Album Review: Mathias Stubø - Mathias Stubø

Image source: Adressa.noHailing from Norway and at just 18 years old Mathias Stubø's new self-titled album is a lovely collage of electro, tight punchy drums, whirling melodies and loose moments of free-falling jazz. Both of Stubø's parents are jazz musicians and his early years listening to jazz and fusion records provide the muse for much that is offered here.

It feels like some time since we heard a left field record quite like this - a record that is so packed full of joy, with kitchen-sink eclecticism and a happy-melodies-a-plenty. Think Röyksopp and Mr Scruff rummaging through a set of old Blue Note records whilst DJ Shadow focuses on making a few beats in the back room. And beats there are, for while this isn't a dark record it can still rock hard, as on psychedelic, bass-heavy 'Fly With Me'.

This is an album arranged into two halves. Part one is entitled High Frequency Feelings and is a bit grittier with hard beats and heavier bass. Part two, Soul Touch, is where more of the soul and jazz influences break out, as on the snappy freeform drums, stuttering piano and vocal snatches of 'Oss To'.

Whilst this is clearly an album of moments and ideas rather than songs there are still some stand out moments. The big spaces and fuller vocal of 'Soon a Brighter Day' have already seen it confirmed as a single and it obvious why. The penultimate 'Knock On My Door' also leaves a lasting impact, a hopeful prayer of a song with glimmering melodies.

Mathias comes across most comfortable when the jazz flows forward though, as on 'Don't Look Down'. The bass may be large and loud but it is the trumpet work that steals the show, creating a timeless beauty within this record.

Mathias Stubø is released soon on BBE, you can pre-order it on CD from now [affiliate link].

Listen to 'Soon a Brighter Day' on Spotify:


Album Review: Johnny D Presents Disco Jamms Volume One - Various Artists

Johnny D's Disco Jamms is a rapid fire disco assault that manages to cram in 18 classic disco tracks from across the years into an extravagant 77-minute long celebration.

And basically it's brilliant. The mixing may be a little rudimentary, but that was the way things were back in the days of disco anyway and this set really doesn't suffer as a result. The selection of music on offer shows that at its best disco can be glorious. It's a genre that still gets a bad rep in certain quarters, not helped by the fancy dress theme parties and some overly commercialised artists that rode the sound all the way to the bank whilst simultaneously leaving the true spirit behind. For the record I truly believe the Bee Gees and Abba are two or the worst acts to grace the planet. Ever.

But there is nothing of that insipid shiny thin pop here. Cerrone's beautiful 'Look For Love' has a warm shimmering chorus that rides a rainbow unicorn to a string backing before a full two-minute percussive break. It's inventive and extravagant and soulful and real and ridiculous all at the same time. As disco retrospectives go this one isn't in the least bit precious either, so sure, you'd got the O'Jays, but you also have Klein & MBO's electro masterpiece 'Dirty Talk' followed by the large bassline heavy 'For The Same Man' by B-Beat Girls. There are moments of glorious electronic disco from the eighties that run away with my heart here. The System's 'It's Passion' is glossy funk with a fantastic spoken word jogging-on-the-spot synth heavy bridge combined with a simply massive chorus.

Most of all though disco was always about getting on up and over - triumph in the face of adversity, less showing off, more celebrating what you should to be thankful for. And that is what comes through on this album, whether on the enthused 'We're On The Right Track' by Ultra High Frequency or Lafleur's instrumental 'Dub Till We Drop'.

Don't fight it, feel it.

Johnny D Presents Disco Jamms Volume One is released on BBE on 5 March, available to pre-order from on CD and MP3 [affiliate links].

Album Review: Soul on Soul (Deluxe Edition) - Jean Wells

I'm sure I point this out every year but December onwards always tends to see a dearth of decent music releases as the industry focuses on milking the valuable casual market for Christmas. The result is all X Factor, greatest hits compilations and deluxe reissues of the year's best (selling) albums.

Soul on Soul is a re-release, albeit one selected from an artist who deserves more exposure rather than less for once. Wells was never a massive star in her own time - her biggest single was the desperate and lovelorn 'Have a Little Mercy', which reached number 25 in the R&B charts on release in 1967. But her voice simply boasts bags of soul, and these songs always leave the gloves off.

Whether it is wallowing in the depths of emotion, as on the aforementioned 'Have a Little Mercy' or the similarly themed 'Sit Down and Cry', or being forthright and commanding respect Wells' songs are beautiful and gloriously sung. ’Somebody's Been Loving You (But It Ain't Been Me)’ is a brilliant example of the latter - a slamming put down to a cheating partner, Wells making it clear that she hasn't had anywhere near enough (ahem) attention lately.

Particularly mind-blowing is the synthesiser backed 'Roll Up Your Sleeves, Come Out Lovin' (Winner Takes All)’. Recorded in the early seventies it feels like a rough take on 80s disco but the fuzzy charm of the bass line gives it an incredible grounded feel. Best of all is 'What Have I Got To Lose', a soaring, string-led epic Philly soul joint that is all butterflies and sunshine of spring love - the all too short moment of contemplation before making your move on a new love.

If, like me, Christmas tends to drive you loopy with the disposability of it all then you could do much worse than keep this on standby throughout the next five weeks.

BP x

Soul on Soul is out now on BBE, available from on CD and MP3 [affiliate links].