29 February 2012

Interview: Roots Manuva


Roots Manuva has a reputation as a sweet but somewhat grumpy interview subject. Yet when VOLUME magazine spoke with him prior to his forthcoming New Zealand shows, he came across as more of a loveable rogue. Settled back home in Stockwell after an evening spent downing a few pints of bitter (some things never change), Roots Manuva aka Rodney Smith opened up about learning to embrace growing older.

"I'm having to slap myself and wake up to that! For years I wanted to play that down - now it's getting a lot serious. I've got kids of my own that show interest in creativity and music, I work with music projects now that kids are just getting into music at the same age as I was, and I've kind of seen the full responsibility, I'm working things out," he says, chuckling - not for the first time - in his deep, treacle-smothered baritone, "It's like I have to try and package my story and my experience to try and share and give back to them and keep the culture alive, because I think it's a really socially and spiritually significant art form and a worldwide movement that should be celebrated and nurtured."

Roots Manuva has long been held up as a leading light of UK Hip Hop, though it's a term he dismisses. "I can understand it: it starts conversations and it's good hype at the time, but you know, after (long deep breath), after more than ten years in the game now, you gotta look at things a little more thoroughly in their context to the universe and the art and creativity." Even so, it's clear he's still passionate about hip hop music and the lifestyle. "If it wasn't for hip hop I wouldn't be doing music. It was because of people like KRS-One and Chuck D that brought a whole different perspective to the subject matter, it seemed like more than music, and the fact that hip hop as a culture is more than music, that's what was attractive," he pauses, chuckling again, "It wasn't so much like, 'Hey, let's put on lipstick and a wig and flares and let's get famous!' - we're doing this for a living, we're doing this regardless."

Rodney Smith has been 'doing this regardless' for the best part of two decades, first appearing on a handful of singles in the mid-'90s, then dropping his ground-breaking debut album Brand New Second Hand in 1999. His fifth full-length, 4everevolution was released late last year, and many are saying it's his best yet. Certainly it's one of his most innovative, blending reggae, '80s pop-funk, straight up hip hop and even a sung ballad - but it has always been one of Smith's strengths that he is able to take inspiration from all corners and produce something uniquely his own.

"The first sonic palette was obviously Jamaican-made music, or UK Jamaican-influenced music, but at the same time I always liked things like Human League and even Duran Duran," he says. As a young Black man growing up in post-Second World War Britain, he had an increading opportunity to seek out new sounds, but travelling back to Jamaica as a young teenager exposed him to an even greater variety of music. "Jamaicans like cheesy British and American pop more than they like dancehall. I mean, often in a party you can hear something like Michael Bolton alongside the most crazy ragga tunes. That was when I was about twelve. It just blew my mind and freed up my mind to think, hey, I can be into anything!"

Smith says he still has the desire to perform and record music, and continue pushing boundaries while doing so. When asked if his approach to making music has changed since he first began, his answer is typically disarmingly honest - and tongue-in-cheek: "Oh yeah, I think it's just growing up as a professional, tax-paying musician, I kind of learned how to condense and compartmentalise the kind of emotional tantrums into the context of song."

Growing older has become something of a recurring theme in our conversation, with the allied feelings of having an obligation to pass on to the young what has been learned from many years in the business ("A lot of the young kids just think of the pizzazz straight away!") to planning a career beyond being Roots Manuva. "It was always my thing to develop a label and have artists coming through, and the Roots Manuva thing was never supposed to be beyond a couple of records. I just wanted that to be where I just expressed myself. The thing that paid the bills was I wanted to be a jobbing studio owner, or a jobbing beatmaker," he chuckles once more, "It's not really worked out like that at all!"

But it has worked out. Despite an approach Smith himself describes as "A bit more organic, a bit more like if the vibe and the feeling is right", the man has carved himself a place in the hip hop history books, and remains as relevant and vital to music - let alone hip hop - as ever.

Interview originally appeared in Volume magazine

Roots Manuva - Volume's Video Picks
Watch a Roots Manuva video and you're not going to see shimmering silver jumpsuits or giant wind tunnels, yet many are among the more entertaining hip hop videos around. Here are five of our favourites:

* Witness (1 Hope) from Run Come Save Me (2001)
Smith visit his former primary school and competes in the egg and spoon, three-legged and obstacle races, before being chased from the field by an angry mob of kids.
Watch for - 2.59 - when the headmistress, realising he's there to compete rather than host, says "This puts us in a very difficult situation really..." while Smith continues peeling off his tracksuit.

* Again and Again from Slime and Reason (2008)
Continuing the sporting theme, Smith is last man standing for his cricket team who need two runs to win with two balls remaining in the match. The first knocks Smith out briefly, but our hero recovers and smashes the second to the fence, winning the game at the death.
Watch for - 3.30 - the victory dance.

* Buff Nuff from Slime and Reason (2008)
So wrong it's right. Smith as "Bad Ice Cream Man" dispensing his dripping wares to a group of overly enthusiastic, lycra-clad women.
Watch for - 1.40 - oral sex simulation taken to the next level. (NSFW!)

* It's On from Ninja Tune XX (2011)
One of the bigger budget videos from Smith sees him dressed in a sharp suit and backed by a trio of black and white-clad, doll-face painted Japanese dancers. Also one of the few videos in which he looks genuinely cool.
Watch for - 1.56 - when the old man on the beach waves to Smith, beckoning him to play chess.

* Get The Get from 4everevolution (2011)
Fashion tips from the Pim Pimpernel, as Smith goes bag shopping with guest vocalist Rokhsan - while wearing a cravat, yellow-striped trousers and carrying a golf club.
Watch for - 2.06 - where Smith and Rokhsan almost forget the words...

28 February 2012

Live Review: Mayer Hawthorne at Powerstation Thu 23 Feb

The Powerstation, Auckland
Thu 23 Feb 2012

"This is a show, not a concert! I want to get that straight right now!" Mayer Hawthorne says after he and his band The County have torn through a white-hot version of Maybe So, Maybe No. As far as statements of intent go, his opening words are nothing but honest. From the moment Hawthorne came bounding on-stage he was the consummate frontman, always addressing the crowd with grace and good humour - even free-pouring Hennessey into the front row's upheld beer glasses at one point - while he led his impressive four-piece band through a set peppered with covers ranging from Snoop Dogg to The Doobie Brothers. The County were genuine showmen too, from the bass-player with his LMFAO-styled haircut and leopard-skin towel to the seriously bad-ass drummer, whose vibrant playing gave the songs a driving, exciting backbone. Most of the time that is, as there was an awkward ten-minute stretch of over-egged blue-eyed soul where even he couldn't stop them sounding more like The Eagles than Steely Dan. However, the audience didn't seem to care, lapping up everything Hawthorne laid down, including an inspired take on Snoop's Gangsta Luv and an underwhelming limp through Waajeed's Dilla tribute Jeedo Suave. There's a reason we were prepared to humour him the odd stumble though, and it's important I labour this: Hawthorne and his band had already won us over. He had us eating out of the palm of his hand thanks to storming renditions of Just Ain't Gonna Work Out, Your Easy Lovin' Ain't Pleasin' Nothin', The Ills, The Walk and Long Time, with songs blending into one another, synchronised dance steps from the band and plenty of crowd interaction. That was one of the great surprises of the evening: how many folks knew the words, singing along to almost everything, including I Wish It Would Rain, the b-side of that famous heart-shaped debut single. The other great surprise was the quality of Hawthorne's singing voice. He cops a lot of flak over this, with negative comparisons to his old label-mate Aloe Blacc and question marks over his credibility even singing soul music. Let's set the record straight, shall we? Mayer Hawthorne can sing. He can really sing. He hit all the high notes and seemed to genuinely engage with each and every song. He also engaged with a huge number of punters, if the deliriously ass-shaking crowd on the night - and facebook comments ('I Heart Mayer', 'Swoooon!', etc) the morning after - are anything to go by. Hawthorne claims to make "soul music for hip hop heads", and that's important: this wasn't a soul revue, or a retro-styled throwback concert. This was simple, uncomplicated fun, and we could all do with more of that.

Review originally appeared in Volume magazine

27 February 2012

Playlist: George FM 'In The Pocket' Sun 26 Feb

Led Zeppelin | All Of My Love (Slow Hands remix)
Psychemagik | Ass Nation
George Benson | Shiver (Space Duke extended edit)
Stevie Wonder | Do I Do (U-Tern edit)
Parliament | Aqua Boogie (Slynk edit)
Me&You | How Can I Hold You When Your Body Keeps Moving?
PBR Streetgang | J2ThaB
Drop Out Orchestra | Ego (extended)
Cool Million with Leroy Burgess | Cool To Make A Million (Drop Out Orchestra remix)
BLT | Tighten It Up
Instant Funk | Just Because You'll Be Mine
Greg Wilson | C'mon (You Can Get It)
Chris Malinchak | There I Was
Raw Silk | Do It To The Music (Greg Wilson edit)
Area Social | Spinning
Stars On 33 | Something You Can Feel
Crazy P | Bumcop

24 February 2012

Bumps: Funk Moguls v Avicii 'Superstar Levels'

Levels by Avicii is a massive tune worldwide. However, it's not entirely suitable for every d-floor, and there are more than a handful of pretty rubbish edits floating about. This one, by the Funk Moguls, is most certainly not one of those. It's a cracker. Slowing the tempo to 120bpm (but you can pull it back a little further, trust me), the Czech pair throw on an acapella, chop up the hook, slap on a break and voila...

22 February 2012

Review: Best Of Disco Demands

Various Artists
Compiled and Mixed by Al Kent

It's disco music, but not as some of you may know it: Best Of Disco Demands features all the rare disco music you could ever need - and I really do mean that, as it's an exhaustive, and at times exhausting collection. Thing is, while the full 5CD set (also available on vinyl!) is not really recommended for ingestion in a single setting, there can be little credible argument mounted against Best Of Disco Demands standing as the best disco music compilation of all time. Not for nothing is Al Kent (aka Scottish-born Ewan Kelly) revered as one of the most discerning disco selectors currently filling dance floors. Ripe old classics get the swerve as this spellbinding selection unfurls, encompassing a surprising breadth of disco sounds from African and Latin influences to house-styled four/four, from sweet soul and deep funk flavours to full-throttle, open-hi-hat floor-fillers. This is wall-to-wall quality disco music.

4 stars from 5

My review of Disco Love 2, also compiled by Al Kent, here

Playlist: George FM 'MayaVanya's Pocket' Tue 21 Feb

After a long day in the hot sunshine playing tunes at the Muriwai Golf Course, enjoying an absolutely stunning view of the beach, golf course and homes sweeping up the hillside, I got the call from "the boss" asking me if I would fill in for Maya and Vanya. "Can I get some bottles of wine for Sonia? Good ones?" A few bottles of Cloudy Bay Pinot Gris later and here we are...

Psychemagik | Boogiedrome
Holy Ghost! | Hold On (Blackjoy remix)
Moodymann | Freeki Mutha Fucker (Egyptian Lover mix)
Benjamin Damage & Doc Daneeka | Creeper
Zinc with Ms Dynamite | Wile Out
? | Shake That Ass Bitch & Let Me See What You Got
Switch v Toddla T | I Take It Back I Still Love You (Philly Blunt remix)
Chromeo | Hot Mess (Oliver remix)
Ray Charles | Hit The Road (Philly Blunt edit)
Funk Moguls v Avicii | Superstar Levels
Marco van Bassken | Minnie The Moocher (DJs From Mars Club mix)
Sepalot with Ladi 6 | Go Get It (A.C. Slater remix)
Young MC | Bust A Move (Stickybuds remix)
Gazeebo | You Ain't So Tuff
2 Guys In Venice | Beard & Butter
Bob Sinclar | Ultimate Funk
Inland Knights & Tha Sunloungerz | Weekend
Wiley | Boom Blast
Lana Del Ray | Video Games (Grand Theft remix)
Foster The People | Pumped Up Kicks (LunyP 'Pumped Up' edit)
Spectral Display | It Takes A Muscle (Crucial Three edit)
Sanchez Last Stand | Done With You

20 February 2012

Live: Music Sounds Better With You

Longroom and Peroni present
A new night of gorgeous grooves, with DJs
Bevan Keys, Jason Eli, Nyntee and Sweetpants
From 7pm til 3am + Free Entry + Drinks Specials All Night
114 Ponsonby Rd

Live Review: SPLORE 2012

Fri 17 - Sun 19 Feb

The size of the first drop suggested this was real deal rural rain. Sure enough, within seconds it'd arrived, water cascading down the hill to the main stage where Erykah Badu was holding court. Seemingly only minutes later thousands of people were desperately seeking cover in the bar, under tress, flags, awnings and marquees. A few brave souls discarded clothing and danced in togs, while others began the trek home to sodden sleeping quarters. In the glorious Saturday morning sunshine there were tales of collapsed tents, mud-caked sleeping bags and broken legs on the goat track, but that's the rough and smooth of buying into the festival vibe, I guess. Sure, there were a handful of logistical issues (the state of the portaloos and size of some of the queues at peak times), but they're minors and didn't diminish the overall experience. An experience which saw any desire to stick to a timetable cast aside early in the piece. Not only was this incredibly freeing, it meant I was able to see the Cuban Brothers, who were easily one of the funnest acts of the weekend, leading the main stage audience in a sing-a-long tribute to Whitney Houston. It also meant when the bro step and glitch hop of some DJs got a little tiresome I could embrace the full-frontal fruity-fun of the Living Lounge, where acts like Labretta Suede and the Motel 6, Macombee and the Absolute Truth and the In Flagrante burlesque dancers (which, despite being totally NSFW, are well worth a google) encouraged folks to unleash their inner freaks. Aside from the generally positive and accepting atmosphere, it was these 'second and third tier' of performers, artists and extroverts who added the flavour which engaged punters beyond the main stage, while local acts like Funkommunity, The Yoots and Lord Echo were easily the equal of the internationals. Having said that, the really big names didn't disappoint. Mostly. While a lithe and majestic looking Erykah Badu pleased the heads by playing songs from Mama's Gun and Baduizm among tracks from her more recent New Amerykah albums, hers was a set in which she captivated much, though certainly not all of the crowd. Around ten minutes before the rains came, Badu had stopped her band and launched into a monologue about oppression and occupation and the people of Mexico, something which seemed to confuse a great number of the younger audience members, who seemed to like her OK, but were eager for more. Hudson Mohawke had more. More of almost everything, except soul. His blunt trauma assemblage of sounds created walls of noise which saw a significant number of punters seriously lose their shit. Speaking of which, I heard the grassy bank above the main stage on Friday night described as 'Magic Cardboard Hill', and it's not really a festival without that sort of behaviour, is it? The quite remarkable Earl Gateshead showed the Serato-toting DJ youngsters how it's done, spinning dubplates and seven inch vinyl records while getting on the microphone to chat, bigging up the tunes, explaining the history of the riddim or encouraging us to join him in celebrating the "Heroes! Heroes! Legends and heroes who smuggled weed across borders, and through customs!". Quite. Both his DJ sets were among the finest of the weekend, alongside those by Hudge, Mo' Horizons, Spikey Tee and the Soul II Soul Sound System, with Jazzie B and Caron Wheeler who, despite some understandable sound problems following the torrential downpour prior to their set, threw down to those who remained or returned. There are many other moments which stand out, like swimming in the ocean with friends while watching Barons Of Tang work a sweltering mid-afternoon crowd into a dancing frenzy, or sharing in the crazy costumes which the majority of the punters changed into for Saturday night's dress-up theme, 'The Island Of Hooha'. From the heavily-pregnant to the SuperGold card eligible, from tourists who'd built Splore into their New Zealand holiday itinerary to girls in bikinis and gumboots - even those privileged few on yachts in the harbour, lights twinkling under Saturday's cloudless night sky - it was the people who ensured Splore 2012 was a proper party.

An edited version of this review appears in Volume magazine

Review: Various Artists 'Monk's Dream'

Various Artists
Compiled and mixed by MonkOne
[Turntable Lab/Money Studies]

When I see Ministry Of Sound Club Classics Vol. 83 and Now That's What I Call Music Vol. 137 in music stores it reinforces my strongly-held belief that 75% of the people on our planet are, quite simply, stupid. There can be no more feasible explanation as to how these collections of regurgitated McMusic can continue appearing - like some evil spawning amoeba determined to take over the world by sucking away our collective will to live. At such times I turn to Monk's Dream, a bespoke selection of groove-laden gems covering heavy soul, dusty funk, steel bands, Brazilian hip hop, stomping proto-house and so much more - featuring tracks from Open Sky Unit, Carole Kaye, Johnny Otis, Tito Puente, Dayton, Linda Lewis, Trio Mocota, Hamilton Bohannon and others. Lovingly compiled and mixed by MonkOne aka Andrew Mason (host of NYC's longest-running radio show, Underground Railroad Radio, and co-founder of the beat diggers' bible, Wax Poetics magazine) and first made available in 2002, Monk's Dream was originally conceived as a gift for friends, but was thankfully remastered for (kinda) mass consumption. Genuine quality, top to bottom, and still one of my all-time favourite compilation albums. Now that's what I call essential.

4 and 1/2 stars from 5

While the Monk's Dream mix CD itself is a little difficult to track down these days (maybe try here...?), it's well worth having a look/listen here for more from MonkOne, at RBMA Radio.

14 February 2012

Review: DJ Cam 'Seven'


Do you remember Trip Hop? DJ Cam does, and on his latest album, Seven, the Frenchman's re-visiting the sound with which he made his name in the mid-'90s. Sort of. But it's just not the same. Trip Hop at its best (Portishead, Massive Attack, Tricky) was challenging, vibrant and alive, always looking to create something of substance. DJ Cam at his best was capable of that. Trip Hop at its worst (I can't bring myself to name names, though I'm sorely tempted...), was self-indulgent, sappy or often just plain boring. Cue Seven. Guest vocalist Chris James appears on three of only four decent moments here (Swim, Ghost and Uncomfortable), with his remarkable range, delicate touch and sheer presence providing the few rare moments of real beauty. The fourth is the CD-only bonus track, A Loop, easily one of the most exciting instrumentals on the album. Many tracks, such as Dreamcatcher and Seven, are cringingly simplistic stylistically, while others meander seemingly without direction, sometimes sounding a little like Massive Attack, or a little like James Blake, or... well, put it this way: this is Cam's seventh full-length album, and the thought put into naming the album seems to reflect the level of musical creativity present. The definition of background music.

1 and 1/2 stars from 5

Live: Bang

Northern Steamship presents
A new night of Indie Disco, Post Punk, Electronic Boogie and more!
With DJs  
Nyntee, Safari Boy and Flex
Free Entry + from 9pm + Sat 25 Feb
Britomart, Auckland City
Northern Steamship

12 February 2012

Playlist: George FM 'In The Pocket' Sun 12 Feb

Jayl Funk | Funky Song
Em Vee | All Around The Watchtower
Sister Sledge | He's The Greatest Dancer (Black Shag edit)
Moon Boots | Bills To Pay
Amy Winehouse | Tears Dry On Their Own (PBR Streetgang edit)
Greg Wilson | Edit The Edit - Two Sides Of Sympathy
Gazeebo | Boob Holder
Tata Vega | Get It Up For Love
Zapp | It Doesn't Really Matter
Andy Ash | Freak
The Black Seeds | Rotten Apples (Timothy Wisdom remix)
Funk Moguls v Avicii | Superstar Levels
Heatwave | Boogie Nights (Slynk re-edit)
Totalcult | Disco Call
DJ Twister | And The Beat Goes On (edit)
Jeffree | Mr Fixit (Recloose edit)
Montauk | Ned
Thievery Corporation | Lebanese Blonde
Bing Ji Ling | Hold Tight (Colm K remix feat. Eoin Walsh)
Roots Manuva | Witness (1 Hope)

10 February 2012

Interview: Erykah Badu


After fifteen years in the music business, Erykah Badu remains a fiercely indpendent spirit and genuinely inspiring artist. From the multi-platinum success of her 1997 debut Baduizm to collaborations with Dilla, Madlib and Flying Lotus - and her three famous "Baby Daddies" - she confidently walks her own path. VOLUME spoke with her prior to her first visit to New Zealand...

Erykah Badu is as famous for her deeply spiritual - some would say seriously weird - personal beliefs and influence on former partners Common and Andre3000, as she is for her award-winning debut album, Baduizm and the impressive run of releases that followed it, but it really is her music that makes her a true original.

Her sensual blend of soul, hip hop and R&B allied to an undeniably sassy and classy attitude and exotic good looks has set her apart from the pack for more than a decade. It began with a debut album which exposed Badu to the kind of attention most folks would've struggled to deal with - but Erykah Badu is definitely not most folks: "I think it would've been difficult if I hadn't been aware what business I was getting into, because you get into the music industry, you gotta sell units," Badu states, "Then when something wonderful like gaining a cult following, multi-platinum sales and all that stuff happens, that's some extra shit! I had my year like that in '97: won about fifteen awards, two albums came out, met the love of my life - one of 'em - I had a son the same day my second album came out, met The Roots, started the Soulquarians; it was an amazing time for me.Just think: I had my whole life to write my first album. I took my time, and I feel I was rewarded greatly for something."

She pauses, gathering her thoughts: "But even with the career I've been afforded, the large platform I've been given and the great spotlight, we still have to keep evolving in everyday life. I've learned that, no matter what your position is, you still have a responsibility to the people around you and closest to you. My focus is on my evolving."

Part of that evolution has involved collaborating with artists like Common, Dilla, The Roots - all of whom Badu took both musical and personal pleasure from working with: "Common came to my place in Brooklyn one time, and we connected very, very well, became best friends," Badu says, "With The Roots, I had Baduizm, but I didn't have the song I thought would round the album out. So I got on the train, went to Philly, met with Amir and stayed at his house for a couple weeks, and came through with the rest of the album."

She continues: "I got to meet amazing people just doing that: Dilla. Madlib. Bilal. D'Angelo. Sa-Ra. Jill Scott. It connects like that. I think people who vibrate at the same frequency, vibrate toward each other. They call it, in science, sympathetic vibrations."

This was the Erykah Badu I was hoping to hear more from and, as it turned out, she didn't need a lot of encouraging: "I don't know if it's because I just turned 40, but my mind's in another, totally different place now, I don't really give a fuck about anything right now - in the best kinda way," she chuckles, "But since the earth is taking its polar shifts, as it does every 2500 years, it does something weird to the earth's core, makes it heat up and you get these different disasters and things."

"The Mayans said in 2012 there would be a shift, or an ending, or a beginning, or a return of something, and I think it co-relates with what's going on with the planet. Because we are earthlings, very much connected with the planet, made of the same carbon and hydrogen and oxygen as the planet's made of, it's quite natural for us to behave the same way - it's a recalibration."

While Badu's explanations for the turmoil of recent years goes some way to justifying her out-there reputation, it seems there is a growing reaction to perceived injustices globally, from established protest groups to ordinary folks. "I don't know a lot of details about what's going on politically," she admits, "I just feel that our children's minds are a lot different to ours. That's a result of being born in this age and time and frequencies where there's karma that's had oxygen and boron and all those other chemicals that are vital to our bodies, so I think our children are in a more unique, concentrated state."

"We're evolving as a race and as a planet, and I do hope there's some sort of rebirth," she concludes, "But not without the labour pains first."

Considered words from a woman entering her fifth decade, a mother-of-three who has seen more of the world and the people in it than most, and experienced first-hand how harsh the glare of the spotlight can be. Analog Girl in a Digital World maybe, but there can be no doubt Erykah Badu is fully prepared to stand up for what she believes in. We could learn a lot from her.

Interview originally appeared in VOLUME magazine...


'Apple Tree' (1997) from Baduizm
Where it all began...

'Call Tyrone' (1997) from Live
Has a "diss" ever been delivered with such sophistication as this?

The Roots featuring Erykah Badu 'You Got Me' (1999) from Things Fall Apart
After the record label baulked at Jill Scott's involvement, Erykah re-recorded Jill's part and a classic was born - and Jill and Erykah are still friends too.

Guru featuring Erykah Badu 'Plenty' (2000) from Guru's Jazzmatazz
Listen to this track and try not to fall completely in love. We bet you can't.

'Bump It' (2003) from Worldwide Underground
Her languid, lyrical vocals in full effect on a track so laidback it's almost sideways.

Erykah Badu with Common 'Love Of My Life (Ode To Hip Hop)' (2003) from Brown Sugar OST / bonus track from Worldwide Underground
A pairing of the two most conscious artists in hip hop - also romantically involved at the time.

'Turn Me Away (Get MuNNY)' (2010) from New Amerykah Part Two: Return Of The Ankh
A loose-limbed monster groove sampling the Roy Ayers/Sylvia Striplin classic 'You Can't Turn Me Away'.

01 February 2012

Review: Julien Dyne 'Glimpse'

[BBE/Wonderful Noise]

Dilla sure has a lot to answer for. I'm not (necessarily!) saying Dilla was not (one of!) the G.O.A.T., but I am saying he has spawned a helluva lot of imitators and copycats. Most innovators do, right? Sure, but the problem with his signature beat-heavy, vibe-laden, head-nod style is that you need to have an ear for clever arrangement of the elements in order to keep the listener engaged. Dilla did it brilliantly. Others? Not so much. Julien Dyne? Most of the time, yes, and sometimes with aplomb. Glimpse is Dyne's second full-length solo album, and while it's certainly an exciting progression from his debut, Pins & Digits, it is a continuation of the same feel. It it ain't broke, I guess. Don't get me wrong, he does this style better than most and there are some killer cuts here, like the standout Borritoe, with its rich, shimmering layers recalling Tortoise at their most gorgeous. Others like Koln3 benefit from a straight-ahead groove and monster bass line, while Inner Duplex 2 slides eerily by like some kind of futuristic funeral march for abandoned Atari consoles. Almost midway through Ernst (Rutherford 121) offers a welcome tempo change, but is followed by Rago, Creebin' and Looseends, all of which - as likeable as they most definitely are - provide strong evidence Glimpse works better as a collection of beats than as an album. Having said that, guest spots from vocalists Ladi6 and Parks, Mara TK (Electric Wire Hustle), She's So Rad aka longtime Dyne collaborator Jeremy Toy (Opensouls) and Claire Duncan (Dear Times Waste) add a unique colour. Though there are nineteen tracks in total, the longest doesn't breach the four minute mark and the whole thing's over within fifty minutes, but - and you knew there was a but coming, didn't you? - I'm still left wanting more Dyne, and less Dilla, 'cos there's plenty of Dilla. Which means die-hard beat-heads will probably dig the shit out of it.

3 and 1/2 stars from 5

Check a peek of the album here or on the BBE website.