Sunday, 26 May 2019

Ursula Rucker ‎– Supa Sista (2001)

Style: Breaks, Downtempo, Experimental, Conscious
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Studio !K7

01.   In Her Elizabeth
02.   Womansong
03.   7
04.   Letter To A Sister Friend
05.   What???
06.   Digichant
07.   Philadelphia Child
08.   Supa Sista
09.   Brown Boy
10.   Spring
11.   1 Million Ways To Burn
12.   Song For Billy

Long term, prime exponent of the New York Slam poetry scene, Ursula Rucker has spent the last seven years working with some of the finest downtempo outfits including Silent Poets and The Roots. Whilst her talents have embellished their work from 1994 onwards, it is former musical partners 4Hero, Alexkid and King Britt who have returned the gesture and collaborated with her on this beautiful fusion of hip hop, nu-jazz and soul. 
Inspired by the social commentary of black female writers Zora Neale Hurston and Sonia Sanchez, Ursula Rucker has made it her mission to elevate the mind of hip hop and purify the art form. Like her previous work Supa Sista fixes Ursula's attentions firmly on the issues of sexuality, technology, women's rights, politics, education, evolution and spirituality. 
Unlike so many working in the business she is an engaged woman who knows the true power of words. Levelling criticism at some of her male contemporaries for the effects that the violence and machismo in their lyrics has on the young, she purrs, "... formidable minds pay the price for your microphone mistakes. Change or be changed. Break the chains, don't be slaves". 
Lazy beats with sweet soul soaked in Rhodes piano and double bass punctuation provide a wonderful, musical contrast to the often gritty subject matter. "Philadelphia Child" combines the city's trademark strings with tabla percussion whilst "What???" extends the variety to subtle drum and bass rhythms all of which compliment Ursula's vocals. 
Charged with 'she-lectricity', hers is a silken delivery that, like Michael Franti's, demonstrates that a quiet word in the ear can speak volumes above the microphone rant. Ursula is one that would like to see hip hop become more responsible and more original. This is a woman who is both a poet and performer with important things to say and with her smoky, seductive lyricism it is all too easy to listen and absorb.
Andy Puleston / BBC Review

VA ‎– Best Of Acid Jazz (1996)

Style: House, Acid Jazz, Contemporary Jazz, Garage House
Format: CD
Label: Global Television

1.01.   Us3 - Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)
1.02.   Jamiroquai - Space Cowboy
1.03.   The Brand New Heavies -Midnight At The Oasis (Radio Version)
1.04.   Incognito - Everyday (Bluey's 7" Mix)
1.05.   Freak Power - Turn On, Tune In, Cop Out (Radio Mix)
1.06.   Spearhead - People In Tha Middle
1.07.   Des'ree - Feel So High
1.08.   Digable Planets - Rebirth Of Slick (Cool Like Dat)
1.09.   Guru - Feel The Music
1.10.   Martine Girault - Been Thinking About You (Original Opaz Mix)
1.11.   Ronny Jordan - So What!
1.12.   Drizabone - Real Love (Nush Glamour Mix)
1.13.   The Brand New Heavies - Never Stop (Radio Edit)
1.14.   Urban Species - Spiritual Love (Natural 7")
1.15.   New Jersey Kings - Green Screen
1.16.   The James Taylor Quartet - Mission Impossible
1.17.   Omar - Keep Steppin'
1.18.   Vibraphonic - Heavy Vibes
1.19.   Leena Conquest & Hip Hop Finger - Boundaries (Radio Edit)
1.20.   Brooklyn Funk Essentials - Take The L Train (To 8th Avenue)
2.01.   Goldbug - Whole Lotta Love
2.02.   Young Disciples - Apparently Nothin' (Edit)
2.03.   Diana Brown & Barrie K Sharpe - Masterplan
2.04.   Corduroy - Something In My Eye
2.05.   Working Week - Venceremos
2.06.   Jhelisa - Whirl Keeps Turning (Radio Edit)
2.07.   The Brand New Heavies - Dream Come True
2.08.   D'Influence - Good Lover (Wow Original) (Dance Energy Edit)
2.09.   Repercussions - Promise Me Nothing (Album Version)
2.10.   Brooklyn Funk Essentials - The Creator Has A Masterplan
2.11.   D Note - Now Is The Time (Original Version)
2.12.   City Lix - Find Our Love
2.13.   Snowboy - 24 For Betty Page
2.14.   Corduroy - Follow That Arab
2.15.   This I Dig - Turn It All Around
2.16.   Xan - Watcha Gonna Do
2.17.   Groove Collective - Whatchugot
2.18.   TC 1992 - Funky Guitar (Sure Shot Deep Mix)
2.19.   Mother Earth - Jesse
2.20.   Carleen Anderson - Let It Last

Concept By, Compiled By – Nic Moran

Friday, 24 May 2019

Bob Dylan ‎– Highway 61 Revisited (1965)

Style: Folk Rock, Blues Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: CBS, Columbia

1.   Like A Rolling Stone
2.   Tombstone Blues
3.   It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry
4.   From A Buick 6
5.   Ballad Of A Thin Man
6.   Queen Jane Approximately
7.   Highway 61 Revisited
8.   Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues
9.   Desolation Row

Bass – Harvey Goldstein, Russ Savakus
Drums – Bobby Gregg
Guitar – Charlie McCoy, Michael Bloomfield
Organ, Piano – Al Kooper, Paul Griffin
Piano – Frank Owens
Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica, Piano– Bob Dylan
Written By – Bob Dylan
Producer – Bob Johnston, Tom Wilson

There’s been so much written and said about each and every one of Bob Dylan’s albums that it’s all too easy to wind-up lost in the vast, labyrinthine myths surrounding them. One of the biggest is the whole shock-of-the-new deal, otherwise known as the day the earth stood still when Dylan picked up a Stratocaster. It seems ludicrous now that there could be so much ballyhoo over his decision to play some tunes with a rock group, especially when, even by the standards of the day, it was fairly innocuous rock music at that. 
Still, escaping fundamentalists from whatever cult they belong to is no bad thing, and it was a newly-liberated Dylan, just days after his controversial appearance at Newport, who recorded Highway 61 Revisited with a rock band in tow. This is the point where Dylan planted both feet firmly on the ground that had been partially turned on 1965’s Bringing It All Back Home, and started digging in. It’s easy to overlook the testy brilliance of “Like A Rolling Stone “on account of its having been part of the musical furniture for the last forty years. Yet the fresh air and fresh ideas, whistling alongside Al Kooper’s soaring organ lines, all add up to this being a 100% classic with one of the great cutting vocal performances to date. 
Though comparatively muted at an instrumental level, the “Ballad Of A Thin Man” is no less mordant and biting a put-down. Not all imagery tucked up inside those increasingly florid lyrics plays well but there’s no mistaking the attitude jumping out of every last syllable. The abrasive scrape of his voice meets its match on the boisterous shuffle of “Tombstone Blues” with a spectacular guitar break from Mike Bloomfield ahead of the penultimate verse. 
To these ears at least, Dylan works best when he’s at his most concise. Though the purists may find sanctuary in the acoustic-only eleven minute-long “Desolation Row”, and regard any dissention as sacrilege, such verbosity drags slightly upon an invigorating collection of songs which takes things at a brisk pace. 
Sid Smith / BBC Review

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Jeremy Steig ‎– Wayfaring Stranger (1971)

Style: Soul-Jazz, Contemporary Jazz, Free Improvisation
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Real Gone Music, Blue Note

1.   In The Beginning
2.   Mint Tea
3.   Wayfaring Stranger
4.   Waves
5.   All Is One
6.   Space

Bass – Eddie Gomez
Drums – Don Alias
Engineer – Fred Weinberg, Jay Messina, Rich Mays
Flute – Jeremy Steig
Guitar – Sam Brown
Liner Notes – Pat Thomas
Producer – Sonny Lester
Remastered By – Kevin Bartley

In the very late 1970s – or perhaps it was the very early 80s; after so many years, I’m not entirely sure – I picked up a used copy of Lillian Roxon’s Rock Encyclopedia. I was (and remain) a voracious consumer of that kind of thing; not long after I became a rock fan, I became a fan of rock journalism. Roxon’s 1969 book was one of the first long-form serious treatments of rock music, and while it’s quite dated now, it remains an absolutely fascinating read. (Ed Naha‘s mid 70s update of the late Lillian Roxon‘s work is a disaster to be avoided, except in a compare-and-contrast sort of way.) 
Roxon made a point to include a number of bubbling-under artists, including several whom (at the time of the book’s first printing) hadn’t even released albums. Thus readers can learn about a new group “out of Detroit” (sic) called The Psychedelic Stooges. Another group that merits mention is a jazz-rock outfit (the hybrid was quite new and novel at the time) called Jeremy Steig and the Satyrs. Their sole album (a self-titled LP released in March 1968) is, in Roxon’s estimation, jazz aimed at a rock audience. Predictably, it didn’t shift major units and is largely forgotten (despite a small-label CD reissue in 2009). But Steig himself was then a fairly highly regarded jazz flautist, and he remains musically active today, now based in Japan. 
A couple of years after the Satyrs LP, Steig released an album called Wayfaring Stranger (named after the traditional folk classic). As the liner notes in the album’s new reissue (on the estimable Real Gone Music label) explain, in those days Steig “was signed to a manager who tended to trade him around to record companies like a major league ball player,” and as a result he ended up on Blue Note for the 1970 album. 
Steig’s band is small and configured in a traditionally jazz-styled manner. Bassist Eddie Gomez was already quite well known as Scott LaFaro‘s replacement in The Bill Evans Trio, and Don Alias (drums) and guitarist Sam Brown were highly regarded in the jazz world as well, both with extensive pedigrees. 
“In the Beginning” is a spare piece in which Steig’s flute carries the tune, with subtle yet funky support from Gomez and Alias (if Brown is on the track at all, his contributions are minor). Toward the song’s fadeout, some vocalizing a la Ian Anderson works its way into Steig’s attack, though Pat Thomas‘ liner essay asserts that the then-new Jethro Tull wasn’t an influence upon Steig’s playing. Of course others (notably Rashaan Roland Kirk) used similar breath techniques. 
In some ways the vibe created within “In the Beginning” is continued in “Mint Tea.” While the band hits a bit harder – and Steig’s playing becomes more forceful – the tracks continues unfolding in a catchy/funky manner, but not one that will find listeners with a hook-laden melody stuck in their heads thereafter. 
Sam Brown’s electric guitar makes its first audible appearance on the title track, easily the most melodic and accessible of the record’s six tracks (it’s perhaps worth noting that the other five are either Stieg compositions or co-writes with Gomez). In the tried-and-true jazz tradition, Steig states the melody, and then restates it in mutated fashion, then more so, then he’s joined by countermelodic work from his cohorts. The track goes on some eleven minutes, but never fails to sustain interest; each player takes his turn to shine, albeit in a muted fashion. It would be a disservice to characterize this music as background music, but in a pinch it could serve that function quite well. 
Things take a welcome turn toward the funky with “Waves,” in which Gomez’s upright bass takes a more prominent role; the counterpoint between his assertive yet subtle acoustic playing and Steig’s breathy, precise flute work is a highlight of the record; Alias’ drumming – with plenty of subtle snare and cymbal work — makes it even better. 
The lengthy “All is One” builds from a spare Steig solo showcase into something punctuated by Gomez’s moody bass plucking. Five-plus minutes in, Steig adopts a more fluid, lyrical style, while Gomez plucks way ominously (Brown and Alias are wholly absent on this track). Eight minutes or so along, Steig blows what might most accurately be called psychedelic flute. 
Wayfaring Stranger wraps up with “Space” (as with most Real Gone Music reissues of forgotten/lost treasures, there are no bonus tracks on the CD reissue). Gomez takes up the bow and plays his bass like a cello, playing higher on the neck, well up into the treble range. The result is a lovely (if melancholy) duet between the bassist and Steig. The musical dialogue between the to truly feels like a conversation, and is perhaps the most evocative piece on the album. (Evocative of what, you can decide.) Toward its end, “Space” gets truly weird in an avant-garde kind of way, perhaps presaging Steig’s work with Yoko Ono a mere year later, on her Fly LP. 
Bill Kopp / Musoscribe

Jeremy Steig ‎– Howlin' For Judy (2008)

Style: Soul-Jazz, Contemporary Jazz, Free Improvisation
Format: CD
Label: Blue Note

1.   Howlin' For Judy
2.   Mint Tea
3.   Alias
4.   Waves
5.   In The Beginning
6.   Nardis
7.   Permutations

Bass – Eddie Gomez
Drums, Percussion – Don Alias
Flute  – Jeremy Steig
Producer – Sonny Lester
Reissue Producer – Michael Cuscuna

"Howlin' for Judy" is flutist Jeremy Steig's best-known track, thanks to the Beastie Boys' use of a sample from it in "Sure Shot." As the title track for this collection, it marks new chapter in Blue Note's Rare Groove series. This seven-track set is compiled from two different albums: 1969's Legwork, which appeared on Solid State, and 1970's Wayfaring Stranger on Blue Note itself -- both of which were originally produced by the great Sonny Lester. Blue Note's Michael Cuscuna produced this collection by paring down the original albums to just the tracks that featured the trio of Steig, bassist Eddie Gomez, and drummer Don Alias. Why? In order to maximize its groove quotient; Legwork had its share of duo cuts and Wayfaring Stranger had some that featured a quartet with guitar. That said, the previous outings were quite adventurous in places: they contained various blues, ostinato workouts, and more ponderous numbers, too. Cuscuna pruned away until only the deeply funky, beat-driven trio tracks remained. That said, there is plenty of adventure -- not just in the music, but in its production: Steig was a fan of stereo separation and overdubbing techniques that were focused to maximize the rhythmic aspects of certain tracks. His own playing style is a great cross between Hubert Laws' more soulful technique and the dynamically rich and physically percussive aspects of Rahsaan Roland Kirk -- both rhythmically attuned players. While many are familiar with the title cut with its two-channel overdubbed bass and flute, far fewer punters know Steig's wildly groove-drenched sound world from the era. What a treat! You are the person this compilation is directed at. 
Thom Jurek / AllMusic

Ricardo Saló (Séc XX:100 anos/100 discos)

RICARDO SALÓ (Um quarto pop com vista) 

  1. MILES DAVIS "The birth of cool"
  2. ELLA FITZGERALD "The Cole Porter songbook"
  3. MILES DAVIS "Kind of blue"
  5. OLIVER NELSON "The blues and the abstract truth"
  6. JOHN COLTRANE "Giant steps"
  7. JOHN COLTRANE "Live at Birdland"
  8. ERIC DOLPHY "Out to lunch"
  10. DIONNE WARWICK "The original soul of Dionne Warwick"
  11. PHIL SPECTOR "Back to mono"
  12. BEACH BOYS "Pet sounds"
  13. JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE "Are you experienced?"
  15. DR. JOHN "Gris gris
  16. THE BAND "Music from the big pink"
  17. MILES DAVIS "In a silent way"
  18. SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE "There's a riot going on"
  19. BOBBY HUTCHERSON "San Francisco"
  20. ALICE COLTRANE "Ptah, The El Daoud"
  21. MARVIN GAYE "What's going on"
  22. ARCHIE SHEPP "Attica blues"
  23. DAVID HOLLAND QUARTET "Conference of the birds"
  24. CAN "Tago mago"
  26. ROXY MUSIC "For your pleasure"
  27. FUNKADELIC "America eats its young"
  28. JAMES BROWN "The payback"
  29. MILTON NASCIMENTO "Milagre dos peixes"
  30. EDDIE HARRIS "I need some money"
  31. PARLIAMENT "Mothership connection"
  32. GIL SCOTT-HERON AND BRIAN JACKSON "The first minute of a new day"
  33. CURTIS MAYFIELD "There's no place like America today
  34. BRIAN ENO "Another green world"
  35. BURNING SPEAR "Marcus Garvey"
  36. HAROLD BUDD "The pavilion of dreams"
  37. DR. BUZZARD'S ORIGINAL SAVANNAH BAND "Dr. Buzzard's original savannah band
  38. KRAFTWERK "Trans europe express"
  39. STEELY DAN "Aja
  40. PERE UBU "Dub housing
  41. BURNING SPEAR "Social living"
  42. CHIC "Risqué"
  43. PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED "Second edition"
  44. HOLGER CZUKAY "Movies
  45. THE B-52'S "The B-52's
  46. SUICIDE "Suicide
  47. THE FEELIES "Crazy rhythms
  48. YOUNG MARBLE GIANTS "Colossal youth
  49. LINTON KWESI JOHNSON "Bass culture
  50. FELA KUTI & AFRIKA 70 "Coffin for head of state
  51. CURTIS MAYFIELD "Something to believe in
  52. FLYING LIZARDS "Flying lizards
  53. GRACE JONES "Nightclubbing
  54. TOM TOM CLUB "Tom tom club
  55. A CERTAIN RATIO "Sextet
  56. RIP RIG + PANIC "God
  57. LAURIE ANDERSON "Big science
  58. MARVIN GAYE "Midnight love
  60. TOM WAITS "Swordfishtrombones
  61. ARVO PART "Tabula rasa
  62. BLUE NILE "A walk across the rooftops
  63. SPECIAL A.K.A. "In the studio
  64. SADE "Diamond life
  65. VIOLENT FEMMES "Hallowed ground
  66. RAY LEMA "Medecine
  68. ANITA BAKER "Rapture
  69. SONIC YOUTH "Evol
  70. STEVE REICH "Sextet/six marimbas
  71. LEE SCRATCH PERRY & DUB SYNDICATE "Time boom x de devil dead
  72. SALIF KEITA "Soro
  73. ERIC B. & RAKIM "Paid in full
  74. PUBLIC ENEMY "It takes a nation of millions to hold us back
  75. SUN RA "Out there a minute
  77. WIRE "A bell is a cup until it is struck
  78. DE LA SOUL "3 feet high and rising
  79. SOUL II SOUL "Club classics vol.1
  80. MASSIVE ATTACK ''Blue lines
  81. A TRIBE CALLED QUEST "The low end theory
  82. MATERIAL "The third power
  83. THE DISPOSABLE HEROES OF HIPHOPRISY "Hypocrisy is the greatest luxury
  84. YOUSSOU N'DOUR "Eyes open
  85. UNITED FUTURE ORGANIZATION "United future organization
  86. JON HASSELL AND BLUESCREEN "Dressing for pleasure
  87. SANDALS "Rite to silence
  88. MC 900 FT. JESUS "Welcome to my dream
  89. V/A "Headz: A soundtrack of experimental hip hop jams
  90. ST GERMAIN "Boulevard
  91. COOL BREEZE "Assimilation"
  92. NIGHTMARES ON WAX "Smokers delight
  93. KARMA "Pad sounds
  94. SYLK 130 "When the funk hits the fan
  95. ROCKERS Hl Fl "Overproof
  96. WAIWAN "Distraction
  97. CRAZY PENIS Nice hot bath with crazy penis
  99. TOSCA "Suzuki
  100. CHARI CHARI "Spring to summer"  

Chari Chari ‎– Spring To Summer (2000)

Style: Abstract, Acid Jazz, Ambient
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Ultima Sounds, File Records

01.   Flow Dub Outta Borneo
02.   Spring Ocean (Smoker's Delight)
03.  Across The Universe
04.  The Sun Song
05.  Udu Spiral Monkey Dance
06.  Life In Flow Motion
07.  Solar-Pass
08. Buddha & Jewel
09.  We
10.   Ti Burung
11.   Subtropica
12.   Enter The Metal Circle

Kaoru Inoue aspired to be a DJ around the Nineties, being fully active playing diverse music such as House, Afro,Brazil, Latin, Break Beats, Jazz, Techno, etc, in his own distinctive style at various clubs in Tokyo. Apart from DJing, he also was producing songs and participated in a compilation album called 'LISTEN UP' (released from Universal Ape) in 1994. Taking advantage of this, he started his own musical project, CHARI CHARI. After his first opportunity of releasing his own production, he produced many songs for independent labels such as the UK label, PUSSYFOOT owned by HOWIE B. and EMIGRATION both at home and abroad as well as doing many remixes for these labels. In August1999, his first solo album, 'SPRING TO SUMMER' was released by File Records and received great reaction from inside and outside Japan specially from underground club music scene. 
This album was also released from the label, ULTIMA in Portugal to the world in January 2001.At the moment, he is participating in various kinds of parties around the world as a guest DJ and also producing songs for compilations such as 'BOSSA TRES JAZZ…'(YELLOW PRODUCTION in France) as well as doing remixes for many artists in the world for instance, Femi Kuti, NXS, Crue-l Grand Orchestra, OOIOO, Frankie Valentine, Soft, Buffalo Daughter, Calm, Port Of Notes , Arto Lindsay, Bebel Gilbert to name a few. In Jan. 2002, his 2nd album,'in time' was released from Toy's Factory Records in Japan. This album included the big hit song called 'Aurora' which was also featured recently on Deep & Sexy 2 mixed and compiled by Ron Trent released by Wave Music. This song was also supported by many DJs (Francois K., Danny Krivit, Joe Clausell, Jazzanova, etc.) from around the world. 
In 2003, he started his own label called 'Seeds and Ground' under the Japanese independent label, 'Crue-l Records'. He forms a band called Aurora with his production partner, DSK aka Daisuke Kojima. In this band, he plays guitar and in fall 2004, released their debut album, 'Flare' (SAGCD005). In summer 2005, with his real name, Kaoru Inoue, he produced a more dance oriented album which was a first for him called 'The Dancer' (SAGCD007). 
In March 2006, he releases under his own name, a very ambient-style in abundance, an album called 'Slow Motion' (ACCR10049) from the label, Rush! Production as well as another album with Aurora called 'Fjord' (SAGCD010) from seedsandground around the same period. He put out the mix CD titled "groundrhythm2" in late 2006. 
Kaoru Inoue periodically DJs as well. Holding residencies at Club Air for a regular party called 'groundrhythm' and at Unit called 'FLOATRIBE'. He regular DJs at a cross section of places whether it be inside or out. And recently, has been regularly playing live with his group, Aurora and a progressive live session band called 'Floatribe Live Session'.  
nebeski /

Tosca ‎– Suzuki (2000)

Style: Downtempo, Trip Hop
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label:  !K7 Records, G-Stone Recordings ‎

01.   Pearl In
02.   Suzuki
03.   Annanas
04.   Orozco
05. Busenfreund
06.   Honey
07.   Boss On The Boat
08.   John Tomes
09.   Ocean Beat
10.   The Key
11.   Doris Dub
12.   Pearl Off

Credits: Lead Vocals – Anna Clementi, Mike Daliot Written-By, Producer – Richard Dorfmeister, Rupert Huber

Tosca's second album Suzuki takes a lighter, airier approach to the trip-hop terrain that Opera explored. The spare, shimmering title track's delicate synth textures, minimal beats, mellow rhythms, and breathy vocal samples set the tone for the rest of the album's laid-back tracks. Though "Orozco," "Bass on the Boat," and "Ocean Beat" are more immediate variations on Tosca's relaxed sound, for the most part, Suzuki offers a locked groove of hypnotic, deeply chilled-out epics. 
Heather Phares / AllMusic

The Cinematic Orchestra ‎– Motion (1999)

Style: Future Jazz, Contemporary Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Ninja Tune, Form & Function, Toy's Factory

1.   Durian
2.   Ode To The Big Sea
3.   Night Of The Iguana
4.   Channel 1 Suite
5.   Blue Birds
6.   And Relax!
7.   Diabolus

Producer, Written-By – J. Swinscoe
Recorded By, Engineer – Jamie Finch

Exciting times, these! So what if the Messiah didn't turn up on the Eve of the New Millennium? What do we need some sandled beardy-weirdy for, anyway? Less than two full months into 2000, we got Primal Scream's Molotov incendiary device, Exterminator, which resurrected the emaciated, once-revolutionary specters of the Stooges and the MC5, and stomped dusted-up beats all over them. Brill! 
The rollover of the century also saw avant-jazz taking on electronica and offering us the hope that smooth jazz wasn't the end of the road for that great tradition. Compare Autechre's LP5 with Elliot Sharpe's Errata and you'll be gobsmacked by the similarities and the friendly rivalries. Shit, what if Jelly Roll Morton and King Oliver had had PowerBooks and CuBase rather than rusty trombones and bordello pianos? What freaky shit we'd be listening to now! What if John Coltrane...? Or Ornette Coleman...? 
The Cinematic Orchestra (aka J. Swinscoe) is coming from the other angle. He's a veteran electronica producer taking on jazz. And unlike Sharp's ripping up of conventions, Swinscoe's hung up on admiration. Motion is nothing less than a beat-driven tribute to Miles Davis' collaborations with third stream arranger/composer Gil Evans. Those 50's records (Sketches of Spain, Quiet Nights, Miles Ahead, for example) threw away the hard-bop rulebook and attempted to find a third path between the irreverence of jazz and the academics of the classical tradition. Davis had already expressed that interest when his nonet recorded The Birth of the Cool, but the idea was fully realized on his recordings with Gil Evans.

Swinscoe obviously adores the glowing discords and the curious harmonies of "Saeta" (from Sketches of Spain) and he's built Motion around them. Rather than using a sampler to do all the work, he's pulled together a small band and let his drum machine contribute the beats. 
The opening track, "Durian," incorporates a sample of Nina Simone's heart-wrenching rendition of "Strange Fruit" and builds the close brass harmonies to a forceful climax. "Diabolus" takes a different approach to the same end and closes with an almost ambient coda. However, Motion is ironically rigid. The hip-hop beats aren't sufficient to overcome Swinscoe's reverence for the tradition he cops from. Too often the flow is ponderous and self-conscious. 
If Swinscoe had allowed his musicians the freedom of a true blowin' session, Motion could have been a signal moment in the much-needed dialog between the electronic and jazz avant-gardes. Instead, the album simply restates the obvious, however beautifully. The revolution will not be held in a trendy coffee bar and Jesus won't return until he's sure that there's some kick-ass music down here to soundtrack his second coming and the destruction of all those whining bastards who've been bothering his poor, defenseless father for centuries. 
Paul Cooper / Pitchfork

Crazy Penis ‎– A Nice Hot Bath With... (1999)

Style: Deep House, Downtempo, Funk, Disco, Acid Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Paper Recordings

1.   Starwar
2.   Do It Good
3.   3 Play It Cool
4.   Omega Man
5.   Smoothin' Groovin'
6.   I Am Love
7.   Mambo
8.   A Little Something
9.   Drop Your Weapon

Bass, Guitar – Crazy Penis
Keyboards, Bass – Tim Davies
Keyboards, Horns – Crazy Penis
Written-By, Producer, Arranged By – Chris Todd, James Baron, Tim Davies

Beginners expecting a dancefloor dominatrix in the likes of Lords of Acid may not be satisfied with the laidback jazz-house grooves of Crazy Penis, though the slightly sampledelic bent of producers Jim Barron and Chris Todd works well on tracks like "Drop Your Weapon" and "Play It Cool." 
John Bush / AllMusic

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Waiwan ‎– Distraction (1998)

Style: Breaks, Trip Hop, Future Jazz, Broken Beat
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Autonomy

1.   The Deep
2.   Nightmare
3.   Ain't Easy
4.   Yesterday
5.   Goddess
6.   Blue
7.   Hindsight
8.   Filtered Funk
9.   Revenge

A gem from 1998, which was not a vintage year for downtempo. The Bristol sound was mostly spent, despite a valedictory coda in Massive Attack’s Mezzanine. Ninja Tune was changing direction to take in the likes of Chocolate Weasel’s kitsch-funk. And the trip-hop template was fast becoming coffee-table music turned out by insipid second-raters like Thievery Corporation and Morcheeba. 
But this is a cracking album from Waiwan, in part because it outlines the state of the art thus far. The thunderous timpani that open “The Deep” flag the genre’s cinematic influences. What follows — the well-tempered vocal snatches, washy electric piano and clipped wah-wah — inaugurate an album of uncrowded dubby trip-hop, which wears its influences on its sleeve. “Ain’t Easy” consciously apes Massive Attack’s “Better Things”, with it’s almost identical bass figure and reverb-swallowed drums. “Yesterday”, with a clipped snyth anticipating the backbeat, echoes the somnolent mood of Coldcut’s “Eine Kleine Hed Musick”. The album’s closer, “Revenge”, finishes out the cinematic feel, setting angular string progressions against ominous bells, metallic clangs and distant sirens. 
There’s a sunny feel to it, too, with occasional clipped sax riffs recalling Pete Rock’s early-90s horn riffs. Brittle, jangled piano figures on “The Deep” and “Ain’t Easy” suggest the dusky vibe of the Isley’s “Summer Breeze” or Kool & The Gang’s “Summer Madness” (a reference more explicit in the rising snyth sounds of “Filtered Funk”). 
The jazzy stretch in the middle of the album may be a little too smooth, though “Goddess” is hailed as an early classic of the Nu-Jazz scene. But “Nightmare”, its booming double bass figure amid drum & bass-influenced breakbeats, treads a path being taken at the same time by Red Snapper (and later tarmaced with bus lanes and parking bays by The Cinematic Orchestra). 
Waiwan was apparently part of the Common Ground project that released one album on Ultimate Dilemma. A new Waiwan album is apparently imminent from Earth Project, though the audio clips suggest that his jazz-funk-fusion roots may have got the better of him. I suppose that means his old site at Autonomy isn’t going to get updated (so much for the five-album deal, huh?), but you can still catch plenty of audio clips there. 
RJ Wheaton

Rockers Hi-Fi ‎– Overproof (1998)

Style: Trip Hop, Dub, Downtempo
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Downbeat

01.   Hello Everybody
02.   Times Up Part I
03.   Times Up Part II
04.   Dis Next Recording
05.   Transmission Central
06.   Hard Times
07.   We Na Go Run
08.   7 Ways
09.   Free
10.   Skank Jnr.
11.   Madda Roots
12.   Overproof

Credits: Backing Vocals – Jackie Dean Strings – Puddletown Symphonic Trombone – John Johnson Vocals – Farda P., MC Tweed Written-By – Bush, Tweed, Plummer, Whittingham Producer – Glyn Bush, Richard Whittingham

Sylk 130 ‎– When The Funk Hits The Fan (1995)

Style: Disco, Funk, Soul, Jazz-Funk, Hip Hop
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Six Degrees Records, Sony Records, Ovum Recordings, Ruffhouse Records, Columbia

01.   Narration
02.   Jimmy Leans Back
03.   City (5-6 Theme)
04.   The Reason
05.   E.R.A.
06.   Gettin' Into It
07.   When The Funk Swings
08.   Season's Change
09.   "13"
10.   Red Handed
11.   Taggin' & Braggin'
12.   Incident On The Couch
13.   Gorgeous
14.   A Day In The Life
15.   New Love
16.   Uptown
17.   Last Night A DJ Saved My Life
18.   When The Funk Hits The Fan
19.   Next

Performer – Cosmic Lounge Arkestra
Presenter – King Britt
Producer, Created – King Britt
Vocals, Musicians – Alison Crockette, Alma Horton, Antoine Green, King Britt, Tanja Dixon, Ursula Rucker, Vicki Miles

DJ King Britt and his Sylk 130 collective debut with the impressive When the Funk Hits the Fan, a seamlessly retro concept album exploring a day in the life of a teenage DJ spinning records circa 1977. A celebration of the soul, funk and jazz which inspired Britt himself, the album is a pastiche of songs and skits, perfectly evoking the spirit of the late '70s while firmly entrenched in contemporary sounds as well; it's this same timeless quality which makes cuts like "Last Night a DJ Saved My Life," "Gettin' into It" and "The Reason" so effective. 
Jason Ankeny / AllMusic

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Karma ‎– Pad Sounds (1997)

Style: Downtempo
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Groove Attack Productions

01.   Pad 1
02.   My Resting Place
03.   Relax Yourself
04.   Ghia
05.   Enter The Dragon Pt.1
06.   Enter The Dragon Pt.2
07.   Look Up Dere
08.   Pad 2
09.   Static Travelling
10.   High Priestess ('97 Live Rmx)
11.   Dakini

Sleeve – Weusthoff & Rose Communication Bureau
Written-By, Arranged By, Producer, Recorded By – Lars Vegas, Mojo Tom

Pad Sounds fuses the atmosphere of trip-hop with the intensity of drum'n'bass, a hybrid best heard on the group's underground club hit "High Priestess," featured here in a live remix. 
Jason Ankeny / AllMusic

Nightmares On Wax ‎– Smokers Delight (1995)

Style: Trip Hop, Dub, Downtempo
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Warp Records, Rough Trade

01.   Nights Introlude
02.   Dreddoverboard
03.   Pipes Honour
04.   Me + You
05.   Stars
06.   Wait A Minute
06.   Praying For A Jeepbeat
07.    Groove St.
08.   Time (To Listen)
09.   (Man) Tha Journey
10.   Bless My Soul
11.   Cruise (Don't Stop)
12.   Mission Venice
13.   What I'm Feelin (Good)
14.   Rise
15.   Rise (Reprise)
16.   Gambia Via Vagator Beach

Producer, Mixed By, Programmed By, Other (Herbalized By) – E. A. S. E.
Programmed By – Robin Taylor-Firth

Despite the liner notes by Nightmares On Wax aka George Evelyn himself asking that the music found on Smokers Delight should not be considered trip hop, this album is the benchmark - if not the blueprint - for that genre. Mind you, back in 1995 when this stone cold classic was originally released, trip hop music wasn't yet de riguer in cafes, hair salons and hotel lobbies worldwide. Smokers Delight was the second album from Nightmares On Wax, following a more dance floor-oriented debut, Word Of Science. For the follow up though, Evelyn got to experimenting with trip hop - which is essentially hip hop with deeper soul and less rapping. With its rubbery bass lines, low-slung funk, meandering, jazzy guitar patterns and slow-motion chocolate-smothered grooves, Smokers Delight is often described as sophisticated stoner music, but that's merely lazy alliteration. This remains an all-time classic of contemporary instrumental music and an essential album. 
David Carroll / In The Pocket

Cool Breeze ‎– Assimilation (1995)

Style: Dub, Acid Jazz, Downtempo
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Dorado, Jazz Not Jazz Records

01.   Down By Law
02.   Shalom Salaam Peace
03.   Can't Deal With This
04.   Stranger
05.   Socio Groove
06.   Check It
07.   NB
08.   Charlie Don't Surf
09.   The Sun That Shines Above The Earth
10.   Assimilation .
11.   Dark Soup
12.   Acoustic Blues
13.   "It'll Take More Than That"
14.   She Fell Asleep (Watching Channel Zero)
15.   Tik Tok (Kid Loops Remix)
16.   The Papers
17.   Lo And Slo
18.   Blow Out
19.   All In One

Mixed By – Charlie Lexton, Jamie Lexton
Written-By, Producer – Charlie Lexton, Jamie Lexton

I have a habit of listening to genres in the most offbeat way possible. It’s almost like I want to deliberately alienate myself from anyone I might actually relate to (cries into pillow). When I say I like trance, it’s generally about as far removed from what most people would call “trance” as possible, (no bad thing, I’m sure you’ll agree). Likewise, when I claim to enjoy hip-hop, it’s generally stuff with absolutely no rapping or mainstream appeal whatsoever.

Cool Breeze’s album Assimilation is exactly the kind of hip-hop I love, although perhaps “hip-hop” is the wrong word. Acid jazz? Breakbeat funk? Sample collage? Beat making? Whatever. Assimilation may have been released on relatively unknown label Dorado back in 1995, but it wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Ninja Tunes and their roster of delectably funky ‘90s jazzy hip-hop acts like DJ Food, The Herbaliser and Coldcut. If that doesn’t immediately give you a picture of how this album sounds then you need to brush up on your music history, maaaan.

Fundamentally, there’s not a whole lot to separate Assimilation from the ranks of similar British albums that were released between Paul’s Boutique and Endtroducing, but Cool Breeze is an assuredly talented sampler and beatmaker. His basslines are pleasingly warm and dubby, his tracks laced with cool soul and B-boy swagger, and his humour is sly without being irritating. The album also contains two brilliant standouts. First up is the achingly beautiful Can’t Deal With This, a languid summer groove where Rhodes stabs intertwine perfectly with guitar lacks and a heart-melting vocal performance from Imaani, who apparently went on to be a runner up at Eurovision. Then there’s the Kid Loops remix of Tik Tok (Come On), which emphasises the spacey dub atmospherics of the outrageously funky original while allowing the low-slung dub bassline to continue making love to one of the most infectious jazz flute samples ever uncovered.

The supporting cast of tracks are very strong, including (importantly) the opener and closer, and the only weak spot is the rather bizarre Charlie Don’t Surf, with a somewhat cheesy anti-war stoner vocal. Assimilation may not be remarkably different, but it’s a cut above the crowd in its genre, far better than many of the critically heralded efforts by contemporaries such as Mr Scruff or DJ Vadim, and deserves an honorary status as a forgotten classic. 
Jack / I Am Not A Music Journalist

Monday, 20 May 2019

St Germain ‎– Boulevard (The Complete Series) (1995)

Style: Downtempo, Deep House
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: F Communications, Play It Again  Sam

1.   Deep In It
2.   Thank U Mum (4 Everything You Did)
3.   Street Scene (4 Shazz)
4.   Easy To Remember
5.   Sentimental Mood
6.   What’s New?
7.   Dub Experience II
8.   Forget It

Credits: Flute – Malik Percussion – Miguel "Punta" Rios Piano – Alexandre Destrez Saxophone – Édouard Labord Trumpet – Pascal Ohse Producer, Mixed By, Written-By – Ludovic Navarre

Picture a world where each and every French dance band was unflinchingly bad; where every Air or Cassius or even Phoenix never existed since every homegrown, starving musician looked to somebody like ATB instead of St. Germain. Luckily, this is but a piece of fiction. Because Ludovic Navarre created such a saintly pseudonym, employing deep house, tittering breaks, and down-tempo attitudes that -- in over-simplistic terms -- virtually invented the entire French house movement that has crossed over more times than a Diana Ross impersonator. The question is, does being first make you any good? Taking cues from acid jazz and its chin-stroking underground, songs like "Deep in It" or "Street Scene (4 Schazz)" seem to shyly respond, "yes." It's only the preponderance of an odd sense of a Frenchman aping American black music that starts to cause the most alarm. The loose jazz excursions such as "Sentimental Mood" carries all the emotional weight of a sewing needle and the choice of blues samples (while being years before Moby even caught onto the idea) feels contrived. The album may exude an atmosphere of a musician discovering a new genre hybridization, it just doesn't quite reach the maturity of a fleshed out idea. A landmark album? Yes. An album that lacks the loveliness of an Air or the inventiveness of an Etienne DeCrecy? Also, yes. Boulevard has been looked upon as the "essential" Revolver or What's Going On or Dig Your Own Hole piece of French house fans' record collections. It's only a small indignity that the music itself rarely reaches such heights of its comparisons.
Dean Carlson / AllMusic

Headz : A Soundtrack Of Experimental Beathead Jams (1994)

Style: Downtempo, Breaks, Trip Hop
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Mo Wax

1-01.   Patterson - Freedom Now (Meditation)
1-02.   Attica Blues - Contemplating Jazz
1-03.   Awunsound - Symmetrical Jazz
1-04.   Nightmares On Wax - Stars
1-05.   La Funk Mob - Ravers Suck Our Sound
1-06.   M.F. Outa 'National - Miles Out Of Time
1-07.   PM - The Inside
1-08.   Autechre - Lowride
1-09.   Olde Scottish - Wildstyle (The Krush Handshake)
2-01.   DJ Shadow - Lost & Found (S.F.L.)
2-02.   Skull - Destroy All Monsters
2-03.   Deflon Sallahr - ... Don't Fake It
2-04.   RPM - 2000
2-05.   Palmskin Productions - Slipper Suite (I) Jeremy's Velvet Slippers (II)  Moonrakers (III) Unspeakable Acts
2-06.   U.N.K.L.E. - The Time Has Come
2-07.   Howie B. - Head West - Gun Fight At The O.K. Corrall
2-08.   Tranquility Bass - They Came In Peace
2-09.   DJ Shadow - In/Flux (Alternative Interlude '93)

The first double-disc/triple-vinyl installment of the Headz trilogy is easily the least of the batch. Though it features some heavyweights, the compilation suffers from a series of lengthy tracks that are too simplistic for their own good. Monochromatic and sluggish in long stretches to the point of approximating aural wallpaper, no amount of outer stimulation can add life to half of the material. Even an uncharacteristic Autechre track is weak. Nonetheless, decency is offered by the likes of DJ Shadow's U2-sampling "Lost and Found" (also a culprit of unnecessary length), Patterson's "Freedom Now," and DJ Krush's remix of Olde Scottish's "Wildstyle." Other notable appearances include U.N.K.L.E, Palmskin Productions, and Howie B. 
Andy Kellman / AllMusic