Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Daptastic: Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings on tour in the UK


It is strange that despite the incredible presence of Sharon Jones, the large lunged soulstress is less well known in popular music circles than her backing band. The Bosco Mann directed Dap-Kings are a hot musical troupe, who deliver a sparkling sound that is steeped in soul and powered by funk, but Ms. Jones is the icing on the cake. Funk inspired sounds have become fashionable of late in popular music circles, and the Kings have become a sort of a high profile Rent-a-funk outfit. They have recorded with the likes of Mark Ronson, Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen, as well as being used and abused by studio dons such as Kanye West and Kenny Dope. There is nothing wrong with the Dap’s working with a diverse range of artists and producers, but there is a feeling that the group’s art is diluted for popular audiences. A striking example of this is the King’s work on Amy Winehouse’s critically acclaimed and ear-pleasing, but distinctly soul-lite Back To Black album.


Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings are a heavyweight prospect, both off and on stage. Jones is a magnificent singer and a true heir to the soul greats of the 60s, whilst the Kings are undeniably a gifted outfit. Together, they form a dream team that create genuinely memorable songs, fuelled by good old fashioned passion and emotion. Whether discussing heartbreak, finding love or other matters, Jones and co have the ability to captivate listeners, which can be heard on the wonderful Naturally album from 2005 and the equally impressive 100 Days, 100 Nights. The latter was released at the tale end of 2007 and it is this long player that the current tour supports. Seasoned touring musicians, Jones and the Kings put on an impressive live performance, complete with audience participation and a striking display from the front woman. The fact that the group records using an analogue studio, means that there is no technological trickery and thus what you hear on record is what you get in the flesh. There are no illusions; Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings are the genuine article and worth catching live.


UK Tour Dates:

April 2008

Thursday 10: Button Factory, Dublin.
Friday 11: Mint Lounge, Manchester.
Saturday 12: Concorde 2, Brighton.
Sunday 13: Yardbird, Birmingham.
Wednesday 16: Jazz Café, London.
Thursday 17: Jazz Café, London.
Friday 18: Jazz Café, London.
Saturday 19: The Sage, Gateshead.

Web:

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Ten Years, Who Cares?


V/A - Ten Years, Who Cares? (Sonar Kollektiv)

Web: http://www.sonarkollektiv.com

The first Sonar Kollektiv compilation appeared in 2002 and the impressive selection on the premier offering from Jazzanova’s label suggested that it would be worth keep abreast of future developments. Since then, the imprint has released way too much music, with many releases simply disappearing under the radar. As a result of this, there have been some very ‘ordinary’ records released on SK, but the Berlin based imprint has also released a large amount of mindblowing music in their ten year history. Now totalling over 150 releases, the label benefits from Jazzanova’s lack of defined A&R policy, with startling electronica cosying up to folk inspired acoustic efforts, fractured beat numbers and enthralling technoid house. This two disc set starts with a wonderful retrospective CD, which features highs such as the broken hop of Forss’s Using Splashes and Dukie and Fitchie’s timeless Midnight Marauders. The second part is a housier mix from Jazzanova, where gems such as Moonstarr’s spine-tingling Detroit and Georg Levin and Clara Hill’s (I Got) Somebody New feature. For SK novices, this is a great place to start, whilst longtime fans should appreciate having some of the label’s finest moments on a two disc set.

JF

LUST: Joey Negro


V/A - LUST: A Personal Collection By Joey Negro (suSU)

Web: http://www.susumusic.com

Disco daddy Joey Negro has been employed by suSU to conjure up a ‘sexy’ set of House and Disco faves for his instalment of the LUST collection. The concept behind LUST is to celebrate the supposed link between sensual music and sexual acts, which means as well as getting ’turned on’ by Joey Negro’s music, listeners can feast their eyes on Jonas Larsson’s disappointingly pseudo-sexy photography. Personally, I don’t think the link exists, as the supposed ’sexiness’ of the music is often actually a reflection of the environment in which the music is played. A nightclub full of beautiful people, sometimes wearing very little, can be sexy, but this has little to do with the actual music itself, unless the topic of the track is overtly sexual. French Kiss anyone? To be honest, CD 1 is more likely to get listeners in the mood for dancing the night away than a night between the sheets, due to its characteristic display of disco drenched and acidic dipped house, which feature alongside a smattering of other musical flavours. Winners include Larry Heard and Mr. White’s mystical The Sun Can’t Compare and Henrik Schwarz’s twisted Walk Music. CD2 is perfect for a post dancefloor exertion wind-down and features an array of lounging disco-influenced gems. Musically it actually outdoes the uptempo collection, with treats such as Heaven ‘N’ Hell Orchestra’s uplifting Whatcha Gonna Do and Blue Six’s frank Very Good Friends. The concept may not ring true, but the music is magnificent, with Joey Negro providing a stellar selection of old and new musical delicacies.

JF

The Sound Of The Eighth Season


V/A - Sven Väth In The Mix: The Sound Of The Eighth Season (Cocoon)

Web: http://www.cocoon.net

German Techno goliath Sven Väth looks back on his eighth season on the famed white isle with a double CD of pulsating electronic music. Designed with the dance floor in mind, but with enough excitement for the home listening audience, The Sound Of The Eighth Season is a portrayal of the music that defined Sven’s Cocoon parties of 2007 at Privilege, named Freakshow. Väth has been a DJ since 1982, but this compilation focuses on where his head is musically at this point in time and features all manner of currently in vogue technoid material. Disc one focuses on key’n’synth driven tunes, which are mostly slimline in nature and seem to have never ending grooves. Tracks on this disc to write home about include Radical Majik’s hypnotic Dub Rider and Joris Voorn’s self explanatory The Deep. Disc two is a darker and more melodic affair, which features choice moments such as Isolée’s twisting and turning refix of Paulo Olarte’s Solo Tu (Only You) and Alejandro Vivanco’s warm Madre Tierra (Mother Earth). Väth shows he still has his finger firmly on the pulse, more than 25 years after he first got behind the decks.

JF

I Need You To Hold On While The Sky Is Falling


Kelley Polar - I Need You To Hold On While The Sky Is Falling (Environ)

Web: http://www.kelleypolar.com

Kelley Polar’s second LP is nowhere near as deep as its predecessor, but his desire to embrace poppier elements and full songs at the expense of depth is not necessarily a bad thing. The album bobs along with an 80s electro-pop swing in its step and it would be nothing without classic Polar post-disco soundscapes and uplifting string arrangements. Polar, a classically trained viola rebel and member of the Apple Hill Chamber Players, who play primarily in war-torn places, has enlisted the talents of Morgan Geist to mix the album once more and the lack of super-deepness may be in part down to Geist’s own touch. The album is incredibly listenable, with highlights including a key led groover entitled Entropy Reigns (in the Celestial Sky) and the taut stringed Rosenband. Even though, the individual tracks don’t imprint themselves on the mind as easily as older songs such as The Rhythm Touch or Here In The Night, this long player is still worth investigating.

JF

The Glimmers Are Gee Gee Fazzi


The Glimmers - The Glimmers Are Gee Gee Fazzi (www.glimmertwins.com)

Web: http://www.myspace.com/theglimmers

Glowing brightly rather than glimmering, Mo and Benoelie aka The Glimmers bring us their debut artist album, after years of compiling innovative and extremely exciting mix albums. The Glimmers Are Gee Gee Fazzi is not an album of strictly new material, as it does contain re-versions of older Glimmer faves, concocted by the Belgian duo and other post-disco glitterati. Musically, there are some mind-expanding instrumentals, which line up beside rather over the top and at times cringeworthy vocal efforts. It is the weird and wonderful blend of acidic house grooving and drugged discoid delving that gives the album its strength, which was created with the help of percussion fuelled jam sessions and various studio based endeavours. Winners include the wobble board and biting bassline driven Kobe’s In Columbia, Keith Optimo Espacio’s salacious dub of Wanna Make Out and the strung out keyed bliss of Music For Dreams, Kenneth Badger’s take on a collaboration between The Glimmers, Lindstrom and Prins Thomas. Instead of selling this album through conventional channels, The Glimmers will be giving it away on their Gee Gee Fazzi tour. Check http://www.myspace.com/theglimmers for dates!

JF

1 Real


DJ Dolores - 1 Real (Ziriguiboom)

Web: http://www.myspace.com/djdoloresaparelhagem

Hailing from Recife in Brazil, Dolores aka Helder Aragão is a graphic designer and an ear-catching music creator. Inspired by Recife, 1 Real is his third artist album, which captures the imagination due to Dolores’s distinctive creations that meld musical influences from the area close to his place of birth with contemporary electronic and rock type ideas. The Real is the currency of Brazil and the title of the album was inspired by the difference in attitudes to life and the huge gap between social classes in the country. The actual music is backed by explanatory sleeve notes that show the subject matter of the tracks and jaw dropping photography from Bárbara Wagner, shot in Brasília Teimosa, a Recife favela (slum). Dolores enlists a stellar cast of musicians and vocalists to help him on this diverse album, with tracks of note including the enamoured Tocando o Terror (Touching the Terror), an energetic number entitled Wakaru and The Mind Inspector, an accordion kissed winner. 1 Real could be compared to the Gotan Project’s incredible La Revancha Del Tango, due to Dolores’s talent at fusing styles without losing the potency of electronic music or the touching nature of the more traditional influences.

JF

Mango


Sascha Funke - Mango (Bpitch Control)

Web: http://www.myspace.com/saschafunke

Berlin’s Sascha Funke brings us an album that reminds listeners of just how warming techy electronic music can be. Mango is a succelent and refreshing dish, which features guitar drenched ambient episodes and weird electronic vocal dalliances, as well as satisfying and often melancholic slimline techno treats. Recorded away from Berlin, in the Aix, France, highs on this album include the breathtaking Take A Chance With Me, an innocent guitar driven number entitled Chemin Des Figons and the haunting title track. This album represents a startling musical display of electronic emotion.

JF

Benny...At Home


Benny Sings - Benny…At Home (Sonar Kollektiv)

Web: http://www.bennysings.com

Benny just keeps on singing and here brings us his fourth album. The title is a reference to Benny’s new home studio, where this buoyant album of jazz and soul touched pop songs was put together. At times Benny comes across as a little melancholic on this album, but there is a positivity that burns at the heart of his compositions. Therefore, it is difficult not to be touched the good-natured spirit of Benny’s lyrics and the music, which brings us a perfect mix of conventional instruments and faint electronics. Magical moments are provided by songs such as the beautiful For Your Love, a sparkling guitar and sax blessed number entitled Let Me In and Over My Head, a super-romantic love ode. Let Benny share his home with you!

JF

Living On The Venus Express


Spoonface - Living On The Venus Express (FAADA)

Web: http://www.myspace.com/spoonface1

It came as quite a shock when Spoonface dropped It’s True, the breathtaking acoustic effort that heads this album. His previous musical forays had included electronic efforts and Barry White impersonation as Black Legend, but it was with the lo-fi, acoustic guitar led compositions that Spoons found his sound. It is this type of work that dominates Spoonface’s debut long player, entitled Living On The Venues Express. Not strictly an acoustic album, the live instruments are backed by subtle electronics, which fit together wonderfully under Mr. Spoonface’s distinctive vocals. This is a heartfelt album from the FAADA label owner, with subjects including reflections on immigration by Carribean and African people to England and the love that Spoons has for his late Grandma. Highlights include the aforementioned It’s True, a calming number entitled We Don’t Need To and the melancholic Raining Sunshine. Due to the strength of his guitar and vocals driven compositions, it is perhaps not a surprise that the two tracks on the album that use fuller electronic arrangements are not as successful as the sparser productions. Spoonface has promised that he’ll be making more electronic driven tunes in the future, but I hope that he doesn’t forget his lo-fi work!

JF

Batbox


Miss Kittin - Batbox (Nobody’s Bizzness)

Web: http://www.kittinbatbox.com

Batbox is trashy electro glamour puss Caroline Hervé aka Miss Kitten’s second album. Hailing from Grenoble, France, Kittin has been spinning since the mid 90s and knows exactly what it takes to hold the attention of her listeners, on and off the dancefloor. As the title would suggest, this is rather a dark collection of tracks, with her smooth and sharp witted vocals backed by smouldering electro-techy production work. Musically, the album is not particularly innovative, but the way that Miss Kitten fits together various instrumental and vocal influences makes for a pulsating long player. Winners include a hypnotic love ode entitled Play Me A Tape, the strangely utopian Pollution Of The Mind and a sleazy ditty named Sunset Strip. Enter the Kittin’s magical Batbox!

JF

Freerange Colours Series: Orange 05


V/A - Freerange Colours Series: Orange 05 (Freerange)

Web: http://www.freerangerecords.co.uk

Jamie ‘Jimpster’ Odell’s Freerange imprint turns Orange for the fifth instalment of their retrospective series, which features choice cuts from the last twelve months and a few newer treats. Freerange has long since been a by-word for quality deep and techy house (despite the occasional dull offering), and this collection shows they still have the A&R nouse necessary to select the wheat from the chaff. Tried and trusted favourites like Manuel Tur’s satisfying Acorado and Marcel Wave’s bottomless 27 Holton line up alongside newer offerings such as Compuphonic‘s fizzing synthed Jaguar Running on the fifth volume of the colour series. This is another high grade selection from Freerange.

JF

Strange Breaks & Mr. Thing


V/A - Strange Breaks & Mr. Thing (BBE)

Web: http://www.myspace.com/mrthing

Hip Hop spinner and former Scratch Pervert Mr. Thing steps up to BBE’s legendary compilation table with an earthy selection of music from the 60s and 70s that has been used and abused by modern studio kings. Focussing on the sort of funkin’, jazzin’ and rockin’ material that has yielded breaks for rappers to spit lyrics over, the compilation proves that there’s infinitely more to sample sources than the actual short slices of tracks that have been half inched. Musically, Strange Breaks & Mr. Thing is a mixed bag, but it flows rather well and contains excellent cuts such as Lloyd Charmers’ adoring I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little Bit More, Original Tropicana Steel Band’s effortlessly cool Calypso Rock and Chain Reaction’s dreamy Hogtied. The wealth of musical gems on this compilation reminds us that it can pays to look beyond the minute samples and investigate the bigger musical picture.

JF

10th Chapter


The Rurals - 10th Chapter (Pêng)

Web: http://www.peng.co.uk

In a world where music print journalism is somewhat of a dying art, it seems odd that The Rurals chose to give away their 10th Chapter as a cover mount CD with DJ Magazine in the UK. True, DJ Magazine has seemingly been around for ever and is certainly more credible than ‘lifestyle’ music magazine Mixmag, but it is barely relevant in a scene when infinitely more useful and information can be gleaned in a multimedia setting, at the simple click of a mouse. Record shop culture is also on the wane today, with the irrepressible technology assisted rise of the download and online shopping, which has helped to squeeze the demand for physical music. It is a sad day for music when such established artists as The Rurals feel this is the best route for getting their music to the public in a physical format, which puts the actual monetary value of the album at free. Fans who’ve missed the issue of DJ with the covermount CD should not fear, because the disc can still be purchased and the album is also available as a download. The 10th Chapter is exactly the sort of deeper than deep house escapade you’d expect from Devon’s finest, topped off with soul-kissed effects and a jazzy swing. Tracks of note include the gorgeous Saving Time, an acid drenched instrumental effort entitled 7th Sun and the lounging Liquid. As ever this is a classy album from The Rurals, lets hope it’s not the final chapter to their story!

JF

DJ Tools


Seiji - DJ Tools (Sonar Kollektiv)

Web: http://www.myspace.com/seijimusic

This is a disc for CD selectors and listeners with a very short attention span, as most of the twenty one tracks on this collection hover around the two minute mark. DJ Tools takes in all manner of musical terrain, featuring housey, hip hoppery, technified and grimey soundscapes, as well as fracturedly beaten efforts. It is quite a frustrating listen, as you’d wish Seiji would develop some of these couple of minute ideas into full blown tracks. Efforts such as the discofied Raspberries, calming half-stepped I’m Sleepy and edgy Lame could mature into devastating full length cuts. Seiji shows why he’s a well respected beat technician with this collection of short tracklets, which are much more impressive than standard DJ Tool type fair.

JF

Sci-Fi-Hi-Fi 04


V/A - Sci-Fi Hi-Fi: 04 Funk D’Void (Soma)

Web: http://www.somarecords.com

Better known for his studio escapades than his prowess in a club behind the decks or a computer, Lars Sandberg aka Funk D’Void and Francois Dubois shows his selection and spinning talents on this Sci-Fi Hi-Fi volume. As expected, the compilation treads a similar path to his production work, with searing technoid efforts sitting next to grooving housey numbers. There is an emotive quality to the music selected by Sandberg, which can be felt from start to finish. Tracks of note include Quince’s colourful New Era, King Britt’s key kissed re-touch of H-Foundation’s devotional Tonight and the ’Atmosphere 320 Dub’ of Vincenzo’s hair raising Timeout. As uplifting as a Funk D’Void production, Sci-Fi Hi-Fi: 04 is up there with the other excellent compilations in the series.

JF