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.
Review: Following killer releases from lesser-known talents like Aristidez, Colossio and Thomass Jackson, Mexico's premier modern disco label Calypso commence a new project that sees them celebrating some of their favourite cities around the world. The journey starts in Tel Aviv, where a range of underground producers present the kind of freaky disco-not-disco sounds that get dancefloors frisky the world over these days. Niv Ast keeps things simmering and sensuous on "Rainey Heart," while Rina gets locked into a dense chug of sweaty sonics and solid rhythms. Naduve has a slower, percussion-led groove rolling on "Hex Mex" that will inject spice into any adventurous warm-up, and Middle Sky Boom finishes the record off with the tense and teasing "Marble Arch".
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!
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".
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.
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: When Peggy Lee slinked around in the 50s to the sultry strains of "Fever", could she ever have imagined that half a century later, people like Romare would be turning her tune into a weed smokin', love makin' slo-mo RnB jam? Unlikely to say the least, but "Your Love (You Give Me Fever") is on the money and respectful, if different to the original's mood. Elsewhere on Romare's latest Black Acre release, "Jimi & Faye" is a warped take on blues, "Taste Of Honey" recalls the days of daisy age hip-hop and "Hey Now" is a weary and haunting piano lament.
Review: Founded in 2017, Ronin Arkestra is a fusionist jazz/electronica collective from Tokyo founded by broken beat keys-man Mark de Clive-Lowe. Given that the band includes some of the finest players in Japan's contemporary jazz scene - most notably members of Kyoto Jazz Massive, WONK and Sleepwalker - you'd expect this first outing on Albert's Favourites to be rather good. It is, of course, with the band sashaying between dubbed-out soundscape jazz ("Stranger Searching"), sun-bright jazz-funk influenced positivity ("Redeye Reprisal"), loose-limbed, semi-improvised intensity ("The Silk Road Prelude") and, most notably, an awe-inspiring 21st century re-imagining of John Coltrane classic "A Love Supreme".
The Rotating Assembly - "Seasons Of My Life" (feat Billy Lo)
Green Pickles - "Feedback" (feat Billy Lo & M Pittman)
Review: Sound Signature kick off the new year with a pleasing reissue of some smoky soul from Theo Parrish's outlet for his most jazzy tendencies. On "Seasons Of My Life" Billy Lo croons over a muted trumpet while a surprisingly rough stomp gets hammered out of a live kit. It's a dreamy, sunkissed jam with all the loose, free-flowing elements you would expect from something with Parrish's stamp on it. Marcellus Pittman helps out on "Feedback", as a sparser, meandering groove does the nasty with some restrained keys. For that Detroit beatdown flavour away from the dancefloor, this is as good as it gets.
Review: Freshly minted label Dance Regular has pushed the boat out for release number one, pulling together no less than six tracks on a multi-artist extravaganza. James Rudie steps up first via the Rhodes-laden, off-kilter deep house dustiness of "Good Fry Up", before Szajna doffs a cap towards 2000 Black on the deep and musically rich broken beat business of "Break In My Back". Captain Over's "No-Look Nutmeg" is a suitably bass-heavy bruk workout laden with 8-bit electronics, while Xtra Brux's "Somebody" brilliant joins the dots between broken beat and two-step garage. Elsewhere, Trev's "For You Around Me" is a sumptuous chunk of summery and soulful dancefloor bliss, while Ishfaq's "Hypnosis No 9" is jazzy, synth-heavy and wayward in the best possible way.
Review: It would seem we're back on the Christmas card list... 2000 Black supergroup comprising the likes of Dego, Mensah and original Bugz members Lord and Tatham have been slowly ramping up their releases again and this year has seen their largest output yet. Following "Two Way Here One Way Go", "Simmering" proffers three more sublime and silky instrumentals from deeply decorated foursome. "Simmering" is a tight jazz funk jam with a sprung guitar groove spine and a blissful switch into soothing flutes midway, "Private Life" flips for a sunnyside digidub, all spacious and rippling with its breezy keys while "Climb The Sun" brings us back to the funk root note but with rising synth insistency that's bruk to the bone. Simmering now, boiling tomorrow...
(Soul) Rebel 23 (Reginald Omas Mamode IV remix) (3:30)
Snake Eyes (Ishmael Ensemble remix) (8:11)
Review: If you've not yet got your ears around Roger 'Chip' Wickham's sensationally sunny, jazz-fired "Shamal Wind" mini-album, we suggest you check it out post-haste. In the meantime, Lovemonk has reminded us of its magnificence via a new set of reworks from some seriously hot producers. Max Graef handles side A, first serving up a chugging, mind altering and heavily percussive "Bongo Mix" of "Soho Strut", before reaching for the sub-bass and fizzing, juke-tempo jazz rhythms on the bonkers but brilliant "Bass Mix" of the very same song. Over on the flipside, Peckham beat-maker Reginald Omas Mamode IV serves up a dusty, Rhodes-laden take on "(Soul) Rebel 23" featuring his own soulful vocals, before Gilles Peterson favourites Ishmael Ensemble mix live jazz instrumentation with rolling house beats on a sublime revision of "Snake Eyes".