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ian simmonds – king (feat. the ekonda women)

many years ago ian simmonds was part of the downtempo collective, sandals, whose album, ‘rite to silence‘, hit hard. mixing low strung stretched out funk/dub/techno grooves with post excess sunday morning vocals they ticked a lot of my boxes. the album got a lot of love in the media (radiohead were quoted as fans i seem to believe), and then following their ‘cracked‘ ep, it all came to an end.
many years later via a discussion with fellow sandals fan, wrongtom, i found out that ian had continued to make music under his juryman guise (life before internet!).
while the juryman albums i heard did not twinkle quite as brightly as the sandals, it was great to hear that ian was still out there making music.

then last yeah i picked up that howie b was reviving his classic pussyfoot records label. during the original era of the label i would pick up their compilations as and when i spotted them. this was during the comedown from the trip hop era, so the compilations were full of instrumental hip hop tracks that probably would sound dated to modern listeners, but still put a massive smile on my face.
subsequently i continued to keep an eye on what pussyfoot were doing, especially as they put out an excellent ep by one of my favourite bands at the moment, blood wine or honey.

in august last year, the label put out a remix album by london based afrobeat band, kongo dia ntotila, which included a remix of ‘agbwaya‘, by ian simmonds.
sat amongst other pussyfoot label regulars such as sie, howie b, and even youth, ians’ remix stood out for me with its stripped back opening section followed by his own easily recognisable melody heavy vocals.
the combination of the guitars licks, sax, sparse loose rhythms and his voice made the track one of the most listened to tracks of the year for me.

and so to 2020.

the new ep features 2 original tracks that feature field recordings of the ekonda women (as recorded by vincent kenis), that ian heard back in his juryman days.
lead track, ‘king‘, is a wonderful 7 minute evocative uptempo track with acoustic guitars strummed and dubbed up, a bassline that keeps the feet in constant shuffle mode, and layers of strings while the ekonda women vocals lifts the track into a whole new groove.
the other original track, ‘women‘, does not have quite the same urgency in its drums and bassline, and is more minimal in the production thus allowing the wonderful vocals to take centre stage.

the ep comes with some extra remixes of ‘king‘ by number, dj rocca and ebi soda which of course focus the tracks for dancefloor action and are excellent – especially the jazz-n-horn dub excess of the version by ebi soda.

a highly recommended addition to your current sunshine friendly playlist.

more detail : ian simmonds – – pussyfoot records