August; the month of boat parties on the Adriatic, Dekmantel Festival and enough open-air events to give yourself the sunburnt skin tone of your nan’s leather sofa. Whether you’re looking to get in on some new wax to spin under the (sort of) summer sun, or need something to tranquilize those envious ‘stuck at home’ vibes, August’s vinyl releases have something for errrryone. With music coming from Southern Africa, The Caribbean, The States, Europe and pretty much all corners of the world, this one’s for the open-minded digger.
DJ Tennis – DJ Kicks (!K7 Records)
(Released 22nd June)
Joining the ranks of Moodymann, Daniel Avery, Marcel Dettmann and DJ Koze, the legendary DJ-Kicks series has now passed over to Italian stalwart, DJ Tennis. One of the most prestigious torches you can carry in the DJ world, the series tasks the best of the best with curating a mix for home listening. DJ Tennis, head man at Life & Death records, has taken this challenge to another realm. Bringing an ambient and often beautifully melodic sound to his mix, Tennis breaks ground in being the first DJ to cover two slabs of wax on this double LP release. He also flirts with electro, dusty techno, dub reggae, Detroit house and much more across the 32-track compilation.
Known already as one of the most wide-ranging DJs in the game, DJ Tennis brings this winning ethos to the release and then some.
Hidden Spheres – It Ain’t Easy (Lobster Theremin)
(Released 28th July)
The British summertime cries out for UK-based producers and musicians to make summery music. With an average of 3 hours of cloudless sky a year, we’ve got to do all we can to try and lure the good weather out of the box. Landing on Lobster Theremin after two previous outings on their sub-label, Distant Hawaii, Manchester-based Hidden Spheres is back with a four-track EP of summertime jams and loose grooves. “Deeply meditative”, as the liner-notes suggest, goes pretty far towards accurately describing the EP’s opener, ‘It Ain’t Easy,’ which features ambient, nostalgic melodies and a playful broken drum pattern. A melancholic vocal floating over the top of this combination rounds the track off with great effect. ‘Ish on Sax’ offers a slightly punchier kick but with a similar dustiness to the first track, a sound that is ticking a lot of boxes at the moment at labels like Lobster, Church and YAM. The final two tracks on the EP offer more dancefloor-ready cuts, with ‘The Feels’ underpinned by an infectious bongo rhythm and closing track ‘It’s Gonna Last’ offering a wobbly, more spaced out, vibe.
Bro Valentino – Stay up Zimbabwe (Analogue Africa)
(Released 10th August)
Jazz, afrobeat, hip hop, soul – All have represented the sound of oppression at various points throughout history. Protest music is perhaps some of the most fascinating in history. Whether it’s the cry of a marginalised community or a call for revolution, such music is connected across borders and genres by the messages it contains. Now with a much-needed reissue on Analogue Africa, Bro Valentino’s Stay up Zimbabwe / Ah Wo (Brand New Revolution) tells the story of Trinidad’s tumultuous and revolutionary black power movement of the 1970s.
A calypso anthem, underpinned by a military style drum march, Stay up Zimbabwe offered solidarity with the people of colonially-ruled Rhodesia. Dubbed ‘The People’s Calypsonian,’ Valentino sung throughout the 1970s on behalf of popular revolution and the most downtrodden in society. As anti-colonialism swept through the caribbean in 1979, Valentino’s track fuelled the popular narrative of dissent. Today, in a time when we could all use a little bit of this spirit, his anthems spurn on dancefloors the world over.
Various – Beach Diggin’ 5 (Heavenly Sweetness)
(Released 14th July)
For five editions now, French diggers and deejays, Mambo & Guts have been curating silky balearic beach jams without so much as a single shipwrecked release. (Sorry.) Cut to wax by the legendary Heavenly Sweetness record label, the Beach Diggin’ series has been serving up music for a laid-back lifestyle for five successive years. With this being their final edition, Mambo & Guts have selected what will likely become their most sought-after release to date. With tracks including the once super-rare, ‘Stay Away From Music,’ by Stephen Colebrooke, and the much sought after, ‘Desire,’ by Ivory Coast-based Eboni Band, Beach Diggin’ 5 offers record nerds a little slice of what may have previously been beyond their reach.
Gaussian Curve – The Distance (Music From Memory)
(Released 22nd July)
While this latest LP from the Dutch trio has been out for a short while now, we simply could not find the space for it in our last new wax entry…Foolish of us considering the consistently high standard of output coming from the ambient group, containing Dekmantel-affiliated DJ Young Marco, over the past few years.
Their first LP, Clouds saw the British-based Jonny Nash, Italian ambient pioneer Gigi Masin and Dutch-born Marco come together over the course of one weekend without any preconceived ideas to record a jam session that subsequently formed their first release. Now, three years on they have met again in a studio setting for the very first time since their original recording session to create, The Distance. Initially meeting once again to rehearse for their first live performances of Clouds, the three musicians quickly discovered that they each had new ideas for a second release. A more spacious album than its predecessor, The Distance offers listeners a more expansive and romantic sound than heard before.
Beautifully mastered, this record still retains Gaussian Curve’s signature sound with Jonny Nash’s meandering guitar riffs and Masin’s soaring synth riffs, but manages to produce a distinct evolution in its atmospheric mood.
Chongo y Phresoul – Wolf Lundmark (Not on Label)
(Released 13th August)
Cheating slightly once again, this is in fact an entry for *New Tape!* Too good to be overlooked, this latest tape and digital release from London-based astral jazz musician Chongo and collaborating trio, Phresoul, adds to a stellar string of self-released extended free jazz compositions. With music that wouldn’t feel out of sorts as the soundtrack for Space is the Place, Chongo and Phresoul exist within a quasi-juxtapositioned dissonant harmony across this 32-minute jam session. Heavily percussive, Enrico Truzzi’s work underpins the entire composition with Chongo entering into the fray on the drum machine and later the trumpet. The bass of David Paulis, the architecturally-awkward guitar of Moggi Luciano and keyboard flutterings of Charlie Stacey all work together whilst simultaneously interrupting one another to build up a sense that these instruments are in fact conversing. With the cassette artwork bearing a man with a pyramid on his head, what else would you expect than 30 plus minutes of quirky jazz exploration.
Raw Soul Express – Best Kept Secret (Athens of the North & Symphonical Records)
(Released 18th July)
“Get On Up and Get Freaky,” is the command of the opening track. Obligingly, the rest of the LP follows suit and you won’t need a crystal disco ball to see this latest Athens of the North reissue commanding dancefloors for the next few years. Touted as the “long lost album” from the stateside 8-piece, this deeply funky record is being released as a vinyl-only, limited-press excursion. With their rare-groove classic, “The Way We Live” finding its way into only the most die-hard crate diggers’ bags in recent years, this is a one-off opportunity to bag yourself this dancefloor killer. A consistently refreshing listen; soul, jazz and boogie cuts all tie this album together beautifully with each track offering a different sound from the last.
Various – Crown Ruler Sound compiled by Jeremy Spellacy (Spacetalk Records)
(Released 14th July)
As he said himself on Worldwide FM back in July, Crown Ruler is a hard concept to define. A booking agency, a promoter, an online rare-vinyl store and so much more, Crown Ruler has championed the left-field and obscure since the early 2000s. Based in Australia but originally hailing from New Zealand, co-founder Jeremy Spellacy has played a definitive role in the evolution of this music agency. A who’s who of African and Caribbean disco and boogie, this latest compilation for Spacetalk Records has Spellacy diggin’ deep into the crates. From a reggae-soul version of Marvin Gaye’s legendary ‘Move on Up,’ to an extended instrumental of Mike Fabulous’ modern classic ‘Wang East,’ to Spellacey’s own edit of Kosmic 3’s ‘I’m Gonna Pack,’ this double LP offers DJs enough material to cover an entire set on just two discs!
Nu Era – Geometricks EP (Omniverse Records)
(Released 10th July 2017)
Marc Mac, AKA one half of the highly-acclaimed 4Hero, comes in with his latest set of productions under his synth and string heavy, electronic-focused alias Nu Era. The space-like synths that hold this EP together slip across chordal structures, cleverly backed by broken-beat rhythms similar to those of his 4Hero productions. A versatile EP, Marc Mac delivers 4 tracks that differ vastly in style, all while managing to hold the distinctive emotional string focused-approach that has become the Nu Era signature over time. Take note of the captivating ‘Heartstrings’ a track that’s title is personified so accurately within its dense layers of electronic instrumentation. Pressed on a limited edition red vinyl, Geometricks has already sold out on Bandcamp with a few copies still available to buy on Juno, don’t sleep!
Tenderlonious & Dennis Ayler – 8R1CK C17Y (22a Records)
(Released 11th August)
Head of 22a records, Tenderlonious has spent the last 5 years cultivating one of UK’s most promising up-and-coming labels. His London-based imprint is on the front line of representing some of the finest talent breaking through into the city’s contemporary music scene. Releases so far have featured the likes of Mo Kolours, Ruby Rushton and Neue Grafik.
From releasing first on his own label alongside Al Dobson Jr, Tenderlonious has gone on to release on labels that include Yoruba Records, Ninja Tune and Brownswood Recordings. This time around, he teams up with South London-based jazz producer Dennis Ayler to present a 10-track album entitled; 8R1CK C17Y.
Aside from a condensed album preview on Soundcloud, only one track, ‘Funky Boda‘, is available to preview on 22a’s Bandcamp page while a second, ‘Butterfly‘, can be found on the 224th edition of Bandcamp weekly. These two alone however, are enough to flag this release as a must have in the Melodic Distraction collection.
Immediately the two provide a melting pot of sounds, all fused together with disjointed rhythmics, a core signature of Tenderlonious’ productions and many 22a releases. Jumping between fast paced numbers reminiscent of many 2000black releases to moody, downtempo lounge-based productions to contemporary jazz focused tracks riddled with soothing drum rolls and synths that cleverly bend around the chordal patterns, 22a never disappoints and this is certainly no exception.