THE BEST NEW ALBUMS OF 2012-PART 2.

THE BEST NEW ALBUMS OF 2012-PART 2.

The Best New Albums of 2012-Part 2, covers the period between May and June 2012. These two months proved to be good months for new music. Two veterans of music, Paul Buchanan and Eddie Levert somewhat belatedly, released debut solo albums. Then there were three truly innovative albums, including one of the best hip hop albums of 2012. Read on, and you’ll find out more.

PAUL BUCHANAN-MID AIR.

2012 has been a great year for anyone who loves the music of the Blue Nile. Not only have we enjoyed deluxe reissues of the Blue Nile’s first two albums, 1984s A Walk Across the Rooftops and 1989s Hats, but Paul Buchanan released his long awaited debut album Mid Air in May 2012. Then five months later, in October 2012 a deluxe edition Mid Air was released. This deluxe edition of Mid Air is a double-album, with Disc One featuring Mid Air and Disc Two featuring bonus tracks. This includes instrumentals, remixes and live tracks.

Between 1984 and 2004, the Blue Nile only ever released four albums. Their debut album was 1984s A Walk Across the Rooftops, with Hats following five years later in 1989. Forever the perfectionists, the Blue Nile worked at their own pace. Peace At Last followed seven years later in 1996, with High their final album in 2004. Throughout that twenty year period, the Blue Nile were reluctant stars, who shied away from interviews and publicity. Enigmatic doesn’t even come close to describing them. Even live appearances were something of a rarity. After 2004s High, nothing was heard of the Blue Nile. They’d split up, and no more new music would be released. Even their thirtieth anniversary passed without any celebration. Then in May 2012, Paul Buchanan released his debut album Mid Air. Would it live up to the Blue Nile’s four critically acclaimed albums?

Mid Air is album full of subtleties, nuances and charm. I can’t recommend this album highly enough. It’s a really mature, grown-up album from Paul Buchanan. He’s now fifty-six and his world-weary voice has matured with age, have his talents as a songwriter. Not only has age resulted wisdom, but has resulted in fourteen tales of life, love and loss. To put this into perspective, it took The Blue Nile eight years and two albums to produce fourteen tracks, whereas Mid Air took but two years to complete.

I just hope Paul releases further albums like Mid Air. The music on Mid Air is compelling and emotive. Paul explores a variety of subjects, including life, love and loss, with hurt, regret and sadness constant companions to hope and love. The music is moody, broody and sometimes hopeful, perfect for The Blue Nile’s now grownup audience, who like Paul are eight years older than they were when The Blue Nile released High in 2004. For many of The Blue Nile’s loyal fans, then Mid Air will strike a chord. They too will have experienced, travelled and witnessed the same roads as Paul Buchanan has. Not only that, but they too will concur with his outlook on love, life and loss and will enjoy the fourteen tracks on Mid Air knowing he’s travelled the same roads that they have. 

The music on Mid Air, including the bonus ttracks offers further insight into Paul Buchanan. While there have been similarly reluctant stars like Paul Buchanan, there’s rarely been one so complex, articulate and intelligent. Paul Buchanan is able to give voice to the feelings and lives of many people. He provides the voice to his legion of fans, who hope that there’s much more music like Mid Air still to come for Paul Buchanan. Now that The Blue Nile are sadly, no more, then Paul Buchanan carries the mantle they’ve left behind. Thankfully, Paul produced a similar style of music on Mid Air, introspective, poignant and wistful music that’s best enjoyed late at night, After Dark, When Half the World Is Asleep.

PAUL BUCHANAN-MID AIR.

SHIN NISHIMURA-MASH.

Since his 2005 debut album Star Light, Japanese Techno producer Shin Nishimura has released four albums plus two albums of remixes. His fifth studio album Mash, was released in May on the Plaza In Crowd label. This is the follow-up to his previous studio album Q’hey and Shin’s 2007 album Planetary Alliance. However, between 2007 and 2012, Shin has been busy, releasing two remix albums Identity Politics and Identity Politics Part 2, while releasing a series of EP’s for the Plus label. Mash was described by Shin as as containing “UK beats,” and is like a music journey marauding along London’s Tube, which is one of the tracks. Indeed the London influence runs through Mash. Earl’s Court, Neals Yard and Knightsbridge are just three tracks on Mash referencing London. So, Mash was Japanese techno with “UK beats.” Sounds intriguing? Well, Mash was also one of the best techno albums of 2012.

Mash, which is Shin Nishimura’s fourth album is an ambitious, innovative and highly accomplished album of techno. His claim that Shin is an innovative album, with “UK beats” pointing towards the future direction techno is heading, was indeed a bold statement. However, Mash is an innovative album of techno music from a hugely experienced techno producer. In total, there are twelve tracks on Mash, the eleven that make up the album, plus a bonus track Frustration-No Nukes. Using a variety of influences, Shin came up with an album that’s compelling, intriguing and contains an eclectic and consistently high quality of techno. From the opening bars of Unity, until the closing notes of Acid Eye Shin never strays from his mission statement to create, innovate and demonstrate the direction he thinks techno is heading in the future. He’s had plenty of time to think about this, given it’s five years since his last album, Planetary Alliance was released. Given the quality of music on Mash, let’s hope that it’s not another five years until Shin Nishimura’s next album. For anyone who loves techno music, then Mash is an album to look out for. Mash allowed everyone to hear Shin Nishimura’s manifesto for the future direction of techno.

SHIN NISHIMURA-MASH.

EDDIE LEVERT-I STILL HAVE IT.

Never before has an album title been more apt than Eddie Levert’s debut solo album I Still Have It. What Eddie Levert still has, is one of the best voices in R&B music. Eddie proves the maxim that form is temporary, but class is permanent. After joining The O’Jays in 1958, Eddie’s spent over fifty years as lead singer of Canton, Ohio’s favorite sons. Since then, The O’Jays have released album after album of classy, polished soul. During their time on Philadelphia International Records, not only did The O’Jays become one of the label’s biggest acts and success stories, but released a string of classic album. This included Back Stabbers, Ship Ahoy, Survival, Family Reunion, Message In the Music and Full of Love. That’s not forgetting numerous classic singles, including the joyous Love Train, I Love Music, Livin’ For the Weekend, Darlin’ Darlin’ Baby (Sweet, Tender, Love) and Use Ta Be My Girl. One thing Eddie hadn’t done was released a solo album…until May 2012. As if having Eddie Levert’s debut solo album released isn’t something to shout about from the rooftops, there’s an added bonus. Tom Moulton, the godfather of the remix and inventor of the twelve inch single mixes the album.

For years, there have been rumors that Eddie Levert was releasing his debut solo album. At last, I Still Have It was here. Eddie didn’t disappoint. On ballads like Blown Away, What If and All About Me And You, Eddie rolls back the years. The result is vintage Eddie Levert. His voice is peerless, variously full of hurt and heartbreak, plus love and longing. Then on the uptempo tracks like Last Man Standing, Lonely, Don’t Get Much Better, Don’t Lie To Me and Hate’n, Eddie kicks loose, bringing back his glory days with The O’Jays. In many ways, the album’s title is perfect. Indeed, It’s a statement of fact, I Still Have It Eddie Levert is saying. I can’t and won’t argue with that. Class is permanent, form is temporary. I Still Have It is well worth the wait and found Eddie Levert rolling back the years.

EDDIE LEVERT-I STILL HAVE IT.

MATHIAS STUBO-MATHIAS STUBO.

Back in June 2012, Mathias Stubo, one of the rising stars of the Norwegian music scene released his sophomore album Mathias Stubo. Like his critically acclaimed debut album 1979, Mathias Stubo, was no ordinary album. Instead, it’s an ambitious and innovative twenty track genre-sprawling, fusion of musical styles and influences. There’s everything from funk, soul, hip hop, post-disco and Afro-funk on Mathias Stubo’s twenty-tracks. Having set the bar so high with his debut 1979, was Mathias Stubo just as ambitious and innovative?

While second albums can be notoriously hard for any artist, this wasn’t the case for  the twenty year old Mathias Stubo. His sophomore album Mathias Stubo saw him pick up where he left off on 1979. The music has the same quality and consistency, with one compelling and intriguing quality slice of music following on the heels of the previous one. It’s like Mathias Stubo has taken all the genres of music that has influenced and moved him during his life, using them to create an eclectic palette of music. From broken beat, jazz, soul and funk, to Nu-Jazz, dub, house and post-disco, it’s all here, mixed up and used by Mathias to create the twenty tracks on Mathias Stubo. Truly, it’s a melting pot of musical genres, sounds and textures. Although only twenty years old, Mathias Stubo has created a mature, ambitious and innovative album, one that contains some wonderful music, music that’s both compelling and intriguing. From ambient, atmospheric soundscapes, to frantic, frenzied, dramatic tracks with secrets and subtleties awaiting discovery, while dance tracks fusing post-disco and house are tinged with jazzy horns and floaty synths. All this, and much, much more is awaiting discovery on Mathias Stubo. It’s an album, where the more you listen to it, the more its subtleties and secrets reveal itself. That’s what makes Mathias Stubo such an ambitious, compelling and intriguing album, and is a worthy successor to Mathias’ debut album, 1979.

MATHIAS STUBO-MATHIAS STUBO.

VISIONEERS-HIPOLOGY. 

After a long wait of six year since the release of Dirty Old Hip Hop, Marc Mac under the guise of Visioneers, released the follow-up Hipology, a double-album due in  June 2012 on BBE Music. During the intervening six years, Marc hdsn’t been resting on his laurels. Far from it. Indeed, Marc has been one of the hardest working men in music, working under a variety of aliases and guises. This has seen him working as one half of 4Hero, Nu Era and Natures Plan. Then there’s Marc’s work as a producer. He’s previously producing Terry Callier, Jill Scott, Roy Ayers and Phonte. Although his career started back in the late eighties, the project that’s kept Marc busy recently, is the much anticipated Hipology. On Hipology, Marc brings in a number of guests and featured musicians. They’ve collaborated with him in making the album’s fourteen tracks. Each of them helped Marc make Disc one of Hipology an album that’s not just funky and soulful, but chock full of breaks, beats and samples a plenty.

Hipology is just one of these albums that once you’ve heard it once, you constantly play and play. Quickly, its subtleties and charms get under your skin, weaving their way into your soul. It reminds you just why you love music, especially music as good as this. From the opening bars of Dial In (Intro), until the closing notes of Whatever Happened To Peace, Hipology  is a musical adventure through a fusion of genres. This ranges from hip-hop, through funk, soul and R&B, taking in breakbeats, Blaxploitation and jazz. So good is this musical adventure, that once it’s over, you want to relive it and all its glories. With each listen, more of Hipology’s subtleties, charms and secrets reveal itself. This complex multilayered symphony has many subtleties, charms and secrets awaiting discovery. This glorious fusion of musical genres comes courtesy of Marc Mac. Then after you’ve discovered the delights of Hipology, you’ve got the mix-tape to enjoy. You sit down, settle back and enjoy losing yourself in the delights of the mix-top Visioneers’ style. So, given the quality of music on Hipology, I’d say it’s been well worth waiting six years for,

VISIONEERS-HIPOLOGY. 

 

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