Reviews by James Barrie aka Global Souljah
Mundovibe contributor James Barrie (Global Souljah) gives the lowdown on the latest releases from Architeq, Kelpe, Collage, Peter Kruder Private Collection, Mary Anne Hobbs, Jeb Loy Nichols, Jazz & Milk Breaks, Tru Thoughts Recordings
Architeq – ‘Gold + Green’ (Tirk) Architeq is a young Scotsman called Sam Ammand now based in London where, after a minimum amount of fuss and not a lot of previous form, he has just unleashed one of the most accomplished beat driven debut albums that I’ve heard in a while.
Don’t be deceived by the simple melodic electro funk opener and the sleepy hip hop beats of ‘Krakatoa’ as the album rapidly takes a dive into musically deeper waters where hip hop beats old and new rub shoulders with the funk and cosmic disco, the ghosts of classic dub engineers come back from the other side to revive their art, scuzzy psyched out effects vie for attention with gentle melodies and a million and one samples are gently and lovingly positioned in just the right places.
‘Nothing’ feat Junior Williams is a twisted nu-soul gem propelled along by some simple but neat drum programming and one of three restrained vocal tracks on the album. The others being ‘Spinning Plates’ an urgent and unsettling twisted drum odyssey that anchors the floating pop vocals of Angele David Gillou and the homage to 80’s soul that is ‘Mind Games’ featuring the sonically distressed voice of Ilija Rudman who sounds like he’s a bit out breath.
The rest of the album is an instrumental wonderland full of inventive drums, great melodic moments, live percussion and some darker side excursions. Plenty of sonic twists and turns keep you on your toes, leaping out at you just as you think you’ve got the direction of a track sussed. This isn’t beat making by numbers this is Architeq and he doesn’t drive in straight lines or do obvious.
Highlights include the pitched down cosmic boogie of ‘Odyssey’, the stuttering beats underpinning what sound like an ornithologist at a dub lab, otherwise known as ‘Birds Of Prey’ and the constantly morphing dark future funk fusion of ‘Into The Cosmos’. The album is a really solid listen start to finish and an assured debut and I for one am predicting big things for this boy. Review by Global Souljah
If you didn’t know Kelpe is the previously water obsessed Kel Mckeown who hails rather surprisingly from land locked Loughborough. Having been discovered by DC Recordings in 2003, he is a relative old boy in the brave new world of beat production already with a couple of albums under his belt as well as a string of remix work and some tasty mix cds.
Cambio Wechsel sees another wonderful exercise in restrained beat making where less is definitely more. A short introduction eases us gently into the album proper before we are greeted by ‘The Blackout Agreement’ a stripped back drum loop that ambles over a simple bassline wrapped in repeated and sustained edgy keys and gently building percussion before morphing into a more electronic beast that finally disintegrates into the ether. In fact the whole album has been pleasingly feng shuied with most tracks relying on just a few well chosen sound sources that are then carefully placed and then manipulated rather than dense audio collages.
Personally I am favouring the more melodic moments on the album such as ‘Eye Candy Bath’ with it’s soft voices and basic drums underpinned by a big fat electro bassline, ethereal vocal samples and occasional pitched down samples that sound like they were lifted from a 91 rave anthem. Another standout is the Eastern sounding strings that ride minimal drums and low-key effects on the sprawling, Doors like, ‘After Gold’ but don’t be deceived this is an album with something for everyone.
Stuttering hip hop beats, flute, bad arse bass and plenty of echo collide in ‘Closed Cup Headroom’ as similarly pissed drums crop up on the slightly worrying ‘Low Frequency Fumble’ and the minimal instrumental hip hop of ‘Clearance’. Minimal acid house with nice percussion and 8 bit sounds are the order of the day on ‘Microscope Contents and cut up jazz drums meet the electronic future on the short but sweet ‘Moving Picture Three’.
Another assured release from the man they call Kelpe. Review by Global Souljah
Collage – Forty Seven Minutes Four Seconds (Wool Recordings) Correct me if I’m wrong but I’m guessing the late 60’s Estonian jazz pop folk section in your collection is pretty small? Well it’s time to change all that with this inspired re-issue from Wool Recordings of the genre fusing group of students known as Collage.
The group was formed by Ravio Dikson who recruited students from the Talinn conservatory and school of music. The name Collage was suggested by one of the group because it’s repertoire included jazz, pop, classical and, thanks to a commission from Estonian TV requesting music for an ethnographic program, Estonian folk.
Luckily Estonia’s geographical position on the edge of the Soviet Union allowed the musically interested to watch Finnish TV with its diverse music programs and radio stations with more varied playlists to the limited output of their Estonian counterparts were also within range. These two factors coupled with the rare lps brought back by travelling musicians meant influences as wide ranging as Les Double Six De Paris, Quincy Jones and Michael Legrand were all soaked up by the students and the lack of any international authors rights organisation in the USSR meant not only were tracks used as inspiration but also covered without the hassle of legal challenges or the inconvenience of having to pay the composers and money!
The album kicks off with the upbeat Estonian pop of ‘Suur Tamm’ before dipping into jazzier territory with ‘Petis Peiu’ where Estonian lyricism meets bossa nova and some inspired scatting from the female vocalist. Most of the tracks on the album contain vocals and even male barber shop style harmonising appears on several tracks. I’m particularly liking the great ethereal folk vocals on the gentle, soothing ‘Hallilaul’ which is the audio equivalent of a head massage.
Funk drums and guitar provide the backdrop for some amazing female vocal interplay on ‘Ehted Kadunud’. Great jazzy Hammond organ and more Brasilian vocal stylings, this time male, appear on the warm sounds of ‘Memme Vaev’ and ‘Laula Kuni Elad’ can only be described as Estonian folk blues fusion.
This is a really intriguing album from start to finish and a wonderful fusion of styles carefully stitched together by a bunch of Estonian students thirty-three years ago. I’m just hoping the other two albums they recorded are as good and see the light of day. Review by Global Souljah
Peter Kruder Private Collection – G-Stone Master Series #1 (G-Stone Recordings) Peter Kruder is a bit of a compilation king racking up six and seven figure sales with some of his previous outings and once you’ve listened to this album you’ll know why they sold so well. The concept with this private collection is that Peter Kruder invites us into his living room to listen to some of his favourite records. Great! Milk, two sugars, thanks Pete.
Peter Kruder is one half of the legendary production duo Kruder & Dorfmeister as well as the driving force behind The Peace Orchestra and the best thing musically to come out of Austria since yodelling and with 35,000 records in his collection when he puts a compilation together you should really take note.
He kicks off with 80’s pop experimentalists Talk Talk and the deep bluesy electronic pop of ‘The Rainbow’ before post-rock Chicago dons Tortoise take up the mantle with the slow atmospheric guitar led ‘On The Chin’. Typical of a dj he he only plays a short section of ‘Waste Your Life’ from The Observatory as a bridge into the ever green soulful jazz of ‘Enchanted Lady’ from vibes virtuoso Milt Jackson before he launches into Gong offshoot Pierre Moerten’s Gong and the xylophone jazz fusion of ‘Adrien’ – a track he discovered through a mixtape handed to him by Gilles Peterson in the early 90’s.
House deity Charles Webster contributes one of his rare down tempo experiments, Tom Waits adds his dulcet tones on the leftfield percussive gem ‘Clap Hands’. Jan Hammer provides some 80’s synth stylings and Kruder throws in a Peace Orchestra track from the next album – whenever that might appear and an old K&D track called ‘Sleazy Rider’ also makes the cut – well he is the compiler!
The cosmic soul of Stargard rubs shoulders with an instrumental classical piano piece by Massive Attack vocalist Craig Armstrong and 80’s electronic pioneers Japan contribute their classic ‘Ghosts’. American composer, famous for his Hitchcock collaborations, Bernard Hermann pops up alongside fellow film composer and modern producer Jon Brion before versatile French producers Chateau Flight lead us into the album closer from one of my favourite African vocalists Rokia Traore and the beautiful ‘Mariama’
The album start to finish is a musical wonder and best listened to in its entirety preferably in the dark. Thanks Pete, now where’s your bathroom? Review by Global Souljah
Mary Anne Hobbs – Wild Angels (Planet Mu) Mary Anne Hobbs is now officially the queen of the electronic new school with her weekly radio show offering a portal to the freshest electronic experiments and cutting edge urban sounds from across the globe. Wild Angels is her third compilation for the cutting edge Planet Mu label and is another great album showcasing where new electronic music is at in 2009 and beyond.
In true experimental style Mark Pritchard opens proceedings with his catchily entitled ‘?’ in which an electronic drone slowly morphs into a slow atmospheric melodic soundtrack to your favourite sci-fi movie.
Wobbly beat merchant Hudson Mohawke then wakes us from our deep space coma with his trademark messed up future take on hip hop before Dublin’s Mike Slott transports us into an instrumental broken nu-soul wonderland with the excellent ‘Knock Knock’.
Brackles gives your bass bins a medical with the relentless lo-end frequency attack of ‘LHC’ as some nice key work and sampled female vocals add a little light relief. One of the finds of the compilation for me is Gemmy who shows the UK Funky massive they need to up their production standards as he comes through with a deep bassline gem called ‘Rainbow Road’, miles ahead of most of the game.
So far so melodic but like any inner city soundtrack worth it’s salt the compilation is not without it’s darker moments. Untold twists some exotic percussion beyond recognition with the unnervingly entitled ‘Discipine’, Rustie’s ‘Zig Zag’ is an intense rave brain basher – only for the headstrong and Legion of Two hammers the final nails into the coffin of those left standing on the dancefloor with his brooding ‘And Now We Wait’.
Dark Star and Sunken Foal show that musicians can work in harmony with the deep electronic underworld and one of the break though names of 2009, Floating Points also lends his undoubted talents to the comp as do Starkey, Architeq and a host of other pioneering electronic souls.
An essential glimpse into the future of music. Review by Global Souljah
Jeb Loy Nichols – Strange Faith and Practice (Impossible Ark Records) Jeb Low Nichols is an artist, writer and musician living a sustainable existence in Wales. He’s also just released an incredible album full of moving, delicate, beautifully arranged songs sung in his seductive and distinctive southern American accent.
Hailing from Wyoming he soon outgrew the artistic scenes of his native south and headed for New York art school, immersing himself in it’s creative scene witnessing the emergence of punk, the birth of hip hop and getting down to Larry Levan. London was the next stop where he ended up living in a squat with Adrian Sherwood, Neneh Cherry and Ari Up from the Slits where he pursued his musical career whilst designing prints for Paul Smith, working as the art director for Pressure Sounds and even performing vocals with Groove Armada.
This latest album sees Jeb teaming up with some of London’s best young jazz players including exciting young drum prospect Tim Giles, sax/flute player Mark Hanslip and bassist and arranger Riaan Vosloo who is also the co-founder of Impossible Ark, the exciting new label responsible for this release.
Jennifer Carr’s classical and jazz piano accompanies Jeb’s lyrical journey through these affairs of the heart to great effect and an added string section adds extra emotional depth to this already poignant album.
Highlights abound it really is an all killer no filler affair although the gentle caress of ‘Probably Never stop’ with its barely audible drums and carefully arranged strings tugs at my hear every time and the catchy piano line, restrained sax and more strings work wonders on ‘Lake Whitfield’.
Varied this album isn’t but when the vibe and overall feel is this good why change it? Definitely one of my albums of the year. Review by Global Souljah
Jazz and Milk Breaks II (Jazz & Milk Records) Jazz and Milk is now officially THE reliable home of great soul, funk, jazz and Afrolatin breaks and I’m glad to report they are they are back with another welcome compilation full of dancefloor winners for those more groove enlightened dance floors.
The album kicks off with the Envee rework of Pinnawela’s feel good vocal jazz dancer ‘You Can Dance’ before ducking into label boss Dusty’s beat heavy Afro rework of The Boogoo’s ‘The Journey/Ghana 74’ a dancefloor winner for sure. Dusty also throws in ‘Voodoo’ a funky beat excursion from his acclaimed debut album, because he’s nice like that.
Respected Panamanian percussionist Cesar Granados supplies an epic, super caliente version of Dizzy Gillespie’s classic ‘Manteca’, a Latin jazz monster to challenge the best salseros and Barcelona crew The Jivers supply some lively midtempo vocal jazz beats.
One of my favourite party rocking djs, Saffrolla, contributes ‘El Massivo’ a flamenco jazz flavoured party winner replete with some crazy gitano wailings over the top and Javi P3Z closes this excellent compilation with the great jazz rumba beats of ‘De Rhumba’.
Yet another great feel good selection from Jazz and Milk full of soul, jazz, funk and afrolatin flavoured beats and pieces ideal for livening up even the stiffest of parties. Review by Global Souljah
Tru-Thoughts 10th Anniversary – Various Artists Happy Birthday to Tru-Thoughts, 10 years young, a major achievement for any independent record label especially in these turbulent time of falling record sales, thoughtless free loaders/uploaders and distributors going bust (which happened to the label last year).
To celebrate this milestone the label is releasing a 2 CD best of with CD1 focussing on the mellower side and CD2 on the arse shakers. The first CD kicks off with the gentle strains of a pre-Ninja Tune Bonobo closely followed by Nostalgia 77 who utilises the sweet vocals of Beth Rowley on a mellow jazz number that segues nicely into one of the UK’s finest soul voices, Alice Russell and the old time soul of ‘Hurry On’.
Natural Self lays down some soulful drum and bass with ‘The Rising’ before Milez Benjiman gets all big electro bass and fresh beats on us with the nu-soul of ‘Chop That Wood’. The dream team of Quantic and Nickodemus throw some Latin spirit into the mix with the catchy Latin beats of ‘Mi Swing Es Tropical’, which some of you might remember from an Ipod advert a few years ago!
The killer tracks just don’t stop and this is only disc one! Lizzy Parks injects more soul with the jazz flavoured ‘Raise The Roof’, The Hot 8 Brass Band show brass bands aren’t all situated in remote northern colliery towns as they get all funk and jazz on ‘Whats my name’, Flevans adds the disco flavour and Quantic injects some Latin reggae before Kinny adds her vocal prowess to an Afro flavoured slice of quality soul and Freddie Cruger goes all nu-soul to wrap up the first disc.
Disc Two kicks off with some new style samba rock and Quantic’s orchestra get all funky with the swinging ‘Super 8’. The Bamboos add their trademark raw funk and TM Juke goes all nu-jazz with ‘Come Away’ featuring the vocals of Sophie Faricy. Lanu reminds us of the glory days of broken beat with a great jazzy soulful dancefloor winner and that’s before we even get to Belleruche and more Alice Russell and you can’t forget about the soul genius of Kylie Audist and she reminds us why with the modern northern soul classic ‘Community Service Announcement’.
For those of you quick enough there is also a limited 3CD box set with the third disc consisting entirely of un-released material from the label roster but don’t sleep to get your hands on one of those. Review by Global Souljah