Review: Matasuna Records' latest release offers up two sought-after tracks from Bossa 70, a relatively short-lived Peruvian band whose ultra-limited 1970 releases (a total of 400 copies were pressed of their sole single and eponymous debut album) brilliantly joined the dots between jazz, bossa, soul and funk. Listening to these cuts for the first time, it's easy to see why Matasuna has gone to the trouble of licensing them: A-side "Si Voce Pensa" is an inspired Peruvian funk cover of a 1968 Roberto Carlos track rich in bustling breakbeats, punchy horns and confident female vocals. Just as potent is the band's flipside cover of Baden Powell's "Berimbau", which puts a funk-soul twist on a certified bossa-nova classic.
Review: Thanks to their superb collaborative album "Atemporal", many are now fully aware of the joint musical explorations of French band Cotonete and Brazilian singer Di Melo. That wasn't the case in early summer 2018 when their first single, "A.E.I.O.U", landed in stores. The record became a sleeper hit, was later remixed by Dimitri From Paris and is now given the re-press treatment. The original version (side A) is an inspired fusion of warm, breezy Brazilian disco and jaunty jazz-funk with one of the strongest, catchiest choruses we've heard in years. It's utterly ace all told, as is the more spacey and synth-laden B-side "Dub" mix. If you don't already own a copy, do yourself a favour and grab one of these.
Review: "Der Say Ah" has long been a banger on dance floors tuned into international sounds. It's the sort of bouncy afrobeat and sax-laced classic that has been fetching huge amounts online. DJs like Gilles Peterson and Nightmare on Wax have been playing it for yonks and now, after many years of it being out of print, it is back courtesy of Push The Fader. The Akoya Re-Rub mix here was mixed by Ben Kane who worked on D'Angelo's Black Messiah, so this sounds beyond good. The 7" version comes from DJ Spinna with extra keys from Ticklah, psyched out bass and extra dub feelings.
Review: DJ Firmeza's 2015 debut, "Alma Do Meu Pai", was a gloriously bass-heavy, multi-cultural melting pot of 21st century dancefloor sounds that perfectly encapsulated the Lisbon scene from which he emerged. This belated sequel is equally as thrilling, with bombastic opener "Avan" setting the tone via heavy, Kuduro-influenced drums, layered tribal percussion hits, clonking melodies and urgent vocals. "Intenso" is if anything even sweatier and more percussively punchy, while "RRRRRR" is a thrusting chunk of wild tribal techno rich in dense drums and voodoo vocal yelps. As for "25", its another off-kilter drum workout just crying out for peak-time plays.
Review: The Polyversal Souls are renowned for the strength of their collaborative singles, which to date have featured all manner of legends and rising stars from the underground African music scene. This time around, the German-Ghanaian band provides high-grade backing for guest vocalist Frank Karikari, son of legendary Highlife musician Ralph Karikari. The A-side medley of "Siakwaa/Nana Agyei" is particularly good, with Karikari's confident lead vocal rising above shuffling, soft-focus drums and ear-catching juju guitars. Flipside cut "Odo Agye Gye Me" is great, too, offering a slightly more upbeat and undeniably percussive fusion of highlife/Afrobeat fusion.
Review: Having previously toured with bands including Orgone and Monophonics, Venice Beach vocalist Terin Moswen Ector is trying his hand as a solo artist. Transistor Sound has snapped up his forthcoming debut album, and here offer up a tasty two-track teaser. "Rise" is utterly gorgeous and sees Moswen's inspired, Bob Marley influenced vocal rising above a brilliant bed of skittish, Afro-Cuban jazz influenced grooves, clipped guitars, fuzzy Hammond organ motifs and rich horns. He moves further towards Fela Kuti style Afrobeat territory on heavyweight flipside "Tobacco & Sage", a killer instrumental club-rocker and a half.
Review: Mukatsuku struck gold again on this latest first time on a "45" issue. It boasts a couple of lesser-known jazz-funk fusion jams which originally featured on Argentine musician Jorge Navarro's 1977 album "Navarro Con Polenta", an LP that has never been issued outside of South America. A-side "Funk Yourself" is a bustling, high-octane jazz-funk Hammond licks and spiralling horns jumping above a Blaxploitation style backing track. "Repartamos El Funky" is a more laid back but no less musically intricate affair, with a variety of high-grade electric piano and guitar solos riding seemingly endless jazz style drum solos and rubbery bass. Juno hand-numbered copies come in exclusive sleeves and this 45 not be repressed. DJ Support comes from Ge-ology, Dom Servini, DJ Koco (Japan), DJ Food,The Allergies,45LIVE.net ,Dr Bob Jones,Rob Luis, Smoov and more
Review: Johannesburg's Maboneng Precinct is the home of Afrosynth Records and for the last two years it has been an absolute hotbed of reissued African music. This latest missive is originally from 1984 by Obed Ngobeni and his backing singers the Kurhula Sisters, who helped pioneer the Shangaan Disco style that heavily influenced South Africa's bubblegum sound of the 80s. Now a go-to genre for cult favs like Antal and Hunee, they're sure to lap up the hurried funk and proto-house of "Ta Duma", which comes in three slightly different versions. "Xikhobva" closes things in loose percussive fashion with a guitar-driven groove.
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.
Ebo Taylor - "Peace On Earth" (Monsieur Scott remix) (4:55)
Pat Thomas - "We Are Coming Home" (5:51)
Pat Thomas - "We Are Coming Home" (2 Paris Septembre re-edit) (4:51)
Review: Comet's ongoing "Highlife Re-Edit" series is perfect for those who want a little contemporary pizzazz alongside their Afro-disco grooves and dancefloor-ready highlife classics. Like its predecessor, the series' latest volume boasts cuts from highlife legends Ebo Taylor and Pat Thomas. The former's punchy, breezy and trumpet-laden highlife-jazz cut "Peace On Earth" can be found on side A, alongside a dreamy Monsieur Scott version that drags the track further towards leisurely jazz-house territory. The Pat Thomas track showcased on side B is "We Are Coming Home", a righteous highlife/funk fusion effort rich in dense percussion and eyes-closed rock guitar solos. The accompanying 2 Paris Septembre Re-Edit brilliantly re-invents it as a bustling broken beat affair laden in shimmering synths and squelchy electronic bass.
Americo Brito & Djarama - "Rapaz Novo E Malandro" (7:32)
Cabo Verde Show - "Terra Longe" (3:30)
Elisio Vieira - "Tchon Di Somada" (4:20)
Vlu - "Rua D'Lisboa" (5:45)
Galaxia 2000 - "Coracao Dum Criola" (3:55)
Mendes & Mendes - "Mitamiyo" (5:24)
Danny Carvalho - "Roncanbai" (4:37)
Mendes & Mendes - "Walkman" (4:50)
Jose Casimiro - "La Mamai Ta Bem" (5:01)
Elisio Vieira - "Bem Di Fora" (5:35)
Zeca & Zeze Di Nha Reinalda - "Mocinhos" (4:24)
Review: Rotterdam is one of the many big port cities around the world that welcomed a high number of Cape Verdean immigrants. In the 1970s, Americo Brito was one of them and he soon got involved with the local music scene and found an ever larger community of likeminded talents. He took to the stage with his band and made for a buzzy little scene that found them tour with their own sound system. Here he works with Rotterdam local Arp Frique to serve up Cape Verdean music old and new with plenty of traditional Funana and Coladeira sounds next to jams influenced by wave, disco and funk, jazz, reggae and Latin pop.
Review: When it came to putting together their first compilation, German label Harmonie Exotic turned to Balearic scene mainstay Jose Manuel. His idea was simple: to gather together a range of mostly obscure experimental ambient tracks made between 1982 and '84, all of which possess equal amounts of "magic" and "mysterious character". The resultant set is, of course, a bit of an eye-opener - a genuine voyage of discovery that drifts between the low-slung, dub disco influenced headiness of D-Day's "Sweet Sultan", the drowsy new age purity of Vangelis Katsoulis, the glistening Balearic pop of Human Software's "Soft Sequence", the sludgy Arabic new wave oddness of International Noise Orchestra and the unique combination of Middle Eastern drums and next-level electronics that is Manuel Wandji's "Pourquoi Pas!".
Review: The second salvo from "forgotten music" specialists Dig This Way Records takes us back to 1988 and the synthesizer and drum machine-driven Highlife antics of obscure outfit Ode-Omore Osarenren & Ewaen Osetin Stars. Even by the standards of Nigerian music, it's an obscurity, but also pretty special. Check, for example, the clicking machine drums, group vocals and exotic synthesizer lines of opener "Ukhiokhio", the gorgeous guitars, whistling synth melodies and percussive breeziness of "Omoto" and the trumpet-laden tropical brilliance that is closing cut "Enothiomwani". The set's most endearing quality is undoubtedly its inherent positivity, something that's only enhanced by the band's use of sparkling synthesizer sounds.
Review: Hozan Yamamoto is a widely revered figure in Japan, and a true icon of the seventies jazz scene. This album from 1971 is one of this best and a seminal work that effortlessly floats through fusion, soul and big band styles and has been basically impossible to buy in original format. Trust Mr Bongo to come correct with this fully licensed version which features his trademark flute playing and finds the maestro in a soaring, uplifting mood here. Big brass adds weight to his leads while well formed grooves drive the album along. Add in subtle Japanese stylings and it all adds up to a J jazz classic.