Atjazz: Full Circle

Full Circle, Martin Iveson's latest Atjazz full-length, departs from the largely instrumental focus of the last album Labfunk by spreading a rich mix of male and female vocalists across its eleven songs. Atjazz fans knew what was coming when “Put It On” and “Love Someone” featuring Ernesto and Robert Owens respectively were released prior to the full-length. Owens' soulful turn is predictably an album standout. Hearing the house music legend's voice glide so gracefully over the song's surging electro-funk pulse for a full seven minutes is worth the price of admission alone. Memorable too are the beautiful vocals Sonar Kollektiev associate Clara Hill brings to “Before,” with its sexy mix of flutes and synths, and the entrancing closer “Sense of Life.” In addition, Phuturistix's Mr J takes lends his soulful voice to the strutting robo-funk of “Together,” Ernesto pairs up with MC Cee-Rock for the dreamy “Underlined,” Clyde's silken vocalizing breathes life into the chugging jazz-funk “I Forgot You,” and Dawne B elegantly wraps her supple voice around the snappy soul-jazz swing of “Parallels” and then sensually emotes over a horn-kissed Latin-funk groove in the lovely “With You.”

Admittedly not all of the vocalists perform at Owens' level (Amalia's turn on the otherwise lovely opener “One” is a tad more girlish than we'd like, for example) but when the backings are so seductive and the overall production so satisfying, quibbling over a vocal imperfection seems almost silly. All things considered, Full Circle serves up an extremely deft vocal-enhanced fusion of soul, jazz, funk, and house supported by a luscious instrumental palette of warm synth textures, understated horns and woodwinds, and crisp downtempo grooves.

September 2008