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: For the latest volume in their ongoing Brazil 45s series, Mr Bongo has decided to change tack. The two tracks showcased here are from the golden age of Brazilian boogie. On the A-side you'll find Marcos Valle's "A Paraiba Nao E Chicago", a largely overlooked cut from his 1981 full-length Vontade De Rever Voce. While not as instantly as infectious as some of his better-known singles, it's still superb; a breezy, blue-eyed soul cut full of rising horns and sweet Portuguese vocals. On the B-side, you'll find Don Beto's 1978 disco-funk jam "Nao Quero Mais", a superb track that was seemingly inspired by the Doobie Brothers' "Long Train Running".
Review: The love of all things Soviet and disco has been established by French/German duo Fulgeance and Scientist for several years now, having reached a peak last year with their album The Soviet Tape on First Word. Now they return with their own edit series on brand new label Excursions. With eyes squared fully on the floor, each obscurity is given some serious groove muscle for the floor... Charaunitsy's soulful croons and yearning horns are given an additional kick/snare swing, Latvia's Mirdza gets a deliciously camp turbo charge while Ukraine's Tatyana Kochergina gets a full-on Philly treatment with lavish strings and a bassline that won't say nyet.
Review: Wewantsounds' 2019 Record Store Day release takes us back to 1978 and a hard-to-find 12" single from Lebanese composer, pianist, playwright and political commentator Ziad Rahbani. "Abu Ali" is perhaps not Rahbani's best known work - in the Arab world his various albums are far more celebrated - but it is one that has chimed with Western audiences thanks to its assimilation of elements of American disco, soul and funk. The title track is something of a beast: a 10-minute epic that wraps Arabic orchestration, mazy horn refrains and prominent piano motifs around an atmospheric disco groove and intergalactic synthesizer lines. It's bonkers but brilliant, making this reissue more than welcome. On the flipside there's a chance to enjoy "Prelude (Theme from Mais El Rim)", an epic example of Rahbani's 1970s soundtrack work.
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: 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: Beating Heart has shared the late Hugh Tracey's archive at the International Library of African Music (ILAM) with contemporary producers and keeping in line with Tracey's vision, all proceeds will be used to assist people in the areas where the music was originally recorded. This time, Warp Records and all round UK electronica legend Luke Vibert gives us the delightful oddball groove that is "Africable", Italian DJ Clap! Clap! Gives us the African polyrhythms via Detroit high-tech soul on "Kulira" while Los Angeles duo With You give us the sublime "No Resistance". Each 1500 albums sold will feed a school of 500 forever! Support a great cause and feed your ears with some wonderful music while you're at it.
Review: Last spotted on wax together 16 years ago on New Standards, Italian kindred spirits and diggers Conte and Petrella collide once again. A culmination of many records savoured and ideas shared between the two friends, this 12" is long overdue and fizzes with fusion. "African Spirit" is focused on a rolling tribal MAW style house rhythm with Gianluca adding his signature trombone with staccato finesse while "New World Shuffle" is a much dreamier, smoky affair that sounds perfect any time between sunset and sunrise. Spiritual.
Review: Mukatsuku's long running "Afro Funk & Disco Gems" series has always been a reliable source of obscure, high-quality dancefloor material from the African continent. This tenth edition is another must-have - on the A-side you'll find the synth-laden, boogie-era sunshine of "Everybody Dance", one of the undisputed highlights of Peter Yamson's in-demand (and notably hard to find) "Son Of Africa" LP. With wonderful vocals, glistening guitars, lolloping drum machine beats and some stellar synth work, the track ticks all the right boxes. Over on the flip there's a chance to own Cameroon legend Tala Andre Marie's 1981 classic "Get Up Tchamassi", whose snaking sax lines, elastic slap bass and dreamy chords are nothing less than sensational.As played by The Allergies, DJ Koco, Joe Claussell,Smoov,Kalita, Faze Action,DJ Moar etc
Review: Southern Italian sort Giovanni Damico has been in a good run of form of late, as anyone who picked up his recent EP on Lumberjacks in Hell with confirm. This retro-futurist three-track excursion is rather fine, too, with the White Rabbit Recordings founder brilliantly joining the dots between jaunty Afrobeat, rubbery boogie and spacey electrofunk. All three tracks boast classic Afro-funk guitars, with killer A-side "To Fela's People (featuring Villy)" also boasting punchy horns, tactile synth bass and some life-affirming hip-hop rhymes. Over on the flip, "Baba" is a more traditional Afrobeat workout - albeit with the addition of some mind-altering analogue bass and vintage synth flourishes - while "Afro Stomp" is a bouncy, Baldelli-inspired chunk of Afro-cosmic disco.
Hwe Hwe Mu Na Yi Wompena (Ben Gomori Message Of Love edit) (7:15)
Hwe Hwe Mu Na Yi Wompena (Ben Gomori Message Of Love live dub) (5:56)
Review: Afrobeat revivalists Yaaba Funk are getting a welcome new lease of life here, as the Sterns Edits crew turns in a trio of fresh reworks from their largely overlooked 2010 album "Afrobeast". Contemporary broken beat hero Danvers handles side A, turning in a swinging, hot-stepping revision of sun-kissed juju number "Oman Foa" that adds just the right amount of modern dancefloor clout to an otherwise perfect Afro-soul workout. Over on side B, Ben Gomori offers up two versions of "Hwe Hwe Mu Na Yi Wompena": a spacey Afrobeat/Afro-disco style peak-time "Message of Love Edit" and the arguably superior - and certainly impressively bass-heavy - "Message of Love Live Dub".
Review: A staple selection from Strut since its Nigeria 70 collection, this momentous piece of musical history dates back to 1979 when iconic vocalist Shina brought together the likes of Biddy Wright, Fred Fisher, Saliu Alabi and more decorated Nigerian musicians for a one-off supergroup. This epic, slippery freeform 11 minute piece of pure Afrofunk was the timeless result. Having enjoyed a handful of reissues and returns in its near 40 year life, this is the first time it's been remastered and delivered with all its original artwork and a full list of credits. Perfect to the very detail.
Review: Fresh from '78: Brazilian funk lothario Marcelo's first big single (which was never out on a 45 before)- and a peak track from his debut eponymous album from the same year - gets a timely revisit from the Steven J's reissue/edit imprint Pepite. With its subtle piano striking Q&A, wild bass runs and clam-tight guitar/drum groove, Marcelo calls his way through the jam as if everything is a chorus. With its layered vocals, it's gutsy call to action for any dancefloor. Steven's edit stretches out the instrumental bars and brings out focus on the staccato vocal hook with a rising sense of momentum. Two great sides, one dope 45.
Review: The latest missive from the Imagenes camp sees Los Charley's Orchestra rework two tracks from Manana, a Spiteri side project that released one jazz-fusion/samba disco album in 1981. Both "Amor" and "Disco Samba" are taken from that obscure but inspired set, and are here given "vocal" and "instrumental" revisions from the Los Charly's boys. All four revisions hit the spot from start to finish. We're particularly enjoying the spacey synths, low-slung dub disco grooves, fluttering vocals and well-placed delay effects of their "Amor" versions, though many DJs may gravitate towards the rolling, AOR disco bounce of the duo's more celebratory remixes of "Disco Samba".
Review: Mr Bongo's Brazil 45s series continues its consistently rich vein of form with two more beautifully contrasting - and previously difficult to track down - Brazilian soul jazz fusions from the 70s. Side A is inhabited by one of the era's most interesting individuals. Infamously censored and eventually exiled, Taiguara's chaotic flute, guitar and piano arrangement is a tight weave of melodies, counter melodies and start dynamics. Flip for the classically soul-oriented "Deixa Eu Te Amar" will bright horns, brash drums and a bold vocal from Marisa Rossi. Pow.
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: Another weighty slab of Ethiopian music history from Mr Bongo... First up is the hugely influential fusionist Mulatu Astatke with the Latin-meets-Afro jam "Assiyo Bellema". Loaded with frenetic guitars and mesmerising drum work from Frank Holder, this was actually recorded during Mulatu's time in London. Flip for an equally influential force in Ethiopian music: Soul Ekos Band affiliate Teshome Meteku with a more traditional local sound, Teshome's yearning insistent vocals wrap around the horns and tight drums like fog around a mountain. Captivating.
Review: German imprint Pingipung has been doing a great job in re-introducing the world to the music of Umeko Ando, a Japanese folk singer who spent decades championing her native Ainu culture before passing away in 2004. Pingipung has already reissued her rare debut album, 2000's "Ihunke", and here gives a deserved first single release to that set's closing track, "Atuy So Kata". Her beautiful and haunting original version - all handclaps, traditional instrumentation and her sublime vocals - nestles on the A-side, with Patric Catani's remix on the flip. His version is drowsy, foreboding and fuzzy, with the remixer expertly mixing Ando's vocals and instrumentation with crunchy electronic drums, psych-rock guitars and all manner of out-there noises.
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: 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: Jonny 5 can rightly be considered a mainstay of Bahnsteig 23 now, as he returns to the label for the third time. It seems that the main source of inspiration for this latest opus from the intermittent producer has been the Indian sub continent, and he's channeled those vibes into three wild and wicked tracks for the weird dance party. "Bengali Dub" channels the proto electro vibes of 80s synth pop and shoots it through with some illustrious sample drops, while "Simha" works more like a particularly bold edit loping in a polyrhythmic fashion that will have the floor hopping like mad to keep up. "Tum Tum" turns up the heat on the B side with a deadly electronic revision of an Indian classic.
Review: Last time we heard from Cleon and Jazzy Pidjay, otherwise known as Last Bongo In Paris, was back in 2013 on EDR...and here they are back on the same label, and out the bottom of a hat. Similarly to last time, "Bahia Swing" manages to conjure the right balance between jazz, funk and something a little more tropical, a sound and panache that is carried through to the following four cuts of juice. Our favourites are "Ritmo Loco" for its Latin energy, and the delightfully broken "Jarumba". If you're looking for something a little jazzy and saucy, but that pushes beyond the genre's natural confinements, this is it.
Review: Colonel Faat aka Rocky Dawuni is one of Ghana's few reggae artists to have made a name for themselves since the 90s. He is particularly hard to come by these days, but Austria's Agogo imprint clearly know how to get their links form around the globe, and this new tune is a peaceful ballad for purely positive vibes. "Balantije" is one of those tunes you can slap on in just about any scenario, spreading love and good will wherever and whenever, guided by a subtle ska off-beat; Mankoora's remix takes it to more danceable territories, adding in a layer of percussion and just the right amount of funk. Yes.
Review: Destination '77: Nigerian troupe The Apostles lay down their third album Banko Woman. And, with it, this widescreen vibe excursion that's been a go-to for Afrobeat diggers since it was released on Love Day 40 years ago. "Banko Woman" is a firing, energetic funk jam layered with vibrant levels of instrumentation that gradually strip back at points to let you feel the raw tempo of the groove. "Faith Luck & Music" is at once both more bluesy, thanks to the sliding, melting guitars, and spiritual, thanks to the traditional rhythm and chords. A rare and long-awaited reissue.
Review: Those with a deep knowledge of Berlin's Ghanaian ex-pat "burger-highlife" scene may already be familiar with Lee Dodou, a singer who recorded a number of classic singles and albums during the 1980s as part of bands Georg Darko and Kantata. He retired from music in 1991, but has been persuaded to return to action by the Philophon team. This comeback single is pretty impressive all told, with A-side "Basa Basa" - a triumphantly celebratory chunk of 1960s "concert party" highlife rich in punchy horn lines and Dodou's full-throated vocals - being joined on the flipside by the slower, synth-laden "Sahara Akwantou". Brilliantly, the label describes this as "kraut-life" due to its unique (and rather good) fusion of highlife and German kosmiche.
Review: Two delicious freeform rhythm jams from the heart of Bogota; Los Propios Bateros (AKA drummer and percussionist Pedro Ojeda) is the result of a deep documentary project that plots the rhythmic thread through the Americas as a cast of Columbian's next generation musicians explore the national legacy of descraga and pornpo across two warm and seductive improvisations; "Batazo Batero" swoons with a little light jazz in its step while "Bolillo, Baqueta Y Tombo" is more of a loose funk riff that writhes in and out of the tight staccato trumpet riff. Sublime as always from Names You Can Trust.
Review: The 3rd Generation Band hail from Ghana, recording only six tracks in their time together, all for the Essiebons label and now Mr Bongo reissue these two super rare tracks. The life affirming Afro Rhythm & Blues of "Because Of Money" was also featured on Soundway's Ghana Soundz compilation previously. It was compiled by Andrew Edwards. The band was formed in the late 70's by leader Rockson, a soldier at the time. The original record is extremely rare and this reissue is a replica 7", including the original picture paper sleeve that was carefully restored by Andrew Edwards. B side track "Obi Ye Saa Wui" is African style soul-funk, very influenced by James Brown.