Reviewed this week
Belgian future funk and soul producer Krewcial joins forces with the ever ready sounds of Swedish label Gamm for a four track disco bonanza. This release is as classic as it can get as we start with 'Lose My Mind' which has been designed to kick off the party with it's funky riffs and grooves. The elegant jazzy solos of 'Cindy' are up next, followed by the expansive sound design of 'Dancing', another fantastic piece of work equipped with soulful vocals and crunchy drum patterns. We round the EP off with the slow dance that comes with 'When He Comes'. The classy string harmonies and crunchy bass riffs on this one proceed to bring the project to a satisfying close.
Here's something to set the pulse racing: a hot and sticky, two-track collaboration between 10-piece Parisian disco-funk outfit Cotonete and disco-house survivor Dimitri From Paris. "Parribean Disco", a Latin-tinged take on Caribbean disco rich in expansive jazz piano solos (think "Strings of Life", and you're close), pressure-building grooves and rousing horn lines, is undoubtedly the star of the show, though the high octane and fiendishly heavy disco-funk slammer that follows, "The Hustle Parisian" - all "Spank" electric piano stabs, mazy synth solos and layered trumpet riffs - arguably boasts more dancefloor weight. Both are superb, though, and sound like peak-time anthems in waiting.
The ever-ready Jalapeno supply us with another box of top draw jams as they release their 9th edition of 'Jalapeno Funk'. This project features six originals spanning the full length of electro-funk and new school jazz, showing off everything great about the label. Our highlights for this release include the fantastically retro sounds of Boca 45, with the smooth grooves and scratches of 'Soul On Top', the magnificent John Turrell with his soulful vocals on 'The Temper' and the cali-swag driven arrangement of 'Talkin About Dat' from the wonderful Basement Freaks. It certainly seems that Jalapeno continue to tick all the boxes with this great collection of new wave funk and soul.
John Morales apparently spent a good four years working on the remixes that appear on this fourth instalment in the M+M Mixes series. Given that it features a whopping 33 reworks in the original disco mixer's trademark style - think extended revisions created using the original master tapes, with all manner of instrumental and vocal breakdowns - that's perhaps not surprising. There's not enough space to list all of the highlights, but expect to hear a mixture of sumptuous warm-up treats (check, in particular, Morales' loved-up version of Maze's "Joy and Pain"), peak-time disco classics (Dan Hartman's rousing "Relight My Fire", a delicious 10-minute take on Cheryl Lynn's "To Be Real", and an anthem-like take on "Don't Leave Me This Way" that's crying out for NYE plays) and tasty tweaks to slightly deeper selections.
A foundational members of acts like Bugz In The Attic and 2000Black, our man Kaidi Tatham's been chopping up broken beats - and putting the back together - since the late 90's. He's a pillar of the UK sound, and if you're on a Dego tip then you'd have surely come across this man. Tatham returns to First Word with this new EP, Hard Times, and the title track itself is a joyous swing of cosmic jazz for the dance - all boogied-out on the bass. "I See What You See" is where we get into 2000Black territories, with a swinging percussion dominating groove basslines and wavy harmonies; "Super Lion" veers closer to the house corner, whereas "We All Breathe The Same Air" finishes off with a deep, body-tonic soul instrumental with a curbside manner. Lovely, of course.
Midnight Heist are back with their awesome new 'Play With Fire' EP, courtesy of funk providers Bona Fido. The EP starts with 'Don't Play With Fire', which is a funk driven bag of fun. This one is full of life, with a fantastic blend of classic funky basslines, stompy drums and catchy vocal hooks. From this we move into the more stripped back 'Play With Fire', which plays the role of dub version most adequately. This B side focusses more on the driving lead guitars with an electronic twist.
It seems that there is no end to the brilliance of the Jalapeno output with yet another classic now being released from Ephemerals. This original recording is smooth all over, with the relaxed vocal melodies layering themselves pleasingly over vibrantly orchestrated horn harmonies and drum grooves in an almost Chance The Rapper style of intentional looseness. This one comes complete with a bag of great remixes, including a trippy Asta Hiroki rework of the instrumental backing. Top stuff again from both the Ephemerals and Jalapeno brands!
Manchester's own Gizelle Smith returns with a fantastic double single alongside the Jalapeno imprint. We have been blessed with two soulful gifts starting off with the funky sounds of 'Sweet Memories'. This one features fantastic musical arrangement complemented perfectly by Gizelle's smooth vocal presence which dips in and out of well timed electronic FX. On the flipside we have a more northern soul influenced design with 'S.T.A.Y'. With rolling horn sections and groovy drum leads, Gizelle again finds herself bringing the instrumentation to life with her passionate vocal performance. It's clear to see her motown influences bleeding through into her powerful voice which stands proud throughout.
German duo Slackwax team up with renowned singer and song writer Anne Leyne for a fantastic new soulful ballad entitled 'One Of A Kind.' This one is jam packed with everything, from uplifting string melodies to emotive piano arrangements to heartwarming vocal choruses. All of these elements of topped off with Leyne's angelic vocal presence, adding a glistening layer of perfecting atop a perfect composition. Great stuff!
Pete La Freq is a Cambridgeshire DJ that heads up Alpaca Edits and its parent label Llama Farm. On "Freq Show" be prepared for a Cameo sounding, neon-lit boogie funk edit that could well have been on the soundtrack to classic '80s films like Beverly Hills Cop or Action Jackson. And that P-funk bassline, manalive! Next up he serves up some lo-slung, deep disco business on "Stuff" that goes for that late '70s NYC kind of vibe. Finally "Changing Transport" is the kind of feel good and sunny 'respectful edit' that will appeal to fans of other equally lauded disco Stus of the moment - such as Perth's Dr. Packer or The Noodleman from Toronto. This follows up some awesome releases on the label in recent times, from the likes of Andy Buchan, RockNRolla Soundsystem and the charmingly titled C Da Afro.