At first you’ll be forgiven for thinking that they’re that pair off Peep Show, a brass band, or a combo named in honour of their favourite brewery. But behind the somewhat old-fashioned and enigmatic name Mitchell and Dewbury are purveyors of downright essential soul, funk and jazz. Their influences are laid bare on this LP and a damned fine one it is too.
Russ Dewbury is the brains behind Brighton’s Jazz Rooms and a source of all knowledge when it comes to black music. A list of his achievements will take all day but it’s worth noting he used to manage Terry Callier, who repays the favour by being one of the many talented international guests on this LP.
Ben Mitchell is an equally talented producer, remixer and DJ with a career spanning more than 18 years. Together they have created an intriguing mix of melody and vocals with an international flavour of jazz and soul.
The title track kicks off the album with an infectious vocal and afro jazz melody. The song is later re-visited to conclude the album with a drum and bass makeover. Rapping with the Gods cranks things up a gear with a full-on assault on the aural senses including ’70s funk, uplifting gospel and a touch of Roy Ayers to boot.
There are also some great downtempo tracks that don’t seem to slow down the album’s pace at all. The aforementioned Terry Callier is great on Darker than a Shadow with a hauntingly cool vocal laid over early Massive Attack-esqe stylings.
My Words is a laid back, more jazzy effort that include scat vocals over some great instrumentals and as the title suggests Globetotter whisks us around the world with a taste of tribal infused funk.
The album proudly proclaims that it’s impossible to cherry pick which track is the best as they’re all superb. It’s certainly the case as there are no duff elements on show. It’s reminiscent of last year’s Koop Islands by Koop, in so far as it creates an unforgettable ambience and the listener is propelled on a lively journey away from the norm. It’s proud that it has a beginning, a middle and end – something which might sound daft but which never seems to happen any more in the age of the iPod.
Beyond the Rains may sound retro at times, but its affinity with the past is its trump card. It’s refreshing to find something that sounds like so many great things but at the same time unlike anything else at the moment. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more uplifting and enjoyable dance album for some time to come.