Review: Ever since its initial 1983 release, Ahmed Fakroun's debut album, Mots D'Amour has been considered something of a global fusion classic by Balearic-minded record collectors. Initially released by legendary label Celluloid - home to some genuinely genre-bending electro, post-punk and experimental World Music - the well regarded full-length saw the Libyan singer/songwriter/musician blend traditional Arabic instrumentation and vocal harmonies with the distinctive shimmer of synthesizers, and typically Western pop production. 33 years on, the album has lost none of its' potency, with the breezy, English language track "Love Words", Talking Heads-ish "Soleil Soleil" and cheery "Kalimat Hob" standing out.
Tony Antoniou - "Send In The Night" (instrumental mix)
Spats - "Hot Summer Madness"
Banzai - "Runaway"
Review: For the latest volume in their crate-digging disco series, Under The Influence, Z Records has turned to long-serving British brothers Simon and Robin Lee AKA Faze Action. In keeping with the series' dusty-fingered ethos, there's plenty of brilliant rarities to set the pulse racing - see the smooth '80s boogie of Leston Paul's "All Nite Tonight", the sublime Afro-disco brilliance of Bebe Manga, the up-tempo hustle of Oscar Perry's "Body Movements" and the South American disco swirl of Don Lurio's "Ruba Ruba" - as well as a smattering of obscure versions of classic dancefloor hits (check Michele Claire's version of "In The Bush"). You'll also find a smattering of killer Faze Action edits, too, with their version of Midway's "Set It Out" and Mikki's freestyle-era boogie ham "Dance Lover" standing out.
Review: Thanks to an upsurge in interest in zouk, the synthesizer-heavy tropical style that emerged from the French Antilles in the early 1980s, reissues of superb but hard to find gems from the style's original heyday are becoming increasingly popular. This one from Strut Records is a peach. Originally released in 1988, "Las Pale" is the sole album from Feeling Kreyol, a female trio from Guadeloupe assembled and produced by local studio buffs Darius Denon and Frankie Brumier. It remains a brilliantly effervescent and colourful set, with the trio adding strong and attractive to distinctively tropical drum machine rhythms, shimmering synths, kaleidoscopic melodies and jangling guitars. In other words, it's a giddy blast of electronic tropical brilliance. Don't sleep.
Review: North Carolina's Lee Fields has had a long career with some dramatic pauses, but the last few years have seen him stronger than ever with LPs on Truth & Soul and now Big Crown Records. "It Rains Love" is his second LP with The Expressions, and it strikes a classic Motown note that sounds utterly timeless in its execution. The production definitely has some of the warmth and grit of Motor City classics from back in the day, but Fields' conviction and power in his delivery sounds bang up to date. For fans of Mayfield, Redding et al, this is an unmissable set of rough-edged soul.
Review: Young Turks clearly believe that Tahlilah Barnett, formerly known as Twigs (hence the FKA Twigs pseudonym) is a star in the making. They plucked her from obscurity last year and have since released a number of highly regarded singles. This debut album expands on her EPs to date, showcasing her woozy, intricate take on post-R&B. Naturally, her vocals - fragile and evocative, sounding not unlike Kate Bush on occasions - take centre stage, riding a bed of layered-up head-nodding rhythms, post dubstep grooves, trip-hop soundscapes, fizzing electronics and bubbling synthesizers. It's an intoxicating brew, all told, and one that delivers further proof of Barnett's immense potential.
Review: With a long line of Tru Thoughts documents in his back cat going back to the mid-2000s, and a damn fine comeback on Lack of Afro's label a few years back, Flevans delivers his third album on the mighty Jalapeno. The perfect playground for his wide-armed hook-laden musical funk, and home to his prominent band members Elliott Cole and Izo FitzRoy, it's a match made in groove heaven. The sleazy prowls of "Two Steps", the delicious jazz funk of "Part Time Millionaire", the gilded feel good soul of "15,000 Words" and the straight up shape cutter "Invisible" are just some of the on-point highlights. And that's before we even get to the smouldering Lauryn Hill cover "Ex Factor". Part time millionaire, full time musical brilliance.
Review: A new album from Sam Shepherd AKA Floating Points is always cause for celebration, but even by his standards "Crush" is rather special. Largely eschewing the ambient jazz soundscape shuffle of 2017's "Reflections - Mojave Desert", it sees the Shepherd showcase his musical dexterity in stunning fashion via cuts that wrap shimmering neo-classical strings around what sound like modular electronics and rhythms that variously touch on broken beat, off-kilter experimental D&B and Autechre-style IDM. Of course there are ambient and experimental soundscapes showcased, but it's the fact that the album contains a swathe of formidably dancefloor-focused cuts in the style that first made him standout that pleases us most. Highlights include recent single "LesAlpx", the dreamy "Anasickmodular" and the "People's Potential" style deep house intricacy of "Last Bloom".
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: Jazzman's dusty-fingered diggers recently did a deal to reissue some of the "holy grail" albums released by Austin-based Fable Records in small numbers back in the early 1970s. Forty Seven Times Its Own Weight's "Cumulo Nimbus" is the first of these. It's a pleasingly warm and evocative set of tracks from the one-album combo that offers an enjoyable and cutting edge fusion of hard-wired jazz-funk, post-modal fusion, horizontal slow jams and low-slung goodness that pairs free-jazz style solos and spiritual grooves with just the right amount of funk-fuelled instrumentation (see "Jig"). The set includes both dancefloor-friendly and laid-back fare, with the jaunty title somehow managing to tick both boxes at once.
Review: Gerarado Frisina has always been something of a vinyl enthusiast, meaning plenty of his releases have never made it to CD or digital download. It's these that form the basis of Modern Latin Jazz, a bespoke "best of" that gathers together tracks released at various points over his 16-year career. You get two of his best releases - this year's fantastic Latin Blue album and 2015's Olympia EP - in their entirety, plus tracks taken from rare and hard-to-find 12" singles from the dawn of the decade and long before. The two-disc set does a great job of showcasing Frisina's increasingly dub-tinged approach, mixing Latin jazz floor-fillers, percussive stompers and snaking jazz-house shufflers with more traditional bossa-jazz fare and the kind of warm, loose-limbed nu-jazz that was once found on Jazzanova albums.
Review: Swiss imprint We Release Jazz (an offshoot of the more eclectic WRWTFWW) seems to specialize in reissuing rare and hard-to-find European and Japanese albums. Their latest release falls into the latter category. Originally recorded at Avatar Studios in New York in 1999 and released in Japan only the following uear, Ryo Fukui in New York is undoubtedly a little-known gem. With just bassist Lisle Atkinson and drummer Leroy Wlliams for company, it sees the virtuoso Japabese pianist offer up superb takes on bop and modal classics by such luminaries as Charlie Parker, George Gershwin and Cole Porter. The album also boasts an incredible re-make of his own 'Mellow Dream' that's infinitely better than his already impressive original recording.
Review: Earlier in the year, Japanese label HHV delivered a vinyl reissue of Ryo Fukui's final album, 2016's touching tribute to the jazz club in Soporo he co-founded, Showboat. Now Swiss imprint We Release Jazz have offered up the very same album on CD, at a price that will be far more attractive to listeners on this side of the world. It's worth picking up because in our opinion A Letter From Showboat should be considered a contemporary piano jazz classic. Fukui is on fine form throughout, and it's his fluid and expressive solos that make the album sing. The late pianist's accompanying musicians make their presence felt at just the right time, too, with their best work coming on the album's more up-tempo workouts (think 'Speak Low; 'Soultrane' and 'Sonora').
You Can't Miss What You Can't Measure (Alton Miller mix)
Get Your Ass Off & Jam (Marcellus Pittman remix)
Cosmic Slop (Moodymann mix)
Music For My Mother (Andres Wo Ahh Ay vocal mix)
Undisco Kidd (Gay Marvine edit)
Super Stupid (Dirtbombs version)
Take Your Dead Ass Home (The Fantasy version)
Music 4 My Mother (Underground Resistance mix)
Let's Take It To The Stage (Amp Fiddler Laugin @ Ya mix)
Standing On The Verge (Anthony Shake Shakir & T dancer remix)
You & Your Folks (Claude Young Jr club mix)
Be My Beach (Mophno & Tom Thump mix)
You & Your Folks (Claude Young Jr dub)
Let's Make It Last (Kenny Dixon Jr edit - mono)
Looking Back At You (Ectomorph Stripped & dubbed)
Maggot Brain (BMG dub)
Review: Given the brilliantly simple concept behind this fine compilation - contemporary Detroit producers remix Funkadelic - we're rather surprised nobody's done it before. With 17 varied re-rubs stretched across two hugely entertaining CDs, there's plenty to enjoy. Highlights come thick and fast, from the deep house/P-funk fusion of Alton Miller's take on "Get Your Ass Off and Jam" and Andres' loose, hip-hop influenced revision of "Music For My Mother", to the thrusting loops and heady late night hypnotism of Anthony Shake Shakir and T-Dancer's version of "Standing on the Verge". While many of the versions stay relatively faithful to the original, the more "out-there" interpretations - see BMG's outer-space ambient dub of "Maggot Brain" and Moodymann's epic revision of "Cosmic Slop" - are also consistently impressive.
Review: Point Of No Return, the 1974 debut album by Nigerian combo the Funkees, has long been a sought-after set amongst those who dig for Afro-Funk and Afro-Rock fusion. Here, the inspired set gets a CD reissue for the very first time. It's a fine set, all told, with much of the material sounding not unlike similarly minded British combo Cymande, who burst onto the scene two years before the Funkees made their recording debut. Dotted throughout the album you'll find fuzzier, harder-edged cuts inspired by psychedelic rock, and the electric piano-laden, William Onyeabor-ish bounce of the inspired title track. If you're in the mood for heavy percussion, wild organ lines and even heavier guitars, this should be an essential purchase.