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: 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: 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.
Painel De Controle - "Relax" (extended Waxist version) (5:54)
Rabo De Saia - "Ripa Na Xulipa" (Charles Maurice extended version) (5:28)
Famks - "Labirinto" (Nick The Record extended version) (6:17)
Review: France's Favorite label dabbles in all things funky and disco-flavoured, and this time they've decided to go with a Brazilian edge on their latest 12". Painel De Controle begins with a Waxist mix of "Relax", a chilled-out boogie monster with sultry vocals, while "Ripa Na Xulipa" by Rabo De Saia is more uplifting and heavy on the disco strings. Finally, Nick The Record rewires "Labirinto" by Famks into a subtly electro-fied boogie nugget. Nice!
Review: When it comes to offering up re-mastered reissues of obscure Lebanese music, Wewantsounds has previous form. They've already delivered a new edition of Ziad Rahbani's "Abu Ali" LP and here serve up a fresh pressing of an album he produced: "Wahdon", a hard-to-find 1978 set by her mother, legendary Middle Eastern chanteuse Fairuz. It's a set of stark contrasts. While the A-side tracks indulge the more traditional side of Fairuz's output -think Lebanese vocals and instrumentation in the style of pop music from the region made in the period - the flipside cuts see her taking calculated risks. "Al Bosta" is a funk, soul and disco influenced club cut of the highest order, while "Wahdon" is a sumptuously symphonic soul slow jam straight from the top drawer.
Review: Austrian reissue merchants PMG come through with their second archival gem of the week, honing in on the mid to late '70s work of Libyan musician Ahmed Fakroun. This self-titled album is a must for vinyl-fancying Fakroun completists as it features all the tracks from his 1974 debut, Awedny, which has never before featured in this format. Complementing those ten tracks, PMG have also licensed two gems from the era - the 7" single "Auidny" he released in 1974 and "Nisyan" which came out some three years later. Fakroun's clear mastery of applying the flourishes of Western disco and pop to the traditional rai folk music of the Arabic region is apparent here on some of his earliest recordings. Delightful stuff.
Curimao (Sons Onomatopaicos E Folk Da Guine) (6:48)
Solito (Solo De Balaue) (4:29)
Danado Cantador (Balaue, Orquestra E Declamacao) (A Fagner) (4:46)
Review: For the first in a series of must-have reissues of obscure Brazilian treats, Optimo Music and Selva Discos have joined forces to offer up a new pressing of Fernando Falcao's superb 1981 debut, "Memoria Das Aguas". The eight-track set has long been considered something of a slept-on and hard-to-find classic, with Falcao conjuring up an octet of tracks that brilliantly join the dots between neo-classical movements, dreamy, percussion-led soundscapes (see the sublime "Amanhecer Tabajara (A Alceu Valenca)"), spiraling big band Afro-Brazilian jazz ("Ladeira Dos Inocentes"), intoxicating classical-jazz fusion ("Revoada") and experimental, beat-free sound collages ("Mercado"). In a word: exceptional.
Review: Selva Discos' Fernando Falcao reissue series continues via a fabulous new pressing of the Brazilian percussionist's experimental 1987 album "Barracas Barrocas". Like the artist's 1981 debut, it's a brilliantly eclectic and esoteric affair, offering up a heady - and uniquely South American - blend of off-kilter jazz, pastoral neo-classical compositions, academic ambient, jaunty tropical fusion, narrated soundscapes and heavy drum workouts. Given that it moves in a multitude of directions, the set actually holds together remarkably well, with Falcao's use of bespoke orchestration acting as a constant thread linking disparate sounds and styles. It's both utterly brilliantly and thoroughly mesmerizing, while the accompanying insert includes essays in Portuguese and English telling the story of the album and Falcao's little-known career.
Review: Thanks to an upsurge in interest in zouk, the synthesizer-heavy tropical style that emerged from the French Antilles in the early 1980s, reissues of superb but hard to find gems from the style's original heyday are becoming increasingly popular. This one from Strut Records is a peach. Originally released in 1988, "Las Pale" is the sole album from Feeling Kreyol, a female trio from Guadeloupe assembled and produced by local studio buffs Darius Denon and Frankie Brumier. It remains a brilliantly effervescent and colourful set, with the trio adding strong and attractive to distinctively tropical drum machine rhythms, shimmering synths, kaleidoscopic melodies and jangling guitars. In other words, it's a giddy blast of electronic tropical brilliance. Don't sleep.
Review: Admirable reissue imprint Comb & Razor Sound continues to unearth, license and re-print lesser-known gems from around the world. Their latest find is Fire Woman, the incredibly rare third album from little-known nine-piece Foundars 15. Interestingly, the album's tracks are not straight-up Afro-funk or Afro-beat workouts. Instead, they various take in Cymande style reggae/soul fusion, psychedelic '60s style pop, wild funk rock/Afrobeat fusion, Hammond-laden torch songs, and skewed Afro-jazz. It's a curious but hugely entertaining hotch-potch of styles that makes for hugely enjoyable listening from start to finish. Highlights include fuzzy, solo-laden closer "Ekele", the anthem-like "Simin Boogie" and Fela Kuti-ish "True Light".
Review: Durng the mid-to-late 1970s, the music scene in Nigeria was dominated by releases emerging from the recording studios of Lagos. Yet across in the Eastern city of Aba, groups who drew inspiration as much from American West Coast rock as the hard-edged funk of James Brown were making serious waves. Amongst these was the eight-piece Friimen Musik Company, whose obscure, 1978 album We Can Get It On has long been considered an overlooked classic. This reissue confirms that its fusion charms - think Afro-funk meets Steely Dan via Boz Scaggs and early Bee Gees - have not been eroded by the passage of time.
Review: Alongside Schema label-mate Nicola Conte, Gerardo Frisina has been at the forefront of the Italian nu-jazz scene for the best part of two decades. In that time, he's released a string of fine albums, though this full-length excursion - his sixth in total - is Frisina's first since 2014. Like previous sets, it's rooted in jazz and the heavily percussive rhythms of South America, but also looks to dub and deep house for inspiration. While some of the album's more traditional moments are very good - see the breezy "Blue Latin" and "Naquela Base" - it's those blessed with heavy sub-bass and lashings of echo and delay (check "InCantao" and "Baracoa") that hit home hardest.
Review: Here's something rather unusual: a reissue of two tracks from experimental New Zealand outfit From Scratch's 1983 12" 3 Pieces From Gung Ho 1,2,3D, plus a trio of contemporary translations. On the A-side of record one you'll find two of From Scratch's eccentric originals, which were created using "tuned PVC pipes, drums, chimes" and "whizzer drone" (nope, we've no idea either). Fundamentally, these are loose, languid, tribal-inspired percussion works created using custom-made instruments. It's perhaps fitting that one of the standout interpretations comes from percussion-obsessed, polyrhythmic techno specialist Don't DJ. His epic, hypnotic and trippy version is joined by a woozy cover from Japan's Goat and a drowsy, heavily electronic, ambient influenced translation by the Utena Kobayashi Group.