Stee Downes-All Over the World (EP)
It's been a while since Dubliner Stee Downes, arrived on the scene on Sonar Kollektiv: 'Put a Little Love in Your Soul', 'Disciples' and 'A Need for Something Else' included on the 'All in a Day' album in 2008. An in-demand vocalist and collaborator in the meantime, 2016 finds the Berlin label teasing us with an EP in advance of 'The Bigger Picture'.
Holding one of those hard-to-miss voices, much like contemporary Jamie Woon, Blue-eyed Soul provides the foundation. Positivity abounds throughout the melody on the title cut with Soul-Boogie-era as the chosen route. Late night clubbing for the more mature audience is the feel on the darker, deeper House of 'Always on My Mind'. 'Big Mistake' would be at home in the leftfield 1980's of groups like Talk Talk: no mistake if this crosses over.
Out on now with the full collection to follow.
Henri-Pierre Noël-The Reflex Revisions
The irrepressible remixer, re-editor and master stem hunter hits the controls for the Wah Wah 45s label. Bringing adopted Canadian Henri's original vintage to life over the last few years, the label have now rounded up some of The Reflex's re-workings on this soon-to-be-released 4-track bundle.
Henri's 1979 interpretation of Saturday Night Fever's 'A Fifth of Beethoven', and his Oscar Peterson-like percussive piano playing, was discovered, unreleased, in the archives and has become a must for DJ's record boxes. The Reflex emphasises the kick, snare and hi-hats to give it the feel of his recent reworking of Stevie Wonder's 'Don't Make Me Wait' . Of the same year 'Diskette' flew straight out of the blocks on bongos, tight drums and into that now-familiar vibrant pliano. This treatment breathes a little more air into those drums, extending the intro as the bass guitar struts. 1980's follow up LP, 'One More Step', is represented by 'Back Home...Sweet Home' and the frantic 130bpm of 'Funky Spider Dance'.
All together for the first time, this gem is released at the end of April
Appreciate? Try Venezuelan Daniel Grau's works from the same period, revived by Sonar Kollektiv.
Frenk Dublin-Time to Fall, Babylon (EP)
The Dubstep Rotterdam label co-founder Frenk Dublin moves out front once again on a new 3-track EP.
The title piece contains all the ingredients of the genre: 1/2 step rhythms, sparing reverb, bouncing low-end and plenty of space within the half-step rhythms. 'Pula' takes the key of 'Time...' and pushes the tempo up to the 140bpm mark, marching alongside its bass drum: enough bottom to make the cones nervous.
'Steppin' the Light' heads off in a Dub direction until it presses the accelerator, fills in the gaps and heads into Techno territory. Innovative and varied, you can also find the 'Danger Dub' EP from Frenk out now look forward to more from a progressive label.
Tuxedomoon-Half-Mute (Give Me New Noise - Reworks)
Released during one of the most creative eras in music history, this 1980 debut captured the 'No-Wave' freedom of post-Punk music. Made up of trio, Steven Brown, Blaine Reininger and Peter Principle, it is the Crammed Discs label who have brought this back to life, 36 years on. A melting pot where the sounds of the likes of Arthur Russell, James Chance and the Yellow Magic Orchestra collide.
As part of this commemoration, life-long fan Philippe Perreaudin set about bringing ten artists together to re-interpret the LP on 'Give Me New Noise'. Diversity ranging from British composer, Simon Fisher Turner, taking on album opener; a David Bowie, 'Low' era approach to the emptiness of 'Nazca'; the minimal Punk-Funk on '59 to 1' keeps the walking bass and places an undercurrent of 'radio transmission' within. Philippe himself brings his band Palo Alto to the gathering: a new recording of Mr Brown's stripped, hypnotic sax plays alongside drum machine and bare synths.
Enjoy a piece of avant-garde music history,beautifully presented in your chosen listening form.
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Mop Mop-Lunar Love
'Catholic', in its non-religious sense, may be one of the better words to describe Italian Andrea Benini's approach to his Mop Mop project. This 12-track suite welcomes back British/Trinidadian Anthony Joseph: poet and spoken-word master, Parisian vocalist Wayne Snow and a crack quintet, including drummer Benini himself. The hang drum and marimba are prominent players in this, a fifth LP, opening with a reflective vignette involving Christoph Matenaers and Max Castlunger's steel drum on 'Alfa'. 'Adhara' follows on for a Mulatu Astatke, Ethiopian-style trip. Mssrs Joseph and Benini combine again on 'Spaceship: Earth' opening suite #2 for a slice of minimalism, followed by the Reggae-leaning 'Lunar Love' pushing a laid-back melody, led by saloon-bar piano and Moog synth. 'Habibi' rides a stubborn groove under an unrestricted vibraphone before the 'Close Encounters' chapter begins with the collection's highlight, 10' of 'Plato'; comfortably allowing the Balafon, rhythm section and piano to converse. Evidence in abundance that a 'Best of 2016' appearance would be reasonable. Out soon on Agogo Records.
David August-J. B. Y./Ouvert
A wave of intense and euphoric atmosphere signals the arrival of David August on Ninja Tune offshoot, Counter Records. Reminiscent of Bonobo's N.T. output and that of James Blake, this is instrumental electronica at its peak. Marching over 5 minutes to its destination at 95bpm, the beats fade to the desolate notes of a saloon-bar piano. 'Ouvert', named after the complex, German card game 'Skat', rides on a Michael Jackson-like 'They Don't Care About Us' drum program before taking off into stuttering, forceful percussion and arpeggiated melody. Two bookends make this an important single. Out now.
Liquid Phonk-Was it Love (EP)
Compost Records reach #131 of their Black Label series. With a focus on the sophisticated side of Soulful House, German duo Liquid Phonk provide a couple of potential summer stormers. Leading off with 'Throw Your Hands', staking its claim as the best of the bunch, 120bpm of well-arranged layers build to delightful synth chords and a big vocal chorus.
'Was it Love' gets treatments from Compost favourite John Gazoo, creating a stuttering, Toby Tobias-like Cosmic Disco feel as acoustic guitar scat sounds weave in and out.
Henry L & Ingo Sänger go direct. Smooth hi-hats, rumbling bass synths, claps and an arpeggiated synth line as they take a 'chamber' approach to the vocals.
The original offers a multi-tone wooden block sound right down the middle: 3 1/2 minutes further on, a euphoric, baritone vocal arrives with simple piano chords perfect timing. Much to enjoy over this quartet.
Andy Richardson's Sunwalker project lands on this taster for the LP proper. As the inspiration behind the band and a pedigree of working with Omar and Don-E, he has gathered A-list vocalists to add their own experience to the mix. Lauren Johnson features on opener 'End of the World': a glistening piece of upbeat, dancefloor Soul over a pacey nuance of Drum'n'Bass. 'Shark Infested' and 'Gecko' bring plucking bass, rhythm guitar and Funk to punchy Soulful House as Katie Leone, Lifford and Caroline Harrison take centre stage.
'The Wolves' is a more synocopated affair while 'Arrow of Desire' sits in a '80's-leaning minimal R'n'B vein: the outstanding composition here. Finishing off with the synthesised layers of 'Float Away', Lifford's harmonies, the icing. Out on the Splash Music label now.
Nubiyan Twist-Siren Song (EP)
Joy exudes from the very first notes of this new EP. Nubiyan Twist return with their second outing amid much support for their debut. 'Siren Song' finds this 12-piece outfit winding in and out of powerful Afrobeat, Ska and Soul with complete ease.
The blistering rhythm and horn sections get the freedom to express themselves with a virtuoso piano excursion, on the extended workout of 'Him Himself' which would feel at home on one of the Kuti scion's albums. 'Crocodile' is bass and horn-led, nasty Herbie Hancock Funk. Nubiya Brandon's heartfelt vocals fit comfortably with the eclectic stylings on offer - whether singing or through spoken word. This is especially evident on the beautiful EP highlight 'Work House Mode', heading into Robert Glasper territory with its accompanying grand piano. Nubiyan Twist fill a niche of Nigerian-flavoured music, of which currently only Canada's Souljazz Orchestra inhabit. Out on Wormfood on 6th May.