Thursday, 2 April 2015

Posted by Johnny Jupiter | File under : , , , , , ,
This is one of those albums that, even in these globalized times, could’ve only been made in the UK with its distinctive musical melting-pot.  From the first track, we’re given a taste of Fae’s diverse influences : her own vocals reminiscent of a hundred lovers rock singers from the early ‘80s, but also bringing to mind left-field artists from the ‘90s like Nicolette, while the underlying rhythm also combines  an organic, roots reggae vibe with those dark, stoned trip-hop gestures that were such a feature of the musical landscape of her native London twenty years ago.  Other tracks veer towards hip-hop, and there’s even a little jazz feel on track five, where you can really feel  the interplay between singer and musicians.

If none of that sounds like anything exactly new, then, yes, you’re right –this is perhaps not the most adventurous, forward-thinking album the very eclectic BBE label have put ever out. What it is, is a solid set which they might find it difficult to fit into contemporary music marketing categories, but which will definitely find a home with some of the more open-minded and inquisitive music-lovers out there.

This is definitely an album put together by and for someone who feels she has something to say, both socially and musically. ‘Outropective’ suggests she is looking out at the world rather than inside her own head.  Let’s hope the world is similarly inclined to notice her. Both classically and jazz-trained, according to the press release that came with our copy of this album, there needs to be a place for the Fae Simons of this world in an era when most music is put together through a computer programme.

Outrospective is available now via iTunes

Monday, 30 March 2015

Posted by Nick Titchener | File under : , , , ,
There’s more than an even chance that you’re well aware of Weedyman‘s re-edit work and an even better one that you have a few Paper Recordings releases - but the forthcoming “Kananga’s Revenge” EP (released April 2nd) is the first time they've appeared in public together.  And it’s one hell of a way to start a relationship.

As Weedyman tells it, the impetus behind this release was a desire to create new music by working in a different way;  lead track BMBJ started as an exercise in programming bongos from scratch with a distinctly “played by humans” feel .  What hasn't been fully revealed as yet is how it then grew into the deep, gorgeous and sure to be massive chugging disco/ house monster that it now is. And it’s definitely going to be huge.

Second cut “Ondo Ondo Anda” is a prime piece of compelling, hook filled and hypnotic house with naggingly familiar elements that somehow manages to add layer on layer without ever becoming crowded or losing its melodic feel.  It’s another excellent cut that practically demands to be played out immediately.

Which could also easily be said about both versions of the final tune “Feel It”, which comes in “Original” and “Leon Sweet Double Drop Remix” flavours. Weedyman’s original version marries warm pads and a bubbling bass line with intricate percussion to create a great mid tempo stepper that ramps up a level when the vocal sample hits, followed by a subtle acid burble that gradually comes to dominate as the other elements recede. Leon Sweet’s “Double Drop Remix” (what can he mean?) strips things back a bit, adding guitar chops and a funkier but breezy feel that leads to a more insistent but still gentle acid take over - it’s going to sound equally ace in the sun or towards the end of a long night.

Incidentally,  Weedyman says the initial idea to create all this came to him on a train journey, possibly influenced by “listening to some Underworld and early 90s Dub House disco”...  Given the fantastic result, is anyone else up for chipping in to buy him a season ticket and a shed load of compilations?

Weedyman “Kananga’s Revenge” EP – Paper Recordings is released April 2nd 2015

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Posted by Johnny Jupiter | File under : , , , ,
South African jazz produced a couple genuine world stars in Hugh Masekela and in Dollar Brand/Abdullah Ibrahim. There were also some revered exile musicians in the form of the former Blue Notes Chris McGregor, Mongezi Feza, Johnny Dyani and Dudu Pukwana who moved to London and pioneered their very own brand of fiery free jazz as The Brotherhood of Breath (and in innumerable small groups) from  the ‘60s. Never a Blue Note, and perhaps less inclined to the avant-garde, was drummer Julian Bahula, who carried on playing an authentic township dance-based groove for many years through a succession of bands  Originally a star with the Malombo Jazz Men, that group transformed itself into Jazz Makers which is where this compilation picks up the story.
The Malombo Jazz Makers, which included flautist Philip Cindi invoking the traditional penny whistle sounds of the townships, and guitarist Lucky Ranku, were active in anti-apartheid cultural activity within South Africa and had been particularly aligned with the Black consciousness movement led by Steve Biko. As for  many other creative and dissident South Africans, conditions became intolerable at home, and Bahula moved to London in the early ‘70s where he proceeded to become virtually synonomous with the anti-apartheid movement. His new group, Jabula, were seldom missing from the fundraisers of the day.

Luckily the music took a more melodic turn with Jabula, as two discs of township jazz and its emphasis on swinging rhythm could pall as a ‘listening’ experience. The more fusion-oriented Jabula material breaks up the tempo and mood. That said, it’s hard to find anything to fault here. This is direct, powerful music  and a long overdue retrospective for a player who might’ve had a lucrative career as a session player, but chose to dedicate himself to the greater struggle of liberation.

The album is available now via iTunes or the Strut Store

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Posted by T-Bird | File under : , , , , , ,
It’s really a pity that in the Abrahamic tradition (i.e., Judaism, Christianity and Islam,) that the snake got a bad reputation.  In the Native American and African tribal legends, the snake was revered for its changing skin, a symbol of rebirth or renewal rather than being the bad guy in the legends of Abraham’s descendants.  Its counterpart in ancient Egypt is Osiris and the Norse had Baldr—both gods who were regularly reborn.  Hip hop music seems to be shedding its skin at the moment, maybe doing a bit of soul-searching.  It started out as a Bronx thing, spread all over NYC, then the East Coast and then all over the USA and Caribbean before leaping across oceans to first infuse and then reproduce itself in the UK, Japan, the European continent and beyond…  It was underground, then crossed over before eating whole, then redefining mainstream music. 

Hip hop music has been pretty busy since the late 70s spreading its message of… 
…Well, that depends on how you were introduced to it.  Initially it was party music, then it got more sophisticated and realized there was more to be talked about—such as social issues.  There was Black Nationalism and the rise of violent gangs on the West Coast. Back in NYC (and the East Coast in general,) Black Nationalism gave way to Afro-Centrism and a particular strain of Islam (“5% Nation,” later known as “Nation of Gods & Earths.”) The 90s brought us jazzy beats & rhymes, paeans to Mary Jane, “Thug Life” and “conscious rap.”  Another equally important, yet understated development was the abstract and sometimes instrumental output of the Solesides (later called Quannum) collective, which included Latyrx (Lateef the Truth Speaker and Asia/Lyrics Born,) Blackalicious (Chief Xcel & Gift of Gab) and, most famously, DJ Shadow.  Although they weren’t major label talents, they were licensed in the UK by a very influential label: Mo’Wax.  DJ Shadow has gone on to be a hiphop legend based on his revered instrumental album, Entroducing, which really works as a long-form piece.  While Blackalicious never reached the stardom of Shadow, they have a lot of artistic capital.  Fortunately for us, they used some of that to back a group from the hip hop non-mecca of Portland, Oregon known as The Lifesavas. 

From this group, comes the MC Vursatyl, whose “Super” sounds a bit like J-Live produced by J-Dilla.  Dion’s vocals play the proper support role, yet stick in your head (isn’t that why it’s called a “hook?”) In place of J-Live’s “Gods & Earths” we get a quick reference to Vursatyl’s Christianity, “…the Messiah was on the cross between two crooks.”  Despite this, braggadocio is still on full “…You’re trying to reach your potential, but I keep raising the bar.” His delivery is confident and his flow dances around the beat, making him a joy to listen to.  He’s had a few years on stage going toe-to-toe with Gift of Gab and it really shows.  Rolling Stone tapped Lifesavas as “a group to watch” a number of years ago and they were onto something.  “Super” should be bumping in everyone’s car, iPod, home or what/wherever they dig on music.  I’m sure there’s more to come and I, for one, can’t wait to see where Vursatyl goes with Hip hop wearing its new skin…

'Super' is out now on iTunes and all major download stores.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Posted by Johnny Jupiter | File under : , , , , , , , , , ,
Spinna was an icon of the indie hip-hop scene who switched rides on an early lap some way round the course of his DJ/production career, and, if he hasn’t yet reached the finishing-line, has accumulated trophies already in the form of some sizeable dance hits. The biggest of those, his mix of Shaun Escoffery’s ‘Days Like These’ is inexplicably not on either of the two lavish double albums (one track per side apart from LP 1, side C, which has two) this comes as, though it IS found on the CD. That early release (and its immediate predecessor, ‘Space Rider’ which was particularly big in New York) immediately put Spinna up there with the big boys in the world of house, and he’s stayed there pretty much ever since. If there’s a better vocal record in the last few years, I’d like to hear it (and please post it to me via this site)!
A high proportion of the material here is also vocal, but there are a couple of deeper, techier instrumental  tracks to spice up the vibes (and one of those, his Acid Power mix of Karizma ‘The power’ seems to be exclusive to the vinyl). Anyone who likes their house music rooted in the black American tradition will find much to enjoy here, but don’t expect four sides of gospel-style wailing. The original material is quite disparate, but there’s a marked tendency for Spinna to work with bands, and tracks that start out more ‘musical’ in the first place. A Spinna sound, grooving and funky, but never ‘hard’,  unites all the material here. A few personal favourites: Louie Vega with Raul Midon ‘A Better Day’, like sounding like a 21st century Jose Feliciano.; Fertile Ground, ‘Live In The Light’ –fierce, spiritual – and Tortured Soul ‘Why’, deep and dark. This is a well-deserved first retrospective for someone that’s helping to keep alive a vital strain of our dance music heritage.

The Sound Beyond Stars is available on vinyl, CD and MP3 directly from BBE
Or via iTunes

Monday, 16 February 2015

I found the name of this EP a bit misleading, as K.M.S. refers to where the producer was living (Karl Marx Strasse in Berlin) not to Detroit techno legend Kevin "Master Reese" Saunderson's label KMS.  However, there is definitely the fingerprint of Detroit on this music--finding funk in the machines.  To be clear, this is not a funk EP--but the spirit of funk is evident. 

Diving into the tracks, "Magnet" is not very complicated, but sometimes simplicity is the disguise of genius.  It feels amazing.  Read that again, "It feels amazing."  Not the sound, not the arrangement, not the notes, but that ever-ephemeral element--feel.  The elusive difference between "repetitive" and "hypnotic" has been nailed by Iron Curtis.  That said, there are a few sonic surprises such as the super-syncopated introduction that seems to be fighting itself, yet works. It works in the same way that your body understands funk even when your mind doesn't; like when James Brown's grooves dance around "the one"--but it is never hard to find. Later there's the section where it sounds as though it's gone from a studio recording to an outside location, like we've gone for a smoke in the back-alley.  This is a great way of lifting the mood a bit before the insistent groove gets dropped on you again (which you are happy to receive!)  The take-no-prisoners kick drum says "Dance sucka!" and would make Sir Nose D'voidoffunk shake his rump.  Combined with the organ, piano, pads and perfectly-placed bass notes, this track has "classic" written all over it.

"What Happened Happened" is quite a bit murkier, but no less pleasant.  It's a bit like an after-club meal with friends where you don't remember the details, but the general feeling was good and you know something interesting went on because your friends always bring it up, but can't go into specifics.  The sounds are slightly distorted, the spoken word sample sounds pitched-down and kind of glitchy.  The bass & drum groove is solid and moves you along and the keyboard sounds have a dirty, but not dark vibe to them.  The "Berg Reduktion" of "…Happened" picks the mood up quite a bit.  It's less hazy memories and more cool party groove.  The  distorted and murky samples are still there, but the drums, bass and keys are a lot more upbeat.  Nowhere near as heavy as "Magnet," but well-balanced given the force of the A-side.

This one should work for terrace/lounges, bars and clubs and I think you're doing yourself a disservice if you do NOT buy this.  I expect to hear this one being played for years to come…

Office Recordings (OR04)
Format :  12inch vinyl / Digital
Release: 30.03.2015

Monday, 26 January 2015

Posted by Nick Titchener | File under : , , , , , , , ,

I have to be honest – I first listened to this EP from Finest Wear and James Hockley’s new project  on a dodgy PC system, with nowhere near enough sleep after playing a loud and banging 6 ½ hour set. To my surprise it sounded bloody fantastic – and it sounds even better today.

The whole EP is effectively a master class in production, mixing and mastering. It’s obvious that these are tunes that have been written and produced with a lot of care, and I dare say, love, and the mixes are perfectly structured for DJ play. Production throughout is as crystal clear as a mountain lake (and at least twice as deep) and every element is expertly placed and has plenty of room to breathe  which makes for a very refreshing and enjoyable listening experience.  Add the fact that all three cuts are as danceable as hell and there’s no question that this is a very special release.

My favourites of the three tunes are the wonderful “Don’t Use Me” – once the main riff kicks in (after an extremely DJ friendly intro) it really doesn’t let you go – and “Steady Rising” which has an edgier lead synth that, to me, gives it a little more urgency. Having said that, the warm and lovely “Lifted High” is in no way a filler, and I’ll definitely be playing all three of them – I think you should be too.

TwelveBitMusic‘s First Flight EP is the pure, melodic deep house that lots of producers currently claim they’re making – but unfortunately they’re mostly wrong. Not much else out there at the moment comes close to this. Essential.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Posted by Johnny Jupiter | File under : , , , , , , , , ,
A quick look at Discogs tells us that DJ Oil previously had a solo album out a few years back on Discograph, which totally passed this writer by. When I wondered why I realised I had pretty much given up on the trip-hop genre, which was so ubiquitous through the ‘90s and noughties, but fell off the radar as it became ever more ‘ambient’ and unchallenging.  Well, this release should have said radar beeping furiously, because it’s anything but soporific mood music. DJ Oil has definitely put the ‘hop’ –hip-hop’s urban grittiness—back into trip-hop, while the trip is all about our lives now, more often a nightmare than a hazy escapist fantasy. This impression is conjured by his inventive use of rousing spoken-word passages, field recordings and an array of cool analogue and digital effects.

It turns out DJ Oil, Frenchman Lionel Corsini, was part of The Troublemakers, an acclaimed group who (uniquely) had albums out on both deep house label Guidance and legendary jazz label Blue Note. That tells you something of his affiliations to African-American music, and it’s this rootedness in that musical tradition that really sets this apart from other contemporary downtempo efforts.  It has more to do with James Brown, Fela Kuti and John Coltrane than  it does the chocolate-box confections that had seemed to sound the death-knell of the trip-hop genre (we won’t name names because we’re sure you’ve nodded off to them all yourselves), and it’s hard not to see the Black nationalist rhetoric  as also a coded commentary on contemporary France in the light of recent events. This will keep its place in my boxes alongside contemporary downtempo beat-makers as diverse and brilliant as Madlib, Nightmares On Wax, Fredric Galliano and Boards of Canada.

Buy now via at iTunes:
CD / Vinyl at:

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Posted by Nick Titchener | File under : , , ,
Colour & Pitch has quickly established itself as a go-to label for deep, melodic and, let’s be honest here, intelligent music,  of which  their latest release – Aiby & The Noise “Dangerous Liaisons / Dream Suite” - is a perfect example. 

Barcelona based producers Garcy Noise and Vanessa Aiby’s first appearance on the label came with their storming remix of Teysel’s “”Continuous”,  to be quickly followed by this excellent two tracker  under their  own name.  

Lead track “Dangerous Liasons” is a warm and welcoming deep dancer that captivates from the first note – and of not from then, from the first “Yeah” which follows 20 odd seconds later. With a vocal top line of “Who needs enemies with a friend like you?” dancing across it’s wonderfully analogue depths and a perfectly old school skipping hi-hat pattern providing an irresistible drive, it’s destined to become a major favourite in next to no time.
Companion piece “Dream Suite” is an equally deep affair, but one that’s more of a grower  - musically and emotionally.  Starting from a drum pattern, other elements – including a distinctly enigmatic spoken vocal and a nicely growling bass - are added gradually until roughly the 3 minute mark,  when it breaks into sparser reverb drenched territory;  by then you’re on so much of a journey  you might get lost, where it not for the percussion coming back to show you the way home. Lovely stuff.

Aiby & The Noise “Dangerous Liasons” / “Dream Suite” , Colour & Pitch (CAP006) is available as a Beatport exclusive until December 9th, when it hits iTunes and all other online stores. Buy it.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Sena "Senadee" Verdi returns with what could be one of his biggest tracks to date - and this is clearly the thoughts of one of the most prolific independent labels out there. Black Hole Recordings have this week released a superbly remixed version of his latest production"Robot Love". Founded in 1997 by Tiesto and Arny Bink, the label has been home to some of the biggest names in dance music over the years. Artists past and present include music royalty such as Ferry Corsten, Armin Van Buuren, Giuseppe Ottaviani, Andain, BT and Deadmaus to name just a few.

Identifying pure talent seems to be an ongoing trait for a label who's mission statement is "Captivate, Communicate and Celebrate" and this is no exception to the rule. Senadee has been prolific as a singer, song writer and multi-instrumentalist over the last ten years, which has seen him collaborate with the likes of John Askew, BT and Chicane. And it's not hard to see why. His lyrics are absorbing and endlessly threaten to open the doors to his inner most feelings. His voice is filled with raw emotion, and is more reminiscent of his indie/rock routes than the normal clear tones that are more often associated with dance music.

The Original Mix is an upbeat dance floor filler, permeated with catchy beats and a heavy 80's influenced, top line synth melody, which is offset by the huskiness of the vocals. This is further expertly padded out for the extended mix.

Swedish Grammy and Brit nominated producer Zoo Brazil's take on Robot Love, is a deeper, more haunting vision, fusing together woodblock, pipes and bass guitar undertones. The addition of echo and loops adds further mystique, while the distortion creates a feeling of foreboding.

Picking up the pace is Discover Records A&R Man, Lostly - who's production skills and remix expertise are gaining him Worldwide recognition from the likes of Armin Van Buuren, Aly and Fila and Indecent Noise. South Africa's premier dance music producer gives the track a 140 bpm facelift, using his signature synth accents - injecting an energy which will undoubtedly get this track airplay on the likes of ASOT and FSOE.

A further remix from Discover Records Peter Hulsmans, aptly entitled "Android Excursion" adds simple piano riffs and drifting synths, which enhance Sena's mode of expression, resulting in a beautifully uplifting trance classic.

With a World Premier of the video scheduled to air on VEVO on Thursday 30th October, and full release on Monday 10th November, this track will leave you in no doubt as to the calibre of the artists debut album, which is due out in 2015.

Tracklist:01: Senadee – Robot Love (Original Mix)02: Senadee – Robot Love (Extended Mix)03: Senadee – Robot Love (Zoo Brazil Remix)04: Senadee – Robot Love (Lostly Remix)05: Senadee – Robot Love (Peter Hulsmans Android Excursion)

Robot Love - Zoo Brazil Remix out now on Beatport
Robot Love  - Zoo Brazil Remix Video