Various Artists, New Recruits EP


“Rainbow Noise” by Karl Grandin

[Smooth Agent Records]


Buy Vinyl

Since handing the A&R reins to Henderick Mitchell in early 2010, Sean Smith’s Chicago based Smooth Agent Records has increasingly searched outside U.S. borders for its talent. Their telling titled Chicago EP 2 was soon followed by releases from South African artists Darque and Mushroom Boyz, as well as an EP from the Iranian born, Stuttgart based Imaani Brown. The New Recruits EP previews tracks from the label’s next three EPs, gathering contributions from UK-based Nebraska and James Blakstar John, as well as South African Blaq Soul.

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Still hot from a string of reissued and newly released records on Rush Hour Recordings, Nebraska brings the heat to Smooth Agent with the unexpectedly banging “Green Marimba.” From its roaming bass line to the rippling marimba patterns the whole track seems a touch queasy, as if Nebraska is leading dancers down a demented path of deftly tweaked rhythms that are even more hypnotic experienced through headphones. As raw and tenacious as a Strength Music side, it’s without a doubt one of the best and most assertive marimba tracks in recent memory.

James Blakstar John faces the unenviable task of following a track that leaves bruises which he attempts on “Techers Untitled.” Yet it never improves on the smartly throbbing synth that is its basis; the reverberating Spanish vocals and giggles that accompany it seem woefully out of place. Blaq Soul’s “Down To My Root” marries the pitched down poetry of Cy with laconic if detailed arrangements that feel far more resigned than the words winding through them. Punchy bass notes and clap/shaker patterns stand out from relatively static synths and maudlin strings but quite aren’t enough to kick the track into gear. If the New Recruits EP is any indication, there’s at least one Smooth Agent release from the next three that I’m already anticipating.

Blaktony  on August 17, 2010 at 11:19 AM

Impressive & interesting; i wanna hear more 2.

Sibonelo Zulu  on August 20, 2010 at 4:38 AM

Actually digging the Green Marimba and Down to my roots. The leading percussion + claps on down to my roots is relly nice.

Jon  on September 29, 2010 at 4:00 PM

The link to buy the mp3s of this doesn’t work; does anyone know where I can?

littlewhiteearbuds  on September 29, 2010 at 4:04 PM

The record isn’t yet available digitally, but the vinyl link has been updated in case that’s of interest.

Henderick AKA Thelonious Funk  on October 7, 2010 at 10:10 AM

Hi Jon,

The vinyl release is a sampler for the artist’s digital EPs. The Blaq Soul EP is out now on afrodesiamp3.com . The Nebraska & James Blakstar John EPs will be out in a few weeks time. We just wanted to provide something for the vinyl & digital lovers…

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