5 Big Ones

Black Spade-To Serve With Love (OM Hip Hop)(US)
The debut from St. Louis rapper/producer is probably the best damn disk I have heard in a while. This guy bleeds mid-America more than The Boss and Mellencamp combined while paying homage to every other cat who's ever tried making a living in the Midwest as a musician. George Clinton, Prince, J Dilla, Common, Stevie, Derrick May-it's all in there and yet To Serve With Love isn't some sort of dog & pony retro show. Black Spade, in the great jazz tradition of cats like Eric Dolphy and Sun Ra, is seeking contact with higher states of consciousness vis a vis intergalactic cosmic funk. The obvious comparisons would be Common and Outkast-and there are a lot of similarities no doubt, but keep in mind Black Spade is on OM Hip Hop so he's doing a lot of musical connections with more innovative cats like the sorely missed J Dilla and Cinci's 5 Deez. The future is in there especially on the Drexicya-styled ice cold electro of "The Half That's Never Been Told". It's not just those obvious Kraftwerk meets Bambaata-isms it's the whole damn package of a hungry young artist having a rookie of the year season connecting more than he is missing and helping to establish OM as a credible player in the indie hip hop game.
Download the Actioneer EP:

Various-OM: Chilled Vol. 2 (OM)(US)

This series has seemingly replaced OM's long running Lounge series , which at this point has probably run it's course like bouncy house and epic trance. Chilled keeps the same bench marks in mind on its second voyage but is designed more for the after party than the evening before. Chilly (almost techy) and a lot along the lines of Exponential's Wait Til The Ice Melts comp but ultimately fluffier and made for a demographic slightly more affluent than I whilst getting it on. I enjoyed the return of Hawke aka Gavin Hardkiss (o wherefore art thou dear brothers?) getting all analog synthed out on "Garden Of Your Mind" and "Black Swan Music" by Midnight Music Co. channels the afrobeat fire amazingly well. The rest of tracks are hit or miss mainly due to the abundance of annoying vocal tracks that just get in the way of a good groove. A nice compilation with some standout tracks but just a little too radio friendly to truly make the cut.

Sven Vath-In The Mix: The Sound Of The Eighth Season 2xCD (Cocoon)(Germany)
Highly overrated comp of eurortrash commerical Ibiza friendly techno sleaze. Whatever happened to mixing??? Nice new tracks on disk one (the party, which in Berlin apparently doesn't start until 2AM) from James T Cotton, SF's Worthy, and Roman Flugel (a long time Vath favorite) under his Alter Ego guise. The Dutch mafia carries it here though with crucial back to back cuts from Joris Voorn (yea!) and old timer Steve Rachmad. Disk two catches up with Vath on day two (or possibly even three, it is Berlin) and the mood is more sedate and plodding. Nice tracks from Junior Boys (the overused Grammy-nominated Carl Craig remix of "Like A Child"), Jamie Jones, and Martin Buttich-with a standout track entitled "Hunter" illuminate an otherwise overwrought comp of eurocheese.

Mark Knight & Funkagenda-Shogun (CD single)(Toolroom Trax)(UK)
Mark Knight teams up again with Adam Walder aka Funkagenda for some serious Midlands gold on "Shogun". The vocal hook is a bit cheesy with it's seductive "Do you remember the first time?" spoken word, however peak hour play instantly moves the crowd into position for some serious bump & grind action. Not all the mixes work on the single due to the high cheese factor but Jimpster turns in a nice dark West Coast house influenced chugger and Wally Lopez delivers a proggier version thereof while Knight and Walder turn in two credible remixes as well as a cliched original. The "Trusty Djembe" dub being the real choice cut here but a closer inspection is required by all music lovers of the duo's "Average House Band" remix, it's pretty damn good actually.

Various-Generation V-A DGenetics Music Compilation (DGenetics Music)(US)
Apparently the "V" in this charming little single compilation refers to 80s TV show V, which is something I wholeheartedly endorse. I was chided a little by the label owner when off-handedly dismissing their music as being a little too cute and substanceless like Daft Punk, Chromeo, and the Dim Mak label. His complaint was the label's music didn't sound anything like the download I was giving away. And after listening to this compilation to that I will concede, did I like the label any more? Not really. This comp is nothing more than one of those promo samplers that you get from places like the Gap. There are good singles but no common thread that holds them together and with only eight songs I quickly lost interest and found no compelling reason to return.

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