Napoleon Cherry – Walk Alone LP (Music From Memory)
With recent reissues Leon Lowman and Gigi Masin, Music for Memory have cemented a reputation as the go to label for obscure, new age and old ball funk. Dowsed in a warm bath of ambience, goofy analogue synths, and classic 808 drums machines, Philadelphia-based Napoleon Cherry is another lost balearic boogie gem unearthed by the Amsterdam label. On Walk Alone, which collects tracks from two previous albums, he cultivates a simple yet strangely enveloping sound that joins the dotes between the Pender Street Steppers and the current king of boogie Dam-Funk. I can’t think of a label which has given me as much joy as Music From Memory this year.
Shinichi Atobe – Ship Scope EP (DDS)
Released in 2001, on cult label Chain Reaction, the mysterious Atobe’s Ship Scope is one of the most highly sought after dub techno records of all time, fetching silly prices on Discogs. Listening to the EP’s four tracks, it’s easy to see why. The Japanese producer work is filled with lush textures, warm synths and a delicate ambience, which only a true talent could cultivate. Like Larry Heard before him, by discovering the inner beauty of analogue equipment, Atobe proves machines can have humanity and soul. Electronic music doesn’t come more arrestingly beautiful than this.
Scientist – The Best Dub Album the World LP (Superior Viaduct)
Given his album name choice, it’s clear the 20-year-old Scientist did not lack confidence. But neither would you if, at such a young age, you were hired by the legendary King Tubby to work at his studio in Kingston, Jamaica. In reality, the album itself, is not the best dub album of all time, and not even Scientist’s greatest LP. Yet across its spaced-out, echo-laden ten tracks, Scientist’s showcases enough of the craftsmanship and masterful production, which would enable him to push the boundaries of the genre even further than the master Tubby himself. Essential.
Singers & Players – Revenge Of The Underdog LP (On-U Sound)
Closer to home, Adrian Sherwood was another producer who transformed the world of dub by fusing it with the worlds of punk, funk, rockabilly, new wave and nearly every genre under the sun. With an eclectic cast of musicians from Style Scott, Prince Far I, alongside members of Post-punk outfits The Slits and Glaxo Babies, Singers & Players’ Revenge Of the Underground is considered one of Sherwood’s best works. It is as strange and brilliant as it promises to be. A psychedelic brew of deeper than deep dub, discofied reggae and slightly siniser lover rocks. It is one of the best roots albums to emerge out of our shores.
Tony Grey – Time Factor (Voodoo Funk)
Like Soundway, Voodoo Funk specialise in unearthing long lost afro-funk gems which have fallen under the radar over the years. A favourite of Rush Hour’s Antal and played to a rapturous reception at his recent gig at Corsica Studios, their latest release sees Tony Grey’s 1980’s classic ‘Time Factor’ reissued. A brilliant meeting of Fela Kuti funk with 1980’s American disco, ‘Time Factor’ is a more jubilant variant of the synthesized sounds of William Onyeabor and Francis Bebey. Not bad for a former musician who made his living impersonating James Brown in Nigeria.