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Ever since he remixed Abimaro & The Free’s ‘Mark’ back in 2014, NuNorthern Soul boss Phil Cooper has kept in touch with Daniel Stenger, the producer and self-taught multi-instrumentalist behind the Flashbaxx project. Cooper was always convinced that Sanger would be capable of crafting a very special release for the label but was willing to give him time to come up with something special.

With Take Care My Friend, a mini-album inspired by the German producer’s deeply rooted love of jazz-funk, Stenger has repaid the faith shown in him. He’s delivered a collection of quality cuts marked out by audible warmth, effortless musicality and memorable, sun-soaked songs.

As he makes clear in the liner notes included with the vinyl version of the mini album, the project began with the recording of luscious, Rhodes-laden opener ‘Alright’. After staying up all night recording the track, Stenger not only decided to continue recording with the same relatively limited set of instruments (think bass and electric guitars, drums, piano, electric piano, organ, hand percussion and a handful of synthesizers), but also stick to a hybrid sound that added a subtle Latin shuffle to his Balearic-minded take on jazz, funk and soul fusion.

We’re biased of course, but there’s no denying that Stenger’s creative choices have resulted in a superb set of tracks. While the restricted kit list provided focus during the music-making process, there’s still plenty of musical variety across the six tracks that make up the set.

For proof, compare and contrast the jazzy, loose-limbed headiness of ‘It Just Happens’, where simmering synth strings, twinkling melodic motifs and glistening guitar licks rise above smooth jazz-funk bass and a gentle broken beat rhythm, and the slow-motion soul brilliance of ‘Strangers’, where Kathryn Kempf’s evocative and poignant lead vocals rise above a sumptuous downtempo groove and heart-aching piano lines.

This subtly varied but musically coherent vibe continues across the mini album. Stenger indulges in a bit of New York daydreaming on ‘Brooklyn Love Boat’, a wonderfully musically detailed chunk of 1970s-style jazz-funk heat that offers knowing nods to Roy Ayers, Herbie Hancock and the jazz-fusion stylings of Azymuth, before opting for a deeper, slower and even more seductive sound on the Hammond-sporting bliss of ‘Take Care My Friend’.

Closing cut ‘City Lights’, a gorgeous, soft-focus affair smothered in echoing Rhodes riffs and immersive chords, has the feel of an underground classic in waiting: a stirring, string-drenched future sing-along whose emotion-packed lyrics are delivered brilliantly by Glasgow-born singer/songwriter Chris Pookah.

Despite the song’s subject matter – the painful final breakdown of a relationship – there’s something strangely uplifting about the combination of Pookah’s pitch-perfect vocal delivery and the absorbing warmth of Stenger’s comforting and sonically detailed music. It provides a fittingly impressive finish to a mightily immersive mini album.

Flashbaxx - Take Care My Friend

SKU: 5060202596102

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