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:

 

New Music: Henry Wu and Earl Jeffers Deliver Short EP Titled; Projections EP

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Earl Jeffers clever sample selection shown through the amazing Gloria EP inspires soulful elements to his predominately deep house tracks. Noteworthy tracks such as ‘Pleasure Signal’ and ‘Gloria’, provide a hypnotic layered bassline along to some gentle beautiful vocals which have become a custom to some of Earl Jeffers productions.

In spite only being 2 track EP, Projections; seems to collide creative free spirit on the Keys with Earl Jeffers heavy soul house influence together excellently. Wu’s skills on the keys are evident in both tracks laid over hi-hats and kick, brilliantly adds flair and vibrancy making it special from other house tracks.

You can have a buy to the Projection EP at Rush Hour records

First Thoughts: Penya – Super Liminal

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Like most artists these day, Penya are a group which are difficult to pinpoint to a particular genre. However, Penya can be described as a percussion driven, electronic quartet led by producer and multi-instrumentalist; Magnus PI, whose most recent EP; Super Liminal has been receiving some rave reviews from various publications; such as Stamp the Wax and Boiler Room, as well as, Brownswood founder Gilles Peterson. The various versions of Acclere from their previous EP, had an infectious, high energy displaying Latin influences in not just the vocals, but also the heavy percussion and vibrant guitar giving the track a cosmic warmth.

Super liminal (released through On The Corner Records) seems to culminate their percussive wanderings through Cuba, Turkey, Morocco, Tanzania, India, Peru which they describe to have driven their alternative tribal Afro-Latin rhythms. There’s a perfect balance of dance floor workers with fantastic tribal energy, as shown in tracks like ‘Search It Out‘ and ‘Karachi’. Tracks such as ‘Cham bomb’, ‘Beat your Demon’ and ‘Lysesa’ seemingly take you through a cosmic tranquil journey of Penya’s experiences and influences, all three offer a sense of contemplation and peace. There’s something incredibly enriching about this album which is very difficult to describe in words. Every track sounds organic and unique in their own right but still congeal together under similar influences which help form Penya’s sound.

LIVE: Speaking In Sound, Something London Needs More Of

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This photo is courtesy of Touching Bass

Nestled in the cosy humble space; Brilliant Corners, took place the Touching Bass crew’s following ‘Speaking in Sound’ session with Dego. Touching Bass consider themselves to be ‘soul disciples’, aiming to forward black-oriented music with soul, through discussion and music. They’re a collective whose movements and key message resonates’ well with inspired sound. At a time, where London’s creative culture is being disrupted with growing gentrification in some areas, and with creativity through music and arts being important for many young generations’ in London. It’s important London has collectives like Touching Bass; to stimulate and showcase the foundations of music and creativity in London. It’s what makes these “Speaking in Sound” sessions so unique, and, to have a wonderfully talented musician like Dego there, could do nothing but inspire.

Words such as visionary and forward-thinker, have been ushered under Dego’s name. Those familiar with his work, wont be quick to disagree with those labels. But those who are not familiar with his work, should know Dego has been meticulously producing music for over 20 years. Growing up in a household amongst many reggae, hip hop, jazz records, he sights in the interview – it was from those sounds, which laid the foundations for his early interests and work. However, with the dance music scene growing steadily in the 1990s, be fittingly, his first releases were heavily influenced by DnB, jungle, and later; techno. Which he produced as part of the 4hero dance collective movement in 1990s. His later work in 2000s, led to the resurrection of his 2000BLACK label, which gained popular acclaim and seemed to carve out a niche sound, with a concoction of house, techno and jazz. Some people view the early 2000s as the rise of the “broken beat” style production in the London scene, led by Dego amongst others.

This photo is for promotional use only

 Anyway, anyone who’s been to Brilliant corners, will understand how sonically gifting the venue is. It’s a very contemplative and unassuming venue, with beautifully vibrant moon-shaped lanterns hanging down from the ceiling. The session Comfortably accommodated 50-60 people, with chairs ideally arranged in semi-circle shaped rows, and a cosy cushioned seating area, adding to the ambience and collective feel of the event. The evening began with Touching bass’ very own Alex Rita showing off her latest collection of records, her groovy afro influenced records settled listeners easily, as her selection, seemed as intricately selected, as her blending. What followed of course, was the main discussion with the man himself; Dego.
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This photo is courtesy of Briliant Corners

It’s difficult to go in much detail of the discussion itself, as I wouldn’t want to miss paraphrase anything.  But hearing Dego answering questions so unapologetically, and honestly was encouraging. Having never seen Dego perform live before, but having been an appreciative listener of his work, it was finally nice to put a face to his music. Dego warmed into the discussion and grew in confidence, as he spoke more freely and comfortably as time went on. Discussing topics around the inspiration for each of his albums, his main influencers growing up, and generally his journey to where he is now. It was a very light-hearted discussion, and although he’s a respected and revered character by some, it was easy to warm to him. In a lot of cases, when you go to a music event, there’s always a slight barrier between you and the artist you’re seeing, but these open discussion, help to pull away those barriers. It allows enthusiastic creatives to ask questions, and pick the mind of someone with a lot more experience within the industry. It invokes a more meaningful sense of inspiration.

Anyway, as time went, everyone began to respond well to Dego’s casual, nonchalant manner, and the number of questions asked from audience, meant we ended going over time! Nevertheless, as promised, Dego still had the energy to show off some of his vast record collection. Once the lights dimmed down, we were treated to some beautiful old soulful, jazz and disco records, mostly from the 80s and 90s. There were some hints of more broken beat tracks which had inspired some of his own productions in the early 2000s, and which earned him the label; “icon” (as Errol respectfully referred to Dego as, in the introduction). Dego was quick to humbly reject that notion, and rather funnily reiterated that, at the end of his discussion. It was a lovely, immersive experience involving discussion, as well as music. It’s the kind of unique experience London needs more of, as there’s a lot of inspiration to find from artists’ such as Dego, and I look forward to the next session.

Check out the Touching Bass Afro chronicles Volume one: https://touching-bass.bandcamp.com/album/tb-afro-chronicles-volume-one

 

 

LIVE: Keeping Up Appearances: Leftfoot x Shadow City

There’s definitely a sense of intrigue and excitement, when Shadow City and Leftfoot collaborate together for an evening of music. The two Birmingham brands strive to showcase live musicians and DJs with a diverse taste for music, to Birmingham‘s growing underground music scene. Those familiar with Shadow City, will have noticed their elevation and dedication to growing the foundations they laid back in 2011, when they first started. They recently introduced the very talented live electronic musician ‘Ross From Friends’, who’s been enjoying a recent rise in to the electronic music scene. Moreover, last summer saw Shadow City host a stage at one of the nation’s more recognisable small boutique festival; Farr Festival, bringing in the likes of ‘Chaos in the CBD’ and ‘Booka shade’ to name a few.
Meanwhile, Leftfoot have pioneered and paved the way for more leftfield and soulful nights in Birmingham, ever since their inception back in 2000. They’re a brand which have always aimed to bring in particularly talented and special artists; welcoming musicians such as, Roy Ayers, Mount Kimbie, Pimp Sessions, Jazzie B and Mr Scruff to name a few. Leftfoot and Shadow City collaborations in the past, have showcased DJs with more of an experimental and varied music selection, which, in many ways has challenged Birmingham’s quite established tech-house scene. So, to hear Shadow city and Leftfoot were collaborating again, we were keen to see what DJs like; Gilles Peterson, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Palms Trax and Quantic, had to offer.

Across Birmingham’s highly acclaimed nightclub; Rainbow venues, were three rooms of music, with each room expressing a significant feature as the last. Rainbow’s rooftop terrace offers a skyline view of Birmingham’s city center, something which any nightclub would be dying to have. The slightly quieter music and sitting area present a slower, less hectic feel to the nightclub. Although, the impressive crowd drawn throughout the evening, was more than to down the quality of talented local Birmingham DJs. The terrace was predominately held down by one of Birmingham’s younger independent parties, born out of a desire to showcase more live, soulful music. They too, have developed a great relationship with Leftfoot, given their similar passions, and as a result opened their doors to some fantastic electronic producers such as; Harvey Sutherland, Max Graef, Chaos in the CBD, Athlete Whippet and Henry Wu. Moodfix  resident; Tilly, eased listeners perfectly in to the night, amongst Birmingham’s skyline back drop. Moodfix head honcho; Jack Barber and fellow resident Lewis Ryan, did very well to draw in an edger crowd in the middle of evening, amongst the big names in the Warehouse and Blackbox. One song which naturally had everyone singing towards the end of the night was Midland’s anthem ‘Final Credits’, a highlight of 2016.

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This photo is courtesy of Leftfood LTD

However, in spite the beautiful setting and talented local DJs on the terrace – downstairs, was the focal point of interest. Rainbows famous intimate space; Blackbox, characterised by its low ceilings and immersive feel, played host to Worldwide FM and Brownswood founder; Gilles Peterson. Gilles’ cultured the crowd with a selection of scincilating records, influenced from around the globe. Warming the crowd with some feel-good funk n soul beats had everyone enticed, as Gilles’ introduction signalled the first big headliner on the bill for the night. As his set went on, Gilles’ truly then began to showcase his range, bringing in some African influenced techno characterised by the consistent low and high pitch congo drums, whilst also blending jungle and dubstep. His range kept listeners entertained and didn’t disperse anyone’s interest, a sign of a great selector.

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This photo is courtesy of Leftfoot LTD

Following on from Gilles’ eclectic taste, is a toll order for any DJ, but Motor City Drum Ensemble (MCDE), perfectly settled and soothed the crowd in the Blackbox, following on from Gilles. MCDE’s raw cuts album back in 2010, showcased what he was all about, bridging the gap between house music, with soul and jazz, and his set, really reflected those vibes. His set rarely faded from interest, consistently swinging back and forth between heavily instrumentally sampled house tracks, with some jazz and soul influence, which he often used to settle the crowd, from the more intense classic house tracks, and the occasional drumcode techno. Techno rarely fails to disappoint. The small blend of techno stirred the crowd to a frenzy at times, as it wasn’t expected. I cast my mind back to an interview with Motor City saying he flicking back to some techno generally goes down well.

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Closing the evening, can sometimes be a difficult task for a DJ, as the crowd never really want the night to end. Screams of ‘one more tune’, are a common theme of most raves towards the end of night, and so it was the task of Palms Trax and Quantic, to leave a lasting memory for the Birmingham crowd. Quantic is a phenomenally talented musician with an extensive ability to play many instruments. Palms Trax’s, eclectic taste for worldly sounds from Latin America, and Africa, with the added attention to experimental electronic music, has made him a point of interest within the industry. With two DJs clashing in both rooms, it was Palms trax who seemed to draw the greater  crowd. Palms trax’s delicate, smooth transitions of melodic, banging techno, for the first half hour of his set, eased the keen ravers into his set. His smoothness hooked the crowd tremendously for the first half of hour, until eventually dropping Henrik Schwarz remix of ‘Kuar’, which sensationally brought the party back life. It’s catchy, rhythmic Portuguese lyrics resonating throughout song, along to a jumpy hard bassline , are hard not to enjoy. The introduction of Kuar, certainly reminded the room that the party wasn’t over!

What’s impressive about the DJs mentioned, is their cultured taste, and curiosity to bring an eclectic blend of inspiring music to their sets. Palms and Gilles in particular, have shown their broad music knowledge from previous sets, and we can always count on them to continue.

IS.