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: Sidiku is an impressive gentleman. A Ghanaian athlete turned musician with over 16 albums to his name he shook his country's music industry up as the chairman of the Ghanaian Copyright Society and now president of the Musicians Union of Ghana and the vice president of International Federation Of Musicians. He can also lay down a mean hook; "Anokwar (Truth)" is a firing slice of late 70s synth-infused afrofunk while "Music" comes a little later in the 80s with its rapid synth boogie groove and big Fanti chants. Righteous.
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: 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: Vanishing Twin's recent explosion on the scene has been met with excitement and wonder from both ourselves and the rest of the industry. That's because it's made up of some serious talent: Innerspace Orchestra's Cathy Lucas is at the helm with her vocals, Raime's drummer Valentina Magaletti is on the percussion, the bass comes from Floating Points' collaborator Susumu Mukai, and Man From Uranus tweaks the knobs. As you can see, it's a rather eccentric collection of artists. This mysterious and, at times, spectral strain of high-powered jazz follows in the footsteps of Sun Ra's mythical work, where we're dropped into a dark and compelling world of percussion, Eastern chimes and progressive jazz grooves. There's plenty of moments of oddity, too, and that is exactly where this outfit thrive. It's the short moments of madness between the more composed shreds of jazz that make this album stand out among the crowd. Excellent.
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.
Cooking Ugali (feat Oren Gerlitz, Blinky Bill & Iso)
Fica Atento! (feat Ikonoklasta)
La Vai Maria (feat Ikonoklasta)
Chat With Mr Ochieng (feat Nelly Ochieng)
Ceu (feat Francois & The Atlas Mountains)
Review: Soundway fans should be more than familiar with Pedro Coquenao's Batida project, with the Lisbon-based Kuduro fusionist dropping a killer self-titled LP on the label in 2012. Supplemented by several 12" releases, this has laid down the groundwork of a relationship between Coquenao and Soundway which was always likely to result in further releases, such as the album. Dois is a fourth Batida LP overall and find Coquenao at his most confident, retaining the feel of previous albums but widening the stylistic remit, working with guests and utilising more live instrumentation. Afro house, benga, semba are thrown into the mix along with Kuduro, whilst Coquenao slips in the odd Clash sample as well as referencing his heritage with Angolan movies and afro-beat tracks plundered for usage.
Review: Over the course of six inspired albums, the Meridian Brothers have carved out their own unique niche, somewhere between South American pscyh-folk, Brazilian Tropicana, lo-fi electronica and acid-fired early morning psychedelia. The Colombian band is at it again on this seventh full-length. While there are a few notable instrumental additions to their intoxicating sound soup - plucked and bowed cello motifs make an appearance for the first time, for example - for the most part the set is a kaleidoscopic, hard-to-pigeonhole romp in their usual superb style. Even so, the addition of strings is a bit of a step forward, adding another fine musical element to twist and bend to their will. That it works so well is not a surprise; after all, these guys haven't put a foot wrong over the course of their career.
Review: After two 45s on Les Disques Bongo Joe, Dutch Afrofunk space cadets make their debut on Soundway with their first full EP. Hurling all their roots and inspirations into a heady, bewitching brew of west African, Columbian, Caribbean, Latin and all-round cosmic fusion, the results are four slabs of world funk gold. "Down In The Basement" updates highlife styles with a salubrious big-bottomed disco twist, "The Opposite" ups the tempo with a little more cumbia charm while "Continue The Fun" adds a dub mentality to the mix as we're chugged to oblivion with heads down introspection. Finally "Tuto Bay" closes somewhere on a Cuban beach with rum-warmed harmonies. Beautiful.
Review: George and Glen Miller are undoubtedly best known for their West End Records released 1982 boogie-soul classic "Touch Your Life". They released plenty of other records that flitted between soca, reggae, disco, and - in the latter stages of their career - electrofunk. "Easing", which appeared at some point at the turn of the '80s on London label Third World, remains one of their most potent releases - and, in its original form at least, formidably hard to find. This Soundway reissue wisely replicates the track list of the original release, beginning with the title track - a deliciously percussive, musically intricate chunk of peak-time disco smothered in sharp, Afro-funk style horns and George and Glen Miller's lilting reggae-soul style vocals. The flipside "Version" strips out the vocals, allowing listeners to hear in greater detail the pair's impeccable arrangements and instrumentations (particularly the fine orchestration and rich groove).
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.
The 3rd Generation Band - "Because Of Money" (5:51)
Oscar Sulley & The Uhuru Dance Band - "Dukom Mashie" (5:00)
Marijata - "Mother Africa" (4:52)
Ebo Taylor - "Heaven" (6:04)
Gyedu Blay Ambolley & The Steneboofs - "Simigwado" (4:37)
The Sweet Talks - "Eyi Su Ngaangaa" (4:29)
The Ogyatanaa Show Band - "Ageisheka" (5:00)
K Frimpong & His Cubano Fiestas - "Hwehwe Mu Na Yi Wo Mpena" (7:51)
The Apagya Show Band - "Kwaku Ananse" (3:11)
The African Brothers - "Self Reliance" (8:31)
Rob - "Make It Fast, Make It Slow" (5:23)
Alex Konadu - "W'awu Do Ho No" (3:12)
Review: Way back in 2002, Soundway Records announced their arrival with a fine collection of Ghanaian funk and Afro-beat delights. Since then, the vinyl edition of Ghana Soundz has become a sought-after item online, prompting Soundway to put together this welcome reissue. It contains a wealth of sought-after fare, from the heavyweight Afro-funk of Marijata's "Mother Africa" and percussive Afro-beat brilliance of Gyedo Blay Ambolley & The Steneboofs' "Simigwado", to the Africa '70 style shuffle and chated vocals of The Ogyatanaa Showband's, via the hot-to-trot high-life thrills of "Self Reliance" by The African Brothers. While other labels have since showcased the effervescent of the Ghanaian scene during the 1970s, few compilations have hit the spot quite like Ghana Soundz.
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.
Review: Jeremie Moussaid Kerouanton, simply known as iZem around our circles, is a new face on the downtempo scene, and one which we'd very much like to see more of. Luckily, he's returned with his debut album, and it's on the incorrigible Soundway label; we probably mention it often, but it is one of our meccas when it comes to the leftfield end of the spectrum. This is a proper album and, by that, we don't mean that it sounds good and that every track is amazing; we mean that it works as one single body of music, a real 360 degree view of iZem's point of view. The tracks are as varied as the sounds in them, and from Eastern vocals to improvisational tribalism and subtle waves of deep house, we feel that this is the sort of LP that'll appeal to many different sorts of collectors. The house-heads will like it for its sensibility to other genres of music, the balearic fiends will find it naturally welcoming, and the folk fans will find plenty of inspiration. Don't miss out on this, it's a keeper.
Review: Originally released in Kenya way back in 1987, "Hinde" was the sole single from an obscure outfit called African Vibration. The track has since gone on to become something of a sought-after gem; a sparse, drum machine-driven, synthesizer-sporting jam that offers a uniquely tropical and wholeheartedly East African take on electro/synth-pop fusion. Happily, Soundway has decided to issue it on 12" for the first time, having previously included in on 2016's superb "Kenya Special: Volume 2" compilation. The brilliant original comes accompanied by a fresh Julian Dyne rework that makes more of the original's fluttering, sun-kissed synths and rainforest sound effects. It's a little deeper, dreamier and exceptionally blissful; in fact, you could almost describe it as being "Balearic".
Got To Move, Got To Get Out! (Ana Nkpong Ana Nwuoro)
Review: Contemporary afro funk wizardry abounds as London-based band Ibibio Sound Machine don a pair of disco, funk and boogie spectacles and study their Nigerian roots with attention to detail. The end result is a truly unique fusion of sounds that range from the 80s synth boogie of "The Talking Fish" to the Fela-level freneticisms of "I'm Running". Other highlights include the slamming pop jitters of "Let's Dance", the crazed synth squiggles and slap bass madness of "The Tortoise" and the alluring juxtaposition of modern drum production, captivating poetry and jazzy dynamics of "Prodigal Son". A highly accomplished debut... This needs your attention.
Review: Turning heads a couple of years hence with their self-titled debut, Fumaca Preta (which means 'black smoke' in case you weren't sure) are dark magicians of a wild and volatile analgam of whatever musical ingredients they see fit to throw into their collective cauldron at any given moment - be it crazed tropicalia, incendiary garage-punk, hypnotic psych-rock, Sabbath-style riffage, Butthole Surfers weirdness. wayward cumbia or maudlin balladry. Yet more mysterious than ever, they've somehow crafted a manner in which to be both more adventurous and more focused on this second effort, arriving at something akin to a tastefully disorientating dream sequence on a glorious psychic wavelength somewhere between high-energy Brazilian carnival and the nameless void.
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: 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".
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.
Review: A special summer-tuned dedication to two of Africa's most creative contributors who both passed away at the birth of the New Year. First up, South Africa's Shaluza Max's 2002 classic gets the revisitation it deserves; big accordions, honeyed Zulu vocals and a chugging groove that could plough into any dancefloor under the sun, it struts with a timeless sense of universal groove science. Flip for a rewind to the mid 80s as Soundway pays tribute to the hugely prolific Tabu Lay Rochereau. Complete with smooth, soothing synths, show-stopping harmonies and slinky bassline that won't quit, it's as heart-rending now as it was 30 years ago.
Review: Bouncing his time between Antibalas and his Marcos Garcia and Chico Mann projects, Chico returns after several years of silence with a sweet slice of lolloping broken soul. With its soft padded synths and cotton wool hug of Kendra Morris's vocals, there's a delicate tumble to proceedings as we nod and slide into a sound that's remained in its own soul universe since emerging almost 20 years ago. When done as well and with as much authenticity as this, it's timeless.
Steve Monite - "Only You" (Frankie Francis Disco Jam edit) (7:55)
Tabu Ley Rochereau - "Hafi Deo" (Nick The Record & Dan Tyler re-edit dub) (10:15)
Review: Edits in the hole! Two Afrofunk gems enjoy floor-primed refocuses: Steve Monite's Doing It In Lagos-featured "Only You" gets a little juice from Sofrito's Frankie Francis who really brings the bass out in proceedings. Meanwhile on the B Nick The Record and Idjut Boy Dan Tyler tweak the energy and sheen of Tabu Ley Rochereau's "Hafi Disco" as the drums are given a little more momentum and the chorus and horns are really brought to the centre of the action. Stunning.
Del Preso Que Va A La Silla Electrica Por Ofensa A La Moral Colombiana
El Festival Vallenato
Review: Last seen presenting a retrospective of the past six years of recordings for the Staubgold label, Bogota's finest composer Eblis Alvarez returns to the Soundway label with Salvadora Robot, a rather fine fourth studio album as Meridian Brothers. Very much in line with the oddball nature of previous Meridian Brothers albums, Salvadora Robot is perhaps Alvarez's most ambitious set to date with each of the ten tracks delving deeper into the tropical rhythms of South America and twisting different Latin music styles into wild new shapes. Everything from Bossa Nova to Dominican Republic merengue via reggaeton is treated with dizzying skill by Alvarez for a most interesting album.