MWALIM: The Liberation Sessions – Soul Of The City (Label: Liberation Music)

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MWALIM: The Liberation Sessions - Soul Of The City

Though this intriguing album is credited to Mwalim, it’s really a various artists set with Mwalim contributing just one track – but he’s the producer and conceptualiser-in-chief… and what he’s come up with is a big concept. He calls it “a funky, groovy soulful journey into sound” and the music he’s conceived certainly does match those three adjectives… but the funk, the grooves and the soul aren’t conventional. Indeed the collection provides a welcome riposte to those gainsayers who say that too much modern soul is based too firmly on retro sounds and there’s little around that’s truly fresh. Here – though it’s easy to hear the influences – you’ll hear plenty of new flavours and off-the-wall ideas and though it doesn’t always come off ‘The Liberation Sessions’ is refreshing… liberating even. Essentially Mwalim has created a fictional radio show… presented by Bob B on the fictional station WBAR-FM and the said Bob crops up between tracks with skits, asides and links that at times both entertain and irritate – typical radio DJ, then! He does, though, make one significant comment regarding the decline and dearth of US black radio stations – the kind of places that would broadcast the eclectic mix of music that Mwalim offers here… and eclectic it is! Things kick off with Mwalim’s own song ‘Dem Big Girls’… it’s a rough, boisterous dancer with a heavy Caribbean flavour – a flavour that’s ramped up in the ‘Beach Party Version’ featured later. Then there’s a selection of hip-hop tracks… but the featured rap is more in the clever, jazz-based style of Guru than that of the current kids on the block. Best example of the style is ‘Micro PH 101’ from Tah Phrum Duh Bush (don’t ask!) … it’s witty and even features a hummed stab at ‘Land Of Hope And Glory’… see what I meant about unconventional. There’s a different kind of rapping on Tantra Zawadi’s ‘Tension’. It’s a mystical spoken item that comes on as a mix of Ursula Rucker, Jill Scott and Gil Scott-Heron… why, the man even gets a name check. Best of the soul cuts is ‘Ain’t Done Yet’ from Amaris. She invades the lyric and the whole thing has an attractive drive and roughness about it. ‘Lay That Pipe’ (The Bass Mint Bros and Tah Phrum Duh Bush) and ‘Mr After Dark’ from Philliap Aaron are weirder with that last one possessing an insidious menace. Elsewhere there’s more mysticism, a little soul-jazz, some nu soul grooves and a loose jazzy workout …all held together by that man DJ Bob B. ‘The Liberation Sessions’ won’t be everyone’s cup of soul tea but those who seek something different and challenging will find it here. To take the challenge go to

(BB) 4/5