Friday, 24 September 2010

V/A - Ninja Tune XX (Ninja Tune)

It takes some doing to still be relevant in the world of electronic music after 20 years. However, Coldcut’s Ninja Tune imprint is still with us and up there with the best. This is due to a commitment to pushing genuinely exciting music, regardless of its colour or creed, instead of chasing fashion. Instead of deciding to celebrate 20 years in the business by resting on their laurels or making listeners re-buy classic material, the Ninjas have pushed the boat out with a humongous box set of new material and exclusive remixes from label artists and others. Six CDs, six 7’s, two 12’s and a book were always going to come with a hefty price tag, but the music impresses. For those unable or unwilling to fork out the three figure sum for the box set, four CDs of the choice material will be available in two separate double pack sets. There will also be four 12‘s of exclusive tunes availabe. Brilliant cuts contained within this encyclopaedia of Ninja Tunage include Toddla T and Ms Dynamite’s desireful Want U Now, Bonobo & Andreya Triana’s beautiful Wondering When and Floating Points Ensemble’s delicious Post Suite. Ninja Tune must be commended for being bold enough to celebrate 20 years in the business with such a jaw dropping collection.

V/A - Songs For Endless Cities: Brackles (!K7/Cool In The Pool)

Deeper electronix is the best way to tag this collection from London based Brackles. His mix covers many bases, as it features funked out vocal excursions, crunchy rhythms and evolving basslines. High points include Roska & Anesha’s insistent I Need Love, DJ Mystery and Natalie K’s rowdy Speechless and Breach’s flutatious Fatherless. In a world of micro genres and ever changing nomenclature, I could list all the genres covered on this excellent disc, but the music speaks for itself.

Prince Rama - Shadow Temple (Paw Tracks)

Prince Rama are the Brooklyn based trio of Taraka Larson, Nimai Larson and Michael Collins, who make far-out psychedelic concoctions. You’d expect to hear their mystifyingly hypnotic grooves at a cult meeting, hippie commune or maybe even a séance. Lofty moments include the uplifting Om Namo Shivaya, enlightening Mythras and heartening Raghupati. We can be very glad that Animal Collective’s Paw Tracks imprint that have chosen to share this weird yet wonderful album with the world.

V/A - Strange Games & Funky Things Volume 5 (BBE)

Co-compiled by DJ Spinna and the BBE crew, it comes as no surprise that the fifth volume of the Strange Games & Funky Things series is hot. Shimmering vocal numbers rub shoulders with sparkling instrumental numbers and there twenty one cuts in all on the disc. Special attention should be paid to Ned Doheny’s immaculate version of Give It Up For Love, The Soul Searchers’ grooving Ashley’s Roachclip and Bill Summers’ cultured Brasilian Skies. This is an excellent set of soulful and jazzual gems from the past.

Streetstyle exhibition & book launch

Streetstyle is Ted Polhemus's definitive book on youth trends through the ages. It surveys the subcultures, looking at the fashions and music that gave them their voice. An updated version of the book has just been published by the PYMCA and exclusive signed copies are availabe now from...

The PYMCA Shop

What's more, a Streetstyle exhibition will take place at The Book Club, between 30th September - 31st October 2010. The launch takes place on 30th September (6pm - Midnight).
RVSP via

The Book Club is at 100 Leonard Street, Shoreditch, London, EC2A 4RH.

Reviews of the book and launch night to follow!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

2010 end of summer albums & compilations round-up part 2

Here is another collection of albums and compilations that nearly slipped through my musical net…Horace Andy has been active since the 70s and here proves he still has stories to tell on this mellow and atmospheric album produced by Brotherman. It features wonderfully deep reggae cuts such as the frank Your Friend and beautiful Love. Ana Moura’s take on Fado is also beautiful and understated. It’s hard not to be won over by efforts such as the mournful Par Minha Conta and heart melting Rumo Ao Sul on her wonderful Leva-Me Aos Fados album. Japan’s Soil & “Pimp” are a little more rowdy, setting the world alight with their deliciously destructive take on jazz. Winners on their sixth collection include a demented version of Papa’s Got A Brand New Pigbag and the joyful Mirror Boy. Shifting continents to Africa, impressive Senegalese vocalist Baaba Maal comes correct with an excellent two disc retrospective that focuses on his early works. Disc one features sonorous soundscapes and vivid melodies, typified by efforts such as the crying out Laguiya and soothing Baydikacce. Disc two features heavier production on efforts like the bold Laan Tooro and buoyant Sehil. Staying in Africa, we are treated to another impressive retrospective, this time from Miriam Makeba. She had the voice of a skylark or even an angel, which is evident from songs such as the touching Miriam & Spokes Phata Phata and the cool Dakhla Yunik on the more traditional first disc. Disc two features more upbeat work, such as the powerful Talking & Dialoging and uplifting Ask The Rising Sun. John Armstrong’s South African Funk Experience is full of funky jazz vibes and warming grooves. Highlights include Teaspoon & The Waves’ key driven Oh Yeh Soweto and Jabula featuring Vicky Mhlongo’s cool Jabula’s Happiness. Once again, seek and ye shall find….

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

2010 end of summer album & compilation round up

In this digital musical age, it’s easy to miss great music releases. Here I profile a number of electronic gems that deserve your attention. A few of them slipped out earlier this summer and the rest are slated for an early autumn release. One of commercial dance music’s leading lights, Swedish don Axwell delves into the back catalogue of his own Axtone imprint in order to bring us a collection of startling house and electroid gems. Axwell has had a hand in most of the cuts on here and particular highs are his own pianotastic I Found You and the beautiful Watch The Sunrise. With a similar love of powerful dancefloor grooves, the UK’s Mark Knight presents a collection of very danceable cuts born from his Toolroom imprint. Disc one features big hitters like Sergio Fernandez’s cultured Baloncesto Femenio and Knight‘s own powerful Natural Instinct, whilst the second disc contains monsters such as Gabriel Rocha’s trippy Remember and Mark Knight and Wolfgang Gartner’s hands in the air Conscinado. On a deeper and techier tip comes 5 Years And Still Looking, a compilation of bumping and groove some house gems from Lost My Dog regulars and friends. One of the leading lights behind the imprint, Pete Dafeet, has selected the tracks on this disc, where highs include YSE feat. Beckford’s smooth Worry and Adam B’s hazy Smoketoke. Treading a more relaxed path is Kruder & Dorfmeister’s G-Stone imprint, which here celebrates sixteen years of dub inspired soundscapes and smoky vibes. Disc one’s exclusives include the gorgeous Broken Reform take on Peace Orchestra’s Who Am I and Sugar B’s melancholic Love You Anyway, whilst timeless numbers on the classics disc appear in the shape of Urbs’ playful So Weit and Stereotyp’s glorious Keepin’ Me. Louie Austen may feel like he is the Last Man Crooning, with an album that proves his worth as a modern day electronic lounge singer. Winners include the guitar driven I Can See The Sun and nervy Now Or Never. The remix disc, entitled Electrotaining You, reminds the listener of Louie’s versatility and features gems such as Phonique’s sultry take on Now Or Never and Ian Pooley‘s magnificent reinterpretation of Little Sun. A range of electronic soundscapes and emotions are explored on these five albums and compilations, which are certainly worth checking out.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Rude Movements: 21/08/10 at a Secret Location, Sheffield, UK

What happens when you become a victim of your own success? Well for the people behind the now infamous Kabal parties, the decision was to go back to the roots of the rave. Eschewing social media, the event was advertised via their original email list, using a name used for a previous generation of soirees. The party took place in an intimate raw industrial shell on the fringe of Sheffield’s city centre and the capacity was a mere 350 people. These restrictions meant that Rude Movements was closer to the Kabals of old and the danger that party was going to turn into a one (young) man show has been averted. True, there were a lot of younger clubbers at the party to hear Tee on home soil, but there was also a reassuring number of older faces. The bottom line is that a party without an injection of youth would fizzle out and die, and Kabal is so special because its DJs and crowd span three musical generations.

Selectors Pipes, Tee and special guest Checan held court in the main room, with lyricist DRS adding just the right amount of MC patter. Musically, there was the usual mix of bass heavy electronic grooves from all ages and subgenres. Highs included DJ Krust’s flying Warhead and Roots Manuva’s awesome Witness. As ever, the atmosphere was electric and the sound perfect, with bassline after bassline rattling ribcages. The room was in pretty much complete darkness, making it difficult to see the person stood directly next to you, never mind the other end of the room. As ever, this room was full for the majority of the night and the smell of sweat mixed with skunk predominated.

Moving out into the brightly lit bar area showed the diversity of the crowd. Girls in hotpants and heavy make up rubbed shoulders with moody looking guys in luxury fashions T shirts, student types and seasoned clubbers. Another element that makes Kabal or Rude Movements such a vibrant party is the variety of people it attracts. People of all backgrounds and races can get down together without a hint of trouble. A huge black guy in a sharp white suit took his job as toilet attendant very seriously, as people queued for the basic but usable restroom facilities.

Upstairs were various chill out spots and the red draped second room. Guests The Colonel and Andy Newcombe did a good enough effort of warming up the crowd with discoid and soulful tunes like the Gap Band’s sublime Outstanding and Roy Ayers' Love Will Bring Us Back Together. However, Kabal mainstay the FMG blew away the competition with a blistering set of synthy grooves and funked up house offerings. An updated cover of Inner City’s perennial Good Life provided the peak of his set.

Rude Movements proved that success doesn’t have to mean compromise. This was a party as exciting as the Kabals of old. It reinforced how the synthesis of old and new is at the root of why this nomadic event remains so special.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

V/A - Fifteen For Fifteen (Ovum)

Josh Wink started the Philly based Ovum imprint back in 1994 with his then musical sidekick King Britt. Since then, the electronic music world has changed somewhat, but Ovum has remained a constant. Wink’s monstrous Higher State Of Consciousness record brought him worldwide exposure and major label deals, whilst Ovum became home to a range of artists. Josh Wink took full control of the label in more recent times, even releasing his own LPs via the imprint. This compilation is a testament to Wink’s ability as an A&R man. It features brilliant deep and techy grooves of the maximal and more minimal variety from old and new school heroes. A trio of winners are D’julz’s bassy Just So U Know, Jimpster’s magical take on Josh Wink’s Jus Right and Loco Dice’s bewitching LB7475. This compilation of timeless techy grooves shows the strength of Ovum’s back catalogue and more recent signings.

V/A - Cielo Paradizo 2 (Nervous)

Cielo is an intimate and effortlessly cool NY space that is populated by a diverse mixture of well heeled party people. The venue attracts A list disc jockeys and Saturday night residents Willie Graff and Nicolas Matar have put together a truly awesome collection of gorgeous deep house grooves that suit Cielo perfectly. The compilation features silky smooth instrumental efforts and touching vocal numbers. Highs include I:Cube’s serene Falling, Tesnake’s sonorous touch up of Polargeist’s Home From The Can and Willy Washington & Conan Liquid’s sublime Running Back (John Ciafone Remix). Discover the magic of Cielo from the comfort of your home. There’s no waiting in line, being poked and prodded during Cielo’s characteristically thorough searches or paying those expensive bar prices!

Andreya Triana - Lost Where I Belong (Ninja Tune)

There’s a wonderful simplicity to this album from Andreya Triana. Simon ‘Bonobo’ Green has produced the LP, teasing and encouraging his instruments to create a poignant backdrop for Triana’s lyrics. It is an accomplished debut from an artist more accustomed to being a featured vocalist than the star of the show. Choice moments include the touching Draw The Stars, homely title track and exquisite Daydreamer. Andreya’s not lost, she just knows that the path she has to travel to become a soul great will be testing.

V/A - City To City 3 (BBE)

Paris based DJ Deep has had a long association with the house music of the US. It came as no surprise when he launched the City To City series, which has turned up obscure classic after obscure classic. Fast forward to the third volume and the remit remains the same, with Deep living up to his moniker and serving up a choice blend of new and old house, acid and tech efforts. Inspired by the music of the past, this compilation is more vintage than outdated retro, as every track could still rock the floor today. M+M’s bass grooving M+M Theme, Project Democracy’s soaring Is This Dream For Real and Thomas’ demented edit of Armando’s Don’t Take It provide three of the highlights. Once more, Deep comes up with the goods.

Abe Duque - Live & On Acid (History)

Duque is a seasoned technoid producer and spinner from the US, who shot to notoriety with a series of mean dancefloor bound 12's that came with hand etched record middles. Abe explores his musical past on this compilation, fittingly released on the History imprint. Duque’s direct past is the subject of disc one, an explosive and dark journey that features effort such as his pulsating remix of Jacksonville’s Dusk and his own eerie V2. His time at the Limelight club is the subject of the Acid washed disc two, which features brilliant classics like Plez’s bassy Can’t Stop (Rain Forest Mix) and Fingers Inc’s affecting Distant Planet. Duque brings us a wonderful acidic musical bath with this double disc set.