2009′s been a vintage year for indie soul compilations and this new 15 tracker from Los Angeles’ Trans Phatt Records is right up there with the pick of the crop. However, it’s not quite right to describe this collection as a “various artists” set. Sure, each track features a different singer but the production and concept is down to Astral22, the alter ego of L.A. based writer and producer Armand Tulumello. His vision gives the album a distinct unity and direction that so many compilations lack, but don’t think that means that this album is samey and stuck in one groove. Far from it. Armand here works with musicians and singers from around the world and allows them to operate as free agents. His skill is in imbuing each cut with a kind of spirituality and his respect for the music is evident throughout. That spirituality, I guess, is most obvious on ‘Imperial Theme’ from Stephanie Renee. It’s a spoken word piece that has a hint of Jill Scott about it but it wouldn’t be out of place on those famed Ibizan Café Del Mar chill out albums. More up-tempo (though not frantic) are ‘In This Life’ from Rena Scott, LeNora Jaye’s ‘A Silent Prayer’ and Katie Cole’s ‘Think About It’. That last one has delightful retro feel about it and will delight sophisticated modern soulsters. Ms. Cole’s gentler ‘Back Into The Sun’ is another highlight… guaranteed to bring warmth to the approaching winter. There’s more gentle, insinuating soul on ‘The Reason’ from Rogiers, ‘Starting Over’ from Simone and Shuane’s ‘Make Me Wanna Fly’. That one offers just a hint of Latin rhythms while Fernando Cardo takes his vocal on ‘Nunca Sabras’ in Spanish, though his other track (‘You Never Know’) features English lyrics – handled with the album’s most overt old school soul vocal. More variety comes with the shuffling ‘Fair Play’ from Mz. Pat, the intricate rhythms of Heidi Martin’s ‘Ism’ and the languid harmonies of LeNora Jaye’s ‘Do You Wanna’. Astral22 holds all this together with his commitment to quality in new soul music. His label’s mission statement is to ‘Give you back what you’ve been missing’… he’s made a great start. Available from all the usual internet outlets.
(Bill Buckley) 4/5

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Astral22 Presents Imperial is a musical triumph, and beacon of light in a sometimes gimmicky and monotonous world of today’s soul music.

There are many soul compilations to chose from what usually makes a compilation worth a listen is not the featured artists, but actually it’s the producer. The flaw in so many soul compilations is that they tend to lack cohesion. Mis-matched grooves collide and tend to miss the mark in the goal of soul music which is to create a soul stirring grooves. Astral22 Presents Imperial is a crowning achievement from start to finish.

Los Angeles based writer/producer Astral22 brings some of the best of the soul scene in a showcase of collaborations & re-works. With a strong focus on the music, lyrical content in the signature of of Astral22′s stylistic blend of Classic/Nu Soul, Jazz, Blues and Funk; Imperial is collection of soulful jams that takes the listener to a time where grooves were not looped a featured artists that can actually sing. Imperial opens with a throwback/ cookout jam Fair Play featuring Mz Pat. LeNora Jaye posed the question ‘Do you wanna’ in a laid back jazzy jam. Rogiers Delivers a soul stirring jam titled ‘The Reason’. Stephanie Renee delivered a poets lounge track to close out he tightly knit collection of progressive soul greatness. Perhaps the biggest triumph of all here is the consistency throughout; every artist attached brings their A-game but what else would you expect from this hand picked talents by tremendously talented Astral22.

The music in this project is the dawning of the Independent label Trans Phatt Records who strives to showcase quality soul music worldwide. “Nu groove with classic Muse” is the mission statement with Trans Phatt Records and is true to form with this compilation. This progressive soul masterpiece is a must have.

AyeJay (Da’ Muzik Hunta’) Spraggins – ArthausNYC

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This is a real must-have compilation of quality artists – mostly Ladies – old and new and as a result I cannot recommend it enough. Almost every track is strong and what has been achieved here is a showcasing of the best in modern, progressive soul music in 2009. Props to Armand Tulumello for this sublime set. OK, onto the individual tracks, of which those of note are legion. If you like kick-ass strong opening cuts then Mz. Pat’s belter, “Fair Play (Turn Around)” will sure get you in the mood. This is a funky number with plenty of whoomph! factor and a vocal that hits us in the Gospel style a la Helen Baylor or even Ann Nesby. Excellent Lady Soul for 2009 and then some! But wow, Heidi Martin floors us with a SUPERIOR choon in the form of “Ism”. I LOVE the vocal style of Carole King and boy does this lady share a lot of ground with her. Even the inflections and wistful ‘hang-in-the -air’ notes are there! This is a jiggling, percussion filled monster of a track, infectious with plenty of solid and dependable Steinway piano acting as a musical underlay. I have had this CD a few weeks and I cannot stop playing this. Simply wonderful.

Astral22 has reworked the great Rena Scott tune, “In This Life” very effectively and have given us not a remake but quite a new version which is as toothsome as the original. Things get even better here with a much more robust backing. Superb! LeNora Jaye’s tasty “Do You Wanna” is another winner with a lazy, slinky beat and some effective bluesy guitar lacing the mix. This is a jam and a half and one to grind to – if you have a grinding partner that is! Fans of the latest Kloud 9 gem from Gianna will instantly take to the similar and sexy Katie Cole and her brilliant stepper “Think About It”. This really is superb. My favourite track, however, is the KILLER tune “Starting Over” by Simone. This is so worthwhile and makes a purchase of this CD compulsory for this alone. For the male vocalists, Rogiers steps up to the mic with the gorgeous flute-filled “The Reason” – again very today, very classy and totally what you would expect from, say, Expansion. So many great tracks on here – and it is only Volume One! On the strength of this CD I cannot wait for Volume 2. Bring it on, Armand, bring it on!!!

Barry Towler The Vibe Scribe – Soulchoonz Review Blog

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Astral22 dropped a line to let me know about his latest project, Imperial Progressive Soul Collection Volume One.  You may ask, who is Astral22?  Well.. he is a jack of all trades, in the music industry. Besides being a producer, writer, and  starting the record label Trans Phatt Records, he has a a great ear for talent.  In Trans Phatt Records first release, he meshes Soul, Nu/Neo Soul, R&B, with touches of Jazz and Funk.  This nice combination creates a album that has a flow to it, that just works.

I have to admit, I’ve not heard of anyone on this album, but I can tell you that I will now search down more music from each artist.  The artists on the album are (in order of appearance) MZ. Pat, Heidi Martin, Rena Scott, Lenora Jaye, katie Cole, Simone, Shuane, Shanell Renee, Katie Cole, Rogiers, La Sonya Gunter, Fernando Cardo, and Stephanie Renee.

If this is just the first release of Trans Phatt Records, then I can’t wait till the 2nd release. Hopefully a Volume Two? At least there’s hoping.  To buy this album jump over to CD Baby, Soul Brother Records, Dusty Grooves etc. Enjoy.

Eric Johnson –

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The first record on Trans Phatt records is entitled “Astral22..Imperial Progressive Soul Collection Vol.1″. The twelve artists on this album bring you a total of fifteen songs. The producer of this CD is Armand Tulumello. Some well-known names on “Progressive Soul Collection Vol.1″ are those of veteran soul singer Rena Scott and LeNora Jaye, a name that lately appears frequently on independent soul music albums. LeNora Jaye, Fernando Cardo and Katie Cole are the singers with two tracks on the album. Fernando is responsible for background vocals and arrangements on four tracks.The album “Progressive Soul Collection Vol.1″ contains generally a smoother kind of soul music with plenty influences from dance and also disco music. On the track “Back Into The Sun” by Katie Cole we even hear lovers rock, sweet music with a soulful reggae beat. The elements of dance music you will discover in tracks like “Ism”, the dreamy song “Make Me Wanna Fly” from Shuane with her beautiful voice and in “Imperial Theme”. The disco influenced songs are the uptempo and very positive song from LeNora Jaye “A Silent Prayer”, “From Me To You” from Shanell Rene’e, the lovely song “Think About It” by Katie Cole and “Starting Over” from Simone which might remind you of the music from the British dance and soul band Imagination. The most soulful song “In This Life” comes from Rena Scott. Another soulful song especially in the way it has been built up is “Do You Wanna” from LeNora Jaye. One of the two male singers on “Progressive Soul Collection Vol.1″ is Rogiérs. His beautiful contribution is entitled “The Reason”.(TA)

Stand Out Tracks: In This Life, Do You Wanna, Think About It, Starting Over, A Silent Prayer, Back Into The Sun, The Reason

© 2009, SaveOurSoul

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The debut release from Los Angeles based writer/producer Astral22, Astral22 Presents Imperial is a soulful compilation of emerging artists and feel good, progressive blends of jazz, nu soul, funk and blues.

I’ve been listening to it for weeks and my favorite is constantly changing. (This week it’s the very smooth “Nunca Sabras“). With a nice mix of varied tempo’s, featured artists include Rena Scott, LeNora Jaye, Simone, Stephanie Renee and Katie Cole among others. It’s one that you can put on and just let it ride. You can’t say that about too many albums these days.

You can listen to another favorite, “From Me To You” f/Shanell Rene’e after the jump.

Check it out and support indie artists!

“The title “Imperial” is reconceptualized here as it relates to the self owned state of empowerment each of us possesses. The message and music here speaks of “what is unique and beautiful” about the “individual”. Astral22’s inspiration and enthusiasm for the genre and artists represented here comes to fruition in this homage to the burgeoning Global Independent Soul Movement.”

- by Mista C – Grown Folks Music

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“Nu Groove With A Classique Muse” – Armand Tulumello ist Astral22 und als solcher verantwortlich für die Dareichung der hier vorliegenden Ration aktueller Indie-Soul Sounds. Im Gegensatz zu den formidable Zusammenstellungen, die uns aktuell angeboten werden (Phil Drivers „Contemporary Soul Songbook“ oder Allis Karims „Independent Soul Divas – Tokyo Rush“) genügte es dem Armand nicht „nur“ als Jäger und Sammler diverser Fundstücke der modernen Soul-Szenerie in Aktion zu treten, sondern verlangte es ihm nach Umsetzung seiner eigenen musikalischen Ideen.

Also bat er seine Favoriten ins Studio, um dort selbst eigens für die Einführung seines Trans Phatt Labels entworfene Hooks und Grooves umzusetzen, oder bereits erprobte Perlen mittels einer Astral 22 Sound-Bearbeitung zu neuem Glanz zu verhelfen. Das Resultat ist ein umfassendes, absoulut zeitgerechtes Modern-Soul Gebräu – jederzeit greifende Melodien, jederzeit tanzbare Beatz , jederzeit und zu „100% Love & Positivity“. 80ziger Reminiszenzen („Starting Over“ von und mit Simone), Neuzeit R&B Einflüsse (LeNora Jaye und „Do You Wanna“), Leftfield Soul-Jazz (Heidi Martins „Ism“), sinnliche Verlockungen (Rena Scott und „This Is Life“ oder Shuanes „Make Me Wanna Fly“), butterweicher Midtempo-Swing (Rogiérs´ „The Reason“) und federleichte Dancer („Think About It“ von Katie Cole) – „Imperial“ lässt kaum Wünsche offen, wenn es darum geht das Soul-Geschehen außerhalb von Billboard und MTV zu Gehör zu bringen. Verbleibt nun bloß noch die Frage nach dem richtigen Zeitpunkt für den ersten Soulsite/SonicSoul Sampler…  Jörg Michael Schmitt

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El Soul Imperial de Astral22

Escrito Por 2ice

El productor y compositor afincado en Los Ángeles (Estados Unidos) Astral22 (Armand Tulumello) nos entrega uno de los recopilatorios más interesantes que han pasado últimamente por nuestros oidos.
En 15 cortes se nos presentan algunos nuevos talentos de calidad junto a consolidadas estrellas del soul independiente. Nombres como Heidi Martin, LeNora Jaye, Katie Cole o La Sonya Gunter se alternan con los de Rena Scott, Simone, Shanell Rene’e o Rogiérs. El smooth soul más espiritual impregna unas producciones elegantes, colaboraciones de lujo e interesantes Astral22 Re-Works. Especial atención al aspecto musical, al contenido lírico y a ese sello particular de la producción de Armand, que aúna sonidos clásicos con el nu soul y el jazz con el funk y el blues. Gran surtido de melódicos medios tiempos jazzys, up-tempos funkys y bluesys slow jams con los que este productor consigue nueva notoriedad.
Armand empezó a mezclar cintas de cassette a los once años, así que no es nada nuevo en esto. Hace música en sus propios términos, pero al tiempo que entiende que cuando son artistas independientes quienes son la vanguardia de un proyecto de recopilatorio, se debe respetar su espacio y dejar que ellos hagan las cosas a su manera. “Imperial”, su debut, es el resultado de dos años de trabajo y de solidaridad con los vocalistas involucrados por su compromiso incansable en cada paso de la promoción de su propia causa musical.
El título de “Imperial” se reconceptualiza aquí referenciando al estado de autorecuperación que todos tenemos. El mensaje y la música aquí hablan de “lo que es único y bello del individuo”. La inspiración y el entusiasmo de Astral22 por el género y los artistas aquí representados llega a buen puerto en su particular homenaje al creciente Movimiento Global de Soul Independiente.
“Astral22 Presents… Imperial. Pregressive Soul Collection Vol. 1″ es el primer hijo del sello Trans Phatt Records, un sello independiente de soul de calidad para entusiastas de la música urbana de todo el mundo. Es la síntesis entre el nu groove y las reminiscencias clásicas.
Nos mantendremos atentos…
- 2ice

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