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Written By: frenchy on July 6, 2009 No Comment

General Description
Artist/Band: Robert Glasper last fm logo || Discogs Icon || Profile At MySpace
Album Title: In My Element
Year: 2007

Robert Glasper - In My Element
It’s all about the keys..

How I Got Into This Music
Went to see Q-Tip perform live at the Paradiso in Amsterdam a coupla months back and Hieronymus Fox did his research again and pointed me towards the guy behind the keyboards: a mister Robert Glasper. He told me Glasper also played jazz, and I got very curious about his work.

Reviews/Album Details: Google Search for reviews of this album || Discogs Icon || Artistdirect logo
Videos: Youtube Logo || last fm logo
Have a listen on: last fm logo

Tracks that got my attention:
G&B
Wow, opening track that blows you away.. Love the bass on the background, layering the song with grace and elegance in the first part. The piano work itself? Tricky, I totally adore the sharp, short and frantic stuff in the beginning of the song. Then it kinda turns into a bit of an ego stroking thing that gets a bit on my nerves.. I can never listen all the way through the track. But the way the bass melts into the foreground round the halfway mark, beautiful!

Of Dreams To Come
Great ebb and flow pattern theme. The piano is so.. clear, crisp and something else with a C. Another 8 minute track, but this one doesn’t get on my cranky nerves at all. All those little moments of serenity and beauty. Listen to that left hand giving subtle layered support. Great bass solo in the last quarter of the track. God, that’s why I love me some Bass!
The little skit at the end is pure Soul/R&B..

FTB
The opening piano and bass are just fantastic! There’s this whole sensation of warmth, coming home after a great day at the park, almost a movie score. Also the drums get some nice representation, snares and hi-hats on the front, the heavy bass drum’s on the background but still very present, hard to describe. Listen to the closing skit, yet another sweet combo of the piano and the drums, wow!
Still gotta research the title, oh well..

Y’Outta Praise Him (intro and main)
Intro: Meh, not that much of a lasting impression.. But still a great build up to the main part.
Main: Gotta love how the main track picks up after the intro. Love the variations in the theme. By now, I’ve grown accustomed to Glasper’s piano work. Dreamy, floating above the clouds and sometimes speedy as lightning mixed with broad and calming chords. It’s all about diversity.
The last two minutes of the song seem to come out of nowhere, you know it fits with what you just heard before, but you’re still caught a bit off guard.

Beatrice
This one starts like a traditional jazz piece but with this little edge to it: something modern and urban (before that term got jacked by the E-Z Labeling Company). My fetish for bass gets quite a bit of satisfaction out of this track, thankyouverymuch..
The buildup is very well executed, just kinda lacking any real conclusion. You’re kept at the edge of your seat, a very relaxed and comfortable seat with some nice snacks and a great chilled white wine, but still: seat and edge.
Really.
Nice kicker at the end of the song btw.

Maiden Voyage/ Everything In Its Right Place
Adding Herbie Hancock’s Jazz Standard, Maiden Voyage, in the mix.
Can’t find the words.. First two minutes are brilliant: setting up the theme, adding and subtracting from it from that point on. Those haunting piano notes..
What I love most of this track? That incredibly weird skit at the end. There’s this metal-on-glass tapping sound with the slow and mellow piano that just blows my mind!

J Dillalude
A tribute to J Dilla. Love the different sweet bits on the piano combined with R&B/Rap drums. Not a connaisseur of J Dilla’s work but it’s a nice tribute!

Silly Rabbit
Well.. Not really my thing.
But the phone skit at the end is bluddy brilliant!

One For ‘Grew
Sweet and Slow. Almost a piano lounge bar tune, and I’m seriously mean this as a compliment!

Tribute
I like the fact that something different is added to the mix, but it doesn’t work that well for me.

Conclusion
I have listened to this album quite a few times before I got used to it: it’s a lot of piano for a bass loving dude like me. And in the beginning the piano work on this album was a bit too much for me. But after a while, no problem at all.
It’s something I don’t hear quite often: a mix of traditional and modern jazz with the urban thing going on with the drums and some deliciously weird skits at the end of some of the tracks. I think I’ll keep listening this album for a while, but I’m not curious to listen to his other work.
This album is a beautifully intriguing work of art, meaning: it’s clever, interesting, not always my taste, a bit weird and a breath of Fresh Air.

Rating: ★★★½☆

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Written By: frenchy on May 23, 2009 One Comment

General Description
Artist/Band: KeepInTime last fm logo
Album Title: KeepInTime: A Live Recording
Year: 2004

KeepInTime - KeepInTime: A Live Recording
Late To A Great Party..

How I Got Into This Music
I was lucky enough to go the Brazil In Time concert in 2008. It was an education: an almost indescribable musical journey through the land of Brazilian beats, drums, scratches, cuts and keys. It’s still hard to explain how great the experience was.
Went on research mode to find more stuff by these guys and I found this album from their previous project: KeepInTime. This project is all about the beats: combining DJ’s with live drums played by grand old men like Roy Porter and Earl Palmer. The album is a selection of those great live performances.

Reviews/Album Details: Google Search for reviews of this album || Discogs Icon
Videos: Youtube Logo || last fm logo
Have a listen on: last fm logo

Tracks that got my attention:
Keep In Time Theme – KeepInTime with Charlie Dark
Just love the opening beats and smaples. When the song gets to work, the weird keyboard loops (I’m totally guessing here) just gets me all hyped. This of course can lead to getting a bit annoyed by the weirdness, but those smart guys mix it up just perfectly to create a nice but fragile balance between hyped/buzzing and annoying.

Infinity Of Rhythm Mix – KeepInTime with Ammoncontact
Heheh, great title for a great song. Love the mix of the laid-back keys and the sampled bluesy vocals. The biggest treat for me is the use of the I’ve Got The Rhythm, You Got The Rhythm bit from A Tribe Called Quest’s Rhythm (Devoted To The Art Of Moving Butts). The change-up halfway the song took me by surprise, I like the rap and keyboard play/sample followed by a very mellow bit on keyboards. Closing part of the track’s also a tip of the hat to ATCQ. Great stuff!

Bring Madlib Up – KeepInTime with DJ Shadow
Still gotta spend some time listening to DJ Shadow’s impressive body of work, different collaborations and styles. For now, this track will do and it really doesn’t disappoint. I’ve grabbed people by the neck to let them hear this song; even complete strangers.. It’s so unbelievably energetic! It’s so friggin’ hard to describe, sigh..
Here we go: the intro? I still don’t know how they produced that sound, but it incredibly effective. Then, the beat jumps/storms in, with a great scratch sample. They use Chic’s classic Good Times violins in a refreshing way, still reminding you of its hip-hop legacy. After the break in the middle they take it to the next level with a Prodigy industrial type of guitar synth sample and some very, very sick and tight scratching.
That was Fresh!

A Peek In Time – KeepInTime with Cut Chemist
Shit.. Cut Chemist sets up the opening sample, making me expect some frantic stuff coming my way. Then the same sample is slowed down and made me think the song would slow down a bit. The catch? The sample’s slowed down but the track itself continues at another and different frantic tempo.
Uhm.. Did I really try to describe this track? Uhm.. Why?
Just get your ass in gear and go find the damn song. I’ve used a part of it as a musical background for a street scene I filmed of Saigon traffic.

A perfect fit! Great Brazilian vibe with the acoustic guitar and the scratched vocals.

Kings On The Mix – KeepInTime with King Britt
Another musical legend doing his stuff. The intro always puts me off and most of the time I skip this track. It’s a bit heavy on the trance vibe, not really my cup of tea.

Paulista Remix – KeepInTime with Eric Coleman
The intro is beautiful, the slow build-up is very well done. Nice mix of horns and flute, but it always triggers memories of some other latin style song I seem to have stored in that rotted grey hard disk in my head (probably running on Windows 3.11.. there, I made a geek reference, satisfied?)

A Remix In 3 Parts – KeepInTime with OhNo
Tough call. Three parts, each separate part don’t impress me that much and the some of the parts don’t add up to anything better. The best bit’s halfway the track, the retro synths with the vocoder vocals are perfectly moody. It’s all very nice and crafty, full of brilliant moments and ideas, but.. Doesn’t work for me.

Talking Drums Whispering Vinyl – KeepInTime with Quantic Soul Orchestra
Read some backmatter on the KeepInTime project and …
Wished I could’ve seen this track being performed live.

Roy’s Theme – KeepInTime with DJ Shadow
Great vocal samples, classic beats and horns. 

Dirty Fingered – KeepInTime with J.Rocc
This mix of sounds and samples should be listened with your eyes closed and with a headphone on. Not everything is great, but after listening a few times, you’ll be amazed by how well sounds are layered and styles are mixed on this track. The different styles keep taking you in all different directions and I love the break with the simple guitar and breakbeats. 

Song For Sophia / You Can Know Her – KeepInTime with Nobody and Doi Todd
Mixed feelings with this track. That intro is so un-fucking-believable! The weirdness keeps coming at you but it also feels like a safety blanket, warm and safe and ready to choke you. Like I said, mixed feelings.

From SP On My 303 – KeepInTime with DJ Nuts
Wow. I wanted to skip this track for this review, went to browse the internet for some backmatter while this one kept playing on. And while watching pictures of nude.. reading an interesting article on rhubarbs, I was suddenly pulled back into this song. Still hate the intro and the opening theme and scratching. Then, halfway they inject some cartoon sounds and the setup changes: a great cool piano, a lonely trombone/saxophone and sweet 70s female backing vocals in the foreground. And then of course, both themes are combined to close off the whole thing. What the hell?!?

All Lights On Stage That Night – KeepInTime with Daedelus
My ears just start weeping when I hear this song. Sometimes it’s because of the overwhelming joy the track brings. Sometimes it’s because of the overwhelming cacophony that makes me want to crawl into a corner and stab little kittens. What, too much information? Oh. Okay.. Where was I? 
The operative word here is: overwhelming. I’ve never ever heard something like this: the different beats and tempos, the weird string and horn samples and arrangements, it’s just too much!

Conclusion
I live for this sort of moments: hearing something new, something you haven’t experienced before, something weird, different, unsettling. The weird parts are really weird, the great parts are pure bliss. But even the mediocre or crap bits are still interesting. It’s all about the experiment, making me want to take a peak into these artists’ heads to get a better idea of what they were thinking when creating this music. That’s the beauty of this album and the KeepInTime project!
  

Rating: ★★★★½

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Written By: frenchy on January 17, 2009 4 Comments

General Description
Artist/Band: Jazzanova last fm logo || Discogs Icon || Profile At MySpace || Answers logo
Album Title: Of All The Things
Year: 2008

Jazzanova - Of All The Things
Beautiful Retro mix

How I Got Into This Music
Still can’t recall how I got into Jazzanova, sorry.. Must be the alcohol abuse killing the grey matter. But a new album from these guys will always get my attention.

Reviews/Album Details: Google Search for reviews of this album || Discogs Icon || Artistdirect logo || Answers logo
Videos: Youtube Logo || last fm logo
Have a listen on: last fm logo

Tracks that got my attention:
Look What You’re Doin’ To Me ft. Phonte
Just the intro.. Listen.. It’s Pure Jazzanova. Wow..
Phonte last fm logo is a new entity to me and a very interesting fresh voice. The whole production is tight, a nice South American percussion on the background with some Santana guitar riffs and great backing vocal samples. Very nice!

Let Me Show Ya ft. Paul Randolph
Another singer I hadn’t noticed before. Paul Randolph last fm logo is this great mix of classic vocal styles, triggering memories of Marvin Gaye. And on this track, we hear one of the main themes of this album: going back to Detroit, bringing back the Motown vibe.
And it’s done very, very well..
Also funny to hear a lot of samples and beats from the Belle et Fou album coming back to this record, like the background strings in the bridge.

I Can See ft. Ben Westbeech
Ben Westbeech last fm logo has a great voice. Just like the previous
track, we can hear Jazzanova setting up a Classic Soul production. When you hear the strings in the background, you realize it’s the same old stuff they’ve been using for years, BUT.. It also fits perfectly with the Motown thing. Great production value!

Lie ft. Thief
Wow.. Now they’re switching to the Beatles/Electric Light Orchestra sound, including a string quartet, lovely! And the voice of Thief’s Sasha Gottschalk is a thing of beauty!

Little Bird ft. José James
Yep, should’ve seen this one coming. José James’s been working in Europe for a while now and this collaboration is an obivous one. Perfect combo of styles!

So Far From Home ft. Phonte
Had to double check the credits coz I couldn’t believe that Phonte rapped on this track and sang on Look What You’re Doin’ To Me. Wow..
A bit of anger in the lyrics, but the whole thing works for me, especially the smart resampling of the Let Me Show Ya track.

What Do You Want ft. Jon Dukie
It’s almost too cheesy to listen to, but I do love me this track!!!

Gafier ft. Pedro Martins and Azymuth
Jazzanova’s love for Brazilian music is a wellknown fact, just have a listen at all the remixes they’ve done in the past. Brazilian Greats help out on this sweet track.

Dail A Cliche ft. Paul Randolph
Love the track, love the lyrics. Hate Morrissey.

Conclusion
Thight production as usual and an interesting broadening of their repertoire by adding Soul Retro in the mix. Just like homebrewing your crystal meth, recycling Retro is a dangerous excercise. But if it works, you get the same addictive results without the nasty side effects.
Excellent album.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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Written By: frenchy on August 30, 2008 2 Comments

General Description
Artist/Band: N*E*R*D last fm logo || Discogs Icon || Profile At MySpace
Album Title: Seeing Sounds
Year: 2008

N*E*R*D - Seeing Sounds
Comeback kids?

How I Got Into This Music
This band has always been on my radar since I discovered the Neptunes products. I thought they wouldn’t release anything after the Fly Or Die album and the lackluster solo CD of band member Pharrell. But to my surprise, here’s Seeing Sounds..

Reviews: Google Search for reviews of this album || Discogs Icon || Artistdirect logo
Videos: Youtube Logo || last fm logo
Have a listen on: last fm logo

Tracks that got my attention:
Time For Some Action
Funny TV theme music combined with some Pharrell wackiness introes the first track, nice. The track itself? Hmmm.. Not so good, it’s a tip of the hat to different genres and to the Purple One, but that’s not enough. I like the heavy and cheesy 80s keyboards used in the bridge, but.. meh..

Everybody Nose
Heheh.. Mixing up quite some great styles, creating an unforgettable instant anthem! There’s some Miami Bass feeling from the Too Live Crew Youtube Logo brewing combined with a smidgen of drum&bass. Again, the break/bridge: a sweet work of art! Followed by a great singalong ending.
It took me some time to get used to it, but this is one of the best tracks!

Windows
Pop rock, punk-pop, some bits reminding me of Heroin Is So Passe by the Dandy WarholsYoutube Logo.

Anti Matter
B O O M ! !
A great female vocal sample, reminding me of the Real Roxanne. Real drum&bass mixed with some rough guitars. And again, the changeup’s a doozy! Closing bits are perfect singalong (or, shoutalong) material.
I don’t know where these guys get them big brass balls, but they do wear them with pride..

Spaz
Didn’t like this one, really didn’t like it at all. There’s nothing here that stands out, doesn’t work for me. Way too sloppy work on the whole track.
And then, Hieronymous Fox and me are chanting the chorus during our first day at the North Sea Festival.. Every friggin’ forty minutes.. Heheh, nuff said!

Yeah You
Best track on the album. A lot of style similarities with the Frontin’ track they produced with Jay Z. It’s got that same weird laidback feeling to it. I got some weird internal references with the chorus; its bass line keeps taking me to A Rollerskating Jam Called Saturday by De La Soul Youtube Logo, even if it actually doesn’t really match.
And the vocals and lyrics on that chorus keep reminding me of Al Green’s version of Light My Fire, yeah, I know, weird..

Sooner Or Later
No, not again.. Crap, I do get tired of these ballads: much too formulaic, leave the Beatle references alone, please?
Then again, I caught myself humming this song a few times, scary.

Love Bomb
Never hummed this one and I’m sure I never will..

Conclusion
Well.. The great tracks on this album are very, very great. But they have to carry the mediocre and crappy songs and that’s quite a heavy load to bear. I know I’ll play this record more than their previous album, but it’s getting dangerously close to Predictable Stuff.
N*E*R*D still is a great band of musicians and producers; they need Pharrell’s ego to front the whole thing, but their collective effort is what stands out.
Still wanna see them perform live some time.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Written By: frenchy on August 27, 2008 No Comment

General Description
Artist/Band: Buika last fm logo || Discogs Icon || Profile At MySpace
Album Title: Niña De Fuego
Year: 2008

Buika - Niña De Fuego
More than just a pretty picture..

How I Got Into This Music
I just didn’t have any choice. LadyTO kept nagging me about this artist, and I kept ignoring it. Then she gave me this CD and continued nagging me into submission. After a month or so, I decided to cave in in a manly way and listen to the album.

Reviews: Google Search for reviews of this album
Videos: Youtube Logo || last fm logo
Have a listen on: last fm logo

Tracks that got my attention:
La Falsa Moneda
Thirty seconds into the track and you get a clear idea of what you’re gonna get with this album: soft tones, lazy summer breeze and an incredible voice. Believe you me, I do not like the whole Spanish guitar hero & gitano traditional crap, but as usual, there are a few exceptions.. ;)

Culpa Mia
It’s that voice.. the intro of this song is beautiful and when the guitars join in, it’s also sweet!

Mienteme Bien
Some parts remind me of stuff my parents use to play when I was a kid, and I didn’t like it that much then and I still don’t..

Arboles De Agua
H O L Y S H I T ! !
The intro, when her vocals get in on the song, the whole track: wow, goose bumps!
Break both my legs and play me this song, you have a great chance I won’t be pissed at you.
This is such a great feel good track, there’s no way you can be sad or angry after listening to it.
(Still break your limbs later on, but that’s a small detail..)

La Niebla
Ohman, that voice.. Mellow work on the piano too.

Volver Volver
More of the ranchera stuff I don’t really like. The mixup with the almost jazzy trumpet is a nice touch.
By the way, don’t know if ranchera’s the right category to use.. It’s that cry-cry type of music from Mexico that this song’s reminding me of.

Mentirosa
Hmm, a nice and unexpected change of style: a bit of easy latin with some brass on the side. Works for the European crowd, I guess.

Conclusion
I saw five minutes of her show at this year’s North Sea Jazz Festival and it’s a shame I didn’t see more of her (in more ways than one, yep..). And, as I said before, I’m officially in love with that face ;)
Macho bull aside: I really enjoy listening to this album and this artist. The way she uses her voice on this record is fantastic, the musicians are solid and the production is nice and subtle. Some tracks are just a bit too cheesy for my snobby tastes, but I can recommend the whole product.

Oh, LadyTO? You were right.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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