Review: Blacks & Blues is a new name to 2000 Black, but the people behind the project are label stalwarts: Dego, Kaidi Tatham, Matt Lord (AKA Lordamercy) and vocalist Obenewa Aboah. With such talent on show, it's unsurprising that opener "Spin" - a cracking slab of broken-beat/soul fusion rich in military style drums, jazz-funk keys and summery vocals - is rather good. While dancefloor-friendly, the track feels loose, languid and tailor-made for outdoor parties. "Don't Know Why (Chant For Love)" is an even more lo-fi broken soul excursion (very Fatima), while "You Know The Feeling" recalls the jazz-funk-fired soulful club cuts of early 2000s broken beat heroes Bugz In The Attic.
Review: Yadava made a sterling debut appearance last year with the fully realised "It Rains Here" album on Church, and now he's following up that strong start with this equally excellent four tracker for Ad Hoc. The Manchester-based artist leads in with the natural bump and flex of "Grapefruits" and his jazzy chops are plain to hear throughout. "Heart Strings" lets spiritual strings and plenty of reverb shape out a misty mood that it's impossible to resist, while "Camomile Samba" brings a more uptempo feel to his honey-coated production. "Go Slow" finishes the record off on a supremely mellow beat down for those oh-so-sweet chill moments after the party.
Review: Stunning stuff here from the mysterious but utterly intriguing West Loop Chicago, an outfit only known for two previous releases on City Volt and nothing else. Taking cues from the broken beat and jazz scenes, this new record is a force to be reckoned with, not least as "The Serpent" comes wheeling in with a skittering drum funk and bugging synth lines to send you pinging into the cosmos. On the flip, "Divinity" has a more organic feel with Rhodes keys and piano dancing across the rhythms - these aren't specifically billed as edits, but given the project's background in disco re-rubs it's safe to assume these are two soul jazz bombs buffed up for your wild card spinning pleasure. There's even bonus beats for each track included - how considerate!
Review: Freshly minted label Dance Regular has pushed the boat out for release number one, pulling together no less than six tracks on a multi-artist extravaganza. James Rudie steps up first via the Rhodes-laden, off-kilter deep house dustiness of "Good Fry Up", before Szajna doffs a cap towards 2000 Black on the deep and musically rich broken beat business of "Break In My Back". Captain Over's "No-Look Nutmeg" is a suitably bass-heavy bruk workout laden with 8-bit electronics, while Xtra Brux's "Somebody" brilliant joins the dots between broken beat and two-step garage. Elsewhere, Trev's "For You Around Me" is a sumptuous chunk of summery and soulful dancefloor bliss, while Ishfaq's "Hypnosis No 9" is jazzy, synth-heavy and wayward in the best possible way.
Review: Captain Over (real name Greg Surmacz) rather brilliantly describes himself as an "intergalactic skengman" who crafts "broken beats out of space debris". Here he makes his label debut on Darker Than Wax with his first fully instrumental EP (much of his previous work featured grime MCs). He opens the 12" strongly via the shuffling broken beats, alien electronics, warm chords and eight-bit melodies of "4D", before skewering the drums further on the wonderfully bass-heavy and out there "Deep Blue". Over on side B, "Mind's Eye" is an off-kilter chunk of spacey bruk positivity, "New Life Forms" boasts some sparkling synths and bleepy "space debris", and "Take It Too Far" is an on-point broken beat roller rich in Sinclair Spectrum beeps and rich, jammed-out chords.
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: Sam Shepherd may have spent the last few years offering up off-kilter, jazz-fired grooves and heady ambient soundscapes, but he still knows how to rock a dancefloor. That much is proved by his first Floating Points single for almost two years. "LesAlpx (Extended)" is his most forthright, club-focused cut in ages - a thrusting chunk of rumbling, peak-time techno built around heavy bass, sweaty drums, twinkling electro piano motifs and raging, foreboding electronics. Shepherd teases in the most melodic, rush-inducing elements, introducing spacey synthesizers and dreamy chords midway through. It's breathtakingly good. Flipside "Coorabell" is similarly potent, with acid style electronics, warm chords and sun-kissed electronics wrapped around swinging, two-step influenced house beats and a weighty, sub-heavy bassline. In a word: essential.
Review: London label Olindo continues to explore the world of contemporary Venezuelan music via a three-track 7" from up-and-coming multi-instrumentalist and composer Isaac Sasson. The two original tracks here are sweet, loose and gently breezy, with Sasson offering up an atmospheric blend of soft-focus South American rhythms, evocative acoustic guitars, humid tropical field recordings, breathy flute solos and occasional flashes of his own improvised vocals. The flipside boasts a fine remix from Albert's Favourites artist Hector Plimmer, who fuses hand-picked Sasson samples - percussion, vocals, and so on - with dreamy synthesizer chords, lilting electronic melodies and a super-deep breakbeat groove.
With More Love (Special edit instrumental version) (6:42)
Review: Originally released back in 2009 in its' epic 13-minute original form, "With More Love" remains one of Joaquin "Joe" Claussell's most endearing tracks - a gorgeous chunk of sun-kissed spiritual house rich in fluid piano solos, sunset-ready classical guitar solos, undulating bass, non-verbal vocal harmonies and the producer's bouncy Afro-Latin house beats. Happily, Clausell has decided to reissue the track, offering up two scaled-down versions that fit on one tidy seven-inch single. On the A-side you'll find the "Special 7" Edit", a six minute blast of ultra-positive dancefloor bliss that's about the most positive thing we've heard in ages. Turn to the flip for a previously unreleased instrumental take that strips the track back further, allowing the gorgeous piano solos and busy bass guitar more room to breathe.
Review: Given that he's been rather busy with 22a's jazz house band Ruby Rushton, it's quite a surprise to discover that Tenderlonious has found time to record another solo album, his first full-length solo effort for three years. It's a deep, woozy and atmospheric affair, with the storied Peckham producer flitting between jazz-funk-fuelled deep electro ("Buffalo Gurl"), lapsed lo-fi deep house ("Hard Rain", "Casey Jr"), blunted beats ("GU22"), sparkling ambient jazz ("Low Tide"), wonky futurist synthesizer grooves ("Another State Of Consciousness"), and cuts so deep, jazzy and off-kilter that they defy definition ("Aesop Thought", where his distinctive flute playing takes centre stage).
Review: David Hanke's Renegades Of Jazz project has been relatively successfully in achieving its initial aims, namely "bringing the jazz back to the dancefloor". After a three-year hiatus Hanke and company are back with a new album, "Nevertheless" - a funk-fuelled romp through bustling breakbeats, elastic double bass, fuzzy Stax style horns, jammed out piano lines and groovy guitar riffs. Hanke has roped in a number of guest vocalists and collaborators to put their stamp on the set, with stellar contributions from rapper Donnie Numeric (the hip-hop/jazz/funk fusion of "Hot Wired"), soul singer Clair Fallows (see the punchy floor-rocker "Light Me Up") and Afrika Fuentes (check the tropical funk brilliance of "Don't Break My Love").
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: If you enjoyed the loose, warm and organic musical fusions of Italian outfits Nu Guinea and Mystic Jungle, we'd recommend checking out this fine debut album from fellow countrymen Aura Safari. The Perugua-based quartet explore similar influences - think jazz, jazz-funk, dusty deep house, Afro-cosmic, Balearica and boogie, for starters - and rely on a similar blend of vintage synthesizer sounds, live and programmed drums, jazz-friendly brass instruments and elastic bass guitar. The resultant album, then, feels like it comes from a similar sonic place, even if Aura Safari's distinctive musical blend is even more eclectic, emotive and atmospheric than that offered by their aforementioned contemporaries. Either way, it's a superb set.
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: Mysterious no-wave combo Madmadmad hasn't released many records since debuting in 2012, but what they have put out has been consistently on-point. This surprise debut album is, of course, up to the same exacting sonic standards. Prioritising low-slung punk-funk grooves, spaced-out psychedelic guitar solos, cheeky surf-rock riffs, starburst electronics and fuzzy musical motifs, the band offers up an album that's as raucous and riotous as it is strutting and dancefloor friendly. Highlights are plentiful, with our picks including the wild "Randomisation", the hip-swinging grooves and intergalactic electronics of "Mouse Rock (Rework)", the peak-time stomp of "Hot Disco" and "Gwarn", and stomping, spiraling dub disco rush of "Push The Bass Control".
Review: London's Catching Flies returned to action last year after a five year absence with "Satisfied", an ambient and chillwave flavoured single that was every bit as alluring as his earlier work. Here he attempts to build on that success with a confident debut album that reminded us a little - in parts at least - of Jordan Rakei's earlier work. The ten tracks largely tend towards the slick, soulful and summery, with woozy lead vocals riding atop head-nodding beats, soft-touch instrumentation, jazzy guitar passages and the kind of sunset-ready sounds that will delight those of a Balearic persuasion. Highlights include the music box melodies of ambient curt "Opals", the sunny opener "Komerebi" and the sing-along stomp of "Satisfied".