Romare: Meditations on Afrocentrism and Love Songs: Part One
Invoking demons from West Africa, old soul and blues, Romare coughs up unclean electronica that is as old as it is fresh. Footworkin’, hip-grindin’ bass for the dance floor and a collage of ethnomusicology samples for the brain/scratch.
Batida: Alegria EP
Disarming Portuguese cheese that makes old ravers dance despite their jaded palettes. An irresistibly funky Angolan guitar melody that stinks of glorious sunshine. Soundways are pushing forward their African house/bass vibes to the masses while maintaining integrity.
Mungo’s Hi Fi: Serious Time (Scotch Bonnet)
Eagerly awaited is the third or fourth album from the Glaswegian champion sound. Mungo’s have consistently stepped up the game for UK digital roots, keeping the dance floor live with fresh MCs and following new developments in bass never slavishly. Here, the production is tighter and brighter, while the refixed reggae basslines stay on the right side of the border from dubstep. Lyrically conscious, but not preachy, the title track by YT epitomises the spirit of the album: beat-heavy rocksteady charged up for 2014 with dread energy and a spring in its step. Original, fresh and true to the source; buy now before the independent Scottish state imposes bass export levies.
Yabby You: Deeper Roots Pt. 2 [(Pressure Sounds)
Dread dubs with smoky sweet respite, produced with the original echoey depth and organic crunch of 1970s Jamaica. Good for meditation; best on massive bins. Get a copy at least for the moaning apocalyptic protest dirge Chant Down Babylon.
Sun Ra: The Singles
This album arrives like a Christmas stocking from Mars – each alien treasure that emerges is a joyful secret revealed and weirdly bettered by the next. Fans of Sun Ra may experience this as a glittering polyhedron of new angles of a rightly recognised musical genius. The non-initiate could hardly wish for a better introduction to this sometimes baffling producer of cosmic jazz. The tracks span a long section of Ra’s career, from accessible ‘barber shop’ vocal harmonies (moaning about Foggy London), to Motown-esque surreal schmaltz, via funkoid Hammond hammering, to intense rants from spacemen backed by squealing saxophones. This is no concept album; it is a piecing together of the entire cosmos, so work it out for yourself.
Lee Perry Back at the Controls (Upsetter)
As some have noted, this is the first time the Space Ape has actually returned to the mixing desk in years, despite countless vocal cameos (Beastie Boys?) and collaborations with dub maestros like Adrian Sherwood. Coming in like your inebriated uncle at a wedding, Perry’s Drunken Master style on the mic is risible and menacing in equal measures. On I Believe he expresses his belief in his ability to fly, then suddenly cuts short the sniggers of derision with sinister hints of his massive anti-Babylonian surveillance apparatus. Lovingly produced in a precise audio-replica of Perry’s legendary Black Ark studio, it’s great to hear Perry once again announcing his own death on a brand new album of excellent material.
Yarada Lidj EP (1432R)
Recommended chiefly for those curious to hear a moody African electronica EP. Although there is some excellent ‘African’ electronic dance floor stuff coming from European studios (I recommend Busy Twist, Awesome Tapes remixes and Soundways), this is downstream material unworried about the dance floor. The brooding ‘Wedagn’ is rhythmic, ponderous brain-food with alluring Ethiopique samples designed to open up journeys into a dusty, elusive realm.