The Cinematic Orchestra
A Caged Bird
The outfit that set the benchmark for others to follow in the world of jazz-tinged soundtracks are back, over a decade since their last release. Ninja stalwart Roots Manuva joins them in this sprawling soundscape, which sets the tone for the forthcoming album ‘To Believe’. Given there are more societal questions than answers right now, it’s a record full of poignancy, and the usual lush arrangements that one has come to expect from The Cinematics.
Gang Of Ducks
Relative newcomer Maggiore is part sound artist and part musician, although you would be forgiven for wondering where one definition starts and one ends. Recorded, "after a nomadic period of open air travel", ‘Astroveliero’ covers a largely ambient soundscape of distant drums and choral textures, while within its six tracks of Film Noir-inspired introspection, there are field recordings and a somewhat abstract narrative. It’s pretty darkly exotic stuff, and one for a quieter moment.
"Obscure but HOT funky organ-grinding r&b, picked for reissue... Dancefloor shaker!"
Neil Cowley & Ben Lukas Boysen
'Grains & Motes EP'
An introspective EP from Cowley, who partners with the Berlin-based Boysen for this EP of electro-organic musings. Cowley has backed some of the most prodigious pop talent in the UK on keys as well as having a plethora of his own releases, and this EP sees the pair stretch out under the influence of good coffee and a mutual love of neo-classical composer Arvo Part. ‘Motes’ and ‘Ascent’ are the key works here.
Lee Fields & The Expressions
'It Rains Love '
Big Crown Records
At 68 years young, Lee Fields shows absolutely no signs of hanging up his hat any time soon. Amen to that. Five albums down the line (and that’s just with the Expressions alone), and his light is shining as bright as ever. Timeless = ageless, as is this single, produced by the super-consistent Leon Michels, A simple, stylish, elegant love song: not of love lost, but of love found, honoured and cherished. Future classic soul for 2019.
Stones Throw Records
It doesn’t matter what month you pick, there just always seems to be a ton of heat coming from Stones Throw. This month, it was a toss-up between Benny Sings’ latest (for which he appears to channel his inner Steely Dan to create a fine piece of slick modern-soul), or this wonderful piece of almost ambient, orchestral electronics, which comes off like a latter day tribute to Malcolm Cecil, Robert Margouleff or Flying Lotus. Take your pick.
Mello Music Group
“I wanted my introduction to the label to be a blend of my favourite elements of vinyl culture," says producer and multi-instrumentalist The Lasso, "with all original instrumentation. A pastiche of ’70s film scores and library records, but with the feel of a modern beat tape, an aural short film.” It's a brilliant, properly shapeshifting debut brimming with dirty, low-slung beats, mutant hip-hop, oddball psychedelic interludes and as many film score/library references as it’s possible to fit within a five-minute track.
'That Don’t Make It So'
At 1.53, this small-but-perfectly-formed missive from Yves Jarvis’ forthcoming LP is perhaps one of the shortest tracks ever to make it into these pages. There is something about it, though, that makes it impossible to pass up on. Like a little ray of sunshine in these cold winter months, it’s the warmth of the little Rhodes flourishes, the stuttering, off-kilter drums, the lopsided electronics that work so sweetly with Jarvis’ warm, soulful vocal. For fans of Stevie Wonder, D’Angelo and Anderson Paak.