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...
Review: While he lived a musical life that spanned from boogie to gospel before he passed away in 2016, Nairobi's David Waciuma didn't get to record much. He was known much more for his live performances with bands such as The Monks Experience then, later, Rapture Voices who he recorded these two records in the mid-70s. "Devil Go" is a thumping rhythm and blues call and response piece while "Jesu Kristo" hits with more of a frazzled bluesy funk. Both make you wish he recorded much more.
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".
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: 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.
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.
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: 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".
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: 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.
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: 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.
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!
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.
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: 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".
(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".
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.
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.