This week: Detroit house, cosmic reggae and synth-punk fury

By in Features





Essential weekend listening.

This week’s rundown is by VF’s Becky Rogers, alongside contributors Annabelle Van Dort, Emily Hill and James Hammond.

Natural Wonder Beauty Concept

Natural Wonder Beauty Concept

(Mexican Summer)


With Ana Roxanne and DJ Python already well-known for their superlative solo work, Natural Wonder Beauty Concept finds the duo initiating a shared musical language that stakes out new electronic zones. Taking pop logic throughout and imaginatively skewing it into hybrid forms, this one left turns through breakbeats and downtempo and experimental production techniques in a merging of approaches and voices. Electronica lovers take heed.–JH

Theo Parrish

You Forgot / Dirt Rhodes

(Sound Signature)


Theo Parrish has captured the imagination, hearts and souls of a generation of dancers, partygoers and musical enthusiasts alike. Parrish’s latest offering via his imprint Sound Signature, founded in the mid-90s, is a two-tracker offering further examples of the producer’s musical expertise. It shows an unconventional approach to production in the field of Detroit house and, often, so much more. Both tracks are funky and home listenable. The A-side, “You Forgot”, has a raw breaks-y afrobeat energy whilst the flip, “Dirt Rhodes”, is finished with that signature touch–vocal samples with a melancholic edge over a rolling blues-esque beat.–EH 

Pharoah Sanders

Black Unity



Building on a single bass lick, the 37-minute sustained groove of 1971’s Black Unity keeps Black cultural affirmation and group momentum at its core for one of Pharoah Sanders’ greatest works. Relentlessly working around the bassline with two bassists and three percussionists pushing the rhythm forward, Black Unity unfolds as a surging force of musical articulation. Led by energy, it’s a piece that looks to swells within the groove and improvisational fire. A work that should always be in print, this reissue comes courtesy of the Third Man pressing plant and the recently resurrected Verve By Request series.–JH


Tuabab Bile



With its irresistible combination of heavyweight, cosmic reggae grooves and pointed politically-conscious lyricism, Senegalese musician Adioa’s debut single “Toubab Bile” remains one of the finest examples of African reggae ever made. Originally released in 1987, this new reissue arrives courtesy of the Marseille-based label Secousse.  A powerful piece of postcolonial resistance, “Toubab Bile” is a fiery condemnation of the horrors and collective amnesia surrounding the Thiaroye Massacre—when, in 1944, French troops opened fire on 1600 soldiers of West African origin. Featuring a spaced-out dub, “Fateliku” on the B-side, this latest outing from Secousse is yet another essential release from Etienne ‘Dj’ Tron’s label.–AVD

John Coltrane

Evenings At The Village Gate



Impulse! Records follows 2021’s breathtaking A Love Supreme: Live in Seattle, with another ‘lost’ live Coltrane album— the revelatory Evenings at the Village Gate: John Coltrane with Eric Dolphy. Recorded in 1961, during Coltrane’s residency at the Downtown Manhattan Jazz institution, the Village Gate, the recording features an immaculate of players: Eric Dolphy (alto sax/bass clarinet) McCoy Tyner (piano) Elvin Jones (drums) and Reggie Workman (bass). Unearthed from the depths of the New York Public Library Archive, this recording contains three versions of signature Coltrane standards (“Greensleeves”, “My Favourite Things” and “When The Lights Are Low”) alongside versions of two original compositions (“Africa” and “Impressions”).–AVD


Super Snõõper

(Third Man Records)


Sn​õ​õ​per began as a project between Nashville’s Connor Cummins and Blair Tramel who combined their passion for punk and visual arts to form the wacky art-punk band we see today. Their debut, Super Sn​õ​õ​per, collages commonplace samples of doorbells and ice shakers against YouTube soundbites while storming through 15 tracks of guitar spikes and 8-track mayhem. Only finale “Running” surpasses the two-minute mark, and though the tempo is slowed (for once), the slight detour still arrives at their energetic, upbeat selves. Sn​õ​õ​per are ones for chaos and Super Sn​õ​õ​per captures just that.–BR

Leon Spencer

Where I’m Coming From

(Craft Recordings)


Leon Spencer is a master of groove jazz. His album Where I’m Coming From, initially released in 1973 and reissued by Craft Recordings, features a selection of sensational hits from the Prestige Recordings catalogue in its prime. Including instrumental re-imaginings of tracks by Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Curtis Mayfield alongside original productions by Spencer himself, it also hosts iconic musicians, including but not limited to the sensational percussion of Idris Muhammed and saxophone skills of Dave Harvey. The six recordings bring to life the spirit of the ‘70s jazz scene with some deep organ lines to boot!–EH


Grass EP

(Static Shock Records)


Powerplant offer even more lashings of synth-punk fury with their latest EP Grass. The vocal fries and riff snarls of first look “Broodmother” rally against their previous electro-fuzz outings of People In The Sun and the 20-track long dungeon-synth melodies of Stump Soup. But it’s not all a hellish noise-wrath. Opener “Grass” returns to new wave richness, while “Walk Around – Hang My Head” propels along with intricate melody loops before closing out into a jostling pop-backed-rock race on “Beautiful Boy”. There was no perfect time for the release of Grass, with bandleader Theo Zhykharyev’s home of Ukraine being invaded by Russia, but amidst despair, grief and loss, Grass battles through to the other side.–BR