YellowStraps x Le Motel-Mellow
A first collaboration between Belgian brothers and friends, this long player reveals accomplished, mature songwriting, straddling the divide of the acoustic and the electronic. 'Mellow's 12 compositions offer soul in abundance through the distant, pained lead vocals (SBTRKT's vocalist Sampha comes to mind) and haunting riffs on cuts like opener '60s', 'Mirror Lake' and 'Pollen'. It is, indeed, the minimal musical approach - from guitar to drum programming - that forms the spine of this album; most evident with the opening guitar chords and subsequent military drum-rolls on 'Bruxelles Ma Belle', supported by Le Motel's electronic nouse and that now familiar voice. 'Interlude' is simple instrumental brilliance while album closer, 'Lights Out', paints an aural vista. Released on the independent Belgian label, Tangram Records, yet another collection that will make a late push for those 'Best of...' lists. A near-faultless offering, deserving of repeated plays.
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If Music Presents... You Need This! A Journey into Deep Jazz
As if the 'Kings of Jazz' and Kevin Beadles' 'Private Collection' double weren't sufficient, BBE turns provider yet again. Compiled by The Amalgamation Of Soundz' Jean-Claude - also owner of record shop 'If Music', on this spiritual, inspiring, profound yet accessible collection, you will find 9 pieces tied to these very adjectives. Canada's Yves Laferriere 'Anastasie Oh! Ma Cherie (Theme Du Film)' gets some belated exposure here, buried on his 1978 soulful, eponymous beauty: strings and chorus' soaring. The late tenor-saxophonist, John Stubblefield, flies on the introspective, harmonic emotion of 'Going Home' from 1987, while Archie Shepp and Alden Griggs take trombonist Charles Greenlee's 1977 'He's Gone' from 4/4 to 3/4 time. Jean Carne's glorious vocal completes. Treat yourself and head into the festive season with yet another 2015 jazz compilation of the highest order.
Blundetto-World Of Dub
Part of the framework of France's Radio Nova and an open mind of global music, Blundetto follows up his 'World of' LP by taking a selection into Dub territory. With his partner and producer, Blackjoy, 9 tracks reflecting the upper echelons of a genre that can sometimes rest on its irresistible trademarks. Not so here as 'Idiots Dub' opens up and provides a partner to Rennes band Stand High Patrol's 'Sleep on It' from 2015. The sum is equal to its parts as the LP warrants listening in its entirety, from the highlight 'Above Dub' through downtempo guitar riffs found on 'Lost Dub' on its way to the climax of title piece. Heavenly Sweetness are the hosts, capping off a quantity-equals-quality end to 2015 for the label.
The World Village/Jazz Village labels have brought us much treasure in 2015 (with the likes of Chucho Valdés' live 'Tribute to Irakere') and now opens international ears to Peru's Bareto for their fifth collection. Serving as a enlightening introduction to Peruvian musical culture. The influence of Peruvian Cumbia and all its guitar-orientated glory is evident as it offers an accessible, global outlook where the past and future of the country's regional influence dovetail. Highlights of the 11 compostions herein include a very current feel on the instrumental Cumbia sound of 'Mamá Motelo', Jamaican-influenced Dub of 'Viejita Guarchera' and the beautiful 3/4 time of 'El Loco' presents the heartfelt Soul on a 'festive' (festejo) form of the music. Bareto are based in Lima and are former Latin Grammy nominees. This international wave-breaker is out now. More European appearances are expected in 2016: 'Impredecible' is just that, providing reasons not to miss them.
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Parisian label, Heavenly Sweetness, is behind two of the best releases of the second half of 2015. A relatively untouched archive from the French Antilles/West Indies region has now been exposed - and what a goldmine of mature jazz is to be found. Almost the perfect geographical location to produce an open-minded melting pot of sounds, the modes are the core of the '70's - 80's era covered on this 12-tracker. Saxophonist Camille Soprann Hildevert leads off 'Kouté Jazz' with a simply beautiful line on the saxophone, setting a tone for an LP where west African and Tropical rhythms shuffle underneath a sea of positive melody. Erick Cosaques Rhodes meanderings operate around a dominant bassline and Kat-Tet's Nikita presented one for the Jazz-Dance floors. There is no doubt as to the universal appeal of an album that is destined to be a contender for compilation of the year. Out now.
The lynchpin of pioneeering label Hyperdub, Steve Goodman's releases a first, solo, feature-length under his nom de plume, Kode9. A gathering of electronic soundscapes , the temperature swings from cold to warm on a bed of agitated and anxious rhythms. Excitingly, this is beyond classification, key works of the 13 vignettes including the beatless 'Notel' and the skittering malcontent of 'Vacuum Packed' and 9 Drones'. The counterweights to this restlessness are highlighted on Kode9's late musical partner, Spaceape's, inner-thoughts expressed on Third-Ear Transmission and the extended silence that accompanies 'Nothing Lasts Forever' A certain for the intellectuals, it is 'Respirator's phrasing that tips the scales. You won't take a more unique journey than on an album that would make a perfect companion to Floating Points' 'Elaenia' in the Christmas stocking.
Fat Freddy's Drop-Bays
Over ten years since their benchmark release 'Based on a True Story', the mellifluous voice of Joe Dukie leads the Drop into another diverse trek through soul-related music. Very much reflecting the less is more philosophy - here producing nine songs - there is little evidence of any dip in standards. 'Wairunga Blues' is granted the opening slot on a piece saturated in funk. Last year's Reggae-tinged, midtempo 'Slings & Arrows' is also featured. The pulsating single, 'Razor' is driven by a 4/4 kick drum as the polysynth sounds build into an apex, common in so much of their previous compositions. 'Wheels' offers even more. The closing half begins with 'Makkan' is just simple soul joy: Mr Dukie exudes heartfelt positivity on the track of the album. It is in the 4-to-the-floor foundations that particularly excel on 'Bays'. 'Fish in the Sea' is just that, reminding of a band who made their name through live performance and extended freedom in working a groove. 'Cortina Motors' is the other as its near-11 minutes will turn this into a considerable dancefloor heavyweight for sometime yet.
Tangram Records are releasing a late run of music in 2015 from the Low Countries of Europe. The Electronic Soul of Belgians, YellowStraps now leads us across the border to Rotterdam for a four-track EP of Soul, Funk and Hip Hop-influenced offering from this 5-piece outfit. Immediate references put Day Fly into the sophisticated variety of Jazz-influenced Americans, The Internet, as they excel on the Soul/Hip-Hop hybrid of 'Strangle Time' and the title cut, 'Magnet' goes the route of a 90's R'n'B tempo accompanied by well-chosen, soulful chord changes. However It is 'Hide Me' which spurs the most interest. Flowing, broken rhythm on a simple, melodic composition, brimming over with the harmony of English singer/ songwriter BeauNox. Dutch producer K The Fresh provides Prince-like guitar touches. Destined for commercial success.
Far Out Monster Disco Orchestra-Step Into My Life (M&M mix)
Far Out Recordings continue to celebrate 20 years of hyperactivity, this time, beyond the label's dominance as purveyors of Brazilian music-past and present. The FOMDO features the arrangements of Azymuth's late José Roberto Bertrami, Arthur Verocai and Alex Malheiros, released its debut double LP last year with a second compilation due imminently. : the Funk-side of Disco flows effortlessly, on a driving and moody composition via that bass guitar, punchy horns, gstring riffs, dovetailing sweetly with the vocals of Alex Mills aka Mia Mendes. Who better to feature than Mr John Morales at the mixing desk, one of the pioneering clique of that original era for this 12"-only release? As important as ever in 2015, he wields his magic on two 'M&M' mixes of the FOMDO's 'Step Into My Life' Appreciate? Try Al Kent's remix of 'Disco Supreme' from last January.