Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Karma ‎– Pad Sounds (1997)

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

Tracklist:
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

Credits:
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

Tracklist:
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

Credits:
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

Tracklist:
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

Credits:
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