Review: Helmed by The Haggis Horns saxophonist Rob Mitchell, the Abstract Orchestra is a "hip-hop big band" from Leeds that specializes in jazz-fired cover versions of classic head-nodding beats. Having first impressed with a set of J Dilla interpretations in 2017, last year they turned their attention to Madlib and MF Doom's collaborative Madvillain project. As the title suggests "Madvillain 2" picks up where its predecessor left off, offering up sumptuously orchestrated, funk-fuelled and jazz-wise takes on such familiar cuts as "Meat Grinder", "Rainbows", 'Fire In The Hole" and "Operation Lifesaver". There's a tasty bonus cut, too, in the shape of the Abstract Orchestra's remix of their collab with Dabrye and MF Doom (yes, that MF Doom), "Air".
Review: Don't be fooled by the smoky jazzy horns on the intro: The Allergies are still at the front of the party queue! They were just lulling us into a false sense of security before hitting us with a precision range of big soul swingers and dynamite party killers; both "Hold You Close" and "Since You've Been Gone" pop with big beat bangs, "Entitled To That" stamps and sweats like Wigan Pier is still holding the best dances in the country, "Main Event" parps and pumps while long-standing affiliate Andy Cooper reminds us who's boss while "It Won't Be Me" (also with Cooper) is coded with so much horn and guitar powered gusto you could be fooled into thinking Ugly Duckling are back. Yet another triumphant album from one of Jalapeno's most exciting acts.
Review: Building on his Brownswood debut earlier this year - "Go See" on the label's deep-digging We Out Here collection - Ezra Collective's pianist and composer lays down his most expansive and expressive body of work to date. Weighing in at near album size, it's a powerful experience from the off as Afrikan Revolution's Asheber sets a political framework and sense of freshness and unity on the title track. Elsewhere we're treated to hazy bluesy hip-hop on "Ragify", raw freeform fizz on "London's Face" and soul-soothing narratives in the form of "Mollison Dub". Stunning.
What I'd Do For Love (Portuguese version - bonus track)
Review: On his previous albums for Favorite, Brazilian Lucas Arruda has proved adept at adapting a range of vintage sounds from his home country - most notably 1970s MPB, jazz-funk and jazz-fusion, as well as 1980s boogie - into tasty new songs. He's at it again on "Onda Nova", his first album for four years. This time round, he's added a little blue-eyed soul, AOR and West Coast jazz-rock flavour into the mix alongside his usual breezy blend of ear-catching Brazilian style (check, for example, the Michael McDonald-ish vibes of English language cut "What I'd Do For Love" and the guitar solo-laden smoothness of "Heaven's In Your Arms"). It's a blend that guarantees glassy-eyed and loved-up thrills throughout.
Review: The Highlife party by Brian d'Souza (aka Auntie Flo) in his hometown of Glasgow has been integral in establishing a new style of club music - merging electronic and world influences. He joins the Brownswood roster to deliver his third and most ambitious album: a natural companion piece to his Radio Highlife show on Worldwide FM (run by Brownswood boss Gilles Peterson) and the club night which he co-founded - known playing music from West Africa and Latin America. Contributions on the album come from a globetrotting cast of friends, including the inimitable Andrew Ashong, Laurie Pitt of local outfit Golden Teacher, Senegalese multi-instrumentalist Mame Ndiack and Cuban percussionist Yissy Garcia.
Review: Welcome to the World Of Blundetto, stick around and familiarise yourself with the delightful charms of this third album from Frenchman Maxime Guiget. With a sound spanning reggae, Latin, African, Jazz and more established on the first two Blundetto albums, World Of... finds Guiget expanding this vision for perhaps his finest work to date. Vocals naturally play a big part in World Of... with some of France's foremost Reggae voices like Biga Ranx and PupaJim featuring amongst the 12 tracks, whilst Marina Peloso's contribution to "Last Broken Bones" marks it out as an album highlight. Look out for the cover of Bob Marley's "Work" too which features New York rapper Jahdan Blakamoore and Ubiquity's ubiquitous Shawn Lee.
Review: Black Sands, the eagerly anticipated fourth album from Simon Green AKA Bonobo, is no revolutionary change from his signature sound but does come with perhaps even more subtlety and complexity than his previous offerings. Having constantly instilled a degree of integrity and value back into chill out music following the influx of Cafe Del Mar and Coffeeshop compilations, Green once again displays a musicianship that sets him apart as a true artist and producer amongst a sea of downtempo and chillout DJs. His undeniably clear understanding of composition and arrangement of live instruments has enabled Green to make an album that reaches out through diverse styles, taking influence and inspiration from wherever possible. On Black Sands, Green delves into electronic music and bass more than he did across Animal Magic, Dial "M" For Monkey or Days To Come but does so with enough subtlety and finesse to refrain from causing a radical shift in his product. Tracks like "Kiara," "We Could Forever" and "All In Forms" all utilise beats and bass in a more contemporary outlook than we are used to with Bonobo. Of course the instrumental feel is still there for all to see. Title track "Black Sands" takes this position for almost seven minutes of a horn infused waltz whereas "Kong" assumes the traditional soul-jazz Bonobo take and "Animals" lets delicate drum patterns guide us through pleasing tempo shifts. The instrumental vibe is highlighted further in the album's approach to vocals. Unlike his last album, Days To Come which was littered with vocals, Black Sands houses only three tracks that contain vocals. The breathy vocals of Andreya Triana complete tracks like "Stay the Same" and "The Keeper" turning them in more traditional songs. Black Sands is another loving crafted offering that uses orchestral arrangements but this time merged with more of a dance aesthetic. As he continues to make chillout more credible in his experimental way, it's no wonder that Bonobo is one of the biggest artists to come from the excellent Ninja Tune.
Waiting On The Night Bus (feat Terri Walker & Louis Vi)
Marooned In SE6 (feat Kevin Haynes Grupo Elegua)
Ancestors (feat Kevin Haynes Grupo Elegua)
Review: Drummer, composer and producer Moses Boyd has been labelled as "one to watch" since winning the "Best Jazz Act" gong at the 2015 MOBO Awards. Three years on, and with a handful of lauded EPs behind him, Boyd is finally ready to deliver his debut solo album. We say, "solo album", but "Displaced Diaspora" is undoubtedly a collaborative affair, with various invited guests joining in with Boyd's distinctively eclectic, anything-goes fusion fun. Afro-brass outfit Kevin Haynes Grupo Eleggua make a huge impression on a number of tracks, Zara McFarlane provides a sensual, sumptuous vocal on the classic late night jazz smokiness of "City Nocturne" and Terri Walker and Louis V rise above the organic, jazz-fuelled hip-hop soul brilliance of "Waiting On The Night Bus".
Review: If you don't yet know Mansur Brown, you soon will. Previously best known for playing guitar on Yussef Kamaal's "Black Focus" album, Mansur is a 21 year-old prodigy with a huge future ahead of him. For proof, just check "Shiroi", his debut album. Built around his virtuoso guitar playing - a fusion of the psychedelic intensity of Jimi Hendrix and the smooth bliss of jazz greats like George Benson and Pat Metheny - the set's eleven sparkling tracks variously mix and match elements of dub, instrumental hip-hop, broken beat, jazz-funk, beat-free soundscapes and hazy, suitably horizontal downtempo grooves. The results are uniformly excellent.
Review: Four years on from solo comeback "Blank Project", veteran chanteuse Neneh Cherry returns with an album overflowing with lyrical potency. Like many people, the sometime Rip, Pig and Panic and Slits singer is rather depressed with the state of the world, and has used the album to comment on many of today's ills. Combine her eccentric (but undoubtedly on-point) social commentary with vibrant musical backing that refuses to settle on one sound or style - we detected jazz, ambient, dub, trip-hop, calypso, Balearica, folk and electronic at various points, and sometimes multiple genres within one track. Cherry has a great track record, of course, but even by her standards "Broken Politics" is something special.
A Caged Bird/Imitations Of Life (feat Roots Manuva)
Wait For Now/Leave The World (feat Tawiah)
The Workers Of Art
Zero One/This Fantasy (feat Grey Reverend)
A Promise (feat Heidi Vogel)
Review: Given the rise in popularity in new school jazz in recent years, it seems a fitting time to welcome back Ninja Tune stalwarts The Cinematic Orchestra. "To Believe" is not only their first album in some seven years, but also one of their strongest releases to date. Opening with the poignant neo-classical/soul fusion "To Believe", the set sees Jason Swinscoe and company attractively saunter between jazz-electronica fusion (Roots Manuva collaboration ("A Caged Bird/Imitations Of Life"), pastoral jazz epics (the sunset ready epic that is "Lessons"), gentle downtempo songs ("Wait For Now/Leave The World"), ambient jazz ("The Workers Of Art") and slowly unfurling dancefloor workouts (killer closing cut "A Promise"). In a word: stunning.
Review: "Ma Fleur" is the first full studio album by Jason Swinscoe's Cinematic Orchestra since 2002's "Everyday". The record was written as the soundtrack to a specially commissioned screenplay for an imagined film (which may or may not be made). Shortly after finishing "Everyday", a piece of music which achieved great critical and commercial success, Jason Swinscoe relocated from East London to Paris. Here he began work on the instrumentals which would form the basis of his new record - more moods than finished tracks, a series of sketches or diagrams of directions to follow. Having completed a rough version by early 2005, he gave this to a friend who disappeared for three weeks and came back with short story scripts in which each scene represented a story of a different time in life, expressing the emotions which underpin the journey from birth to death. Jason then took this and worked some more on the tracks, and in turn gave this back to his scriptwriter, the two aspects of the project developing alongside one another. Gradually, Swinscoe recruited suitable vocalists for the atmospheres and themes he wanted to deal with. The remarkable Fontella Bass, who is now sadly in frail health, is the woman behind both legendary soul number "Rescue Me" as well as some of the Art Ensemble of Chicago's finest moments, had worked on "Everyday" and was an obvious choice to voice the parts of the elderly protagonist that Swinscoe envisaged. Mercury-nominated Lou Rhodes is not only a fantastic singer but a young mother and so perfect for the "mid-life" singer. The as-yet unheralded Patrick Watson, a remarkable vocalist from Montreal, became the youngest of the trio.
Review: This time last year, French combo Cotonete joined forces with Brazilian singer Di Melo to deliver what became one of the sleeper hits of last summer - the Latin disco/jazz-funk fusion of "A.E.I.O.U.". Here they continue their partnership with a first collaborative full length. It's a quietly impressive outing, with Di Melo's distinctive vocals rising above cuts that variously doff a cap to sultry Brazilian disco-funk, Azymuth-esque jazz-funk, soundtrack-friendly cinematic soundscapes, Astrud Gilberto style sweetness and humid salsa-funk (standout "Kilario (2019 Version)". It's a warm, loose and hazy set that feels authentically South American despite its Parisian roots.
Review: Here's something to set the pulse racing: a collaborative debut album (on Sound Signature, no less) from London broken beat veterans Dego and Kaidi Tatham. As with their previous joint releases on 2000 Black, Rush Hour, Eglo and, of course, Sound Signature, it's the duo's love of rich, jazz-fuelled musicality, sun-kissed melodies and loose, languid rhythms that shines through. There are naturally nods towards disco, boogie, jazz-funk, Afrobeat, hip-hop and classic "bruk", with a stellar cast list of guest musicians and vocalists swinging by to lend a hand. If Herbie Hancock decamped to Ladbroke Grove and made an album with Bugz in the Attic, it would probably sound like this. In our book, that's a very good thing indeed.
Review: Brussels-based Echo Collective is an extended crew of classically trained musicians helmed by Neil Leiter and Margaret Hermant. While they've been active for some time and worked on countless projects, Plays Amnesiac - a re-imagining of Radiohead's 2001 album of the same name - marks their full-length debut. It's an undeniably impressive collection, with Thom Yorke and company's glitchy, heavily electronic original songs re-cast as neo-classical pieces rich in arresting clarinet and oboe lines, jazzy live drums, cut-glass violins and gentle orchestration. Occasionally projects like this can feel a bit gimmicky, but Plays Amnesiac simply oozes class from start to finish. There are no cheesy gimmicks here, just sublime, classical-jazz fusion cuts that dance from the speakers like the soundtrack of a film we've yet to see.
Review: It's hard to exactly place the sound of Australian singer-songwriter-producer Chet Faker. He pitches himself as an "electronica" artist, but there's much more to his aural worldview than that - as this highly anticipated debut full-length for Future Classic proves. Warm, woozy, sun-kissed and off-kilter enough to appeal to the heads, it mixes tactile guitars, tumbling electronic melodies and curious rhythms with his distinctive vocals. The results are rarely less than impressive. The album's best moments are arguably those of a more horizontal bent, with the hazy, sax-laden "Lesson in Patience", slo-mo soul of "Dead Body" and spine tingling "No Advise (Airport Version)" standing out.
Review: Since releasing his first Floating Points record back in 2009, Sam Shepherd has constantly surprised. Predictably, he's done it again with Reflections: Mojave Desert, an album created from impromptu recordings of his live band made during a visit to Joshua Tree National Park. Inspired by their surroundings and the natural environment, Shepherd's ensemble have created a five-track set - and accompanying Super 8 film, shot and edited by the band's traveling visual artist - that's as atmospheric as anything the producer has released to date. While a unique proposition with its own distinctive vibe, the tracks variously touch on ambient, new age, spiritual jazz, woozy electronica, post-rock and the kind of Stockhausen-inspired experimentalism explored on Ragnar Grippe's recently reissued "Sand".
Sarah Davachi - "Track 1" (live In Portland - Excerpt - Exclusive track)
Carlos Walker - "Via Lactea"
The Rationals - "Glowin'"
William S Fischer - "Chains"
Max Roach - "Equipoise"
Abu Talib (Bobby Wright) - "Blood Of An American"
Sweet & Innocent - "Express Your Love"
Robert Vanderbilt & The Foundation Of Souls - "A Message Especially From God"
The Defaulters - "Gentle Man"
Alain Bellaiche - "Sun Blues"
Alain Bellaiche - "Sea Fluorescent"
Kara-Lis Coverdale - "Moments In Love" (Excerpt)
Azimuth - "The Tunnel"
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - "Milk" (Excerpt)
Toshimaru Nakamura - "Nimb#59" (Exclusive track)
Floating Points - "The Sweet Time Suite" (part 1 - Opening - Exclusive Kenny Wheeler Cover version)
Lauren Laverne - "Ah! Why, Because The Dazzling Sun" (Exclusive Spoken Word Piece)
Review: Sam Shepherd AKA Floating Points has long been known as a producer, DJ and selector with a staggeringly good record collection. It's for this reason that his edition of "Late Night Tales", a series dedicated to the joys of post-club home listening, has been so eagerly anticipated. The resultant mix is a triumph, with Shepherd showcasing a largely rare and obscure mix of new age ambient, high-grade jazz, sumptuous folk-soul (see Abu Talib's impeccable "Blood Of An American"), psychedelic soul weirdness, intergalactic jazz-funk, Satie-style piano movements and the drowsy, liquid electronics of Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith. The set also includes a handful of exclusive tracks, including a wonderful new Floating Points cover of Kenny Wheeler's "The Sweet Time Suite (Part I - Opening)". In a word: essential.
Review: Pitched somewhere between the gritty, propulsive beats of Los Angeles, and the exploratory jazz of Cosmogramma, Flying Lotus's fourth album, Until The Quiet Comes is arguably the most delicate record he's ever produced. Described as a "collage of mystical states, dreams, sleep and lullabies", it steers away from bigger moments, choosing instead to present an understated patchwork of breezy jazz samples, dusty hip-hop beats smeared vocals seemingly inspired by DMT hallucinations. While previous efforts were wildly futuristic at times, Until The Quiet Comes is confidently classicist - and seals Flying Lotus's position as one of our generation's visionary producers.
Dead Man's Tetris (feat Captain Murphy & Snoop Dogg)
Turkey Dog Coma
Coronus, The Terminator
Siren Song (feat Angel Deradoorian)
Ready Err Not
Moment Of Hesitation (feat Herbie Hancock)
Descent Into Madness (feat Thundercat)
The Boys Who Died In Their Sleep (feat Captain Murphy)
Your Potential/The Beyond (feat Niki Randa)
Review: Arriving with some truly mind bending artwork from controversial guro manga artist Shintaro Kago, the new Flying Lotus album You're Dead! Is quite alot to take in upon first listen. Some nineteen tracks deep, Steven Ellison uses all the available space to draw you deep into the afterlife as he sees it, veering through heavily psychedelic jazz passages and next level beat explorations that demand you pay full attention. The iconic Herbie Hancock leads a high profile cast of contributing artists to Fly Lo's fifth studio LP and his most ambitious to date with Kendrick Lamar, Captain Murphy, Snoop Dogg, Angel Deradoorian, Thundercat and Niki Randa also adding to what is a transcendental listening experience.
Climbing Up My Own Life Until I Die (feat Rob Auton)
Derashe (feat Mulatu Astatke)
Review: Famed for their New Orleans style brass band covers - most notably a riotous Prodigy medley and tasty takes on Toto's "Africa" and Blackstreet's "No Diggidy" - the Hackney Colliery Band has decided to do things differently on their latest full-length excursion. As the title suggests, "Collaborations Volume 1" sees them join forces with a dizzying array of artists from the worlds of jazz, soul, funk, Afrobeat and hip-hop. The results are uniformly excellent, with highlights including the Afro-gospel brilliance of Angelique Kidjo and Roundhouse Choir hook-up "Mm Mm", the sunrise Afro-jazz breeze of Netsanet (featuring Mulatu Astatke), and the urgent stomp of percussion-laden workout "Crushing Lactic" with Tom Rogerson.