Hector Plimmer-Bossa B (Remixes)
Following a stellar twelve months for Mr Plimmer and his label, Albert's Favourites, Hector follows up the March release of his lauded LP 'Sunshine' with a pair of corking remixes. An album that embraces elements that includes Future Soul, world rhythms and Trip Hop, fulfils a few years of quality productions and releases, including an appearance on Gilles Peterson's Brownswood Bubblers #11. One of 'Sunshine's' picks is this military-drum-led slice of instrumental simplicity. Co-label head, Dave Koor, provides the first remix under the moniker Deoke, giving it a straight, low-key kick drum, before bringing in the digital drum-rolls and sparse hats. Adding a few extra synth touches to support Hector's keyboard patterns, Koor takes this one in and out over 7 minutes. One half of the team that includes Max Graef, Glenn Astro flies on a minor Rhodes adventure bringing the Jazz to a Tech-House approach. Moody late-night business for the freshly mature. Out now.
Another coup from Ninja Tune - perhaps the signing of the year, based on the evidence so far. Hailing from that fertile ground of New Zealand: acts like Fat Freddy's Drop, Recloose and Mark de Clive-Lowe, who set the standard, now have a new member. A 2014 EP 'Groove Curse' gave us 'Add the Bassline' - a 2' Rhodes riff of deep Neo-Soul leading to the debut LP, 'Cloak' (also on the Soul Has No Tempo imprint). Seemingly, already the finished article. Vocally, falling mellifluously between vocal registers, comparisons with compatriot Joe Dukie are inevitable. Onwards to 'Sorceress' and it is stripped guitar arpeggios and busy, syncopated, drumming that form the backbone as Jordan's voice is shadowed by harmonies.
"It’s about how the ego can fully control the way you act and perceive life," is how he describes the song. Short and on point, this serves as a guide to the outerreacches of Soul and its cousins that we can impatiently anticipate in the near future.
Mulatu Astatke-Mulatu of Ethiopia
If only having a superficial knowledge of continental African music, the name 'Mulatu' would likely be one of those that arose: a reason for that may well be this seminal 1972 album. Transcending its era, it is thanks to long-time Astatke supporters Strut Records that 'Mulatu in Ethiopia' returns, re-released in both stereo and mono forms from Gil Snapper's Worthy Records. The vibraphonist's travels took him to the UK then onto the US, where he strove to adapt the hypnotic jumps in intervals of the pentatonic scale, to his Berklee College music education. It led to this collection's birth taking place in New York where Mulatu recorded the seven tracks herein. 'Mulatu' opens the expedition with a typically undulating melody before the diversity then nods towards Brazil's Bossa Nova on 'Mascaram Setaba'. It is tranches of Free-Jazz, sandwiched unexpectedly between the longer phrases of breezy, captivating swinging Jazz, dictated by the tenor sax spearheading an inspired horn section. With elements of sound-of-the-times Funk being part of the approach, it is with impatient anticipation that we are reminded of a monumental recording. Out now.
Songs of hope, reflection and opinion from the core of Africa. This brand new collection from Namibia's leading songsmith follows his recognition by Radio France as the International Discovery of the Year in 2012. Soon to be released on the ARC Music label, Elemotho has produced a beauty here, sung in English and his native Setswana languages. Opening with a thumb piano ostinato on 'Ga lo itse' (We Don't Know), the table is set for the journey to follow: Naita Hishoono's soul-bearing poem recital provides the vocal company. 'Black Man' arrives as a symbol for the sub-Saharan continent; a chant-infused message for the ages that will resonate beyond borders. There is even time for a full expression of the Blues - and with considerable force - on the anthemic 'Coming': a plea to a lover in no uncertain terms. The fingersnaps provide room for the acoustic guitar and a blistering working by Samuel Batola on the electric. The call-and-response of 'Viva' is a Reggae-tinged jam leading up to a memorable chorus with much potential commercial appeal, 'Remember'. Elemotho signs off with a plea to avoid media influence in forming prejudice, drawing a close to an LP of consummate brilliance, honesty, untainted emotion and musicianship that will shine beyond the year-end best-of lists.
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Gaby Hernandez-Stay a While (EP)
Sweet cross-genre soulful music from the City of Angels. The second extended player in quick succession gives more than a glimpse of what is to follow on Build-an-Ark Member Ms Hernandez's 3rd LP, 'Spirit Reflection'. The title song highlights minimal electric piano riffs, Gaby's Astrud Gilberto-like vocal delivery, a horn section that includes co-songwriter and jazz heavyweight, saxophonist, Kamasi Washington.'Super Nova Lover' keeps it stripped to shuffling percussive basics (complemented by Beady Belle/Jamie Cullum's 'Intermission Music' from a few years ago).
Ethereal harmonies, led by Gaby's confident, dreamy melodic voice, are at the forefront of 'Windwaves' before the güiro leads a Cha-Cha rhythm on the delightful 'Baobab Tree', completing a satisfying quartet.
As if further reassurance is needed, take a diversion towards the first four-track taster, including the popular, atmospheric 'Entranced'. Mr Bongo records plays the host.
Writing from the northern hemisphere, most years require evidence that Spring has actually sprung.
This year, the barometer that it has is provided by the abundance of high-quality music that has dovetailed with the arrival of daffodils. Jointly top of that list is undoubtedly Berlin label Sonar Kollektiv's re-emergence as a serious player in the field of Electronic Soul.
A first for Sonar Kollektiv, by the Belgian songstress began with the aptly-entitled single 'Season's Change'. A mature vignette of heartfelt, Broken-Beat Soul. Accompanying it on this project are 11 others representing all that is great about Jazz and Soul-infused songs. Echoes of Jill Scott's tone and delivery can be heard in places - particularly on the pulsating, snare-drum/synth-led sassiness of track 'Hunger' alongside the exquisite mid-tempo R'n'B of 'Slowly'. The light-Bossa rhythm behind 'Ashamed' allows Aku to express deep lyrics in tandem with sweet acoustic guitar riffs. 'Flight & Fall' is the 'desert island' piece of the collection. Ms Aku has pulled in some cross-cultural heavyweights like Bram Weijters, Maximoe & Potatohead People for a diverse Soul
album that will likely standabove most else this year.
Lee Burridge and Lost Desert-Loopyness (EP)
Beginning with a summary, this triple-pronged attack is, put succinctly, irresistible, sun-drenched Deep World House goodness. Released on Lee's 'All Day I Dream' label, this carries on the standard most recently set by 'Lingala', out at the end of 2016 and featuring the voice of DR of Congo's Junior.
The title cut can almost be seen as a perfect companion to 'Lingala'. It is an instrumental: a builder that offers both bareness and warmth through the percussive elements of the conga and shaker holding strong with a pulsating, three-chord riff. Unexpectedly, electric guitar enters the rhythm during proceedings. Its ten-minute duration just does not seem sufficient.
'Botanic' transfixes dancing feet over 120bpm on a hypnotic, simple leit-motif while '12CC' is pure escapism throughout its 8 1/2 minutes, tinged with the tones of sub-Saharan Africa. Mr Burridge and Lost Desert have yet to produce anything that is not captivating. Out now.
Bonobo-Bambro Koyo Ganda (feat. Innov Gnawa)/Samurai
The man is rather prolific. In the midst of a sell-out worldwide tour and in quick succession to his 6th collection 'Migration', we are treated to an 'Analog remix' of album cut 'Bambro..' which features New York City-based Moroccan's, Innov Gnawa. Stripped back to a hypnotic chant in local tongue, handclaps and arpeggiated keyboards; the marriage of African Soul and Carl Craig-like Techno is consummated. A frantic, percussive frenzy sees out its unstoppable run to the finishing line. 'Samurai' is the new piece, recorded as part of the 'Migration' LP but eventually omitted. A vocal loop (redolent of earlier works such as 'Cirrus') provides the roots of a definitive Bonobo sound for recent times.
Simon Green continues to expound the virtues of all-embracing uncompromising, unclassifiable music. He remains a beacon to contemporaries and the next generation alike. Out now.
Dwight Trible- Inspirations
There is currently reference on this page to one of the 'signings of the year'; another now joins the list with haste.
Dwight Trible has joined Matthew Halsall's Gondwana Records for a series of standards, chosen by both and given a unique twist with the support of the Gondwana Orchestra.
A man blessed with a baritone voice brims with bare soul that could reduce the most stoic of characters to tears. He has been spoiling us with his gift for many years, whether it be as part of Build an Ark or colloborating with DJ Carlos Nino with the Life Force Trio. For this eight-track collection on the Manchester-based label, Mr Trible pays tribute to some of the songs that have shaped him. Burt Bachcarach's 'What the World Needs Now' is a heart-wrenching plea, wringing his soul to the backing of a band at the peak of their powers. (Matthew Halsall's trumpet features prominently here and most of the others.) Donny Hathaway's 'Tryin' Times' continues the pattern, giving Dwight plenty of room to deliver the message. 'Dear Lord' is incredibly spiritual: that voice and Trible's own lyrics bolster Coltrane's original with Matthew's patient playing helping it home. 'Feeling Good's has been often covered - but not like this. Modal Jazz bliss. 'Deep River' is stripped down to Dwight and Matthew: pianist Taz Modi supplies some of his very many flowing, grand-piano lines. This is a cover album beyond comparison, Dwight Trible is indeed a life-force with a voice and accompaniment taking Jazz and Soul comfortably onto the end-of-year lists. Out next week.