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GET TO KNOW: Benny Tones and Isaac Aesili


Well after a 12 day absence from all things web-related (twitter, RSS feeds, blogs), I’m back. Possibly not full-throttle but I certainly have one or two things to share. Before my much needed break I filled the iPod with some new stuff to tide me over until my return, one was a recommendation from a friend while the other was a complete case of ‘stumbled upon’. So let’s get into it …

The name Benny Tones may be familiar to a few of you. It was to me, however I couldn’t quite work out why it was familiar. A quick google search turned up the answer, he is the semi-official 4th member of one of my new favourite groups Electric Wire Hustle (Benny is their sound engineer).

Chrysalis is Benny’s solo debut following his work on EWH’s 2009 masterpiece. A quick look at the track listing should have answered my earlier “Who is is Benny Tones?” question as the EWH link is quite obvious. The wonderfully soulful Mara TK guests on 4 tracks, each sounding like it would have sat perfectly at home on Every Waking Hour. Other guests on the album include Fat Freddy’s Drop front man Joe Dukie, New Zealand songstress Sacha Vee and LP (aka Lisa Preston).

Highlights of the album include the Mara TK-assisted ‘On My Way’ and ‘Nevermind’ and LP’s vocals on the sublime ‘Odyssey’, however this is definitely a start-to-finish album which, similarly to EWH’s debut, may make some surprise appearances on best of 2010 lists.

Benny Tones ft Mara TK – ‘On My Way’

Benny Tones ft LP – ‘Odyssey’

I stumbled upon Isaac Aesili’s Eye See whilst looking for some info on Benny Tones. Isaac is also a New Zealand-based producer who can also call himself a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist to boot. I bought the album on impulse based purely on the fact that Mara TK and Deva Mehal were featured on a couple of tracks; both of these artists have featured on some great NZ-soul releases over the last few years.

Unlike Chryslalis which has a very cohesive sound, Eye See is a bit of a mish-mash which, at first put me off a little. There are elements of soul, reggae, dub, electronica, hip-hop and R&B on the album, with a kind of split forming between tracks featuring Isaac alone (more of a reggae/dub vibe) and those with guests (more soul/R&B/electronic). However after listening to it several times I’m 100% sold on Isaac’s talents.

Standout tracks for me include the dub/reggae ‘Stranjah’ and ‘Red Horizon’ featuring the talented duo, Deva Mehal.

Isaac Aesili – ‘Stranjah’

Isaac Aesili ft Deva Mehal – ‘Red Horizon’

Unfortunately it seems that these releases are not that easy to get hold of for us UK residents. Neither are available on iTunes or Amazon (US folks I’m not sure). However you can listen to samples and download digital copies from New Zealand’s fantastic Amplifier site:

Benny Tones – Chrysalis

Isaac Aesili – Eye See

Hopefully, if word spreads about these talented artists, then we will see international releases soon!!

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