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

Tracklist:
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

Tracklist:
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

Credits:
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