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: Originally released in Kenya way back in 1987, "Hinde" was the sole single from an obscure outfit called African Vibration. The track has since gone on to become something of a sought-after gem; a sparse, drum machine-driven, synthesizer-sporting jam that offers a uniquely tropical and wholeheartedly East African take on electro/synth-pop fusion. Happily, Soundway has decided to issue it on 12" for the first time, having previously included in on 2016's superb "Kenya Special: Volume 2" compilation. The brilliant original comes accompanied by a fresh Julian Dyne rework that makes more of the original's fluttering, sun-kissed synths and rainforest sound effects. It's a little deeper, dreamier and exceptionally blissful; in fact, you could almost describe it as being "Balearic".
Review: Originally pressed (on a limited run) in 2013, LA Latin funk troupe Boogaloo Assassins have reissued these two spellbinding cover versions again due to public demand. Still on a highly limited run, both cuts need to be in your collection: Dawn Penn's "No No No" gets a strict samba switch with lavish percussion and consistent vocal harmonies throughout while Sonny Henry's "Evil Ways" (best known from its Santana cover) gets the dreamy instrumental treatment where the horns and glocks do the narrating over a tight bed of wood blocks, shakers and liquid Rhodes. Killer stuff and Juno is one of the few stores outside of USA which is carrying the 45. Don't Sleep !
Review: In the early 1970s, a new musical art form emerged on the streets of Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago from the social unrest of the time. A group of young guys started to combine poetry with drumming and created the musical art form that is known today as Rapso. Lutalo 'Brother Resistance' Masimba was one of the pioneers of this movement and his 1987 anthem "Tonight Is de Night" receives a much-needed reissue here on Cree. There's much to enjoy on this 12" - we're particularly loving the groovy "Rapso Space Dub" and funky steel drum riddims of "Crucial Decision ('92 Version)". This is total spiritual life music.
Review: Camarao Orkestra may be based in Paris, but their hearts are always in Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro. The incendiary live band has a new album on the way (their last dropped three years ago) so to get us in the mood Favorite Recordings has served up this suitably steamy workout. In its' A-side original mix form, "Nacao Africa" is a mid-tempo chunk of low-slung Latin boogie rich in drunken trumpet lines, sweet female vocals, Marcos Valle guitar riffs and weighty dub disco bass. Patchworks man Bruno Hovart handles remix duties, first offering up a sweet two-step soul/laidback boogie revision before slamming down a hypnotic, stripped-back and delay-laden "Late Night Dub".
Review: The well regarded Whities label invites you deep into a darkened world of coldwave soundscapes on its next 12". There are Arabic overtones to Carl Gari's music here, both explicitly in the meditative vocals from Abdullah Miniawy, but also in the exotic synth drones that hang heavy in the air. It makes for a spiritual eight track affair that has a beautifully bleak and spiritual feeling: tracks are largely empty, absorbing affairs with only suggested rhythms moving you forward. Part organic and human, part mechanical and synthetic, Whities 023 is a bewitching and otherworldly listen of the highest order.
Review: Whereas the first volume in Joaquin "Joe" Claussell's "Cosmicdelic Africa" series focused on sneaky re-edits by the Sacred Rhythm founder, this second instalment focuses on original productions "for the dancefloor and the head". In other words, Clausell has offered up DJ-friendly extended versions of some of his most cosmic, Afro-centric creations. There's much to enjoy throughout, from the psychedelic rock guitar solos, restless bass, layered Latin house rhythms and rainforest sounds of Cosmic Ritual's "Abraxas (Demo Sketch Mix)", to the piano sporting cosmic house positivity of Mampo's "Emarofo Tech (Extended Sketch Mix)", via the spaced-out electronics, hallucinatory synth lines and sparse drums of intoxicating downtempo workout "Mundo De Agua (Psyxchdelic Transfusion Mix)".
Review: First released last summer, Cotonete and Roberto Di Melo's "AEIOU" is a deliciously warm and woozy chunk of jazz-funk/revivalist Latin disco fusion that sounds like it was recorded in 1978 rather than 2018. This time round, Dimitri From Paris is at the controls, offering up two arguably superior "Special Disco Mixes" that not only boasts more audio clarity around key instrumental parts (particularly the horns, walking bassline and previously buried Clavinet lines) but also add some fizzing new electrofunk synths. As a result, the A-side vocal version sounds like a disco scene anthem in waiting, while the high-octane flipside dub is percussive, sweaty and full throttle in the best possible way.
Review: Long before digging South American and African music became popular, Patrick Forge and Chris Franck were serving up club-focused jams that drew heavily on the musical traditions of both continents. It is, then, a good time for them to return from a five-year hiatus with a brand new EP. It's every bit as colourful, vibrant and floor-friendly, with all three cuts hitting the mark. Leading the charge is fantastic A-side "Oba Lata", a supremely sun-kissed Afro-beat affair rich in Africa 70s style guitars, Tony Allen-esque drum patterns and life-affirming vocals. On the flip you'll find a punchy, off-kilter broken beat revision from contemporary bruk hero Namebrandsound, as well as the deep, languid and Rhodes-laden shuffle of "Dakar", a more considered number that nevertheless leaves a lasting impression.
Review: Here's something to set the pulse racing: a must-have seven-inch containing two curiously off-kilter cuts from obscure "beat generation" bands of the early 1960s. Der Evergreens "Es Lilin" (that's "Ice Lolly" in English, apparently) is a sun-kissed rhythm and blues cover of a Sudanese love song recorded in Rotterdam in 1965. It's fairly short but very, very sweet. Arguably even better is Les Jaguars De Casablanca's 1962 cover of surf classic "Gonzales". The band was truly international - Spanish and French guitarists and a Moroccoan rhythm section - and on the resultant recording you can tell. Think of it as an "outernational" take on the Shadows, and you're close.
Review: For those who dig dancefloor-friendly takes on World Music classics, the Sterns Edits label - a collaboration between producer Ben Gomori and long-serving African and Brazilian music specialists Sterns Music - should be an imprint to watch. The label's latest must-have EP boasts fresh revisions of killer cuts from the epic back catalogue of Malian artist Nahawa Doumbia. Gomori works his magic on 1987 cut "Sige Sele", first sticking rolling house beats beneath the original's cut-glass strings, funky bass, storming horns and superb vocals (the A-side "Edit"), before opening the flipside with a largely vocal free "Disco Dub" that's arguably even better. To round things off, Tom Jay offers a similarly tooled up take on the more synthesizer-heavy "Djina Mousso".
Review: In 1976, French band Edition Speciale released their debut album, "Allee Des Tilleuls". While much of the album saw them explore progressive rock and jazz-rock territory, it did contain one suitably groovy and life-affirming trip into jazz-funk territory, surprise LP standout "Mr Business". Here that cut gets a single release for the very first time courtesy of the dusty-fingered diggers at Pepite. You'll find the little-known band's languid, Clavinet and synthesizer-heavy original version on side A, with Aroop Roy's tidy contemporary rework on the B. Aroop sticks a rocket up the track's bottom end, underpinning the original song with peak-time-ready drums while wisely emphasizing his own killer bassline and catchy vocals.
Review: Earlier in the year, Italian reissue specialists offered up a tidy reissue of Ahmed Fakrun's "Nisyan", a sought-after chunk of Arabic blue-eyed soul that originally appeared as a seven-inch single in 1977. Here they offer up a new edition of its predecessor, which the Lebanese musician recording during the same recording sessions in Milan. With its flanged guitars, lolloping reggae-funk swing, spacey synths and warm bass, "Auidny" is particularly inspired, though the West Coast AOR-influenced warmth of flipside "Njoo El Leyl" is arguably equally as addictive. Both are superb, though, so it's great that Groovin' has slung them out again.
Review: Faze Action last teamed up with Zeke Manyika, formerly of 80s funksters Orange Juice, for the effervescent "Mangwana" back in 2016. Now they're back in collaboration for more classically rooted house music with a deeply infectious African twist. "Kubatana" is punchy where it counts, but it's a light and springy proto house burner first and foremost, with Manyika's vocal sounding as smooth as silk in the middle of the mix. "Hapana" is equally rich in musicality and personality, albeit on a more simmering, meditative tip. On the B side, "Kubatana" gets reworked by Rudy Midnight Machine and Paradise, who turn in distinct versions without losing the overall 80s aesthetic that powers the release.
Review: To stay in tune with the heatwave France just went through, Guts brings you two remixes from Poirier + Voilaaa and two unreleased tracks in the Afro-tropical train of it's 'Philantropiques' album. Best served under a scortching sun, to live the full musical experience.
Review: The Mushi 45 label doesn't release all that much, but what it does put out is invariably insanely good. For the avoidance of doubt, this two-track missive sits in that category. It serves up two rare, sought-after 1970s gems from Rinsyoe Kida, Akira Ishikawa & Count Buffaloes, who made some of the tidiest Japanese funk, jazz-rock and jazz-funk of the period. A-side "Tan To Setsu" is superb, with the assembled players brilliantly blending traditional Japanese style melodic motifs - played on traditional instruments - with a riotous, high octane funk backing track rich in heavy bass and fiery horn lines. "Jongara Bushi" is similarly inclined and every bit as raucous.
Review: Spanish label Rocafort specializes not only in reissues, but also fresh jams that sound like they could have been produced in the 1970s and early '80s. Here they offer up something that combines contemporary production chops, real instrumentation and classic influences. It comes from debutant Spanish trio Kokoro Disco San, a trio of experienced musicians with a passion for goodtime grooves. You'll find a particularly hot and heavy disco groove at the heart of "Isla Fantasia", a track marked out by tasty jazz-funk instrumental flourishes and the kind of spacey synth lines most often associated with the likes of Dexter Wansel and Herbie Hancock. There's more meandering deep space synths on flipside "Sonic Feeling", a lolloping disco-boogie number powered by a classic sounding walking bassline and layered percussion.
Review: Norwegian music has long tended towards the eccentric, though we can't think of many quirkier releases than Leoparden's recent album "Stilen Er Stimmvel" - a decidedly off-kilter set that mixes lo-fi synth-boogie, reggae, African rhythms, P-funk, blue-eyed soul and lashings of Scandolearic vibes. This tidy 7" single offers up a taster of that set in the shape of album highlight "Hagefest", a decidedly spaced-out afro-reggae affair rich in reverb laden vocals, clipped guitars and off-kilter drums. Leoparden brilliantly strips things back on the flipside "Version", which layers dubbed-out snippets of vocal, guitar and synth over a beefed up version of the eccentric rhythm track.
Review: Founded in 1967 by singer/producer Carlos Oliva and other Cuban immigrants to the United States, Los Sobrinos del Juez were briefly one of the leading protagonists of the turn-of-the-'70s "Miami Sound" - a humid and intoxicating fusion of blues, rock, funk and dancefloor-focused Latin sounds. Their 1974 debut single "Harina De Maiz" - here reissued for the first time since - is a perfect example of that short lived style, offering up a mixture of wah-wah-guitar and psychedelic organ-powered Latin funk grooves and righteous Cuban vocals. On this edition it comes backed by the previously unheard "Corned Beef Hash", a swinging Latin-jazz number rich in vibraphone solos, jaunty piano riffs and plenty of hip-wiggling percussion.