Review: Arabic music crate-diggers Habibi Funk have so far proved adept at unearthing killer material from the 1970s and '80s that joins the dots between indigenous styles and dominant Western genres. Their latest collection focuses on the work of 1970s Egyptian band Al Massireen, an outfit funded by one of the country's most successful producers of the period, Hany Shenoda. Modern Music, so called because the band was Shenoda's attempt to modernize Arabic music, includes tracks taken from a wealth of forgotten cassettes and albums. Musically, it's rather special; a heady blend of Arabic vocals and instrumentation, orchestral disco influences, blue-eyed soul, grown-up pop and dreamy West Coast style rock.
Review: Habibi Funk co-founder Jannis Stuertz first came across "the Holy Grail of Sudanese funk", Saif Abu Bakr and The Scorpions "Jazz, Jazz, Jazz", while browsing eBay listings a few years back. His interest piqued, he took a trip to Sudan to track down the musicians who had made a ridiculously rare LP that was changing hands for thousands of pounds online. Some four years later, his wish to reissue the set has finally come through. It was originally recorded in Kuwait in 1980 and brilliantly joins the dots between American funk, soul and rhythm and blues, traditional Sudanese vocals and rhythmic arrangements, and even a dash of Congolese soukkous. It's the first full album Habibi Funk has reissued, and with good reason: it's near perfect from start to finish.