Saturday, 18 May 2019

Sandals ‎‎– Rite To Silence (1994)

Style: Trip Hop, Acid Jazz, Downtempo
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Open Toe Records, FFRR

01.   Feet
02.   Nothing
03.   No Movement
04.   Change
05.   Ardens Bud
06.   We Wanna Live
07.   We Don't Wanna Be The Ones To Take The Blame
08.   Lovewood
09.   Here Comes The Sign
10.   Profound Dub

Bass, Vocals – Ian 'Easy' Simmonds
Drums, Percussion, Vocals – Wildcat Will Blanchard
Vocals, Flute, Clarinet, Saxophone, Harmonica – John Harris
Vocals, Percussion – Derek Delves
Guitar – Nick Van Gelder
Producer – Leftfield
Producer (Additional Production), Remix – Joe Gibb

The sole full-length album by the London groove collective the Sandals (a second was recorded, but rejected by the record company and unreleased) is, in retrospect, a prescient look at where post-ambient house electronica would go in the mid-'90s. The jazzy grooves, largely courtesy of bassist Ian Simmonds, who would go on to make some sublime solo records under his own name and as Juryman, and percussion-heavy arrangements have an organic quality that had been missing from most of the dance records of the early '90s, and the slow-moving, vaguely druggy rhythms are a clear forerunner to trip-hop. John Harris' flute, sax, and clarinet predominate over the electronics (interestingly, the group didn't have a full-time keyboardist or guitarist; friends like Jamiroquai's Nick Van Gelder and Julian Cope's guitarist Donald Ross Skinner pitched in). Between that and the shuffling, layered percussion, parts of this album sound like Herbie Mann or Rahsaan Roland Kirk's '70s work given a Tricky remix. Though the hit single "Feet" is an obvious highlight, it's tracks like the otherworldly opener "Profound Gas" and the slinky "Lovewood" that really put this album over. The belated U.S. version adds two lengthy remixes of "Feet" that add little to the original's charm. 
Stewart Mason / AllMusic

Jon Hassell & Bluescreen ‎– Dressing For Pleasure (1994)

Style: Breakbeat, Future Jazz, Trip Hop
Format: CD
Label: Warner Bros. Records

01.  G-Spot
02.  Villa Narco
03.  Kolo X
04.  Personals
05.  Club Zombie
06.  Zeitgeist
07.  Steppin' Thru Time
08.  Destination: Bakiff
09.  Sex Goddess
10.  Buzzworld
11.  The Gods, They Must Be Crazy
12.  Mati
13.  Blue Night

Bass – Pete Scaturro
Drums, Percussion – Brain
Guitar – Joe Gore)
Keyboards – Jon Hassell
Sampler, Programmed By – Blk Lion)
Sampler, Synthesizer – Jamie Muhoberac
Trumpet – Jon Hassell
Written-By – Jon Hassell
Producer – Jon Hassell, Pete Scaturro

Two of the most memorable albums from the trip-hop and acid jazz era are by cornettist Graham Haynes (Transition) and trumpeter Ben Neill (Goldbug. Dressing for Pleasure preceeded them both. Usually, an adjective like "suave" doesn't sit easily on an ethnomusicologist whose knack for directness is grounded by his sense of beauty; neither does a label like "acid jazz." But this is Hassell's only album to fit its musical moment, following his appearance on the soundtrack of the crime film Trespass. The feel of a fully committed band is especially amazing -- Hassell and drummer Brain work with an army of bassists (six, including Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers) and enough programmers (three) to field a dot com startup on a coffee break. Hassell's horn flits through a sexy blend of trip-hop's hard drum programs topped with soft, impassive electronic textures like a bird circling over a crowded intersection. Woodwind player Kenny Garrett and guitarist Gregg Arreguin provide thematic voices, too, but melody is rarely enough in this genre. As always, the real fun lies in how these instruments are broken up by the programmers, led by Jamie Muhoberec, a Hassell associate on Trespass and Fascinoma. Their work helps a trumpet melody, suave enough for Herb Alpert, sound like that artist playing through the blades of an electric fan. The sample of Duke Ellington's "Bakliff," laminated into "Destination: Bakliff"'s rhythms, prefigures the jazz covers on Fascinoma. And when that horn moans from between a camera shutter and Leslie Winn's coo-oohing in the sultry "Sex Goddess." Dressing for Pleasure is all that -- an ethnomusicologist suavely dipping into a trip-hop trust fund. Old Morcheeba fans should duck into pawn shops to hunt for a copy. 
John Young / AllMusic

United Future Organization ‎– United Future Organization (1993)

Style: Fusion, Acid Jazz, Future Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Talkin' Loud, Brownswood Records

1.   The Sixth Sense
2.   On Est Ensemble Sans Se Parler-L.O.V.E.
3.   Vinyl Junkie
4.   Upa Neguinho
5.   I'll Bet You Thought I'd Never Find You
6.   Poetry And All That Jazz
7.   Be Here Now
8.   My Foolish Dream
9.   Off Road

Alto Saxophone – Sanshiro ganization
Co-producer, Programmed By, Keyboards – Ayumi Obinata
Percussion – Genta
Mixed By – Paul Borg
Producer – Aki Onodera
Producer (Production Assistance) – Chiharu Kobayashi, Kaoru Ishikawa, Kiyomi Noguchi
Written-By – United Future Organization
Arranged By, Producer – United Future Organization

For one of the most consistently inventive groups in mix culture, United Future Organization's debut falls way too close to the aural wallpaper zone. The influences -- cool jazz, light funk, and Brazilian percussion -- stand out as separate entities rather than meld together, and the rhythms are usually surprisingly static for a group predicated on making dancefloor denizens move. "The Sixth Sense" and "L.O.V.E" are dragged down by dull drumming before the Brazilian "Upa Neguinho" injects a bit of rhythm life. The songs centered around samples of beat icon Jack Kerouac and vocal jazzhero Jon Hendricks fare well, but elsewhere the repetition too often is just boring rather than pulling you into a groove. Only the Parisian cabaret accordion and Monday Michiru's vocals on "My Foolish Dream" and the breakout finale, "Off Road," really register strongly. United Future Organization is still obviously fitting the pieces of their sonic puzzle together and it shows in the timid, tentative mix as much as the music. From the evidence here, you wouldn't have expected the group to be capable of the quantam leap to No Sound Is Too Taboo -- but United Future Organization did just that. 
Don Snowden / AllMusic