Review: Exploring the sounds emanating from South Asia, Masaala is a new label with a fresh outlook. The first release features Manchester-based producers Raheel Khan and Adesi turning in some powerful edits that will appeal to anyone seeking invigorating sounds from further afield. Khan's twist on "Mast Qalandar" sounds like a striking version of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's "Mustt Mustt". Adesi offers up the lions share of the edits though, channeling South Asian sounds through grooves ranging from the fierce disco stomp of "Sansani" to the low slung funk groove of "Nah Nah Nah". "Kammata" has a more dense rhythmic complexity at its heart, and "Kuchi Kuchi" collides traditional sounds with contemporary broken beat to brilliant effect.
Roger Damawuzan - "Loxo Nye" (Pushin Wood remix) (5:39)
Napo De Mi Amor - "Cacatchoule "Berceuse Bassari"" (3:04)
Sewavi Jacintho - "Miade Dua" (5:35)
Review: Hot Casa's latest must-have release is a veritable smorgasbord of Togolese treats. It focuses specifically on obscure soul music made in Togo in the 1970s, with two hard-to-find original cuts being joined by two contemporary re-edits of similarly obscure classics. The EP opens with Bosq's smooth, dancefloor-focused tweal of Yta Jourias's breezy, horn-heavy tropical soul workout "Adome Nyueto", before Pushin Wood takes over and adds a little contemporary electronic bounce - and some particularly colourful synths - to Roger Damawuzan's "Loxo Nye". Over on side B, Napo De Mi Amor's "Cacatchoule Berceuse Bassari" is a fuzzy soul shuffler rich in bright, Juju style guitar solos, hazy vocals and Hammond organ stabs, while Sewavi Jacintho's "Miade Dua" is a sweatier and heavier concoction powered by loose-limbed drumming and sun-kissed instrumentation.
Take It Personally (Exclusive unreleased instrumental) (1:30)
Review: Mukatsuku's latest must-have release offers another opportunity to own early Freddie Cruger AKA Red Astaire favourite "Take It Personally". The wonderfully dusty, smoky and life-affirming hip-hop-soul cut first appeared as a Swedish only CD single in 2001, before later being included on the Stockholm stalwart's 2006 debut album "Soul Search". This time round, the inspired original - all head-nodding beats, sumptuous strings and sugary-sweet vocals from guest Desmond Foster - comes accompanied by a previously unreleased instrumental take. This vocal-free version is superb, offering listeners a chance to wallow in the quality of the Swedish veteran's bumpin' beats and intoxicating, head-in-the-clouds production. In the record box of Danny Krivit,DJ Spinna, Kid Koala and more! Only 300 hand-numbered copies and strictly no repress. Juno copies come exclusively in additional hand stamped kraft paper inner sleeve and branded card outer sleeve. Don't sleep !
Painel De Controle - "Relax" (extended Waxist version) (5:54)
Rabo De Saia - "Ripa Na Xulipa" (Charles Maurice extended version) (5:28)
Famks - "Labirinto" (Nick The Record extended version) (6:17)
Review: France's Favorite label dabbles in all things funky and disco-flavoured, and this time they've decided to go with a Brazilian edge on their latest 12". Painel De Controle begins with a Waxist mix of "Relax", a chilled-out boogie monster with sultry vocals, while "Ripa Na Xulipa" by Rabo De Saia is more uplifting and heavy on the disco strings. Finally, Nick The Record rewires "Labirinto" by Famks into a subtly electro-fied boogie nugget. Nice!
Pleasure - "Joyous" (extended breaks special edition) (3:57)
Rusty Bryant - "Fire Eater" (extended breaks special edition) (4:27)
Review: Beats & Breaks are slowly working their way through some of the most seminal and scene defining foundational funk cuts. For the 007 release we're treated to a wild jazz excursion as Pleasure and Rusty Bryant get the treatment. "Joyous" (famously edited by DJ Harvey) get its swing polished and really brought to the fore on those shiny rhythm guitar builds while Rusty's king break-buster "Fire Eater" gets extended in all its sleazy Q&A glory. Limited to 300. Them's the breaks!
Review: Some of you may remember Ricardo Vincenzo from his 2015 debut Pororoca Transatlantica, a two-track missive that blended South American production with all the warmth of sun-kissed downtempo electronica. If anything, this belated follow-up for esteemed Finnish label Sahko is even better. Vincenzo begins with the farmyard animal samples, rolling tribal percussion, African chants and rich electronic bass of "Cabras No Elevado Quilombia", before chopping and looping a dusty old tango track on the mid-tempo house pulse of "Onna No Yujo". On the flip you'll find the low-slung, post-dubstep creepiness of "Haru", where exotic vocal samples drift across a sparse but heavy beat pattern, and the aural trip to Morocco that is "Excellent Drom".
Review: Wewantsounds' 2019 Record Store Day release takes us back to 1978 and a hard-to-find 12" single from Lebanese composer, pianist, playwright and political commentator Ziad Rahbani. "Abu Ali" is perhaps not Rahbani's best known work - in the Arab world his various albums are far more celebrated - but it is one that has chimed with Western audiences thanks to its assimilation of elements of American disco, soul and funk. The title track is something of a beast: a 10-minute epic that wraps Arabic orchestration, mazy horn refrains and prominent piano motifs around an atmospheric disco groove and intergalactic synthesizer lines. It's bonkers but brilliant, making this reissue more than welcome. On the flipside there's a chance to enjoy "Prelude (Theme from Mais El Rim)", an epic example of Rahbani's 1970s soundtrack work.
Review: Labels Hot Mule and Secousse have teamed up to deliver something special: a killer EP of "lost gems from the golden era of Zouk and Gwo-Ka" in Guadeloupe (that's 1985 to '92, fact fans). The four tracks showcased here were performed and produced by an artist whose fame in Guadeloupe sadly never spread any further, Max Rambhojan. The A-side boasts two versions of the rather brilliant and suitably cheery "Tou't Jou Pa Min'm": the jaunty, sun-kissed, whistle-sporting 1986 original mix, and Rambhojan's heavily electronic, synthesizer-heavy, calypso-tinged 1992 re-make of his biggest local hit. Over on side B you'll find the bubby dub bass, sparse synths and flute solos of the decidedly tropical "Cecilia" and a suitably breezy, sunset-ready gem entitled "On Jou Matin".
Let Me Put It In Your Ear (previously unreleased) (2:49)
In My Life (previously unreleased) (3:56)
Review: Two never-before-released cuts from ill-fated Indianapolis troupe who looked set for the big time but moved to LA and consequently got shelved. 1978's loss is 2018's gain, however, as we're treated to two of their shelved gems right here. "Let Me Put It In Your Ear" is a belting falsetto soul slammer articulated with real urgency while "In My Life" is much more of a smouldering affair that builds up into an emphatic soul crescendo. Put it in your collection.
Review: We've had less than two years to recover from the unearthing of Hidden Stash by Athens Of The North when along comes Family Groove with the promise of another lost album from the debauched Chicago funk crew Rasputin's Stash. Entitled Stash it's due in April and the hype starts here with these two beautiful soul funk adventures. "Make Up Your Mind" rides on a sleazy fuzzy groove and peppy horns while "You Are My Everything" hits more of a classic triumphant horn and harmony led vibe not dissimilar to "I See Your Face" on their second album. April can't come soon enough.
Review: Following the excellent excavation of the Miami band's unreleased album Best Kept Secret, AOTN's Fryer treats us to his two favourite cuts on a 500-only never-to-be-repressed 45. Seeped in powerful vocal harmonies, "Let Go" is rare groove gold with smooth sax and a dynamic that keeps on surprising while "Will You Be There" is an end of night soul shakedown with a tenderness that's tangible in every element. Don't sleep on this... Or the album. One of AOTN's most exciting releases this year.
Review: Since Nick The Record has one of the deepest collections going, it's little surprise that his ongoing Record Mission series has delivered some killer re-edits of ridiculously obscure gems. For this third 12", he once again joins forces with Idjut Boy Dan Tyler to rework a trio of gospel-tinged cuts from the late '70s/early '80s. Arguably most impressive is A-side "Highway To Heathen", a gradually rising, off-piste, boogie-era disco jam blessed with killer talkbox vocals. On the flip you'll find the more straight-forward gospel sing-along of "For Heathen's Sake", and "he Touched Me", a slower, more soulful gospel excursion that benefits greatly from lashings of Tyler's trademark space echo and tape delay.
Otis Redding - "(Your Love Lifted Me ) Higher & Higher" (Soul Flip edit) (4:03)
Gerri Granger - "I Go To Pieces" (Soul Flip edit) (3:33)
Review: Sometimes you just can't beat the golden oldies and so it is that Soul Flip turns his attention to a couple of raw soul bangers. Up first is Otis Redding's classic "(Your Love Lifted Me ) Higher & Higher" with a rousing bass section which drives along the original version.The hits hit hard, the vocal is given room to breathe and the swing in the drums is infectious. The flipside houses a soaring tweak of Gerri Granger's "I Go To Pieces", with its clattering keys and rolling soul all quickly finding a way into your affections.
Bob Marley - "Is This Love" (Redmo acoustic takedown)
Redmo - "Sadi Soul"
Review: Sam Redmore has quietly been doing his thing in hometown Birmingham for some time, crafting soul-soaked re-edits, bootleg remixes and mash-ups that tend towards the tasteful end of the spectrum. Having previously built up a solid fan base via his own Bandcamp page, he's finally made it onto wax. The two cuts featured here are amongst his best. The A-side revision of Bob Marley's "Is This Love" is particularly potent. It strips out the drums, thus emphasizing the genuine sweetness of Marley's original. Flip for "Sadi Soul", an upbeat, headnodding rework of a vibraphone and double bass-laced jazz-funk jam with added hip-hop swing.
Review: Tramp Records' latest vital reissue delves into the back catalogue of the Reggie Saddler Revue, a largely little known funk combo that released a handful of 45s at the start of the 1970s. This double A-side brings together two killer cuts that originally appeared on different 7" singles, both of which are now near impossible to find. A-side "Raggedy Bag" is raw, weighty and impassioned - a scorching slab of deep funk that more than lives up to its high reputation amongst collectors. Over on the flip you'll find "Love Is Just Like A Baseball Game", a sweeter and more loved-up affair blessed with superb vocal harmonies that's nevertheless impressively fuzzy.
Review: Marta Ren has made us wait for a follow-up to her superb 2016 debut album "Stop, Look, Listen". The good news is that a belated sequel is in the works, with this limited seven-inch single offering a first taster of the studio sessions. "Worth It" was certainly worth the wait (sorry). Based around a lolloping deep funk groove rich in heavy bass, hip-hop style drum breaks, crunchy guitars and rising horns, the track sounds like a long lost original 1960s recording rather than something made earlier this year. That's no criticism, though, because Ren's powerful, forthright vocals - available on the killer A-side version - suit that kind of fuzzy, retro-futurist production. Don't sleep on this one - it's one of the strongest soul records of the month without doubt.
Ronaldo Reseda - "E Novamente Mas Que Nada" (5:19)
Robson Jorge & Lincoln Olivetti - "Ginga" (2:57)
Review: The 65th volume in Mr Bongo's admirable Brazil 45s series shines a light on Rio De Janeiro's turn-of-the-'80s boogie scene. On the A-side you'll find "E Novamente Mas Que Nada" by Ronaldo Resado, a five-minute chunk of samba-laced boogie sunshine that was originally featured on the artist's eponymous 1979 debut album. While wonderful, it's slightly overshadowed by flipside cut "Ginga", one of the highlights from Robson Jorge and Lincoln Olivetti's sought-after 1982 full-length (which, incidentally, was recently reissued by Mr Bongo and is well worth checking). Joining the dots between synth-heavy electrofunk, horn-toting disco-funk and languid jazz-funk, the instrumental track is arguably one of the best Brazilian boogie records ever made. Don't sleep.
Review: The Fantastic Voyage label kicks off with a summery joint from RFX, otherwise known as Pharmacy Records mainstay Romain FX, straight out of Hong Kong. There's an undeniable African lilt to these tracks, shot through with a classic 90s house twist - just check the infectious bump of "Indaba Kabani". "Gambian Neptune" has a snappier feel, channeling the vibe of 80s extended dubs with its strident drum section and bombastic atmosphere. "Nigerian Charon" has an interesting mixture of vibes going on, part Art of Noise mash up and part peak time synth sizzler, while "Sudanese Xena" heads into the heat of night, conjuring up a seductive, swirling mood to get truly lost in.
Review: La Differencia, Dutch singer Hubertus Richenel Baars' 1982 debut, has long been considered something of a slept-on classic by those in the know. Charmingly lo-fi and homemade in feel, the cassette's 10 tracks - six of which are featured on this first ever vinyl reissue - brilliantly joined the dots between blue-eyed soul, spacey electro, disco, electrofunk and slap-bass wielding space boogie. As usual, Music From Memory has done a terrific job with the re-mastering; the tracks sound stronger than ever, if even they have retained some of the charming fuzziness of Baars' original production. All told, it's another essential reissue from Music Is Memory.
Review: Through his solo releases and work with Leon Ware, Richard Evans and Skip Scarborough, Rockie Robbins became one of American soul's most celebrated artists and producers in the early 1980s. This year's he's set to release his first album of note since 1985, with these two cuts offering a taste of what's to come. Interestingly, "Good Life" sounds a little like it could have been written and produced in the 1980s, even if the mixing, mastering and lilt in Robbins' voice reflect its contemporary status. Either way, it's warm, positive and comes blessed with a wonderfully strong chorus. "Let's Groove", meanwhile, is a little deeper and more loved-up, perfectly reflecting that side of Robbins' 1980s output.