Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Cleveland Robinson - Xmas Time Is Here Again (Ewan Hoozami)

Xmas Time Is Here Again! Shameless Self-Promotion Time Is Also Here Again!

This is a potentially credible funky xmas track. You can download it for free. Don't say I never do anything for ya!

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Daedelus/Kneebody: Kneedelus & Romare - Projections (Ninja Tune)

Killing two Ninja Tune birds with one stone, we are. Talking like this, we are. Star Wars related topical appropriation, this is.

OK, I'll stop now.

I've grouped these releases together because, to me, they share some major similarities. That's not to diminish their originality in any way - both possess auteurship in abundance. It's more that they come from a similar place and arrive in the same ball park. Your girlfriend/Dad/Grandma would no doubt say 'it all sounds the same to me'. But they're a fucking idiot and only dragging you down.

One major difference is that only one is available on wax... Wail, lament and bemoan.

Daedelus & Kneebody: Kneedelus

Kneedelus, a collaboration between Brainfeeder's legendary hip-hop/beats pioneer Daedelus and instrumental quintet Kneebody came out 27th November - digital only, which is a wonderful thing and a missed opportunity all at once. The first tune to be leaked racked up 100,000 plays on Soundcloud in a few days so you'd have thought the appetite for a vinyl cut was there. Ninja seem to know what they're doing, though, so I'll leave it at that.

Format issues aside, the music itself is a fascinating concoction - shuffling, skittering beats that remind me of Blockhead, Charlie Mingus and Buddy Rich in equal parts. The jazz aesthetic is maintained throughout - this is less a collection of songs and more a procession of movements, with switching time signatures, pace and a Miles Davis-esque use of brass phrasing. Take the drums out and it could be a soundtrack to a gritty film noir about a beautiful barmaid who gets caught up in a Lynchian world of drugs, catwalks and a mysterious man in a raincoat inexplicably seducing her in a taxi.
Re-insert the drums and it's the kind of record you could stick on the turntable any given Sunday afternoon as a soundtrack to a Scrabble marathon or similarly sedate and elegant leisure pursuit. Only you couldn't, because it's not on fucking vinyl. Ninja Tune, please address this issue.

Buy it digitally here

Romare - Projections

'They' keep saying you can't sample any more. The lawyers will find you. They'll climb up the drainpipe in the dead of night, slithering, serpentine, through a crack in the window; reptillian eyes burning beneath scaled brow. As you sleep, blissfully unaware of the evil you've imbued through late night MPC sessions, the  Lawyers slip under your duvet, entangling you in slippery limbs to haul you down to the burning pits of Hell itself, chanting verses from the Necronomicon, or Copyright Law Regulations as earthly creatures know it. An eternity spent steaming the creases from Mick Jagger's puckered arsehole awaits any fool who dares lay claim to a fleeting slice of Copyrighted Material.

At the very least, no commercially lucrative label will touch you.

That's what they say. Only, the exceptions keep proving the rule.

We're not in the Wild West days of the 90s any longer, when artists could take whatever they wanted from any source without the concern of impending litigation. It's a more refined art, now, but sampling has not gone away.

Employing a cut n'paste technique that many could have assumed had gone the way of the baggy jean into cultural purgatory, Romare has managed to make a record that sounds familiar, brand new, ambient, uplifting and dancefloor friendly all at the same time. No mean feat and one which has seen him vault into the loving arms of one of the world's most famous independent labels.

There's a heavy blues element on display, from snippets of gospel and Americana to twanging guitar loops and drifting keys. At times the tracks are redolent of early Jel compositions, maybe a touch of Joey Beats, Cut Chemist and of course DJ Shadow. There are some ultra-modern flourishes to - the stripped back, trap-like instrumentation and poly-rhythmic percussion of tracks like the nina Simone-sampling Work Song. The LP closes with the appropriately titles La Petite Mort, a woozy ambience reminiscent of Air's French electronica and a title that translates as 'The Little Death'... Cut, pasted, filtered and looped, each record enshrined in Romare's Projections LP has suffered a little death, but the kiss of life comes in the reconstructed beauty of the composite parts. No Frankenstein's monster, Romare's patched-up doll is one of my records of 2015.

Buy it here

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

The Scribes - Mr Teatime and the end of the World (Reel Me Records)

“Greetings. My name is Mr Teatime. I am contacting you from the year 2074. The World is now a very different place. After the bomb dropped the robots took control. Please heed my warning.
I am so alone.”

Back in the days of yore, releases like this would have got a short run vinyl pressing, and, having achieved cult status 30 years on, original copies would fetch ludicrous sums, leading to a Record Store Day repress. This is 2015, though, and precious few labels can afford the risk of pressing to wax, even when the output deserves it.

The Scribes Mr Teatime and the end of the World is a staggeringly original work from my long time buddies. (Yes, I'm blogging things my mates have done. Fuck you, get your own blog!)
I've been lucky enough to share the stage with them on many occasions, filling in as scratch DJ and occasionally performing the tracks Shaun and I wrote for my last album (plug). Must be at least 7 years' of shows, on and off. In that time I've seen them develop immensely. They have always had a ridiculously infectious stage presence - something which has actively alienated them from the UK Hip-Hop scene at times, because, you know, you're meant to shuffle about like a paranoid recluse - but over the years their finished product has become ever more polished.
They've earned a rep for being 'the kind of hip-hop you'd like if you liked indie most of the time', which has opened up doors to less traditional audiences. That rep sounds like a back-handed compliment, and to hip-hop purists, it is... but it's really served them well, and given them the courage to push boundaries in terms of sound and lyrical content. There's always been a kind of mawkish malevolence about the lyrics and delivery, without ever going full-Necro, which marries nicely to bouncy beats that encourage dancing and a range of lyrical topics from monstrous fantasies to positive affirmations about the inherent beauty of life.

This release is, I suggest, a line in the sand. The same malevolence flows through each track, but gone is the almost histrionic delivery, replaced with a brooding, battle-scarred baritone... a grown up sound for a messed up world. It's basically Utopia: The Musical, or a 'hip-hopera' as the act have called it. In truth, concept albums don't always fare as well on record as they do on paper. This one fares better. The biggest triumph is that the sound wins over the concept. Crisp, deliberate beats punch through mechanical, retro basslines and glimmering, glitchy sound effects. It sounds like it comes from a dystopian future decimated by nuclear war, with only rudimentary tools and a battered MPC 2000 available to make music with. Which, when you've called your album Mr Teatime and the end of the World, must go down as a success. More than simply scoring a direct hit conceptually, the record's plaintive lament from 2074 has something to say to us in 2015... who hasn't watched the news over the last few years and not felt a creeping dread at the impending doom we seem to be accelerating towards?
This is the soundtrack to its aftermath.

Check out the stark new video

And buy the EP digitally here 

With a new album dropping in early 2016, it could be a big year for The Scribes!

Jackson - Rain/Change

We aren't just about the vinyl at CMFCP... We also reserve the right to champion pieces of inspired, curious music for all you curious people. Whatever the medium. Particularly when it's your mate what wrote it.

Jack Baldus is a bit of an unsung hero on the Bristol scene, but I'm pleased to see him being a bit more, er, sung, recently. Having gained acclaim as the eye-catchingly prodigious keyboardist in Laid Blak, he's been ploughing his own furrow for a while, even featuring on my last album Robot Soul (and some tracks on my next one!). The most polished and cohesive of these furrows is his new band Jackson. The debut EP was produced by none other than Full Cyclist and all round bristol leg-end DJ Die, and comprises 8 outstanding musicians, conducted by the man like Jack. Kind of like Sun-Ra's Arkestra without all the illegitimate children and cosmic flim-flamming. Musically, however, there are definite similarities to the cosmic jazz-tronaut. It's pleasingly reminiscent of Chick Corea, Sun Ra, Jaco Pistorius and Stanley Clarke... intricate, full of texture and displaying virtuoso levels of songwriting and performance.

But don't take my word for it - check out Jackson's first two videos below - recorded live at Factory Studios, Bristol

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Macka B - Never Played a 45

Macka B has a not-so-subtle message for DJs across the land... and we agree with his sentiments!

It's not about lambasting people for their choice of medium, we just agree that the feeling of manipulating wax is a crucial part of the true pleasure of DJing. The video's cool too.

In all seriousness, while we play strictly vinyl at our DJ sets, I personally play off Serato a lot of the time when performing as Ewan Hoozami and love the fact I can use cue points for live editing, dub effects, beat-rolls and so on, plus I can play my own tracks without getting them cut to wax. I often get people coming up to me when I'm playing vinyl saying 'ah nice to see someone DJing properly, none of this laptop shit'. Equally, I get people cussing me when I'm on Serato for 'cheating'. 
Well, here's a newsflash for anyone that thinks like that - you're plain wrong. 
DJing with vinyl and DJing digitally are, to me, as different as playing electric or acoustic guitar... the basic principles are the same, but the style, sound and vibe you achieve are totally different. Neither is 'right' or 'wrong' - however I would argue that DJs that have never used vinyl are missing a crucial part of their education.
It's refreshing to see Macka B avoid the traditional 'old school' stance - the heads often take up a tribal stance of 'vinyl is the only true form of DJing' - and acknowledge the role of digital in today's DJ culture.
But if you are a DJ who's never played a 45, we think you'll fall in love with the wax if you give it a shot.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Feature - Cultures of Soul Records

I'm delighted to have grabbed a few words with Deano Sounds, head honcho at one of my favourite repress labels, Cultures of Soul. CoS seek out fantasticmusic from across the world that always manages to be both unusual and yet dancefloor-friendly. I don't think I've played a vinyl set in the last few years that hasn't included at least one CoS record!

 OK let's start with the basics... I note from your website that you started in 2008, born out of a radio show on Viva Radio, but there's obviously a lot of behind the scenes action required to turn that idea into reality. Did you have any prior experience? And what can you tell us about the first steps of the Cultures of Soul imprint? 
I was DJing and collecting records and had also wanted to start a music label at some point.   I guess the first steps would be that my friend had some contact info for Bili Sparrow who turned out to be our first release. And then it went on from there.


What's the line up at CoS? 
We've got two ambitious projects coming out now and coming out soon. First a box set of 7 x 7inches of Brazilian Funk and Soul and then out in January the Boston Creative Jazz Scene which is an album compilation with an 80 page book about the underground Jazz scene in Boston in the 70s..

How many releases have you out out so far?  
Too many to count! 

Do you try and do a certain number a year, or is it more a case of 'it's ready when it's ready? 
It's really a case of when releases are ready. There's really no master marketing plan other than to put out the most interesting high quality product that we can.

You've developed a reputation as a purveyor of a more international brand of funk, soul, disco and jazz... you've unearthed some astonishing music from Bollywood, Brazil and the Caribbean, to name but a few unusual sources. How do you find the music, and what criteria do you use to choose which tracks to release? 
I usually start a project by looking for interesting music or an interesting theme and then I try to fill the compilation with the best material that fits together in that particular cultural lens. 

I think our readers would be interested in the process of getting a record out on your business model... talk us through the basic process, from sourcing and selecting tracks to designing and distributing. 
That is quite a long answer and one I feel your readers might finding boring. It's like sauuges the process is not pretty and sometimes you don't want to know what you have to go through to get to the other end!

You're clearly a busy working DJ in your own right - has the label opened doors for you to perform at more illustrious or far-flung venues? 
It has to a certain extent. It's still tough to find great venues willing to host DJings playing eclectic vintage music. But I did recently play a gig at a night in Montreal called the Goods that was amazing!

There's an evident growth in the reissues vinyl market - do you see that as a positive thing? Have you worked with any other labels or collaborated with any? Do you find there's a sense of community between independent reissue labels? 
Well it's great that the younger generation is buying vinyl. The only problem is in my opinion so much wasted vinyl releases are coming out i.e. dollar bin fodder like Fleetwood Mac - Rumors type stuff. I don't believe in pressing vinyl in massive quantities or unneccesarily.I worked with Frank Gossner Voodoo Funk. I think there is definitely a community among the older more established reissues like Numero, Strut, and Soul Jazz. Those are the labels we look up to.

What are the future plans for Cultures of Soul? 
We're actually working with a lot of interesting remixers and producers at the moment including Ruf Dug, Africaine 808, Alma Negra, and Names You Can Trust on a project of unreleased material from the leader of the Kelenkye Band - Jagger Botchway. And I'm also working with Rahaan and Gerd Janson on a few companion 12"s to go with some of our upcoming compilations.
We're putting out a compilation of rare Gospel Disco compiled by Greg Belson and a compilation of South African Disco/Boogie as well as the unreleased material from Jagger Botchway with the remixes. And also some new music produced in 2015 so stay tuned!

BBE Music - Free Shipping globally until this weekend!

We thought you'd like to know that one of the UK's very finest record labels, BBE, have announced an offer of Free Shipping on all orders until this weekend. Nice! Just go here and treat your loved ones to a nice xmas present (or just treat yourself)

Always championing great contemporary beat-based music and with an impressive array of represses and re-issues, you're bound to find something you dig.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Our band has released a Charity single for the MS Society's Christmas Appeal!

Seasons like this need a hero... and when MRSL-01 receives the call, there's only one thing to do. The Mind-Reading Space Lasers spring into action, chasing Santa across the galaxy in a desperate bid to save Christmas and restore the cosmic balance... but who will prevail?

A bonkers video, a famous family, a noble cause, a mission to save Christmas from an intergalactic Santa Claus and… a Bob Geldof cover. That’s what The Mind-Reading Space Lasers, AKA Daniel and Adam Hignell, have in store this Christmas. 

The Brighton-based brothers have applied their analogue space-pop sound to one of the most iconic Christmas songs of all time... It's Band Aid, but turned up to 11, and wearing spandex leggings. 

They are aiming to raise money for The MS Society - a charity doing important research into curing and treating Multiple Sclerosis, a neurological disease which their father, ex-England rugby player and BBC broadcaster Alastair Hignell, was diagnosed with some 15 years ago 

So don your space-suit, dip into your pockets, engage warp drive and help the Mind-Reading Space Lasers can save Xmas! 

Made with a budget of £125, the video mimics the classic B-Movie’s of the 80’s, lovingly recreating the Betamax cassettes of that bygone era, dodgy tracking and all. The song is performed, written and arranged by the Mind-Reading Space Lasers, with special thanks to the ‘Space Cadets' - Jeannie and Alastair Hignell, Lucy Finchett-Maddock, John Guzek and Layla Hignell-Tully.
You can buy the single for £1, or donate more if you feel like it (its for a good cause after all!)

All proceeds go to The MS Society Christmas Appeal. The funds will be invested in Myelin Research,which could one day lead to a cure for this cruel, degenerative condition. Registered charity nos. 1139257 / SC041990.

How to support:
1) BUY THE TRACK HERE! ALL PROCEEDS GO TO THE MS SOCIETY CHRISTMAS APPEAL! https://themindreadingspacelasers.ban... 
YOU DO NOT NEED A PAYPAL ACCOUNT - JUST CLICK 'I Do Not Have a Paypal Account' and you can pay with credit/debit card

Santa's gone bad! Instead of delivering presents, he's turning everything in the Cosmos into holograms, leaving a trail of festive destruction in his wake! Can anyone stop him? Does anybody care? Do they know it's Christmas time in space?