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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.

The Brothers Nylon-Bitches Cold Brew

Part 'No-Wave' era James Chance and the Contortions, thrown in with the comic Funk of the Cuban Brothers, and topped off with a touch of Frank Zappa and mid-1970s Roy Ayres - this is a good time to release such avant (and post) garde, all-embracing music. Michael and Nick Rufolo from New York take charge of rhythm, strings and horns whilst London-based master-of-all-trades, Shawn Lee does the same on guitars, keys and percussion, completing the trio. Herein is another collection of ten songs of splendid composition and serious musicianship, counter-weighed by humorous lyrics and contrasting vocal deliveries: nowhere better exemplified on the Middle-Eastern Funk-Rock of 'Selfie Stick'. The madness begins with 'Khaleesi' as Funk drips through the middle of a frantic Larry Graham-like vocal from Shawn. A unique stamp of alternative Soul fills (just about) the best piece from the genre you may hear in 2017 on the album via 'All Man Milk'. 'Cous Cous' sets up as a piece of reflection before a sudden change in mood and purpose. Signing us off is the extended departure of 'Rockwell Welch' from string-led instrumental Soul to  swingtime rhythm and back to laconic beats and melodic treats. The climax of the year so far. Out now.

Morgan Heritage-We Are/Ready for Love

Membran Records provides the stage for this Grammy Award-winning Reggae family on two new, upfront songs, drawing from the Roots template. Morgan Heritage are over the 25-year point of their activity and celebrate their longevity with this release of modern Reggae: a fusion of influences they call 'Rockaz'. First off is 'We Are', featuring two of the genre's future champions, Kabaka Pyramid and Dre Island : a revolutionary message that trots along at 83bpm, using subtle Rave-programmed synth stabs in support. 'Ready for the Love' is the fun side . Featuring R. City, it is the polar opposite and comfortably sits with the best of Lovers Rock. It sounds destined to become a future standard. Don't miss out on the full-length episode, 'Avrekadabra'.

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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.

Thidius-Mention Nothing

The opening bars of Izzy Risk's enticing and acrobatic voice; the minor chords of a Rhodes piano and Ed Bernez's rolling drums welcome the new single from South London quintet Thidius. Parachuting into music through the EP 'Rush You', in 2014, this is a real band - of the Acid Jazz-era 'Mother-Earth' kind - representing their own melting-pot of Jazz-leaning Folk and Funk while factoring in the irresistible lines of George Risk's Santana-like guitar and James Wilson's tough bass (now in the hands of Tom  Driessler). Confirmation of a great song is in the coda which, here, lacks nothing: formidable to the core. A song built to make an impact beyond cult, make way for a class act for 2017, part two. Out now.

Tuxedo-Thank You

It was only at the end of March that the 'Tuxedo II' collection arrived. So soon after comes 'Thank You, released as part of a limited batch of 45rpm vinyl for Record Store Day; now made available digitally from Stones Throw Records. Re-iterating the prodigious output of Soul favourite, Mayer Hawthorne (on the back of five long players  over that number of years), he reunites with Jake One for this sub-3-minute Funk.  A delightful soupcon stirs the memories by paying direct homage to the early through mid 1980s, referencing a selection from a time of exceptional musical fertility - ranging from Switch and Zapp to master of the remix from that era, John Morales. Analogue bass synths, punchy, riffed horns and harmonies complete the circle. Out now.

Appreciate? Try Lakeside's 'Fantastic Voyage' : New York Skyy's 'Let's Celebrate'.

Floating Points-Silurian Blue

The next chapter in the musical life of Sam Shepherd finds him stepping beyond the Jazz-inspired soundscapes of recent times. His arrival into recorded music,  delivering a prolific number of singles and EPs for approaching ten years, has straddled Broken Beat, 2-Step, Deep House, Orchestral Soul and Experimental Electronica.

Mr Shepherd has now produced a 27-minute film entitled 'Reflections - Mojave Desert' which features all-new material, of which 'Silurian Blue' is the first to be showcased. What of this very single then? Those grand atmospheric highs that he has reached for since introducing the Ensemble and through the first full LP 'Elaenia', are present. The synthesised touches and Rhoodes flourishes are accompanied by Mahavishnu Orchestra-like guitar this time, adding a new dimension to his sound. The drums fizz busily underneath on a piece that rises, dips and soars again like a bird of prey having achieved its objective.

The film is due for release on David Byrne's Luaka Bop and Mr Shepherd's Pluto label on 30th June.

 

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Jimpster-Silent Stars

After recently celebrating that momentous occasion that is a 20th anniversary, it is with considerable pleasure that a new album arrives from Freerange Records' -this time, it's the boss, Jamie Odell. It is quite some time since the early years of eye-opening dancefloor explorations through avenues such as the Audiomontage moments. This is indeed Deep: this is House and much beyond. On his seventh collection, Mr Odell lifts the level of 2013's 'Porchlight and Rocking Chairs' for an eclectic set sonic vistas and warm melodies back-to-back with deep dancefloor goodness and potential undergound summer anthems. Over 12 tracks (and a bonus iTunes cut if you're eligible), just a couple of listens are needed to remind that it was that good the first time. The hefty floorfillers are felt by 'Power of the Doof', 'Yansa' and the irresistible, metaphorical 'Crave' - led by the superb vocal of Florence Rawlings. 'Migrations' provides more of the Jazz element on a Rhodes riff/loop, taking us back to the best of the Nu-jazz era à la Bugge Wesseltoft.

This quality aside, perhaps it is the reflective moment provided on the stripped-Soul of 'Everytime' that claims the ultimate prize, enhanced, once again, by the beautifully-weighted voice of Ms Rawlings. If Bonobo's 'Migration' album makes a run for '17's best Electronic album, this will be in close proximity. Out now.

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