Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Ben Lovett's Christmas Grooveyard

Ben Lovett: The Grooveyard
Ben Lovett: The Grooveyard NYE Horse Meat Disco Vs DFA Recordings @Cargo The Star’s NYE bash, in Bethnal Green Norman Jay’s secret Good Times Warehouse party Soulfricans – Sex In Africa (US Launch Entertainment) Solitaire & Katherine Ellis; You’re Mine Angela Johnson: Better (UK Dome Records) Fierce Angel Presents The Collection Fierce Angel's Mark Doyle Jamie Lloyd – Beware Of The Light (Aus Future Classic) Steve Angello: The Year Book (UK Size/Defected) Michael Gray + Kid Massive Presents – Audiodamage World Series Vol 1 (UK Audiodamage) Various Artists – FabricLive 49: Buraka Som Sistema (UK Fabric) DJ Hero

Working the late-night shift… Ben Lovett

Bit of a shorter column for December. The new tunes are freezing up much like our winter weather; labels and PR firms already burying their heads in planners for 2010. Meantime, club listings are all about New Year’s Eve and we’ve already been there, at least in part...

There are some December 31 updates worth trumpeting however. Forward-thinking houser Luke Solomon drops in on Brickbeat and Café 1001’s special The Year We Make Contact! shindig, for example – situated in London’s super-edgy Brick Lane, the bash also boasts spots from Perc (Ovum) and Ed Davenport (Poker Flat.)

Elsewhere, London’s Cargo venue hosts an awesome Horse Meat Disco Vs DFA Recordings clash. Special guests, on DFA’s side, include New Yorkers Holy Ghost! and Jacques Renault; expect oodles of cool rock-driven disco…..

House-disco-jazz-afro-funkers Faze Action spin alongside’s Bill Brewster at The Star’s NYE bash, in Bethnal Green, London. Promoted by Nottingham institution Basement Boogaloo, this party is set to be a corker. And then there’s Norman Jay’s secret Good Times warehouse soiree – keep checking for updates – and Blissful, at the Film Studios in Scrubbs Lane in London, NW10. Helmed by Sancho Panza and Soulsonic impresario Stuart Patterson, the latter promises a mirrorball mix of Studio 54 and The Loft, with plenty of tech, deep house and nu-soul sounds thrown in.

And talking of The Loft – great news for next year…. New York’s seminal 70s dance party (the city’s first underground, after hours dance party in fact) is returning to London with illustrious DJ founder David Mancuso in the New Year. Mancuso, woven into dance music’s very deepest and most soulful roots, will hit London’s Light Bar, Shoreditch, on March 21 and June 20. Can’t wait for that – visit for more (and some serious education.)

That leaves former Hed Kandi mastermind Mark Doyle. I caught up with Mark earlier this month to discuss Fierce Angel, his latest musical enterprise, and a brand new club compilation set to shift serious units (well, judging by the tracks on board) in the run-up to Christmas. The comp, Fierce Angel Presents The Collection, offers three CDs of the kind of smooth, soulful, dancefloor-friendly house with which he made his major Hed Kandi name.

Tracks include those by San Francisco-based Kaskade, Atlanta’s deep-down Chris Brann (AKA Wamdue Project) and Brit disco don Dave ‘Joey Negro’ Lee. “There’s a lot of compilations around at this time of year” Doyle opens, “but this one stands out because it was put together with blood, sweat, tears and a lot of love! Each track has been carefully picked, because it rocked our club nights this year. I honestly think it’s a great party album.”

It’s been a tough time for Doyle, as he looks to move out of Hed Kandi’s immense shadow and attempts to replicate its huge success. Today, he has no involvement with the brand whatsoever. “I walked out the door mid-2005 with absolutely nothing except a rather drawn out court case” he confides. “Hed Kandi had steadily become more and more corporate after JazzFM was purchased by the Guardian Media Group. I realised I was only ever going to be an employee of a company I was no longer happy at… so I left and set up on my own.”

Doyle adds: “Many people believe I owned all or some part of Hed Kandi but nothing was further from the truth! Shortly after I left GMG decided to sell the brand to Ministry and they’ve been running it ever since!”

It’s taken time, meanwhile, for Fierce Angel to truly unfold its wings and fly, but all that hard work four or so years ago looks finally to be paying off: “We’ve been through some tough times and this year has been the hardest – it’s not easy being a tiny independent and totally funding yourself but we are battling on! Our events, especially in Ibiza, are really picking up momentum now, and we’re looking at new areas like Australia, Hong Kong and Russia. We are also moving into the digital world with a full set of releases available for download.”

Doyle is also back with JazzFM, the station, newly relaunched, from which everything originally started. And Fierce Angel’s own weekly radio show is picking up speed – broadcasting on around 30 stations in over 20 countries currently.

In terms of artist development, Doyle remains close to luscious deep house-head Chris Brann, with whom he is currently planning new material. “There are a number of artist projects on the go but with Chris we will soon be releasing the full digital single of Wamdue Project’s Forgiveness, and then a superb follow-up Closer. We are currently discussing the final running order of Chris’ new album, and that will arrive mid next year. I’m really excited about all of that; Chris is a major talent.”

There you have it then – looks like Doyle is well and truly back on the move. As Doyle’s web address suggests, the future is quite possibly Fierce.

Check for more details on all Fierce Angels activities.

And so on to the singles and albums popping up just ahead of Christmas; better late than never….


Solitaire & Katherine Ellis – You’re Mine (UK Muzik-K Records)

Anglo-Americans Solitaire hook up with Brit dancefloor diva Ellis for this sweet disco-house excursion, pivoting as it does on punchy drums, tight breakdowns and those solid vocals. Classic housers K-Klass remix proceedings, mixing peak-time pianos with moody basslines to ruthless effect. Good effort on K-Klass’ own label.

Angela Johnson – Better (UK Dome Records)

Johnson’s effortless nu-soul vocals get attention from Italian producer Micky More on two quality remixes dropping neat Rhodes keys, smart trumpet solos and general, all round jazz-house class. The stylish original, with Tortured Soul’s JKriv on bass, makes a welcome, loose and funky addition to this DJ-directed package.

Soulfricans – Sex In Africa (US Launch Entertainment)

Legendary Queens producer Jovonn has the avid attention of Louie Vega and Tony Humphries among others for his latest, exceptionally accomplished house record. Sex In Africa was inspired, so Jovonn tells me, by a bikini babe gliding past him on a sun-kissed Miami beach earlier this year: “I started hearing pretty harps and imagining –“ yes, let’s leave it there. Sex In Africa, released on Strictly Rhythm legend Gladys Pizarro’s label Launch, hypnotises with trademark Jovonn drums and keys, and the inspired use of a serene harp hook. Definitely one to harp on about….


Jamie Lloyd – Beware Of The Light (Aus Future Classic)

Great sophomore outing for the Aussie tech producer. Lloyd puts psychedelic funk and disco influences through his smart ‘n’ peppy tech filter and comes up top trumps. There’s deep, well constructed songs here and forwarding-thinking club FX; the fact that Ame, Charles Webster and Llorca are key fans speaks volumes. Ripper mate!

Steve Angello – The Year Book (UK Size/Defected)

Swedish House Mafioso Angello has had a storming year so this summary of his considerable 2009 achievements is well-judged and, crucially, bags of fun. That seminal update of Robin S’ Show Me Love is here as well as Ibiza stormers Flonko and Leave The World Behind. More recent releases, Monday (epic trancey builder) and Tivoli (explosive synth attack) are also included. Pulsating house from one of clubland’s newly risen stars.

Michael Gray + Kid Massive Presents – Audiodamage World Series Vol 1 (UK Audiodamage)

Brit house producer Gray teams up with great Dane Kid Massive for a bouncin’ compilation album on the latter’s two-year old label Audiodamage. The imprint’s first compilation, World Series Vol 1 is made of stern, infectious stuff. Always loud and live-wired, the double-CD takes in dark tech-grooves, bumpin’ vocal numbers and everything in between. Raucous highlights include Kid Massive’s own Marshall Jefferson-sampling Get Busy (in Disfunktion remix form – due on Strictly Rhythm soon, apparently) and Swede Ali Payami’s totally engaging Roots. Loud, but proud.

Various Artists – FabricLive 49: Buraka Som Sistema (UK Fabric)

Portugal’s rated Buraka collective, champions of a more progressive form of Kuduro (the 80s-originated Angolan sound that fuses Afro-percussion and electronica, and was exported to Lisbon in the mid-90s,) provide FabricLive’s 49th compilation. Alongside Kuduro, the boys whip up drum & bass, grime, breaks and, in their own words “crazy beats.” The frenetic concoction is highly percussive and deliciously upbeat if a little relentless and brash at times, but the end result is positive. Tracks fly from the likes of Skream, Diplo, Zomby and, of course, Buraka – worth a look….

And finally – a surprisingly good stocking filler on the games console meets DJ culture tip:

DJ Hero – (Activision/FreeStyle Games – available on Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Sony Playstation 2 and 3 – RRP from £89.99)

It’s finally here. DJ Hero, the long-hyped spin-off from Guitar Hero, is perhaps one of the finest ‘rhythm games’ yet to grace the console market. Clearly it operates in a different way to authentic DJing but clearly, too, a lot of thought has gone into the game’s design, its look, feel and sound. The end result is an amazingly fun, addictive game with a decent amount of credibility – if it inspires the masses to pursue the real thing then that can only be good too, right?

Your DJ Hero kit includes a plastic turntable with coloured buttons for scratching, a cross-fader to move between tracks and some FX knobs and buttons to further enhance the atmosphere. Everything operates pretty intuitively and the quality of the 100-odd tracks and 93 preset mixes (you can’t choose what you want to mix unfortunately) is superb – you’ll find everything from Daft Punk to the Gorillaz via Marvin Gaye, Jay-Z and Grandmaster Flash (the limited edition Renegade box set offers up further bonus goodies from Mr Z and Eminem, as well as a turntable stand and handy DJ carrying case….)

Unlike Guitar Hero, you can’t fail tracks here (and so don’t have to play them again and again) and players are offered difficulty levels that they’ll be comfortable with. That all said you can jump straight into proceedings, with some pretty cool results, even if you’ve never mixed before – the game successfully exploits everyone’s secret ambition to be a superstar spinner….

It’s easy to see how DJ Hero might be used for dancing to at parties, beyond its main gaming function. The game itself, however, looks set to run and run – or should that be spin and spin. Programmers are already looking at a more advanced sequel with cool new tunes and enhanced multi-player features. Here is a music-gaming format with genuine potential...Infectious….

Merry Xmas everyone and a Soulful New Year
Ben Lovett

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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