Geoff Barrow & Ben Salisbury

Q&A: Portishead producer Geoff Barrow on hip hop, krautrock, and film scores

DROKKGeoff Barrow & Ben Salisbury: Drokk: Music Inspired by Mega-City One (Invada, 5/1/12)

“Lawmaster Pursuit”

Geoff Barrow & Ben Salisbury: “Lawmaster Pursuit”

If there’s one band that pulled off the long, mysterious hiatus with mystique intact, it’s Bristol, England’s Portishead. Yet when the ’90s trip-hop act resurfaced in 2006, it had substantially changed — gone were the down-tempo beats and much of the melancholy, replaced with a new sound and sparse, driving rhythms that owed more to krautrock than Def Jam.

Beatsmith/songwriter Geoff Barrow was guiding it that way. Since the reunion, he’s been on fire, issuing music in a variety of guises with Beak> (a rock band), Quakers (a sprawling hip-hop project), and as Drokk (a soundtracking duo). That’s not including the records that Barrow has produced for others and released on his label, Invada.

With no shortage of topics in tow, we caught up with Barrow to talk about drum sounds, film scores, and writing music for Judge Dredd.

True Soul: Deep Sounds From the Left of Stax Vol. 1

The Groove Seeker: True Soul: Deep Sounds From the Left of Stax, Volume 1

On a biweekly basis, The Groove Seeker goes in search of killer grooves across rock, funk, hip hop, soul, electronic music, jazz, fusion, and more.

True Soul: Deep Sounds From the Left of Stax Vol. 1V/A: True Soul: Deep Sounds From the Left of Stax, Volume 1 (Now-Again, 5/17/11)

The Leaders: “(It’s a) Rat Race”

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In the American soul and roots tradition, there are few stories more recognizable than the legend of Stax Records.  From the Staple Singers to Otis Redding and Sam and Dave to Wilson Pickett, and all the artists who pioneered and championed that “Stax” sound, the small Memphis, Tennessee record-shop-turned-record-label introduced the world to the irresistible funkiness of Southern soul music.

But from that golden era of soul and funk, there were and are always hardworking owners, musicians, and even whole scenes that go unnoticed.  This is the story of Mr. Lee Anthony and True Soul Records, the label that he started in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1968.  Waiting to be rediscovered on a new anthology released by Now-Again titled True Soul: Deep Sounds From the Left of Stax, the two-volume CD/DVD set is an enlightening journey offering a 28-track survey of the label’s rarest grooves.

Charles Bradley

Concert Photos: Charles Bradley & The Budos Band @ Subterranean (Chicago, IL)

Much has been made of Charles Bradley‘s sudden emergence in the limelight, after many years of performing a James Brown tribute act under the name Black Velvet. In this rare instance, the hype is matched by the music — and then some.

Bradley’s acclaimed new album, No Time For Dreaming, is out now on Daptone imprint Dunham. Earlier this year, the soul singer joined Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings on a US tour, then teamed with The Menahan Street Band for a few European dates, and he just completed a Midwest leg with The Budos Band. These shots, from photographer Tammi J. Myers, are from the recent, sold-out show at Subterranean in Chicago.

Charles Bradley

Rikki Ililonga

World in Stereo: Rikki Ililonga & Musi-O-Tunya’s Dark Sunrise

Each week, World in Stereo examines classic and modern world music while striving for a greater appreciation of other cultures.

Rikki Ililonga: Dark SunriseRikki Ililonga & Music-O-Tunya: Dark Sunrise (Now-Again, 11/23/10)

Musi-O-Tunya: “Dark Sunrise”

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Gritty garage-rock grooves from mid-’70s Zambia comprise Now-Again Records’ latest release, Dark Sunrise, the double-disc (or three-LP box set), 31-track chronicle of Zambian “Zam Rock” godfather Rizketo Makyua “Rikki” Ililonga and his groundbreaking band Musi-O-Tunya.

The anthology fits Now-Again’s current obsession with Zambia’s 1970s music scene, whose landmark bands WITCH and Amanaz have seen record reissues from the specialized global funk label. But after one listen to the killer rock grooves from Dark Sunrise, with its furious fusion of US/UK/African rhythmic dynamics, fuzzed-out electric guitars, and hypnotic brass sections, audiences will come to understand why the obsession is exceptionally reasonable, if not completely necessary.

Poster Art: Nels “Jagmo” Jacobson’s fortuitous relocation

“It was a move to Austin, Texas in 1978 that touched off my fascination with poster art,” says Nels Jacobson, better known as psychedelic-poster artist Jagmo. “That move changed my life.”

In Texas at Club Foot as a bar manager and promotions director, Jacobson was able to mingle with music legends such as B.B. King, James Brown, and Stevie Ray Vaughan and also artists that he commissioned for concert posters.