Review: Matasuna Records' latest release offers up two sought-after tracks from Bossa 70, a relatively short-lived Peruvian band whose ultra-limited 1970 releases (a total of 400 copies were pressed of their sole single and eponymous debut album) brilliantly joined the dots between jazz, bossa, soul and funk. Listening to these cuts for the first time, it's easy to see why Matasuna has gone to the trouble of licensing them: A-side "Si Voce Pensa" is an inspired Peruvian funk cover of a 1968 Roberto Carlos track rich in bustling breakbeats, punchy horns and confident female vocals. Just as potent is the band's flipside cover of Baden Powell's "Berimbau", which puts a funk-soul twist on a certified bossa-nova classic.
Review: It makes sense that Names You Can Trust would be fans of Conjunto Papa Upa - after all, the band's first two seven-inch singles (released in 2013 and 2015 respectively) offered a suitably psychedelic and soulful fusion of African, Caribbean and South America sounds fully in keeping with the Brooklyn label's open-minded ethos. This "45" is a teaser of sorts, offering as it does two cuts destined for the Amsterdam-based outfit's long promised, forthcoming debut album. A-side "El Secreto Del Metalero" is particularly potent, offering a suitably psychedelic, heavily electronic 21st century take on Cumbia full of weirdo electronics, twisted vocals, rumbling sub-bass and colourful synth lines. In contrast, "Chicarron Puelo" is a little more traditional-sounding, delivering a formidably fuzzy fusion of dancefloor-focused Latin rhythms and 1960s style psychedelia.
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: "Der Say Ah" has long been a banger on dance floors tuned into international sounds. It's the sort of bouncy afrobeat and sax-laced classic that has been fetching huge amounts online. DJs like Gilles Peterson and Nightmare on Wax have been playing it for yonks and now, after many years of it being out of print, it is back courtesy of Push The Fader. The Akoya Re-Rub mix here was mixed by Ben Kane who worked on D'Angelo's Black Messiah, so this sounds beyond good. The 7" version comes from DJ Spinna with extra keys from Ticklah, psyched out bass and extra dub feelings.
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: They may not have released many records, but samba/soul/jazz fusionists the Han Litz group have been mainstays of the Dutch scene for a decade. Here they return with a wonderfully breezy, samba-soaked collection of cuts that's remarkably their first ever outing on wax. The A-side begins with two warm, afternoon fresh tracks that sound like authentic Brazilian samba jams from the 1970s, before Litz and company indulge in a little flute-heavy jazz ("Preludia") and Afro-tinged broken beat/jazz fusion ("Yemaya Olodo"). Also impressive is closing cut "Epiphany", which has been transformed by Yoruba Soul man Osunlade into a sumptuous shuffle through deep house/samba fusion complete with Flamenco style Spanish guitar solos.
Review: The Polyversal Souls are renowned for the strength of their collaborative singles, which to date have featured all manner of legends and rising stars from the underground African music scene. This time around, the German-Ghanaian band provides high-grade backing for guest vocalist Frank Karikari, son of legendary Highlife musician Ralph Karikari. The A-side medley of "Siakwaa/Nana Agyei" is particularly good, with Karikari's confident lead vocal rising above shuffling, soft-focus drums and ear-catching juju guitars. Flipside cut "Odo Agye Gye Me" is great, too, offering a slightly more upbeat and undeniably percussive fusion of highlife/Afrobeat fusion.
Review: Having previously toured with bands including Orgone and Monophonics, Venice Beach vocalist Terin Moswen Ector is trying his hand as a solo artist. Transistor Sound has snapped up his forthcoming debut album, and here offer up a tasty two-track teaser. "Rise" is utterly gorgeous and sees Moswen's inspired, Bob Marley influenced vocal rising above a brilliant bed of skittish, Afro-Cuban jazz influenced grooves, clipped guitars, fuzzy Hammond organ motifs and rich horns. He moves further towards Fela Kuti style Afrobeat territory on heavyweight flipside "Tobacco & Sage", a killer instrumental club-rocker and a half.
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
Review: Johannesburg's Maboneng Precinct is the home of Afrosynth Records and for the last two years it has been an absolute hotbed of reissued African music. This latest missive is originally from 1984 by Obed Ngobeni and his backing singers the Kurhula Sisters, who helped pioneer the Shangaan Disco style that heavily influenced South Africa's bubblegum sound of the 80s. Now a go-to genre for cult favs like Antal and Hunee, they're sure to lap up the hurried funk and proto-house of "Ta Duma", which comes in three slightly different versions. "Xikhobva" closes things in loose percussive fashion with a guitar-driven groove.
Review: The Fantastic Voyage label kicks off with a summery joint from RFX, otherwise known as Pharmacy Records mainstay Romain 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.
Ebo Taylor - "Peace On Earth" (Monsieur Scott remix) (4:55)
Pat Thomas - "We Are Coming Home" (5:51)
Pat Thomas - "We Are Coming Home" (2 Paris Septembre re-edit) (4:51)
Review: Comet's ongoing "Highlife Re-Edit" series is perfect for those who want a little contemporary pizzazz alongside their Afro-disco grooves and dancefloor-ready highlife classics. Like its predecessor, the series' latest volume boasts cuts from highlife legends Ebo Taylor and Pat Thomas. The former's punchy, breezy and trumpet-laden highlife-jazz cut "Peace On Earth" can be found on side A, alongside a dreamy Monsieur Scott version that drags the track further towards leisurely jazz-house territory. The Pat Thomas track showcased on side B is "We Are Coming Home", a righteous highlife/funk fusion effort rich in dense percussion and eyes-closed rock guitar solos. The accompanying 2 Paris Septembre Re-Edit brilliantly re-invents it as a bustling broken beat affair laden in shimmering synths and squelchy electronic bass.