Review: If you're unfamiliar with the Ratgrave name, you're not alone: this bustling, future funk album marks the first time collaborators Max Graef and Julius Conrad have released anything under the alias. The set was apparently recorded at different times, and in different places, over a three-year period. Musically, it draws much inspiration from intergalactic jazz-funk, P-funk and otherworldly '80s boogie, but also feels instinctively loose, carefree and improvised. The result is a set of lo-fi cuts that sound like they were recorded straight to tape during improvisational jam sessions, but were probably far more polished and thought-out than you might expect. Either way, it's the kind of LP that gets better with each successive listen.
Review: There's much to admire about Kamaal Williams' contribution to the long running DJ Kicks series, not least the producer, DJ and keyboardist's blend of self-made exclusives (both under his name and his alternative Henry Wu alias) and largely overlooked gems. Highlights in the former category include a stunning live version of "Snitches Brew", the jazzy Latin house of "Projections" (a Henry Wu hook-up with Earl Jeffers) and "Lowrider", a jazz guitar-propelled cut from his collaborative Yusuf Kamaal project. In the latter category, we'd suggest wrapping your ears around Awanto 3's dusty and ultra-deep "Pregnant", the deep jazz-funk bliss of Diggs Duke's "Cause I Love You", the up-tempo dancefloor soul of Peven Everett's "Stuck" and the slow motion wonder that is Steve Spacek's "Hey There".