Philippe Baden Powell-Notes Over Poetry
A rather good fortnight for the British label Far Out. Not content with in-house producer, Daniel Maunick's 4 track EP Mood Swings (as Dokta Venom - reviewed overleaf), it is one half of Brazilian great, Baden Powell's, offspring who takes centre stage. A pianist of some repute and longevity, here, he presents the kind of music that goes beyond simple pigeonholing. The variety of the songs presented is evident throughout the 10 pieces here: from the 7' stirring contours of the Joe-Sample-like instrumental'For You to Know' to the Al Jarreau-esque vocal scat on 'Hues'. The male spoken word of the title track evokes memories of the honest lines of Nu-jazz-era Ursula Rucker. 'Salvadora' combines the interplay of Philippe's fluid playing with solo violin around its melody. 'Chica' delivers a low-key Portuguese vocal, upping the tempo, accompanied by impactive, harmonic horns and scatting acoustic guitar.
'Recado Pra Você' is shuffling Bossa-Soul sung by an uncredited female - sure to cause a stir on Brazilian radio. Elements of American Soul and R'n'B dovetail with a Latin leaning to Jazz and Classical beauty. Out soon.
Diesler ft. Afrika Fuentes-Work it Out (EP)
A lot of time has passed since the heady early days of Diesler's rise to notice on Brighton's Tru Thoughts label. Albums such as 'Keepie Uppies' lay the foundations for the man's latest recent singles on his A Little Something Records (named after the simmering nu-jazz flavours of that very track from the afore-mentioned LP). On the back of a double-A-side from late last year, 'Gold in Rio'/'Vice Squad', and 'Human When You Dance' at the beginning of this, 'Work it Out' offers a slew of resonant Rhodes chords, shuffling drum rolls, claps and general percussive busy-ness, beneath the force that is Madrid vocalist, Afrika Fuentes. In addition to Diesler's original and an a'ccapella from Fuentes, Flashbaxx brings a more stripped approach as a variation of the keyboard-led warmth takes it to another audience. Instrumentals of both versions top off the release. Recommended for those who like their sounds on the dancefloor to be challenging yet accessible.
Appreciate? Check out Blakai's 'Work it Out' feat. Lady Alma.
Wu Kush-Juxtpose presents Wu Kush
Australian DJ, remixer and producer Ennio Styles is the man behind the Heard and Felt label, pushing new pioneering talent such as Juxtpose, Cy Gorman and his own 'Stylin'' compilations which broadenb the canvass. Here, Melbourne producer Juxtpose revives his Wu Kush nom-de-guerre with an extended player of hybrid Techno, Industrial and mechanical Funk. 'RD1Q' lands instantly with a keyboard riff that drives a busy flood of synth-washes and beats, supported by a rhythm pattern of early-'80s TR-808 territory rather than that of prototype House. A certain grower. 'RD3Q' is the forgotten child of 1982: its vocorder loop, sparse drum program and arpeggiated lines would feel at home alongside Man Parrish of that time.
Heard and Felt's head honcho himself finds time to remix with a melting pot of Electro Funk, Techno, and Boogie via arpeggiated synthesisers, curt drum programming, keyboard stabs, claps and a tasteful solo as it heads down the home-straight. Rounding off the collection is the to-the-point vignette,'RD4Q', Out briefly for free then via Bandcamp (album cover links).
Anneli Drecker-Revelation for Personal Use
...and for many, what a revelation this album will be. A recording artist since the late 1980s, Anneli left her native Norway to start a fascinating musical journey via her band Bel Canto through fellow explorers Jah Wobble, DJ Krush and the Cocteau Twins, to name only a few. Here, from the outset, the opening bars of 'Blue Evening' arouse instant curiosity of where the 8 detours will take her this time. On this follow up to 'Rocks and Straws', she soars on the wings of wonderful compositions and the translated poetry of cult poet Arvind Hanssen. Perhaps the best album Kate Bush never released - in the texture of Anneli's voice, sonority and song stucture, the delights range from power of the Arctic Philharmonic string section's purpose on 'Days' to the stripped simplicity of our protagonist's voice and piano lines on 'Snow'. Simply breathtaking. Out on Rune Grammofon in May 2017.
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Llorca-The Garden (EP)
Ludovic Llorca began recorded life back in 1994, making many stops along the way, including 2020vision, Freerange and 3 EPs on Laurent Garnier's F Communications label, including a big-selling debut album, 'Newcomer'. Up to date, after commanding the spectrum of Electronica since then, it is into Soul and Funk in which he heads.
Beginning in the major key on the feel-good 'You', clocking in at under 3 minutes,
German Soul stalwart, Georg Levin then delivers a perfect, unassuming and laconic vocal on 'Allright', a track that contains the essential ingredients of a modern minimal Soul track. It is the string riffs, simple chorus-repetition and mood, however, that makes 'Waiting' the trophy winner of this EP, as it skips along at 98bpm, building to the fade. The final track of this fabulous quartet is more buoyant: pacey Funk-leaning R'n'B, feeling more Minneapolis in essence. A strong lead vocal, supported by equivalent harmonies and synth patterns. Out on the Must Have/Membran label next week.
Simon Law (feat. Caron Wheeler)-Morning Love
The man known as the 'Funky Ginger' back in his prolific songwriting heyday re-ignites a bit of Soul magic on this taster for his new LP. In the late '80s, throughout the '90s, Mr Law was among a select few British songwriters in high demand, producing a winning, classy Soulful R'n'B formula incorporating renowned artists like Chanté Moore, James 'JT' Taylor, Johnny Gill and many others. With this new release, the quality has not diminished. Simon welcomes back Soul II Soul cohort Caron Wheeler for an unassuming vocal on this splendid, melodic opening single. Out next week on Dome Records.
The first impression of this feature-length set, is one of an already established artist in the prime of his career. Following on from the recent successes of Aloe Blacc and (closer to home) Michael Kiwanuka, Mr Culpepper strikes, primarily, as a good songwriter with the voice to bring out the best in them. There are eight tracks within, stressing the various elements of Soul music. The string-rich opener, 'John's Tortoise' composed and spoken by John Agard, sets out the diversity to follow, accompanied by Mr Culpepper's guitar: 'Don't Mean I'm in Love' (perhaps, marginally, the LP's highlight) comes on a late '90's Neo-Soul approach while the pacey 'My Father's Son' (hinting at Drum & Bass in its drum programming) is a unique delight as Joel display's his wide vocal range on a personal message piece. 'Mr and Mrs Brown' and 'Far from Your Average' are deep-roots Soul of the highest order; the former concluding with a rousing children's chorus - the latter with John-Barry-like orchestral manoeuvres. An album to rival the very best of the last decade - from D'Angelo's 'Black Messiah' to Frank Ocean's 'Channel Orange'. Watch it appear in a few end-of-year lists too. Out soon on Reconstruct Music Recordings.
Anja Schneider-Changes (EP)
Mobilee Records' boss has been burning some of that nocturnal oil they talk about over the last year, as the new long-player approaches, landing again with some of the best straight-ahead Techno. These days, Berliner Anja is undoubtedly one of the key figures in the genre, exemplified, here, by the sinue of this Detroit-influenced title cut of the new EP,'Changes'. A moody builder that progresses in all its layers: from the tight reverb of its bassline to the feint vocal effects and persistent close hi-hats. Running a close second is its companion, 'Coast Ride', also travelling for over 7 minutes, waxing and waning at 124bpm for more lights-down tension.
Richard Spaven (feat. Jordan Rakei)-The Self
The return of in-demand drummer Richard Spaven results in some extra-ordinary future Soul music. Welcoming Australian Jordan Rakei's upper-tenor voice to the stage, 'The Self' is a profound and far-reaching composition, driven over 5 minutes by the complex syncopation of Richard's expansive drumming: a bubbling undercurrent, fittingly complementing innovator Mr Rakei's delivery. This is the kind of song that will raise higher the current level of the global, pioneering Soul-related scene; populated by artists of the mould of Ben Westbeech, Fatima and Fat Freddy's Drop.
As for the man himself, Mr Spaven has been stamping his mark on New Zealander Mark De-Clive Lowe's live performances, Bulgarian, Ruth Koleva's leftfield Electronic Soul and British Broken-Beat/Drum 'n' Bass champions 4Hero (to name but a few) since the early millennium. The Harvey Mason of his generation. It is with much impatience that we will wait for the full-length release after this offering, due out on 23rd June.