Tuesday 21 July 2020

Back Downtempo

Balcomb Greene - Way Down Blue (1945)

Looking over my recent choices and noticing a distinct lack of that downtempo streak that has been running through my writings since who knows how long ago. Thought I'd remedy that a bit with a cross section of some favourites I've not talked about before. Thievery Corporation kick things off with the title track from their album The Richest Man In Babylon, it's a great jumping in point if you're new to them, all the tracks are solid and a perfect demo of what you can expect from them. Babylon is a real blend of multiple genres, you can hear smidges of Reggae and Dub occasionally peek through, as well as a touch of Bossa Nova as the Corporation occasionally like to do. The whole thing is very slickly produced and as a result actually sounds pretty timeless despite being almost 20 years old now, I absolutely adore the brass on this track. To put it how a friend of mine said, it's "Perfect TV music", take that as you will!

Swinging back to my side of the shores for a little bit of Scruff. It's been a long time since I mentioned everybody's favourite tea-fuelled DJ which is a bit of a shame. We're talking the excellently titled Trouser Jazz today, the sequel to 1999's Keep It Unreal. Unlike the jump between his debut (the similarly punny Mrs. Cruff), and Keep It Unreal I feel like there's more of an obvious development in sound, and one for the better; the lovely jazzy sample work is still there, as are the surprisingly thick basslines Scruff is so fond off, albeit sounding a little more squelchy this time. The addition of Niko on the vocals makes the whole experience complete, both cementing that Jazzy influence that Scruff has in his works but also banishing those moments that I found on Keep It Unreal where the extended instrumentals got a little stale (which is worth noting isn't *always* true, some days I love 'em but it is a sticking point of that album for me)

And finally getting even more local with Fila Brazillia, who despite the latin-inspired name are actually from up t' road from me in Hull of all places. I checked them out initially off the heels of the remix they did for the Cowboy Bebop Remix album "Music For Freelance", and truth be told I think I like their solo works more than the remix. In a sweet twist of fate this album is of a similar era to the other two we've talked about today: 1999's A Touch Of Cloth. This album in particular has a very World-ly influence it touches all kinds of ground: Trip Hop with streaks of psychedelia (if the album art didn't tip you off already!) and even borders on proper full-on Freestyle Jazz in parts. Here's a 4-minute crash course and one of my favourites from the album; Airlock Homes.

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