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Yussef Kamaal / Black Focus / Brownswood

Yussef Kamaal, Black Focus, Brownswood, Dr Rob, Test Pressing, Review, Gilles Peterson, Yussef Dayes, Kamaal Williams, Henry Wu, 22a, Rhythm Section International

The dialogue at the close of “Black Focus” states that “there are no reference points”, “you make your own reference points”, but I believe that we all stand on the shoulders of others, and are influenced by everything we hear and see. We cherry-pick, consciously or otherwise, from everywhere. The work of others may inspire us to continue it, or go do the opposite. The press release itself cites Herbie Hancock, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Thelonius Monk and Kaidi Tatham, which should give you a pretty good idea of where Yussef Dayes and Kamaal Williams (AKA 22a and Rhythm Section International`s Henry Wu) are coming from. Jazz translated through the streets of contemporary London. A beat-driven, beat-fixated Jazz. A complex meta-Funk, to which I`ll add the horn squalls of Miles` “Dark Magus”, Charles Stepney`s orchestral strings and arrangements – via 4 Hero – and Jupiter via Detroit. DJ rewinds open up Weldon Irvine`s “Cosmic Vortex, and “Lowrider” takes a break from the album`s spiritual centre to pay tribute to Brownswood`s boss` suburban Soul scene origins. Dancing in outer space with Atmosfear, doing the “Southern Freeez” with Level 42`s starchildren. The keys are modal. The battery belies an everyday exposure to the capital`s illicit airwaves, of pirate Amens, their on-going deconstruction and evolution. The improvisations testimonials to the players “energy” and “focus”. Produced by Malcolm Catto (who`s had a hand in a lot of nice stuff this year), the sound is not stoned, like the Heliocentrics, nor psychedelic, like Vanishing Twin, but full of this “E + F”. Full of clarity and life.

Yussef Kamaal, Black Focus, Brownswood, Dr Rob, Test Pressing, Review, Gilles Peterson, Yussef Dayes, Kamaal Williams, Henry Wu, 22a, Rhythm Section International

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