Available: 13th July 2021
The world of dance music 25 years ago was a very different place from the one we now inhabit. Rave had transitioned through Hardcore into Drum & Bass whilst UK Garage was brewing nicely and the UK pop charts were full of underground dance records. Meanwhile, the likes of Mo Wax, Ninjatune and Compost were pushing away from the dancefloors, introducing blunted beats, jazz-fusion sonics and a whole new movement to electronic music. It was into this atmosphere that Freerange was born, a UK label that reaches its quarter-century this year. At the helm over the last 25 years has been the partnership of childhood friends Tom Roberts and Jamie ‘Jimpster’ Odell.
It’s been a long and eventful journey, from an era of 56k modems, faxed reaction reports and when DJs still bought actual records, Freerange has weathered many storms and sailed through some of the most revolutionary changes to hit the music industry. Through those 25 years, and like the proverbial comforting sound of Bob Ross’ voice, Jimpster’s own music and those artists he releases through the label remain a constantly reliable, not to mention dance floor-smashing presence through the ups and downs of the house music continuum.
This Anthology brings together some of Jimpster’s finest productions across two double pack vinyl LPs from the preceding two and a half decades, showcasing his detailed approach to production and proving why he continues to thrive in the current scene, continuing to be held in high regard by many of the founding fathers of house music and young up and coming producers alike.
In some ways, this collection is a record of developments in UK Deep House as Jimpster slowly refined his sound over the years, continually reinventing the 4/4 template, creating new sounds, fresh chord progressions and original audio ideas, all geared towards creating memorable dance floor moments. He’s perfected a UK version of the sublime anticipation that is at the heart of the very best Deep House, that sense of sitting on the very edge of ecstasy, creating tracks that wonderfully stretch out those blissful moments.
A1. Square Up
A2. Head Spin
B1 - Got A Hold On Your Soul
C1. A Love Like This (ft Diamondancer)
C2. Late Night Blues
D1. Burning Up
D2. The Sun Comes Up ft Jinadu
Available: 7th May 2021
Every now and then a release comes along for us which carries just that little extra bit of weight and significance and the Mind In A Daze EP from Solid Gold Playaz is one of those. The US duo have released some of my favourite house tracks dating back to the late nineties so it is a real pleasure to have them produce four amazing new tracks for us here on Freerange. Kenny Gino and Mike T have had many highly rated releases on revered labels such as DNH, Moods n Grooves, Silver Network and their own Solid Gold Records. Resolutely underground, and it’s fair to say criminally underrated, Solid Gold Playaz have stayed true to what they do by releasing the heaviest club music which connects on a far deeper level than your average new house release. I really hope you can give Mind In A Daze some time to grab you in the same way it has grabbed me.
Kicking off the EP the title track sets the mood with an SGP rolling groove, hypnotic synths and tripped-out vocal delivery from Mike himself. For me, they consistently hit this beautiful sweet spot between jacking Chicago house, Detroit techno and the more European IDM sounds of ART, Irdial and B12. Always deep and musical but with a focus on what will create a magic mood on a late night or early morning dance floor.
The Kiss gives us another expansive and immersive mood which can’t fail to draw you in. A driving house groove with punchy claps make the perfect counterpart to the blissed-out widescreen pads and glitchy mechanised synth sequence making for a very special track.
Let Me See You Jack goes straight for the jugular! Absolutely no messing about on this one, with crunching, unrelenting 808 beats laying a foundation for Mike’s twisted vocal drawing us to the dance floor. What I wouldn’t give to have heard this dropped by Ron Hardy at the Music Box!
Closing out the EP we have Optical Illusions, another SGP masterpiece for those who like it seriously deep! The long arrangement gives the track space to breathe and for that beautifully hypnotic vibe which SGP create so well, to really take hold. Serious Jackers Unite!
A1. My Mind Is In A Daze
A2. The Kiss
B1. Let Me See You Jack
B2. Optical Illusions
Available: 19th March 2021
2021 is a milestone year for Jimpster and the label he founded with Tom Roberts back in 1996. It was never going to be plain sailing all the way but their passion for discovering, making and releasing the music they love has seen them pushing into their 25th year with more enthusiasm and determination than ever before. Ahead of the release of his fifth LP, a four vinyl Jimpster Anthology and Remix EP we dive head first into the deepness of his Soul Spectral EP.
The title track is widescreen, late-night house music at it’s most evocative. Crackling Rhodes chords hang suspended in the air like morning mist on Hackney Marshes while Greg Paulus’ lilting trumpet spins us out into the stratosphere. Live percussion courtesy of Laroye adds an organic depth to the track, creating just the kind of loose, enveloping groove that Jimpster loves to draw us into.
Sanguine continues the theme of sublime, heartfelt music for the body and soul, bringing together glacial synths, chopped piano samples with a simple, driving house groove which you will be more than happy to get lost in.
Flipping over we have Think Of You Always, a more uptempo house jam but one that stays true to the ethereal mood of the release. Textured layers come in and out of focus giving just a fleeting glimpse before fading into the shadows. Some elements floating across the 6/8 rhythm ambiguously whilst others are locked machine-like to the rigid pulse of the kick drum.
Rounding off this special release we have Jimpster’s own Dub mix of Soul Spectral which pairs things back to the rhythmic elements, stripping away the harmonic elements to let Greg’s beautiful shiny trumpet take centre stage.
A1. Soul Spectral ft Greg Paulus
B1. Think Of You Always
B2. Soul Spectral ft Greg Paulus (Dub)
Available: 7th April 2022
Jimpster’s lockdown LP was made throughout 2020 and finally sees the light of day at the end of February 2022 having been delayed around 6 months due to the ongoing vinyl pressing hold ups. Birdhouse is the revered producers seventh full length LP and can be considered a full circle as he takes a step away from the dance floor to revisit his early inspirations of jazz, 70’s fusion, library music, ambient and sample-based downtempo electronica. With its soulful touches, vocal and live musician features and trademark warm Jimpster production, we also think it could be his most accomplished and accessible yet.
The opening title track sets the tone for what’s to come with rustling percussion, widescreen choral samples, dub FX and drifting pads all coming together to create a sense of optimism. The first of six vocal features comes next. Ascension with UK vocalist Oliver Night (featured on IG Culture’s recent Earthbound LP) is a simple soul jam with live bass from Nick Cohen and Jimpster’s beloved Fender Rhodes joining the lo-fi drum groove.
Next up we’re treated to Voodoo featuring brilliant young NYC MC/poet/producer who first grabbed Jimpster’s attention with his mind-melting track Signs, released in 2020 on Youngbloods. Yoh’s sung (not sung) vocal flow adds a new dimension to the Jimpster sound and is hopefully the first of many more collaborations to come with this perfect pairing. Still Believe takes us on a tripped-out journey into slo-mo, lopsided MPC beats punctuated with otherworldly vocal samples, live bass and Rhodes making for an immersive late night mood.
The first of two tracks on the LP featuring London vocalist and songwriter Cairo drops next entitled Beautiful Day. Another incredibly talented young artist introduced to Jimpster through a mutual friend, Cairo adds a deep and uplifting vibe making for a track you’ll come back to time and time again. A slow-burning nu-soul groove which will draw you in with its warm glow. Lazarusman is a Johannesburg-native poet and vocalist known for his collaborations with Stimming, Joris Voorn and Booka Shade. Here he delivers a poem called Heavy, perfectly punctuating the haunting reverb-drenched horn, Detroit-esque chord stabs and filtered drums.
Future Paradise drops the BPM's further still for a slow-stepping synth ride mixing up rising arpeggios, dubby flugel horn FX and the lushest of strings. It’s been 15 years since Jimpster and Capitol A last joined forces on Left n Right from Jimpster’s Amour LP. Known for his work with Jazzanova, King Britt, Mark De Clive-Lowe and 2008 club anthem Serve It Up on Mantis, the San Francisco native MC delivers his inimitable flow to a blunted jazzy hip hop groove making for one of the LP highlights.
Up next, Rain is an intimate and understated slice of contemporary soul music which pushes another spellbinding Cairo vocal front and centre, underpinned by loose, crunchy beats, dusty keys and moogy flourishes. Picking up the pace, Doors Of Your Heart sees Jimpster get busy chopping up a funk groove whilst Nick Cohen lays down another killer live bass line. Lush keys, modular synths and some crazy FX processing take this into the stratosphere and call to mind some of his earliest productions in the late 90’s on his seminal LP Messages From The Hub.
Winding things down, Jimpster continues to revisit some of the sounds and flavours of his earliest work on Tell You, which goes seriously deep with touches of cinematic big band horns and a looped up vocal sample. Closing out the LP we have the aptly titled Full Circle complete with sublime Metheny/Mays-style pads, muted synth arps and subtle FX to drift away to.
A2. Ascension (feat. Oliver Night)
A3. Voodoo (feat. Yoh)
A4. Still Believe
A5. Beautiful Day (feat. Cairo)
A6. Heavy (feat. Lazarusman)
B1. Future Paradise
B2. Telegram (The Introduction) (feat. Capitol A)
B3. Rain (feat. Cairo)
B4. The Doors Of Your Heart
B5. Tell You
B6. Full Circle
Available: 19th February 2021
Simbad makes a welcome return to Freerange following last year’s brilliant Take My Hand EP featuring South African vocalist Brian Temba. Now based predominantly in Cape Town, the French Londoner producer and DJ is one of the most prolific artists in the scene having notched up countless EP’s, remixes and production work for labels like Apron, G.A.M.M. Faces, Hyperdub, Atjazz, BBE & Brownswood. His association with Gilles Peterson and Worldwide runs deep, hosting regular shows on WWFM as well as traversing the globe delivering his unique and eclectic sets from Africa to Asia and beyond.
Peaceful Revolution is one of those special house tracks which transcends boundaries, encapsulating an outernational sound in a way that Simbad excels in. Featuring South African upcoming producer Zito Mowa & vocalist Lwandile Zulu who brings a raw and impassioned energy to the deep and soulful mood, this tune was recorded in support of the troubled events from the past few months (Black Lives Matter movement).
Next up we have a track entitled Let Go which could quite easily be the lead track of the EP if they weren’t all as good as each other! This is late night emotive house music at its most sublime. Drop this at the right time and watch the floor come together in collective bliss.
Flip over for SMBD’s Shaolin Dub remix of Peaceful Revolution which pushes the original to the outer limits of the audio spectrum. Sub-sonic low end rumbles sitting in contrast to the ghost like whispers, glitches and industrial noises that pierce the ethereal pads.
Closing out this special release we find the unassumingly titled Soulful Jam, a low-slung groove which sees Simbad going heavy on fizzing analogue synths with a serene synth solo takin centre stage amongst the lush chords.
a1. Peaceful Revolution Feat. Lwandile & Zito Mowa
a2. Let Go
b1. Peaceful Revolution (SMBD Shaolin Dub)
b2. Soulful Jam