reviews by Jon Freer

Courtesy of Jon Freer ( here are ten reviews of released and soon to be released albums (sorry no cover shots or tracklistings this time):

Osunlade – Aquarian Moon (BBE)

A respected producer, known for his knack at producing thrilling dancefloor odysseys, Ifa priest Osunlade explores all types of musical terrain on “Aquarian Moon”. This organic and musically picturesque longplayer is a fitting tribute to his current home, the beautiful Greek island of Santorini. “They Day We Met For Coffee” looks back to a treasured memory, flanked by wide-eyed keys, thunderous applause and rapturous guitar play. Keys breathe life into regal strings and starry guitars on “Circles”. A beguiling aural escapade.
[note: here’s another review of Osunlade’s Aquarian Moon with covershot and tracklisting.]

V/A – Buzzin’ Fly Volume 3 (Buzzin’ Fly)

Toughened techy deepness takes the front seat on this comp from Ben Watt’s consistent Buzzin’ Fly imprint. Ace recent back catalogue material and a wealth of angular material borrowed from various imprints features on this third instalment. Snipped beats, melodic key intricacies and a snarling bass meet on Fairmont’s “Gazebo”. Darkmountaingroup’s “Lose Control” is all menacing synths, thumped beats and bass nastiness. A pretty accurate reflection of BF’s current musical state of mind, this comp should satisfy longtime admirers and the ’sheep’ currently infatuated with Deep, Techy and Minimal House.

V/A – DJ Deep’s City To City Part 2 (BBE)

This is the second instalment of Deep’s series that pays tribute to the foot stompin’ US House tunes of yesteryear. There are some wonderful timeless sounding cuts on this CD, but unfortunately a few haven’t aged particularly well. A particular standout is Mr Fingers’ “Distant Planet”, where fearful keys and inquisitive vocals look out into space. Another gem that still cuts the mustard today is Risqué III’s “Essence Of A Dream”, which is a lovelorn ode covered by controlling strings. This timely reminder shows how House was made back in the day, and shows how forgotten classics render a lot of recent revivalist House records as obsolete.

Frank Popp Ensemble – Touch And Go (Unique)

Feel good Indie-Garage-Soul is the flavour of this fun album from Frank Popp and his ensemble. Proper songwriting combined with a foot stomping power will have you singing along and tapping your feet to the more extrovert compositions on this LP, whilst a few of the more introverted numbers might have you reaching for the skip button or nudging the needle onward. “Business & Pleasure” shows the perils of mixing the two, as dirtied brass and unforgiving drums back Sam Leigh-Brown’s frank vocals. A yelping organ, thumping drums and frustrated vocals plead on “Leave Me Alone”. The gregarious tracks on this album, which harness exhilarating true soulfulness and rockin’ power, show how boundaries can be crossed in style.

Blitzen Trapper – Field Rexx (Good Time Folk)

Intriguing songwriting meets rugged instrumentation on this endearing album from Blitzen Trapper, who have a tendency to go off the rails once in a while. When Trapper’s ideas pan out, they serve up heart-wrenching folky and popped out compositions for their listeners. A few of the early tracks on this album are a little heavy, but the wonderful music follows once BT have mellowed a little. “40 Stripes” is a rather emotional number, with heartbreaking vocals and moving guitar work. If the morose vocals on “Dreamers & Giants” don’t get you, the absorbing guitar play surely will. BT’s wiry guitar driven tunes leave you stumbling for words. On occasions they sound like a destitute Sufjan Stevens, whose faith has deserted him, but don’t let this macabre description put you off, as the group’s music is certainly worth your while.

Keith – Red Thread (Lucky Number)

Much has been made of this band’s rather odd choice of name, but the music is always the bottom line and their weakness for nice melodies and sweet vocals make Keith sound fine. “Red Thread” features a handful of tracks from the pleasant “Hold That Gun EP” alongside a load of new additions. Smooth drums, roughened guitars and hopeful vocals meet on “Back There”. Visibly hurt vocals are backed by crashing drums and tear shedding guitars on “Unsold Thoughts”. A likeable debut.

V/A – Experience Brazil (Nascente)

DJ Cliffy brings a plate of steaming Brazilian delights to the table on this comp, where the material has been sourced from the EMI Brazil catalogue. There are some real beauties here, ranging from enlivening summer shakers to wonderfully thoughtful material. Gorgeous vocals, a mindblowing flute and perfect percussion meet on Quarteto Em Cy’s outstanding version of “Tudo Que Voce Podia Ser”. Marcos Valle’s “Os Grillos” sweeps fine strings over melodious vocals and sprightly guitar work. This is another compilation that shows the current fascination with Brazilian music is justified.

Hill St. Soul – SOULidified (Shanachie)

Well, considering this outfit’s name and album title, it comes as no surprise this LP is a collection of sumptuous Neo Soul numbers. The brightness of Victor Redwood Sawyer’s production work and the soul dripping nature of Hilary Mwela’s vocals makes for an excellent musical combination. This album doesn’t really cover any new musical ground that hasn’t already been trodden by other future soul talents, but it does coast along rather nicely. “Hey Boy” places inviting vocals over sweet guitars and magic chords. “Sweet On You” is a declaration of attraction, flanked by key excitement and clap driven percussion. “SOULidifed” is a strong LP of lovin’ tunes from the London based outfit.

Dub Syndicate – The Rasta Far I (Collision)

Digi-dub niceness is on show from start to finish on this double CD collection, which comes from a fine On-U-Sound act. Various vocalists drop by and it’s rather easy to get lost in the Syndicate’s world. CD 1 boasts the jagged electric guitar driven “Sound Clash” and the winding keyed “Creation”. CD 2 features the jumpy “Ziggy” and “Patient Man”, where circling guitars and a heavy bass wobbles. A heady dubbed out journey…

V/A – Mr Trick & Waxfactor: Up The Anti (Rhythm Incursions)

It must have taken a lot of effort to piece together this 130 track sampleathon. As well as ‘normal’ tracks, there’s a wealth of sound fx, spoken dialogue excerpts, tricks, cuts and scratches, which makes it difficult to keep up at times. There’s some cool hoppy dancehall action at the start, which leads to some hoppier tunes and even jump up jungle action late on. “Up The Anti” is a mindboggling hour long mix set.


comments with more than five links and words that may be recognized as spam have to be approved first, your email will not be published.