Another delicious bomb from Miami’s Chocolate Industries label. Ko-Wreck Technique is a collaboration between Push Button Objects, providing the sonic crunch and fuzz, and world class turntablist DJ Craze, wailing away on the 1’s and 2’s. Two great tastes that taste great together! And if that’s not enough, for dessert you get a Plaid remix of the track “Metro Dade.” That one’s a real soundclash, with Plaid’s typically beautiful melodies wafting over and around the gritty original. But this four-track EP is more than just a hodge-podge of styles; it’s a unique and successful fusion that I hope will continue on to other projects.
If the band Simply Red has made any significant contribution to music, then surely it’s through creating and financing the reggae reissue label Blood and Fire. Their 26th release returns once again to King Tubby’s studio, circa the mid-70’s, for some crucial roots dub. Featured here are dubs of vocal tracks from Horace Andy, Johnny Clarke, Cornell Campbell, and others, expertly mixed by King Tubby, Prince Jammy, and Prince Phillip Smart. This is classic dub: vocals drop in and out, special effects come crashing in out of nowhere, and drumbeats go ricocheting off into the stratosphere. The detailed liner notes give you all the information you need to create a mega- mix from various versions of these riddims. Dub go crazy!
Even before your needle hits the groove, this album’s epic-length title suggests that you’re about to experience a classic dub clash. And you will not be disappointed! Lloyd “King Jammy” James is a protege of King Tubby and one of the most successful producers in the history of reggae. And Japan’s Dry & Heavy are the most impressive new dub band to come down the pike in recent memory. Put them together and you’ve got a whole lotta bin shakin’ going on! This is a wonderfully gritty dub excursion, so full of reverb and distortion that it’s almost psychedelic. Tracks given the King Jammy treatment come from Dry & Heavy’s two most recent albums, ONE PUNCH and FULL CONTACT. You will almost feel the room cloud up as you listen.
Here’s the second release from Michigan trio Kiln, and their first for Ghostly International, quite simply one of the best electronic labels in the U.S. Kiln’s music veers from the burbly and dubby to the clicky and glitchy, while consistently maintaining a delicate melodic component that brings out the warmth between the beats. Definitely a candidate for headphone listening; there are many varied textures here that will tickle your earholes.
Zeljko (pronounced “Zhelko”) Kerleta is an architect from Yugoslavia, currently resident in London. He first started making music as soundtracks for presenting his architectural projects, then was so excited about the results that he abandoned architecture to concentrate exclusively on musical projects. He says his songs are all “soundtracks to short imaginary movies,” descriptions of which can be found in the album’s liner notes. Inspired by 60’s and 70’s jazz, as well as the London jazz dance scene, these short vignettes sound to me like the modern equivalent to all those albums of old production library music: extremely evocative but without much overall structure. There are some VERY cool sounds on here, though, and I think Kerleta is worth keeping an eye on.
“The Italian Job” is an obscure British caper comedy from the late 60’s about a gang of cockney criminals who attempt to rob a shipment of gold bullion in Turin, Italy. Until now, the Quincy Jones soundtrack has been EXTREMELY collectible due to the film’s poor box office performance in America. Fortunately, this French reissue sets things right. The soundtrack album contains three vocal tracks, notated as such in the liner notes, and a variety of instrumentals, of which the highlight for me was the jazz arrangement of “Greensleeves.” The music is light, airy, and generally in character for a British comedy.
This four-piece band from the UK has assimilated a variety of influences, from 70’s jazz fusion to Steve Reich minimalism to modern drum’n’bass, and recombined them in a wholly original manner. MESSAGES FROM THE HUB is their first proper album, following a compilation of EP tracks. It’s a languid, jazzy affair with REAL instruments and REAL electronics, an attempt at bringing the improvisational qualities of jazz into the electronic arena. Female vocals enhance a few tracks, including a cover of Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage.” Bandleader Jamie Odell also records as Audiomontage.
More classic reggae on 7-inch. This mega-hit from 1975 starts off with deejay toaster I-Roy being woken from his sound slumber by a young girl in need of some “welding.” I don’t think I need to tell you where he keeps his tool. Recorded by Jo Jo Hookim at his Channel One studios, this record practically defined the Channel One sound and spawned scores of imitations. On the B-side you get the instrumental version, sans I-Roy but highlighting the crack rhythm section of Sly & Robbie. Five stars.
Carl Craig’s long-awaited “techno-jazz” project finally sees the light of day and boy, was it worth the wait! But calling this album “techno-jazz” would really be doing it a disservice. Craig draws on MANY aspects of black music, from rap to house to soul to electro and beyond, with jazz as the glue holding it all together. Without a doubt this is the most ambitious album EVER by a Detroit techno artist. A subtle and beautiful album, full of depth and character. Strong candidate for Album of the Year.
According to the liner notes, this is the third album from former Soft Machine bassist Hugh Hopper’s band, Hughscore. Hopper jokingly suggests this might be his “New Age” album. Well, it IS pretty quiet and contemplative in spots. But at other times it’s pretty out there. Of particular note is vocalist Elaine di Falco, who sings on five of the album’s nine tracks, and drummer Tucker Martine, who provides some exceptional backing. Whether you prefer the ethereal jazz vibes or the modern prog experimentalism, you’ll find something to like on this album.
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