EMPIRICAL – A Bitter End For A Tender Giant [Naim Jazz]
Young British jazz players opening doors and minds to Eric Dolphy? Yes please. Empirical are a leaderless band of intrepid musicians: alto saxophonist Nathaniel Facey and drummer Shaney Forbes, both former members of Tomorrow's Warriors (Facey also plays in Jerry Dammers’ Spatial AKA tribute to Sun Ra), double bassist Tom Farmer from the Heritage Orchestra and rogue vibraphonist Lewis Wright. Each composition is the most natural of conversations between instruments; each is telling a different tale. This tune was inspired by Dolphy’s death in Berlin from a diabetic coma. Pick up the new album ‘Out n’ In’, produced by Jason Yarde. Sprightly and sumptuously balanced music that’s worth getting lost in.
2. MULATU ASTATKE – Mulatu [Strut]
Oh how I love Mulatu. There’s the music – all sinuous, mischievous and intoxicating – and then there’s the man; an Ethiopian jazz mystic who’s lived a thousand lives in as many countries. Despite reaching new heights of fame following Jarmusch’s use of tunes such as ‘Yekermo Sew’ and ‘Yegelle Tezeta’ for Broken Flowers, there hasn’t been a comprehensive collection of his recordings, from the heady British jazz scene of the 60's through his varied output for the Worthy label in NYC to the key Addis period on Amha, etc Well, building on the superb ‘Inspiration Information’ release, Strut have rectified that. Here’s one of many memorable moments on the album. Check the sleeve notes for knowledge from Soundway’s Miles Cleret. Worth a physical purchase, for sure.
3. STANTON DAVIS’ GHETTO MYSTICISM – Space-A-Nova I (Soul Jazz)
If you haven’t picked up Stuart Baker and Gilles Peterson’s wonderful, record-shaped tome to rare spiritual jazz cover artwork then treat yourself to a Christmas present and order using the link below. Simply touching this book will heal you. While you’re at it, pick up the loud double-double LP of tunes from the likes of Mary Lou Williams, Michael White, Joe McFee, Amina Claudine Myers and these guys, Stanton Davis' Ghetto-Mysticism. Taken from a 1977 private press out of Somerville, Massachusetts, trumpeter Stanton Davis assembles am astounding orchestra of space cadets for journeys into groove. Davis had high hopes for the record: “I wish to dedicate this album to all who can hear their heartbeat, but especially to those that have heard the heartbeat of another as well.”
4. BUILD AN ARK – Celebrate [Kindred Spirits]
It is so nice to have the Ark back again: those polyphonic peace movements; Miguel Atwood Ferguson’s enchanting string arrangements; and clap-a-long communion with the titanic Dwight Trible at the pulpit. This album veers beyond the more solo-orientated jazz to explore traditional ensemble spirituals, with nods to Stepney’s soul righteousness, classic circular folk movements (Van Morrison’s ‘Sweet Thing’) and Alice Coltrane vibes. Tough to pick one tune but I had to go with that unmistakeable Trible warble.
5. LOU RHODES – There For The Taking [Motion Audio]
The fragile beauty of Lou Rhodes’ voice is among life’s simple pleasures. This is from her third solo album, ‘One Good Thing’, recorded in just two weeks, in live takes with minimal editing and overdubs, and set for release in March 2010. The record charts the last two years of her life, from the very painful loss of her sister in ‘Janey’, through the heartbreak of ‘The Ocean’ to the rebirth of ‘One Good Thing’. This one was written to help her friend through a pretty dark period of disillusionment with life. If you love honest songwriting and string-cued catharsis then Lou’s your girl.
6. SOUND OF RUM – Icarus [OneTaste]
OneTaste is the renowned music and spoken word collective led by musician Jamie Woon and producer Dannii Evans, Together they’ve showcased the best of London’s emerging talent, and their friends, at The Bedford pub in Balham. This is my favourite tune from their first compilation – on a Speech Debelle tip. All in, ‘OneTaste Volume 1’ is a really nice collection of stories – from Inua Ellams’ whimsical tale of destiny beyond family to Laura J Martin’s valedictory chime. Check the link below for information on OneTaste’s fifth birthday session on 13 December.
7. THEOPHILUS LONDON – Enjoy the Sun [CDR]
With highly musical yet fun-loving MCs such as Theophilus emerging, hip hop is in good hands. The Brooklyn native can move the Justice crowd, prick the Mos Def/Common consciousness and kick-start the Bloc Party moshpit. Anyone that’s seen him perform ‘Cold Pillow’ live, the standout from ‘This Charming Mixtape’, will know he can hold a tune and rock a beat. This one’s on a similarly late-night tip. Can’t wait for more…
8. MAYOR HAWTHORNE – Maybe So, Maybe No (Bluntspeakers remix) [CDR]
It’s about time I show some love for the Mayor. He’s made the most consistently soulful and compositionally sharp album this year. Every gig he’s done has been joy and even people like the Guardian are taking note. That gets Stones Throw and good music in front of eyeballs – a good thing, no doubt. This one is my favourite from the album, a cover of Detroit soul boys the New Holidays, flipped and remixed by Blunt speakers of the Beat Me Up crew.
9. MR CHOP – The World Is Yours [Five Day Weekend]
Pete Rock gets the live band treatment courtesy of producer, engineer and multi-instrumentalist Mr Chop, who had a big hand in Doom’s recent ‘Born Like This’ album. Enlisting Malcolm Catto and the Heliocentrics adds real fuzzy texture to these reworks. Always had a soft spot for this Nas instrumental so we’ll go with that.
10. GEORGIA ANNE MULDROW – Run Away [Animated Creatures]
Still one of my favourite music artists today: not just female vocalist, not just beatmaker. She’s a messanger. Truly. Mos Def was also raving about her in the New York Times this summer: "She’s incredible. She’s like Flack, Nina Simone, Ella, she’s something else. She’s like religion. It’s heavy, vibrational music.” This one is from her latest album ‘Early’, a collection of songs she wrote between the ages of 17 and 19. Phenomenal in their wisdom and measure. Look out for ‘Kings Ballad’, forthcoming on Ubiquity in 2010 and her next collaboration with Dudley Perkins, ‘SomeOthaShip’.
11. BRITTANY BOSCO – City of Nowhere
Heavily blogged about and tipped, Atlanta artist Bosco is certainly backing up the style with substance. And star quality as well; I really enjoyed her Halloween appearance at the Bitches Brew (big up Amelia PMOI). Soul, blues and jazz inflections sweeten her sound but dope beats and funk drive it home. Her Spectrum 2.0 album is still available for download and Bosco’s ‘Black’ album is coming very soon.
12. DORIAN CONCEPT – Bipolar Friendship (Mar variation) [CDR]
Big thanks to moovmnt.com family for posting this one – and to Mar for blessing an already lovely track. I’m just deep into the vibe; I’ll let blogger Nilez tell the story: “Just over a week ago we dropped some sick new Dorian Concept music on ya’ll and Mar went nuts when he heard ‘Bipolar Friendship’. He decided to record something to it, just as a tribute and cuz he thought it just sounded hella nice. Indeed it does and that’s why we had to drop this one as well.” Mar is destined for big tings – tip!
13. MIKE SLOTT – Snow Birds [LuckyMe]
More music from the NYC-based king of the short-circuited beats. This one is taken from Mike’s ‘Lucky9Teen’ EP. Seven tracks of hypercreativity – each with pitch prefect frequencies that tell a different tale.
14. GIL SCOTT-HERON – Where Did the Night Go [XL]
What the hell is this? Surely that’s not the man behind tunes such as ‘The Bottle’ and ‘We Almost Lost Detroit’. Oh yes it is. One of the great poets of black music returns on a dark dark tip but he’s still doing what he does best and that’s articulating gripes, hopes and fears in a glorious sub-bass register. It’s a stark inert piece… until Tokimonsta crashes the wake. Can’t wait to hear what else he’s tackling on his new album ‘I’m New Here’, due in February 2010.
15. TOKiMONSTA – Let Me Trick You [Ramp]
LA Brainfeeder crew and another one of the RBMA class of 2010 that we expect big things from. ‘Let Me Trick U’, is taken from her forthcoming release on Ramp recordings, entitled ‘Cosmic Intoxication’. Check her live at the Lightbox in Vauxhall on 25 November and cop her great remix of Tweet’s ‘Call Me’ of you haven’t already. It’s all good.
16. FOX GUT DAATA – Clutha Kids [CDR]
Another sonic anarchist name-dropped recently by HudMo. Rickie McNeill is an artist who also makes a few tunes and he recently made it onto the Huntleys and Palmers Social Club selection at tentracks.co.uk; another force to be reckoned with beside Glasgow’s LuckyMe and Numbers crews.
17. HUDSON MOHAWKE – Rising 5 [Warp]
I couldn’t resist adding one HudMo tune and risk assaulting you with the beats. This scene is going from strength to strength at the moment. Kids messing around in the playground with grime and funk – enjoy the boom while it's there. One of the big speaker killers from his debut album ‘Butter’.
18. DÉBRUIT – 149 Dalston Airline [Civil Music]
Frenchman in London dÉbruit (pronounced ‘day-brie’) has certainly raised his game since the ‘Let’s Post Funk’ EP and his Ommas collaboration ‘I’m Goin Wit U’, which featured on the Red Bull Music Academy 2010 Assets CD. Taken from his forthcoming ‘SPATIO TEMPOREL EP’ ‘100 Dalston Airline’ is a devastating example of dÉbruit’s ability to appropriate the idioms of Africa and the Middle East, throw them in the blender with his synths, drum machines and vocoder and make ‘conga whoomph’ or something equally onomatopoeic. The result is the sound of the now, stretching hip hop culture across the frequencies and bpms. Look out for the 3D artwork and videos by RainbowMonkey (rainbowmonkey.de); they’ll also be incorporated into the live show. Finally, catch dÉbruit live at Plastic People (Nonsense) on 21/11.
19. RESO – Channel Pressure [Civil Music]
Mark at Civil Music insisted I give Reso a blast. And with an endorsement like this, how could I refuse? “Reso's bigger than dubstep – he's Amon Tobin and Thom Yorke combined in the body of a steppa. Only bigger and better. He's redefining multiple genres all at once.” His Temjin EP, the first taste of his album, is certainly a sit-up-and-take note record – bass in your face but some real emotion behind the chaos. Here’s the most contemplative of the bunch. Clean but weighty arrangement.
20. PORTICO QUARTET – Line (Sbtrkt ‘More Hang’ mix) [Real World]
Still loving the spontaneity of this collaboration and ambition of Real World in approaching one of the best young producers out there. A second consecutive podcast appearance for the mighty quartet with their hypnotic composition ‘Line’, here respun with a little low-end bounce by Sbtrkt.
21. FOUR TET – Love Cry [Domino]
Kieran Hebden returns with a sublime house groove where nothing really seems to be happening, but beneath the layers of minimal sound and accented four-four drums it’s definitely on. Full-length album ‘There Is Love In You’ drops in January 2010. Hebden will be supported by ‘Love Cry’ remixer Joy Orbison on 12 February at the Dome.
22. HUNEE – Raw Silk [WT Records]
Choi, aka Hunee, is a Korean Berliner with a real talent for red-light basement house – sometimes minimal and Detroit techno, other times tribal or hooked on a soul vocal. Echoes of Chez Damier, Todd Terry and a dubwise Osunlade. He has music coming out on Prins Thomas' Internasjional label and John Daly’s Feel Music. Make sure you also buy his ‘Barrio Payment’ EP on Retreat plus his work with Drumpoet Community. The hottest house producer at the moment.
23. DOMU – Worldwide (Solid Groove’s Wednesday at Midnight mix) [Loungin]
24. DOMU – Won’t Let It Go ft Alexander [Arision]
Many of you will have heard the disappointing news of Domu’s retirement from the music game. He’s either reached burnout after giving unceasingly to the scene for a good 15 years, or he’s suffered a major crisis of creative confidence. Maybe both. Music is everywhere – it's suffocating. And the pressure to be endlessly original and productive can be highly stressful – even for someone as prolific as Domu. Only distance and time will heal. For now, we pull a few classics out of the crates to celebrate one of Britain’s best producers – a master of the studio and a standard bearer for UK club culture. Full respect Domu. Simple.
25. UNTOLD – Don’t Know Don’t Care [Hemlock]
Still a massive tune harking back to the rave but dressed up in new rudebwoy sonics. Those chords are just ecstasy: when the beat lets off it’s murder. Untold, along with Joy Orbison, Pangea and Sbtrkt are at the intersection of dubstep, tech, house and wonky or whatever you call it. To me, it’s nasty club music to make you move.
26. BRIAN ENO & KARL HYDE – Beebop Hurray [K7]
If you buy team Underworld’s highly enjoyable compilation of jazz/improvisation influences entitled ‘Athens’, which runs the gamut from prog rock geniuses Soft Machine to Miroslav Vitous' acid disco and the modern day classic ‘Space Odyssey’ by the Detroit Experiment, you’ll find this mad collaboration at the end. Recorded during Eno’s Luminous Festival of experimental music, which was held at the Sydney Opera House this summer, it’s liquid fusion of the sickest order. Almost 15 years since ‘Born Slippy’, I still have no idea what Karl’s on about. [Sorry about that bloody annoying promo voiceover. Kind of works though, right?]