The compilation is the 100th release from Johannesburg label Stay True Sounds
To mark their 100th release, Stay True Sounds have asked South African deep house producer China Charmeleon, AKA Siphamandla Innocent Nene, to remix his favourites from their back catalogue.
Turns out it was a bloomin' good idea, as he’s mos def not taken the offer lightly, turning out 13 (yes, 13) remixes. The quality is right up there throughout, from the sparse electronic jazz of his own Sometimes Lord, which chugs along nicely and eases the listener in, to the more upbeat, bass-heavy Now by Cornelius SA, with its almost Dr Dre-style high end synths. There’s also a good deal of variation across the album which is always a bonus, with the broken beats of label boss Kid Fonque's Bossa Over bringing a Nuyorican Soul meets 4hero vibe to proceedings.
Standout tracks for me personally include Kid Fonque feat Sio's In Love, which has a wonderfully wobbly bassline underpinning lush organic keys that take on a jazzy minimal techno pattern, and a cool spoken word narrative during the breakdown. I also enjoyed SculpturedMusic's Sad To Think which, despite an ever-present melancholic vocal loop, Charmeleon has managed to flip into an uplifting, Masters At Work kinda jam. My personal favourite, though, is Kid Fonque X Jonny Miller’s Soulfully Broken, which features a sublime lazy vocal, again from Sio, with tight subtle drums complimented by warm but unintrusive chords and keys.
But these are just the tip of the iceberg: there’s plenty more to get your teeth into. There are downbeat tracks, tribal-inspired tracks, and a few more house and indie-dance-ish grooves to give a try, too. If a deeper, more organic take on electronic music with smatterings of synth-jazz, intelligent vocals and ethnic vibes sounds like your kinda thing, this collection is well worth checking out.
Words: Iain Taylor
Release date: 25 June
Review Score: 8