With so many gifted artists producing some excellent music this year from the UK, it was important to include a mixture of some established and newer artists. With keeping in with what Inspired Sound aims to celebrate, the albums included are heavily hip-hop, jazz, soul, break beat and house influenced.
Alfa Mist – Antiphon
With his earlier project in 2016 pointing in a more hip hop and neo soul feel, Alfa mist most recent work; Antiphon, takes a different tone. 2017 has been great year for jazz in Britain, with a host of young talented artists and Antiphon seems to follow suit, with a consistent jazz undertone throughout the album. Alfa seamlessly blends melancholy Jazz harmony with alternative hip-hop and soul. There are still hints of Alfa’s previous album, within tracks such as; ‘7th October’ and ‘breathe ft Kaya Thomas-Dyke’. ‘Breathe’ is an enchantingly soothing piece of work. Alfa’s important jazz styled arrangement perfectly provides the backdrop for kaya’s voice, to take you on a cosmic trance of bliss and tranquil.
You can buy here: BANDCAMP
Ben Hauke – Rough, Ready, Steady
Discovering the very talented Ben Hauke, has been a personal highlight. His most notable recent EP Rough, Ready, steady, tells a lot about his inspirations, drawing on some clever samples, and an easy grooving rhythms throughout the EP. “I Kinda Missed It” sets the tone of the first side impressively, as it’s a fast yet soothing rhythm, that, when it gets going, is difficult not to smile and marvel at the arrangement. There’s an unwavering relentless blend of house, with nice rolling kick n drums and solid bassline in the background, along with Joe Armon’s freestyle on the keys, completing the track. A similar house and funk inspired style is carried through to the next track on the first side(“She Moved My Area”). The other side includes tracks; “Take that Blame” and “Just a Crush” which takes on a more mellow, melodic deep house and soulful turn, as Ben again uses some clever pace setting samples, in ‘Just a Crush’ most notably. With an early EP release on the 19th January expected, Ben’s someone to keep an eye on future.
Buy/Listen here: BANDCAMP
Dego doesn’t need much introduction, if you’ve already read the article ‘speaking in session’, then you’ll understand how unequivocally dedicated he’s been to his endeavours within the music industry. Kaidi Tatham, is another excellent producer and collector, most recognisable for his work with Bugz in the attic, but he has contributed with the likes of IG culture, Amy Winehouse, Mr scruff, Leroy Burgess and Amy fiddler to name a few. That being said, it was the Extrovert City album which caught our attention from Kaidi, stylishly fusing house and broken beat, and helping pave the break beat resurgence we’re currently seeing in the UK scene. Dego and Kaidi are real OGs and this recent album oozes soul. Dego early passions for funk, soul, hip-hop and jazz seem to resurface on a bed with the ever persistent broken beats and rhythms throughout the album. Tracks like ‘Decide what to choose’ , ‘its all for us’, and ‘Sista love’ have younger listeners only imagining what parties would have been back during Dego’s time, with album being a non-stop groove. A definite album for anyone’s collection!
Ezra Collective – Juan Pablo: The Philosopher
Building on from their very impressive chapter 7 album. Ezra collective are a group which have taken their style to a new direction with this EP, but whilst paying homage to past great artist before them. One of my favourite tracks; ‘Juan Pablo’ and ‘philosopher’ fuse an up-tempo afrobeat rhythm, along with a jazz style groove, giving their collective some range in influences. Whilst, tracks like; “James speaks to the galaxy” and “space in the place” take a more bouncing contemporary jazz route, with the saxophone hailing throughout those pieces. Ezra collective are expected to feature in Brownswood recordings long album titled “We Out Here”, in February, with a whole of host of gifted UK jazz artists. So stay tuned for that!
Croydon Depot was one of the first tracks we heard from Wu, and we’ve avid listeners ever since. Henry Wu’s production usually has a great fusion of contemporary jazz, soul and broke beat, which keeps his music quite upbeat and lively enough, to work on a dancefloor. ‘Deep in the Mudd’ and ‘Century’ (featuring multi genre producer ‘Banton’) are a continuation of Wu’s exciting broken beat influences. Boards and Skins draws to comparison to earlier jazz influences, with a continuous echoing splash cymbal on the drums in the background, accompanied by the wonderfully put together classic piano piece taking center stage for the track. Henry Wu is expected to bring more work through Kamal Williams, as well as, the new black focus records venture. So stay locked for those.
IAMDDB – Hoodrich Vol 3.
It would be difficult not to mention IAMDDB in our top 10 releases this year. She’s a definite star in the making and has already attracted a big following within the UK music scene, with a unique and preserved style for her own music. Listening to her music, you’d describe a twist on RnB and hip hop, with collision of trap, but she defines her genre as “urban jazz”, saying that jazz is still a big influencer for her music. Hoodrich Vol 3 is the more recent body of IAMDDB has published this year amongst other solo tracks and albums (Check ‘Vibe Vol 2’). Her vocal lines are distinctive, yet playful and there’s an infectious liveliness and frisk in her harmonies which takes her music to a range which the UK scene hasn’t really seen. You only need to listen tracks such as; ‘Shade’ and ‘G.A.F’ to notice the rawness and free spirit nature of her productions. IAMDDB persona shown throughout this recent album, shakes up the UK scene excellently, and treats us to something different. She’s another one to not sleep on, going in 2018.
Have a listen here:
K15 – Speed of Life
K15 has been making music for more than ten years and releasing it for just over half that, drawing his influences from everything from jazz, hip-hop, broken beat and soul, to house and techno. His recent release through Kyle Hall’s label wild oats music, is a perfect culmination of K15’s influences. Tracks such as ‘Eternal’ and ‘Movements of Joy’ could shake up any dancefloor, with signs of deep house and broken beat, in the former, as well as, some techno influences in the latter track. My personal favourite track “This life is all we have” is a chillingly, beautifully crafted track, with the synths bringing together many mesmerizing elements seamlessly. K15 is bringing out an EP with Eglo records on 2nd of Feburary, so stay tuned for that.
Kojey Radical – In God’s Body
Kojey radical seems to take on a different entity, when hearing the passionate raw tones of his voice in his lyrics. There’s an exciting, infectious range of energy throughout his tracks, and at times through each word, which emotively conveys the message bestowed in his work. Kojey’s recent EP ‘In God’s Body’ is simply brilliant. Where he again finds inspiration from current conflicts and issues on matters of race and culture, politics. However, from listening to tracks such ‘Nostrand Ave.’ and ‘700 pennies’, this EP does offer more of an insight to his personal experience and journey to where he is currently. The album literally speaks for itself, and the message he conveys throughout each track are testament to his growing reputation, and a sign of a true artist. Another stand out to check and follow
Maxwell Orwin & Joe Armon-Jones – Idiom
Maxwell Orwin and Joe Armon-Jones have been at the fore front of london’s jazz scene, Leading the young pursuing their own solo ventures, as well, recently coming together for Idiom. Joe Armon has obviously been a prominent figure in the Ezra collective rise in the last year, with ‘Chapter 7’ and most recently; Juan Pablo: Philosopher. Maxwell Orwin in the last year brought through ‘Fruits & Flowers’ album, which showcases Maxwell range in influences, from ambient electronic sounds, in tracks like; ‘swimming’. As well hints of dubstep and jazz in the track ‘Darlin’ and ‘Pressure and dimons’ respectively. The latest work from Maxwell Orwin and Joe Armon-Jones is a compilation of seamless quality. Six delicately combined tracks, showcasing influences from jazz and soul, with consistent broken beat kick and drums challenging sonically throughout each track. Their latest venture is something not to sleep on 2-step, broken-beat and house to jazz and dub. They’ll be performing Idiom live at Bussey Building on the 19th of January(Check here)
Currently based in Wales, are a talented 5 piece band group of students performing under the name Ramnastax. Featuring a bass and acoustic guitarist, drummer, saxophonist and keyboard player. Their debut 5 track EP shows hints of blues and contemporary jazz and upbeat funk inspired sounds. My favourite tracks; ‘Margathea’ and ‘Mrs Doubtfire’ are easy uplifting jazz tracks, with a soothing soulful undertone.