Digging duo Kon & Amir occupy a select corner of the DJ world, with radio, mix-CDs, live sets and compilations on their radar. Theirs is a slowly-but-steadily growing catlogue crammed with timeless releases: six volumes of their widely celebrated On Track mixtape series, a highly regarded compilation The Cleaning (2004), a breaks-heavy instalment called Kings of Digging (2006) with DJ Muro from Japan and now the third volume of five in their Off Track series for BBE. Not to mention tours spanning the US, Europe and Far East taking in appearances at clubs, festivals and weekenders, in addition they have a strong affiliation with record diggers' bible 'Wax Poetics', and have just completed an 18-month residency of their own monthly show on online music 'zine Spine Magazine's radio station.
Off Track III finds the New York/Boston-based pair shining light on another diverse array of underexposed vinyl. The eclectic African disco and soul cuts Amir highlights on his disc are Americanized by style but inherently authentic in feel, demonstrating the very best of the region's dance music from the period following Fela Kuti's mid-70s creative peak. Some standouts: Tee Mac's 1980â€™s insistently catchy 'Living Everyday', Effi Duke's percussive materpiece 'The Time Is Come', and Christy Essien's glorious 'You Can't Change', which features famed bandleader Geraldo Pino's Show Train outfit. Also in the mix are a couple of cuts from unsung Nigerian star Dizzy K. Falola aimed at sophisticated dancefloors.
Kon's disc opens with an extended edit of Donny McCullough's 'From The Heart' from a pricey 1981 album. Rudolph Baker's little known album track 'Getting Next To You' is a floor-filling anthem in the waiting. Edge of Daybreak were a prison band whose punchy title track from their rare Eyes Of Love album provides a solid argument for subsidizing more music programs behind bars. 'Tin Top' is another cut with a Kon edit, but Kenny Mann & Liquid Pleasure are the antithesis of mysterious indy-label group, the veterans performing to this day and maintaining a comprehensive website loaded with videos and resumes.
International release date: 21st June 2010, to pre-order please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kode9's grasp on the throat of bass music in 2010 is almost unparalleled. His trend setting record label, Hyperdub, is in its sixth year of viral contagion; he's become a published author on the theory of sound abuse and sonic frequencies being used as weaponry in his book 'Sonic Warfare' and his production work has mutated from an almost simplistic marriage of beats and sine waves into a fusion of dancefloor Ebonics and discordant synths.
Becoming a figurehead of UK dance music hasn't been a quick process, and Kode9's single-mindedness has contributed in some way to his notoriety, but it's simply his tireless work as a record label boss and A&R that has marked him out as one of the most powerful ears within the scene.
Probably best known to the wider global audience as the label that gave birth to two genre defining albums from Burial, Hyperdub has become one of the most reliably testing labels out there. Just as likely to release a glut of two and a half minute beat sketches from American beat maker Samiyam or Zomby as sprawling house opuses from Brixton bass bin temptress Cooly G, the label is at the forefront of innovation and it's something that he has infused into his volume of the DJ-KiCKS series.
"Very simply, [the mix is] just a snapshot of my DJ sets at the first half of 2010," he says calmly. "It's definitely not an exploration of my musical heritage, but it's not all new stuff. It probably signifies something about my relationship to dubstep that the mix only has a few dubstep tunes in it, and is instead a mix of UK funky, broken beat, dubstep, grime and some R&B. Unfortunately, I fear some listeners, because of my background, will think that all the tracks are just mutations of dubstep."
Starting off in serene fashion with Nottingham producer Lone's upbeat exploration of steel drum snatches on 'Once In A While', Kode9 dives into the percussive textures of Dutch producer Aardvarck before steering the mix into a duo of his own productions: 'Blood Orange' and the specifically tailored exclusive single, 'You Don't Wash (dub) (DJ-KiCKS)'. Jumping off from this point into a journey through current UK funky, Kode9 aligns tracks from Hyperdub artists Cooly G and Ikonika with works by Ill Blu, Sticky, Grievous Angel, Mr Majika, Ikonika and Scratcha DVA, sampling the textures and suitably brutal drum patterns that regularly inject London's dancefloors with such a sustained level of energy.
"I find the whole mix pretty danceable in different ways. Some of the stuff is around 8 or 9 years old like the Aaardvark tune 'Revo' which Martyn introduced me to last year," he notes; "And in the early 2000s, I was a big fan of Nubian Mindz as well so it was great to dig up that remix of his for the mix as I feel rhythmically things have swung back round to some of that broken techno stuff, with all its scattered snares, bent synths and maximalist percussion. Also that Maddslinky tune 'Cargo' is an oldie, but I've basically been playing it in practically every set over the last couple of years. The first time I heard that tune played at FWD>> at Plastic People I remember it was like someone had suddenly let the sunshine into this dark basement..."
The tracklisting is mostly, but not all London-centric, featuring a selection of big booming riffs and asymmetic percussion possessed by a guttural sense of forcefulness. "Cooly G's 'Phat Si' really is one of those tracks for me; it's just a timeless, mean, deadly roller and is effortlessly a Hyperdub classic. Producers like Lone and Zomby definitely have a magic touch and Mala, for me is like a tropical island in an ocean of dubstep sewage."
On this mix Kode9 surfs through those artists and productions that sideswipe you in an unexpected moment of surrealist realisation. Whether it's being brought by a track bringing the sunshine carnival vibe to a Shoreditch basement or by the sheer level of production and temperament that a producer pours into each of their tracks. Veering from the taught and poignant snare snap of Morgan Zarate's 'M.A.B.' he flips from the troubled soul of Rozzi Daime's falsetto on 'Dirty Illusions' to the bruised rhythm of JDaVeY and on into the advanced rhythm science of Terror Danjah and Headhunter's breakout 808 anthem under his Addison Groove alias, 'Footcrab,' distilling some of the more powerful strains of modern UK dance music culminating in the big moody tombstone of The Bug & Flo Dan's 'Run'.
"I love the sour R&B tracks of Rozzie Dame and Jay Davey in the middle. If only more pop music sounded like that..." he notes tangentially. "The first and second halves [of the mix] are pretty typical of my sets over the last year. The little 'dream sequence' in the middle, I only get to do when the vibe feels right and people look capable of moving to more downbeat stuff instead of just standing around and nodding their heads."
"I started DJing around 19 years ago and I don't know... I just think that every few years I get a musical epiphany from an intense experience in a club or in something I hear that fills me with energy, information and inspiration to produce and DJ. After each one I spend the next few years trying to decipher what happened in that singular moment."
And sonically that's what Kode9's DJ-KiCKS does: attempt to decipher the tangled state of UK dance music in 2010.
Words: Oli Marlow
Kode9 DJ-Kicks tracklisting:1. LoneÂ Once In A While2. AardvarckÂ Revo3. Kode9Â Blood Orange4. Kode9 Â You Donâ€™t Wash (dub) (DJ-Kicks exclusive)5. Cooly GÂ Phat Si6. Ill BluÂ Bellion7. IkonikaÂ Heston8. Scratcha DVAÂ Jelly Roll9. Mr MageekaÂ Different Lekstrix10. Grievous AngelÂ Move Down Low11. Sticky feat. Natalie StormÂ Look Pon Me12. StickyÂ Jumeirah Riddim Sequel13. MujavaÂ Pleaze Mugwanti14. DVAÂ Natty15. AardvaarckÂ Re Spoken (Nubian Mindz Released Mix)16. Morgan Zarate feat. Sarah Ann WebbÂ M.A.B.17. Rozzi DaimeÂ Dirty Illusions18. ZombyÂ Spiralz19. Kode9Â It20. J*DaVeYÂ Mr. Mister21. Digital MystikzÂ 2 Much Chat22. Terror DanjahÂ Stiff23. Digital MystikzÂ Mountain Dread March24. ZombyÂ Godzilla25. Digital MystikzÂ Mountain Dread March (Reprise)26. Addison GrooveÂ Footcrab27. Kode9 vs. LDÂ Bad28. MaddslinkyÂ Cargo29. RamadanmanÂ Work Them30. Terror DanjahÂ Bruzin (VIP)31. The BugÂ Run (feat. Flo Dan)More Info:www.dj-kicks.comwww.kode9-djkicks.comDJ Mix:
After several years of extensive work and painstaking research the latest in our explorations into regional US funk obscurities is finally here. Has the wait for California Funk been worth it? Well, let's see what we have: 21 of the finest, rarest and most desirable funk recordings from the Sunshine state, put together for the first time with the personal blessing of each and every artist represented herein - shoddy bootleg this is not! Both the LP and CD contain in-depth sleeve notes detailing the history of funk and R&B in California and the social conditions which led to the funk explosion of the late '60s. In addition there are thoroughly researched notes for every individual track, revealing for the first time the hidden stories behind such revered and enigmatic artists as Leon Gardner, Arthur Monday and Delores Ealy,
The double LP is presented on two pieces of 180g virgin vinyl, lavishly housed in a double gatefold sleeve with full colour inners, label scans and extensive liner notes featuring many previously unseen photos of the bands and musicians involved. The CD houses the same in a 24 page colour booklet.
Whereas the musical profiles of cities such as Detroit and New Orleans are well established and much celebrated, the vast cities of Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area have been mostly skimmed over and not given nearly enough attention. The black music from California of the '60s and '70s is especially under-appreciated, seemingly unable to stamp its own musical identity on the world.
Yet during this time, many artists were busily plying their trade at a grass roots level in LA and the Bay, releasing 45s literally by hand or through small independents. Today many of those very 45s fetch hundreds and sometimes thousands of pounds at online auction with lovers of real soul and funk desperate to get hold of them. Following on from our previous funk collections of Texas, Florida, the Midwest and the Carolinas, we applied ourselves to what proved to be our most ambitious and far-reaching project yet - to source and compile the best vintage funk that California had to offer. From the rugged street funk of Arthur Monday to the Latino flavours of Enrique Olivarez, from the soulful jazz grooves of blues legend Johnny Heartsman to the aggressive politicising of King Solomon, there is real diversity on offer - these aren't mere JB sound-a-likes but talented individuals who brought their own voice to the funk sound.
Putting together an album like this is no easy task. It has certainly taken a while to come to light, but we are confident that California Funk, with its divergent sounds and intriguing avenues, will not disappoint, and indeed we hope that it will help raise the standing of California in R&B, soul and funk circles from here on.
Simon Green aka Bonobo returns with his fourth, most eagerly-anticipated and most accomplished album to date, the magnificent 'Black Sands.' Green proves once and for all with 'Black Sands' that he is an artist and producer with his sights set on much higher prizes than to rule any dusty subgenre of dance music. This is a record of epic reach and massive emotional pull, all held together by Green's understanding of composition and arrangement of live instruments (most of them also played by him) as well as his complete mastery of the tricks and techniques of the digital age. 'Black Sands' is the most contemporary record he has ever made.
Opening track 'Kiara' sets out Bonobo's stall quickly. Yes, there is an exquisite string refrain, reminiscent of Chinese art movies, but Green places this within the context of a thumping beat, deep synths and cut up vocals. 'Kong' seems closer to the soul-jazz template which has long influenced the Bonobo sound but each further listen showcases both the intricacy of his productions and the subtlety with which he achieves them. The skipping beat of 'Eyesdown' and the way he weaves Andreya Triana's vocals through layers of sub-bass show Green making his own moves with the influences of two-step. 'El Toro' brings a Brazilian flavour but without losing any of the hard snap of the beats. 'We Could Forever' combines high-life guitar lines with punishing, melancholy bass. First single, 'The Keeper' shows Green and Triana coming through with their most intense, emotional soul jam. 'All In Forms' once again combines a shimmering beauty with some serious beat 'n' bass action. 'Wonder When' showcases Andreya Triana's voice again, this time in the context of a polyrhythmic finger snapper which will lead to euphoric scenes on the dancefloor. 'Animals' sounds like Joy Division jamming with Steve Reich and a bloco band. Title track 'Black Sands' finishes the album with a perfectly judged, melancholy waltz, waves of horns swelling up to the kind of finale that sings in your ears even after it has stopped.
Since Simon Green's last album, 'Days To Come', he has become one of Ninja Tune's biggest artists worldwide, with over fifteen million plays on Last.FM and a series of sell out tours with his live band which have moved from venues such as the Luminaire to the Kentish Town Forum and the Roundhouse. This combination of superb live shows and studio wizardry means that he is now perfectly placed to push on into a yet bigger league. With 'Black Sands', Bonobo has made the progressive record to achieve it.
The Music and Politics of Black Action Films 1969-75
Available on 2xCD and 2LP Vol. 1 and 2LP Vol. 2CD One1. Roy Ayers â€“ Coffy (Coffy)2. Gene Page â€“ Blacula (Blacula)3. Johnny Pate - Shaft in Africa (Addis) (Shaft in Africa)4. Willie Hutch - Brothers Gonna Work It Out (The Mack)5. Don Costa - Soul of Nigger Charley (Soul of Nigger Charley)6. Marvin Gaye - T Plays it Cool (Troubleman)7. Bobby Womack - Across 110th Street (Across 110th Street)8. J.J. Johnson â€“ Willieâ€™s Chase (Willie Dynamite)9. James Brown - Down and Out In New York City (Black Caeser)10. Quincy Jones â€“ They Call Me Mister Tibbs (They Call Me Mister Tibbs)11. JJ Johnson - Keep on Movin On (Willie Dynamite)12. Dennis Coffy - Black Belt Jones (Black belt Jones)13. Curtis Mayfield - Freddieâ€™s Dead (Super Fly)14. Blackbyrdâ€™s - Wilfordâ€™s Gone (Cornbread, Earl and Me)15. Willie Hutch - Foxy Brown (Foxy Brown)16. Isaac Hayes - Run Fay Run (Three Tough Guys)CD21. Isaac Hayes â€“ Shaft (Shaft)2. Joe Simon - Theme from Cleopatra Jones (Cleopatra Jones)3. Roy Ayers â€“ Aragon (Coffy)4. Gordon Staples - All Strung Out (Mean Johnny Burrows)5. Brer Soul & Earth, Wind and Fire - Sweetbackâ€™s Theme (Sweet Sweetback)6. Johnny Pate - Truck Stop (Shaft In Africa)7. James Brown - Make It Good to Yourself (Black Caeser)8. Isaac Hayes - Pursuit of the Pimpmobile (Shaft in Africa)9. Edwin Starr â€“ Easinâ€™ In (Hell Up In Harlem)10. Don Julian - Lay it On Your Head (Savage)11. Gene Page - The Bus (Cool Breeze)12. Grant Green - Travelling to get Doc (The Final Comedown)13. Impressions - Make A Resolution (Three The Hard Way)14. Nat Dove and the Devils - Zombie March (Petey Wheatstraw)15. Booker T and MGâ€™s - Time Is Tight (Uptight!)
â€˜Can You Dig It?â€™ charts the rise and fall of â€˜Black Action Filmsâ€™ from 1970-75. As well as featuring a double-CD collection of the stunning music from these films, â€˜Can You Dig It?â€™ comes with a 100-page booklet, mini-film poster cards and stickers.
The Black Action Films of the early 1970s gave Hollywood its first African-American cinema â€“ actors, directors, cameramen, editors and writers. These films discussed aspects of the African-American experience in the form of entertainment. Storylines interwove post-civil rights revolution with action stories, many involving pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers or private detectives.
The films also featured the finest funk and soul black music of the time as stars such as James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, Willie Hutch and Roy Ayers produced some of their finest work, with film budgets allowing for the addition of huge orchestral arrangements by jazz legends such as Quincy Jones, Johnny Pate and JJ Johnson.
In the early 1970s, Black Action Films exploded into the cinema with three extremely successful films â€“ â€˜Shaftâ€™, â€˜Super Flyâ€™ and â€˜Sweet Sweetbackâ€™s Badasssss Songâ€™. The most profound statement of these films was their actual existence â€“ black actors and black directors entering the previously closed Hollywood film industry.
Black Action Films were a representation of politically everything that had gone before and stylistically of everything that was current. Civil rights, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Black Power, Black Panthers, Vietnam sit alongside the criminal worlds of policemen, private investigators, bail bondsmen and the criminals, drug dealers, pimps and hustlers that they parole.
Black American culture is reflected in the scorching soundtracks, some seriously funky clothes and the language of the street. Rarely does ten minutes pass when someone will expound â€˜Right on!â€™, â€˜Can you dig it?â€™, â€˜Stay looseâ€™ or the eponymous â€˜Is it Black enough for you?â€™.