Reviewed this week
A love letter to the Basement Boys 2001 classic with Ras Baraka "An American Poem", Malik Ameer Crumpler lays down an incredible, wry and poignant sermon over a swing beat that builds into some fine freeform horn work from Leron Thomas. A fusion that spans Sheffield, Paris and New York, pays homage to Gil Scott Heron and delivers a critical message, the timeliness of this is legitimate.
Previously unearthed and delivered to the world by Kenny Dope on his Kay-Dee imprint, the school band-turned-funkateers Mel-O-Madnezz self-released this energetic "45 in 1977. Usually passing hands for over $1000, Tramp have now democratised it for us all. Two raw, driving cuts with full instrumentation and harmonies, you can feel the room they were recorded in and feel the momentum of the live recording. "What You Getting High On" has more of push to it that builds up to a strong horn lead while "Beautiful Day" touches on more of a jazzy tone with a big chorus and some fantastic slap bass action. It doesn't get more authentic than this.
Here's something of a surprise from the normally funk and soul-centric Athens of the North label: a "heavy salsa" digital 7" featuring two killer cuts from contemporary outfit Grupo Magnetico. It's a taster for their forthcoming debut album; if these two straight-to-tape cuts are anything to go by, that set will be well worth picking up. Both tracks sound like they could have been recorded by Colombian musicians in New York during the heyday of Boogaloo, with A-side "Vampiras" - a typically undulating salsa groove which is enlivened by group male vocals and heavy horns - just edging out the gentler but punchier "Hermanos Latinos" in the "standout" stakes.
Over the years, The Haggis Horns have gone through many iterations and deviations, but the current line-up is made up of: Malcolm Strachan (trumpet), Atholl Ransome (tenor saxophone, flute), Rob Mitchell (alto saxophone, baritone saxophone), Ben Barker (guitar), Kenny Higgins (bass), Erroll Rollins (drums), George Cooper (keyboards) and, last but not least, Lucinda Slim on vocals. This new EP for their own Haggis imprint, World Gone Crazy, is another one of their funky soul ballads, wrapped up in their modern take on the style - this is with the help of a masterful backing band, we should stress! Remixes are in abundance, too, with Lack Of Afro, Smoove and Sam Redmore all going for the sleeker edit formats.
Question: Who needs a DJ or producer when you've got a 12-strong troupe of drummers, percussionists and horn players? Answer: no one. Certainly not when Hamburg's Meute are in the locale. Having picked up heat with a few cheeky one-trackers, they now unleash their full album and it's an incredible piece of work; from their dramatic conversion of The Detroit Experiment's "Think Twice" and their touching, twinkling twist on Trentemoller's "Miss You" to the cascading breath-taking bluesy touch of Bodzin & Romboy's "Kerberos" and the strident twist on N'To's super-dreamy "Every Wall Is A Door", everything about this album is detailed, considered and powerful. And that's before we even mention the really big cuts like "Rej" and "Man With The Red Face". Techno cover versions are generally a no-no but this is a big yes yes.
Little is known about obscure Seattle combo Mr Clean & The Cleansers, other than that they release one single, "Karate", on a label called Camelot sometime in the mid 1960s. The single has previously been included on a couple of similarly obscure CD compilations put together by crate digging DJs, but this is the first time it has been given a worldwide release on digital. "Karate (Part 1)" sets the tone, delivering a fiendishly fuzzy, martial arts themed chunk of Detroit style seemingly inspired by Stevie Wonder classic "Uptight". "Part 2" version is a little looser, with improvised, freestyle vocals and even more righteous horn lines.
Having teased us earlier this year with their debut "Closer / Groovin' You", The James L'Estraunge Orchestra finally unveil themselves in full. Headed up by Soul Renegade Ricky Reid, the project is the result of an en-mass jamming session deep in the beautiful Highlands and the music is just as busy, romantic and dramatic as we're struck by nods to Elements Of Life, 4Hero, RSL and Cinematic Orchestra all with a combined vibe of their own; from the spiralling string theatrics of the opening title track to the final delicate pianos of the pensive, poignant finale "The Call", the entire album is an emphatic ride through jazz, broken beat, soul and all vital shades between. Carefully balancing driven dancefloor moments with an overwhelming emotional experience as a full body of work to immerse yourself in, this really is a fantastic debut album. Essential.
BBE unveil the long awaited new album by the legendary DJ Vadim and Californian songwriter Katrina Blackstone. Vadim has been working with BBE since 2007's Soundcatcher LP where he has built a formidable reputation as one of the world's hardest working DJs and producers. 10 years later, Double Sided will be his seventh album on the label. Tennessee born Blackstone has previously worked with cult downtempo artists Bluetech & Dr Israel among others. She studied vocal performance and jazz at the New School University in New York, before moving to San Francisco where she continues to record and perform tirelessly. The duo has been recording on and off for several years and after providing guest appearances on Vadim's Dubcatcher LP, Blackstone joined him on tour. Vadim's compositions on the new Double Sided LP range from dubby downtempo grooves to upbeat afro-boogie business. Katrina's crystal clear vocals, catchy melodies and highly relatable lyrics provide the perfect foil for Vadim's raw productions.
Here Brighton's Tru Thoughts present the latest offering from Brixton-based DJ/producer Kxngs. Drawing inspiration from his passion for exploring world cultures, his work has been heavily influenced by the musical sounds of South African house and Latin flavours, to Afrobeat, Kuduro and hip-hop. For "Air Sign", Kxngs' extensive cultural intuition has homed in on the recurring musical themes, rhythms and melodies found in Persian culture. This is particularly evident on opening track "Lifetime Celebration" while some hypnotically exotic percussion merges with grime sensibilities on "Purple Visions'. "Tarof" is sublime deep dubstep - by way of the Sahara.

Marking a year since their evergreen soul album Flames & Figures, Bay Area fusioneers The Seshen revisit the title track with an unreleased instrumental and much needed acapalla that allows us to focus wholly on Lain St Juste's stirring vocals and evocative lyrics. Still as smoky and alluring and otherworldly as it was when it blew our heads off last year, it's now been re-envisioned by rising beat-splicer Naytronix for added cosmic pleasure. Go (flame and) figure.
A collaborative recording project between Optimo Music artists MR TC and Whilst - Tafi Allstars also features members of the Tafi Cultural Institute of Tafi Atome, Ghana. They secured funding from Creative Scotland to travel there in November 2016 and record a mini-album of tracks that blend the rhythms and melodies of traditional Borborbor and Agbadza drumming forms, with Ewe songwriting and electronic instrumentation/dub recording techniques. The six tracks on the record came to fruition through various ways of working. Projects like this and the 'Youth Stand Up!' album (which was released on Autonomous Africa in 2015) are of a great help to the local community. After returning, all the tracks were finalised and mixed at the Green Door Studio in Glasgow with the help of Stuart Evans and Emily Maclaren. All the proceeds from the sale of this record go back to Tafi, to fund the completion of the Ghanaian Door Studio.
Los Angeleno Damon Riddick is Dam-Funk - and hasn't earned the nickname of 'ambassador of boogie-funk' for nothing. Probably most known for his albums: 2009's Toeachizown and Invite the Light from 2015 both on Peanut Butter Wolf's Stones Throw Recordings. His new Glydezone imprint is refreshing - humbly gearing up to fire on all cylinders with this potentially fire recording label. Since inaugurating the label last year, he has gone on thus far to release an EP by British pop duo Ekkah in addition to another EP under his Wavelength alias. Featuring four cuts of dope, neon-lit soul-beat and pitched-down disco: no one quite does it like the man.
t would be fair to say that most listeners in Western Europe have never investigated traditional Albanian music. Thankfully, former Pink Floyd producer Joe Boyd has. Last year, he decided to pay tribute to his favourite Albanian style, "saze", by putting together a band of "virtuoso musicians and vocalists" from the country to record an album paying tribute to the style. At Least Wave Your Handkerchief at Me is the first full length outing from that band, Saz'iso, and contains a mixture of heart-aching, sorrowful songs and joyous traditional dance workouts. Heavy in lilting clarinet solos, jangling lute riffs, cascading violin parts and all manner of traditional percussion instruments, "saze" is an exotic sound that sits somewhere between traditional celtic music and the kind of intoxicating fare usually heard on records of middle eastern origin.
This is Dear Earth's second LP to date, and it's already becoming clear that the artist will be at the forefront of the next wave of 'deep' house musicians. We mean that in the best possible way and, most importantly, this is someone who truly does get way down low, leaving out that stale designer shit for someone else. Gone Solid Gone is a rich and diverse piece of work that spans just about every corner of music; the output just so happens to be something close to house. For example, "The Day We Left The Solar System" and "Attacked The Church" are, indeed, led by a 4/4 swing of drums, but the palette of sounds within is much closer to jazz and komische. It's a truly arduous affair to even begin to pick a favourite here, with every tune bringing something fresh and innovative, whether that's hip-hop, broken beat, or anything else that can be wrapped into something danceable. This will be one many people will sleep on...and no doubt cause mass hysteria when they realise it's up on Discogs for hundreds. Recommended.