NEWS: Ethopian Jazz Legend; Hailu Megia Delivers Memorable Album Through Awesome Tapes From Africa

 

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This photo is courtesy of Hailu Mergia

Lala Belu represents the revive of Hailu Mergia, who hasn’t produced a solo album for nearly 30 years, and the echoes of that previous album; Tche Belew still resonate with this one. The accordion’s settling nostalgic feel is again carried through into this album, especially in long slow burning track ‘Titzita’.

Hailu first reached acclaim as one of the eight members from the infamous group; Walias Band. A group who enjoyed their best years in the late 1970s during Ethiopia’s golden years, releasing a series of organic jazz, soul albums, which rose them to fame in Ethiopia.

Now, with the backing of Brian Shimkovtiv’s movement; ‘Awesome tape from Africa’ the keyboardist and accordion player ‘Hailu Mergia’ at the age of 72, is back with this wicked stand out release from March.

Have a listen below and support the artist:

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First Thoughts: The Busy Twist – Sunny Side

The Busy Twist have continued to immerse themselves in the African culture to create an EP which brings their own experiences of the UK electronic music, together with the passion and effervescence of African Highlife and Afrobeat.

‘Sunny Side’ represents the first EP release from their newly formed record label aptly named Busy Life Records’ – an ambitious project which aims to ‘tie the dots between West African, South American, Caribbean and UK electronic music’.

‘Sunny side’ opens with a wonderfully lively quick stringed guitar melody, which is recognisable from some Latin house music, however, the main tone is generally Afrobeat; with a lighter, uplifting feel, which is almost befitting of the tracks’ name (Sunny Side). Lead singer Zongo Abongo from Ghana, accompanies the track nicely with a mixture of broken English and a dialect native to north of Ghana, his vocals enrich the track with soul and feeling.

‘Traveller’ excellently follows suit of the last, with additional vocals from Burkina Faso vocalist; Kyekyeku. The Busy Twist stubbornly stay strong to their African highlife influence, featuring similar instruments to the last track, which seamlessly blends the first two tracks together. However, where it differs is the quicker tempo, and free flowing nature of the guitar melody as the track develops, which is reminiscent of work from African highlife artist; Baka Gbine.

Capturing you in a swirling, ambient downtempo groove throughout, is the next track YIRIBA. With additional vocals from Burkina Faso vocalist; Siaka Djarra, carefully riding on the rhythm of the melody. Taking a slightly different turn is their last track titled; ‘Train Soukous’, which steers towards more Caribbean, Latin influences, as the hard-hitting, reverbed vocals make for dreamy, vibrant house track.

Nevertheless, this is EP represents the foundations of The Busy Twist’s work and a sign of bigger things to come from their new label…

First Thoughts: The Maghreban – ’01DEAS’

Rostom (The Maghreban) has had his fair share of releases, with music from opposing ends of the spectrum. In the mid-1990s, Rostom would have been known for his heavy relentless 12-inch jungle records, but for most part of the last decade he’s gone on to produce hip hop sampled beats under the alias Dr Zygote. It’s only until recently , that he has returned to his house roots, as he explains with an interview with FACT TV; “I’m harking back to when I was 14 and when I first fell in love with dance music”.

imagesThis photo is coutesy of Rostom

This most recent release ‘01DEAS’ represents the third project under his electro house inspired alias; The Maghreban, as this album represents the first more comprehensive experience we’ve seen from him, and it kind of feels a long time coming… As, Rostom seemed to tease this epic release with prior short EP releases through Black Acre in 2016 hinting so (listen to ‘Lost It’ below).

01DEAS‘ voyages through an array of cleverly sampled beats, with nearly every track oozing with energy to move dancefloors. From the ever-playful momentous build of ‘Crime Jazz’, with it’s quick hi-hats, catchy keyboard rift and thumping kick providing the early backdrop for an electro synth bubble, to the more deep, tropical house feel of the track ‘Broken’.

As well as those dancefloor workers, there are some nice slow melodic experimental tracks like ‘Mbira’ and ‘String’, which easily complement each other well throughout the album.

Have a listen below, and support the artist via Bandcamp:

First Thoughts: Steve Spacek – Movr Clsr

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Eglo records came back in March with a brilliant release from electronic producer Steve Spacek, titled ‘Movr Clsr’. Spacek’s activity in the industry spans over 20 years, with early work in the mid-90s coming from his formed 3-piece band. Who achieved important acclaim overseas from hip hop legend; Mob Def and highly respected producer; J Dilla. Both showed appreciation for their popular release ‘EVE‘, with Mob Def writing a verse for the re-work, and Dilla producing the remix.

That being said, it wasn’t until going solo from 2005 where Spacek started to reach a wider audience in clubs, and from DJs with the album Spaceshift. However, more familiarly it was the popular broken bouncy grooves of the track ‘Follow me’ which first caught my interest, with its release through Eglo records back in 2016, setting up the release of ‘Move Clsr’ perfectly (listen below)

Moving into 2018, Spacek’s ‘Move Clsr’ EP shows off his eclectic range and appreciation for electronic music. ‘Boo Boo Step’ is a sonically pleasing cauldron of innovative rhythm.
The aptly named track –‘Garage Days’ brings back that old school garage 2-step kick and drum to a futuristic electro pot of relentless rhythm, which Spacek consciously seems to create throughout this EP. An undeniable talent gifting us with more inspired electronic music.

You can listen and support the artist via Bandcamp:

IN Volume 1: Inspired Sound #3

Back with our monthly dose of inspired sounds from around the world. Delving into the sounds from parts of Africa for the most part, whilst dipping in to the experimental broken beats and soul.
Featuring tracks from Gbine Baku, Domu, WU-LU, M’bilal Bel, Afronaught, Neue Grafik as well as other. Enjoy 🙂

**TRACKLIST**

Sweet Talks – Juliana
Sakwe – Baka Gbine
Nazali Mwasi – M’bilia Bel
Electric Africa – Manu Dibango
Wait a Minute (Dwele remix) – Ty
Dont Fight The Feeling ft Dwele – Slum Villiage
The Beaujolais Files – Afronaught
Why You – Neue Grafik
Save you ft Face – Domu
Boulez Boulez – Baka Gbine
El Ruso – Dayme Arocena
A Night Trance – Maisha
Then I Dream ft Binisa Bonner – Wu Lu

First Thoughts – K15 – Sunbeams

Eglo records kicked off their new year nicely with the ever growing K15 delivering a sonically pleasing, Latin house inspired EP.  Previous work with Henry Wu through Eglo records sights at a range of influences, entrusting jazz and hip -hop with their core influence, with the added ‘broken beat’ style production being a consistence presence in their solo work as well.

bt-k15-secondThis photo is courtesy of K15

The ‘Broken beats’ in the UK’s dance scene derived from house producers, Domu, Seiji and Neon Phusions wanting to add something extra house music. They helped pioneer the Co -Op movement in the early 1990s – early 2000s, along with artists such as; IG culture, Dego and Alex Phounikz as well as other. Coming from different scenes the movement came together at a time where they sought to change the underground scene to incorporate a different groove to their work. In some ways, K15 has somewhat backed the break beat resurgence in the last few years, as well as the recently formed selectors assemble.

K15 throughout the EP seems to showcase his deep love for the broken beat style beats, as he seems to blend that with some Afro and Latin inspired synthesized percussion. Sunbeams’ is an infectious rhythm, with the funky bassline setting pace early on, whilst the quick looped Congo drums and persistent bells provides the energy, reminiscent of current Latin House tracks. ‘Starbursts 3’ on the other hand, is a pulsating house, broken beat styled track with a concoction of exotic percussion, giving the track a great party feel. ‘Escenia’ closes the EP blissfully, with a downtempo but still challenging piece.

With only three tracks, your kind left wanting one more, and with each track fitting so nicely together it almost feels like one long track. Nevertheless, K15 is an talented producer who is definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Have a listen to this month’s release from Culross Close (K15) release below:

First Thoughts: Various Artists – We Out Here

Brownswood seem to be making a habit of churning out some exceptional healing and soulful music. If we cast back to last year releases, from London based jazz influenced singer/songwriter; Zara MacFarlane album titled; ‘Arise’, and Cuban star singer; Dayme Arocena’s album titled; ‘Cubafonia’, you may remember how both vocalist stunningly took center stage throughout their albums, as well as, both using their respective Cuban and Jamaican heritage as influence for their lyrics.

Nevertheless, we moved into the new year with something which anyone interested in the jazz will have been waiting for. ‘We Out Here’ is a culmination of everything exciting about London’s jazz scene, with many artists’ in the album having recently released recognised solo projects of their own, it only seemed foretelling this would be great LP. Featuring artists like Nubya Garcia, Theon cross, Moses Boyd, Ezra collective, to name few.

EzraThis photo is courtesy of Ezra Collective

Opening with the tasteful decadent arrangement of Jazz refreshed members; Maisha’s track, which beautifully opens the LP with a cosmic fluid ride. The gentle flute and abrasive bass clarinet complement each other perfectly, providing a befitting opening to the LP.

The Five-piece band Ezra Collective take over with the track ‘Pure Shade’. An infectious vibrant track with an ever-teasing opening with momentous build up eventually equating to a high energy segment, with Joe Armon on the keys and Femi on the drums almost trying to outdo each other for tempo. That momentum gradually fades into a slow downtempo closing to the track.

9793453.jpgThis photo is courtesy of Shabaka Hutchings

We close the LP on a lighter note to previous tracks with afrobeat collective; Kokoroko’s track ‘Abusey Junction’. Their lead Guitarist Oscar Jerome has been making waves with solo material of his own, with the recent album ‘Where Are Your Branches?’. A befittingly calming end to a predominately high energy and creative LP, Oscar’s finger work on the guitar unassumingly puts you at ease, whilst the trombone and trumpets gently fade in and out throughout the track.

I imagine many of the artist siting early jazz to be their main core of influence, this LP represents how jazz has evolved in their eyes, as they have seemingly drawn upon other influences giving their work more vigor to move dancefloors. This LP can only be telling of the great things to come from these artists in future.

IN Volume 1: Inspired Sound #2

Next up in the series, we bring a mellow down tempo blend of UK hip hop and broken beats, future funk  from artists like little Simz, Kojey radical, Alxndr London, Nightmares on wax, to more lively highlife and afro electronic dance from the likes of Ibibio sound machine and Owiny sigoma band. Enjoy 🙂

**TRACKLIST**

Private conversation VIII – EABS
Time Travel – Little Simz
Loves Intervention – Kojey Radical
Lucille – Anthony Hamilton Theo Parrish re-edit
Ajo (lego edit 45)
A funky Afro Rican Weekend – GB Soundtrack for sunrise
Gotta Smile – Nightmares on Wax
Kraak and Smaak ft Alxndr London
Family Tree – St Germain
Just Negotiate Kaidi Tatham remix – Henry Wu
Super Lion – Kaidi Tatham
Uwa Peakcock – Ibibio Sound Machine
Let’s Dance – Ibibio Sound Machine
Search It Out – Penya
Jonny Ra Ha – Owiny Sigoma Band
Mewo Akoma – Pat Thomas and Kwashibu Area Ban

IN Volume 1: Inspired Sound #1

The first in the Inspired Sound mix series from January, representing a soulful underground music inspired sound aims to promote. This mix is a blend of American hip – hop from Saba, Noname and Goldlink, as well as contemporary jazz, broken beat and nu-house influenced tracks. Mixed by Inspired sound editor; Kofi aka Kenobi. Follow us on soundcloud to keep updated with

**TRACKLIST**
Sheigto – Detroit Part 2
Noname – Shadow Man
Saba – There you go
Noname – Diddy Bop
Kaidi Tatham – Mister Seahorse
DJ Nature – Gentle Percussion
Goldlink – Meditation
Mike Steva – Oasis Resolution (Atjazz Remix)
Dego & Kaidi – Decide what we choose
Gwen McCrae – Winners together or losers (K&F Edit)
Maxwell Owin & Joe Armon- Jones – Mind’s Eye
Look (Beyond You) – K15
Shaolin Monk Motherfunk – Hiatus Kaiyote

First Thoughts: Portable presents RANGEr

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Alan Abrahams aka Portable, is an artist very much defined by his past and his journey from South Africa to Paris via Berlin and Lisbon. This journey has seen him develop into a critically acclaimed producer, singer and video artist working with some of the biggest players in house and techno. His latest venture with recently turned record label Waella’s choice, run by Stamp the Wax founder; Aaron Levitt, and Andy Lemay (Dimension Festival), seems to draw upon a range of influences.

Three of the tracks feature South African Capella group ‘Korus’, who effortlessly take center piece with some beautiful native south African vocals. The first track ‘Bazonkonwaba’ is an amazing hazy tranquil piece, with lovely warm synths accompanying Korus’ vocals, giving an a kind of Afro-futuristic influence with heavy use of synths. This afro-futuristic theme is again spilled over in the next two tracks on the first side, (‘Normalizo’ and ‘Indaba’) with the Korus acapella group vocals.

The EP closes with the focus shifting to Portable’s arrangement in tracks ‘Vessel’ and ‘Reset’. Vessel transitions out of the cosmic journey from the first three tracks to an uplifting groovy jazz and funk production. With the wicked bassline riff remaining a constant throughout is reminiscent of some recent indie rock tracks. Whilst the bubbling synths, various percussion and keys bouncing off the electronic funk rhythm, makes the track so easy to nod to. A truly wonderful EP from Portable, definitely someone to keep tabs on if you’re not already, and of course, keep an eye out for any pending releases through Waella’s choice!

You can listen here: