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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The Ecstatic / Mos Def

Mos Def - The Ecstatic


There are few rappers in the game that can release just two albums over a ten year span and remain prominent, let alone relevant. Mos Def is one of those few rappers who keeps us yearning for more because of his undeniable talent and the body of work he has attained thus far. With two critically acclaimed albums under his belt (one as a member of Black Star alongside Talib Qweli), the level of expectations can be enormous. To his credit Mos hasn’t taken the easy route and simply make “Black on both Sides part 2”. The challenge of expanding the musical boundaries while maintaining creditability can be daunting (the new danger comes to mind). With “The Ecstatic” it appears that Mos has finally found the happy medium. “The Ecstatic” features all star production from Madlib, Chad Hugo and the late J-Dilla and succeeds in creating head nod music as well as providing thought provoking lyrics. The album starts out with “Supermagic”, armed with hard hitting beats, crackling electric guitar riffs and a Middle Eastern flavor. It’s not your typical boom bap record but it definitely works. Other highlights include “Quiet Dog”, the beats and percussion played on here are infectious. If you don’t move to this then check your pulse. “Roses” featuring Georgia Anne Muldrow is easily one of the best tracks on the album. Mos is in top form spitting verses while Ms Muldrow’s lyrics and blissful voice caresses the chorus over a piano laden beat. “History” finds Mos teamed up once again with Talib Qweli. Playing off each other over a J-Dilla beat, the two prove why they make up one of the best one two punches in hip-hop. This is the album that fans of Mos Def have been waiting for. The “Ecstatic” proves that Mos hasn’t lost his touch and in fact sounds better than ever.


Reg Dancy, 11/09

Home Sweet Home / Moussu Te lei jovents

Moussu Te lei jovents - Home Sweet Home

Chant Du Monde

Marseilles’ fabulous ambassadors bring us more musical sunshine and smiles as they sing to us in a mix of French, English and the local Occitan language. Good time music that is fired along by Blu’s distinctive banjo and Tatou’s vocals, a terrific live band, this set captures that enthusiasm just right. Well good.


Graham Radley, 11/08

Strange Breaks And Mr Thing 3 / Mr Thing

Mr Thing - Strange Breaks And Mr Thing 3


Mr Thing has built up a resume as one of the most sought after DJ/Producers on the scene today. He and BBE have formed a strong relationship that is going well beyond a decade now and with "Strange Breaks Vol. 3", it certainly feels like a happy marriage. "Vol. 3" is all about the funk and I mean Deep Funk. Mr Thing has dusted off an assortment of gritty funk joints from the seventies that will inspire you to shake your groove thing on any given day. He kicks things off with The Disco Orchestra's "Do It Again" which features slick horn arrangements that covers Issac Hayes "Do Ya". Amral's Trinidad Cavaliers "It Sure Is Funky" is highlighted by beat scratching and tasty Steel Pan rhythms.  "Fire To The Galleon" lays out some infectious guitar grooves. If you love rare grooves and funky rhythms then you'll certainly enjoy this disc.


Reg Dancy, 06/14

 / Mr. Lif

Mr. Lif -

Definitive Jux

With his status as a leading light of independent Hip-Hop already cemented, Boston-bred MC, Mr. Lif returns with a bang, delivering an explosive, but cerebral commentary on the state of US society. It is unfortunate then, that his immense lyrical talent is often drowned-out here by a relentlessly tough, speaker-puncturing production style, courtesy of Def Jux honcho El-P. It's not all bad news, but the chaos of the Funk and Rock-fuelled soundscape makes it tough to appreciate the presence of a gifted vocalist.


Tom Breslin, 05/06

Frankie Splits / Muallem

Muallem - Frankie Splits

Compost Records

Munich's DJ Force aka David Muallem delivers his debut album for Compost Records ,and in true tradition it's another album you need in your collection, mixing tempos and styles of new and old, somewhere between Hip Hop and House. The soundtrack provides old skool B-Boy rhythms and electronic dancefloor bombs that will appeal to the kids, especially with those 80's style synthesizers. David has got his ideas set high because he also brought in some heavy-weight vocalists, including Martine Girault, Shawn Lee, Audrey, Lyrics Born, Wordsworth and Beans. With each one he's not gone for the same old sound expected from the specific vocalist; instead he's pushing things forward and trying out new ideas to great effect. Compost's on a winner here.


Simon Harrison, 03/06

Claremont 56 / Mudd

Mudd - Claremont 56

Rong Music

Although Mudd aka Paul Murphy (not the jazz DJ/producer and Afro Art Records boss of the same name) has been producing music in other guises for years now he first came to my attention in 2005 with 'Kerry's Caravan' a collaboration with Chico Hamilton released on Rong Music. More recently he impressed with the brilliant 'Villa Stavros' which saw him team up with keyboardist Kevin Pollard. His latest release 'Claremont 56' is his debut solo album which takes in elements of slow motion disco, electro and folk resulting in an atmospheric Balearic soundscape. 'C40', a tripped out folk instrumental opens the set before merging into the ambient 'Mount Pleasant Lane' which features warm key chords from the aforementioned Pollard. '54B' is a solid discoid piece but it's Mudd's jazzier side that appeals to me the most with tracks such as the soothing fusion outing 'Spyro', 'The Snicket' which is underpinned with a subtle samba rhythm and the gentle Latin flavoured 'Summer In The Wood'.


Andy Allen, 04/07

Everything Is Broke / Muito Kaballa

Muito Kaballa - Everything Is Broke

Switchstance Recordings

"Everything Is Broke" is the debut album from Cologne based multi-instrumentalist Muito Kaballa. The eight track lp fuses a variety of styles including afro beat, Brazilian with a touch of electronics. Kaballa plays all instruments on all but two tracks here. Among the highlights are "Lugar Ao Sol" Kaballa lays down an infectious African groove augmented by various horns and drum programming. "The Easy Way" is mellow Caribbean inspired bliss filled with vocal harmonies. "Tin Tin" is a stripped down bongo driven tune that features Jan Michael Lauber on Trumpet and Ina Scheuermann on Tenor sax. Kaballa provides a pleasing take on African music specifically and world music overall.


Reg Dancy, 09/19

Inspiration Information / Mulatu Astatke/The Heliocentrics

Mulatu Astatke/The Heliocentrics - Inspiration Information

Strut Records

Third in Strut’s ‘Inspiration Information’ series, this one teams Ethiopian veteran jazzer Mulatu Astatke (star of Ethiopiques series) with UK funky jazzers Heliocentrics. Got a nice feel this one with the Ethiopian jazz groove being embellished by Heliocentrics as it flows along sometimes going off at heavier tangents then others hitting the chilled feel of ‘Blue Nile’ . My pick is the funky percussion driven ‘Live From Tigre Lounge’ . Excellent.


Graham Radley, 05/09

SoulOrganismState / Mummer

Mummer - SoulOrganismState

Klein Records

Mummer is the new project from former Mum member Stefan Jungmair. Sterfan has wisely stayed with Klein Records who over the years have been diverse yet consistant. "SoulOrganismState" features vocals from Betty Semper who sang on Mum's second album "The Szabotnik 15 Mission", and shows maturity on these productions. Also featured is Berlin based blues crooner Wayne Martin and new jazz vocalist Angela Reisinger. Both sound ace and I will keep an eye out for Angela on future projects. Fans of Klein will not be dissappointed.


Simon Harrison, 09/06

Elevation / Muriel Grossmann

Muriel Grossmann - Elevation


Saxophonist Muriel Grossmann has been releasing quality recordings since the early 2000s. Her blend of spiritual jazz compositions evokes images from the recordings of Coltrane's special quartet and Pharoah Sanders to modern day premier musicians Nat Birchall and Matthew Halsall respectively. "Elevation" combines some of her work from her 2016 album "Natural Time" and her 2017 album "Momentum". Grossman's regular band is in top form as each member pushes the other. The title track finds them launching into action. Guitarist Radomir Milojkovic rhythmic explorations are clean and light yet the result is quite powerful. "Rising" picks up where the opener leaves off. Drummer Uros Stamenkovic's propulsive playing keeps everyone on their toes. Bassist Gina Schwarz playing is melodic and delicate. Front and center is Grossmann who's spirited soloing is hypnotic. She pulls you in and commands your attention from start to finish. In summary this is a recording you can lose yourself in and emerge deeply satisfied. The compositions are first rate and engaging. It's hard to imagine why Grossman isn't more well known. Let's hope this release goes a long way to rectify that.


Reg Dancy, 07/20

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