layered with jazz and folk melodies. "Old Friend" is a beautiful contrast of electronica and acoustic rhythms augmented by the emotive vocals of J.P. Cooper. "Tides", the title track is a dreamy instrumental. Vocalist Rioghnach Connolly blends her raspy vocals to the haunting strings of "Dawn". There are many electronic releases out there but few will stroke the emotive strings quite like "Tides". If you dig The Cinematic Orchestra you'll surely love this. For Brewer, the future looks very bright.
Reg Dancy, 04/15
Francisco Mora Catlett - Outer ZonePremier Cru Music
Percussionist Francisco Mora Catlett follows up his superb ‘River Drum’ album (Premier Cru 2005) with the equally impressive ‘Outer Zone’. As with ‘River Drum’ this set combines deep/avant-garde jazz with elements of Latin. It kicks off with the spaced-out intro ‘Space Chord’, a theme he returns to throughout the album, before moving into masterpieces such as the fierce ‘Saints Of Congo Square’, ‘PaLos Mayores’, a tough fusion excursion and the mellower ‘La Lu Banche’. Releases on Premier Cru are not always easy to come by but do some digging and your efforts will be greatly rewarded!
Andy Allen, 03/08
Francisco Mora Catlett - River DrumPremier Cru Music
In 2004 Kindred Spirits released "Amazona" by Catlett which was up there with the best of the year and hammered by every DJ worth mentioning. We are now in 2005 and "River Drum" has been in the shops since May. It seems most people-including myself completely missed this album. Believe me when you hear this, you'll be kicking yourself. Produced, arranged and written by the man himself this is a pure 2005 masterpiece. Get hunting.
Simon Harrison, 09/05
Franco & Le TPOK Jazz - Francophonic - A retrospective Vol.1 1953-1980Sterns Africa
Congolese guitarist Franco is still widely revered as Africa’s greatest musician and this Stern’s compilation is a great insight as to why. The opening track ‘Esengo ya mokili’ was made at the age of 15, after he had come to attention as a brilliant street busker who built his own guitar at the age of 7. The double CD takes us through 27 more years with 28 tracks in total and extensive sleeve notes. Some called him Godfather others the Sorcerer but we should just call him genius and revel in the brilliant music he created.
Graham Radley, 12/08
Freddie Cruger aka Red Astaire - Soul SearchTru Thoughts Recordings
Red Astaire was the alias that kicked off the surge of re-edits and of course Gamm records. Some three years later the Red Astaire album is here. There is something commercial about "Soul Search" and given the right airplay, I'm certain it could go mainstream. Maybe Tru Thoughts is the label to give it the big promotional push. With good lyrics and beats with splatterings of soul, reggae and hip-hop, this could turn Cruger into a sought-after producer. Only time will tell.
Simon Harrison, 11/06
Freddie Cruger and Anthony Cruger are Wildcookie - Cookie DoughTru Thoughts
What do you get when you put together a veteran producer and an underrated vocalist? You have “Cookie Dough”, the debut from Wildcookie aka producer Freddie Cruger and vocalist Anthony Mills. Together they have crafted an album filled with wicked bass grooves laced with warm mid to down-tempo soul rhythms. Cruger’s compositions range from chilled out jazz to mellow slow burning funk and hip-hop. Top that off with Mills varying vocal styling’s and you have an ambitious yet seductive recording that you’ll find hard to resist. Among the highlights are “Heroine”, previously released on “The Drugs EP” deals with the influence the drug had over some of our legendary artist’s in order to reach their musical heights. Cruger lays down a jazzy mid-tempo groove with a simple drum snare beat while Mills falsetto elevates to the upper register. “Touchy Touchy” has a bossa nova inspired groove with a subtle piano melody that features Mills making his move on a honey and breaking down protocol on what to do on ladies night. On the mellow funk flavored “Come Closer” Mills comes across as a mixture of Curtis Mayfield meets D’Angelo as he croons about the woman who has got him hooked and between the two of them are feigning for each other at a moment’s notice. Much like the title, “Cookie Dough” is kind of like that triple chocolate Devil’s food cake you have no business indulging in. You try to fight it but it’s no use. Just give in and enjoy it over and over. Although the disc at various moments has a dark mood to it, you won’t be able to resist the funky rhythms, the vocals and the production. Superb work by Wildcookie in delivering a disc that merely scratches the surface of their musical chemistry.
Reg Dancy, 07/11
Freddie Kruger Presents 3 Foot People - 3 Foot High & RisingHomegrown Records
Finally, we have the debut album from the man behind Red Astaire who is responsible for many releases on Gamm, Jugglin, Swedish Brandy, and here is yet another alias for Freddie Cruger: 3 Foot People. For a producer who has covered most styles over the last few years, this is basically downbeat with a mix of hip hop, dub reggae, soul and jazz. It's great to hear more from Linn whose vocals always work a treat with Freddie's productions. Make sure you hunt down Freddie & Linn "Keep on Playing" which was one of the best tracks from 2004. Great album to compliment Freddie's label.
Simon Harrison, 06/06