Between The Cracks: Essential 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.

Albums

Brian Jackson, Adrian Younge, Ali Shaheed Muhammad – Brian Jackson JID008 

Brian Jackson is most well known for being a musical collaborator of Gil Scott Heron. ‘Brian Jackson JID008′ is his first proper LP since ‘Gotta Play’ in 2000; he collaborates with composer, producer and arranger Adrian Younge and DJ, producer, and rapper Ali Shaheed Muhammad. I just love the way he effortlessly bounces between jazzy warmth, cosmic funk, and more laidback soulful vibes. The majestic flute-driven ‘Nancy Wilson’ or the Ethio-Jazz-Afro grooves of ‘Ethiopian Sunshower’ should get you clicking the buy button below!

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Mansur Brown – Heiwa

London-based producer/ multi-instrumentalist Mansur Brown’s second album, ‘Heiwa’, which means peace in Japanese, is the first release on his own Amai Records label and incorporates hip-hop, R&B, electronica, ambient, and post-rock. As always, his stunning guitar work steals the show. Brown has created a varied journey through ever-changing soundscapes packed with highlights. This one’s going to be on repeat for a while.

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Nala Sinephro – Space 1.8

We came across newcomer Nala Sinephro last week and instantly fell in love. The Caribbean-Belgian producer and composer’s debut album ‘Space 1.8’ is a gorgeous, unique fusion of electronic music with elements of folk and jazz and is a beautiful introduction to her incredible talents. A diverse group of talented musicians contributes to the album, including Shirley Tetteh, James Mollison, Edward Wakili-Hick, Nubya Garcia, Jake Long, and more. Encompassing a hypnotic, meditative vibe, Space 1.8 will have you mesmerised from start to finish. It is sure to feature on many an “album of the year” list.

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Lady Blackbird – Black Acid Soul 

Known for her stellar voice, Lady Blackbird is a captivating new talent whose music transcends the jazz scene through which she’s rooted. Lady Blackbird pulls influences as diverse as Billie Holiday, Gladys Knight, Tina Turner, and Chaka Khan in her collection of songs on her debut album, but all done in her unique style. All in all, a powerful introduction; listen below.

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Chorusing – Half Mirror

Using his vintage tape delay, electric guitar, and self-made digital loops, Matthew O’Connell’s debut album Half Mirror combines warm analog synths and confessional folk for a spiritual and earthly feeling all in one. With Half Mirror, O’Connell aimed to use restraint deliberately. This is partly thanks to his love for albums such as Nearly God by Tricky and Ghost Tropic by Songs: Ohia. The instrumentation is gorgeous, with delicate guitar licks, minimal percussion, and sparkling electronics complementing O’Connell’s hypnotic tone. A stunning album.

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Space Afrika – Honest Labour

Following 2020’s acclaimed mixtape’ hybtwibt?,’ Joshua Inyang and Joshua Reid take their latest Space Afrika album ‘Honest Labour‘ a step further by adding dreamy guitars, sweeping strings, and deft vocal cameos to their sound. Its 19 tracks offer a new level of synergy and sophistication unlike any the duo has released so far, free from the dusty dub-techno templates of their early years. Just dive into ‘Honest Labour’ if you want to be hypnotised by some dense experimental electronic music.

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Hugh Small & Brian Allen Simon – The Side I Never See

A collaboration between Hugh Small (half of Scottish post-punk outfit Vazz) and producer and remixer Brian Allen Simon (a.k.a. Anenon), ‘The Side I Never See’ incorporates elements of ambient, jazz, and contemporary classical music. A collection of ten calming vignettes for piano, saxophone, synths, and guitar, which rewards repeated listening. 

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Reuben Vaun Smith – Sounds From the Workshop

On his return to Soundway Records, Reuben Vaun Smith takes us on a sonic odyssey through Balearic, Afro-Caribbean-influenced synth wrapped up in a lo-fi production aesthetic. There aren’t any gimmicks or tricks here; just a smile-inducing bundle of fun that provides the perfect summer soundtrack.

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Jerome Thomas – That Secret Sauce 

Finally, diving into the debut album from Jerome Thomas and what we’re hearing is a fresh and pleasing twist on British soul music. There are funk-driven tracks like ‘That’ and ‘Sauce’. The silky smooth ‘Thanks (No Thanks)’ and organic soul vibes of standout ‘No BS’ broaden the appeal – a must-listen for D’Angelo, Jill Scott, Maxwell, and Marvin Gaye fans.

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Compilations

On Our Own Clock – On Our Own Clock

This border-hopping, remotely created collection draws on layers of jazz from South Africa, traditional Senegalese music, and London’s rich diasporic musical heritage showcasing creative genius and collaboration. On Our Own Clock features 14 players, including Theon Cross, Alabaster dePlume, Asher Gamdeze, Siya Makuzeni, Yahael Camara Onono, and more. Big up to all involved and hat doffed to Mushroom Hour Half Hour and Total Refreshment Centre.

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CF Smith

Write for Music Is My Sanctuary & Stereofox.

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