Review: With summer finally kicking in, Faze Action Records has decided to unleash a fine retrospective of some of the label's most summery, Balearic-minded sounds. It's a bumper collection of cuts - mostly from founders Robin and Simon Lee under a variety of different pseudonyms - which effortlessly drifts between piano and synth-laden Afro-Balearic (Faze Action's 'Chiiko'), tongue-in-cheek Gallic disco (Face Action re-editing Micky Milan), new age ambient ('Windchimes' and 'Secret Garden' by Rudy's Midnight Machine), Andreas Wollenweder-style Balearic synth-pop (Faze Action's 'Hapana'), slo-mo goodness (Max Essa reworking Faze Action's 'Vamos Pinter') and colourful dancefloor cheeriness (the vibrant Baleaaric nu-disco wonder that is 'Body Wave' by Rudy's Midnight Machine). In a word: excellent!
Review: With V Records keeping their Repercussion series alive with three fresh cuts, Dr.Adolf throws down an afro-inspired vibe of slamming house to get things started (that should turn the heads of Todd Terje fans). Something more downtempo and Balearic comes from FMAC's Fleetwood Mac interpretation - "Listen To The Wind Blow" - next to the rocky, plucked out and vamped funk of RS' "Fingerprint Tile" Chka-chka-ahh!
Review: Fresh from dropping a pair of fine fusion EPs with Dele Sosimi on Wah Wah 45s, Medlar returns home to Wolf Music Recordings with his most expansive release since 2013 debut album Sleep. In keeping with his musical evolution since then, Aerial is a thrillingly eclectic, colourful and imaginative affair, with Medlar flitting between the Wally Badarou-on-acid vibes of the undeniably cosmic title track; the acid-fired, cowbell-rich strut of 'Iguanadon'; the percussion-rich Dinosaur L mutations of 'Elephant Bingo'; the downtempo jazz-funk of 'Elv'; the late-night, drum machine driven weirdness of 'Cr78-108'; the '89 NYC garage-meets-New Jack Swing flex of 'Phoenix Lights'; and the slow-motion, bass-heavy Balaearica of 'Sin Prisa'. In a word: ace!
Review: The titles here might suggest a re-edits EP but rest assured the five tracks ARE actually original, albeit sample-based, productions. 'Step Off The Train', for instance, does indeed bite EBTG's 'Missing' as you'd expect, but simply takes a two-line vocal snip and loops it up over a slo-mo grinder that sits right on the deep house/nu-disco cusp, while 'Oops Upside' is another house/disco fusion that draws not on The Gap Band but on a female-sung cover thereof. So let's not worry about sources and inspirations and just say these are five classy midtempo groovers that'll suit more discerning nu-disco floors down to the ground.
Review: Since launching on vinyl in 2019, the Ron's Reworks series from Crazy P co-founder Jim Baron AKA Ron Basejam has consistently delivered high-quality reworks that tend to shy away from the obvious and over-played. The standout on the series' fourth missive is undoubtedly 'They Speak Colour', a loopy, soft-focus disco-house jam whose relentless grooves, synthesizer splashes and simmering orchestration make it sound like Soundstream after a bong full of Marijuana smoke and several disco biscuits. Elsewhere, 'The City' is a canny revision of an unusual disco-boogie number that builds through sections of drums and cut-up, scat style vocals before finally flourishing late on, while 'The Cull' is a deep and meandering head-nodder tailor-made for warm-up sets and sit-down bar gigs.
Review: Danish chill out legend Kenneth Bager turns in a ninth Sunset Session on his most esteemed Music For Dreams imprint. In the game for some 20 years now, Bager's compilations are something to be trusted and highlights this time come from Lucci Capri's down and dirty "Boom Boom Clap" and the syncopated rhythms of SIRS remix to Bongo Entp. Soulful touches of jazz make it into the deep house affairs of Pepe Link's "Gypsy Love Affair" and amid the bassline mechanics of "Man With The Red Face". But let's not forget the man Kenneth Bager himself, who chips on with an ambient edit to Laudness' "Atlantish" - think 80s soundtrack music - next to the handpan drumming, balearic vocals, electronic drum programming and spanish guitar of "Avisa A (feat DJ DIVO & OliO)". Ole!
Review: Discobeta bring us two very solid nu-funk workouts that are served up in a total of seven mixes to suit various tastes. 'Down The Block' itself foregrounds the classic 1979 Spoonie G "one for treble, two for the time" sample (as used by Grandmaster Flash on 'Adventures...' a few years later), and comes with re-rubs from Fort Knox Five (pacier and jazz-tastic) and Ross Go (cut-ups and scratches galore). As for 'Yoobie Doo', the first three rubs are mostly aimed at hip-hop/funk-hop floors, but if wigged-out funk with a hint of jazz is your bag, head straight for the Pecoe Remix - it's a killer.
Review: Four tracks from Italian producer Dario Aieello's recent 'Cosmic Sailing EP' get the remix treatment. As with the original EP, the clue's in the title: if you're looking for peaktime stompers you'll need to look elsewhere, but if you're in seach of drifty, evolving cuts to soundtrack voyages through inner space, look no further. 'Storm' and 'Malvasia', remixed by James Bright and Blair French respectively, keep things super-chilled, Willie Graff's rub of 'Fenice' adds a lil' Spanish flavour, but for sunny afternoons spent slow-groovin' on an Ibiza terrace (if only!) Hot Toddy's remix of 'Neve Su Acireale' is the one.
Review: Like many of his contemporaries, Joaquin 'Joe' Claussell quickly became bored during NYC's first Covid-19 lockdown last year, so used the time to craft Raw Tones, his first solo album for nigh on 13 years. The set is built around weighty analogue basslines and vintage-sounding drum machine rhythm tracks, with Claussell frequently adding melancholic piano solos, his own spoken word and improvised vocals, and flashes of the African and Latin-inspired percussion sounds that he's long been known for. It's. ahugely successful formula, with highlights including the similarly sleazy 'Break Free' and 'You Mutha Fucka', the sunrise deep house beauty of 'Way Back Then', the sweaty and cymbal-heavy 'If It's All In Your Kind Let It Out' and the slo-mo sweetness of 'Hallucination Ejection'.
Review: Way back in 1997 record collector, DJ and music writer, Jasper The Vinyl Junkie, curated BBE Music's second ever release: Stop & Listen Vol. II. With BBE celebrating 25 years in the game the label goes back to its roots by inviting JJ for another West end jazz beat special. With rarities and never before heard gems now cut for digital, Vinyl Junkie Thangs calls up all-time music heroes like Fred Wesley, The Fatback Band and DTrain's Hubert Eaves alongside lesser known artists like Exile One, Ashantis and Funkshone with "Spiritual Interlude II (The Heist)" a particular highlight. Featuring curious other Jasper joints from Basement Freaks, OPOLOPO, Jkriv & Free Magic and Mr Scruff, it ain't always a vinyl thang.
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!
Manner Of Speaking - "The Unknown" - (5:29) 95 BPM
Review: Like its predecessors, the latest volume in Play Pal Music's Pals series offers up a wide-range of tantalising treats from up-and-coming and hot underground artists based in all four corners of the globe. The label says it amounts to "a collection to soundtrack these strange days", and there's certainly some paranoid and off-kilter moments to be found throughout (for proof, check the hard-wired, intoxicating Italo-disco chug of M Love's 'Oboda' and Aural Trace's ultra-hazy 'Melange'). Theplentiful highlights dotted across the set include the fuzzy, low-slung brilliance of Mufti's 'Fascinato', the throbbing space disco goodness of Leo Af Ekenstam's 'Stress' and the deep, slow and effortlessly emotive warmth of 'The Unknown' by Manner of Speaking.
Review: If the more leftfield/indie-leaning end of contemporary disco is where you're at, this long-player from Staffordshire's Jack Butters is well worth checking, evidencing as it does a wide range of influences. There's a blues/country twang to cuts like 'Still Got The Feeling', 'Wild West Show' and 'Stake To The Heart', for instance, while 'Searching For You' rocks an Indian-style chanted vocal and 'Chicken Wah Wah' errs on the cosmic side. But the standouts for yours truly are the dark electronic chug of 'Full Panic Mode', the moody, squelchy 'Drowning In Acid' and the nostalgic, piano-driven and fairly self-explanatory 'House That Jack Built'.
Review: After releases by DoctorSoul, Dave Mathmos and Vibes4YourSoul, Berlin-based Too Slow To Disco are back with number six in their edits series. This one comes courtesy of Los Angeles nu-disco wizard Blake Robin aka LUXXURY, who has built up a solid reputation via his method of using the multi-tracks of classic hits to create dubby/slow-mo versions of classics. On TSTD06, we have "Hello My Love" which is a loved-up and low slung slow burner that's worthy tackle for the late night, followed by the romantic '70s swagger of a well known AOR classic on "Baby Please Don't Go (Oooh No)".
Review: Given that previous volumes in Willie Graff and Darren Eboli's ongoing Tribeca Tapes series have been full to bursting with gorgeously summery music, hopes are naturally sky-high for the latest volume. Predictably, the pair doesn't disappoint, this time delivering a quartet of effortlessly Balearic concoctions tailor-made for sunsets and sunrises. They begin in confident mood via the Flamenco guitars, squelchy slo-mo grooves and breezy piano motifs of 'Clear Sky', before putting their twist on steamy samba-jazz on the similarly gorgeous 'Cocktails With Cecil'. The immersive and tactile 'After The Storm' is a drowsy, chant-along affair laden with heady vocals and Latin percussion, while 'Visions of Blue' joins the dots between slo-mo house, dub disco and the synth-heavy Balearica of Max Essa. Perfection personified.
Review: French producer Morlack is at the controls for this latest installment in the 'Katakana Edits' series. On 'Way Out' he reworks a 1982 Steve Arrington track of the same name, while 'Anticipation' mines Mtume's 'Anticipatin'' from 1980, so that's your boogie lovers covered, while those in search of rawer funk pleasures can head for 'Some Dues To Pay', which revisits a 1971 cut from Little Beaver AKA Willie Hale. Elsewhere, 'Zouk La Se' draws on the 1984 track by Guadeloupean band Kassav' which spawned the 'zouk' dance craze in Latin America and the Caribbean, while 'Zoulous' was originally a 1988 French pop hit for female duo Les 36'15.
Review: Belgian producer Zamali made his name with a string of re-edit EPs on Timewarp in the late 00s and early 2010s. These days he's focusing more on original productions, and now he returns to the Greek label with his debut full-length. Contemporary funk is his stock-in-trade, sometimes - as on 'Jack The Ripper' - veering towards the funk-breaks/funk-hop side of the street, other times leaning more towards "new old" homage vibes, but never shy of dropping in a familiar vocal sample here and there, or injecting a hint of disco, Afro or even house flava. Standouts for this reviewer include the Zapp/Cameo-esque 'Fatty Bump' and the jaunty, jazzy 'Gimme Some Faith'.
Review: Just like its five predecessors, the latest volume in Sol Selectas' Summer Sol compilation series is packed to the rafters with warming, life-affirming musical treats. At 28 tracks deep it's a genuine epic, but the label's high-quality threshold rarely dips throughout. For proof, check the jangling, Mediterranean terrace-ready Balearic house vibes of Sabo's 'Podre
Tulum', the exotic, bass-heavy chug of Balam's 'Kambo' (a future slo-mo classic), the Middle Eastern sounding tech-house of Omeria's 'Trailblazer', the driving early morning dancefloor psychedelia of The Scumfrog's 'But If Not' and the ultra-dreamy, immersive brilliance of 'Blue Sun' by Yohoros and Balint Boldizsar, whose delay-laden horn lines and drifting chords sound tailor-made for sunrise.
Review: Striding Frog is not the name of a new hiking-based documentary series hosted by Nigel Farage, but rather a debutant band who make baggy, sun-kissed music that should tickle the fancy of anyone of a Balearic persuasion. The headline-grabbing cut is opener 'Don't Wait', a languid and lazy affair in which the band's multi-tracked vocals rise above psychedelic synth sounds and hazy, slow-motion grooves. Later in the EP you'll find a chugging, acid-fired slo-mo rework of the same track from Italian duo Mushrooms Project, an outfit who do psychedelic disco better than most. Elsewhere, 'Keep The Love' is a sparkling, almost horizontal AOR disco treat, with Ourra's accompanying remix brilliantly re-imagining the track as a dreamy chunk of Balearic synth-pop loveliness.
Review: Almunia, AKA Leo Ceccanti and Gianluca Salvadori, released two sunny, pysch-tinged Balearic albums on Claremont 56 back in the early 2010s. Now, a decade later, Ceccanti returns in solo mode, and if you were feeling the two previous albums you'll find much to enjoy here, too. Ceccanti's skills as a guitarist are well to the fore throughout, whether he's strumming gently on an acoustic, showing off some intricate flamenco fingerpicking or busting out the electric for some wailin' west coast histrionics, while the beats never rise above walking pace but have just enough variety and punch to keep things from getting boring. A chilled little gem built for Mambo sunsets.
Review: Seeing a new drop from the Simply Deep team is always an exciting thing, with them being such a varied label showcasing numerous sounds. In the hot seat this time around, we have Fluid Matter, who is on hand to deliver a spectacular four tracker, kicking off with the slower, dampened textures and fluttering melodic designs of 'Loss', which acts as a serious thrill-ride through electronic themes. Next, the skippy, more garage-influenced drum textures and sweeping sub-bass pushes of 'Dance With Demons' arrive to lift all eyebrows in-sight, before we dive further into a more tech-inspired creation with the triplet drum punches and constantly shifting bass designs of 'Midnight Dip' supplying us with another directional switch. Finally, Solma gets involved on remix duty to send 'Midnight Dip' to the breaksy chopper, giving it a twisted, drum-driven theme to close us out in style.