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Moonchild – Starfruit [Tru Thoughts Recordings]

“Starfruit”, the fifth album from Moonchild demonstrates a band that’s hitting it’s stride. Their signature sound of soft melodic tones and heartfelt songwriting has resonated with audiences around the globe during their worldwide tour. The vocals of Amber Navran have certainly struck a chord, no pun intended and her vocals are recognizable from the first note. The new release supplies more of their musical good vibes, this time with an array of superb artists in their own right. The opener “Tell Him” aligns Amber with the velvet vocals of Lailah Hathaway. It has a noticeable groove not often found in their compositions yet still embodies the lush texture you’ve grown to love. “You Got One” is equally divine. Alex Isley’s heavenly vocals alongside Navran’s is like two Angels in a versus match. “Get By” is filled with joy and exuberance due in large part to the up and coming band Tank and The Bangas. Despite the large amount of guests on hand here their authenticity remains true to form. Overall it’s another marvelous release that you shouldn’t miss.


Lance Ferguson – Rare Groove Spectrum, Vol. 2 [Freestyle Records]

New Zealand’s own Lance Ferguson has been one of the most prolific producers of the past two decades. The New Zealand native is notable for his work with the funk and soul band The Bamboos and his spiritual jazz band Menagerie. In addition his solo projects have dived into nu soul and broken beat as well. Ferguson latest, “Rare Groove Spectrum Vol. 2” is a collection of re-works you’re certain to fall in love with all over again. “Far Beyond”, originally crafted by DJ/Producer Dave Lee is an infectious boogie tune. The Carly Simon classic “Why” is re-imagined as a breezy mid tempo jazz pop instrumental. Marcus Valle’s “Estrelar” has been transformed into funky laid-back guitar driven gem that evokes images of lazy sun drenched afternoons. Surrounded by an array of A-list musicians, Ferguson and his band-mates add a level of warmth not previously felt from on the originals. An enjoyable nine track disc that will meet Ferguson’s loyal fans approval. Newcomers will enjoy it as well.


Julien Dyne – Modes [Soundway Records]

You can always count on an assortment of punchy hypnotic grooves from DJ/Producer Julien Dyne. “Modes”, his latest release is no exception. Dyne’s fifth full length lp features his signature sonic production as well as a few of New Zealand’s premier vocalists. “The More I Get The Less I have to Pay” features Semisi Ma’i’ai from the band Marlins Dreaming. Ma’i’ai’s soft feathery vocals are layered seamlessly alongside the sunny percussion powered arrangements. “With You” is filed with thoughtful infectious house grooves to support the soulful vocals of Allysha Joy. “Windows”, featuring Tim Guy and Nkechi erupts with propulsive percussion and sparkling keys that will summon all to the dance floor. Other notable heavyweights include Joe Dukie, Ladi6, Mara TK and more. Dyne started working on this project during the first lockdown of 2020 and provides the antidote for an upward moodswing. This is a superb collection of house inspired compositions filled with warmth and depth that’s worthy of your attention.

Electric Conversation – The Lost Recordings [Futuristica Music]

It’s safe to say that the Parisian group Electric Conversation’s spectacular debut “Communication” was one of the high marks of 2007, Their Jazz infused soulful hip-hop compositions melted into your body like warm butter on toast. The quartet was discovered by Futuristica songstress Deborah Jordan while opening for Silhouette Brown. Their style made them the perfect fit for the emerging Futuristica label. Sadly, after their second album the foursome lost a member with the passing of Oz aka ZigSixteen. Two members of the band, As Valet and La Note have re-emerged with strong solo projects. “The Lost Recordings” captures the spirit of their debut. “Kro/Zig” erupts with warm hypnotic chords along with La Note trading verses with Oz. “J’m” is more of the same along with a deep looping groove. A marvelous record filled with repetitive harmonies, rhythmic patterns, soulful rhymes and vocals. It reminds you why you fell in love with the band in the first place. Many lost recordings need to remain that way. Not this one. An absolute joyful listen.


Bonobo – Fragments [Ninja Tune]

For many of us 2020 sapped the optimism out of us and finding inspiration was dim. As a result Si Green aka Bonobo went through a period of writers block and felt the need to step away for a bit. Not only did he eventually find the spark, he may in fact created his best album to date. “Fragments” features an array of talented vocalists to an album filled with superb electronic as well as acoustic recordings. “Tides” features blissful vocals from Jamilla Woods was one of the tunes that helped Bonobo get his groove back. “Sapien” is a signature Bonobo electronic tune with infectious beats and synths. The finale “Day by Day” is an uplifting soulful tune featuring Kadhja Bonet. Other notable contributions feature Jordan Rakei and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson among others. This is a testament of transcending through the darkness and finding the light through music. Simply a marvelous record and a welcome return.


VA – Eddy Ramich Presents Croatian Blue [BBE Music]

Eddy Ramich has crafted remixes for the likes of Arthur Verocai, Tania Maria and Sun Ra among others. In addition his house project Eddy meets Yannah and his DJ sets at Kontrapunkt in Zagreb solidifies him as one of the premier DJ/producers of the last twenty years. “Croatian Blue” is a tasty thumping compilation that showcases some of the musicians of his Croatian homeland. The disc starts out with a laid back vibe with the bouncy groove of “Koolade” from Mary & Steff. After that things heat up in a hurry. “South Side” kicks off with percolating percussion and breezy chords that puts you in a Belearic state of mind. “Dissolve” is a punchy tune with an atmospheric vibe that can certainly fill up a dance floor. The ten track disc doesn’t let up and that’s just fine with me. Ramich shines a light on home grown talent while delivering infectious club music in the process.


Sons Of The Sun – Sons Of The Sun [BBE Music]

“Sons Of The Son is the duo of Jtronius and Maverick Quest. Texas based vocalist Jtronius (Joshua Taylor) has built an underground following while London based Maverick Quest has worked with an impressive array of musicians in his own right. Their self titled debut is filled with hot buttered funk and soul compositions. Evidence of that can be heard on “Oceanside”, way too short at a minute and thirty seconds. Long enough however to display their pulse on psychedelic funk. The track is ignited by a seductive guitar groove and a swaying chorus. “Underwater Dreaming” finds Jtronius crooning to a bouncy mid-tempo beat serenaded by sweet syrupy horns. The finale “Shine Like The Sun” is slow minimalist moody funk. Jtronious’s soulful falsetto has plenty of swagger. Add a funky cohesive rhythm section and now you’re onto something. These two have a good thing going here. Let’s hope this is just the beginning of more to come.


Jonny Tobin – Together

Vancouver native and keyboardist Jonny Tobin’s fourth release was inspired to lift the spirits and soothe the souls of folks suffering from the devastating year that was 2020. “Together”. a joyous collection of tunes goes a long way to doing just that. “Neon Afterglow” a funky up-tempo tune displays some his synth wizardry. “Always” is a dreamy laidback tune well suited for lazy afternoons. “Super Genesis 64” is fast paced funk that kicks off a flurry of piano riffs. “Vivid Dreams” is an atmospheric gem filled with glorious vocal harmonies. Tobin’s compositions are vibrant, imaginative and separates him from other beat makers. You can feel the good vibes flowing throughout his beats. A superb recording filled with optimism and worthy of repeated listens.


MF Robots – Break The Wall [BBE Music]

MF Robots are the duo of Jan Kincaid and Dawn Joseph. If the name Kincaid rings a bell, it’s because he’s one of the founding members of the Iconic UK group The Brand New Heavies. Together the duo has arranged an array of sophisicated funk, soul and disco compositions that are refreshing and downright enjoyable. Notable tracks are “Gold”, an irresistible dance friendly tune filled with lush vocals and funky horns. “Good People” is a mid-tempo stomper with slick keyboards and funky rhythm guitar. The aptly titled “Happy Song” is bursting with sparkling percussion, tasty horns and arm vocal harmonies. In the age of electronics and DIY production, Music For Robots is reminding us how enjoyable the sound of a sparkling rhythm section can be. Add some horns and sweet vocals with heartfelt lyrics and you got a bonafide banger.


Sean Khan – Supreme Love – A Journey Through Coltrane [BBE Music]

With “Supreme Love”, UK saxophonist Sean Khan breathes new life into the timeless recordings of the saxophone colossus John Coltrane. Khan is joined by legendary UK jazz musicians Saxophonist Peter King and guitarist Jim Mullen as they cover different periods in the Tenor titan’s career. Vocalist Heidi Vogel, a supreme vocalist known for her work with the Cinematic Orchestra among others elevates the spiritual recordings of “A Love Supreme” and “Naima”. She equally shines on “Starchild” as well. Khan lets loose on “Cousin Mary”, one of Coltrane’s premiere bebop compositions. Also on board are Kaidi Tatham and Daz I Kue, two old friends from the broken beat movement. Tatham’s remixes on “Starchild” and “Azawala” are notable highlights. Khan’s journey through music has led him to this moment. Covering Coltrane’s work is no easy task but he has met the moment. A marvelous record that shouldn’t be missed.


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