Most DJs would recognize the names Tony Free and Merlin Garnett from their soulful and extremely successful Paper Recordings 12" vinyl releases. Recently deviating from their concreted Paper status, Free and Garnett have created the sole moniker (or maybe that's "Soul" moniker) Harlem Zip Code and found new seas in which to sail their groovy vessel. The debut release from Harlem Zip Code on Red Mellon Records entitled "Colour World Soul" might just be the duo's collective swan song. From beginning to end, the album works its way through a variety of soul infused dance music to create an ethnically diverse landscape that sounds quite like one of the best lounge compilations you've ever heard.
Although the mostly house-laden grooves have both Latin and Afro-Cuban/Caribbean accents, it is deeply and entirely rooted in the American funk and soul traditions that so many dance music producers attempt to convey, but never really convince the listeners with their toil. Free and Garnett's music on the other hand is absolutely entrenched within the truest character of Rhythm & Blues and Jazz, with enough soul left over to raise the dead.
One of the most unmistakable characteristics of Colour World Soul is the obvious attempt by the seasoned producers to apply somewhat standard songwriting techniques to the electro dance compositions; in doing so, the album moves much closer to sounding (dare I say it) - "pop." In a sense, it is actually popular music that has taken a more underground movement and approach over the past decade.
As a whole, the album is exceptionally enjoyable and well composed; the tracks are bright and funky, and the production job is top notch.