Review: Berlin based Italian Andrea Benini presents a journey inspired by early African electronic music and modern beats on Drumphilia Volume 1. A rhythmic experiment that is a response to many years spent working with, learning about and listening to African and Caribbean percussion. There are no traditional harmonic instruments on the recordings - the aim was to create melody and texture using only carefully tuned percussion instruments, whether organic or electronic. An album of dreamy and hypnotic polyrhythms where the organic and traditional is emulated by the power of modern (and obsolete) machines. A hybrid sound that continues in the tradition of artists like Frances Bebey and more recently - Peder Mannerfelt. Recorded at Benini's Mop Mop Studios based in the German capital.
Review: Forge and Franck's Da Lata ensemble return with emphatic aplomb. There's some real energy behind this re-emergence, too - just listen to the thundering drum breakbeats on the opener "Um Amor A Mais" and you'll hear their newfound full force. Elsewhere we get smoky as the horns spiral reflectively on the downtempo dreamer "Places", we get all shifty and Shafty as "Monkeys And Anvils" pays homage to 70s Blacksploitation funk and we swoon madly to the Sacha Gabriel's beautiful vocals on the Latino-boogie soul shocker "The Shore". Fusing the most enduring Afro-Brazilian elements with timeless panache, this will remain on heavy rotation, guaranteed.
Review: Whilst we wait for a new long player from Forge and Franck's Da Lata ensemble, we have a new version of their most recent record, Fabiola, featuring rare versions and remixes of the songs found on it. There's a whopping 17 tracks to get through, and highlights include the ghetto electro sleaze of "Um Amor A Mais (Funkee remix)", the shimmering reggae jazz of "Unknown (Marc Lee Brown mix) and the beguiling late night afro-house vibes of "The Shore (Toni Economides/Carl Smith remix)".
Review: Jerker Kluge and Florian Reidl's Hi Fly Orchestra first popped up in 2005, and ever since has quietly impressed with its breezy, occasionally summery takes on classic, swingtime-era jazz (and, on occasions, Latin jazz). This third full-length, their first since 2008, continues their explorations into Blue Note-inspired territory. There's enough variety to impress - contrast the sun-bright samba of "Sambinha" and baggy big band soul of "I Got Hop" with the intricate flutes of "Forro" and fluid "How Beautiful" - while the playing is, naturally, impeccable throughout. It's got an old-fashioned feel, all right, but that's the point; this is the sort of thing that will transport you back to a bygone age of jazz.
Review: Tel Aviv's Hoodna Orchestra, who blend African and Middle Eastern influences with those from jazz, rock and funk, serve up two tracks from their second album 'OFEL' - soon to be released worldwide - and to say the EP's "eclectic" would be like saying Ronaldo's "pretty good" at football! 'Ofel I' starts out as a sleazy blaxploitation taxi ride, before taking a left turn through a nearby souk while Nik Turner-esque sax blares away on top. 'Breathe', meanwhile, marries similar sounds to a simple, plangent guitar riff reminiscent of Echo & The Bunnymen or The Cure. It's a ker-razy trip, daddio, but one you'll be very glad you took...
Review: Linear John's productions are straight down the line smooth, and here he presents a whole album's worth of his louche crooner gems. Hits With A Twist conjures up images of romance and intrigue in vintage Mediterranean summer nights. Boasting 11 Latin-tinged swingers, highlights include the Austin Powers-in-60s-Rio vibes of "Slates", the bluesy trip-hop of "When It Comes To Ladies" and the liquid elastic bass on space-boogie wonder "Shaken & Disturbed". Groovy.
Review: German bandleader Lutz Krajenski has enjoyed a long and successful working relationship with Agogo. The Austrian label has previously released countless singles and albums from his Hidden Jazz Quartett [sic] combo and here allows him a chance to go solo on a fine EP single. Taken from an album of Agogo catalogue covers due to see the light of day in early 2018, "I Got Hope" (originally recorded by the Hi-Fly Orchestra) is a sumptuous, slow-burning jazz ballad featuring superb vocals from Alana Alexander. She reprises her role then, where Krajenski and his collected musicians lay down a killer, Clavinet-heavy version of Timmy Thomas classic "Cold, Cold People".