Review: Back in 2016, legendary Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen approached techno pioneer Jeff Mills with the idea of working together. A series of live gigs and off-the-radar studio sessions followed, with the first fruits of their joint efforts finally appearing on this must-have 10". As you'd expect, the duo's collaborative work combines Allen's traditional Nigerian polyrhythms, traditional Afrobeat instrumentation, and the far-sighted, sci-fi inspired electronic futurism that has always marked out Mills' work. The result is a quartet of cuts that could arguably be described as retro-futurist Afro-tech - all delay-laden beats, basslines and organs subtly sparring with gentle acid lines, Motor City electronics, beguiling deep space textures and shimmering, 31st century motifs. It's arguably Allen's stylistic contributions that dominate, but that's no bad thing.
Review: Hot on the heels of "Mission" earlier this year, Shuya Okino's Kyoto Jazz Sextet troupe present another gem from last year's Unity album complete with a remix of the highest calibre. This time the cascading, Latin rhythm and frenetic horn leads of "Rising" are given the midas dancefloor touch by none other than Ron Trent. Maintaining the wily spirit of the original while coating in warm organ blasts and subtly bumping kicks, it's a precision translation that brings the original into a whole new context.
Review: Sleeper man Alex Fox debuted the GRAMZ alias earlier in the year via a two-track 12" on Sentry Records built around paranoid sonic textures, serious bass-weight and rolling 140 BPM beats. For this 10" outing on Crucial, Fox has taken a deeper approach, ratcheting up the smoky atmosphere while retaining sizeable low-end pressure. "Joken" and flipside "Get Them Bags" are hazy, ultra-deep dubstep workouts, with both doffing a cap towards hip-hop and grime (check out the manipulated MC vocal samples on the latter, in particular), as well as the crackling sonic textures of Burial. "Joken" rolls along nicely while remaining pleasingly subdued, while "Get Them Bags" has a little more sonic strut. Both, though, are excellent.
Review: Church's latest release - a rather tasty, two-track ten-inch single - comes courtesy of South London sorts DJ Malcolm and Dabriel Garius. A-side "Lulo", a jazzy deep house cut smothered in expansive piano solos, dreamy synth chords and sampled female vocals, is particularly potent, with the duo expertly layering up the percussion to give the track a sun-kissed, carnival-friendly feel. Flipside "Guava" displays a similar jazz influence, with the duo trading electric piano and trumpet solos over elastic synth bass and swinging, semi-broken deep house grooves. It's what we imagine a contemporary collaboration between Phil Asher and 2000Black boys Dego and Kaidi Tatham would sound like, which is high praise indeed.