Review: Banana Hill is a London-based party helmed by Cervo, and it's built a sterling reputation for embracing all manner of global grooves. Now the party is spreading its wings by starting a record label that kicks off in fine style with the sound of multi-instrumentalist Majid Bakkas, a Moroccan musician with many strings to his bow. Both tracks on this 12" have been given a delicate shove in the direction of the dancefloor thanks to Cervo, who pitches his kicks and claps just right to make for utterly natural sounding party fodder of the highest order.
Review: Cain has already appeared once before for the Highlife Edits label, the Huntleys & Palmers offshoot that has been significantly promising since entering the scene not too long ago. The Scotsman returns with "Bakhtin" on the A-side, dripping its neat tribal percussion over a steady house beat that spews a mystical sort of energy from its cinematic synths. "Gordito", the opener on the flipside, is a much nastier affair, one with a dastardly bassline ready to bounce with each kick of the 4/4, while "Cajal" strips it all right down to a halt, offering instead a desolate, Eastern jam that recalls a lonesome night in the desert. A fine EP, and a highly recommended one, indeed....
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: Mr Bongo plunders the Brazilian vaults for more long-forgotten Latin classics. Besides the fact that she was pretty prolific (12 albums between 1960 and 1983) Mr Bongo don't know much about Ely... Her music tells us volumes, however. Minimal, jaunty and wholly vocal-focussed, there's a great sense of mischief about "Taieiras" as the band and singers develop momentum. Even less is known about Trio Esperenca besides the fact they're sisters. Solid vocal soul, backed with lush, rich harmonies and a catchy Motown finish, it's the type of track you feel you've known forever.
Review: The label says it all... Neither of these tracks have ever been released outside the original albums they came on. Until now. The legendary Candido steps up for the A-side with an uptempo, percussion-heavy groove from his 1971 album Beautiful; with big brassy fills and a stripped back, sample-addict's dream breakdown, this still punches as hard now as it did over 40 years ago. Flip for a funk trip from the equally revered Edwin Starr. Taken from his Hell Up In Harlem soundtrack, it's quintessential Blaxploitation funk with slippery bass, sleazy guitars and Edwin's velvet vocals that can go from purring to roaring in 0.03 seconds. Limited to one per customer, jump on this as soon as you can.
Review: Caravela are an Afro-Brazilian quintet with members from Portugal, South America, Australia and the UK. Their music is an exploration of the communal traditional and spiritual music of Lusophone countries like Brazil and Cape Verde approached with a contemporary groove and feel. Caravela shine a light on traditional rhythms and styles and reimagine them with a jazz attitude of improvisation. Blending influences like Baden Powell, Mayra Andrade and Lionel Loueke, Caravela's exploration of Afro-Brazilian music on their debut EP is not to be missed.
Review: Brazil 45s hit the quarter century in their run and show no sign of stopping. It's an all-girl affair on this one as two hugely popular and prolific singers take a spin under Mr Bongo's spotlight. Elizabeth (often known as Elizete) lays down a steamy samba flavour that gets raunchier as the track develops. Elza, meanwhile, gets busy on a Bossa tip as a carnival of percussion and horns go toe-to-toe with her sharp, sexy staccato vocals. Powerful.
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: Late 70s funk fusion from Tunisia: capturing the moment leading Tunis bands Dalton and Marhaba Band joined forces for some legendary disco fusion. "Alech" ignites with a Doobie Brothers style shiny guitar, big slap bass and soaring synth work while "Hanen" is a little more introspective and soulful with its honeyed harmonies and cascading chord sequence. Complete with instrumentals.
Review: Moving further into the '70s Brazilian scene, Mr Bongo delivers two supreme pop scorchers by Celia, the sweet-faced artiste who released so much great music back in the day. Her "Na Boca Do Sol" is a gentle soul journey that brings out the best in her own voice, and in the Brazilian style of that era. "A Hora E Essa" is more of a dancefloor tune, more uptempo and less reliant on the sensuality and sexiness of the A-side. Excellent, as per usual.
Review: Two more rare grooves purloined from Cultures Of Soul's Brasileiro Treasure Box Of Funk & Soul and delivered on a sweet 45: Celia's "A Hora E Essa" is a steamy Latin funk workout from 72; all horns, cuicas and soft, honeyed vocals. Franco's "Ei, Voce, Psiu!" takes a more US funk idea with Franco's spoken vocals giving off a strong air of bandleader as the band lock down a tight groove beneath. Watch out for samba flip towards the end. Blink and you'll miss it.
Review: A prize gem in Rocafort's Africa Gone Funkee crown, "Aw' Ye Douba Ke" was the final salvo of Burkina-born Cisse's debut album Les Vautours. Kudos to the Rocafort crew for this 7" reissue! With its soft build, the classic highlife guitars play the perfect subtle backdrop for Cisse's strong yearning vocals as we develop into something really funky indeed with big horn and organ solos. Flip for a special, percussion-heavy shake-up of his 1975 single "A Son Magni". Overwhelming.
Review: A 12-strong gang of classically trained Italian Afrobeat disciples, Classica Orchestra Afrobeat return to their 2011 debut album Shrine On You. A celebration of Fela Kuti's legacy, complete with Fela's son Seun, it's a rich, heavily textured take on the raw funk sound Fela helped shape in the 70s. "Zombie" oozes instant charm thanks to the sing-along vocal refrain and tight groove. "Water No Get Enemy" showcases the troupe's orchestrated skills with even more detail; firing with the instantly distinctive riff of the original, it manages to celebrate the rawness of the original while adding a whole host of textures and ideas. Complete with a special download of the original album, this is a really special release.
Claudette & Ti Pierre - "Zanmi Camarade" (Tropical Treats edit)
Ti Marcel - "Nan Point La Vie" (Siwo version)
Ibo Combo - "Mateau"
Les Lups Noirs - "Pile Ou Face"
Review: Killer new Sofrito 12" with hypnotic Carnival rhythms, DIY electro and vital Compas experiments from the Haitian archives! Lead in the way is a subtle edit of "Zanmi Camarade" from Claudette & Ti Pierre by Stockholm's Tropical Treats crew, this 1979 cover version of the folk song that is quite bewildering, with haunting vocals weaving a spell over a heavy polyrhythmic drum machine groove and arpeggiated synth backing. Just as impressive is the Siwo update of Ti Marcel's rugged, hypnotic Rara track "Nan Point La Vie" is dominated by the single-note 'Vaksin' bamboo flute, which Sofrito call "nature's sub-bass". Holding it down on the B Side is some untreated material, with an Ibo Combo cover of Coupe Cloue's evergreen "Mateau" complemented by a "Pile ou Face" from Les Loups Noirs which was a highlight of the Strut compilation Haiti Direct.
Review: Supreme musica popular Brasileira and bossa-nova vibes here on two tracks from Mr Bongo's leading Brazilian 45's lady, Claudia. "Deixa o Morro Cantar" features on Claudia's very first 7", released in 1965 by RGE Brazil. Her version of "Mas Que Nada" is said to be more of a jazzy/folk-funk take on the Ben classic. A relatively recent discovery made during the label's last trip to Brazil, Maria das Gracas Rallo was born in 1946 in Rio de Janeiro. She has become the most awarded singer outside of her home country and was most popular internationally in 1982 with the song "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" from the musical Evita. Moreover, she has recorded over twenty albums and has amassed huge record sales throughout her successful career.
Review: Jane, Roberto, and Sidey Morais - Brazil's Os Tres Morais - are placed alongside the wonderful Claudia for the latest all Brazilian showdown courtesy of the always point-side Brazil45 series from the Mr. Bongo label. The latter gives us the mythical "Garra", a tune that sits very nicely next to the likes of Marcos Valle and co, and the singing trio get a reissue of 2006's "Freio Aerodinamico", a gorgeous blend of samba, disco, and something perfectly exotic and vintage. Heart-warmers.
Review: Joaquin "Joe" Clausell has been using the Bolla alias to deliver authentic blends of indigenous African music and winding deep house since 2005, though it was only earlier this year that he released the project's debut album. This 12" boasts extended, club-friendly versions of tracks from that full-length, the impressive Makussa. There's much to enjoy, from the toughened-up Afro-disco revivalism of "Disco Afri Co Co (Extended Version)", and intense, deep space drum workout "A Means of Communication (Freaky Dub)", to the trumpet-laden Afro-house niceness of "Wandolo Feat Bonga (Freaky Dub Extended)". There's also a fine trip into downtempo pastures in the shape of "Ninaitwa (Called By The Drum)".
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: From the label who gave us Human Egg, The Joubert Singers and The Real Fake MC comes yet another startlingly refreshing piece of jazz funk. Last Bongo In Paris (AKA old Favorite faces Cleon and Jazzy Pidjay) fire up a soft riff fusion between the horn and percussion sections while the piano confirms the Caribbean flavour you can hear on the refrains. "Samba A L'aeroport" lives up to its name; a samba, naturally, it's played softly with an over cheeriness and a cyclic loop as you'd imagine to hear played for infinity in an airport lounge. But in a 'going on holiday' kinda way and not a 'delayed for nine hours and want to kill people' type of way. Sun kissed and soulful.
Review: Ace London tropical disco crew Sofrito return with another crucial twelve that introduces both us and you to the lesser spotted Nigerian Acid Boogie! The epitome of hen's teeth rarity, Benis Cletin's "Jungle Magic" was originally out on Afrodisia in 1979, and still sounds absolutely amazing today. A tough bassline combines effortlessly with a thumping groove that sits between Lagos and Detroit, whilst a brilliantly crazy acid synth lead lends the track a truly psychedelic edge. Add to this the vocal elements that channel the spirits of Donna Summer and Lee Perry and you cannot help but dance. The flip is just as good, "Money Makes Man Mad" launching straight into an infectious uptempo groove of percussion, funked out guitar licks and cowbell. The playful rhythmic interchange between the organ flourishes and storms of gut punching percussion lay will have explosive results. Highly recommended!