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.
Roger Damawuzan - "Loxo Nye" (Pushin Wood remix) (5:39)
Napo De Mi Amor - "Cacatchoule "Berceuse Bassari"" (3:04)
Sewavi Jacintho - "Miade Dua" (5:35)
Review: Hot Casa's latest must-have release is a veritable smorgasbord of Togolese treats. It focuses specifically on obscure soul music made in Togo in the 1970s, with two hard-to-find original cuts being joined by two contemporary re-edits of similarly obscure classics. The EP opens with Bosq's smooth, dancefloor-focused tweal of Yta Jourias's breezy, horn-heavy tropical soul workout "Adome Nyueto", before Pushin Wood takes over and adds a little contemporary electronic bounce - and some particularly colourful synths - to Roger Damawuzan's "Loxo Nye". Over on side B, Napo De Mi Amor's "Cacatchoule Berceuse Bassari" is a fuzzy soul shuffler rich in bright, Juju style guitar solos, hazy vocals and Hammond organ stabs, while Sewavi Jacintho's "Miade Dua" is a sweatier and heavier concoction powered by loose-limbed drumming and sun-kissed instrumentation.
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: Some of you may remember Ricardo Vincenzo from his 2015 debut Pororoca Transatlantica, a two-track missive that blended South American production with all the warmth of sun-kissed downtempo electronica. If anything, this belated follow-up for esteemed Finnish label Sahko is even better. Vincenzo begins with the farmyard animal samples, rolling tribal percussion, African chants and rich electronic bass of "Cabras No Elevado Quilombia", before chopping and looping a dusty old tango track on the mid-tempo house pulse of "Onna No Yujo". On the flip you'll find the low-slung, post-dubstep creepiness of "Haru", where exotic vocal samples drift across a sparse but heavy beat pattern, and the aural trip to Morocco that is "Excellent Drom".
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: Labels Hot Mule and Secousse have teamed up to deliver something special: a killer EP of "lost gems from the golden era of Zouk and Gwo-Ka" in Guadeloupe (that's 1985 to '92, fact fans). The four tracks showcased here were performed and produced by an artist whose fame in Guadeloupe sadly never spread any further, Max Rambhojan. The A-side boasts two versions of the rather brilliant and suitably cheery "Tou't Jou Pa Min'm": the jaunty, sun-kissed, whistle-sporting 1986 original mix, and Rambhojan's heavily electronic, synthesizer-heavy, calypso-tinged 1992 re-make of his biggest local hit. Over on side B you'll find the bubby dub bass, sparse synths and flute solos of the decidedly tropical "Cecilia" and a suitably breezy, sunset-ready gem entitled "On Jou Matin".
Ronaldo Reseda - "E Novamente Mas Que Nada" (5:19)
Robson Jorge & Lincoln Olivetti - "Ginga" (2:57)
Review: The 65th volume in Mr Bongo's admirable Brazil 45s series shines a light on Rio De Janeiro's turn-of-the-'80s boogie scene. On the A-side you'll find "E Novamente Mas Que Nada" by Ronaldo Resado, a five-minute chunk of samba-laced boogie sunshine that was originally featured on the artist's eponymous 1979 debut album. While wonderful, it's slightly overshadowed by flipside cut "Ginga", one of the highlights from Robson Jorge and Lincoln Olivetti's sought-after 1982 full-length (which, incidentally, was recently reissued by Mr Bongo and is well worth checking). Joining the dots between synth-heavy electrofunk, horn-toting disco-funk and languid jazz-funk, the instrumental track is arguably one of the best Brazilian boogie records ever made. Don't sleep.
Review: The Fantastic Voyage label kicks off with a summery joint from RFX, otherwise known as Pharmacy Records mainstay Roman FX, straight out of Hong Kong. There's an undeniable African lilt to these tracks, shot through with a classic 90s house twist - just check the infectious bump of "Indaba Kabani". "Gambian Neptune" has a snappier feel, channeling the vibe of 80s extended dubs with its strident drum section and bombastic atmosphere. "Nigerian Charon" has an interesting mixture of vibes going on, part Art of Noise mash up and part peak time synth sizzler, while "Sudanese Xena" heads into the heat of night, conjuring up a seductive, swirling mood to get truly lost in.
Review: While he lived a musical life that spanned from boogie to gospel before he passed away in 2016, Nairobi's David Waciuma didn't get to record much. He was known much more for his live performances with bands such as The Monks Experience then, later, Rapture Voices who he recorded these two records in the mid-70s. "Devil Go" is a thumping rhythm and blues call and response piece while "Jesu Kristo" hits with more of a frazzled bluesy funk. Both make you wish he recorded much more.
Orchestre GMI - Groupement Mobil D'Intervention - "Africa" (6:52)
Orchestre Bawobab - "Thiely" (5:00)
Le Saorouba De Louga - "Bour Sine" (3:49)
King N'Gom Et Les Perles Noires - "Viva Marvillas" (5:35)
Orchestre Laye Thiam - "Massani Cisse" (5:51)
Amara Toure Et Le Star Band De Dakar - "El Carretero" (5:22)
Tropical Jazz - "Kiko Medina" (4:43)
Orchestre Laye Thiam - "Kokorico" (6:50)
Gestu De Dakar - "Ndiourel" (5:19)
Orchestre Bawobab - "Ma Penda" (5:20)
Orchestre Laye Thiam - "Sanga Te" (5:44)
Review: A detailed document that captures a unique period in African music history: the most western point of Africa had attracted all manner of traders and visitors over the years but it was the Cubans and Americans who really left their mark with soul, jazz and son montuno. By the '70s cities such as Dakar and Thies had become hotbeds of national acts who'd repurposed these influences with their own west African musicianship. And while many of them recorded music, not all of them released it. Here we find 12 of over 300 never-released-before recordings recently curated by audio archaeologist Adamantios Kafetzis and Thies sound engineer Moussa Diallo. Complete with a 12 page booklet detailing the era's history with levels of research it's never enjoyed before, this took four years in the making and you can really tell.
Review: Eight years on from its previous reissue (that time courtesy of Analog Africa's "Limited Dance Edition" series), Mr Bongo is offering up a fresh, licensed re-press of Rob's eponymous 1977 Afro-funk masterpiece. If you missed out in 2011, the set is definitely worth picking up because it's rock solid heat from start to finish. Check, for example, the heavily percussive Afro-beat/Afro-funk fusion of "Funky Rob Way", the flanged funk guitars and heavy brass action of "Boogie On", the jazz guitars and loved-up vocals of "Your Kiss Stole Me Away" and the William Onyeabor-does-James-Brown heaviness of closing cut "More".
Review: Soundway surpass themselves again with this wonderful reissue from the Ghanaian artist Rob, who released two albums back in 1977 for the West African Essiebons label. Rob was a seasoned musician in the 70?s, having recorded and toured with many well known bands. The album is a somewhat Spartan, brooding affair where less is most definitely more as slow burning, hip swaying cosmic funk drenched compositions are offset by wonderful punchy brass arrangements. A slow burning pulse is present throughout with highlights being ''Loose up Yourself'' and the irreplaceable carnal conquest anthem '' Make it Fast, Make it Slow''. Songs of celebration sit alongside other pieces of introspection and socially conscious topics; some might criticise the odd duff notes and occasional raw vocal edge, but this just adds texture to the overall performance and vibe. Without question one of the best reissues of 2012.
Review: One of the many remarkable things about Rock Town Express's 1974 debut album - originally eponymously titled but now renamed after the album's most celebrated track - is that it was the work of just two musicians, who each manned multiple instruments during the recording process. Given that it sounds fiendishly loose and live, as if it was laid down in one take, that's seriously impressive. As an album, it offers a decidedly fuzzy fusion of early Afrobeat, Sly Stone style funk-rock and the mind of heady psychedelic rock that's more associated with bands from San Francisco. In other words, it's the kind of obscure but brilliant Afro-rock fusion that you need in your life.
Review: A welcomed heavyweight vinyl reissue of 1994 GRAMMY award winning album from two of the 20th century's most inspirational, creative bluesmen from two wholly contrasting sides of the world: Ali Farka and Ry Cooder. Most of Talking Timbuktu kicks its feet in the dusty plains of Mali with traditional instrumentation and time signatures before dropping into occasional splashes of soul surging blues such as the fiddle-like picking of "Ai Du" and the foot-stamping yearns of "Amandrai". A timeless meeting of two amazing minds that will never happen again, this should be reissued every 20 years by law to ensure future generations are aware this happened.