Review: When it comes to making drum and bass that strikes a balance between the needs of DJs and home listeners, few are better than Dominick Martin AKA Calibre. It's for this reason that the album format suits him so well. The Deep, his 12th full-length in total, could well be his best set yet. Jam-packed with effortlessly soulful moments, evocative piano flourishes, rich live instrumentation and yearning vocals, it's a far more expansive and ambitious set than most D&B albums. It also supplements his trademark, club-ready rollers with tracks that look to modern soul, jazz breaks, dub and R&B for inspiration. Throughout, Martin barely puts a foot wrong, delivering a set that more than stands up to repeat listens.
Review: When Eskimo Recordings approached Bill Brewster with the idea of putting together a compilation exploring his epic record collection, the acclaimed journalist and DJ decided to take a widescreen approach. While the CD and vinyl versions are split into multiple, themed editions ("Post-Punk", "Balearic" and "House"), this vast, 41-track digital edition gathers everything together in one place. Predictably, it's a hugely impressive and eye-opening set, with Brewster serving up largely obscure or long-forgotten cuts that range in scope from trippy, dubbed-out post-punk disco, jaunty jazz-funk, synth-heavy boogie and heavily percussive Afro-disco grooves, to saucer-eyed European synth-pop, the dub techno of Maurizio, Swag's early UK tech-house and the East Midlands deep house bump of Charles Webster's "A Love From San Francisco" project. In other words, it's a cracker from start to finish.
Review: Album number nine here from Canada's Souljazz Orchestra, and it's something of a surprise in that, this time out, soul and jazz influences take a definite back seat. Sure, opener 'Charlie Foxtrot' brings all the parping sax and off-kilter keys you could ask for, but we move into Afrobeat territory with the next track 'Police The Police' and from there on out it's Afro and reggae influences that dominate. 'General Strike' recalls The Clash, 'Slumlord' is an Afro-tinged reggae jam and 'War Games' comes on like a ska-punk band who've been drafted in to play a Mexican wedding, while 'Well Runs Dry' closes the album on a more downtempo, melancholy note.
Review: Bristolian drum and bass legend and mainstay of Roni Size's Full Cycle imprint DJ Die is back. With a bit of help from Rodney P plus Indigo Kid on the mic for some hip-hop flavour on "Holes In The Building" which has some fairly thought provoking subject matter being told over a ska influenced jam which is super blunted goodness. There's an instrumental version and an accapella for your added convenience.
Don Blackman - "Holding You Loving You" - (4:09) 79 BPM
Leroy Hutson - "Cool Out" - (2:59) 68 BPM
Zero 7 - "Truth & Rights" - (4:37) 72 BPM
The Stylistics - "People Make The World Go Round" - (6:15) 83 BPM
Late Night Tales - "Late Night Tales: Zero 7 - Another Late Night Continuous Mix" (continuous DJ mix - remastered) - (1:05:26) 91 BPM
Review: Taken from the nocturnal stashes of Zero 7 main men Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker, the 17 tracks that go into this latest instalment of the Late Night Tales series provides a fascinating mix of hip-hop, soul, dub and acoustica. Fans of Zero 7's distinctive laidback hip-hop style will certainly appreciate beats from soulmates such as Yesterday's New Quintet or The Cinematic Orchestra (as on the classic "Channel 1 Suite"), while soul hunters will go nuts for the incredible '70s jazz-funk snap of Sylvia Striplin's "You Can't Take Me Away". With other names like Souls of Mischief, Don Blackman, Slum Village and The Stylistics included, this is a perfectly crafted late night journey.
Review: Prolific Italian producer returns to Sound Exhibitions with four more dancefloor despatches - this time, as the title suggests, with strong jazzual overtones. Opener 'What's Up' is a looping, lolloping groove made up of funk guitars, trumpets, male and female rap vocals and two competing nagging keyboard riffs, while 'Black Sunshine' gets properly wigged-out in late 70s jazz-funk style. 'I Want You' operates in similar territory but is just a little more laidback, while completing the EP is 'Alone Again', a downtempo jam with a melancholy, cinematic feel. All good, but for 'does what it says on the tin' satisfaction the middle two tracks stand out.
Review: If you've ever wondered what you might hear if Nightmares on Wax man DJ E.A.S.E invited you back to his Ibiza villa for a post-club crack on, this edition of the long-running "Back To Mine" series has all the answers. Naturally, it's as hazy, stoned and soulful as you'd expect, with the Warp Records stalwart shuffling between stunning hip-hop soul (Children of Zeus, Ladi6), deep synth-soul (Creative Principle), sun-kissed good-time grooves (Bosq, Massimo Vaoni), Imagination-sampling nu-disco (Dim Zach), simmering jazz-funk (Chieftain) and dubby early NYC house flavas (SBM). There's naturally also a sprinkling of his own productions, including a loved-up, string-laden house version of "Russia" by Fat Freddy's Drop.
Review: Ivy Lab are most certainly known for their musical creativity and they here put that on display yet again as they are housed on the fantastic 20/20 LDN Recordings imprint. We kick off this wicked four tracker with the swampish, popping drum switches of 'All Day Swimming' which simmers below breathy lead melodies and above hard hitting subs. Next, 'Betty White' arrives in funkadelic fashion alongside 'Barclay Crenshaw', before the purple synth expressions 'When I Go' roll into the field of play. Finally, we take a look at the stunning percussive movements and vibrant drum work of the title track 'Stars', again showcasing just why Ivy Lab are held in such high favour by EDM heads worldwide.
Review: UK producer Oliver Malin, AKA Romaal Kultan, serves up four forward-thinking deep house cuts for YAM Recordings. 'Isit' sits on the deep house/broken beat cusp, riding a stuttery electro rhythm with nagging garage-y organ chords, vocal microfragments, dreamy keys and a throbbing bassline. 'New Levels' is a sparse, deep garage-y pounder, all tuff kicks and hazy synth chords. 'High And Mighty' follows a similar MO to 'Isit' but built on an old-school funk/soul rhythm, while finally 'Turnin' is a stripped-back, percussion-led affair with jazzual overtones. If you like your deep house on the more cerebral side, you'll find plenty to enjoy on this EP.
Review: There's always been something a little loved-up about the scattergun, genre-bending productions of New York's Drew Lustman, AKA Falty DL. Yet previously, his desire to fuse cutting-edge rhythms with vintage rave references sometimes got in the way. Hardcourage, his first full-length for independent behemoths Ninja Tune, takes a more 'softly-softly' approach. Whereas his last full-length, 2011's You Stand Uncertain, was a kaleidoscopic invitation to start the dance, Hardcourage gently beckons you towards a loving embrace. While there are still plenty of skittish rhythms present, they're wrapped up in a warm orange glow - all serotonin-soaked chords, cascading melodies, bluesy vocal samples and near-Balearic compositions. In many ways it's a startling about-turn, but one that comes heartily recommended.
Review: This is the new single from Canadian turntablist and illustrator Kid Kola's new album 12 Bit Blues. The clue is very much in the title here as Kola (aka Eric San) mixes up old delta blues samples with chops, cuts, scratches and big beats. "2 Bit Blues" marries Muddy Waters-styles vocals to a twangy, glam stomp along and B-side "6 Bit Blues" is a slow, southern drawl that stops and starts throughout.
Review: For the second time, Swedish edit maestro Seegweed blesses GAMM with a set of extremely tasteful extensions. The key to being a cool edit pro is in the selections, and Seegweed smashes it with Willie "Brothers' Gonna Work It Out" Hutch and his hitherto obscure "Slick", which comes chock full of warm, early 70s Blaxploitation motifs. The more raw and Latin-flavoured "Lo Que Dice El Abacu" by Los Munequitos De Matanzas also gets a DJ friendly intro, while Lou Bond's sorrowful and beautiful "To The Establishment" is simply stunning and sounds even better given Seegweed's double-tempo treatment.
Review: DJ/producer duo Troo Luv and Charlie Loud aka Heartbreak Sound have a great knack of re energising hip-hop acapellas and dropping some of the finest mash-up material out there at the moment. This latest release on GAMM is an essential purchase which comes in four pieces - with D'Angelo's "Brown Sugar" given a slow, nu-Philly groove, Jeru Tha Damaja's late-period hit "El Presidente" treated to a thematically-correct Cuban remake, Mos Def's "Ms Fat Booty" redone with a new, DJ Spinna-esque set of beats, and Common's classic "The Light" given a gritty make-over.
Review: The latest in a string of excellent GAMM releases, Swedish edit/remix maestro Jazzy Jens has a ball with The Undisputed Truth's progressive early-70s soul classic "Smiling Faces Sometimes" on "Undisputed". Speeding it up a little and adding just the right amount of extra percussion and delay to certain vocal phrases, he keeps the original's vibe nicely in tact whilst also making it a DJ's delight. Backing "Undisputed" is "Guarapera", a nicely arranged romp through some vintage Latin rumba and modest disco beats.