Review: Since he's such a prolific collaborator and creator of bands, it's easy to overlook the fact that Will Holland hasn't released a solo album as Quantic for almost five years. "Atlantic Oscillations", then, is a welcome return - particularly since Tru Thoughts boss Robert Luis thinks it's Holland's "most cohesive and intricate album to date". It's certainly a strong collection, with Holland wrangling multiple styles, tempos and musical influences to create cuts that defy easy categorization. While there are downtempo moments, "Atlantic Oscillations" includes more bona-fide club cuts then he's delivered in recent years, with sun-kissed disco cut "September Blues", Cuban disco-funk workout "Atlantic Oscillations" and Afro-Latin house bumper "Motivic Retrograde" standing out.
Review: Joe Armon-Jones has been a driving force in the resurgence of contemporary jazz and now makes something of a victory lap with this new album on the always essential Brownswood. It's a very modern mix of bass and dub, du jour club culture and his own jazz styles featuring peers like Moses Boyd and Nubya Garcia. Frankly, the whole record is silky, starry-eyed and sublime and the excellent artwork also hist at the cosmic subtleties of this album, but our picks of the bunch are the neo-soul, summery stroll through the park vibes of "Yellow Dandelion", "Gnawa Sweet" which glows with mellifluous Rhodes chords and the uncompromising yet accessible sax and big brass action of album highlight "You Didn't Care".
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.
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.
Kathy Kosins & Paul Randolph - "Could You Be Me?" (Theo Ss translation)
Tatham, Mensah, Lord & Ranks - "Cascade"
Cotonete - "Earth Overshoot Day" (Hugo LX remix)
Cro-Magnon - "Midnight Magic" (feat Roy Ayers)
Freeeze - "Stay"
Grooveman Spot - "Do The Dance"
Root Soul - "My Dream Came True"
Kip Hanrahan - "Her Boyfriend Assesses His Value & Pleads His Case"
Nicole Willis - "Curiosity" (Zanzibar remix)
Velvet Hammer - "Party Hardy" (Alex Attias edit)
Material With Nona Hendryx - "Over & Over"
Sunaga T Experience - "It's You" (Disco Alert mix)
Paul Johnson - "Better Than This" (Soul Talk remix)
Review: Veteran Swiss DJ/producer Alex Attias has long been one of Europe's more versatile and open-minded DJs, so it's fitting that BBE have given him a chance to flex his curatorial muscles. LillyLillyGood, which shares its name with a monthly party and label Attias runs, was inspired by Attias's desire to present "really good grooves that people want to dance to or listen to or home". He's done just that, whizzing through an unmixed selection that giddily flits between trippy, polyrhythmic acid madness (Grooveman Spot), jaunty jazz-funk (Freeeze, Cro Magnon's ultra-deep hook-up with Roy Ayers), synth-fuelled broken beat business (Tatham, Mensah, Lord and Ranks), deliciously spacey deep house (the Zanzibar remix of Nicole Willis's "Curiosity") and killer disco (Attias's own edit of Velvet Hammer's "Party Hearty").
Programming/Unauthorized Procedure/Criminal Drug Evasion
Soul Control/Quarter Run (feat Alena Waters)
Flotation Device/Fear Or Laziness?
Laziness (feat Amp Fiddler)
Usually Suspected/The Quest (feat Amp Fiddler)
Second Chances (feat Monica Blaire)
Space Cowboys & The Interplanetary Gangster Edit
Review: Theo Parrish's masterful Sound Sculptures Vol 1 on triple LP format gets a timely repressing!! In total here there are 9 of the 27 tracks from the full double CD version but these still run the gamut of Theo's inimitable talents, from rough and tumble disco edits to saccharine soul, raw beatdown and leftfield esoterica. Be sure to check the Omar S- featuring "Synthetic Flemm" and long time Juno favourite "Flotation Device". If ever there was a selection of tracks that fully showcased the incredible breadth of production talent this man has, this is it. Not to be missed!
Review: This debut album from Jo'burg via Doncaster's Skinny Pelembe comes with a weight of expectation. The distinctive soul maverick has been turning heads with his output on Gilles Peterson's Brownswood Recordings for the past two years, and now he's come good on the promise of those singles and EPs with a wonderful, many-sided LP that oozes personality, depth, and a dusty, hand-wrought musicality that hits on an instinctive level. There are flurries of broken beats, low slung wood-carved percussion, rugged neo soul and weather-beaten funk aplenty, with the lines between organic and electronic beautifully blurred. This album deserves to be huge, positioning Pelembe as a vital new talent in the vanguard of UK soul music.
Review: A super hot reissue of Moodymann's Forevernevermore album on Peacfrog. This was Kenny Dixon Jnr's third album (following the seminal Silentintroduction and Black Mahogani), released back in 2000. The pleasing thud of "Tribute" and idiosyncratic deep strut of "Your Sweet Lovin" linger long in the ears, whether you're hearing for the first time of the 100th. Indeed everything here is dripping with MPC brilliance; jazzy samples, crackly Detroit atmospherics and the occasional recording of Moodymann's own distinctive croaky voice, making it an utterly essential purchase for Detroit cognoscenti who missed it the first time round.
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: "Outro Lugar" is Toco's second album. Born Tomaz Di Cunto, Toco is a Brazilian songwriter from Sao Paulo who, despite his young age, is a passionate connoisseur as well as admirer of original bossa nova from the 60's. He absorbed the archetypal characteristics of the harmonies and the rhythms of that genre to offer them again in his own personal, contemporary style.
Van Hai - "Dernier Armour" (Ripperton No Love Lost Reshape)
FaltyDL - "Some Jazz Shit"
Mr Raoul K - "Sene Kela" (feat Sona Diabate - Mr Raoul K & Laolu version)
Gabrielle Poso - "Roots Of Soul" (Atjazz remix)
Karim Sahraoui - "Father's Legacy"
Rancido - "The Encounter" (feat Kems)
Montezumas Rache - "Wu Du Wu"
Matanza - "Existencia" (Acid Pauli remix)
Peter Kruder - "Memento"
Marsmobil - "Saan"
Butch & C Vogt - "The Infamous"
Chaos In The CBD - "Digital Harmony"
Axel Boman - "Nokturn (Grand Finale)"
MLIR - "Spanish Lo-Life"
Tribilin Sounds - "Negroide"
Tony Allen - "African Man" (Ricardo Villalobos & Max Loderbauer remix)
Manuel Tur - "Ela"
Lagerfeltz - "Uitaar"
Jonny Faith - "Dapple City"
Bing Ji Ling - "Twilight"
Review: In the early-to-mid 2000s, when nu-jazz was at its' peak, Compost Records' annual Future Sounds of Jazz compilation was always essential listening. This surprise 13th edition appears five years after its' predecessor, re-introducing the series to a whole new generation of listeners. Happily, its' every bit as essential as the series' earliest installments, and draws together all manner of jazz-leaning productions. You'll hear a string-drenched broken house gem from Falty DL, some Afro tech-jazz from Mr Raoul K, a supremely Balearic rework ofMatanza's "Existencia" from Acid Pauli, an epic electro-jazz throw down from Butch & C Voigt, and an essential remix of Tony Allen by Ricardo Villalobos and Max Loderbauer. Throw in fine contributions from Peter Kruder, Axel Boman and Chaos In The CBD, and you've got an essential collection.
Review: Since he released his first album 11 years ago, bandleader, trumpeter and composer Matthew Halsall has proved to be one of British jazz's standout talents. In recent years he's delved into soul-jazz and big band jazz territory, so it's intriguing to find that "Oneness" is a much more spiritual, pared-down and minimalistic affair. Using a mixture of droning Indian instrumentation, languid and leisurely harp motifs, selective horn solos, melancholic trumpet lines and occasional traditional jazz instrumentation, Halsall has conjured up a series of meditative pieces that count among his most beguiling works to date. It may surprise a few listeners, but many more will find it enchanting, otherworldly and emotion-rich.
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".
Review: Previously, French producer Gary Gritness has carved a niche as a creator of hard-wired revivalist electro and boogie, delivering slightly more eclectic - but wholeheartedly electronic - albums for Hypercolour and others. His latest project is a little different. It sees him join forces with two musician friends to deliver an album of radical new (mostly electronic) interpretations of Don Cherry's jazz-fusion works. All seven tracks were recorded live in the studio using a mixture of dusty drum machines, synthesizers, percussion, acoustic instrumentation (Spanish guitar, saxophone) and the musicians' own voices. The results are superb, delivering intergalactic and often wonderfully out-there covers of Cherry compositions that sound like they were beamed down from some far-off tech-jazz galaxy.