Ratgrave - RatgraveApron
Ratgrave is the duo of multi-instrumentalist Max Graef and bassist Julius Conrad. Their self titled release is filled with adventurous experimental fusion and live instrumentation. "Wilder, glib Hut" and "Fantastic Neckground" are filled with spacey synths and warped guitar rhythms. "El Schnorro" is another highlight laced with tripped out synths. "Eln Kola Bitte!" goes in a slightly different direction with blissful keys and a funky mid-tempo groove. Graef and Conrad are always finding new paths to explore their horizons. This is a musical journey that's well worth the ride.
Reg Dancy, 12/18
Raul Midon - A World Within A WorldManhattan Records
Follow up to 'State of Mind' for the Afro-Argentinean singer-guitarist and it's more infectious soul pop produced by Joe Mardin. Several of the tracks carry a message including 'All The Answers' and 'Ghost Of War' and the music varies from the acapella doo-wap of 'Ain't Happened Yet' to 'Tembererana' which is another song with a message while incorporating music from his Argentinean roots. Raul has clearly soaked up a lot of influences but he's made his own music as a result and rather splendid it is too.
Graham Radley, 11/07
Raw Artistic Soul - You Got Rhythm TooGogo Music
I always try to be open minded with all the music I receive but it's only human nature to always try to guess what to expect. In my mind I had the Raw Artistic Soul album sorted in my head but I was so wrong. I was expecting an album of house and garage but the quality just blew my socks off and can easliy be compared with some of the best house producers around at the moment. Phil Kullmann aka Raw Artistic Soul doesn't just go down the 4/4 route, there's soul, jazz, afrobeat and disco in there to keep everyone happy. "The Light" with Ursula Rucker grabbed my attention on first play and it's the best track I've heard Rucker feature for quite sometime. "Pa La Loma" and "Abanico" which add beautiful latin influences and will be of interest to fans of Nu Yorican soul fans. This is what house music is all about.
Simon Harrison, 04/07
Ray Harris - The TransitionsFusion Music Recordings
Glasgow native Ray Harris has been fusing Latin grooves with Disco rhythms for a minute now. His new release "The Transitions" follows up the huge success of the Latin Dance hit "Scaramunga" and features a new set of tasty tunes to savor. Among the highlights is "Deep Down Inside", an infectious Disco tune with a catchy hook and blissful vocal arrangements. "Time Of Night" is a Latin dance track filled with live percussion and Harris applying tasty keyboard riffs. "Lose And Find Yourself" is an another winner that starts out as a down-tempo instrumental with Harris providing jazzy synths and closes with warm melodic vocal harmonies. Although only eight tracks, "The Transitions" lush arrangements and engaging rhythms solidifies him as one of the premier Latin dance producers on the scene today.
Reg Dancy, 01/14
Re:jazz - KaleidoscopeInfraCom
There’s a lot to like about the latest release from the Frankfurt band known as Re:jazz. While their previous recordings have featured more of an acoustic sound “Kaleidoscope” features that as well as elements of contemporary Jazz, Latin rhythms and groove based electro soul. Credit Jazzanova producer Axel Reinemer for providing the analog approach to these recordings and in the process creates a live organic listening experience. Take for instance the sunny vibes of “Wonders Of The World”, a mellow tune that introduces featured vocalist Mediha. Mediha replaces Inga as the lead vocalist here and makes her mark on three tracks, including a stirring cover of Robert Owen’s “Tears”. Pianist/DJ Matthias Vogt highlights the transformation of this classic from a deep house classic to an acoustic Jazz gem. “Windy City” is an adventurous jazz instrumental filled with multiple moods and textures. “Lambic 9 Poetry” is funky soul jazz fusion with a laid back groove. No matter what direction the seven member ensemble has taken here they’ve achieved their task of broadening their musical horizons. The result is an exceptional record that should satisfy devoted supporters while inviting new listeners as well.
Reg Dancy, 12/12
Recloose - Hiatus On The HorizonPeacefrog Records
This has to be one of the most eagerly awaited albums of 2005, ever since 'Dust' was heard last year. It is of course the follow up to the excellent 'Cardiology'. Things kick off with another anthem in the making, 'Landed', but it's not all about the big dancefloor tunes. There's a proper mix up of styles and influences, which of course you would expect from a man of this talent. It may not grab you on first play but give it a few listens and you'll be hooked for the rest of 2005.
Simon Harrison, 07/05
Recloose - Perfect TimingSonar Kollektiv
Folks outside of Detroit and New Zealand may not be familiar with Matt Chicone aka Recloose but ever since his debut "This Is The Dining Room" on Carl Craig’s Planet E records, his talents as a DJ and producer have been in much demand. That was followed up with two outstanding records, "Cardiology" and "Hiatus On The Horizon”" His fourth lp, "Perfect Timing" is a lot more funkier than some of his previous releases but in many ways it is an extension of Matt Chicone’s burgeoning talents. It’s apparent that the objective of this record is to make you dance and there are several selections worthy of that goal. There is also the usual assortment of talented vocalists here as well. "Catch A Leaf" is a nice piece of broken soul that features newcomer Rachel Frasier. "Can It Be" is a rousing electronic funk stomper that should find it’s way to many dance floors. Joe Dukie has worked with Recloose before and on “Deeper Waters” he is in top form. This is easily one of the best dub tracks I’ve heard in a while and should become a big hit. Recloose may have caught us by surprise when he first came on the scene but we’re well aware of his skills now. This is another fine release and a great signing for Sonar Kollektiv.
Reg Dancy, 08/08
Recluse Crew & Synoptic Pressure - The Art Of Raw SoundKool Kat Records
It's always a pleasure when an album comes along that you weren't expecting and completely blows you away. It was hip-hop bands like Public Enemy that got me into electronic music and it's been very interesting over the years to see how things have progressed and gone wider afield. The Recluse Crew are from Helsinki and produce some of the funkiest heavy bassline beats you'll hear. Perfectly suited lyrics are from Dirty Smarts and LLC. It sounds like these guys have been honing their skills for years and getting tips from the masters. Finnish hip-hop may not have sprung to mind previously but this is heavy weight stuff. I'll be keeping an eye on Kool Kat in the future.
Simon Harrison, 09/06
Reel People - Seven Ways To WonderPapa Records
If you are only just coming down from the happy heights their "Second Guess" album elevated you to, then rest assure this new offering is going to catapult you back there. Reel People have collaborated with the likes of Omar, Vanessa Freeman, Imaani, Tony Momrelle, Joy Rose and Dyanna Fearon to keep you in the happy zone both on this release and the forthcoming concert. An early summer sounding soul album, due to hit the shops the back end of February, and presented live for you at The Jazz Cafe on Thursday 7th February 2008 www.jazzcafe.co.uk, is destined for acceptance across the board from the soul jazz that is "Ordinary Man" through the Neo Soul that is "Anything You Want" to the jumpy "It will Be" and "High" that the broken soul lovers will adore and no album fillers here folks, just pure quality! This is Britain at its best, an album stamped with longevity and oozing passion, inhaling the best possible soulful oxygen and exhaling a progressive masterpiece with the album"s anthem tracks "Outta Love" and "Upside" destined for greatness at Southport while "Love Is Where You Are" and "Amazing" hitting every Modern Soul dance floor throughout the North. Don"t let this slip you by, make the space on your shelf now and insert a card that says "Insert Reel Music Here" and get your best dancing shoes polished ready for the live album launch at The Jazz Cafe, London and bring your banner "OMAR FOR MAYOR OF LONDON". "Seven Ways To Wonder": Just what ears were put on your head for.
Steve Williams, 01/08
Reel People - Seven Ways To Wonder - RemixesPapa Records
Okay, so this album requires fairly little conceptual explanation. Reel People consists of London’s Oli Lazarus and Mike Patto and this is a collection of remixes of tracks from their second album, “Seven Ways to Wonder”, released earlier this year. These boys are at the top of the soulful house music production pecking order, and specialise in turning out big room tunes with uncompromising 4:4 beats, warm chords and keys, and catchy garage vocals, regularly featuring in DJ sets from the likes of Louie Vega, Kenny Dope and Aaron Ross. The retouch treatment here comes from an armoury of pretty big guns, with impressive remix pedigree, including 4 Hero, Bugz in the Attic, Dennis Ferrer, Karizma, Domu and Kyoto Jazz Massive. If this all sounds good to you, then you’re going to love this collection. If it doesn’t, then don’t buy it! It’s as simple as that. Two notable highlights are Karizma’s take on “Upside” and Dennis F’s Out on Bail remix of “Alibi”, both guaranteed to raise the roof at Southport and Soulheaven.
Tom Breslin, 11/08