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Record of the Week
The inimitable and mysterious Sault continue to merge quality and quantity with their 11th album in only a handful of years. An astonishing level of output since their debut just three years ago.
Particularly catapulted into the llimelight with 'Untitled (Rise)' in the aftermath of George Floyd's tragic passing, the story carries on with three releases in November 2022 of gritty Funk and melodic Soul, shining brighter than anything in its bracket.
Despite financial hardship for one and most, a purchase of all 11 albums will ease you through the difficult times to see the 'Son Shine' once again.
One of the godfathers of UK Garage Grant Nelson remixes Dave Lees 'Starlight' featuring Omar. It's another classic mix which is teamed up with MIstura featuring Tiffany T'Zelle 'If You Ever Need Somebody' from the 'Produced With Love II' album which was out in the summer.
Released as the lead single from the album in April, Starlight sees Lee team up with Omar: a former principal percussionist of the Kent Youth Orchestra and later a graduate of the Guildhall School Of Music who was awarded an MBE in 2012 for services to music. Starlight is a gorgeous, mid-tempo dance record, with Omar’s silky vocals backed up with rich production: soaring live strings, groove-laden clav and synth over a warm bassline creating a heady, inviting atmosphere.
‘If You Ever Need Somebody feat.Tiffany T’zelle would stand toe-to-toe with any soul standard from the 70s or 80s: to have production this rich and bold in 2022 isn’t far short of miraculous.
Ramrock Red Records are very excited to present the final chapter in Joseph Malik’s ‘Diverse’ trilogy – ‘Diverse Part 3 Variant Issue’. Chosen by some of Joseph’s closest musical friends, he invited a host of stellar musicians and gave them carte blanche to choose their favourite track from the album and re-vision it. The line-up is a Who’s Who from the world of jazz, trip hop and hip hop – Baby Bam, Shuya Okino, Kameelah Waheed, Digital Liquid, Capital A, George T, Sound Signals, ROOTS SOUL, David Donnelly, Out of the Ordinary and Movers International to name but a few. But I’ll let Joseph continue the story:
“Everything always ends up at the beginning - from my teenage years always wanting to be Jean Michael Basquiat or Baby Bam from the Jungle Brothers. That dream kinda came true when I got to meet and record my hero, Baby Bam on the track ‘Battle Cry Liberation Suite’. San Francisco artist/producer, Capital A remixes and delivers the Afro Futurism black opera that I’ve dreamt about hearing my whole life; how all our voices combine, with Baby Bam’s narration with myself, Capital A and New Jersey based rapper, Kameelah Waheed.
So, now we truly are at the end or the beginning. As part of MF Outa ‘National (later to become Blacka-nized in the same year) with my brother in beats snice 1988, Calvin Nuttal, my first ever release was ‘Miles Out Of Time (Astrocentric Mix 'n' Beats) on the 1994 Mo Wax compilation, ‘Headz – a soundtrack of experimental Hip Hop beats’. On the same album was an equally young Saleem Andrew McGroarty a.k.a Awunsounds, with his groundbreaking track, ‘Symmetrical Jazz (Flapper Till 5am Mix)’. Saleem truly educated me as to how an instrumental can convey depth without vocals. Years down the line, I wrote ‘Tavistock’ and now Saleem, under his ‘Sound Signals’ moniker, has done an astonishing remix on the track and dedicated it to our mentor, DJ Kulu, with Jazz legends, Paul Harrison on keys, Colin Steele on trumpet, Andrew Barnet on saxophone, Chris Greive on trombone and David Donnelly on double bass.
The interludes you hear on this ‘Variant Issue’ excursion features an international ‘dream team’ with Joseph Malik, Daniel Walls aka Digital Liquid on the beats with words from internationalists, Shuya Okino, Capital A, Uncle Fawaz and Marga.
Within the city of Edinburgh, I’ve gathered together a hive mind of outstanding Scottish musicians to present their versions of my tracks. My long term producer/super engineer, David ‘Demus’ Donnelly presents his exclusive dub mix of ‘Days of Future Past’. After David’s dub bizniss comes George T (aka Plastic Avenger), DJ at legendary House night ‘Tribal Function’, goes deep and delivers a ‘parallel universe’ version of ‘Just to be Free’.
Gathering my musical family around me, Shuya Okino + ROOTS SOUL deliver their beautifully crafted variant of ‘Just to be Free’ which allows mine and Niki King’s vocals to ride over the funk heavy bed creating an entirely new vibe. Then, the leaders of the Edinburgh ‘New School’, Gavin Fort, James Rutherford and their ‘heart beat’, DJ Lee Marvin aka Movers International, return in fine style with their imagining of ‘Claro’ featuring Niki King on vocals, Chris Greive on trombone, Malcom Ross of Orange Juice on guitar, Colin Steele on trumpet and keyboard player for the Proclaimers, Steven Christie.
This whole album was programmed by my label boss, Jo Wallace as it was too hard for me to choose the running order. I trusted her ears but I had one proviso - that we ended with the two ‘alternative versions’ of ‘Strange New Places’ featuring Lynzie Dray (Out of the Ordinary Mix) and finally, the original ‘demo’ take of ‘Cry when I’m on my own’ - everything up on the desk, just bare and honest.
Sounding simultaneously from the past, the present, and the future, the debut album 'MLDE' by Marxist Love Disco Ensemble seeks to eradicate both the trite from disco and the sobriety from political music. Half poetic, half tongue-in-cheek, this stunning compact eight-track album is influenced by Eastern European and Mediterranean 70s disco records. In the words of band member Paolo, ''it was written in response to hearing 'I Love America' by Patrick Juvet. The song prompted the question: why does disco, a genre originally created by oppressed minorities, eventually become synonymous with Western capitalist excess?" MLDE seeks to break this connection.
Merging disco, post-disco 80s pop, and boogie into the fold, 'MLDE' was recorded using only analogue instruments, giving it warmth and space. Recorded on cassette, ½ inch tape, this gives moments of lo-fi abstraction between the beats of an aggressive, tight drum kit. Instruments used for this recording range from saxophone, trumpet, harpsichord, guitar, and rare analogue synthesisers. The bass sound is shaped by early 80s boogie records, whilst the influence of artists such as Hamlet Minassian can be heard in some of MLDE's more driving-disco outings.
The format and message of pop and disco are commonly viewed just to entertain and move bodies around a dancefloor; however, lyrically, the subjects range from dialectical and historical materialism, class struggle, Marxist theory and praxis, as well as the concept of Marxist disco music. Adding the icing to the cake, mastering don Joker aka Liam McLean dusted the album with his magic, giving the songs space where the room is needed, as well as the kick and punch demanded by the modern dancefloor.
A second taster feeds anticipation for multi-instrumentalist and world music proponent Duke Boara’s forthcoming double LP project ‘11AM/11PM Tapes’. A double release ‘Jungle (11AM)’ paired with ‘Beware of the Mad Man (11PM)’, is out August 31st on LG105.
Boara aka James Toomey, only 23 but already with 5m+ streams to his name, has produced 26 tracks for his ambitious ‘mixtape’, playing piano, guitar, and drums himself throughout across a rich blend of lo-fi, breakbeat, melodic, summery house… Cool alternative electronic imprint LG105 is the perfect home for Boara, along with Mall Grab, Effy, Beka, Lawrence Hart, bad tuner and Model Man.
‘Jungle (11AM)’: pulsing synth melodies and gradual strings usher in a Spanish-style fingerpick acoustic guitar tune, quick and light as jungle rain. Intriguing and entrancing.
‘Beware of the Mad Man (11PM)’ ups the pace with rattling busy bongos, thudding beat, and an all-in percussion fest to get feet moving and fingers drumming. Booming bass strings sing a complex riff as remote choral voices add sweetness. Packed with jittery energy.
‘I included a good selection from the last 5 years of my work. I think my sound has definitely changed quite a lot so I wanted a wide variety on the tapes’ Boara says. It seems to work to have one tape being darker and more clubby, and the other more for daytime listening.’
The full double mixtape drops on October 7th with focus track ‘Evergreen’ plus a massive 14 additional exclusive cuts.
WAAN represents the musical marriage of seasoned saxophonist Bart Wirtz and keyboard wiz Emiel van Rijthoven. As a pair of self-confessed tech nerds hailing from The Netherlands, their bromance was a slow burning one, but nevertheless their eventual collaboration fulfilled a dream that they’d both held close since first working together back in 2010.
After their debut on the label with the track Open on the recent Neujazz 2 compilation, KinK is the new single to be taken from the duo’s forthcoming debut album Echo Echo. The piece sprung to life during one of Bart and Emiel’s final recording sessions for the album, whilst working with session musicians Kasper Kalf (double bass), Jimmi Hueting (drums) as well as Oscar de Jong and Lucas Meijers who contributed to percussion. The recording started with a simple line on a Maestro Effect, using a tape echo, and what you hear is a very natural and easy Dr John voodoo style groove that came from the first two takes. The pair then took what they had of this very instinctive performance to Emiel’s studio and added harmonics, synth sounds, samples and a very percussive distorted clavinet to the groove. The key to this evocative and wondrous piece of music was to create percussive sounds from harmonic instruments and conjure up something otherworldly.
With influences as disparate as Floating Points, BadBadNotGood and Eddie Harris, Echo Echo is far more complex than just being a dance music influenced jazz record. Co-producer Oscar de Jong, of Kraak & Smaak fame, encouraged the pair to play freely as part of a jazz group and then add the electronic elements. As a result the forthcoming album owes as much to Duke Ellington and Lalo Schiffrin as it does NERD and The Eurythmics!
'Levitation' is the first glimpse into 'Geheimland', the secret land that gave name to the new album by Austrian producer, Urbs. Angelic choirs, broad screen instrumentation and psychedelic overtones will carry you gently towards the atmosphere. With discrete echoes of both Trip-hop and Pink Floyd, 'Levitation' is a peaceful ode to childlike perception and the perfect drug for your journey to the secret land.
After excursions into Hip Hop, Rap and film music, Austrian producer and musician Urbs has returned to the downtempo and Trip-hop styles that were the cornerstones of his most successful work, discovering his very own niche along the way. Using obscure samples as well as traditional instrumentation for his impressionistic instrumental pieces he takes us to „Geheimland“, the secret land of our imagination where things are not as they seem.
Born as Paul Nawrata in Lower Austria, Urbs is a veteran Electronic producer and musician living in Vienna. A music fanatic from a very young age, he started writing and photographing for various fanzines in his teenage years, interviewing numerous artists as diverse as Kurt Cobain, Nick Cave and the Wu Tang Clan. He soon felt attracted to the blossoming HipHop scene of Vienna, contributing to the radio program of legendary impressario Werner Geier aka Demon Flowers. Best described as the Austrian version of Tony Wilson, he took him under his wing and soon released his first steps in music production on his Uptight label.
In 1998 two EPs were released as Urbs & Chaoz, spawning a first success with „Closer To God“, which was not only a radio favourite, but was also used by famed director Ulrich Seidl in his early work „Models“ and remixed by none other than legendary Washington duo Thievery Corporation. Heavily influenced by Kenny Dope, Todd Terry and Armand Van Helden’s HipHop releases, the musical style of Urbs & Chaoz was dubbed Dope Beat in central Europe and can be seen as one of the precursors of Trip-hop. His next musical partner was Cutex with whom he released „Breaks Of Dawn“ and „Peace Talks!“, two LPs of timeless instrumental HipHop, both of which are seen as classics of the genre. „The Thing“, a veritable hit on Austrian radio, was used for various commercials and even selected as one of the „Best 100 Austrian Songs“ by FM4, the leading alternative radio station in the country. Until today that song has been streamed more than two million times.
His first solo album was released on G-Stone Recordings in 2005 and was co-produced by Peter Kruder (Kruder & Dorfmeister). On „Toujours Le Meme Film“, Urbs channelled his love for film music and French Chanson. He toured Europe with a six piece band and a complex visual concept and the album became a remarkable success. Songs from „Toujours Le Meme Film“ were used for US TV shows „Grey ́s Anatomy“ and „Nip:Tuck“ as well as numerous commercials; Gilles Peterson discovered the album and played „So Weit“ on his Worldwide radio shows. Urbs began producing other musicians like Austrian MC Skero, released further EPs of instrumental HipHop and numerous remixes for the likes of Tosca, Marsmobil and Daniel Haaksmann along with countless other Austrian artists. Together with award winning composer Karwan Marouf, he worked on film music for directors like Arash and Arman Riahi as well as Werner Boote, on commercials, documentaries and contract work for Red Bull Media. Since the early days of social media, Urbs has connected with MCs and singers from around the world and in 2017 finally released those collaborations on the (Rap) album simply titled „Urbs“, which included contributions by MCs like Wordsworth and R.A. The Rugged Man. The song „10000 Years Behind Me“ with its spectacular video starring Austrian actress Birgit Minichmayr was another success on the alternative radio in central Europe.
While in 2020 the world was in the grip of the pandemic, Urbs, who had just become a father felt inspired by the fantasy and perception of his son. He reconnected with his roots and produced „Geheimland“ in one go, trying to find the essence of his work and musical passion and creating his very own musical language along the way.
Amsterdam DJ/multi-instrumentalist Rose Ringed (support from Solomun, Blond:ish, Joris Voorn a.m.m) returns with three tracker ‘For Us’, out Nov 3rd.
The Dutch producer enlists both analogue and digital sounds, multiple synths and choral vocal notes, and diverse genres – melodic techno, house, euphoria, synthpop – in his quest to bring joy to blissed-out clubbers and listeners.
Won’t Let You Go: a strong, fast, staccato synth melody constantly hooking the listener yet varying, over a deep, deep humming bass, with a sort of double breakdown. Simultaneously danceable and listenable.
Fight For Love; dreamy synth chords behind fast, bounding bass and drums, build to the sustained breakdown with its choral notes and chiming arps like falling snow.
Nights Without; powerfully fast but darker, more urgent sound patterns, growling bassline, a plangent melody, and after the breakdown, bags of bass, jittery percussion, a sudden breathing space of silence, before the wild ride to the finish.
Spirit To All is the latest record by Polish bassist and composer Wojtek Mazolewski and his famed Quintet (WMQ). Mazolewski’s distinctive voice and vision are highly lauded and widely recognized for his contribution to the resurgence in Polish jazz and improv music on a global, crossover scale.
Leading his long-time quintet of Joanna Duda, Marek Pospieszalski, Oskar Török and Qba Janicki, Spirit To All is Mazolewski’s third Whirlwind Recordings release following Polka – Worldwide Deluxe Edition and When Angels Fall.
“Spirit To All was created as an answer to our spiritual needs,” explains Mazolewski, “during my preparations for recording I felt simultaneous connection between myself and everything around me. There was this urge within me to express my unity with the surroundings. The very same need was strongly felt by the band and the best way to express it was through the music.” From the start Mazolewski had clear intentions for the album: “Until 2020 we were touring the world and despite all the travel limitations that followed, we wanted to say: we are here, we are all in it together. This album is about spiritual needs, limitless and loving understanding, about compassionate development.”
The seven-piece record opens with title track ‘Spirit To All’. Inspired by spirituality, the melody contains both sad and joyous moments, mirroring the same juxtaposition of life. ‘Ghost Town’ is a sonic tale of a deserted place, focusing on the subtle consonance of the instruments. “It’s all about articulation, sonority and playing with sound,” explains Mazolewski.
‘The Power Of The People’ acts as a reminder of our strength and potential. This idea is manifested by cacophonous sections and robust melodies.
In contrast, ‘Slavic Spirits’ is a subtle atmospheric track. “‘Harmony’ is all we need to find best solutions for our future,” says Mazolewski and the track is a liberating realisation of that sentiment.
‘The Year Of Magical Thinking’ is a title borrowed from Joan Didion’s book about life’s suffering and how to use it to our gain. “This piece is about life’s journey - spiritual, internal and psychedelic at times,” reflects Mazolewski. ‘My Heart’ is gentle and “expresses our gratitude for life, closeness and love,” he says.
Speaking to the spirit in which the album was recorded, Mazolewski says: “I love the abstract arrhythmic sonic backgrounds of Sun Ra and Art Ensemble of Chicago, but there weren’t any other musicians available, so I decided that we would record all percussion instruments ourselves. In the recording room, some of us had instruments, some of us sang, but only a few of us were wearing headphones hearing the music. This meant the others had to intuitively find and feel the pulse. The experiment made the WMQ sound even richer and we had such great fun doing it.”
Having played together for over 10 years, WMQ share a deep and innate connection that’s palpable throughout their music. Spirit To All is a cathartic manifestation of Mazolewski’s inspiring intentions, “It made us come together again and reawaken the sense of adventure. We feel truly reborn as a band.”