Bold Statement from Wolverhampton Wanderer; Culture Music CD REVIEWS

The Birmingham Post (England), June 18, 2007 | Go to article overview

Bold Statement from Wolverhampton Wanderer; Culture Music CD REVIEWS


POP

Soul & Mind Productions - Enlightenment the EP (Soul & Mind Productions)

****

The brainchild of Wolverhampton-based Soul Sohpal, this debut EP is a delightful snapshot of a flourishing talent. Across six tracks, Sohpal - who writes and produces all of the material, with extra instrumentation added courtesy of a small team of acolytes - manages to create an otherworldly kind of R&B.

With fluid beats and the lithest of basslines, he perhaps owes more to French pop than Pharrell et al, although the N.E.R.D mainman's way with an expansive production and futuristic melody is clearly referenced here.

Laconic, whispered vocals are prevalent throughout and each track seems to bear the hallmark of Serge Gainsbourg, with their eminent funkiness being directly traced back to everyone's favourite filthy Frenchman.

Lead track Deeply Beautiful is brooding and atmospheric, with the combination of rolling tabla and sitar being closely reminiscent of Natacha Atlas and Mezzanine-era Massive Attack. Elsewhere, Manufactured Fear has a funk-derived guitar part which successfully essays 1970s French rock, but is blended into a breezy soul-funk amalgam.

Being subtly layered, it sounds effortless and at the same time perfect listening for the summer months - a beacon of light in the UK soul scene which is otherwise a stormy sea of irrelevance.

Already garnering praise on both sides of the Atlantic, these Black Country grooves - soon to be followed by an album, Solstice, out later this month - are likely to make their way into scores of homes in the coming months. It's an intoxicating debut, and one which promises much for the future - watch this space.

Simon Harper

JAZZ

Michel Petrucciani - Piano Solo: The Complete Concert in Germany (Dreyfus)

*****

It's been around before but here for the first time on a two-disc set is the full concert the tiny French pianist played on February 27 1997.

From the first note of his own lovely tune Colors there is the reminder of what jazz lost when the Frenchman died of the debilitating disease that had plagued him and pained him all his life.

But there is also a reminder of the treasures we still can access - the many great recordings he made.

In some ways of course the solo ones are the most important, the purest outpourings of the man's thoughts and emotions in music.

Mostly he sticks to his own tunes, though later in the programme he brings that inimitable soulfulness to Besame Mucho and that immense energy to Take the A Train. …

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