Review: Celebrating 50 years of one of the most definitive fusion records ever made, Now Again present the most fitting remaster Axelrod's critically acclaimed debut album Song Of Innocence has ever had. An immense piece of work that pays homage to William Blake and brought together nodes and notions of rock, classical, funk, psychedelic and boogaloo, this reissue comes straight from the original masters with engineering and consultation from Axelrod's production partner H B Barnum, original keyboardist Don Randi, his widow Terri and producer T-Ray. Still as complex and cosmic and sounding better than ever.
Review: David Axelrod's 1969 album Songs of Experience - the now legendary follow-up to 1668's similarly acclaimed Songs of Innocence - has long been regarded as something of a classic, not to mention a constant source of samples for hip-hop producers such as DJ Shadow, Pete Rock, Madlib and KRS-One. As this reissue proves, it remains a peerless release. While it was inspired by the poems of William Blake, the album's tracks brilliantly fuse elements of jazz, European classical music, jazz-funk, rock, pop and traditional British and Irish folk music. It's a stunning set of instrumental tracks, all told - a kind of imaginary soundtrack to the best film never made.
Review: Co-produced by none other than James Brown and featuring a band led by fellow funk/soul legend Dave Matthews, The Grodeck Whipperjenny's sole album has long been considered something of a must-have by heavy funk fans. Original copies have tended to be hard to come by, so this Record Store Day reissue from Now Again Records, which comes complete with a booklet telling the story of the 1970 set, should be an essential purchase. It's a curiously psychedelic affair, with string-laden, near symphonic moments (see the almost entirely beat-free "Conclusions" being joined by cuts that explore spiraling funk-rock ("Sitting Here On A Tongue") and acid-fired psychedelic rock ("Why Can't I Go Back").
Review: Karl Hector and the Malcouns are an interesting proposition. While ostensibly a funk band, their output regularly touches on Afrobeat, exotic Indian instrumentation, trippy psychedelic rock, atmospheric soundtrack fare and wonky, drum-Laden sci-fi weirdness. This sophomore set - their debut, Sahara Swing, dropped in 2008 - includes all these influences and more, offering a vivid, off-kilter journey taking in psychedelic jazz-funk, Arabic instrumental soul and Hammond-laden psychedelic freak-outs. It's hard to pin down, for sure, but that just adds to its' humid, kaleidoscopic allure.
Review: Man of many talents Jan "JJ Whitefield" Weissenfeldt established Karl Hector & The Malcouns back in 2008, incorporating members of previous projects Poets of Rhythm and Syrup. Unlike those projects, which paid tribute to funk and disco respectively, The Malcouns effortlessly blend elements of Afrobeat, highlife, psychedelia and, most intriguingly, krautrock. This third album picks up where its' predecessors left off, delivering a range of tracks that blend African vocals and instrumentation with the loose, low-slung experimentalism of krautrock, and the distinctive grunt of vintage funk. It's a formula that guarantees success time and again, with highlights including the Fela-on-a-trip wonkiness of "Shangold", and the hazy tropical bliss of "Transition X".
Review: Four years in the making, The Heliocentrics debut album, "Out There", is finally complete. Good luck trying to categorize their music. Led by the relentless drummer Malcolm Catto, the UK collective's objective lays quite a ways beyond what ordinary listeners know or expect.
Review: US eight-piece Heliocentrics have long been regarded as talented musical mavericks - an exceptional live outfit whose freakish, psychedelic blend of influences results an intoxicating fusion of freestyle jazz, dub, funk, Afrobeat, hip-hop, post-punk disco and cinematic atmospherics. This fourth full-length is arguably their strongest yet, thanks principally to their experimental, no-holds barred approach. Out-there, atmospheric and inventive throughout, 13 Degrees of Reality sounds like an unlikely jam session between Sun Ra, Material, Ennio Morricone, John Carpenter and early Cinematic Orchestra. There can be no better praise than that.