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Various Artists - Broken District 3 (Broken District, 2019)

Warm riddims shine through on this most exploratory of EPs, from the broken beat, to the funk, to the smooth and beyond.

It's always a nice treat to come across labels who explore the sunnier side of the spectrum, riders of the soft tones, the good grooves and the consistent warmth those things bring. Music very much made for the soul to wrap around, vibes that continue long after the first listen, entrapping us into its essence. This is very much the vibe curated within the Broken District camp, where delicate and delectable grooves await those willing to give it a try. The label very much places itself at the transect of all things groovy, providing a home for artists who like to merge various genres and sounds together. Here, we're talking Neo-soul, Neapolitan style funk, South London Style house, and a heavy dose of hip hop and jazz. This approach has been evident in every single of their compilations so far, with Vol 01 and 02 both showcasing a board range of artists exploring every corner of this widest of musical nets. As this writer has mentioned previously, providing listeners with a various artists EP really shows off the core essence of the label, their ideals and musical beliefs, where we can understand the meaning behind the music. Broken District do this with flying colours, and we are all for it! Here on Vol 03, we are served up 6 cuts of delightful grooves, that jump and groove so effortlessly from one song to the next, with the narrative thread running strong between all the tunes. Expect heated and heavy jazzy vibes throughout, its a stunner, so lets take a dip!

Starting off proceedings, we have Leon Revol with their tune, 'And If, Forget?'. The vocal sample chimes in, as some soft as hell keys wash over us with ease. The drums kick in, and they are so on point, clean and pure, providing this beautiful rhythmic base for the tune to sing from. A bass line completes the groove, and elevates it in its own subtle way, as the song just breezes along in this lazy hazy summertime sort of way. Let's just say, it is the perfect opener, serving up all the right tones to get us to know the rest of the record. The softness of this tune will remain with us for a long time, definitely. Next we have Setwun with their track, 'Lonnie'. The tones of the synths switch up slightly here, with a classic contemporary house style progression. The bass kicks in, before the swinging drums add the riddims in perfectly. A beautiful little guitar lick joins in to fill in the space, adding just the smallest level of delicacy into the mix. It is a wonderful contrast to the dense layers of sound occurring all around, the extended synth chords mixed with the choppy beat and other little stabs is so damn good. Two wee levels occur here, and we can just sit back and enjoy, or get up dance, it's a proper solid groover this one. Here we really feel the blend of genres come into play, the idea that house can build on its initial 90s exploration of jazz house to incorporate more levels of progression and experimentation with the overall tone and texture. hmmmm delicious! up next is Duktus and the ODC Live Band with their tune 'Deep Downstairs', and oh yes does it switch up one more time. This track perhaps shows the most interesting level of progression between different scenes, as the tune starts off with a vocal sample and a distinctly live jazz feel, broken beats, cymbals and beautiful synths galore. The drums simplify for a second, as the keys fall away before coming back on just the one chord. That one chord is worked hard though, as it moves the tune into its next phase. The drumming becomes more 4 to the floor, as the pads move and groove on top. It was a nice surprise to see this movement, with the tune finding its feet rhythmically before switching it up, always a good sign. It doesn't stop there though, as layers upon layers of synths are adding, making the tune feel as dense as it is groovy. Oh lord, the sax! that swings back in, and what maybe felt like one producer now feels like a full band once again.

Next comes Turbojazz and Veezo with their tune, 'Pianodubrazil'. Kicking off proceedings with a real solid drumming pattern, the tune unravels to real some gritty bass synths and left field synth pads on top. This tune works hard to create some stellar interactions between the various elements, before a lovely key line joins in, filling the space between the two fantastically. Just perfect. The density of this tune is something else, no filler, only killer, as the tune continues on its endless groove. The drums fall away, and we feel the full power of the keys through a proper old school solo, that continues through into the next phase of the tune. Next comes Jus Jam with their tune 'Memories Live'. The tone comes down a bit from the previous tune, but definitely builds on it rhythmically. Synths take a very central role here, but the beat has its own intrigues, being made up of a plethora of swirling sounds and samples. The synths on top are deep and engrossing, compelling and heavy, with the background synth going strong behind a series of beautiful key lines and chords. The beat has just created this environment where the keys can just do their thing, beautifully crafted synths, with a never ending series of different styles being utilised. A light breakbeat aspect is added into the back, wow this tune is something else! We can really get lost in this one, perfection. To wrap things up, we have Momia with 'Smoking Monkey'. To arrive at this point from the first song, it has been a wonderful, beat soaked, synth workout through the spectrum of all things groovy. Here, the producers take us on one last ride, as the deep swelling synths set the tone, as the slowed beat comes in. The bass line adds even more depth, as the groove is starting to gain mass. Once again here the layering of keys is perfect, with every line given room to grow, and introduced as just the right time to shine and flourish. The tune teases lift off, but it doesn't have to ever switch it up. We are so very content in this little musical paradise as it is now. The sharpness of the synth solo that comes in as the drums move away is the final compelling moment in an album filled to the brim with musicality, passion and exploration, wow.

We expected a blend of genres that stay true to grooves, but this listen blew even this writers expectations. Throughout the course of the EP, we hear from a series of producers who share a vision, a vision to craft and nurture sounds that bend and move to many facets of music, all tunnelled through into beautifully crafted tunes that cut to the core. The beats are impressive, the synth work is masterful, and we are left with 6 different stories and soundscapes that showcase a label that simply know their musical identities. We are so very looking forward to the next one from the musical minds behind Broken District.

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