Review: It's testament to Ben J Worrall's skill as a musician and producer that his soulful, jazzy deep house productions can be mentioned in the same breath as those by all-time-greats Larry Heard and Ron Trent. Yet unlike those producers, he's yet to deliver an album so good that it will be considered a true great. Until now, that is. Evergreen, his first set for Freerange, is simply sublime: an unapologetically soulful, life-affirming set that blends effortlessly brilliant vocals and jazz-funk inspired instrumentation (think incredible horn arrangements, smooth bass, twinkling keys and glistening guitars) with the luscious, often Latin-tinged deep house beats that have long been his calling card. If there's any justice, it will end of being regarded as one of the electronic albums of 2022.
Review: Featuring 22 full-length cuts plus a 42-minute mixed version, there's no faulting the VFM on offer from this Jim Sharp-helmed Bomb Strikes comp. Featuring tracks and mixes from the likes of The Allergies, The Nextmen, Ugly Duckling, Alice Russell, Lack Of Afro and Sam Krats, the emphasis here is on the kind of dusty funk/soul grooves that sit well alongside hip-hop and breaks - as opposed to the stack-heeled, silver-jumpsuited kind that goes better with disco - with standouts for this writer including Sly5thAve's moody, cinematic 'Shiznit' (think Shaft staring broodily out of a rain-streaked diner window) and Skill's 'Break It Down', a stuttery, stop-start gift for the jazz-dancers.
Review: Label newcomer Canopy Records, compiled and conceptualised by label head Sumosui, sends out some super Afro transmission for this first release. 'Africa No 1' is a single that features a superb tune from Benin City in Edo State, Nigeria, which was first put out locally in 1987. It is by the late great Nigerian reggae artist Ehi Duncan and his The Africa Army Express band and next to the uplifting original are two new mixes from Captain Planet. He brings the tune into the modern day with some tight key, horn and synth sounds for the first mix, and the second is a slower, more mid-tempo bit of afro disco. Lovely vibes.
Review: Chalk up two 'Katakaka Edits' outings on the bounce for El Paso, as hot on the heels of the soul-flavoured '115', released just a fortnight ago, he brings us four re-edits that look to vintage Latin music, and particularly 60s boogaloo, for inspiration. Leading the charge for this reviewer is 'Spanish Butterfly', which pairs the lead male vocal with melodic female BVs to die for. Elsewhere, pianos and trumpets take centre stage on 'Nuevo Boogaloo' and sparkling vibes/marimba (?) augment the sunny 'Brother & Sisters', before 'Supimos Callarnos' plays us out in far more laidback, lounge-y, almost melancholic style.
Review: What a funkadelic way to start the weekend as X-Ray Ted lands once again on Bomb Strikes for a vibrant display of breaksy bounce with two sizzling originals, jam-packed with colourful sampling and in-depth flare. First up, 'Doin' My Thing' delivers a shuffling waltz through northern-soul style vocals and horn lines, atop a shimmering plate of breaks-inspired drum work to create a dancefloor-ready shuffler. On the flip, 'Tribute To The Original Artform' combines groovy bassline action with colourful percussive drives and cowbell-infused melody, providing a wicked b-side and keeping the energy levels high as we round this one off.
Review: Mexican merchants of dark disco, Duro, return this week with label co-chief Mateo Gonzalez aka Theus Mago, teaming up with Tyu (Tony Ullmann) on new offering "Piel De Oso" featuring Spanish rapper Livia. The entrancing, slo-mo exotica of the title track is complimented by some great remixes by Rina X Benji up first, who pick up the pace with some added snare rolls reminiscent of a certain Plastikman anthem, while Moisees & Zea's perspective takes the track into the peak time with pumping bass and a tighter rhythm section.
Review: The Cuttin' It Fine crew have pulled together once again to deliver a bag of dancefloor ready riddims under the 'Funk Butter' compilation title, what more could we ask for? We begin with the emotive vocal sampling and big room keys of Frankee More's Re-Funk remix of 'I Like It' from Debarge, which sets high levels from the jump. From here, Mr Fitz delivers a horn-driven funk out on 'Sharons Land', topped with a powerful vocal display before the shuffling drum rhythms and disco-like string backing of 'Sunshine Love' from Pecoe does the business once again. Finally, Roast Beatz gets to work on rebuilding a classic Sister Sledge vocal set into a modern, groove-ridden breaks anthem. Lovely work from all involved!
Review: DJ Turmix helms the good ship Katakana Edits on this, its 114th voyage. Proceedings open with the raw, percussive 'Together', a reworking of Ray Barretto's 1969 barrio funk cut, before we move on to revisit first Timmy Thomas classic 'Why Can't We Live Together?' from 1972 and then, more bravely, Modern Romance's 'Ay Ay Ay Ay Moosey' from 1981. Next to come under the re-edit scalpel is 'Spooky' - not the Dusty Springfield recording, but an unidentified, male-sung take that's neither Classic IV's original nor Chris Montez's 1968 cover. The EP's then completed by the laidback, tropical-leaning 'Take Trip & Groove With Me'.
Review: A couple of years back, Leng welcomed Greek DJ/producer Lex to the label roster. Real name Alex Andrikopoulos, he's well known in his home city of Athens where he ran the Radical Soundz record shop. Now the Athenian has returned with his debut album for the esteemed London nu-disco label titled Waving, which appears on the back of a handful of EPs for a variety of labels (Samosa, B2, Frole). Whether it's the blissed-out balearica of last year's well received first single "Punta Alien", the late night boogie-down vibe of "Window Spells" (feat Max Giovara), the lo-slung dance floor heater "La Di Da D"i, to the sultry and deep mood music of "Angels Of Rhythm" (Still Bouncing - feat Harriet Summer) or the lovely closer "Keep Mashing" with its classic UK broken beat influence - Waving is his boldest and strongest statement yet as a producer.
Review: It's difficult to envisage a Breakbeat Paradise drop that doesn't feature a serious tonne of quality, with this latest collection of 13 powerful creations making up the 'Boots Of Paradise' collection. The project takes a very central theme of reigniting hip hop vocals with dancefloor-ready reworks, from the classic Biggie sampling of Crash Party's 'The Juice' to the old school slicing of 'Ice Cream' from LROY and Aliens In Denmark's 'Chatty Tramp'. Even with this pretty solid central theme, the project has a lot of variation involved, from the sharpened drum punches and modernized synth slides of 'Brick Bounce' by Towlie DJ, to the more 4x4 influenced grooves of Morlack's 'Fall In Love With Me'. Our standout highlight for the whole drop would have to be Pecoe's 'Champion', which balances crunchy drums with well designed vocal sampling, which also makes it a perfect final entry.
Review: This decidedly epic collection marks Katakana Edits's first foray into the compilation market and is designed as a "best-of" style outing. It boasts 30 reworks, mash-ups, remixes and re-edits gleamed from the prolific imprint's first 50 singles. Naturally, club-ready material comes thick and fast, with a multitude of genres - think swamp funk, disco, dub disco, electrofunk, Italo-disco, hip-hop, reggae and dancehall - and wide variety of tempos represented. Naturally, some of the reworks tend towards the well known, though there are also plenty of rubs of lesser-known gems for those who want to dig deeper than familiar peak-time anthems. Most importantly, the standard remains impressively high throughout.
Review: With the catalogue that the Cuttin' It Fine team have both assembled and keep adding to, it's hard to expect anything less than exceptional with every release. They deliver another set of four breakbeat belters, courtesy of both El Bomba & Roast Beatz. First up, El Bomba delivers a dancefloor-ready funk out in 'Take A Break', a lively combo of sharp drum slaps and lip-curling basslines, before Roast Beatz the energy with the groovy guitar plucks and singalong vocals of 'Party Over Here'. Back to El Bomba next as the classic sounding guitar melodies and unpredictable drum shakes of 'Bronco Funk' tone down the madness a tad, before rounding off with anthem-like arrangements of 'Get On Down' from Roast Beatz, boasting a showstopper of a bassline, draped in pleasing horn switches and tidy vocal chops for good measure.
Review: Two new remixes here of this Afro-flavoured production by Dave Lee in his Doug Wilis guise, which first came out back in 2007, and which was also remixed by Audiowhores the following year. The man picked to do the honours for 2022 is Emmaculate, AKA Chicago's Eric Welton, who doesn't flip the script too much, retaining the hi-life-ish feel of the Original but now augmenting the Rhodes that took the lead first time around with some scorching sax work. An Instrumental is also supplied, so if you'd rather dispense with the chanted male vox, you can.
Review: By now, we should all know what to expect from Heist Recordings' annual Round-Up EPs, namely label regulars and selected guests remixing each other. JKriv and Peter Matson do a terrific job in turning Fouk's 'Money' into a squelchy, TB-303-fired slab of nu-disco/retro-futurist house fusion, before Makez re-imagines Mariana Trench's 'Wake Up' as a jazz-funk flavoured broken beat number and Fouk re-frames a Lore of the Samurai track as a gorgeous slab of house-not-house sunshine. Elsewhere, Mariana Trench gives Felipe Gordon's 'Highly Corrosive Acid' a driving, riff-heavy deep house spin, Felipe Gordon opts for a drowsy and eccentric mid-tempo house sound on his version of JKriv and Peter Matson's 'New Friend', and Lore of the Samurai's rework of Makez's 'City of All' is a hypnotic, tech-tinged treat.
Review: Collections of contemporary disco, funk and boogie grooves seem to be one of the very few consumer items NOT currently experiencing "supply chain issues" in this post-pandemic world of ours - there's no shortage of them around, is there? This Bomb Strikes comp, though, stands out from the herd for its sheer stylistic breadth. The album kicks off at the hip-hop-, funk- and soul-infused end of the spectrum, with cuts from the likes of Ivo Fitzroy and The Allergies, and slowly works its way up, via some more straight-up disco stompers in the mid-section, into uptempo disco-house territory. Possibly the only place you'll find Natasha Kitty Kat rubbing shoulders with The Hot 8 Brass Band, it's a pleasingly varied set that, as such, should find favour with a wide range of buyers.
Review: Hailing from Bournemouth on the UK's south coast, Roast Beatz is a self-described 'multi-genre' DJ whose sets span house, disco, funk, hip-hop, breaks, D&B and more. And he takes a similarly eclectic approach in the studio, as this five-tracker on his own Cuttin' It Fine label demonstrates. Making liberal use of some very familiar samples (see 'Punjabi Party' and 'Hold Your Head Up' in particular), what he's come up with are five tracks that span the spectrum from house to soul and funk, but that all have the kind of instant floor appeal that can only be achieved by those with some considerable experience in the booth.
Review: Don't sleep on this much-hyped, disco-flavoured EP from F-Comm veteran Ludovic Llorca, who's been operating as Art Of Tones since 2005 and who's using this EP to launch his brand new PALP label. Llorca himself has said he sees 'Brotherhood' as "an intro track, something more musical," and certainly its mid-paced funk chug and 70s-style chanted vocal are more 'palette cleanser' or 'scene-setter' than 'surefire floor-filler' - when it's time time strut your funky stuff then 'All Night' is the one with its earthy female vocal, chicken scratch guitar and "everybody!" shouts, while Scruscru's remix takes us into wonkier, jazzier territory.
Review: Oumou Sangare's most recent album, 2017's Mogoya, was a fine collection of heartfelt songs in the traditional Malian wassoulou style. Here, it's given the remix treatment, with an impressive cast list of producers taking it in turns to provide their own distinctive interpretations. We were naturally drawn to some of the contributions from high profile producers, with the Tony Allen style Afrobeat rub of "Yere Faga" by Natureboy (AKA DJ Nature) and Auntie Flo's sublime version of "Djoukourou" - all gentle West African beats, sparkling synthesizers and life-affirming vocals - hitting home particularly hard. St Germain's warming Afro-house take on "Fadjamou" and Sampha's bass-heavy, 8-bit interpretation of "Minata Waraba" are also superb.
Review: Fresh from delivering some jazz-funk influenced soulful house and broken beat flavours on Z Records, Lee Gomez AKA Wipe The Needle returns to Local Talk, a label he's been loosely associated with since 2019. The experienced producer immediately hits his stride with 'It's My World Ya Heard', a loose-limbed chunk of woozy deep house marked out by swinging beats, jazzy synth-bass and classic-sounding synthesizer chords. 'Would You' is a jaunty, soul-fired slab of samba-house loveliness smothered in futuristic jazz-funk synth sounds, while 'Fist of the North Star' is a sparkling, kaleidoscopic slab of heavily electronic broken beat/jazz-funk fusion full of subtle nods towards Motor City music and the hybrid works of Dego and Kaidi Tatham.
Review: St Albans-based Hansi serves up four more covers on this latest addition to the long-running 'Funky Grooves' series on his own Viking Grooves. 'Changes' gets the ball rolling, rendering Black Sabbath's classic heartbreak ballad in a tortured, southern soul style - it's almost like Otis's revenge for the Black Crowes! The other choices of cover on the EP are perhaps less surprising - Timmy Thomas's 'Why Can't We Live Together', Run DMC's 'Peter Piper' and The Jimmy Castor Bunch's 'It's Just Begun' - but in all cases Hansi puts his own distinctive spin on the original, making for an EP with more than its fair share of attention-grabbers.
Review: Since debuting in 2013, Mike Katz has released a lot of music as Harvey Sutherland, flitting between interconnected styles (disco, deep house, jazz-funk, nu-boogie, U.S garage and Italo-disco included) without ever laying down an album of all-new music. Boy, then, is a significant milestone in Katz's career and offers an exploration of what he calls "neurotic funk" - a boundary-blurring fusion of jammed-out analogue electronics and live instrumentation that draws on a multitude of musical styles without neatly sitting in any one pigeonhole. Highlights include the squelchy boogie-soul revivalism of eye-catching DAM-Funk collaboration 'Feeling of Love', the sparkling jazz-funk-goes-boogie sunshine of 'Age of Acceleration', the simmering soul of 'Holding Pattern' (which features his first ever lead vocal) and the futurist post-punk/new wave flex of 'Type A'. In a word: brilliant.
Review: As always with the Breakbeat Paradise Recordings crew, we are in for a treat as they unleash the full version of the second 'Badass Funk' compilation, jam-packed with colourful originals and vibrant sampling displays. Featuring eight exciting creations, the vibes stretch from the soulful sample slicing of 'Step Up' from The Breakbeat Junkie and DJP and disco-infused melodic switches of 'Dancing Mood' from Turntill, Merlin & Crosby, to the the more euphoric synth tops and bubbling drums of Ewan Hoozami's 'Rock More' and more relaxed grooves of BadboE's 'The Suicide Thing'. We also hear some tidy work from Morlack on 'Hydraulic Roof', alongside some oldschool finesse on Tosses' 'Same Old Funk'. The whole project oozes class, but our highlights have to include the scatty percussive switches and signalong melodies of B-Side and Kurnal MC's 'Each & Every Day', next to the funkadelic bass twangs of 'Funky Weekend' from Roast Beatz. Awesome stuff!
Review: BBE Music, DJ Amir and 180 Proof records present 'Creative Musicians, featuring remixes by Waajeed and Henrik Schwarz. Taken from the forthcoming new album 'Strata Records - The Sound of Detroit - Reimagined by Jazzanova'. The esteemed German producer enlists the rather Gil Scott-Heron sounding Sean Haefeli as vocalist on these sessions. Waajeed's remix of 'Creative Musicians' goes down a sublime, Detroit style hi-tech soul route, while Henrik Schwarz takes the track into emotive, late-night jazzy house territory. To give you proper context, they have included the much loved original version by the Lyman Woodard Organization.
Review: A solo excursion here from Smoove, who you surely don't need reminding is one-half of veteran UK soul and funk faves Smoove & Turrell. 'Take It Easy' is a reworking of Astrud Gilberto's 1969 take on Jorge Ben's 'Take It Easy My Brother Charlie', and is sure to be huge with the likes of Peterson, Snowboy and Scruff, and a dancefloor cert wherever shuffling, lounge-y samba rhythms are played. There's a Dub as well, which will be useful for DJing purposes, but of course that one doesn't have Astrud singing. If you dig this, then we suggest delving into her back catalogue - heaven awaits!
Kush Calls (feat Cem Mo & Mauricesax - original mix) - (5:11) 112 BPM
Review: Fresh from the release of two tip-top 12" singles on Handy Records and Wolf Music, Malik Kassim brings his trademark Retromigration sound to the freshly minted LYAM label. Typically warm, woozy, bass-heavy and with plenty of musical details - think Ron Trent, with a dash of the Burrell Brothers and the Detroit deep house swing of Andres - all four cuts are superb examples of the Dutch producer's approach to dancefloor dynamics. Highlights include the laidback, club-ready bump of 'Heat it Up', where undulating acid lines and synth-sax catch the ear; the shuffling, broken house sparkle of 'You Want That' (a genuinely sumptuous late-night delight smothered in spacey synth solos); and the mid-tempo, jazz-funk style title track, where loose-limbed live instrumentation and emotive solos come to the fore.
Review: Back in the day, D.C LaRue was one of the undoubted stars of the underground disco scene, so it makes perfect sense that Z Records boss Dave Lee has bagged a swathe of new remixes. Lee dons the familiar Joey Negro alias to kick things off with a brilliant extended interpretation of all-time LaRue fave "Cathedrals", before Ron Basejam wraps spacey synth solos and fluttering flutes around a killer slow disco groove on his fantastic rub of "Do You Want The Real Thing". Elsewhere, Glitterbox regular Dr Packer provides a rolling, delay-laden take on "Indiscreet" rich in killer disco interpretation that could well be the EP's highlight, while the Idjut Boys serve up a typically trippy, dub disco powered "Beats" version of "Let Them Dance".
Review: 62 collections deep and still blazing up any party in a 1000 mile radius; Katakana deliver yet another fun and funk-fuelled package. All laced with a heavy rhythmic theme, attention to groove detail is paid throughout as we're treated to range of classic and deeply dug edits. "Galaxy" sets the tone with a sleazy strutting war cry before we're hurled into a Latin frenzy on both the sultry "Camina" and the bull-fighting "Descarga". Elsewhere "Leroy Loves Ya" brings the soulful touch and "JB World" closes with a little psychedelic mystique.
Review: Remember that tape/DJ mix/playlist you made - the one where you cobbled together all your most sensual and seductive tracks, to put on when you finally got That Special Someone back to yours? I bet you even called it 'Lights Down Low' or 'The Passion Parlour' or something, didn't you? Yes you did. Well, that's basically what this latest 'Katakana Edits' EP sounds like, as El Paso reworks two soul grooves from days gone by. 'Sociedad' (origin unknown) is a bit Latin-y, while the Joe Bataan-biting 'Cali Woman' is (oddly, given the source) less Latin-y, but with a bit of luck no one's REALLY listening anyway...
Review: Three years after Jungle Fire joined Razor N Tape Reserve, the label has decided to offer up a swathe of new remixes of some of the band's classic cuts. It's a simple idea, executed brilliantly. Man of the moment Felipe Gordon excels on a jazz-funk and nu-disco-tinged deep house re-frame of 'Atomico', before label co-founder J Kriv delivers a thrillingly squelchy, driving disco dub of 'Le Krossa'. Legendary turntablist DJ Nu-Mark offers a superbly funky rework of 'Atomica' that embraces the track's Afrobeat roots, band-member Patrick Bailey joins the dots between electro and Afro-funk on his deliciously spacey 'Snake in Da Box Dub', and Samuel Miles opts to layer up breathless, energetic percussion on his fine remix of 'Biri Biri'.
Review: Some high-quality modern funk/soul bizniss here, coming courtesy of Germany's long-running Peppermint Jam. The EP's bookended by fresh remixes of two cuts from NYC world-funk fusionists Mandrill's 2020 comeback album 'Back In Town', while in-between you'll find label regular Ferry Ultra paying homage to Roy Ayers before teaming up with contemporary soul songstress Sharon Phillips, and Berlin's Akay similarly serving up a very classy reworking of Marvin's 'Sexual Healing' (a brave move, but it works) before luring Montell Jordan into the studio for 'Got To The Funk'. Excellent work all round - THIS is how you do it!
Review: When in search of nostalgic ballroom and swing numbers from yesteryear that have been dressed up in a new kind of neon to fit modern dance floors, Freshly Squeezed remains on point as always. This hefty compilation brings in a decadent treasure trove of big band numbers that in their original form may be nearing 100 years of age! All the proper label mates are there like JAWN with the brassy, jazz tones of "The Jam", Tune In Crew's exotic "Bangalore Swing" and Atom Smith's vocal and electro-mashing "Girl Lookin' Good" to Pisk and those classic horns that are "Jumpin Jive".
Review: British jazz drummer Yussef Dayes hooks up with bossman on keys Charlie Stacey and bassist Rocco Palladino for Welcome To The Hills. Released on Dayes' own Cashmere Thoughts label inspired by the Jay Z song of the same name, the album presents a live stream of off the hook cosmic jazz, new age funk, downtempo and free-spirited soul that exhales a colourful plume of hi-energy instrumentalism from the lungs of jazz music. Deep and spacey it is in tracks like "Ride Out" and the 12-minute epic "Gully Side" while drums skitter buckwild in numbers like "Black Love ~ Amazonian Springs" and "Encore ~ Babylon Burning". Find more casual and cool swaggers of groove in "Odyssey" next to "Jamaican Links" and the slow jam dubs of "Purple Skies ~ Libations". The rebirth of cool: live and direct!
Review: Charles Webster's Decision Time album, the veteran British producer's first for 19 years, was a wonderfully hazy, deep and atmospheric affair, but not particularly dancefloor focused. This belated EP of remixes, on the other hand, is largely club-ready and - thrillingly - packed to the rafters with genuinely brilliant reworks. Dazzle Drums provides a stunning revision of 'This Is Real' that subtly recalls many classic, acid-flecked, starry-eyed Webster deep house tracks of old; Mark E chugs his way through an analogue-rich, sunrise-ready deep house tweak of 'The Spell'; and minimal maestro Luciano reimagines 'Music' as a quietly soulful, off-kilter epic built around pulsing bass and South American style drums. Jazzuelle's 'Retro Rhapsody' version of the same track, meanwhile, magnificently joins the dots between deep house sonics and languid street soul grooves.