Music Reviews

King Jammy Meets Dry & Heavy – “In the Jaws of Tiger ” – [Beat]

Rococo   7/5/2005   12-inch, A Library

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.

Kiln – “Sunbox ” – [Ghostly Interntional]

Rococo   7/5/2005   12-inch, A Library

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.

Kerleta, Zeljko – “Space Runner ” – [Cosmic Sounds]

Rococo   7/5/2005   A Library, CD

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.

Italian Job, the (soundtrack) – “Italian Job, the ” – [None]

Rococo   7/5/2005   12-inch, Soundtrack

“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.

Jimpster – “Messages From the Hub ” – [Kudos Records Ltd.]

Rococo   7/5/2005   12-inch, A Library

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.

I-Roy – “Welding ” – [Disco Rockers]

Rococo   7/5/2005   7-inch, Reggae

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.

Innerzone Orchestra – “Programmed ” – [Astralwerks]

Rococo   7/5/2005   A Library, CD

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.

Hughscore – “Delta Flora ” – [Cuneiform Records]

Rococo   7/5/2005   A Library, CD

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.

Hillyard, David & the Rockstea – “Playtime ” – [Hellcat]

Rococo   7/5/2005   CD, Jazz

David Hillyard, sax player for ska bands The Slackers and Hepcat (among others), fronts his own group for this outstanding collection of ska-based jazz. The album opens and closes with two dixieland jazz tracks that highlight ska’s connection to the New Orleans sound. In between those tracks you get eight rousing instrumentals and two vocals, including an instrumental cover of The Beatles “Norwegian Wood.” Recorded “live in the studio” to preserve that spontaneous feel, the band’s vitality comes through in spades. With elements of R&B, reggae, and even Latin music spicing the mix, this is one hell of a joyous record that will make you want to see the band live.

Haslinger, Paul – “Score ” – [Rgb Records]

Rococo   7/5/2005   A Library, CD

Former Tangerine Dream-er Paul Haslinger returns with his second solo album of sampla-delic world fusion. The title and cover art of this one suggest a film soundtrack, but the music is far too busy and at times even too LOUD to function in that capacity. It does, however, take elements of soundtrack music and weave them in and around a plethora of sample library sound effects, ethnic vocals, and funky beats to create a captivating sonic stew. There’s one honest-to-God pop song (“When Worlds Collide”), a downtempo ballad with female vocals that wouldn’t sound out of place under the credits of the next James Bond film. The rest of the album is a bit more adventurous.

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