Review: Having sprung into action with the Sol Explorer EP on Girasole, William Caycedo is back with a new selection of jams on the ever-developing SlapFunk. As the label's remit for minimal house and techno broadens, we're treated to low slung leftfield beats on "Booty Call" before the peppier broken beat groove of "Ain't No Joke". "Creepin'" and "G Groove" head into more familiar territory for SlapFunk fans, but there's still space for the crisp, laid back funk of "Tales From The West" and the off-kilter jazzy vibes of "Yes We Do" thrown in for good measure.
Review: Bouncing his time between Antibalas and his Marcos Garcia and Chico Mann projects, Chico returns after several years of silence with a sweet slice of lolloping broken soul. With its soft padded synths and cotton wool hug of Kendra Morris's vocals, there's a delicate tumble to proceedings as we nod and slide into a sound that's remained in its own soul universe since emerging almost 20 years ago. When done as well and with as much authenticity as this, it's timeless.
Review: If you've yet to succumb to the charms of Children of Zeus - and there can't be many out there who haven't - then this "odds and ends" LP offers a neat introduction. Five of the seven tracks have been plucked from the Manchester crew's previous full-length excursions, while the other two - seductively soulful two-step garage reworks of "Vibrations" and "Slow Down" by fellow Manchester resident Zed Bias - have previously been almost impossible to get hold of. Setting aside the club-ready remixes, what "Excess Baggage" proves is that Children of Zeus are one of British music's most essential outfits right now, delivering sensual and life-affirming cuts that brilliantly blend the best aspects of hip-hop, R&B and modern soul.
Review: "Call on Me" is the standout single from cult Japanese beat maker mabanua's 2018 album Blurred. It's an impossibly innocent and naive sounding track thanks to Chara's angelic vocal delivery and the gentle, carefree guitar licks beneath, but it gets totally flipped by Knxwledge. The in demand, LA-based Stones Throw artist reworks it into a slow motion beat with hazy chords and a superbly funky bassline. In his hands, Chara's vocal becomes somehow romantic, adding to the track's alluringly lovestruck vibe.
Review: Kiev House go straight for the uplifting, heart-melting tip with this album release from label lynchpin Cape Cod. Richard Farrell brings a swooning sentimentality to "Sunsay", while YMTK drops some RnB vocal flex over the insanely catchy "Good Company Girl". There's space for all kinds of production on this varied album from footwork beats and rave-tinged breaks, but the overarching theme is one of crossover maximalism - brilliantly produced vocal tracks that by right should be bothering the charts the world over. Get the inside track on some next level crowd pleasers from Eastern Europe.