Lefto & Simbad present Worldwide Family Vol. 1 | Album Review

2010 was a productive year for Gilles Peterson’s label Brownswood Recordings, a highlight being the release of the Havana Cultura Remix album and accompanying tour. 2011 gets off to a promising start as Peterson and co launch the Worldwide Family compilation series. Brownswood hand over the controls to respected friends of the label, asking them to compile a collection of the tastiest beats around. Doing the honours this time are DJs Lefto and Simbad, who give us a very appealing mix of futuristic soul, electro-funk and melodious house.

Disc one gets underway with the Jazzanova-esque ‘Blend’ by the UpHigh Collective with its quaint-but-silky lead vocals and subtly seductive bassline. ‘Take Back’ by Grooveman’s Spot, ‘Meeting Point’ (Damage is Done) and the sublime ‘I Don’t Think So’ by Steve Lynx and Hellrazor are dream tracks for all those poppers out there. Makes me wish I could do some show-stopping robotic moves myself.

Dela and the Headlesshunters’ ‘London Town’ is an entirely vocoder-ed homage to England’s capital city that manages to be effortlessly sophisticated without losing its sense of fun. Other highlights include the irresistible ‘Perfect Match’ by Onra, putting to excellent use a delicious sample by New Horizons (‘Searching for That Lady’). ‘Park Walks’ appears to ingeniously loop the chorus of bossa nova favourite ‘Agua De Beber’.

There’s something adorable about Brassroots horns-heavy note-for-note rendition of Inner City’s ‘Good Life’. Behold how the vocals and pure synth production of the original are handled by the individual instruments; in particular the tuba’s ear-grabbing steady bassline, a throwback to the pre-ragtime brass band.

Bassroots – “Good Life”:

The rest of disc one chugs along well enough even if not all the tracks are worthy of instant replay. The only selection that shouldn’t be allowed to take precious minutes from your day is Ku-Bo’s ‘Twist Up’ with its tinny repetitiveness and infuriating hispanophone chants.

On first listen disc two is the plain Jane next to its more glamorous and charismatic older sister. Yet give it time and amongst the dross there are a few treats to be found too. The frantic bassline and funky handclaps on Exile’s ‘Rake’ should compel even the reluctant dancer to shake a little. Who’d have thought something credible could be done with a sample of Chris De Burgh’s ‘Lady In Red’? Well, Andreas Saag gives it a good try on ‘Nobody Here’.

The spirit of J Dilla unmistakeably hovers over 74 Miles Away’s ‘Same Dream Again’ featuring AHU and Miles Bonny. Vocally it seems Miles draws influence from every significant male vocalist of the past 15 years falling within the oft-maligned neo-soul category. One of the few vocalised tracks on disc two, the enticing production is hampered by contrived lyrics. Surely an instrumental version would have sufficed… or better lyricists.

Harrison Blackoldman’s ‘Full Speed!!!’ ignites some ’80s boogaloo nostalgia (as does many a track on this compilation) whilst keeping a keen eye on the here and now. The fusion of mellifluous strumming and broken beats on Airhead’s ‘Stilt Beetles’ provide the sonic equivalent of a break from a hectic day, bathed in sunlight, resting on that little patch of green in the middle of a bustling city.

I.N.T’s ‘Raw Funk’ delivers as advertised but aspects of soft synthesised loveliness smooth out some of the raw edges. If one track embodies the musical ethos of Lefto and Simbad presents… it would be Karlmarx’ ‘Mists’. Like much on this collection the post-Apocalyptic production stimulates the mind but also gives the body a little something to enjoy too.

Lefto & Simbad present Worldwide Family Vol. 1 is out now via Brownswood Recordings – click to buy.