Since their recent inception, the 22a label has developed an awesome reputation for quality, soulful releases. Initially through the medium of limited seven inches, we now can enjoy their tunes digitally too. Londoner Dennis Ayler's "Out It On" is back having sold out its vinyl run. There are three tracks on here - the smooth, distant and jazzy late night soul of the title track. "Ms Chambers' is even more remote and airy, with various undulating background sounds, mournful trumpets, lo-fi percussion and glistening key strokes. Finally "Smoke" brings out the analogue synths for some deep and heavy introspection.
The 22a imprint was originally founded to support underground UK talent, at first specifically concentrating on a small collective of South London producers (Mo Kolours, Tenderlonious etc). Now however, they've thrown their net wider with this, their latest release being from a Parisian artist called Neue Grafik. Soul Conspiracy features six tracks that bear heavy 70s influences (there's a lot of Fender Rhodes work on here) and explores his interest with combining live and programmed electronic instrumentation and drums. Fusing funk, boogie and leftfield house in a totally new way, we're definitely going to hear more from this talented new artist.
Despite a very impressive track record - check out his previous EPs on Yoruba, Sounds of the Universe and 22a for proof - Tenderlonious has not quite attracted the same level as hype as some other Peckham-based beat makers. On Flute, a mini-album of gently tropical workouts, kaleidoscopic fusion cuts and hard-to-pigeonhole treats, could well change all that. Highlights come thick and fast, from the wild flute solos and swinging disco grooves of "Song For My Father", and humid synth-jazz outing "In A Sentimental Mood", to the haunting tropical spookiness of "Oedo Bushi", and cheery afro-jazz-funk of "Ghana". In other words, it's an inspired, musically rich mish-mash of styles that doesn't disappoint.
Nothing else really sounds like Tenderlonious and here on his own label 22a, he again pushes the envelope with two tracks: "All Your Way" and "Bobs Riddim". The title track features thick and creamy disco house grooves, sugary future-soul vocals and hypnotic synth swirls. The latter however is a broken beat night crawler with creepy moog clouds and scattershot rhythms. Pushing things forward as usual then.
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