Rhythm Slave

BY Ruth Koleva



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Hot on the heels of a critically acclaimed debut album, Ruth Koleva presents a collection of remixes by some of the most respected names in contemporary dance music. The Bulgarian artist, still only 25, has become a national treasure, sharing the stage with legends including imperious jazz vocalist Bobby McFerrin, mentoring on popular talent show Music Academy and performing a sold-out concert to more than 1,300 guests at Bulgaria Hall with the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra. As a vocalist and songwriter she excels in all things soul and nu-classic R&B – think Erykah Badu and Jill Scott – but as a music fan her tastes extend much further. She has always kept an ear to the ground when it comes to club culture and the roster of producer remixers on Rhythm Slave confirms that. There is virtuoso keyboardist Kaidi Tatham, a key player in the London broken beat/bruk scene, who adds more urgency to ‘What Am I Supposed To Do’, without sacrificing the forlorn melody at the heart of the song. Tatham rings out every last bit of frustration in the vocal before taking us on a little excursion with one of those signature solos. Next up, Eric Lau (Lupe Fiasco, Muhsinah, Tawiah) strips down ‘Turn This Around’ and uses a neck-snapping beat to counterpoint Koleva’s ethereal harmonies. It’s a real highlight on the album – not least for the singer herself, who loves how it’s a “completely different vibe to the original”. Another UK producer, Positive Flow, turns ‘Dissonant’ into a low-lit basement jam, all claps, stabs of strings and woozy bass. Mark De Clive Lowe (Sy Smith, Bembe Segue), part of the same London ‘family’ as Tatham, definitely puts the freak in ‘Freak and Fly’ with this p-funk synths and frantic drums. Opolopo uses a propulsive, percussive house groove to find deeper ‘Clarity’. And let’s not forget bass scientist Dave Jones (aka Maddskinky and Zed Bias among countless other monikers) who reconfigures ‘Gone’ for the floor. As if that weren’t enough, fans can also enjoy two original tracks recorded especially for this album: ‘Tuk s Teb’, a feisty crowdpeaser, and ‘Breaktaking Moment’, a supercharged number that fuses drum and bass with strands of EDM, once again demonstrating the singer’s versatility. Koleva’s second album promises to be an even more intimate and affecting set as she heads into the studio in LA with producer Crooked Waters (Kan Wakan).

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