Monday 30 March 2015

Posted by Unknown | 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.