Between The Cracks: Essential Releases You Need To Hear

Eight releases you need to hear!

With so much good music coming through thick and fast, it’s easy for albums to drop online and go overlooked. No lengthy write-ups as who reads those anyway? We keep it short and to the point because you’re here to listen to the music! Check out our weekly mini-guide below and if you like what you hear, click the links and support the artists.

 

Kamaal Williams – Wu Hen

 Henry Wu is a musical force of nature. For many years the London-based artist has dazzled us with his fresh take on jazz-funk. On his latest album, Wu Hen under the guise of Kamaal Williams, he amazes us again. Referring to his music as Wu Funk he melds a measured helping of R&B, bruk beat, soul and house grooves to go with the jazzy funk vibes. Giving his music a fuller sound he adds strings arranged by Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, some sax from virtuoso player Quinn Mason and vocals from Lauren Fatih. Standout tracks include ‘One More Time’, the string-laden gem’ 1989’, the slow-burning ‘Toulouse’ and ‘Pigalle’ which is more swing jazz in style, ‘Sweet Dreams’ as well as the beautiful ‘Hold On’. Mr Wu Williams goes from strength to strength…

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Waaju – Grown

The second album from London-based Afro-Latin quintet Waaju is a real genre-transcending global groove-feast. Grown sees the band expanding on their Malian and Latin influences to cast their musical net far and wide with elements of Moroccan Gnawa, Chimurenga music from Zimbabwe, Mauritiuain Sega and more besides. For our money, the best two tracks bookend this six-track project, with recent single ‘Listening Glasses’ and ‘Time’s Got A Hold’ featuring Will Heard on vocals also getting an honourable mention. We thought their debut was good, but this is a huge step up, and we feel there are even better things to come.

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Modern Nature – Annual

Modern Nature new mini-album, Annual, strips away the experimental psychedelia and motorik beats of last years brilliant debut to move a world away from the sound of bandleader Jack Cooper’s previous work. With Will Young sitting this one out to concentrate on his work with Beak, alongside Copper is ‘How To Live’ collaborator Jeff Tobias who takes a more central role, plus percussionist Jim Wallis. From minute one you’re exposed to Copper’s beautifully played guitar lines and whispered vocals, which float atop of a minimal soundscape of reflective saxophone accents, subtle drums, and stirring double bass that make this one a meditative listen from front to back. Fans of Talk Talk, Anne Briggs and Robert Wyatt don’t sleep.

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Jay Glass Dubs – Soma

Fresh from reimagining the post-punk stylings of Guerilla Toss, with DFA Records, Athens-based producer Jay Glass Dubs returns with some old friends. Landing once again on Berceuse Heroique the man known to his friends as Dimitris Papadatos comes through with a truly exceptional album. On Soma, he combines his musical influences to create fourteen tracks of genre-hopping music that’s hard to pigeon-hole. Connecting the dots between ambient, trip-hop, electro, D’n’B, and more Papadatos encases the styles in dub with such precision and clarity that in lesser hands would sound like a jumbled mess. This is definitely not an album to skip through. Like a musical jigsaw puzzle, every track reveals something new, and you need each piece to get the full picture. Soma will undoubtedly appear on many year-end lists!

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The Koreatown Oddity – Little Dominiques Nosebleed

Dominique Purdy aka The Koreatown Oddity ditches his wolf mask and reveals a side of himself we haven’t heard seen or heard before. Little Dominiques Nosebleed tells the story of Purdy’s formative years growing up in Los Angeles’ Koreatown district and more pointedly his involvement in two car accidents that occurred in his childhood and shaped his mindset. The two separate accidents left him with chronic nosebleeds and a broken leg which he explores vividly on ‘Little Dominiques Nosebleed Part 1’ and ‘Part 2’. The album also explores his early family life, his introduction to rap and the gentrification of his neighbourhood and Los Angeles as a whole and while the subject matter might often seem heavy his comedic and conversational style makes for an engaging and enjoyable listen throughout. Highlights include the title track, ‘Kimchi’ and ‘Weed In LA’ all three are autobiographical about his experiences growing up in Koreatown and all three are so picturesque you almost feel like you’ve been transported right into the Koreatown district. Highest recommendation.

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EP

 

Beat Pharmacy – Safety in Dub

Beat Pharmacy’s back with his latest offering, returning to Silent Season for his, Safety In Dub EP. The minimal yet mesmeric dub of ‘Carried Away’, kicks off proceedings while next is the languid ‘Generating Love’ which has a hazy stoned feel to it. Contrasting perfectly with the opening two cuts is the title track which shimmers brightly with its gorgeous atmospheric texture. Closing out the EP is the glitchy electronics of “Tape Syndicate”, blurring the boundaries between dub, techno and ambient, the seductive downtempo grooves are a fitting finale. Continuing his exploration into deep dubby techno sounds, it’s another fantastic release in what is an already stellar catalogue. 

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Standing On The Corner – G-E-T-O-U-T!! The Ghetto 

Superb three-part single from genre-defying group Standing On The Corner. Titled G-E-T-O-U-T!! The Ghetto, it features ‘G-E-T-O-U-T!! The Ghetto’ Pts. 1 & 2, plus ‘Ghetto Dub’ and ‘Zolo Go’. It’s a sometimes jazzy, glitchy and noisy sound collage that rocks and grooves from start to finish. The Brooklyn collective continues to prove impossible to pigeon-hole, turning their creative hands to an array of genres with consummate ease. I can’t wait for another full-length album but for now, take a walk through the ghetto with SOTC.

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Lonnie Holley – National Freedom

The legendary Lonnie Holley returns with National Freedom. Recorded at the late Richard Swift’s National Freedom Studio in Cottage Grove, Oregon in 2014 the five-song EP finds Holley at his idiosyncratic and genre-busting best. The of the moment political edge of his 2018 full-length MITH might be missing as the material is six years old, but I’m sure Holley will have his say on present-day matters in the near future. So while there’s nothing quite as in your face as ‘I Woke Up in a Fucked-Up America’, what’s on offer is a little glimpse into the unique world of one of music’s great improvisers. Our favourite track is the pop-infused blues of ‘Like Hell Broke Away’, but every track is a gem on National Freedom really. Hugely recommended.

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CF Smith

Write for Music Is My Sanctuary & Stereofox.

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