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: Rhode Island-based Katakana Edits bring us the 98th installment in this long-running series, and once more we're in the hands of Morlack, who's contributed no fewer than 14 previous volumes. The French DJ/producer has dug pretty deep for source material: 'Cali Style' bites Eddy Grant's 'California Style', the Jimmy Castor Bunch's 1975 novelty funker 'King Kong' gets a light-touch refix and 'L.Cats' gives The Cure an unexpected breakbeat makeover, but that's about as much as we can tell you! The rest of the EP draws on unidentified soul, funk and boogie nuggets, many of them with non-Anglophone vocals.
Review: Don't be fooled by the title here. While there's definitely a strong African influence to the six tracks featured on this EP from Greece's Timewarp, you don't need to be a lover of complex polyrhythms or breathy, chanted vox to appreciate them. Instead, ever-prolific Italian producer Lalinga looks to African funk and jazz of the 1970s for inspiration. 'Nasty Shit' comes at the sound from a hip-hop perspective and 'Rebellie' is the EP's most overtly house-leaning cut, while 'Afrikaanse Waansin' is the most traditional-sounding, but all six will work well on the floor and will have particular appeal for the breakers and jazz dancers.
Review: These re-edit EPs from Audaz usually feature a mix of the familiar and the obscure, with forgotten disco nuggets or hidden Afro treasures nestling alongside reworkings of massive pop and rock hits. There have been volumes that kept things more resolutely underground, though, and so it is here, on a 10-track EP that seems to draw largely on late 70s/early 80s Eurodisco for inspiration. The precise source material has our disco detectives beat this time around - though the familiar-sounding jaunty piano riff that backbones '222' has been driving us mad all week - but disco- and boogie-loving floors will find much to enjoy here.
Review: If we're counting correctly this is album number nine from Speedometer in a recording career that stretches back 20 years. As such, if you have any interest at all in 'new old' funk and soul sounds you should know pretty much what to expect, so it's the cuts where they flip the script that are most notable. There's a distinct African slant to the cinematic 'Edge Of Fear', but it's 'Kashmir', a sitar-infused jaunt into psychedelic pastures, that's the standout. Elsewhere the UK veterans run the gamut from soulful acid jazz anthem-in-waiting 'Let's Start A Movement' to the raunchy, wigged-out Hammond jam that is 'Mo' Crunch'.
Review: With Kingston Express declaring its existence back in 2016 with a run of cream 45s, the label stomps down some more authority with a Kingston Express LP. Roots reggae and dub supremacy all the way here with brass and percussion sections splayed in all manner of directions; rhodes, horns and big band notes all whittled down to their essential elements. A collection of quality instrumental, vocal dubs that shine in their arrangements, ragga, swagger and riddim. Birmingham sound.
Review: All time Brainfeeder great and LA beat scene legend Thundercat surfaces once again in dramatic fashion for Flying Lotus' flag bearing US imprint. It's stoic title, It Is What It Is, hints at how many of us might be feeling right now - isolated but managing - with Thundercat's album said to be something of a sombre record that treads a darker path, as described in a New York Times interview. Presenting his fifth studio album and first since 2017's Drunk, Thundercat delivers 15 tracks (and skits) all clocking in at around three minutes with a huge cast of feature collaborators including Ty Dolla Sign, Lil B and Childish Gambino to Kamasi Washington and comedian Zack Frost with the sensual "Overseas". Our highlights include the royal grooves and slap bass of "Black Qualls", the floating rhode solos in "King Of The Hill" and frenetic funk of "How Sway".