By now, we’re at the third part in The Best New Albums of 2012. The five albums I’ve chosen cover the period between July and September 2012. This includes albums from labels based in Japan, Belgium and the UK. Each of these labels art independent labels, who are dedicated to discovering new, innovative artists, including the next five. 


When Boddhi Satva’s record label Offering Recordings released Sage Monk’s album Heartache Allegory in July 2012, the album was available as a free download. This was an innovative approach to the constantly changing music industry, where music is consumed in very different ways. While this was a bonus for music lovers, there’s the argument that by giving music away free, you cheapen the music. However, that wasn’t the case with Sage Monk’s album Heartache Allegory. Here was a beautiful, moving and spiritual album.

Sage Monk was a guest artist on Boddhi Satva’s brilliant Invocation, featuring on the beautiful and heartfelt Stop Crying, which closed Invocation. This set me on a journey to find out more about Sage Monk’s career so far. All he’d released was an E.P. Baram Bakie in 2009, plus two singles in March 2012, Lambs of Summerian Shepherds and Mbesto Ti Abuntu. Then in July 2012, Heartache Allegory was released.

Heartache Allegory is a compelling musical journey. On this musical journey, Sage is joined by hugely talented artists of the stature of C.Robert Walker, Leslie Kisumuna, Quetzal Guerrero, Mizzy, Ade Alafia and Amalia. Together, they create eleven innovative tracks, tracks that straddle musical genres and influences. There’s everything from African Roots, house music, Nu Soul, jazz and hip hop. Four of the tracks are just short snapshots of music, posing questions. Sometimes, Sage Monk doesn’t provide answers, leaving you hanging, wondering and thinking. These tracks provoke thought. Other tracks vary from heartfelt, impassioned and beautiful tracks, through to an innovative and contemporary sound. The vocals are key to the success and sound of Heartache Allegory. Indeed, the music on Heartache Allegory is music that’s from Sage Monk’s heart, music that’s for the heart and soul. and music that’s not only uplifting and inspirational, but extremely emotive and beautiful.



Joe McAlinden is something of a veteran of the Scottish music scene. He was a member of Superstar, who signed to Alan McGhee’s Creation Records in 1992. After releasing their debut album Greatest Hits Volume One in 1992, Superstar released six further albums. Their final album was Phat Dat, released in 2000 on the Camp Fabulous label. During his time with Superstar, and post-Superstar, Joe has been played and collaborating with everyone from the BMX Bandits, Teenage Fanclub, Big Star and Edwyn Collins. Indeed, Edwyn Collins would play an important role in Joe’s debut solo album Bleached Highlights.

Most of the time Joe McAlinden writes and records in his home studio in Argyll. This is where work began on his debut solo album Bleached Highlights. Having written the ten tracks that became Bleached Highlights, Joe had to head south. He left behind the beauty of Argyll heading to London to work with another veteran of Scottish music Edwyn Collins, who with Sebastian Lewsley, produced Bleached Highlights.

Although Bleached Highlights is Joe McAlinden’s debut solo album, it doesn’t sound like it. No wonder, he’s a twenty-year musical veteran. Bleached Highlights is crammed full of perfect three-minute pop songs, which benefit from a plentiful supply of poppy hooks. They’re delivered by Joe with emotion, passion, hope, joy and vulnerability. He breathes life and meaning into the ten tracks, as he demonstrates his twin talents of songwriter and singer. Bleached Highlights is a compelling, melodic and beautiful album. I’m sure in years to come, Bleached Highlights will be recognized for what it is, a  minor Scottish pop classic. It’s an introduction to one of Scotland’s best kept musical secrets, Joe McAlinden as he embarks on his solo career. Hopefully, Bleached Highlights will be the first of many albums Joe McAlinden releases in his pursuit of pop perfection.



The genesis of Satoshi Fumi’s musical career was when he discovered house music in the mid-nineties. It was the house music coming out of Detroit, Chicago and New York that first interested Satoshi. Having discovered dance music, Satoshi embarked upon a life long love of dance music, which lead to a career as a DJ and producer. He started collecting synthesizers and building a home studio. From there, he began making his own music, experimenting with sounds a variety of musical genres. Over time, Satoshi developed his own unique and unmistakable sound, fusing various genres, from techno, Acid House, click, tech house and deep house. Since then, Satoshi Fumi hs become a prolific producer, releasing his debut album Sweet Sensation in 2008. Now four years later, Satoshi Fumi will soon be releasing his second album Colours on pioneering Japanese label Fountain Music in July 2012.

Although there’s been a gap of four years between Satoshi Fumi’s debut album Sweet Sensation and the followup Colours, it’s been well worth the wait. The eleven tracks prove just how imaginative, inventive and innovative a producer Satoshi Fumi truly is. On Colours, Satoshi journeys through a variety of musical genres, including Acid House, ambient music and deep house, before visiting jazzy house tech house and techno. It’s a compelling musical journey, with each track blessed with its own unique sound. This ranges from bold and dramatic, moody and broody, right through light and melodic and even encompassing wistful, melancholy and beautiful. That’s how wide the range of Colours in Satoshi Fumi’s palette is. Satoshi uses his palette well, creating an accomplished musical canvas, where layers of sounds are merged majestically.



During Boddhi Satva’s travels as A&R man for Offering Recordings, one of his latest finds was Idrissa Sissoko in Mali. Having come across Idrissa Sissoko purely by chance, Idrissa played Boddhi just a few songs. Instantly, Boddhi realized just how talented Idrissa Sissoko is, and before the sun had set, Idrissa had signed his first recording contract. Since then, Idrissa Sissoko has recorded his debut album Lopilopilo, which was released in September 2012 by Offering Recordings.

Idrissa Sissoko is a singer and poet, who was born in Kaye, Mali. His musical style has been influenced by the Griot bards. Griot bards much more that master storytellers, they’re hailed as historians, poets and musicians. Griot bards combine wit and satire with their knowledge of politics and history. This tradition in Mali stretches back to the fourteenth century, and can be found in other parts of West Africa. However, when Idrissa was younger, he left Mali, and headed to another part of Africa, Libya, in Northern Africa.

When Idrissa Sissoko arrived in Libya, it was to troubled times.After a few years, Idrissa headed home to Mali. It was lucky he decided to do so, because in Mali he met the man who’d give him his first record contract…Boddhi Satva.

Boddhi Satva’s chance encounter with Idrissa Sissoko was a fortuitous one. If it hadn’t taken place, then we’d never had the chance to experience Idrissa Sissoko’s music. The music on Lopilopilo is best described as emotive, powerful, passionate and intense, but also, moving and soulful. It’s music that’s for the heart and the soul, music that’s cathartic, music that soothes and cleanses the soul. All these are similar qualities to the music on Boddhi Satva’s invocation and on Sage Monk’s Heartache Allegory. You can add Idrissa Sissoko’s debut album Lopilopilo to this list. This is a new type of soul music, what people are referring to as Ancestral Soul. It’s a new genre of soul music, one for the 21st Century, music where two cultures are united through music. Although Lopilopilo is only six tracks long, plus three remixes, it’s an incredibly intense, powerful and moving musical journey, that once you’ve experienced it, will want to relive and experience again. 


When The Souljazz Orchestra released their acoustic album Rising Sun in 2101, it was to widespread critical acclaim. Now two years later, The Souljazz Orchestra are celebrated their tenth anniversary with the release of their fifth album Solidarity, which was released by Strut in September 2012. During the last ten years, The Souljazz Orchestra have come a long way, with their compelling fusion of musical influences and genres. For their fifth album, The Souljazz Orchestra have changed direction from the acoustic style of Rising Sun to an electric, vocal driven style. Joining The Souljazz Orchestra are a number of guest artists, plus a fascinating and eclectic selection of instruments. They embark on a journey through African, Latin and Caribbean music, via detours into jazz and soul. On that journey, The Souljazz Orchestra sing in English, Spanish, Portugese and Wolof.

For Solidarity, The Souljazz Orchestra dust off an eclectic selection of instruments. Many of these are instruments are long lost, sometimes unloved junk shop finds. A transistor organ, cheap guitars, reverb and echo units. Even an electric piano rescued from a dumpster and an old eight-track Tascam tape machine, that was bought at a yard sale, on which Solidarity was recorded. This gives Solidarity a really raw lo-fi, analogue, soulful sound.

On Solidarity, The Souljazz Orchestra take you on a musical journey through musical genres. There’s everything from Angolan semba, Afrobeat, biguine jazz, Brazilian samba, Carribean, funk, jazz, reggae and Wolof on Solidarity. You hear some glorious rhythms, percussive delights and impassioned, heartfelt vocals. This music is about togetherness, standing up against injustice, discrimination and persecution. What The Souljazz Orchestra want, is to make the world a better place.

That Solidarity was recorded on an old eight-track Tascam tape deck, gives the music a really raw lo-fi, analogue sound. That’s much of Solidarity’s charm. This isn’t a slick, polished production. Instead, it’s music that’s soulful, music that for the heart, the soul and the feet. Many of the tracks are irresistible. You want to submit to their delights and lose yourself in its rhythms. Similarly, you realize that Solidarity is music with a message, music for a new and constantly changing world. Once you’ve embarked upon The Souljazz Orchestra’s musical adventure that is Solidarity, you’ll revel in its glorious, fusion of musical styles and influences.



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