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.
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.
Review: The fourth volume in Selva Discos superb "Brasingles" series of overlooked Brazilian obscurities is another must-check treat. "Tudo Faz Santido" was originally tucked away on former Gang 90 member Taciana Barros' sole solo album, 1995's "Janela Dos Sonhos". It's a wonderfully chunky slab of rolling, mid-90s breakbeat-pop rich in beefy bass, new wave style guitars and twinkling electronic flourishes. The track's inherent heaviness is even more evident on the flip, where there's what appears to be a never-before-released extended mix by original producer Mitar Subotic (better known in electronic music circles as Suba and Rex Illusivii). The sadly departed Serbian's DJ-friendly take wisely prioritizes the groove, adding even more acid-style sounds for enhanced dancefloor pleasure.
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: 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: 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: Kalita Records has thus far proved adept at sniffing out obscure, overlooked classics and reissuing them. Their latest "flip" is as rare, little known and hard-to-find as they come: a one-shot 1985 Caribbean boogie cut from Bahamian musicians Stirling March (now a minister and gospel singer) and bassist Rocky Rolle. "Under Cover Lover" is bright, breezy and sun-kissed, with jaunty synthesizer lead lines and hammered-out piano parts dancing above a tasty groove that fully showcases Rolle's boogie bass skills. Stirling March's lead vocal is superb too, with the Bahamian slickly delivering the loved-up lyrics with aplomb. The flipside "Instrumental" version is typical of New York style boogie dubs of the period, with more attention on the drums, bassline and ricocheting vocal snippets.
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: Cumbia champs Philthy Dronez have been turning out their quirky and curious takes on the genre since 2005. For their next outing on San Fran's Disco Mas they link with Su Brigada De La Cumbia for a brace of bonkers beats. Opener "Vamos A La Playa" is characterised by a big and wonky accordion line that reminds us of global dance smash "Heater" by Samim from a few years ago. It's as silly as it is fun, while "Sabor De La Cumbia" is a much heavier and grittier affair. Shades of digital dub define the grooves while a rather haunting lead keeps you on edge as it trundles along.
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: 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: 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: As anyone who has picked up any of his previous seven-inch singles will tell you, break-diggin' rework merchant DJ DSK can usually be relied upon to deliver the goods. This second volume in his ongoing "DNA Edits" series hits the spot, offering up two tidy, dancefloor-focused revisions. On side A he turns his attention to SM AOR classic "Fly Like An Eagle", subtly beefing it up via sweaty new hip-hop style drums whilst retaining the original guitars, vocals, bass and elongated organ chords. On side B he gets to work on Panamanian salsa classic "Maltrato", adding even more salsa shuffle and contemporary dancefloor weight to the much-adored 1975 Freddy y Sus Afro Latinos' classic.
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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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.
Review: Since its release in 1973, Ze Roberto's debut single "Lotus 72 D" has become something of an in-demand item amongst collectors of soul-fired Brazilian "MPB". So much so, in fact, that Mr Bongo has licensed it and served up this 7" reissue. In its original A-side form, the track is a carnival-ready slab of samba-soul brilliance rich in razor-sharp horn blasts, rich bass guitar, punchy hand-percussion and twinkling jazz piano solos. Roberto's confident vocals take centre stage, inviting us towards the dancefloor. Over on the flip you'll find a "Fast Version" of Roberto's tribute to 1972 Formula 1 champ Emerson Fittipaldi. This has a slightly more dancefloor-centric tempo, an effect achieved when it was accidentally pitched up for inclusion on a 2001 compilation.
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".