In these headspinning days of information overload, it seems hard to believe that anything can slip through the net. After all, if you've got a 3G connection, reasonably priced tablet and local coffee house you can do almost anything, at least until those artisanal grounds send you into cardiac arrest. Remarkable then, that the world was nearly deprived of these three sonic gems from Chieftain. The collaborative vehicle (image a tandem) of Fila Brazilia legend Steve Cobby and Birmingham mainstay Adam Regan, Chieftain made a brief and ill-fated appearance in the digital realm back in 2013, delivering a killer package of jazzy downbeat, piano house and island funk which was lost in the face of label ineptitude and online ignorance. Luckily for those of us with ears and a turntable, Mr Cobby is a man of stern stuff. Making fine use of his stubborn Yorkshire grit, Hull's finest son has waded through copyright calamity to give this material a much deserved moment in the vinyl spotlight through his Déclassé imprint.
'Out Of My Life' struts into the room to the laid back funk of a fine breakbeat, pours itself a drink and starts to hold court. Mellow jazz chords and lithe sequences add a sophisticated texture while sumptuous strings (both sustained and pizzicato) sit in perfect balance with the floor shaking bassline. While lesser men could have made this cocktail way too smooth, Cobby and Regan are raiders of the Black Ark, utilising plenty of dub FX to add a little bite. 'Til Everyman Is Free' sees Chieftain shift gear, switching to midtempo house with a solid drumtrack and driving bassline. Soulful vocals and warm keys turn up the heat before the killer house piano drop tears the roof off in an explosion of wide-eyed dancefloor euphoria. It's the perfect soundtrack for those sultry nights when you're still dancing as the sun comes up, and that's exactly where the polyrhythmic exuberance of 'Coati Mundi' comes into play. Alive with the ripple of playful percussion and the sunkissed sounds of steel drums, this Island groove throws out shapes and feelings long after the part timers have gone home, slinking around to languid synth lines and getting down to those funky Rhodes licks. With Chieftain taking care of the warm up, peak time and after party, you've just gotta remember to pack your dancing shoes.
It's no surprise to most of you that I'm a big fan of this man's musicisms....for 20 years or so, his various offerings have helped soundtrack so many happenings in and around my every day to day.....so when something new pops out of the Sheddio in Kingston Upon Hull, I have a listen.....we're off again and this time it's the mighty Steve Cobby's new offering, 'Chieftain'....released on lovely 12" vinyl yesterday. Here, we have a pairing with Adam Regan, which works a charm.....ramped up, effects laden, sophisticated house music that refreshingly bumps out of the speakers. Soundscapes like this can fall foul of overworking the tracks with too many ideas, too many directions.....but like proper composers, everything sits pretty much perfectly. Well thought out, wonderfully crafted dance music for today....here's a link to purchase and find out more about 'Chieftain' - Greg Belson