Wednesday 20 October 2021

New music round-up ::: October 2021

'Remix EP' by As Valet

As a wonderful extension to As Valet's 'Virgo Stellar' album, released July of this year, Futuristica Music follow up on the project's soulful electronica bliss by releasing the accompanying 'Remix EP' boasting inspired re-imaginings from heavyweights including Daz-I-Kue, Simon S and Quiet Dawn.  As Valet's career in music has been built upon his incredible versatility - as a member of the future soul quartet Electric Conversation to his solo releases of instrumental hip-hop-inspired projects to the soul-drenched house-esque compositions that went on to give birth to 'Virgo Stellar' - As Valet's passion-filled approach to music-making make his releases an absolute joy to immerse yourself within as it comes from the purest of places.  Brought to life via the vocal prowess of LaNote and J.McFysian, the ethereal and sublime nature of the 'Virgo Stellar' soundscape is brilliantly matched by the EP's collaborators...

Daz-I-Kue's take on the album single, 'Lost', plunges the song even further into electronic realms this time veering into broken beat territory while Quiet Dawn's sublime and intimate recreation of 'Come True' is another winner with production beautifully catering to LaNote's vocal.  And it feels like some time since we've seen Simon S dabble within electronic/nu-soul productions so his take on 'Verite Sur L'amour' by way of his 'European Gentlemen Re-Edit' marks an awesome return to form.  'Condescendant' marks the final icing on the cake with a not-previously-released track by As Valet perhaps hinting at what may be next in store.

'Beat Tape 2' by Magro

What a year it's been for the multi-talented and multi-faceted Berlin-based drummer and producer.  With the first of his potentially ongoing 'Beat Tape' series having been released in February, this year also saw the release of Magro's debut full-length album, 'Trippin' - a thrilling and bold release aided by some excellent collaborators like Leona Berlin and Kurt Rosenwinkel - which saw Magro present his vision for an all-encompassing approach to contemporary jazz.

While Magro's 'Beat Tape' projects are clearly representative of his affection for hip-hop, the pieces themselves are actually indicative of considerably more far-reaching musical inspirations.  Considered a jazz artist before anything else, the tracks throughout 'Beat Tape 2' masterfully build upon the project's predecessor boasting these lush textures built around Magro's live drumming which form the backbone for each of the tracks exuding a genuine sensitivity.  The intricacy behind 'Mantra', for example, hits like a melancholy lament; the astro bounce of tracks like 'Julo' and 'Low' both accentuated by their use of vocal samples are excellent as is the production on 'Poetic' which sounds like something the late-90s Ummah (Tip/Dilla/Ali) production collective would have enthusiastically put their name onto.  

Genuinely one of the most exciting and innovative artists currently making music today.

'Too Good' by Leona Berlin

This is an album that really can't come soon enough!  With her self-titled debut album initially released in 2018, Leona Berlin's neo-soul rooted take on contemporary R&B was spearheaded by some fantastic tracks including 'Thinking About You' (featuring Casey Benjamin, no less!), 'Walking' and 'Cruel'.  A real pleasure of a release but one that may very well be bettered by Berlin herself if the run-up of singles gearing towards her sophomore album are anything to go by - 'Feminine Energy', 'Cage' and the single we recently beamed about, 'High Life', all demonstrating Berlin's charm and distinct personality and representative of an ever-evolving artist.  

'Too Good' absolutely adds to the incredibly high expectations for the upcoming full-length.  Brought to life through some excellent production showcasing lush keys and an awesome vocal, the song is also accompanied by a video that captures the song's energy and feel-good aesthetic.  With the album release currently scheduled for November of this year, we very much look forward to finally being able to hear the whole project in its entirety.

'Don't Follow Me' by Abi Farrell

With singles from Carmy Love and Nick Corbin, Big AC Records have been amassing an excellent array of releases this year.  The label's affections for classic soul music brought to life by a team of artists with the focus and vision of steering the genre towards an exciting future really comes through with each of their releases.  Abi Farrell's anthemic 'Don't Follow Me' single will not just stand tall as one of the label's standout singles of the year but likely as one of the label's forever revered releases. 

Classic soul music by no less than the genre's icons like Curtis Mayfield, Gil Scott-Heron, Sam Cooke, James Brown... all ask timeless questions about the society they grew up in and questions that sadly still ring relevant today.  Marvin Gaye's 'What's Going On?' serves as a great example... maybe we're destined to always ask that question but it's certainly a question people still ask 50 years later.  Farrell's phrasing of that question in this instance is powerfully presented with some great writing and production but predominately through an exquisite and sincere vocal that will make you want to follow her anywhere!

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