Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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BRINGING YOU THE STORIES BEHIND MUSIC + ESSENTIAL NEWS, REVIEWS AND INTERVIEWS

Column

BEN LOVETT'S HOUSE n' DANCE COLUMN 'THE GROOVEYARD' (June)

Ben Lovett: The Grooveyard
Ben Lovett: The Grooveyard

IN THIS MONTHS WORLD CUP WINNING GROOVEYARD... SOUTH AFRICA INSPIRED BY HOUSE MUSIC, MATTER @o2 CLOSES, SUD ELECTRONIC SUMMER PARTY, 20 YEARS OF JOEY NEGRO, STRICTLY RHYTHM MOVES HOUSE + ESSENTIAL REVIEW TIME...

AFRICA INSPIRED BY HOUSE MUSIC

We’re on the edge of football World Cup fever and it’s not all about who’s playing, who’ll win and how much booze fans will consume in the space of four frenetic tournament weeks. The World Cup is, of course, being hosted by South Africa and it’s having a remarkable effect on the country’s clubbing scene.

South Africa has been inspired by house music for many years now. During the 1980s local DJs were quick to snap up the ‘Chicago’ imports flooding in, and even quicker to sell US-flavoured mix-tapes from the boots of their cars. Following the dismantling of Apartheid in the early 90s, house beats were being mixed with African percussion and township chanting to form the basis of a revolutionary new music, Kwaito – revolutionary in more ways than one.

"Our lyrics aren’t just about ‘love you this’ and ‘love you that’, they have real social and political power" explains Mgo, a 30-year-old Kwaito singer and dance producer from the impoverished township of Johannesburg . "We have a unique sound here. The World Cup has given South African artists like me an amazing platform to do what we do."

If early Kwaito lyrics were about fighting for political freedom – quote Mgo: "Kwaito was our mouthpiece. The lyrics were often in Zulu to hide our protests from the authorities" – then the most recent patter has been on South Africa’s ongoing social problems; crime, poverty and the spread of HIV and AIDS. "There are always important things to talk about in our music" Mgo confirms. "Yes, the music is a celebration and escape but there are still things people need to know."

The Kwaito sound has also been evolving in the run-up to the football. Kwaito today incorporates a greater mix of Western house and electronica influences. The sound is generally more uptempo and, as such, is reaching an ever increasing circle of international clubland followers.

It’s why, in fact, German label Out Here has just released wonderful new compilation album Ayobaness! The Sound Of African House; a vibrant aural summary of all that is good with the SA club scene right now. Mgo anthem Yes appears, albeit disco-remixed by Hamburg’s aptly titled Bongo Disco team, as does DJ Mujava, arguably South African house’s biggest success.

Mujava shot to fame in 08 with global hit single Township Funk, a track given added impetus by a storming Crazy P re-edit; here he offers exclusive new tune Mugwanti/Sgwejegweje. Elsewhere there are star turns by popular house DJ Aero Manyelo and Durban heavyweights L’Vovo Derrango, DJ Clock and Big Nuz; not to mention those producers who, alongside Mujava, are starting to experience interest in Europe and the States – DJ Cleo and Black Coffee.

“We need better telecoms and faster internet connectivity” radio DJ Roger Goode stresses, an SA equivalent to the UK’s own Pete Tong. “That will help spread the word.” Otherwise, things are progressing well it seems. A sizeable South African contingent at this year’s Miami conference; a series of major bookings in Europe; the widely hyped global release of Ayobaness! It all points to the same thing – South African house has arrived.

Ayobaness! has just been released in all good record stores….

SUPER-VENUE MATTER @o2 CLOSES

In other news – it’s sad to hear that London super-venue Matter will be closing its doors over the summer. Rumours were rife late last month but a statement from AEG, the owners of the cavernous o2 Dome where Matter resides, subsequently confirmed them:

“Matter has temporarily closed over the summer period with a view to re-launching later in the year. This decision has been taken by the owners of Matter. The re-opening will be considered over the course of the next few months.”

Matter, opened in 2008 by the team behind Fabric, is thought to have taken such drastic action owing to financial difficulties but no official word on this has still been given. At the time of posting this column no details had been given, either, on the re-scheduling of several large Matter events due in June and July. My sources have simply told me to keep tabs on the Matter website and hinted at positive developments this autumn. We shall see….

SUD ELECTRONIC SUMMER PARTY

At least the party continues for Black Jazz Consortium guru Fred P, who brings his super-soulful deep house groove to the UK June 5, at London’s Süd Electronic summer party. The event should be a dance knockout, not just because of ‘P’ but also Detroit’s Kelli Hand, who makes an ultra-rare UK appearance. Check www.sudelectronic.com for more.

20 YEARS OF JOEY NEGRO

Moving on, I hear that disco daddy Dave Lee will be releasing a 20 Years Of Joey Negro comp this July on his own Z imprint. The triple-disc outing isn’t just Negro either, but a range of Lee’s many dazzling alter-egos – not least Raven Maize, The Sunburst Band and Akabu. Friend Grant Nelson mixes the first uptempo CD; DJ Spinna a Sunburst-biased second; whilst the third and final disc serves up exclusive Lee edits, remixes and full-length, unmixed studio work. More details as and when…

STRICTLY RHYTHM MOVES HOUSE

And just time to announce that classic New York house label Strictly Rhythm will be returning to independent status, with a brand new London office, this September. The label had a major part in defining house culture during the 1990s, before hooking up with Warner Music in the early Noughties, hibernating for several years, and then working with Defected Records from 2007 onwards.

Strictly Rhythm founder Mark Finkelstein commented: “I would like to thank Simon Dunmore and the Defected team for all that they have done in helping to re-launch Strictly Rhythm. I look forward to a continued close relationship between Strictly Rhythm and Defected in the future.”

REVIEWS-TIME….

Christos Kedras – Lets Funky (US Kapa Music)

LA DJ and producer Kedras fires off an impressive jazz-funked salvo with this single, an accompaniment to slick new album, Full Spectrum. Remixes fly from UK beatsmith Diesel, who injects piano hooks and disco sentiment, smart deep houser Simeon Belle and Parisian DJ Reeplee; the latter presents a stirring jazz-house workout. Does what it says on the tin.
4/5

Kid Massive & Jolly – Pride (A Deeper Love) (Ger Caballero Recordings)

Kid Massive, AKA Dane Ben Pedersen, and Hungarian freshman Jolly team-up for a powerful progressive re-make of C&C Music Factory’s classic house jam. The beats are well anchored as are those vocals from talented Elliotte Williams N’Dure; a string of seismic piano breakdowns seals the deal. Dangerous ground covering a classic but ground ably negotiated.
4/5

KlevaKeys – Lost In Music EP (UK House Keys Records)

Londoner Adam Agnilleri launches his own label with this smart, tech-y and super-groovy debut single. It’s DIY dance in every sense, Agnilleri providing solid spoken word vocals, deep and lush electronic production and, as his recording name suggests, slick key work. A variety of remixes, also by Agnilleri, cover off moodier, bumpier and more percussive, Afro-driven flavours – he can fix it!
4/5

Jellybean Benitez feat. Su Su Bobien – When I Fall In Love (US Jellybean Soul)

Superb cover of Blaze’s soulful standard by production legend Benitez, with more than a little help from dance-vocal royalty Su Su Bobien and key dynamo Mena Keys. The end product is highly accomplished, aisle-stomping and roof-raising gospel house; remixer Scott Wozniak maintains quality but on an altogether dirtier, bassier note….
5/5

Various Artists – Strictly Bob Sinclar (UK Strictly Rhythm)

Out for a couple weeks now and building hype rather nicely, Strictly Bob is arguably Strictly Rhythm’s best compilation release since its hook-up with Defected. Sinclar offers an inspired balance of soul, history, funky exuberance and plain peak-time bangin’ across two super-crammed but effectively mixed CDs. The tracklist titillates throughout, milestones such as Barbara Tucker’s Beautiful People and DJ Pierre’s Horn Song (as The Don) working well with more recent, perky offerings like Aydin The Funki Chile’s Conversation, Chus and Rob Mirage’s Back To NY and, of course, Dennis Ferrer’s peerless Hey Hey. Fun and inspiring.
5/5

Peven Everett – Beyond The Universe (UK Studio Confession/Tribe Records)

Chi-town singer Everett keeps things relatively simple on this, his sixth artist album, but that’s no bad thing. In fact it’s what sells Beyond The Universe so completely. Everett’s CV, taking in global anthems such as 1997’s Gabrielle and 1999’s Watch Them Come, is immense, thanks in no small part to well-chosen producers. Here he works with Big Apple house legend and former Motown A&R Timmy Regisford, alongside Adam Rios, who serve up a number of standard but rather sizzling soul-house and disco-whipped grooves. In the scheme of things, there’s little variation, but when studio standards are so high and Everett’s tonsils and song-writing so warm and persuasive it doesn’t matter. It actually helps. Beyond The Universe is no-nonsense quality – a knockout at every turn.
5/5

Various Artists – CD Twelve: Presented By DJ Hell (Ger International Deejay Gigolo Records)

A wonderful triple CD compiled by Germany’s DJ Hell, the latest phase of an annual tradition that sees our boy collating material, both new and old, from artists on his Berlin-based Gigolo record label. The key themes this time round are house music and Vienna, the city where Hell recorded his acclaimed Teufelswerk album. Don’t, then, expect industrial nosebleed techno – the kind the German capital is famous for – but an engaging mix of funky, housey sounds from the well established likes of Carl Craig and David Keno (AKA Riva Starr; here with an audacious take on Chic’s Upside Down) as well as newcomers like Axel Bowman and NYC trio Vinyl Life (with a neat Kraftwerk meets hip-house jam in Good Life.) Refreshing in every way.
5/5

King Britt – The Intricate Beauty (US Nervous)

This is supposedly King’s final ‘conventional dance’ album as he now turns his attention to Saturn Never Sleeps, the ongoing multi-media art ‘n’ audio ‘ project he started work on last year. What a dance album to leave us with – The Intricate Beauty really is that. Britt has apparently procured random micro sounds from various recordings and CDs in his studio, processed them into Ableton Live, and then fused them with a selection of top-draw house cuts to create one steady-tempo, but totally mesmeric house mix. With each listen you’re likely to be drawn in a little bit more; tracks include Kim English’s seminal soul-dance paean Nightlife, a neat Britt dub of Bryon Stingily’s uplifting Get Up and Rucyl Mills’ deep, enchanting opener Love What You Have. Right royal release….
5/5

Various Artists – Ten Years Of Trunkfunk (Swe Trunkfunk)

A thumping anniversary retrospective for cult Swedish house label Trunkfunk, synonymous with peak-time grooves, soaring vocals and deep, destructive basslines. It’s energetic, infectious material – a wide range of urban and electronic beats on offer from artists including Stuffa, Jesse Rose, Liquid People and Jamie Anderson.
3/5

Various Artists – Defected In The House Ibiza 10 (UK Defected)

Defected’s obligatory summer season dance comp, based on the label’s long-running and highly popular residency at Pacha Ibiza – this year will be its eighth season. Label boss Simon Dunmore whips up a sufficient level of Balearic ‘whoosh’ over two CDs dominated by exclusives and future classics. Tom De Neef’s pulsing new remix of Dennis Ferrer’s Hey Hey is there, as is James Talk & Ridney’s Gallic-inspired banger Forever, not to mention upfront goodies from Tensnake, Chocolate Puma and Mark De Clive-Lowe. Sassy as ever.
4/5

Tiefschwarz – Chocolate (Ger Souvenir)

We haven’t even fully gorged ourselves on Tiefschawarz’s new (third) studio album yet and they’ve gone and announced the release of More Chocolate for later this summer – bonus cuts left over from what Chocolate tells us was an extremely productive spell in the studio late last year. Chocolate is by far and away the German duo’s (Ali and Basti Schwarz) deepest, darkest, most honest and personal release to date – it’s bristling with atmosphere and subtle house energy, as opening cut Home (featuring those haunting, spine-tingling vocals from Daniel Wilde) testifies and numbers like Find Me (a finely woven line between introspective bedroom listening and uninhibited dancefloor expression) further support. The whole thing is immaculately programmed; totally sensual and addictive as the title might suggest.
5/5

Alexander Robotnic – The Analog Session (UK This Is Music)

Italian electro-legend Alexander Robotnick releases a new album that effectively revisits some of the electro, disco and early tech stylings with which he made his name back in the 1980s. Working with long-term collaborator Lapo, Robotnick recorded his new material over 48 hours with an entirely retro analogue set-up including ‘antique’ Korg synthesisers. The 9-track result, accompanied by a limited edition DVD featuring exclusive footage of the marathon recording session, is intense, often improvisational stuff well worth inspection.
4/5

Various Artists – Subliminal Sessions: Voodoo Nights (US Subliminal)

Subliminal boss Erick Morillo quite literally blasts his way through the two CDs of his latest compilation release, which well reflects the bravura of his various international Subliminal Sessions parties but, more than that, previews some of the musical black magic he hopes to invoke at his voodoo-themed Pacha Ibiza residency this summer. Fast-paced but well judged, Morillo’s two mixes include his current Subliminal releases alongside Eddie Thoneick (Nothing Better and Live Your Life) as well as power-house grooves from Deep Dish’s Sharam, Jose Nunez and, exclusively, Cevin Fisher (with the progressive We Are The Lucky Ones.) There’s room, too, for Abel Ramos’ impressively assertive remix of Danny Tenaglia classic Underground. Entrancing package.
4/5

Quentin Harris – Sac*ri*fice (UK Strictly Rhythm)

New York’s eccentric son Quentin Harris presents a follow-up to long-player No Politics which more than heeds the advice Grace Jones once famously gave him – give people what they’re not expecting. Sac*ri*fice has taken around two years to complete, owing largely to writer’s block, but is largely unblemished following such a stop-and-start recording process. Harris’s long-player manages, convincingly so, to work both the light and dark sides of the house spectrum; razor-sharp electronic beats rubbing a succession of strong female vocals up the right way. Inaya Day guests on the sleazy Murk-influenced standout Do The Right Thing, whilst close friend Ultra Nate steers the strident Give It 2 U, buoyed as it is by a 20-piece string arrangement. But it’s not just female vocals; legendary Detroit producer and singer Aaron Carl generates classic old-skool feeling on Apologize, and artist Koffee provides spoken-word electricity over a jagged house instrumental for Paradise; and then there’s Silence, what you might call one of Harris’ trademark deep house jaunts. It’s all lovingly executed and with the kind of pioneering spirit that’ll keep others on their toes for some time to come.
5/5

Rocco Presents Smoke In The City – Vahina EP (UK MN2S)

Frenchie Rocco, a warm-up for Laurent Garnier and DJ Deep in his early days, presents his new ensemble Smoke In The City for a debut release on revered London house label MN2S. Deep, skippin’ four-to-the-floor is order of the day, with hooky vocal stabs, subtle drum rolls and sweeps of Afro-groove all adding to the party.
4/5

Dirty South & Bob Sinclar – The Russian March (UK Defected)

The twisted electro king and Gallic house charmer team up for a mainstream, paint-by-numbers dance track built entirely around some militaristic Russian humming and subtle touches of Balalaika. Trancey keys are thrown in, as well as epic builds and drops, all of which instructs you, quite clearly, where this record’s heart lies. Undeniably catchy, but average pop-bop through and through….
2/5

The Jinks – Dynamite Muzik/Wake Up Running (UK Jinks Inc)

Remix sampler, with Greg Van Bueren electro-fying The Jinks’ Johnny Dangerous-vocalled Dynamite Muzik and Restless Soul-collaborator Jose Carretas giving Jinks cut Wake Up Running a peppy mid-tempo soul-dance re-rub. Carretas’ bouncy, melodic keys compliment Lady Alma’s languid vocals perfectly.
3/5

Sandy Rivera – The Blackwiz Farm Remixes (UK Blackwiz)

Bonus remixes to be found on the physical release of Rivera’s excellent new album – a tough and decidedly Euro-sounding affair. Rivera and C Castel drop a sharp, yet soaring new edit of Dirty Sax, not to mention a new take on Escape – all thundering drums and stabby keys. Further remixes of Persuasion and Sentimientos follow in much the same tracky vein. Rock solid.
4/5

Dennis Ferrer – Hey Hey (UK Strictly Rhythm)

What more to say about this unstoppable Miami house anthem? Understandably Strictly have thrown a whole heap of new remixes at punters in the hope of giving Hey Hey some commercial stamina over the coming, busy summer months – they’re generally all in good working order, Tom De Neef, Crookers, Dim Chris, Black Coffee and Vandalism covering pretty much everything from afro and electro-clash to prog and bass-house in their interpretations. Spen & Karizma standout with a slick soul-house re-visit but, perhaps inevitably, it’s still that original ruling the roost. Good package but not essential.
3/5

Ripperton – 1976 (Swiss Perspectiv)

Swiss producer Raphael Ripperton is on fine vintage form, 1976 ably reflecting his garage-house roots (a teenage diet of Tony Humphries and D’Jaimin) with its chugging US drum-track and deft, melodic key stabs. Sebo K’s remix rolls its beats a little more loosely but still follows the same, deeply funky Yank blueprint. A vintage year.
5/5

Phil Asher & Kai Alce feat. Kayenne – Someone (UK Restless Soul)

Devastating soul-house music and a real Grooveyard highlight this month – Restless Soul’s ever reliable Asher teams up with talented Detroit producer Kai Alce for a deeply invigorating dance jam built around hypnotic keys stabs, pipin’ synth riffs and some insanely infectious afro-percussion. Not, of course, forgetting Kayenne’s silky smooth, superbly controlled vocals. Superior in ever department – essential.
5/5

Gramophonedzie – Brazilian (UK Nocturnal Groove)

Smart West Coast house sounds with a pert Latino twist (as the title suggests) from the Belgrade DJ who brought us the chart-scaling Why Don’t You.
4/5

Cozzy D – Long Time (UK 1Trax)

Underground London house producer strikes a notable chord, hinging his deep, driving dance production on sassy vocal snatches and swinging key stabs. Cool runnings, supported by remixes from Dzeta N Basile, Kruse & Nuernberg and Michael Jansons.
4/5

Various Artists – Dimitri From Paris: Get Down With The Philly Sound (UK BBE)

A striking summary of the string-led Philly soul sound that, in part, gave rise to disco. The inimitable Dimitri From Paris is our tour guide collecting a number of seminal cuts by the likes of Harold Melvin & Blue Notes, Eddie Kendricks, Teddy Pendergrass and The Jacksons on the first CD before giving some of them the exclusive re-edit treatment on CD number two. A new 11-minute take on Harold Melvin & Blue Note’s Love I Lost is particularly (and rather ridiculously) good; but then, to be honest, so is the rest of the album.
5/5

Till next time...
Ben

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