The debut album from Akabu is a retrospective yet futuristic delivery from Dave Lee, inspired by over 20 years in dance music’s history and touching on live instrumentation, contemporary sounds and dexterous electronic craftsmanship.
Akabu is the deep house pseudonym of British DJ/producer/remixer Dave Lee who has released under a plethora of other monikers including Joey Negro, Jakatta, Doug Willis, Raven Maize, The Sunburst Band, Sessomatto, and Z Factor. Dave was one of the first artists to incorporate disco samples in house music when he began his production career in 1990. Fast forward 20 years and little has changed - Dave is still experimenting with new techniques, taking inspiration from new artists and using this knowledge of the past in new original creations.
Featuring collaborations with Norway’s’ Boomclap Bachelors (on the album highlight ‘You Want It All’), Andre Lodemann, Foremost Poets, Tony Momrelle, Tanya Michelle and Joel Edwards. ‘The Phuture Ain’t What It Used To Be’ is an ode to an inert love of electronica, “I wanted to call on my love of the first wave of deep warm acidic house like Marshall Jefferson and Larry Heard, combined with some of the contemporary stuff I like such as Carl Craig, Jimpster, Martin Buttrich,” explains Dave.
"Dave has been an inspiration since his release on Transmat. His taste is prime and his music always blows me away whether its as Joey Negro, the Sunburst Band or Akabu. And he does hell-of-a edits too!" Carl Craig, August 2010
Dave’s last studio album with the Sunburst Band was a blend of live disco, soul and funk but Akabu’s longplayer explores a darker and more complex journey. Revisiting the sound of some of his first productions back in the late 80s, Masters of The Universe ‘Space Talk’ and M.D.Emm’s ‘Get Acidic’ (the latter licensed by Derrick May for his Transmat label), and the four earlier Akabu singles released on NRK and Z Records, including ‘Ride The Storm’ and ‘Phuture Bound’ whose Ame remix took the track to a new level, Akabu’s ‘The Phuture Ain’t What It Used To Be’ explores the electrifying analogue sounds of Dave Lee. “After a year producing disco I wanted to do something more electronic and utilize some of the great modern studio technology that’s out there. I’ve still tried to attempt to inject some of the excitement of live players and musicality into the electronic music I produce.”
Title Track ‘The Phuture...’ opens with a mystical ethnic intro, leading swiftly into the synth retro flavours that mark the tone of the album. Featuring Joel Edwards, who has worked with MJ Cole, Chicane and Lamb, this first endeavour is a fiery start to this revolutionary excursion. Chicago based Johnny Dangerous aka Foremost Poets features on the second track, ‘Crystallized’, bringing original flair in his vocal delivery on this acid house inspired analogue weapon. Johnny is well known for his output during the Nu Groove days and his recordings with Dennis Ferrer, Crystal Waters and Quentin Harris.
Awakening the senses with a supernatural atmosphere, ‘Sax My Bitch Up’ introduces some sax riffing from Jim Knight, who has played on many a Sunburst Band track and is also half of the Steely Dan–esque Talc. Norway's Boomclap Bachelors offer their unique vocals to ‘You Want It All’, a slow burning epic record that builds to a strong climax. Offering a pinch of Detroit with a healthy dose of contemporary input, this release has already seen support from Gilles Peterson & Ewan Pearson to Groove Armada and Laurent Garnier, demonstrating its wide appeal across the board.
‘The Phuture...’ is peppered with mysterious atmospheres and cosmic voyages into outer realms, such as the psychedelic ‘A Little Bit of Kaos’, utilising a recognisable cult sample, and high-energy bass laden ‘Hi Jaxx’. The Paris based Canadian soul singer Tanya Michelle features on ‘Behind The Mask’, a look at changes in personality of people within relationships. “The title of a song is very important to me, Tanya had just ended her relationship a few days earlier and she made the comment “I saw behind the mask”, explained Dave of this retro concoction, “I wanted to do a modern take on the old Murk sound and I thought her bluesy tone would suit that vibe”.
Berliner Andre Lodemann’s involvement on ‘Another World’ came after Dave was inspired by last year’s ‘Where Are You Now’ and approached him to get involved on the album. A stripped back cinematic affair, layered with orchestral strings that simmer with summer vibes, ‘Another World’ compliments the album and adds a mellow side to its bow. The mood turns for ‘Life Is So Strange’ as the album draws to a close, featuring one of the UK’s finest soul singers Tony Momrelle, frontman of Incognito and someone who often draws comparisons with Stevie Wonder. “I wrote ‘Life Is So Strange’ the day after my cat died suddenly,” Dave confesses of this elevating record that takes the depth of soul and elements of early house to create a novel and captivating classic.
Coming full circle the album ends as it began on ‘The Phuture (The Final Chapter)’, closing Akabu’s journey that encapsulates the highlights of the history of house in a new light and mesmerising narrative.