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 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 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: 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.
Review: Dynamite Cuts lives up to its name with this limited 7" from acclaimed Brazilian jazz singer Tania Maria. Two driving and dancey tracks pressed nice and loud for the first time on 45, "Fio Maravilha" is a busy arrangement made up of wild piano, big raw drums and Maria's impassioned, lung-emptying singing that whizzes along at pace. "Bedeu" has a little more Latin flavour, bossa nova swagger and space in the mix for the soul to shine through. Drop either one and take shelter, cause both of these cuts are bombs.
Review: Sammy Massamba's "Azali" originally came out in 1990. The afrobeat artist's sound is shockingly potent, fusing his roots with disco and boogie to create the stuff party dreams are made of. The song has just the necessary edge to make a classic, with the vocals leading the way through the tune beautifully. "Birika" is a slower jam, but no less bold with its keyboard brass and choice guitar solo. Aroop Roy jumps on the flip to edit "Azali", stretching out a touch and adding a little subtle drum machine jack to the beat. It's tastefully done, keeping the vibe on the original intact.
Review: If you're unfamiliar with the name Mavi Gunes 69, don't worry: it's a brand new project from Osman Murat Ertel - co-founder of cult Turkish psych-folk band BaBa Zula - and his life partner Esma Ertel, a talented singer, songwriter and dancer. There's much to admire on this out-there debut single, not least the lo-fi psychedelia of "3 Cember", where Esma Ertel's half-chanted vocals rise above hallucinatory Middle Eastern instrumentation (drenched in copious amounts of reverb) and a dark, low-slung groove. Flipside "Yafta" is a slightly more up-tempo affair, with flash-fried acid-funk guitar flashes and exotic instrumental flourishes rising above a near tribal late night groove. Both tracks are hugely atmospheric and undeniably intoxicating.
Review: DJ Gandharva and Von Yodi's long serving Budabeats label is always a trusted source for razor sharp disco digs and more esoteric sounds from the four corners of the earth, and they continue their recent leap to vinyl with this stunning selection of jams from the southern hemisphere. Letta Mbulu's Soweto funk gets a little edit treatment from Petko Turner, while BeTe takes on Camila Costa's gorgeous Ponto Das Caboclas for a perfect sundown reflection led by tender acoustic strumming. Chillum Trio work up a sweat over Ebo Taylor's "Odofo Nyi Akyiri Biara", creating a certifiable party burner in the process, and then Birdhouse completes the package with the irrepressibly funky "Berimbao".
Review: George and Glen Miller are undoubtedly best known for their West End Records released 1982 boogie-soul classic "Touch Your Life". They released plenty of other records that flitted between soca, reggae, disco, and - in the latter stages of their career - electrofunk. "Easing", which appeared at some point at the turn of the '80s on London label Third World, remains one of their most potent releases - and, in its original form at least, formidably hard to find. This Soundway reissue wisely replicates the track list of the original release, beginning with the title track - a deliciously percussive, musically intricate chunk of peak-time disco smothered in sharp, Afro-funk style horns and George and Glen Miller's lilting reggae-soul style vocals. The flipside "Version" strips out the vocals, allowing listeners to hear in greater detail the pair's impeccable arrangements and instrumentations (particularly the fine orchestration and rich groove).
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: Formidably hard to find in its original form, Patience Africa's "Wozani" has finally been given the reissue treatment by La Casa Tropical. Those lucky enough to own a copy of the 1987 release - the South African singer's final EP - will note that this edition omits some tracks, instead offering loud cuts of just two (admittedly superb) jams. A-side "Hide & Seek" is a perfect example of the then developing Kwaito sound, with Patience Africa's strong lead vocal and "bubblegum" style synthesizer melodies nestling atop New York freestyle influenced beats and a chunky bassline. "By Hook Or By Crook", meanwhile, is closer in sound and feel to straight-up "bubblegum" synth-pop, with sugary-sweet vocals, "Glam" style triple-time beats and a more swinging electronic bassline.