Low Leaf

Ever since Californian native Low Leaf dropped a King Britt assisted beat for free last month, we’ve been keeping a cursory eye on the Fresh Selects Bandcamp page with a view to copping the producer’s next release. Well it seems that time is nearly here and with ‘AKASHAALAY’, her new album edging ever closer to its release date, the multi-instrumentalist with a penchant for piano, harp, guitar and beats has recently premiered not one, but two tracks off the forthcoming project. Both are pretty dope in our book, channeling as they do that leftfield electronic sound that continues to bubble in the Los Angeles underground but with heavier doses of organic goodness mixed in for good measure. ‘Rise Up’ is no doubt a call to arms tasked with awakening the world’s weary with a spiritual tone, while ‘Set Me Free’ carries more than a passing ressemblace to the heady work of Sonny Blount and June Tyson updated for the 21st century. Both are seemingly essential and only serve to get us more curious about what other delights might lie in wait on the full ten-tracker when it’s officially released next Monday 29th April.

You can pre-order the album now and have it delivered to you on its release, while kicking back with both the aforementioned tracks in the meantime. Coming in both digital and cassette flavours, it certainly sounds like this may well be something to get excited about. Take a listen yourself below.

Jesse Futerman

The Toronto beat maker follows up his trilogy of atmospheric Jazz drenched EPs for London label Jus Like Music Records with an album of unreleased tracks, b-sides and remixes.

There’s something a little melancholy about the music of Jesse Futerman. Whether it’s the siren calls of long forgotten Jazz divas excavated from the past that are often so richly sampled, or rather the moods that he creates with each additional layer of instrumentation, Futerman’s work is deep. Rooted in hip-hop, but with flourishes of soul, Jazz and electronica, the producer has already crafted three exquisite EPs for the Jus Like Music imprint and here he closes out this particular chapter of his work with the release of ‘Hidden Basement’, a ten-track exploration of previously unreleased beats.

At just over 30 minutes in length, it’s a short but engaging listen, one bubbling with a traditional hip-hop sensibility but twisted in way that somehow makes the end result sound otherworldly. In the process of constructing his tracks, Futerman pulls from a variety of sources to elaborate on the ethereal vibe he very often creates, a crisp kick drum or snare pushed front and centre in the mix to bring that little bit of bite to each piece. The first five tracks very much tread the same route, beat-driven downtempo sounds rich with samples derived from dusty old jazz records, film dialogue and a touch of psychedelic folk in places. The results are well produced and glide effortlessly along but it’s not until the producer pairs with Toronto associate Deebs on the excellent ‘Lonely Soul’ that we get a little something different, handclaps and a Moroder-esque synth workout pushing things in an almost nu-disco direction. There’s further experiments in four to the floor territory as ‘I Don’€™t Go Out Very Often’  turns into memorable late night jam heavily inspired by the late Terry Callier, while the all too brief ‘Futureman’ is perhaps the most straight ahead take on house with its analog synths and bassline throb. A pair of remixes close out the set, both firmly planted in beat territory, Kidkanevil dropping a tasty reflip of ‘A Good Man Is Gone’ (originally released on Futerman’s ‘Super Basement’ EP) while Ryan Hemsworth reworks the previously unreleased ‘Santiago’ into a bass heavy monster.

Overall it’s another inviting glimpse into the world of the producer and his ongoing experiments, and with a release forthcoming on the R&S affiliated Apollo Records, the future looks bright for the young Canadian. Stream the album below and head on over to Bandcamp to name your price.

Playing catch up? Complete the series >>
Jesse Futerman - Exquisite Basement EP Jesse Futerman - Fuse The Witches EP Jesse Futerman - Super Basement EP

Stanton Davis and the Ghetto Mysticism Band – Isis Voyage

Back in 2011, the Cultures of Soul record label reissued the seldom seen rare groove ‘Brighter Days’ recorded by Stanton Davis’ Ghetto/Mysticism band. A cult favourite among vinyl collectors around the world, the original press on the privately owned Outrageous Records imprint was released back in 1977 and now fetches big money when it occasionally changes hands, its mystique only intensifying when Madlib professed that it was one of his favourite jazz albums (he also famously sampled it in Madlib Medicine Show #7) .

Sought for both its scarcity and the grooves embedded in the wax are just so damn funky, the album is one of only  two records cut by Davis as a leader (the other being ‘Manhattan Melody’, Enja, 1988), the New Orleans trumpeter spending much of the 1970′s as a sideman for many of George Russell’s bands. ‘Brighter Days’ was in fact his debut and with tracks such as ‘Space-A-Nova’, ‘High Jazz’ and the excellent title track, this is certainly no one track album. It’s a killer example of a man and his band at the top of their game, combining as it does elements of spiritual jazz, African rhythms, psychedelic soul and hard-hitting funk into one scintillating long player.

After gaining the rights to the LP from Mr. Davis and following the subsequent success of the reissue, Cultures of Soul label boss and DJ Deano Sounds sought to prep a second release that included the extended versions of some of the original songs as well as unreleased tracks and instrumentals taken from the same Ghetto Mysticism reel to reel tapes. This week that very album hits stores and gives us a further glimpse into the immense musicianship of Davis and this particular group of musicians. Now not just confined to the original edits, the source material really stretches out and bubbles with intensity, while new tracks like  the previously unheard ‘Odwalla’ (a blissed out, otherworldly jam) and ‘Isis Voyage’ (from which the new LP takes its name) are equally essential and to round off the package, renowned record collector and expert on all things disco Al Kent from Million Dollar Disco is brought in to emphasis the spaced-out melodies of both ‘Things Cannot Stop Forever’ and ‘High Jazz’, in turn exerting all his usual magic to tweak both for a modern dancefloor setting.

We recently caught up with Deano and asked him a few questions about his ongoing project to bring Stanton Davis’ music to a wider audience. Here’s what he had to say:

Q. When did you first uncover the original pressing of the ‘Brighter Days’ LP and what made you decide to reissue it for today’s market?

I found a copy of it at record fair in Montreal. I’d been looking for it for a few years and just got lucky. I felt at the time which I still feel today that the tracks on it are so unique, timeless, and funky that it should get the proper exposure it deserves, as it is a significant piece of work as an album and it never received much attention in America.

Q. Was it easy to find Stanton Davis to get his blessing initially and was he surprised when you first made contact?

It was relatively easy to track down Mr. Davis but it did take a little convincing to prove to him that my label was worthy of putting out one of his most prized pieces of work.

Q.The new LP ‘Isis Voyage’ builds upon the success of the first and reintroduces different versions of a number of tracks, including a few remixes. Was it an easy decision to compile a second LP?

It was easy because there was so much material there that was significantly different than the material on the original ‘Brighter Days’ album. People don’t realize how much of the tracks on the original album were edited down to fit a more accessible format. Not to mention the fact that there are also two totally unreleased compositions on ‘Isis Voyage’.

Q. Al Kent put together two great disco mixes of some of the original album tracks. Do you think the LP lends itself well to more disco remixes being produced, and have you got plans to get more commissioned at some point?

It does because there are multi-tracks for most of the material making it easier for remixers to work with these tracks. I’d love to do an album of remixes and I’ve got a few legends in mind to do the remixes but we’ll have to see how well this sells first!

Q. Is Mr. Davis still actively making music? Do you think there’s a chance he might get back in the studio again? 

I’m sure he is always composing but at the moment he is more busy performing and teaching.

Q. What’s up next on the Cultures of Soul agenda? Have you got anything else coming up release wise that we should be looking out for? 

We’ve got a smorgasbord of different releases coming out this year! A compilation called ‘Bombay Disco – Disco Hits from Hindi Films from 1979 to 1985′, a 45 box set selected by myself and DJ Andy Smith, a couple of Trinidad Disco 12″s, and a compilation of Caribbean Disco music. It’s going to be a busy year!

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You can buy Stanton Davis and The Ghetto Mysticism Band’s ‘Isis Voyage’ now on both LP and CD direct from the Cultures of Soul website, or via your usual local vinyl stockists including Juno, Phonica and Sounds of the Universe

Mr Scruff

One of Manchester’s favourite sons, Mr. Scruff shares a sincerely heavy track ahead of the arrival of his sixth album ‘Friendly Bacteria’ due for release by Ninja Tune on 19th May.

Yesterday the veteran British producer premiered a new track off his soon to be issued next long player, his first in over six years. Aptly titled ‘We Are Coming’, it’s the third offering to be debuted in as many months following hotly in the footsteps of the singles ‘Render Me‘ and ‘Thought To The Meaning’ , two collaborations with vocalist Denis Jones, and while both are nice in terms of songs primed for radio play, it’s the predominantly instrumental feel of this fresh outing that’s currently got us excited. With Gondwana Records’ Matthew Halsall (trumpet / FX) and Taz Modi (Rhodes / string synths) on hand, it’s certainly a tale of two halves – with Scruff’s trademark breaks, beats and wobble self evident in the first three minutes, before a sizeable drop leads us into something a little deeper. The previous glitchy effects drop away, the wobble morphs into a melody and Modi’s Rhodes solo takes centre stage, his playful vamps effortlessly riding the syncopated beat and strings slowly building to form an atmospheric backdrop. It’s definitely another killer jazz-house bomb from the producer and reminds us a little of ‘Fresh Noodles’, a track he  recorded alongside Kaidi Tatham, released back in December 2009 on the Prime Numbers label and certainly worth another revisit.

With additional guest features from perennial Soul-identity favourites Robert Owens and Vanessa Freeman on vox, the new album is shaping up quite  nicely in our humble opinion and ‘We Are Coming’ raises just enough intrigue to what those collaborations might sound like. To pre-order the track as well as the album, visit the Ninja Tune online shop. In the meantime enjoy a full stream of the track now thanks to the Mr. Scruff  Soundcloud page.

Luke Warm / Blueberry Records

A new EP from the hotly tipped ‘Luke Warm’ lands this week on FaltyDL’s burgeoning Blueberry Recordings imprint and it delivers more than just a few surprises.

There seems to be a tad of anonymity to the artist’s new moniker this time around (although if you know what you’re looking for it becomes a little more apparent), but the sound is all but familiar, not least due to the variety of samples plundered in the process of putting together this strong four-tracker. Fresh from a recent solo outing firmly rooted around the buzz of a Roland TB-303, here this (highly acclaimed) British producer gets a little more playful in the studio, combining as he does elements of old school house, hip-hop and disco to produce fruitful concoctions that bring forth a sound that seems to have one foot in the past, while the other stands firmly in the now.

Take for instance, the EP opener, ‘Daydreamin’, which makes use of a sample bank that spans almost 30 years, borrowing liberally from political speeches, psychedelic soul and rave culture while the rhythm weaves in and around a deliciously bumping slice of electronica. ‘Brockley Spears’ harks back to the cut and paste era of block party hip-hop (albeit in its instrumental format) with a slice of early-90s hardcore, while title track ‘Instant Vibe’ channels a little Chicago magic by way of Robert Owens and Chuck Roberts and updates it for today’s more discerning dance floors. Perhaps the standout though is the final track  of the four, ‘Party Piece’ which unmistakably trips into action on an 80s hip-hop tip before pushing its way through to sunnier electronic climes, complete with a trademark electrifying bass line. It’s no doubt an inventive selection of ideas from  ‘Mr Warm’ and as accomplished as we’ve come to expect from the producer, his master of assorted tempos and styles shining through on this release. After previous strong showings from Ghostly’s Todd Osborn and newcomer Brrd, this is another another promising EP for the new Brooklyn label and much like its genre-hopping founder, demonstrates its dare to be different.

You can download the digital release of the EP right now from all the usual outlets, including Juno and iTunes, while the vinyl junkies among us can grab the vinyl next Monday. In the meanwhile to get a flavour of all four tracks, stream them in full below: