ATA Records ‘The Library Archive Vol. 2’ LP/CD (ATA) 4/5

Acting as something of a swift follow-up to last year’s highly successful ‘The Library Archive Vol. 1’, this year sees the ATA team return to helm their latest series of recordings unveiled through ‘The Library Archive Vol. 2’.

Founded in Leeds in 2014 by bassist Neil Innes and percussionist Pete Williams, so much of ATA’s make-up since its inception has been rooted in an affectionate celebration. A celebration of not just the soul music genre but also a celebration of how their music is created – friends and musicians absolutely remaining steadfast in their commitment to creating authentic recordings that pay homage to an era of music-making founded before the digital revolution changed the industry.

It’s an aesthetic that ATA Records are building their legacy upon and the ever-expanding line-up of releases bearing the ATA name continues to exemplify these traits through each outing.

As with most ATA releases, ‘Volume 2’ is comprised of a close-knit team of musicians who have each graced a variety of past ATA projects including albums by The Sorcerers, Work Money Death and The Lewis Express. With ‘The Library Archive’ affording them the opportunity to delve into new musical facets, the twelve tracks presented here feature a nice variety of upbeat, funk-inspired numbers like ‘Windie Man’, ‘Cleared For Launch’ and ‘Push And Go’ but then offer up tracks on the opposite end of the scale like the ominous and at times eerie compositions of tracks like ‘Mysterious Manor’ and ‘Sensed Prescence’. That “opposite end of the scale” motif is also incredibly apt when comparing the album’s opening and closing numbers – ‘The Glass Eye’ kicks off proceedings here conjuring up images of a hard-boiled detective trawling through the city streets at night while by the album’s closer, ‘Going Galactic’, we’ve been whisked off of those streets into the limitless possibilities of the starry night sky and beyond.

Earlier I touched upon the notion of the label continually paying homage which has also become a characteristic that has endeared the label to fans. Whether those inspirations come from ATA’s Lewis Express paying tribute to the 1950s/60s legendary soul and jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis (‘Clap Your Hands’), saxophonist Tony Burkill celebrating the music of 60s/70s saxophonists including John Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders (‘Work Money Death’) or the pioneering hip-hop productions of Dilla and Madlib whose seminal offerings were lovingly recreated by the Abstract Orchestra for a series of albums (‘Dilla’, ‘Madvillain Volumes 1 and 2’), ATA pay their respects to those sources of boundless inspiration through so many of their record releases.

Imran Mirza