Review: Four years on from their last outing, Japan's premier neo-Afrobeat band returns to the warm embrace of Soul Garden Records. A-side "Scarface" is arguably one of the band's most addictive and ear-pleasing tracks yet; a rousing Afrobeat workout that sees band members trading solos over a densely percussive, Fela Kuti style workout. In a bid to let us have a bit of a breather, flipside "This Day" is a more languid and laidback affair, with drunken trumpet solos and jammed-out keys relaxing over a shuffling, Afro-Latin groove. As ever, the playing is immaculate and the production authentically fuzzy. Worth a listen.
Review: Nu-wave afrobeat swingers, Jaribu Afrobeat Arkestra, touch back down on Masamichi Ishikawa's Soul Garden, and they have arrived just in time for what we hope to be a blazing hot summer of joyful Fela vibes. In fact, these guys have cited Kuti as their main inspiration - which is always a good thing, in our opinion - and the title track "Bomb" is clearly of that ilk, unleashing a driving bass surrounded by wild chanting and a little disco sensibility. On the flipside, "Panama" provides a deeper, cooler edge that's much more in line with Kuti's work alongside the Afrika 70 band, with booming horns guiding the jazzed-out percussion. LUSH!
Review: Fela Kuti fans Jaribu Afrobeat Arkestra last came to our attention in 2014 via a fantastic sophomore set on Soul Garden. Here, the Japanese neo-Afrobeat combo returns to the same imprint with the first of two simultaneously released 7" singles. A-side "Eastern Comfort" is a typically jaunty and undulating affair, with bold, Fela-esque tenor sax motifs and delay-laden spoken work vocals dancing around Nigeria '70 guitars and loose, Tony Allen style drums. Flipside "Eko Ile" is an altogether more forthright and up-tempo affair whose rasping horns and JuJu guitars are slightly overshadowed by some elongated organ action.
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.
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.
Review: Juan Laya and Jorge Montiel pay homage to the heartland with this beguiling album. A deep trip up and down the amazon, hopping off as and when they see fit, the album sees them paying homage to Latin standards such as "Fruta Fresca" and "Manduco". Rebuilding them electronically with, no doubt, a fair few classic synths in the mix. From disco to blues with just a touch of Latin folk magic, it's yet another unique and vital trip from the Los Charly's Orchestra lads.
Review: Los Charly's Orchestra sorts Juan Laya and Jorge Montiel impressed earlier in the year with "Electropical", a set of sensuous re-imaginings of Latin standards in a synthesizer/drum machine style. This follow-up is equally as impressive. The sensual samba-boogie goodness of "Esta Musica", features the wonderful vocals of Andre Espeut, the delayed-laden Balearic-goes-Amazonian breeze of "Sabana", and the jazz-wise, percussion-rich brilliance of "Semana Santa En Achaguas". Elsewhere, Pete Herbert re-imagines "Sabana", a jaunty, synth-heavy chunk of Balearic nu-disco brilliance while Oyobi delivers a fine broken beat/synth-funk fusion version of "Vuelo Del Condor". Simply essential.
Review: Mukatsuku struck gold again on this latest first time on a "45" issue. It boasts a couple of lesser-known jazz-funk fusion jams which originally featured on Argentine musician Jorge Navarro's 1977 album "Navarro Con Polenta", an LP that has never been issued outside of South America. A-side "Funk Yourself" is a bustling, high-octane jazz-funk Hammond licks and spiralling horns jumping above a Blaxploitation style backing track. "Repartamos El Funky" is a more laid back but no less musically intricate affair, with a variety of high-grade electric piano and guitar solos riding seemingly endless jazz style drum solos and rubbery bass. Juno hand-numbered copies come in exclusive sleeves and this 45 not be repressed. DJ Support comes from Ge-ology, Dom Servini, DJ Koco (Japan), DJ Food,The Allergies,45LIVE.net ,Dr Bob Jones,Rob Luis, Smoov and more
Sonia Santos - "Poema Ritmico Do Malandro (Balanco Do Crioulo)" (2:53)
Joao Donato - "Cala Boca Menino" (2:21)
Review: Killer samba from the Mr Bongo crew here on the 23rd edition of their ever impressive Brazil 45s series. Any samba scholar worth their salt will be familiar with Sonia Santos's wondrously psychedelic "Poema Ritmico Do Malandro (Balanco Do Crioulo)", which was originally released back in 1971 on the Copablanca label and has popped up every now and again on compilations. Drop this in the dance and watch it go crazy! On the flip Mr Bongo dig up the horn heavy funk jammer "Cala Boca Menino" from Joao Donato, a hugely talented pianist, singer and composer whose vast discography is worth further investigation!
Review: Love Circle returns for a second release, digging deep into the misty past of golden era disco and finding rare gold for the reissue market to rejoice at. This time it's the work of Barry Blue and two projects he produced in the early 80s, lovingly re-edited for maximum dancefloor pleasure by Velvet Season & The Hearts Of Gold (aka gerry Rooney and Joel Martin). First up is surefire party starter "Breakin In" by Javaroo, and on the flip it's low down seduction workout "Love The Way You Love Me" by Marti Cane getting a fresh airing for all vintage-minded dancers and DJs.
Review: With that excellent pair of remixes from Place No Blame's label debut last year still ringing in our heads, we've been awaiting new material from London's Japan Blues with a worrying level of anticipation. While his reworks of DJ Slyngshot's equally magnetic tunes saw the mask-ridden producer branch out onto new territories, this LP marks another significant change in his approach to releasing music. Sells His Record Collection, as with anything this man does, is an honest approach to sampling and a magnificent reflection of so many years spent digging through Japanese records. From folk dances, to soundtrack scores, and even glitchy waves of post-punk beats, this is an unmissable excursion into the most unknown territories of the music that the Far Easte Asian's island has to offer. There are few people who have taken such care, attention and dedication to bringing the listener a singular view of the country's music, and there is something in here for any serious music connoisseur's ears. Unmissable (and limited!).
Review: Jay-U Experience was the musical alter ego of Justus Nnakwe, a Nigerian musician who featured in several psychedelic rock and funk combos during the late '70s and early '80s. Collectors of Nigerian music have long sought out copies of his 1977 debut album, Enough is Enough, a fact that has inspired Soundway to prepare this licensed reissue. It's a thoroughly vibrant and entertaining set that sees Nnawke slip between leisurely reggae-pop ("Reggae Deluxe"), acid-fried Afro-funk ("Get Yourself Together"), sax-fuelled dancefloor psychedelia ("Some More") and fuzzy, organ-laden funk-rock heaviness (freaky closer "Baby Rock"). Given that finding original copies is near impossible these days, even for those who spend their lives digging in Lagos, this should be an essential purchase for fans of Nigerian music.
A2 (feat Loa Myst & Nu Fvnk - El Buho remix) (6:53)
A1 (Sooma remix) (7:32)
Review: The Banana Hill crew continue in their quest to represent some of the finest sounds transmitting from the African continent, this time showcasing the immersive ruminations of Kenya's Jinku. "A1" takes a seriously deep trip into stripped back house percussion and atmospheric vocal chants, while "N1" sports a more jagged rhythm section that meanders through emotive suites of sound before the mellower downtempo mood of "N2". On the flip, "A2" features moody vocal turns from Loa Myst and Nu Fvnk that suit the laconic house structure, which El Buho gently nudges into a more crooked remix without losing the heady atmosphere. Sooma then tackles "A1" and ups the bass-led house pressure with a measured touch that respectfully embellishes the original.
Review: Between the mid 1970s and the late 1980s, Cameroonian duo J.M Tim and Foty recorded a string of killer Afro-funk albums. This superb compilation from Africa Seven shines a light on the best of the duo's early work, with each of the ten tracks recorded between 1977 and '79. There's much to set the pulse racing throughout, from the crunchy Clavinets, punchy horns and heavy grooves of opener "Douala By Night" and the rubbery disco-funk of "More and More", to the swirling, celebratory vocals, sun-kissed guitars and dazzling analogue synth solos of "Ale". Elsewhere, check the Bee Gees-in-Cameroon flex of "Funky Boogie Love" and "I Love Youande", a breezy affair with a touch of country-funk swing and an a sublime bass guitar riff.
Review: Insane boogie fire from Rio circa 82; both Robson Jorge and Lincoln Olivetti were already decorated before they joined forces, but this one took both of their reputations and amplified them beyond expectation. Their one and only album, it's loaded with soul and funk from every corner of Brazil's sexy city and brought together with beautiful attention to detail; the gradual vocal breakdowns, rude synths and lavish instrumental sections, key cuts such as the Wonder-level "Aleluia", the jazz slides and glides of "Pret-A-Porter" and the sexy 80s electro boogie "Squash" will still completely flip any party 35 years later. Stunning.
Review: The Brazilian singer-songwriter and guitarist Joyce Silveira Moreno was born and raised in the middle of Copacabana, a short beach stroll from the epicentre of the bossa nova universe.Her father was a Dane that had settled in Brazil, but she was raised by her mother and step-father in a typical Portuguese-Brazilian household. Since her older brother was friendly with leading lights of the bossa nova movement such as Roberto Menescal and Eumir Deodato,she was steeped in the form at an early age and witnessed its key evolution first-hand. At theage of 16 in 1964, she was taken to the studio by Menescal to contribute to the coveted debut album by the mythical group Sambacana, assembled to record the work of composer Pacifico Mascarenhas when the meagre budget would not allow the vocalists he preferred. Knowingthat a full-time career in music was certainly not guaranteed, she began studying journalism in 1967, shortly before her controversial song "Me Disseram" reached the finals of Rio's second International Song Competition. The following year, her self-titled debut album was released by Philips, produced by Armando Pittigliani, with orchestration by Dorival Caymmi and arrangements by Gaya; along with her own compositions, the album also featured songs by her rising-star friends, including Caetano Veloso and Marcos Valle.
Review: Just shy of a year after their last Electropical escapade, Juan Laya and Jorge Montiel return with another fiery fusion of afrobeat, Latin, funk and disco treats. This time recorded in the Bolivar Film Studios, Caracas with Venezuelan drum ensemble, we're treated to two new originals and two exceptional updates. "San Juan" hits with a sleazy, dreamy groove and yearning vocals crying over the top while "Electropical" is an immense hit of percussive magic that gradually opens up into technoid chords that no crowd will hear coming. Flip for a loose-limed and sparkly take on the proto house blueprint "Spacial Paradise" and contemporary, heavier hitting take on their 2011 evergreen dancefloor kiss "Sexmachina". Get on the scene...
Review: Under the Junior Mendes alias, Luiz Mendes Jr was a key figure on the Brazilian funk/soul scene of the '70s and early '80s. As writer, composer and producer, he had a hand in a variety of releases by such big-hitting Brazilian artists as Banda Black Rio and Tim Maia. In 1982 he recorded and released his sole solo album, Cococabana Sadia, a set that remains virtually unknown outside of his native Brazil. As this Athens of the North reissue proves, it's something of an overlooked gem. Musically, it's typically of boogie-era Brazilian soul and funk, mixing native rhythms and instrumentation with elements borrowed from disco, jazz-funk and bouncy dancefloor soul. It's unashamedly sunny and positive, too, and should be essential listening for anyone who loves Latin disco and boogie.