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.
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".
Review: Late last year Los Angeles-based synth obsessive Nicholas Benedek made his PPU bow with a untitled album filled with untitled tracks, executed with the sort of lo-fi panache that fit the label to a tee. Here Benedek returns to PPU as RX, a rather surprising self-styled 'smog prog' project with LIES artist and LA Club Resources boss Delroy Edwards. Taking shape in a signature PPU 7 inch, both "Strung Out" and "Prescriptions" sound like a fine balance between the hazy boogie of Benedek and the tape degraded grit that's been a hallmark of Edwards work since his emergence on L.I.E.S.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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: 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: 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: 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: 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.
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!