With a trap-infused downtempo feel, this song starts off reaaaaaal slow and chill. Textural sonic pleasure is rife in ‘Crown Violet’ in the form of reverb-soaked intermittent clicks, drops and taps. Imagine the tongue clicks from Drop It Like It’s Hot combined with gacked-out trap beats and you can start to get the picture. The production and vocals are shrouded in a cloudy haze that take pitched-down, stretched-out, f***ked-up beats to a new level. The ending outtro builds to a suspenseful climax that leaves the ear wanting more – at just over 2 minutes long, this is only a teaser of what is to come.
Gibson’s lyrics are self-deprecating and lighthearted and Kamandi’s production moulds perfectly around the words. However the weird / slightly boring rhythmic repetition of Gibson’s rhymes leaves something to be desired – I guess a lower level of lyrical energy is to be expected for such a hazed out, downtempo trap mix; but with such a huge drop, it does leave me wanting more.
It’s lucky the production carries the song so damn well or it wouldn’t be such a hit. And hopefully there will be more soon, with Gibson hinting at a new album release later in the year – so stay tuned. If Kamandi’s production on this is any indication of what’s to come, then Brainfeeder and Prehistoric Crew fans are in for a treat.
And while you’re at it, give some love to Kåm∆nd¡ for the excellent production on ‘Crown Violet’ (and check out Gifted/Suga Suga bootleg plus all the other goodness on his soundcloud!)
This soulful, blues-ridden track is combined with the instrumental-only B-side ‘The Worm‘, which showcases the raw talent and unbridled rhythmic intensity that is the Putbacks.
‘Spanish Harlem’ is an upbeat, joyful cover of the Leiber and Spector song first released by Ben E King in 1960 (but you probably remember the 1971 rocking Aretha version that catapulted the song into the chart stratosphere), and in this Putbacks/Nai Palm recreation the vibe is chilled out to a sunday afternoon.
Also noticeably absent in this reinvigorated, freshly pressed version is the cheesy alto saxophone solo from the Ben E King version, which is definitely an added bonus.
The slightly more funk-oriented ‘The Worm’ is a salute to the 1970s, with screaming Hammond organs, garage-tinged drums and relentless pentatonic polyphony. The climatic highlight of the record is upon you now – if you aren’t getting down and groovy by this point in the record you’re clearly subject to severe emotional capacity deficits.
And as if that isn’t enough funk for your buck, the good folks at Hope Street Recordings have included a bonus track on the digital release of Spanish Harlem/The Worm entitled ‘In The Dirt‘.
The production on this record is in classic Hope Street Recordings style, with the listener getting the feeling that the entire 7″ has been soaked in a tub of hazy, summery 1960s-70s nostalgia.
This beautiful partnership between Nai Palm and The Putbacks is reminiscent of a funkier, more soulful lovechild of Hendrix and The Upsetters (Little Richard‘s group, not the reggae band).
Get your copy of the 7″ (plus a free download of all the tracks + bonus track ‘In The Dirt’) HERE!!! Do your bit to support and sustain the wonderful work of these artists and independent labels.
Australia’s very own Public Opinion Afro Orchestra are a seventeen-piece powerhouse blending elements of afro-beat from Nigeria and its surrounding neighbours with a politically-conscious funk/hip hop edge. ‘The System‘ and ‘Shake‘ were released by Melbourne’s Hope Street Recordings as a digital-only (which you can purchase directly off the Hope Street Recordings bandcamp here for $2!!), and the result is a lush, nostalgia-soaked sound that takes you right back to the heyday of 60s and 70s afro-beat funk.
‘The System’ is an unapologetically aggressive funk track with relentless driving motion from Senegalese percussionist/vocalist/dancer Lamine Sonko and the horn section (Tristan Ludowyk, Declan Jones, Nick Lester, Peter Slipper and Andy Williamson). POAO’s MCs and backup vocalists The Public Opinionettes are complemented by a dense texture that envelopes the listener in a cloud of Afrobeat rhythms and layers of brass harmony. Fela Kuti’s influence is clear – from baritone sax to jazzy muted Wurlitzer organ, POAO brings the best parts of 70s funk to meld perfectly with traditional Nigerian rhythms and melodies.
‘Shake’ kicks off with halting horn riffs and that beautiful Wurlitzer (credit to John McAll) sweeping across the cabasa and clave rhythms, before showcasing the vocal talents of the Opinionettes (Kuukua & Lydia Acquah and Fem Belling). Everything has its place within Public Opinion Afro Orchestra – the instrumental voices take as much precedence as the vocals and rhythm section, and the result is a unique and distinctive sound that pays homage to its musical ancestry while still breaking new foreground in the Australian international music scene.
As mentioned before, please show your support for Public Opinion Afro Orchestra and Hope Street Recordings by purchasing ‘System/Shake’ from the bandcamp site here.
It’s throwback Thursday… or Saturday… either way, it’s definitely the right idea to pump up your speakers, pour yourself a drink and chuck on George Benson‘s cover of ‘This Masquerade‘. You will be transported back to 1976 with the sexy, slowed-down vibe and Benson’s smooth soprano voice. Benson was not well known for his vocals, but ‘This Masquerade’ was an early occurrence of that sultry voice – and what better way to showcase it but by operating in unison with the muted tones of the jazz guitar melody. The song then eventually settles into a slow, funky groove with Al Green-esque ballad style vocals lamenting about some unrequited love. It is not hard to see how ‘This Masquerade’ catapulted Benson and his 1976 album Breezin‘ into the stratosphere of the easy listening / R&B pop charts of the 1970s. It also set the mark for many more vocal/guitar hit releases from Benson, such as ‘Give Me The Night‘ and ‘Turn Your Love Around‘.
There’s something special about Benson’s style on this song. Arguably, it’s ‘easy’ for easy listening / ballad R&B songs to blend together (think Billy Ocean…) and it often becomes impossible to separate individuality from the heavily-populated library of overly cheesy, generic “soul” ballad music. But here lies an exception. So much soul is invested into the construction of the melody and harmony that it is difficult not to want to get up and dance around to George Benson. So disregard your innate aversion to cheesy 70s ballads and give ‘This Masquerade’ a listen…
January 14 marked the release of Detroit producer Apollo Brown‘s take on Planet Asia‘s 2013 album Abrasions. The reimagined Abrasions: Stitched Up is a stripped back, soul-infused revamp of the original track listing, with slow beats and a smooth 90s nostalgia-clouded sound.
The Mello Music Group artist’s production on Stitched Up has invited comparisons between itself and the original Gensu Dean-produced tracks, which has sparked a few controversial reviews questioning whether the album was just a regurgitation of a bygone era’s sound. One journalist commented that ‘Abrasions: Stitched Up and the original Abrasions begin to swirl together in a self-referential ‘90s haze, the way much Golden Era evangelist rap created in the 21st century does’. Arguably Apollo’s production borrows much from the style of his predecessors, utilising short, repetitive soul samples as the basis for the lyrical placement in the song. I fail to see how this should come as a surprise however, seeing as Apollo’s, and indeed Mello Music Group’s ethic as a whole revolves around recreating and reimagining that Golden era sound.
As a whole Abrasions: Stitched Up may not be breaking hip hop grounds, but it mustn’t just be discredited as another generic replica of over-used obscure soul loops and 90s conscious rap revival. Apollo adds a new side to Planet Asia’s vocals, and an exciting re-arrangement of Gensu Dean’s classic work.
You can stream and/or purchase Abrasions: Stitched Up here.