Paris native Raphael Top Secret with our choice for the week.
2017 marks the the first time A Love Supreme had the pleasure of collaborating with Jungle Love Festival. A beautiful habitat and location paired with open fun loving festival goers made for a vibe filled weekend. A Love Supreme were at the helm, curating the ‘Jungle Boogie’ Stage and the ‘Kunst Klub’ for Saturday’s attendees. From exotic latin and middle eastern jams to afro, disco and house flavours, the riverbank of people came together in a beautiful way at the Jungle Boogie Stage. The crowd was excitable, dancing and swimming into the evening and the ALS fam enjoyed every minute. Later, the Kunst Klub was erupting! Things got deeper, and heavier but the room could not stop dancing until the sun was well and truly in the air on Sunday morning. A huge thank you to everyone who came and experienced Jungle Love with us this year. Hope to do it all again next year.
One of the ultimate collectors and records dealers in the game. This time coming at us with a 2 hour Arthur Russell tribute mix.
And we're here. Silly season is upon us.
We'll be hosting 2 great internationals ourselves this month. BLESSmas is back with a very special international guest in Jay Daniel. Couldn't be more excited to bring that soulful Detroit goodness as a little Christmas treat for everyone.
Secondly we'll be teaming up with our brothers BTHC to close out the year with a bang. Hailing from Washington DC the Beautiful Swimmers duo are going to bringing their broad and eclectic taste to the Foundry dance floor for one last boogie with the extended fam.
Dec 1 - The Kush Club presents Pearson Sound (UK) @ Inner City Warehouse
Dec 2 - Pasifika W∆VE // Noah Slee x Kaiit @ District Studios
Dec 16 - Sabrosa : Discoteca Tropical Xmas @ Can You Keep A Secret
*Dec 23 - BLESSmas - Jay Daniel (US) @ The Foundry
*Dec 29 - BTHC & ALS presents Beautiful Swimmers @ The Foundry
Nice to see our buddies Penelope Two Five get a little light from Purple Sneakers on their debut EP
"Lost Tapes for Calvin is the debut EP from Brisbane club music duo, PENELOPE TWO-FIVE and is, endearingly, an amalgamation of thoughtfully written lyrics and innovative house/ techno beats. It embraces and introduces sounds that are finding increasing popularity in the Australian clubbing scene and, in doing this, brings a new take on the culture. #DadAcid is how the two describe their music on Soundcloud but the depth of genre does not just end there. Like all good emerging artists Penelope Two-Five offers something more and something not quite definable; the creation of new genres, conflicting ones and hybrids unheard of."
Hit the link for the full article
Found ourselves listening back to this beautiful mix from Voyage Recordings Andy Hart this week.
What a night! Thanks to everyone of you that came and shared the experience that was Fatima and Alexander Nut! A small showing to start the evening but the room filled out as Tiana Khasi, the hometown soulstress, took to the stage with surprise backing from Sampology and live percussion. Captivated, the whole room was sent swaying and bobbing as they hung onto every word and every note. The crowd got moving as Sampology played a short intermission before Fatima and Alexander Nut took the stage. All eyes on Fatima as they stepped out.
Charismatic and charming she warmed the crowd and got the whole room bouncing as she missed not one beat performing new heat and old gems from her back catalogue. After a short encore Fatima stepped down and Alexander Nut took the reigns, commanding the dance floor with up tempo edits, slow groovers and party fire that had everyone off the wall and moving! Local clown, whoever he is, Sean Bate kept the party going as Alexander wrapped up his set. Sean performed what we can only assume were songs he had definitely played many times before in almost the exact same structure. Some people liked it, most were less than impressed. A huge thank you to Tiana Khasi, Sampology, and the main event, Fatima and Alexander Nut for making the night one we won’t forget!
Photos: Alex Zanda & Todd O'Rourke
We weren't lucky enough to catch Ge-ology & Red Greg go b2b at this years Dekmantel 2017 so this has to do us. Dons!
It's getting to that time of the year. Always plenty of artists touring and great events to check out. This year is no different. Nice warm up into the summer silly season.
We'll be hosting the talented Fatima along with Eglo Records head honcho Alexander Nut for the first live gig we've done in a minute. Backed up by local soulstress Tiana Khasi.
At Jungle Love Festival this year A Love Supreme will actually be taking over 2 stages over the last day. Bringing together the extended ALS fam for a well curated day of music taking you through an afternoon by the waterside at the Jungle Boogie Stage all the way to the wee hours of the morning in the Kunst Klub.
Nov 10 - SHADE pres: Boat Party - Francis Inferno Orchestra (AUS) @ Brisbane River
Nov 25 - 10 Years of Subtrakt - Fred P (US) & Simon Caldwell (AUS) @ The Foundry
Nov 30 - Nai Palm @ The Zoo
We lost another absolute icon last week. As far as I'm concerned Al Jarreau had no equal. Very few vocalists have displayed their talent with such flamboyance and dexterity. He was the essence of Jazz - A true improvisational master, and a superior ballad interpreter. Al would extend songs with off the wall inflictions that could lift a conventional standard to something far more emotive and divine. He was brash yet perfectly restrained, a feat achieved by only the very elite. He was joyful in his delivery and when combined with his beautiful voice and some fantastic songwriting, the result was pure soul healing. If you want proof of what a god given blessing he was to the human civilisation, listen to Look To The Rainbow which is in my opinion one of the greatest live albums of all time. Since his passing I've learnt that he even healed the planet in the most practical sense too. Al in fact worked as a vocal rehab counselor in the late 60s! It was at this time where he'd earn his break singing for George Duke's Trio.
It would be understandable to sleep on his ability. Admittedly as he gained critical acclaim, he began to conform to commercial appeal with much safer R&B and Pop recordings that would form the large majority of his output throughout the 80s and 90s. He became grammy fodder owned by an "adult contemporary" audience turning off both jazz purists and those yearning for something more left of centre. Nonetheless if you cared to listen, you would find he still shined. There are many standout moments in his smoother work too deliciously complicated for any old R&B crooner to pull off. His album L Is For Lover produced by none other than Disco icon Nile Rodgers is a slept on gem in my opinion. We're In This Love Together is an absolute classic two-stepper that stands up next to your favourite Bobby Caldwell or George Benson cuts. Even in his older age, Al managed to remain far more relevant than most of his contemporaries. Regrettably i never saw the man live. He continued to perform right until this year. As backed up by countless critical and fan reviews, I believe this was where he really stood out from the pack. Do yourself a favour and listen to some Al Jarreau today. I promise you'll feel better for doing it. RIP.
One for the House heads as famously utilised on Pepe Bradock's Deep Burnt.
Its no secret Australia isn't exactly a treasure trove for deep groove and jazz funk collectors. A subject I've already touched on. However, that's not to say there isn't the odd pearl to be dug up. Australia has produced some absolute gems long sought after by some of the deepest record enthusiasts across the world. There's been a handful of seasoned crate-diggers who have championed our homegrown sounds. Names like Arks, Delta, Katalyst, James Dutronc, Milesago, James Pianta, Chris Gill have played a big part in my education over the years. There's plenty of others out there. A particular mention must go to Kinetic's wonderful blog which has become an invaluable resource for the uninitiated. There's many staple dollar bin records with hints of the funk one shouldn't sneeze at. Though often they're not exactly great albums you want to listen right through. Who knows about the use of Daly Wilson Band's break on Mobb Deep's Shook Ones pt II ? By no means a complete list, here's just a few of my favourite rare LPs that one should instantly cop if you're so fortunate enough to stumble across in an op-shop or garage sale.
SUE BARKER - ST (Crest, 1976)
The only release from Sue Barker featuring this fantastic cover of Curtis Mayfield's Love To The People. This gem recently featured on Guts & Mambo's Beach Diggin compilation series out through Parisian re-issue kings Heavenly Sweetness.
HIROSHI & CLAUDIA - SIX TO SIX (Atom, 1979)
An incredible piece of Spiritual / Jazz Funk. To this day not much is known about this album other than its a collaboration between Japanese guitarist Hiroshi Yasukawa and an unknown singer known simply as "Claudia". It was recorded in both Tokyo and Sydney. Very very rare. Copies of this go for incredible loot. I'm still hunting for a copy!
THE MOIR SISTERS - LOST SOMEWHERE BEYOND HARMONY (EMI, 1975)
A beautiful slice of high pitched harmonies. This pop outfit were quite successful in the 70s. The lead single Good Morning (How Are You?) with its rich arrangements was an Australian chart topper but its this cut Stop The Music that is one of my absolute favourites. Haunting melancholic soul! This one pops up here and there if you're looking.
JUDY BAILEY QUARTET - COLOURS (Eureka, 1976)
An essential piece of killer Jazz Fusion. This is a highly sought after four tracker from pianist / arranger Judy Bailey. Colour Of My Dreams features some scatting on top of a fantastic piece of modal jazz that is straight Flora Purim! Fall Down Dead is a break-beat led burner for the Hip Hop heads. Then there's probably my favourite cut The Eleven Eight Song, a mesmerising 10 minute session of beautiful keys and flute. Easily one of my favourite Aussie Jazz records!
LEONG LAU - THAT ROGENG SOUND (Sunscape Records, 1977 / RE: Left Ear Records, 2014)
Another extremely rare album that recently got the re-issue treatment as the debut release from Melbourne's Left-Ear Records. Now even that pressing is going for some serious cake! An incredibly original sounding record that fuses Jazz, Rock and Funk from the Malay Australian. His only follow up album Dragon Man is another impressive offering of psychadelic fuzz and wild vocals but this is the one for groove heads. A really amazing release that stands up internationally.
JOHN SANGSTER - A HEAD OF HAIR (Festival Records, 1969)
All hail the king! John Sangster was the man. There's a heap of gems in Sangster's prolific output but i chose this one as arguably his most classic slab of Jazz Funk. Sangster's interpretation of Galt MacDermot's musical composition Hair is killer! Big drums and funky bass lines, its no wonder this became so desired by the Hip Hop generation. What a cover! With a sound like that coming from this beautiful bearded man whats not to love?
Our favourite community radio show Beats Of No Nation on 4ZZZ Digital have recently taken the plunge into a new chapter of the brand with a debut 12" from their eponymous label. Keeping it local to start with, they deliver to us Super Fun Bumper Edition! A collaboration between the crew's own Jad Lee (Sonar Kolektiv / Toy Tonics) and fellow Brisbane export Charles Murdoch (Future Classic). The name couldn't be more fitting. This 4 tracker is pure playful, dance floor goodness! Trends is the result of a couple of jam sessions between the two producers. We think its pretty damn impressive! You can hear the touch of both within this diverse EP as it moves from rolling house grooves to moody tech and dashes of bent rnb. Another world class offering from our own city! This thing seriously bumps. Drop in or jump to our webstore to grab a copy from your friendly, local record store.
Incase you've been sleeping under a rock, Jazz-Fusion is well and truly back! From the Brainfeeder camp that has delivered us the likes of Flying Lotus, Thundercat and Kamasi Washington to a new wave of producers blurring the lines between club and something more cerebral like Floating Points or Max Graef, and even to the mainstream success of Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly, Jazz is finally cool again. Right now there seems to be something very exciting bubbling within London. While one can argue they've all been around for a minute now, a string of releases finally surfacing for the public's enjoyment are showcasing these incredibly talented musicians and rocketing them to stardom. Their understanding of the boundaries of music is pointedly both undefined and unrefined. Just the way we like it. Here's three artists we think you should get acquainted with if you haven't already.
The UK's answer to Kamasi Washington? Shabaka's beautiful and innovative tenor sax work has become a regular sight on the London circuit. He is already the driving force behind critically acclaimed groups Son's Of Kemet and The Comet Is Coming and a feature in Sun Ra Arkestra. Now Shabaka has turned to perhaps his most ambitious project to date, Shabaka And The Ancestors, and their debut Wisdom Of Elders. Joining up with a collective of South African musicians led by trumpeter Mandla Mlangeni, this album is a beautiful slice of Afro-Futurism, blending traditional African and modern London influences, all within Shabaka's impressive compositions. The sky is truly the limit for this brilliant musical mind!
You might already be familiar with the name Henry Wu, having made waves with his synth-draped house 12"s on labels like Rhythm Section International, 22A and Eglo Records. Now Wu (Kamaal Williams) has teamed up with fellow South Londoner and fabled drummer, Yuusef Dayes on a live jazz project that is much informed by the sounds of UK Bass culture as it is Jazz Funk. Driven by grooves, their output is a beautiful marriage of rich keys and hypnotic drums creating some very interesting results. Keep your ears pealed for the debut Black Focus on Gilles Peterson's Brownswood imprint early November.
Another South London export, Moses Boyd is one of the world's most exciting young talents today. An absolute drumming prodigy, He's taken out the Steve Reid Innovation Award in 2014, The MOBO Awards Best Jazz Act in 2015 for his work with saxophonist Binker Golding, and The John Peel Play More Jazz Award at Gilles' Worldwide Awards in 2016. He's already toured and collaborated with the likes of Lonnie Liston Smith, Zara McFarlane and Soweto Kinch, whilst leading his own outfit The Exodus. Like the artists mentioned above, Moses is as much influenced by the modern London sound as he is with Jazz traditions. If his dance-infused 12" monster on his own Exodus Records is anything to go by, this kid is about to be very hot property.
Check this incredible footage of him taking Afro-Beat lessons with the legendary Tony Allen!
It's finally arrived! Noise In My Head's nascent label Efficient Space have delivered again. Their latest compilation Midnite Spares is yet another beautifully compiled archive of overlooked left-field treasures. This time its focused on our own backyard. An extremely well curated selection of Avant-Pop, Post Punk and New Wave works from Australia compiled by deep tastemakers András and Instant Peterson. We think this is an essential piece you need in your collection!
From Efficient Space -
"On Midnite Spares, Australian music devotees András and Instant Peterson hold a candle to overlooked avant-pop and electronic works by antipodean artists and outsiders working through the 80s and 90s. Through co-presenting weekly radio show 'Strange Holiday', the duo slowly upturned their locale for inspiration - archives, country bookstores, private collections and convenience stores, searching for a place to anchor their own identities in the oceans of the island continent. The 10 tracks acknowledge a minor history, passed on via a network of friends, friends of friends, the libraries of Melbourne radio station 3RRR and more often than not, the artists themselves.
Renowned mixed media artist Maria Kozic enters with the mysterious downbeat of 'Trust Me', her parner Philip Brophy responsible for digital and analogue sonic construction. A recurring character in András and Instant Peterson’s investigations, Brophy reappears with a score piece from his divisive feature film 'Salt, Saliva, Sperm and Sweat', recorded as →↑→ (pronounced “Tsk Tsk Tsk”).
Other links are thread under the surface. Melbourne inner north experimentalist David Chesworth explores his Australiana songcraft leading Whadya Want?. The short lived project also featured Philip Jackson, whose duo The Couch is restored from 'Fast Forward’s dance issue - a pioneering cassette fanzine published by early-80s 3RRR personality Bruce Milne.
The collection binds a certain musicianship that’s indifferent to fame or chart success, although some artists unwittingly experienced this before and after. Poets of the Machine’s Grace Jones techno-wave was a modest moment for Coral Island and Red Stripe, an English migrant who once celebrated a #1 UK Christmas single with an acapella cover of Yazoo, while the morbid coming of age electronics of Foot and Mouth is a lesser known prologue to Sean Greenway and Matty Whittle’s rise as legendary teen punks heroes God. Quickly becoming a modern dancefloor hit, Mumbo Jumbo’s sole release 'Wind It Up' is only now basking in it’s brilliance.
The remaining figures shape the diversity further. There’s Sydney dub addicts The Igniters, Mix’s groovy synth song about masturbation and the Cameron Allan/Graham Bidstrup soundtrack for petrol headed ozploitation film, 'Midnite Spares' - the compilation’s namesake."
This week I've found myself listening to Anita Baker on repeat, a recurring ritual I find myself captured by every couple of months. For any discerning listener who likes their music a little more sophisticated or slightly left of centre, Anita is the obvious choice in the field of great "soul divas". Forget Whitney, forget Beyonce, to me Anita is the greatest of the modern generation, no question. Her classy and refined brand of romantic soul is simply unparalleled. Where many could be put off by a lot of mainstream R&B of the 80s and the overproduced chase for dance pop success, Anita was always so elegant and tasteful. A distinct brand of adult sophistication. Alongside Luther, they almost single-handedly reclaimed R&B as a high-brow art form, at least within the mainstream.
Emotionally rich yet subtly restrained, Anita forges traditional pop with jazz and gospel undertones. Ignore the obvious differences in production, it's clear she carried the spirit of Sarah Vaughan or Nancy Wilson in her delivery. Her sultry sound is quiet storm personified. Light the fire place and pour a glass of red music. Music that will seal the deal on your hot date, and bring you to tears when in solitude (I can honestly vouch for both). Of course Anita maintained some crossover pop sensibilities, but it was always so smoothly executed. Alongside her predominant production collaborator and former Chapter 8 band mate, Michael Powell, her sound was the perfect marriage of slick jazz arrangements with emotionally charged, buttery soul. The feeling in the music carries itself. Not dependent on catchy hooks or club production. Mind you, I did recently attend an interview with Larry Heard where he mentioned the hypothetical dream of collaborating with Anita Baker. Can you imagine her voice over Mr Finger's lush chords? one can really only dream, but I digress. And how about that alto? Seriously, I can't think of too many other vocalists with such an effortlessly beautiful voice. She cuts through tracks so powerfully yet never overdone and with the most exquisitely rich and delicate tone. Get lost in her music and you really will get chills. I have no authority on the matter, but I think if you wanted to find the spirit of femininity and empowerment, you can find it in Anita's voice!
She is the full package. If you wanted to go down the path of discussing that glamourous, jaw-dropping and attention commanding diva, she holds her own with them all. I mean look at that photo on the cover of Rapture, she's stunning! Anita never did the choreographed dance routines or the risque outfits. She didn't have to. Like her music, she was pure style and elegance. She reinforces that in the world of pop, you don't need to overproduce your sound or play eye-candy to have a hit record. Her breakout success Rapture gets most of the attention and rightly so. That album is absolute perfection and arguably the greatest quiet storm full length ever made. But don't sleep on her other work. Her debut The Songstress while maybe a little more raw, is equally essential. Her Rapture follow ups Giving You The Best That I Got and Compositions also have stand out moments. I really can't even list my favourite Anita ballads because there's simply too many! To me Anita Baker will always be the greatest. She encapsulates what soul music is all about in the purest sense. Emotionally rich, heartfelt and full of romanticism. If you aren't familiar I highly recommend you get acquainted.
A Love Supreme Records is back! We are very excited to announce the launch of a new chapter in the form of a pop-up within the quality surrounds of mutually discerning gentleman's store Apartment. You can expect an even further, highly curated range of some of the most forward-thinking independent releases from Australia and around the world. We will continue to strive to deliver music seldom seen on the Brisbane map & to promote quality local music that deserves your attention. Coinciding with the new storefront is our revamped online store! For those not in Brisbane we will be shipping worldwide. Already in stock are releases from Left-Ear Records, Butter Sessions, Good Company and Noise In My Head's retrospective label Efficient Space. Plenty more releases expected in the coming weeks. Drop in and get your mitts on some wax you need in your life!
I was very saddened to hear of Bobby Hutcherson's passing a couple of days back. Having been hit with the flu this past week, it was a perfect time to listen over the great jazz vibraphonist's immense catalogue. He is unequivocally one of my favourite artists ever. One of the most cerebral and emotive jazz musicians to do it, Bobby Hutcherson to me was always so visceral. He was a key figure among one of Blue Note's most forward-thinking rosters throughout the 60s and early 70s. A wave that defined the labels shift from hard bop into experimentalism. An in demand musician, he beautifully complimented the boppers like Herbie, Grant Green & Dexter Gordon. Later, alongside other impressive names like Andrew Hill, Jackie McLean, Grachan Moncur III and Archie Shepp, Bobby lead music into a realm that would later be owned by labels like Impulse. He tackled spiritual and avant-garde sounds with his own characteristic fluidity and wit. Gilles Peterson beautifully summed him up stating
"A little like Herbie Hancock, Bobby Hutcherson kept it pure but gently progressive - so as moods and trends moved in, he was able to retain his feel whilst absorbing the new".
He had a knack for always keeping things a little left yet always maintained a hypnotic mood to absorb. His music was really never about sticking out and flexing technical muscle. It didn't need to. Bobby built colour with just enough nuance to keep the heads interested. Perhaps thats why his music had such great impact on the hip hop generation. Take the absolute classic Montara for example. A track that has been flipped countless times by hip hop's finest. A definable track for jazz of the time, Bobby's arrangements have subtle complexities yet maintain a warm groove to simply kick back and mellow out. His music bridged the gap between post-bop to soul-jazz. For a crate digger who was first and foremost about finding grooves to nod your head, Bobby was one of those guys who opened up the door to delve deeper into a more "esoteric" jazz. My personal favourite of his is arguably one of his most adventurous recordings, Now! Made with long time collaborator Harold Land, Hutcherson also brought on board none other than a reinvigorated, politically conscious vocalist Eugene McDaniels. The result is some sort of quasi post-bop meets spiritual masterpiece. Try Slow Change and tell me you don't get lost in it for proof. Like many he delved into jazz-funk and Latin influenced grooves. The results were always deep and always impressive. To be honest, I really can't think of anything Bobby has ever done that's been dull. Surely not throughout the 60s and 70s at least. His name never quite reached the superstar status of some of his counterparts but make no mistake, Bobby Hutcherson is one of the all time greats. Rest In Peace my fellow Aquarian.
As a child, I grew up in a home where my mum would play artists like Wayne Shorter, Keith Jarrett, Nina Simone, Roberta Flack, Earth Wind & Fire, Anita Baker and Luther Vandross. Being from Australia, this was quite a contrast to the majority of my friends who were raised to a rich nurturing of that old time rock n roll.
As I grew older, my tastes evolved. My first real musical obsession was hip hop. Naturally, like anyone who delves deep in rap music, would come a new appreciation for breaks and grooves. I found myself revisiting a lot of my mum's music and then digging deeper to discover so much more. Soon I was learning about so many amazing variances of jazz and soul from around the world like latin, brasilian, dub, reggae, afro-beat and so on. Later, through funk and then disco would come my love for house, techno and the boundless world of electronica. No matter how disparate these genres may seem to the foreign ear, to me, this music is intrinsically rooted in soul. Many of these contemporary music forms are the popular music of the time. You can hear it in every club, house party, on TV commercials and at sporting events. However, oddly still today, the feeling of being an outsider to the dominant musical discourse in this country feels too apparent. The music I love can be popular, but not appreciated nor properly understood. Rock and folk are still high art in this country. Soul and its club counterparts to many is a gimmick. The fun and silly stuff we play to let loose but not to be played at a family dinner party. Right now, the Australian soul scene is bubbling like never before. In fact it’s boiling over. Aussie musicians are leaving their mark on the world yet sadly, unless you are actively engaged with the scene, you probably aren't all that aware. The "Australian Music Industry" at large isn't ready but finally a changing of the guard is occurring without their help.
Triple J is a unique beast. Unlike many countries, Australian youth have one dominant national radio source for alternative music. The Js have an extremely powerful footprint on Australia's musical landscape. This is an important contention that I will come back to. But to start with, I feel it is perhaps a great reflection on Australia's current relationship with soul music. Triple J love to claim that its annual Hottest 100 is "the world's largest music democracy." You know about it. Whether you celebrate the occasion or despise it, its fair to acknowledge the cultural significance of the day. Thousands of young Australian's vote, bands that make it can probably add some extra zeros to their performance fee, and we can probably use it as a rough gauge of what’s hot in the alternative mainstream. The other day a friend shared with me a special poll Triple J held in 2009 to produce the Hottest 100 of ALL TIME. Going through it I wasn't all that surprised to see all of the usual suspects - Zeppelin, Bowie, Nirvana, The Smiths, Jeff Buckley, The Beatles, Radiohead, Pink Floyd and so on. What also didn't surprise me but was frustrating to take in, was the lack of soul's luminaries. Pop's greatest star MJ scored some high spots with Billie Jean & Thriller. Stevie Wonder just squeezed in. Where was everyone else? No James Brown, Prince, Gil Scott Heron, Nina, Aretha, Marvin, Parliament Funkadelic, Roy Ayers or Sly Stone. These aren't exactly unheard of artists right? They only sold a few million records, transformed popular music and in some cases, popular culture as we know it. I didn't even list the stars of today who were equally, underrepresented. My two cents only but lets be honest here, jazz trained artists tend to play and sing on a far more critically advanced level too, but I won't put my foot in that debate. The Australian youth had their say and they snubbed soul music. While I'm not for a second suggesting the Hottest 100 is hard evidence of the entire scope of Australia's musical preference, its probably still a fair indicator that we are not the largest soul market in the world. But why? The classic chicken or the egg. Do we as a nation not have a taste for this music, or are we not exposed enough to realise we do? I should also make it clear that I am not pointing the finger solely at Triple J. This kind of neglect is ingrained in most of our music institutions - Major Australian record labels and distribution, promoters and venues, music press and journalism. We have a systemically rock and pop orientated infrastructure. Soul is too often poorly categorised. Heck, JB Hi-Fi and the ARIAs still refer to it as "Urban". I surely don't need to delve into why that is problematic. With the recent returned success of jazz-fusion through names like Thundercat, Robert Glasper, Kamasi Washington or our own Hiatus Kaiyote, one can only imagine the headaches the big execs would be having trying to sell this stuff. Because lets face it, currently there's not many avenues to package and promote this newly rising sound, and that's exactly what the industry is about - selling a product. Place it in "Jazz" and no one will take interest because for years the industry let that sit as some alien, old prude music clearly separated from the rest of the cool stuff. Place it in in "Urban" and it won't get the critical attention it now suddenly deserves because we don't value that jiggy, moët sippin music. Don't get me started on the god-awful pigeonholing known as "World" whatever that even means. At least for internationals it becomes a little easier to gain our approval due to their more fostering home markets. A big reputation built in authoritative USA or UK demands our attention right? For Australian's it’s not that easy. Well at least it hasn't been.
Right now, Australian soul music is flourishing like never before. Not only are we making great forward-thinking music, the world is taking notice and even seeking it out. Our country is no longer a beach pit stop on some soul musician’s world tour. There's a valuable bubbling scene here. Undoubtedly Melbourne has been the epicentre of the movement. The mix of a sustained underground soul scene, very knowledgeable and eclectic DJs along with some young, inspired and talented musicians has made the city the breeding ground for a new generation of forward thinking soul artists. Hiatus Kaiyote have absolutely kicked in the door and a string of other amazing musicians from across the country are right behind them. Australia is continually producing artists that are turning heads the world over. Hiatus backing vocalists Silent Jay & Jace XL just released an amazing EP on London label Rhythm Section International. Genre fusing genius Kirkis is playing in Floating Point's band and slated to release an LP on he and Alexander Nut's Eglo Recordings. Brisbane's Jordan Rakei featured on Disclosure's last full length and was Jamie Woon's key support across the UK. Our home grown talent are getting featured on all the major media outlets - Okayplayer, Complex, Resident Advisor, Boiler Room, Red Bull Music Academy and so forth. In clubland, Independent Aussie labels like Butter Sessions, Noise In My Head and Good Company are also garnering a following globally. Andras, Harvey Sutherland, Andy Hart, Inkswel, Late Nite Tuff Guy, Tornado Wallace, Francis Inferno Orchestra, Sampology, Dan White, Daze, Sleep D, Mall Grab and so many more are getting rinsed by the world's biggest DJs and playing alongside them in the world's most esteemed venues.
Before I continue, I should also make the note that this country has had a history of talented soul exports. About a decade ago The Bamboos turned the heads of deep funk lovers internationally including tastemakers like Mr Scruff, Keb Darge and Craig Charles. Their debut Step It Up got released on acclaimed UK label Tru Thoughts and the following years saw the group cement themselves as one of the world's premier funk outfits. Once again though, another case of proving yourself abroad before making it back home. The Bamboos name in Australia didn't really take off in the mainstream until their eventual cross-over success on the back of teaming up with Aussie rock champion Tim Rogers. Daniel Merriweather didn't gain our approval until he collaborated with Mark Ronson. The only real exception I can think of to the rule is harking back to the 70s when vocalists Renée Geyer and Marcia Hines made their mark on the Australian market. My presence on this planet wouldn't come for another 15-20 years so I'm open to some correction, but I sense their success was more on the back of accessibility in a smaller, less connected world. I'd like to be clear that I'm not disregarding their talent. In my humble opinion, Renée Geyer is one this country's greatest musical exponents period. However, I wonder if we as a nation really would've recognised this if we were consuming the sounds of Motown at the time as much as other parts of the world.
I could go on forever celebrating artists making moves but why not focus on a group I believe, while maybe not single handed, certainly have carried the torch in the current down under explosion. What an incredible band is Hiatus Kaiyote. The four piece of virtuosic and supremely creative musicians are not only making music of an international standard, they're leading the way in pushing new and original musical territories. Seemingly overnight they've garnered praise from heavyweights like BBC tastemaker Gilles Peterson, Erykah Badu, Animal Collective and Questlove. They've collaborated with everyone from Anderson Paak to Q Tip to Taylor McFerrin. Last year they won UK Jazz FM's "Album Of The Year" and have been nominated twice now for a Grammy. In spite of all of this critical praise and success, traction here in their homeland still doesn't feel like it matches the buzz around the world. They go without much coverage from Australian music media, including that influential monster I spoke of before, Triple J. On that note I was gobsmacked when I was informed that Jordan Rakei's debut album Cloak got sent to Double J rotation. A station aimed at over-30s rather than the youth-orientated Triple J. Really? I don't think I'm biased in saying this is a classy album. It’s completely relevant to the popular sound of now. James Blake, The Internet, The Weeknd, heck even Beyonce get a run on Triple J! I've heard the argument. They’re under resourced and in competition with their commercial competitors. Where is the line though? Shouldn't the station be exposing this music, allowing for listeners to realise they actually like it? It's not exactly avant-garde. Jordan's music fits the realm of those aforementioned artists.
Oddly, it still feels like this country isn't quite up to speed. These artists are far more popular, critically acclaimed, covered and promoted abroad then they are in their own homeland. The fact of the matter is, Soul music is alien to the Australian music landscape. There's a good 60 plus years of embedded rock industry and infrastructure that has pervaded the Australian psyche. Undoubtedly there's probably a lingering touch of racism that has influenced this narrative. While I'm optimistic that race is not a significant factor in modern Australia's musical preference, the impact of bygone years have probably shaped what we find familiar and comfortable today. Without stepping too deep into that discussion, Australia simply hasn't been exposed to the cultural milieu or influences that originate from Africa and The Caribbean. Our institutions subsequently reflect this. As a keen crate-digger living in Brisbane, the most exotic records I'll commonly come up with in any op shop are Kamahl. Traditionally in this country, jazz bars haven't exactly been viewed as a place for the edgy young hipster, rather a hub for those "geeky" music conservatorium students and old folks out on a rare date. Mention hip hop to many, and they'll respond with some cringe worthy construction full of ironic “Yos” and hand signs to signify their understanding of a culture they can't get past as a gimmick (the real irony of course being how much of their cultural identity has been made up by such a movement). The worldly art student who enjoys good coffee, artisan crafts and philosophical discussion wants skinny jeans and a Patti Smith book as part of their aesthetic not saggy jeans and the poetry of Nas. It just doesn't fit with the romantic image we've constructed in our society. An inherently very white society. Perhaps I'm too cynical and self-conscious. I'm constantly aware that if I told that pretty Indie girl straight up, I like Large Professor or Larry Heard and that Nick Cave wasn't for me, chances are she'll immediately judge me as lacking the intellectual capacity she seeks. I could go on forever on Australia's lack of understanding of some of the richest musical contributions to this earth. I know this because I face it everyday. The frustration of having to explain the context of an entire genre before I can just share a song. Drop a chart topping disco hit to the wrong crowd whether DJing at a bar or on YouTube at a house party and have it fall on deaf ears because no one knows who The Whispers are. Believe me, its heavily ingrained.
Thankfully, it really feels as though the tides are turning. The Internet age is among us! Similar to most media industries, the landscape is transforming drastically. Its no revelation, the fact is it is increasingly easier to discover music. Music will infiltrate your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and every other social media profile you have set up. You can get lost in a "YouTube tunnel", follow Spotify playlists, read free articles and blog entries then share them with your friends. We don't need Triple J like we used to. There's endless Internet radio and podcasts and mixes. You can listen to radio stations from around the world whether that’s BBC Radio, Rinse FM or KCRW. Then there's the growing presence of local and independent radio like NTS, Red Light or Berlin Community Radio. Your local record store doesn't stock your tastes? That's fine because there's now online shopping and Bandcamp and iTunes. Big business won't give you a break? Use a crowd funder like Kickstarter to have your record pressed or documentary shot. All of these beautiful new tools give me hope. Because this generation doesn't have to consume what is filtered to us from the traditional gatekeepers. The breakdown of barriers is also creating a far less divided musical generation. Scenes are now way less definable. Gucci Mane sits next to Tame Impala on a kid’s iPhone. Its this kind of openness to discovery that is allowing Australia's new wave of musicians to learn all about this rich Soul history I speak of, and with that knowledge, are now creating new and exciting sounds. As this scene continues to grow independently, the big wigs will begin to take note. If there's money to be made, rest assure they'll be there, even if they are late to the party. In the mean time I'll keep fighting the good fight. Right now, there's a lot of pain in the world. I think we need some soul now as much as ever.
Less than a week until Sam Shephard aka Floating Points makes his long awaited Brisbane debut. Perhaps it couldn't happen at a more relevant time. After years of underground buzz with a series of seriously diverse and critically acclaimed 12"s and guest productions, it feels like Floating Points has now finally cracked the mainstream with his first full long player Elaenia. His success couldn't be more deserved. Sam is one of clubland's true renaissance men. His broader appeal represents a refreshing change of the guard in what a Producer, DJ and label head should stand for. Alongside his contemporaries and good friends like Four Tet, Caribou, Ben UFO, Theo Parrish and Gilles Peterson, Sam has been a constant trailblazer, digging deep and exposing unique and seemingly disparate styles of music to the world. To put it simply, he joins the dots. Those who fell in love with his house productions could be thrown by his shift to releases like Wires or most recently, his album Elaenia, which sit just as equally in the realm of Jazz or Ambient. Similarly, when watching Sam DJ, you may be caught off guard hearing him play pieces of rare Brazilian Jazz or Modern Soul (of which his collection is extraordinary). Like a small few of his main room counterparts, Floating Points is exposing to the world the art of DJing as it was originally intended. His music taste and output is wonderfully unclassifiable. Taking Jazz and both translating and transforming it to the modern club context. Illustrating the sonic similarities bound by various genres. Furthermore, he cares about the way it should sound. Sam is a complete audiophile because strangely, in the world of music, that matters! He plays almost entirely vinyl. His own releases are pressed and presented with the utmost attention to detail. Recently he collaborated with Isonoe to create his very own high-end mixer, made to let his music breathe the way it should. In a recent interview with FACT Mag, Sam beautifully states;
"I do it because I care, I care about everything. I care about the end product, I care about the consumer holding the record, knowing that every detail of the project has been dealt with by me personally and seen right through to the end, that I’ve had as much control over it as I possibly could have done, right down to things like what percentage of yellow tint is on the cardboard. Because why wouldn’t you?"
Whether its the way he goes about making, collecting, performing or releasing music, if he's doing it, he's doing it right. A supreme tastemaker, Floating Points will take you on a journey through some of the most beautiful and infectious sounding music you've ever heard! His show this Sunday at The Foundry is now completely sold out. Those lucky enough to get a ticket, catch you on the dancefloor!
Listen to Floating Points' recent Essential Mix on BBC here.
This year's Red Bull Music Academy is currently underway in Paris. As part of their truly invaluable lecture series, Ego Trip's Chairman Mao sits down with the incredible Brian Jackson.
Mao sums up his experience - "Best known as Gil Scott-Heron's longtime producing / songwriting / performing partner on a series of essential albums that covered a large swath of the '70s - from Pieces of a Man through 1980 - Brian's compositions and instrumental accompaniment provided the crucial musical platform for Gil's lyrical brilliance on numerous classics. That's Brian dropping the indelible Fender Rhodes chords that open "The Bottle" and "Home Is Where the Hatred Is," conversing on Moog with Gil's vocals on "We Almost Lost Detroit," and riffing on flute on "Winter In America." In addition to some live Rhodes and flute demos, Brian candidly discusses the evolution of his partnership with Gil - from fellow Lincoln University undergrads hoping to change the world with their work to their eventual split and Gil's battle with drug addiction. Bonus moment during the Q&A (@ 1:18:53): Underground Resistance's Mike Banks, a member of the RBMA studio team this year, discussing the aforementioned "We Almost Lost Detroit's" impact on listeners in the Motor City back in the day. Enjoy."
RIP Gil Scott-Heron.