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Joel Culpepper - Return

While still enjoying this man's 2017 extraordinary debut LP 'Tortoise', it is about to get a sibling, if this new two-tracker is anything to go by. Two polar opposites in their approach (musically), 'Return' is mysterious, Future Soul Music in 95bpm territory, rich with moody simplicity yet also surging with positivity in the changes before the the two mix to see us out. Memories of Plantlife's Jack Splash and Lenny Kravitz in Joel's vocal delivery. 'W.A.R' comes fuelled with passion. The Motown-paced drums are backed up by an undiluted 'Dance to the Music' powered horn-section and rhythm guitar. The man himself reflects of his two new offspring:

'Return' is a revenge song. It comes with angst, entitlement and stakes being raised. Hearing the wise words of my mum in the hook “mama said let it go, let it go” but ignored explicitly in the verses. Wrote this with Redinho who also produced Sheriff. I feel like we made a classic payback tune, no holding back. Gimme what I’m owed. 
'W.A.R.' was written the day after Glastonbury. I was still fuelled by performing on the West Holts stage; Swindle asking me to join him on the end of his set. This was a bit of a dream-team collaboration, Swindle, Jimmy Hogarth and Shawn Lee )who played drums throughout most of the record.) A song about no longer turning the other cheek as a response to your enemy but caving into a pure hearted reaction. The situation presented only deserves intolerance, anything else is compliance. The anger is a righteous one facing the reality that peace cannot win every battle but resistance. A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything. That saying stuck with me.

Joel Culpepper's 'Return/WAR’  is due for release on 11/12/2020 on Pepper Records - executive produced by long term collaborator Swindle. The album features tracks co-produced and written with Guy Chambers, Linden Jay, Raf Rundell (2 Bears), Shawn Lee, Redinho, Tom Misch, Kay Young (Roc Nation) and Jimmy Hogarth. It was three years in the making, with the singles garnering regular support from Annie Mac , Nick Grimshaw, Huw Stephens, Clara Amfo, Dj Target, Jamz Supernova, Lauren Laverne, Gilles Peterson, Toddla T, Tom Ravenscroft, Don Letts, Benji B, Chris Hawkins, Craig Charles, Jo Whiley and Trevor Nelson.

Single of the Week

Sun Ra Arkestra - Swirling

The mighty Sun Ra Arkestra, under the direction of the maestro Marshall Allen, release their first studio album in over twenty years, ‘Swirling’.


Recorded at Rittenhouse Soundworks in Philadelphia, the new recording represents the continuation of a heartfelt rebirth of the Arkestra under Allen’s guidance since Sun Ra left the planet in 1993, gaining new generations of followers from their regular touring across the globe. With a big band line-up featuring long-standing Arkestra members including Danny Ray Thompson (RIP), Michael Ray, Vincent Chancey, Knoel Scott, Cecil Brooks, Atakatune (RIP), Elson Nascimento and Tyler Mitchell, the album is a full-blooded celebration of Sun Ra’s legacy.


Tracks include brand new arrangements of Arkestra staples ‘Angels And Demons At Play’, ‘Satellites Are Spinning’, ‘Door Of The Cosmos’ and ‘Rocket No. 9’ alongside lesser known gems; the rousing blues ‘Darkness’ is recorded here for the first time, resurrected from the Ra archives by Marshall Allen. Other highlights include an epic version of ‘Seductive Fantasy’ (first recorded on Ra’s ‘On Jupiter’ LP in 1979), the freeform sonic blast of ‘Infinity / I’ll Wait For You’ and a first ever recording of the Marshall Allen swing composition, ‘Swirling’.


“We truly hope that this recording brings much joy to a planet which is so deeply in need of a spirit sound and vibration,” states saxophonist Knoel Scott. “We hope it contributes to a change in the ominous direction of man’s journey through the cosmos.” “This new release is the Arkestra’s love offering to the world,” concludes Marshall Allen. “Beta music for a better world.”


Sun Ra Arkestra’s ‘Swirling’ is available now on Strut on all formats.

Various - Web Web Remixes #1 EP

A quartet of heavyweights, Roberto Di Gioia, Tony Lakatos, Christian von Kaphengst and Peter Gall get some equally weighty remixes on Berlin's Compost Records. For this extended-player, Compost were able to attract some top-notch producers to celebrate from a recent slew of highly-acclaimed albums 'Oracle' (2017), 'Dance Of The Demons' (2018) and 'Worshippers' (2020).

Herbie Hancock-like Nu-disco/Boogie by the stalwart Mousse T., which has already been given massive support by Louie Vega on his Worldwide radio show. A minimal Afro Tech-House re-work by New York residents Hector Romero & Ayala; some leftfield broken beats plus a mellow slow motion version of 'Land Of The Arum Flowers' by eclectic Italian tar Khalab; an epic downbeat monster by Vienna beat smith URBS. Michael Cleis takes us on another one of his magnetic, epic journeys on one of the remixes of 'Maroc Blues'  and last but not least a Trip-Hop-era Dub feel to Munich’s beat wunderkind L One on the shortest but perhaps the pick of this first collection. 

Congratulations to Web Web for three years of standout music, the remixers of that music and Compost for bringing it all together. Out now.

Thundercat - Fair Chance (feat. Ty Dolla

Floating Points remixes ‘Fair Chance (feat. Ty Dolla $ign & Lil B) from Thundercat’s incredible album “It Is What It Is” out now on Brainfeeder Records

Back in April, as the world was spiralling into COVID-19 lockdown, Thundercat released his aptly titled album “It Is What It Is” featuring musical contributions from Flying Lotus, Childish Gambino, Kamasi Washington, Steve Lacy, Steve Arrington, BADBADNOTGOOD, Louis Cole, Zack Fox, Ty Dolla $ign and Lil B. The latter pair graced the single ‘Fair Chance’, a song that reflected a more sombre side to the album and was explicitly dedicated to the memory of Mac Miller who tragically passed away in 2018.

Earlier this summer, rappers Smino and Guapdad 4000 brought their own inimitable flavour to the anthemic ‘Dragonball Durag’ and now it’s the turn of much loved British producer Floating Points to share his take on ‘Fair Chance’, nudging the ballad onto the dancefloor with a fabulous rework that nods to vintage 4x4 UKG. The digital is out now and a 12” is available to preorder with a street date of 18 December 2020.

The remix comes during a monumental year for Thundercat. “It Is What It Is” already landed on numerous “Albums of the Year So Far” lists including Billboard, Rolling Stone, Complex, Bandcamp Daily, NPR, Paste (#15) and Stereogum (#15), Mojo and Uncut. Furthermore he has graced the covers of The Wire, Brick and London In Stereo.


DJ Fede (feat. Silvia Donati)- Brazilian

Italian DJ and producer DJ Fede gave us last summer a sumptuous cover of "Body", where he displayed all his love for 90s house music with echoes of disco. With his new single "Brazilian Trip", he again works in conjunction with his studio partner Alessio Sogno and calls on singer Silvia Donati's velvety voice to guide us into a world full of percussions and rarefied sounds.

The song's hypnotic ambient intro develops into a warm and throbbing groove that envelops the listener in a luscious landscape of soulful Balearic atmospheres and tropical rhythms. For some extra spice, press play on the afro-tinged remix of historical producers/DJs Leo Mas and Fabrice. Or go full on jungle fever with the "Amazonian Dub" version. But don't think DJ Fede's trip to Brazil is over... other 'sounds and colours' will surprise you...

Future Bubblers 4.0

Future Bubblers is an expansion of Gilles Peterson’s network and supported by Arts Council England, the talent discovery and artist development scheme focuses on developing unsigned talent and building audiences for new left-field music.

With support from PRS Foundation as Talent Development Partners, the professional recording, manufacturing and physical release of Future Bubblers 4.0 is made possible. Unlike any other initiatives within music, the compilation acts as a springboard for the musician’s careers with the cooperative model providing direct revenue to the artists by a share of the profits resulting in a sustainable income to work from. Previous Future Bubblers include artists such as Yazmin Lacey, Skinny Pelembe, MC Snowy and Kayla Painter to name a few.

This 8 track compilation is a musically diverse collection of tracks, fusing genres that span across Electronic, Alt-R&B, Alt-Hip-Hop, Spoken word, Neo-Soul, Jazz and beyond. Opening with Forest Law - who recently released his debut EP on Brownswood Recordings - ‘Slow One’ combines his effortless vocals with a kaleidoscopic of groove-driven instrumentation. Singer/songwriter Quko demonstrates sonic elegance on his emotive track ‘My Darling Spaceship’ whilst HMD’s ‘If I’ reminds us that we’re only given one shot at life. Up next, Kiddus offers up a bouncy, late-night vibe on ‘Slow’ and An Alien Called Harmony switches things up with Nadeem Din-Gabisi and Metta Shiba proving their formidable connection on ‘N.H.H’. Manchester MC KinKai pours his old soul onto the page on ‘Scatty Brain Dump’ followed by Iman Houssein’s distorted vocals and delicate keys on ‘Slow Things Down’. Rounding the compilation off perfectly is Lazy H’s epic ‘When The Horn Comes In’ which perfectly combines elements of electronic and live.

Spanning just over 30 minutes, the compilation embodies the spirit of the musicians as well as the team behind Future Bubblers.

Matthew Halsall - Salute to the Sun

The man behind Gondwana Records; trumpeter, composer and producer returns to the spotlight in his own right after 5 years.

Matthew Halsall continues the expedition begun back in 2008 with 'Sending My Love' - and what a journey it has been.
Since 'Into Forever', his label has expanded its artistic base to Australia (via Allysha Joy) and the US (Dwight Trible) and now, a new band has formed, assembling musicians local to Manchester and able to legally navigate the Covid restrictions to perform and develop. The accomplices are Matt Cliffe flute & saxophone, Maddie Herbert harp, Liviu Gheorghe piano, Alan Taylor drums and Jack McCarthy percussion as well as long-time Halsall collaborator, bassist, Gavin Barras.
The album draws energy from Matthew's sold-out monthly basement session at Yes in Manchester. inspiration from themes and ideas that have inspired Halsall through the years (on albums such as Oneness, Fletcher Moss Park and When the World Was One) ideas of ecology, the environment and harmony with nature.

Seven more deeply spiritual offerings comprise 'Salute to the Sun'. Words from the artist on its evolution:

“I feel Salute to the Sun is a positive earthy album. I wanted to create something playful but also quite primitive, earthy and organic that connected to the sounds in nature. I was listening to lush ambient field recordings of tropical environments such as jungles and rainforests and found myself drawn to percussive atmospheric sounds which replicated what I was hearing (bells / shakers / chimes / rain sticks) and I started to experiment with more wooden percussive instruments such as kalimba and marimba”. 

Salute to the Sun opens with Harmony in Nature, a lush wholly improvised tune inspired by ambient rainforest and jungle field recordings. The first single, Joyful Spirits of the Universe, is a lush, soulful tune built around a hypnotic kalimba line and with flute and harp textures to the fore alongside Halsall’s sublime trumpet playing. The transcendent Canopy & Stars is built around a rhythmical pattern featuring harp and kalimba and has an elevated feel and a beautiful melody plaintively expressed by Halsall’s poignant playing and features fine work from Matt Cliffe on tenor. Mindfulness Meditations is a beautiful paean to the pleasures of meditation. Tropical Landscapes is inspired by the paintings of Henri Rousseau, Peter Doig and Paul Gauguin and their depictions of exotic paradises. The title track Salute to the Sun features a beautiful intro and solo from harpist Maddie Herbert and is a nod to Halsall’s time studying at the Maharishi School. Every morning before classes they practiced Sun Salutations followed by transcendental meditation and the track references that memory. Pulsing with energy and drive, the album closes on an upbeat note, The Energy of Life foregrounds Halsall’s life-affirming trumpet playing over a powerful percussion, bass and piano driven groove that is partly inspired by some of Halsall’s favourite early 70s spiritual jazz recordings from the Black Jazz and Strata-East labels.


Always special to have the comfort of a new Mathew Halsall album to see us through uncertain times. Out now.