Reviewed this week
It's 25 years since the release of Main Source's Breaking Atoms album, one of the finest full-lengths of hip-hop's renowned "golden era". To celebrate this fact, Geordie producer Smoove has put together "Main Sourced", a cut-and-paste tribute that incorporates elements from tracks sampled by the group across the celebrated set, alongside carefully selected rap samples. As you'd expect from a man of his talents and experience, it's brilliantly done, achieving a near perfect balance between the needs of the dancefloor, the dustiness of the original album, and the demands of Steinski style cut-and-paste productions. In other words, it's pretty darn good.
Stone cold classic from 1977. Zebra's self-released (and only) single has had an interesting trip in the last 15 years. First chanced upon by Ian Wright, then a hot target on the collector's merry-go-round, then a big hit for Jazzman and now, 10 years later, a potential smasher for Jazzman alumni Fryer and his consistently ace AOTN imprint. In case you don't know it, "Simple Song" is a slapping, frenzied funk groove while "I Forgot To Say" plays consummate counterpoint with a blissful honeyed ballad. It's worth jumping on this while you can...
Glenn Astro may sound like a character from The Jetsons or Roger Ramjet, but he's not. He's actually and acclaimed producer from Berlin who released his debut album Throwback just two years ago. This new LP is a downtempo collaboration with his old high school pal, Ajnascent. They reconnected in Berlin having originally lost touch for years. The resulting album of work is as inspiring as it is surprising, a multi layered cake of sounds and textures. Highlights include the freaky retro electronica and scattershot drums of "My Father Was A Tree" and the loungey 90s-meets-60s mellow vibes of "Disko".
A staple selection from Strut since its Nigeria 70 collection, this momentous piece of musical history dates back to 1979 when iconic vocalist Shina brought together the likes of Biddy Wright, Fred Fisher, Saliu Alabi and more decorated Nigerian musicians for a one-off supergroup. This epic, slippery freeform 11 minute piece of pure Afrofunk was the timeless result. Having enjoyed a handful of reissues and returns in its near 40 year life, this is the first time it's been remastered and delivered with all its original artwork and a full list of credits. Perfect to the very detail.
Japan's Nautilus are a trio (Toshiyuki Sasaki on drums, Shigeki Umezawa on bass and Daisuke Takeuchi on keys), who formed in 2014, fuse jazz, funk, disco and soul. Inspired by Bob James' song Nautilus, and a real, old school submarine of the same name. These guys like to submerge into the deep and here over 12 tracks they really explore the seabed of retro funk. Highlights include the tense plinky-shuffle of "The Theme Of Nautilus" and expertly retro renditions of 70s classics like "I.G.Y" and 90s, including an Acid Jazz-style rework of "Tom's Diner". Nice work!
Pop soul hero Mike City first rose to prominence back in 2000 by being the man responsible for penning and producing Carl Thomas' #1 hit I Wish. From there he's gone on to create hits for Brandy, Rihanna, Angie Stone and Jamie Foxx and Sunshine Anderson. Here though he steps out into the limelight himself with a solo album, The Feel Good Agenda Vol 1, on Barely Breaking Even. As expected quality is the unifying theme here over the course of 12 star-studded tracks, with highlights including the choppy, cut-up future boogie of "Rock Wit U" (feat Dwele), the warm and soothing "When I Luv" (feat Faith Evans) and the deep electro-boogie of "Been Too Afraid" (feat Teedra Moses).
The solo project of multi-instrumentalist and producer Joe Acheson, Hidden Orchestra's third album "Dawn Chorus" is centred on a collection of birdsong and other field recordings made around the UK and further afield. These ten tracks not only feature recordings made from around the world, but various international instruments too, including harp, glockenspiel, Turkish mey, clarinet and cello. The album's release was recently teased with the remarkable "Still" and now we have nine more haunting and evocative cinematics fusions of sparse drones, rolling and loose drums and melancholic instrumentation and of course, those harmonious birds.
Destination '77: Nigerian troupe The Apostles lay down their third album Banko Woman. And, with it, this widescreen vibe excursion that's been a go-to for Afrobeat diggers since it was released on Love Day 40 years ago. "Banko Woman" is a firing, energetic funk jam layered with vibrant levels of instrumentation that gradually strip back at points to let you feel the raw tempo of the groove. "Faith Luck & Music" is at once both more bluesy, thanks to the sliding, melting guitars, and spiritual, thanks to the traditional rhythm and chords.
1971's Nande has been a digger's pearl for about three decades and it's no surprise given the original's near mythical status. It's important to rely that independent African recordings really are the stuff of legends, so this reissue from the ASB label is a fine touch, indeed! Previously out on the African Airways compilation, which has also become rarer by the year, we now have the single to play with, and the title track itself is one of those instantly danceable jewels with that hummable Afro bass. "Air Africa" is much funkier sort of affair, with sweet flutes circling high above sweet drum breaks and tropical guitar riffs. What a beauty, as always.
The Orchestra Soledad's only LP from 1971 has been going for sums nearing the $1000 mark on Ebay and Discogs, which makes this reissue move by Gilles Peterson something of a Godsend. The Brooklyn salsa legends have been near impossible to find on digital either, and we're no proud to have this incredible record on our charts. Trust us when we say that it's one of those LPs that'll have you hooked and bound to your speakers/headphones form the moment you put it on; it's also enedlessly pleasing to find an LP which maintains a quality momentum for its whole duration. The tunes are made of something special, a moody NYC sensibility that somehow permeates into a genre so upbeat as salsa. Similar to the gear that Honest Jon's has put out for decades, this is a special moment of history.
With just two tracks, it might sound strange that this 1979 release can be called an album. What if we told you that these two tracks boast more musical magic over their collective thirty minutes than any revered double album you care to mention. Recorded in Lagos, this second album by Fela Kuti disciple and Kalakuta Republic member Kingsley Bucknor, who along with the 16-strong group Afrodisk Beat and 10 back up singers, produced this highly praised slice of Afrobeat joy.
A self confessed 'imperfect' humble artist, Londoner Myles Sanko is spreading his wings and flying thanks to Legere Recordings who have proudly supported him from his debut album (Forever Dreaming) to this, his third outing Just Being Me. An album 'about love, hope and politics', there are 11 new compositions here that display a whole new broader sound from the man, including "Promises" soulful call to look beyond the surface, the vintage, brassy soul sounds of "Land Of Paradise" and of course the recent acclaimed single, "This Ain't Living".
Bullerengue is a tradition that originated in the Caribbean region of Colombia. It is through the drums, chants, and dances that knowledge is transmitted from generation to generation. It is also a lifestyle: a way to celebrate festivities and the African legacy in Colombia. Bulla en el Barrio was born in New York City as a way to continue a learning process that started back in Baranquilla, Colombia. It culminated with the arrival of lead singer Carolina Oliveros to the city in 2013, and her connection with a tight-knit group of local Colombian musicians. They began to fill parks and other public places with the sounds of their home country to a small audience. The tradition of El Bullrengue is at the core of Bulla's process, and in the case of these recordings, you will hear two examples ("Fandango"/"Chalupa") of the three different rhythmic structures that make up the sound. From the beginning of Bulla, the group has since transformed into a community of over 12 active members who all share a strong sense of connection to their roots - and a consciousness of their ancestors.