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.
Review: Soundway has high hopes for the third album by "underground super-producer" Lord Echo. That set is due to appear in early 2017, and as a taster, they've decided to drop this fine single. "Just Do You" features the vocals of Mara TK of Electric Wire Hustle fame, and is a deliciously cheery chunk of Caribbean inspired dub disco indulgence. It's accompanied by a fine Dub - which, naturally, features more tape delay and a tougher, stripped back groove - and an instrumental version. There's also a bonus cut in the shape of "Only You", which features regular Lord Echo collaborator Toby Laing, best known as a member of globe-trotting Kiwi supergroup Fat Freddy's Drop.
Review: Over the course of the last decade, dub-soaked musical fusionist Lord Echo has delivered a string of fine releases, including two top-notch albums. Given his fine track record, it's perhaps unsurprising that Soundway has snapped up the Kiwi producer's third full-length excursion, Harmonies. It features contributions from a posse of guest collaborators - Tony Laing of Fat Freddy's Drop and regular studio buddy Mara TK included - and giddily infuses reggae and rocksteady with disco, Afro-soul, Afro-funk, Afro-beat, spiritual jazz and, more surprisingly, techno. It's a hugely vibrant and entertaining set, all told, offering a good balance between dancefloor vibrations and more laidback concoctions.
Review: Destination mid 70s Nairobi where Madagascan guitarist Jimmy Mawi was laying down some serious vibes... Signed to EMI's Pathe imprint, he released three singles during his career which have all since faded to obscurity. Until now. Dusty, garagey and steaming with raw blues fusion, it's hard to deny any parallels to Hendrix as Mawi expresses himself with a rough heartfelt frenzy. Highlights include the Zep-level smoked out soul of "Blue Star Blues" and the insistent drive and reverbed out faraway vocals on "Black Dialogue". Another exemplary Afro-funk find from Soundway.
Review: Long lost groove gold from South Africa, The Movers blessed the world with almost 20 albums during their tenure throughout the late 60s / 70s. A fluid collective with scant documentation on their history, key players changed in the band frequently but Soundway have traced the credits of this rare opus down to producer David Thekwane and musicians Jabu Sibumbe, L Rhikoti, Lloyd Lelosa and Sankie Chounyane. Whoever the line-up was, the key sounds were always consistent as the troupe writhed and frolicked around disco soul axis, as is best celebrated here on the thumping funk fusion of the title track, the sweaty insistency and tightness of "Beat" and the awesome falsettos of "Work Is Done".
Review: Conceived by Colombian musician Mario Galeano and English producer Will Holland, (better known as Quantic), Ondatropica brings together Colombian legends and young musicians alike and mixes up Columbian styles such as cumbia and champeta with beatboxing, hip-hop and funk. Although the project is undeniably audacious, the results are hugely impressive, with classical styles going hand in hand with all manner of analogue squiggles and experimental dub. Highlights are too numerous to mention, but include the dubbed out weirdness and live instrumentation of "Punkero Sonidero" and the live beatboxing and copious effect mangling on "3 Reyes De La Terepia". The CD version also comes with a 52 page booklet telling the fascinating story behind the project.
Review: Back in 2012, Will "Quantic" Holland joined forces with Colombian musician Mario Galeano to form Ondatropica. The eponymous debut album that followed was quietly impressive, fusing traditional South American styles - cumbia, champeta etc. - with elements of hip-hop and funk, with the assistance of musicians from the vibrant Colombian scene. For this belated follow-up, the duo has tweaked the formula slightly, incorporating more from the Caribbean and African influences that have seeped into the music made around Bogota and Old Providence Island. While the palette of influences made be broader, the resultant music is every bit as enjoyable and entertaining as that found on its predecessor.
Review: Fela Kuti and Tony Allen are your key starting points when it comes to the wild frenetic Afrobeat fusion Nigeria gave us in the late 60s but dig a teeny bit deeper and you'll find multi instrumentalist Tunji is right behind them. Armed with his band The Benders, Tunji ran a tight ship and perhaps should've done with a little more recognition. Now living and gigging in London, he's curated this essential collection of tracks from Afrobeat's most prolific era.
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: With so many archival labels putting out compilations of 1970s Nigerian funk and disco, Soundway has decided to change tack. Doing It In Lagos is a primer on the country's lesser-celebrated 1980s boogie scene. According to the superb liner notes, most of the music on show here - and, yes, it's universally brilliant - was created by a younger generation of musicians who wanted to move away from Afrobeat, and further towards an authentically American style electrofunk sound. As a result, many of the tracks featured on Doing It In Lagos - not least Hotline's brilliant opener, Livy Ekemezie's disco-funk slammer "Holiday Action" and Sonny Enang's superb "Don't Stop That Music" - are every bit as special as the American-produced records they were trying to emulate.
Hafusa Abasi & Slim Ali with The Yahoos Band - "Sina Raha"
Nashil Pichen & The Eagles Lupopo - "Ng'ong'a Wa Mwanjalo"
Nairobi Matata Jazz - "Tamba Tamba"
The Lulus Band - "Ngwendeire Guita"
Mbiri Young Stars - "Ndiri Ndanogio Niwe"
The Lulus Band - "Nana"
Afro 70 - "Weekend"
The Rift Valley Brothers - "Mu-Africa"
DO 7 Band - "HO Ochiri"
Afro '70 - "Cha-Umheja"
Peter Tsotsi Juma & The Eagles Lupopo - "Kajo Golo-Weka"
New Gatanga Sound - "Thonia Ni Caki"
Sophia Ben & The Eagles Lupopo - "See Serere"
Kalambya Boys - "Kivelenge"
The Loi-Toki-Tok Band - "Leta Ngoma"
Huruma Boys Band - "Theresia"
Orchestre Veve Star - "Nitarudia"
The Mombasa Vikings - "Mama Matotoya"
The Lulus Band - "Mutumia Muriu"
Ndalani 77 Brothers - "Nzaumi"
Review: Having explored the rich heritage of Nigeria and Ghana with well researched vigour, Soundway turn to Kenya for their next adventure... A rare insight: while Lagos was churning out seminal Afrobeat compositions, Kenya took to western influences in a much subtler fashion. With heavy emphasis on the Kenyan benga and Afro-Cuban rumba there's a much deeper, local folk presentation and format throughout most of the selection. Complete with detailed notes and beautiful presentation (like all Soundway compendiums) this won't look out of place in any collection.
Lexy Mella - "On The Air" (Rap mix - Frankie Francis edit - bonus 7") (3:47)
Review: Soundway offer us a new compilation featuring 20 rare tracks from the currently much talked about world of Nigerian pop music; a zeitgeist of their early 1980s club culture. The country's economy was booming at the time and so was its recording industry. Strongly influenced by '70s disco and funk, this new generation were, as the liner notes explain "Eager to sound as American as possible with no hint of the fervour for afro-beat, afro-rock and afrocentric thinking that the 1970s had thrown up". The original albums that many of these singles came from go for exorbitant prices online, so here's a chance to snap up some of the periods finest music, remastered across three 12"s.
Review: Soundway's latest essential collection successfully shines a light on synth-heavy South African music of the 1980s, chronicling local musicians and producers' attempts to create their own hybrid forms of boogie, synth-soul and bubblegum pop. Naturally, compilers Miles Cleret and DJ Okapi have done a brilliant job bringing together killer cuts that showcase the best of South Africa's '80s synth sounds, while at the same time ensuring a high ratio of rare and hard-to-treats. While some of the tracks genuinely sound like they could have been made in New York, London or L.A, there are plenty of others that include multiple instrumental nods to a diverse range of contemporaneous South African sounds. Crucially, the music is superb throughout.