Review: Some 13 years after setting up shop, Agogo offshoot Resense has almost notched up a half century of releases. "45" number 48 comes courtesy of Soulbrigada, a German duo who were last seen frolicking on Matasuna Records back in 2016. They hit the ground running with A-side workout "Help (Edit)", a deliciously dancefloor-focused re-edit of a righteous Northern Soul staple by a relatively obscure Midwestern band. Low-slung, weighty, sweaty and horn-heavy with a Wilson Pickett style lead vocal, it's the kind of cut that causes pandemonium when dropped at the right time. If anything, flipside "Love U Baby" is even heavier. It's a formidable and funky affair, with Soulbrigada toughening it up via the use of additional drums and floor-friendly loops of key instrumental passages.
Review: It's not for us to second-guess the motivations of others, but more recent installments in the Lolita series do seem to have eschewed the "anything goes" approach of earlier volumes in favour of curating more focused, stylistically cohesive collections. So '31' follows on nicely from last week's disco-oriented '30', as the Lolitas mine obscure early 80s boogie, Eurodisco, Italo and electrofunk nuggets including The Jammers' 'Be Mine Tonight' from 1982 ('274'), One Two Three's 'Runaway' (a 1983 Bobby O production that now gets reworked as '275'), Clive Davis & Brainchild's 'Mystery Man' from 1984 ('280') and more.
Review: Italy's Sound Exhibitions bring us a three-tracker from the mysterious DJ Mister Funk. Given the artist name and EP title, you should already have a rough idea what to expect musically - and there are certainly no surprises on that score, with the three tracks coming on like forgotten nuggets from obscure Blaxploitation soundtracks. The slow-grindin', breakbeat-based 'Original Sound' is probably the pick for b-boys and funkateers, disco/house floors may find the pacier 'Vintage' more amenable, while 'Real Funk' is the one for the slap bass lovers. It's all pure pastiche, admittedly, but when it's done this well who's grumbling?
Review: The Bas Lexter Ensample is a project by acclaimed multi-instrumentalist Bas Lexter who combines a love of jazz, big band music, reggae, funk and of course sampling to create a unique multi-genre sonic world of his own. This eight-track mini album features a multitude of sampled jazz breaks, ragga and hip-hop MC flows, all married to tight funk grooves and reggae skanks. Party starting stuff!
Review: 2020 marks the 25th year of !K7's acclaimed DJ-Kicks series with Mr Scruff following contributions of late from Leon Vynehall, Laurel Halo, Peggy Gou and Kamaal Williams! Mr Scruff's adventures in sound brings to DJ-Kicks more than 30 tracks of wildly varying styles featuring highlighted music from Equiknoxx, Tiger, Errorsmith, Max Graef and Zongamin. Scruff brings to his edition an exclusive collaboration with CyberPunkJazz ("3001: A Space Disco Remix") and an unreleased track from Andy Ash to boot. Alexander Robotnik makes in there with the wild New York post-funk of "Love Supreme" alongside a heavy Tony Allen percussion session in "Gbedu B". DJ Nervoso for the win too!
Review: The Allergies seem to have settled into a routine with their releases lately - one retro-tastic 'new old' funk/soul jam with a sung vocal, plus one slice of funked-up hip-hop - and so it is again here. 'Felony' is all dusty horn parps, live drums and soulful male vocal, while the accompanying 'Ride 'Em Up' finds the Bristolian crew at their most Stereos-esque while a guest rap from Andy Cooper alternates with a sultry female soul vocal. There's nothing especially groundbreaking going on, but if your toes aren't tapping you might want to double-check that you remembered to put your feet on this morning...
Review: Wherever it's made, disco is exotic, sumptuous and sexy. However when it's made somewhere that actually is exotic, sumptuous and sexy, well, then the sparks really fly! Brazil and disco have always been fiery lovers, and here we are presented with three tantric gems from that part of the world. "Relax" provides smooth, loungey vibes complete with strong vocal harmonies and cocktail effect atmospheres, while "Ripa Na Xulips" follows with a perkier, almost Italo-disco, synth-funk vibe. Finally "Labirinto" is slightly schmaltzy Casio-led crooner (think early '80s Latin soap theme).
Review: Greek producer Timewarp Inc demonstrates his remarkable versatility in the studio once more. Recent album 'Theory Of Evolution' focused primarily on reggae and dub sounds, but on this single-track release he takes an abrupt left turn into Latin-inspired territory. More specifically, the mid-paced 'Smoke Miash', with its fluttering Spanish guitars and mournful trumpets, has a distinct Mexican feel - it wouldn't sound out of place on an Ennio Morricone spaghetti western score, perhaps soundtracking the build-up to a hanging or funeral. It's not one for club play, but it certainly makes for hypnotic, head-nodding home listening.
Review: This thirty eighth release by Resense is actually a split EP, divided between Switzerland's Bandura who fly in Trinidad's The Duke for their first 'calypso mash-up', "Calypso Invasion" and the label's own Sono Rhizmo who updates that cool 50s voodoo jazz sound on the appropriately named "Voodoo". Hot stuff!
Review: More aural bliss from Ninja Tune starlet Anreya Triana here - "Far Closer" was one of the highlights from her superlative Bonobo-produced 2010 long player Lost Where I Belong, with an almost Motown strut to the original. The legendary Mr Scruff lays down a raw, stuttering retweak, replete with dubby synth stabs, while Brainfeeder prodigy Tokimonsta drops a brilliant reinterpretation on a futuristic leftfield hip-hop tip. An immensely pleasing live version of "Far Closer" rounds off the release nicely.
Review: Nothing cheap about the complier of the latest installment of Katakana Edits series. Cheapedits has lined up a sizzling selection of party-orientated scalpel jobs, and gives The Supremes a thorough early 90s hip-house makeover on "Stopin". Inxs get a sleazy big beat facelift on "Tonight", and it's all about the vintage 60s shuffle on "Blacktel". "Buyer" provides some poppy ska and "Qui Qui" wraps things up with closing-time-at-a-tequila-bar vibe.
Review: We've never thought of Men at Work's "Down Under" as a would-be Balearic classic, but then we're not tropically minded mash-up man Cayetano. Here, under his Yuriyuri alias, he re-casts the infamous '80s pop song as a gorgeous, sun-kissed chunk of cumbia-meets-reggae gorgeousness. It shouldn't work, of course, but it really does (thanks, largely, to the bagginess of the live instrumentation and Cayetano's smart production). The virtual flip features another unlikely mash-up/rework, as Aha's "Take On Me" becomes an accordion-heavy tropical groover. Again, it shouldn't work, but weirdly, it does. Ideal festival fodder, all told.
Review: Not much is know about JM edits, but considering this EP is released on the well established Gamm, it's fair to say this was always be something from the classier end of the re-edit spectrum. Here we get four slick and smooth re-teaks of quality soulful house ("Africa"), soul ("I Love You") Afro beat ("Flea") and dobby, bluesy funk ("Who Is He"). Top class!
Review: Meistro, Deep Sang and DJ Stylus make up the Sol Power All-Stars, a DJ/production collective from Washington DC dedicated to the many styles of African dance music. Here, they make their debut on GAMM with an excellent collection of sneaky afro-centric re-rubs. "Catch Monkey", the lead cut, offers a punchy, floor-friendly take on an Afrobeat classic. There's also a thrillingly dubbed-out, dancefloor friendly take (The "2AM Dub") that's almost an improvement on the excellent vocal original. "Let Yourself Go", meanwhile, expertly teases out a formidably percussive groove from a 1980s Afro-funk jam - all rousing horns and fluid synths. Closer "Taxi Driver", meanwhile, is a joyously celebratory juju jam. Quality stuff.
Review: Shaping up to be one of the biggest soul tunes of the year, here 'Blind Faith' gets the remix treatment courtesy of Art Of Tones (formerly known as F-Comm fave Llorca) and fellow Jalapeno regular Smoove (as in Turrell). Art Of Tones nudges the track closer to soulful house territory - his Dub, in particular, would undoubtedly have gone down a storm at Ben Watt's legendary Sunday sessions Lazy Dog back in the day, with its phat b-line and jazz-funk guitar chops. Smoove then surprises with a shimmering, squelchy-basslined rub that also operates at a near-house tempo.
Review: Formed in 2012 in Sardinia, Italy, Sound Exhibitions self-proclaimed mission is "to celebrate the joy of modern urban life through rhythm and sound". They entertain a variety of styles including house, downtempo, jazz, and salsa, however here they deliver three slices of authentic and rare Afro-funk. These tunes dub-out some killer vintage sounds - adding some loungey organ and strings to the title track, the wah-wah and brass heavy "Paradise Funk" is pure Huggy Bear 70s pimp music and "Funk Small" wraps things up nicely with some old schools breaks, tense bass work and cop chase piano.
Review: The Broken Circuit album from Brighton's future soul duo is proving to be the gift that keeps on giving, as here we get two more LP tracks coupled with two new titles. The previously heard "Broken Circuit" and "Atom Bomb" are sugary lo-fi soul-pop and a seductive broken beat lament respectively. Of the fresh tracks, "World In Room" is garage-influenced fizz-house at its best and the prayer-like enchanting digi-soul of "Blessings" wraps things up nicely.
Review: Self-proclaimed "complete package" Craig Charles (actor, poet, DJ, radio host, stand-up) seems to be enjoying life as Britain's most famous funk and soul fan. Here, he curates a second installment of his Funk & Soul Club compilation series. Predictably, there's plenty to tickle the fancy, from the reggae-soul-house shuffle of Lack of Afro's remix of Hidden Jazz Quartet's "High Heels", and the psychedelic funk madness of The Bongolian's "The Riviera Affair", to the celebratory release of Jessica Lauren Four's "Happiness Train" (featuring a brilliant vocal from old Jocelyn Brown), and a pair of ripsnorting cover versions (Cookin' On Three Burners' fantastic take on Numan's "Cars" and Hot Eight Brass Band's famous remake of the Specials' "Ghost Town").