Sunday, 20 April 2008

Kissey Asplund - Plethora (R2)


Kissey Asplund - Plethora (R2)

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

As expected, the debut longplayer from Swedish neo-soul Queen Kissey Asplund is a joy to the ears and features most of the tracks on her previous vinyl and MP3 outings. Tales of romantic entanglement feature heavily on this stunning debut, where Kissey’s weightless singing delivery is accompanied by sweetly spoken asides. French beatmeisters Papa Jazz have created sensuous off-kilter rhythm tracks that ache under the strain of Ms Asplund‘s vocals. The jazz doused soul-hop production work is a little samey, but this is not a heavy criticism as the songs are beautiful and repeat plays reveals subtle differences between the arrangements. Winners include Caos, where Kissey chokes back the tears over sax and sloth paced beats, the emotions churning Entrapped and a dreamy effort entitled Another Glass. Like many pleasurable experiences, Plethora has you begging for more the second that the album finishes.

JF

V/A - Real Authentic Reggae Volume One: Compiled by David Rodigan (BBE)


V/A - Real Authentic Reggae Volume One: Compiled by David Rodigan (BBE)

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

David Rodigan celebrates thirty years of spinning records to London radio and club audiences this year and BBE marks this milestone with the release of Real Authentic Reggae Volume One, the first volume in a five part series. This compilation features well-known names alongside less familiar players and focuses on organic material, with a weighty helping of rocksteady style tunes. In terms of subject matter, the songs cover injustices, matters of the heart and the strength of a higher power, which is in stark contrast to the materialism of certain modern reggae artists. Thoughtful instrumental arrangements and earthy basslines play important roles on many of the compositions, with highlights including Barrington Levy’s tender Deep In The Dark, iNi Kamoze’s amusing My Girl and the heartfelt Chasing You from Ronnie Davis. Real Authentic Reggae Volume One is a delicious offering from Rodigan that lives up to its title.

JF

Dub Syndicate - Overdubbed By Rob Smith (Collision)


Dub Syndicate - Overdubbed By Rob Smith (Collision)

Web: http://www.echobeach.de

Dub Syndicate combines the efforts of talented studio head Adrian Sherwood and drummer Style Scott, who started laying down dubbed-up efforts together in the late ’70s. This compilation features a continuous blend of some of their finest moments, which have been mixed, mashed and revitalised by Rob Smith of Smith & Mighty fame. A number of famous Jamaican vocalists have been enlisted to coat the grooves, which draw listeners in with ease. Overdubbed is a cool musical journey, with high points including the troubled One In A Billion, a stringtastic cut entitled Higher Than Higher and the blissful Creation. This is an excellent introduction to the world of Dub Syndicate.

JF

V/A - Best Seven Selections 2 (Best Seven/Sonar Kollektiv)


V/A - Best Seven Selections 2 (Best Seven/Sonar Kollektiv)

Web: http://www.bestseven.de

Daniel W Best is the man behind Best Seven, a Sonar Kollektiv affiliated imprint dedicated to releasing rootsy and soul-steeped reggae from Europe, Australasia and Japan. Many of the tracks on show here have a ‘reggae light’ swagger and come across like the musical equivalent of a sugar free option of a soft drink, but this isn’t always a negative quality. Reggae may have been the starting point for the producers behind the music on show, but many of these soulful gems shine because of their slight lilt towards Jamaica. If they had tried to create authentic reggae, the European studio heads would probably have failed and their tunes would have sounded like cheap imitations. Tracks of note include Boozoo Bajou, Joe Dukie and U-Brown’s careful Take It Slow, Vadim & Kathrin DeBoer’s wicked Black Is The Night and Melassie’s mournful Soulmap. Whether purists would acknowledge the music on show as reggae is questionable, but Best Seven Selections 2 is a wonderful compilation, regardless of classification issues.

JF

Eva Be - Moving Without Traveling (Sonar Kollektiv)



Eva Be - Moving Without Traveling (Best Seven/Sonar Kollektiv)

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

Eva Be is a Berlin based artist who creates dubbed up, reggaed and soul-touched electronic efforts with her production partner Boris Meinhold. Moving Without Traveling features beautiful songs, spacey soundscapes and strange experimental episodes. It is proper songs like No Memory of Time, a delicate effort featuring Joe Dukie and She Walks Alone, a descriptive number penned with Pegah Ferydoni that make this album special. However, sanitised dubby efforts such as the didgeridoo laced Eve at Bob’s and heady Into My Blues are still worthy of a mention. Eva Be gives us a distinctly European take on dubby soundscapes, and mirroring the Best Seven Selections 2 compilation, the tracks with the most tenuous link to Jamaica are the strongest!

JF

J-Live - Then What Happened (BBE)


J-Live - Then What Happened (BBE)

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

Long time hip hop disciple J-Live gives listeners’ ideas to mull over and grooves to nod to on Then What Happened, which is his fourth LP. One of the few conscious artists to tell stories without sounding too preachy, its worth sitting there and listening carefully to Live’s rhymes. This album features a whole host of production aces and cool vocal spitters, but this is definitely a J-Live show. Highs include the biographical One To 31, the golden key kissed The Upgrade and a feet dragging trumpeted number named The Last Third. Then What Happened is an impressive no nonsense effort from Live.

JF

Outlines - Our Lives Are Too Short (Sonar Kollektiv)


Outlines - Our Lives Are Too Short (Sonar Kollektiv)

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

Outlines are most famous for bringing us the magical Just A Lil’ Lovin’, originally the work of one member of the group, Irfane, which had to be re-recorded for its commercial release due to sample clearance issues. It first surfaced on a bootleg backed by the Axis Choir‘s equally enthralling I See The Sun. The jerky jazz-hop of Just A Lil’ Lovin’ was our initial introduction to a French outfit comfy with both off-kilter electronics and b-boy vibes. This album reflects the ease in which the group can use the sort of synthetic electronic instruments more often found in house and nu-jazz circles to create hip hop joints, relaxed groovers and the occasional uptempo morsel. It’s the quirkiness of their work that gives Outlines considerable appeal and winners on this album include the dreamy Listen To The Drums, a bitter Hip Hop effort featuring Beat Assailant called Waiting In Line and the aforementioned Just A Lil’ Lovin’. Our Lives Are Too Short is a cool longplayer and the title gives listeners food for thought!

JF

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Drumpoems Verse 1 (Drumpoet Community/Compost)


V/A - Drumpoems Verse 1 (Drumpoet Community/Compost)

Web: http://www.drumpoet.com

Switzerland is not the first country that comes to mind when discussing deep and technified house, but this compilation shows that there are talented artists that hail from the land of ostentatious watches and delicious chocolate. The Drumpoet Community are based in ZΓΌrich and this longplayer features many homegrown artists who tread similar musical paths. Critics may suggest some of the tracks are too samey, but the common musical bond, inspired by Detroit techno and acid house, makes for a spellbinding and truly hypnotic journey. Unlike many deep and technified house compilations where the material is derived from the same stable, Drumpoems Verse 1 holds the attention from start to finish, due to the intensity and quality of the music on show. Every track holds its own, but high points include the Quarion Remix of Foster’s blinding Quiet Before The Storm, the fizzing Dixon Edit of Soultourist’s Turn Loose and Quarion’s sparkling Karasu. This is a jaw dropping compilation of life-affirming electronic music.

JF

American Boogie Down: Mixed by Jerome Derradji (BBE)


V/A - American Boogie Down: Mixed by Jerome Derradji (BBE)

Web: http://www.bbemusic.com

BBE enlisted Chicago based Jerome Derradji to create a compilation of boogieing discoid gems and he came up with American Boogie Down. It is a wonderful compilation that features the type of music that will lift spirits and bring smiles to all and sundry. The material on this compilation was sourced primarily from Past Due, a sister label to Derradji’s Still Music, which was set up to reissue obscure and forgotten disco gems from the 70s and 80s. All the tracks on this album are excellent, but standouts include DeVarne’s key blessed You Are Number One, DIT’s magnificent You Bring Out The Best In Me and Lonnie Givens’ stargazing Galaxy. A discofied dream!

JF

Kerri Chandler - Computer Games (Deeply Rooted House Records)



Kerri Chandler - Computer Games (Deeply Rooted House Records)

Web: http://www.simplycoolmusic.com

House master Kerri Chandler revisits his childhood love of computers, consoles and programming, with this longplayer for the Deeply Rooted label entitled Computer Games. Musically, it is very much a Kerri Chandler album, so expect the usual cool key lines, throbbing basslines and powerful drums that help to make his signature sound. In this case, he has combined his usual production techniques with all manner of computer fx and sounds, sourced from his usual machines and an impressive collection of dusty computers and consoles. Retro sounding, yet as forward thinking as much of the house and slimline techno out there at the moment, this album will still win hearts because of the Chandler warmness that is present, even in the most jarring dancefloor efforts. The music is spread over two discs and listeners even get to hear samples of the ’computer sounds’, as well as wonderful tracks such as the string laden ESC, synthilating Fortran and striding Kong. Playing and creating games may have inspired this LP, but Computer Games is still an album of serious dance floor music from Kerri Chandler.

JF

Miami Underground (NRK)


V/A - Miami Underground: Mixed by Nick Harris (NRK)

Web: http://www.nrkmusic.com

Whether the deals still happen or new tunes get broken in the same way at the now commercially bloated WMC is questionable, but it at least brings a lot of people together to hear music. After being bombarded with the usual party announcements and meeting requests, the usual raft of compilations start to surface. Many, including this one, were put together prior to the actual event and therefore represent more of a suggestion about what will be broken in Miami as opposed to actual new Miami classics. This compilation from house champions NRK actually features more than just possible Miami stormers, as it includes a disc of classics, tunes broken at previous WMCs and hammered at clubs the world over. According to NRK supremo Nick Harris, 2008 faves will include Son Of Raw’s wide-eyed Man In Space and Nick Holder’s powerful 2012. The classics disc features monstrous records such as Ferrer & Sydenham’s hypnotic Sandcastles (Pete Heller Edit) and Isolee’s majestic Beau Mot Plage. Regardless of this compilation’s kinship with Miami 2008, there’s some damn fine tunes on show here!

JF

Ralf Gum - Uniting Souls (Gogo Music)


Ralf Gum - Uniting Music (Gogo Music)

Web: http://www.ralfgum.com

Germany’s Ralf Gum has been creating heavenly house music for a number of years and this album is a culmination of his work. Blissful vocal efforts with guest lyricists make up the majority of this album and these are joined by a couple of striding instrumentals. Live drums are a particularly favourite of Gum and his direct production style means that a number of his musical efforts evoke memories of cuts by DJ Gregory. Winners include Warrior, which is a gorgeous broken house effort featuring Beate S. Lech of Beady Belle fame, the Monique Bingham blessed Kissing Stangers and a flute laced instrumental dream entitled Parachute. This is musical treat from Gum confirms him as a talented house disciple, which steers clear of the over-smooth trap that many soul-kissed house creators fall into.


JF

Coast2Coast: Mixed by X-Press 2 (NRK


V/A - Coast2Coast: Mixed by X-Press 2 (NRK)

Web: http://www.nrkmusic.com/coast2coast

House heads with a considerable pedigree, the X-Press 2 trio of Ashley Beedle, Rocky and Diesel deliver a Coast2Coast collection with considerable width and breadth, despite sticking pretty much to a house template. This is exactly what you’d expect from a threesome who’ve spent the best part of two decades spinning records in clubs the world over, and here they include many older faves as well as up to date material. As a production outfit, the group have not always hit the mark, but behind the decks they excel. Winners on the deeply reaching CD-01 include Presence’s beautiful The Strength (Within) and Roy’s Rad Nomad Mix of Phuture’s frantic Inside Out. The second disc is a little techier and features efforts such as Solomun’s atmospheric Jungle River Cruise and Oxia’s epic Domino. This is another worthy addition to the excellent Coast2Coast series, which is actually the first volume from a British production outfit.

JF

DJ Gregory - Faya Combo Sessions (Defected)


DJ Gregory - Faya Combo Sessions (Defected)

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

In the past decade, Gregory Darsa has made a name for himself producing the sort of house music that appeals to both the deeper and tougher floors. The broad appeal is due to his employment of unwavering beats and expert sample manipulation, which betrays various influences. This triple disc set is essentially a recent retrospective, which features classic Gregory productions, remixes of his material by hot producers and a handful of Gregory’s own remixes from the last few years. Much of the material is culled from his own Faya Combo imprint and this release ultimately represents life after the Africanism series for Gregory. As far as his own productions are concerned, highlights include the piano driven Elle and magical Attend #1. Kerri Chandler supplies an intense version of And, with Argy’s Remix of Vasefa also doing the business. Gregory gives a good account of himself whether exploring African, Caribbean or other musical spheres in the name of house and the Faya Combo Sessions is a good round-up of material he has put out since the birth of the label.

JF

Ananda Project - Night Blossom (Nitegrooves)



Ananda Project - Night Blossom (Nitegrooves)

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

Chris Brann of Wamdue and P’taah fame has really excelled with his Ananda Project, fusing beautiful instrumentation with lovable vocals. The strength of the Ananda Project material is that it is both deep and dreamy, but doesn’t lose its sense of purpose. Fire Flower, Brann’s third proper album under this guise was released in 2007 to much acclaim and Night Blossom is double CD set featuring a disc of remixes of tracks from that album and a CD of ’Ananda Classics’. To be honest, the remixes on CD 1 don’t really surpass the originals, but notable mentions must go to Joe Claussell for his fizzing bass overhaul of Let Love Fly and the Idjuts for their smiling touch-up of Moments Before Dreaming. The classics disc features original material such as the key-dipped Kiss Kiss Kiss and reinterpretations such as the Kyoto Jazz Massive re-touch of Bahia. The Ananda beauties on disc two makes this a worthy purchase.

JF