Review: With its festival, International Series, DJ Directory and Soundsystem: Dimensions has become a leading name in the underground. In only a mere six years of existence thus far, that's quite impressive we must say! Now, they extend their influence with the start of a new label: Dimensions Recordings. It launches with a 12 track compilation across three separate discs. As the label best describe themselves "An Introduction Part 1 calls upon artists from different corners of the globe who share the similarity of undeniable soul and expression in their music." From the Swahili sung harmonies on Mim Suleiman's lo-slung boogie down groove "Pole Pole", to the afro influences of Swiss collective Alma Negra's "Onga" whose spiritual life music reaches near tribal moments. Then, there's Istanbul's Kerem Akdag with "Getdownsoclose" a soulful jazzy and downright dusty deep house groove. Maryland's James Tillman's soulful vocals on "Wander" rounds off Part 1 with a dose of the soul.
Review: For the latest excursion on their eponymous label, the Alma Negra crew is in full remix mode, in turn reworking tracks from contemporary Maloya combo Lindigo and lesser-known French Afro artist Salem Tradition. Their vocal and dub interpretations of the former's "Tany Be" are particularly special. While the dub is little more than a killer spaced-out percussion track with added delay-laden vocal and instrumental snippets, the "remix" is a near perfect fusion of woozy, spacey deep house and traditional maloya - all half-chanted vocals, snaking sax lines and warm bass. Those looking for heavy and druggy, kick-drum driven tribal Afro-house vibes should head straight for the remix of Salem Tradition's "Kabare", which is little more than loads of drums with an evocative vocal atop.
Review: The Alma Negra collective are based in Basel, Switzerland and are made up of Miajica, Dario Rohrbach and Dersu Figueria. They have appeared on some great labels such as Lumberjacks In Hell, Basic Fingers and of course Heist - this will be their second appearance for Detroit Swindle's imprint since last year's Endless Summer EP. The new Conversation EP features more sweltering grooves by the trio: from the soulful and entrancing title track which is rich on the hypnotic tribal polyrhythms - it also receives a wonderful rework by Amsterdam's Awanto 3 later on too. Not to mention the sultry deep house of "This Is The Place" which takes it cues from the mighty Kenny Dixon Jr or the sexy late-night groove of "From The Heart" which is perfect to enjoy on what is left of these long summer evenings.
Review: Since debuting on the Highlife Edits series, Swiss digger collective Alma Negra have really blossomed, with their fusionist dancefloor style developing across further 12"s for that aforementioned label as well as Sofrito and Basic Fingers. The Diggers Workout Part 1 sees the quartet return to the Basic Fingers fold with a fresh four-track grip of goodness to satisfy the appetites of DJs everywhere. Presumably the onset of an ongoing series for Basic Finger, Part 1 sees three Alma Negra originals further complemented by a remix from Highlife pal Esa. Of the originals, the rather lush beat down of "Fala Flute" really stands out, with Esa teasing out a whole new sound on his subsequent 'live' remix with Santuri. Great 12".
Review: Throughout the course of their Digger's Workout series, Swiss combo Alma Negra has proved adept at blurring the boundaries between re-edits, remixes, and original productions. The same could be said about the sun-kissed global fusion of "Burkina Berlin", where wild vocal chants and dense percussion samples are craftily combined with heady piano motifs and a rock solid deep house beat. Rainer Truby and Corrado Bucci provide a deeper, hazier and subtly soulful interpretation that plays down the sampled beats in favour of far more tactile hits, before the Basel-based trio closes proceedings with "Algadez", a rare Persian treat built around exotic fiddle lines, humid flutes and their usual chunky percussion.
Review: After building up their reputation via a string of deliciously percussive EPs full of tasty Afro edits, Alma Negra switched to original production last year with quietly impressive results. Here, the Basel-based trio continues that approach with another three chunks of Afro-house fusion. While we're rather enjoying the sampled chanted vocals, drum machine kick drums and layered tropical percussion of "Capoeira" and the more musically expansive (and deeper) "Berimbau", it's "Visions" that will get all the plaudits. A tough but rolling chunk of life-affirming samba-house brilliance, it sees the duo make brilliant use of jangling piano loops and ghostly, cut-up freestyle vocal samples.
Review: Swiss trio Alma Negra have been on an unstoppable march in recent years, bringing their extensive knowledge of African and Latin music to contemporary productions in a circular fashion that exists beautifully out of time. That all the music on Sedowa is hand-played is testament to the natural flow of this infectious, instinctive dance music, leading in with the sprightly funk of "Sedowa" before easing into the transcendental stomp of "Sueno Latino." "Oya" is no slouch either, bringing a heavier disco-funk groove to the record that will suit more house-inclined DJs without compromising on the organic rattle and clatter that makes Alma Negra such a stand out crew.
Review: To date, Swiss quartet Alma Negra has carved a successful niche as makers of heavily percussive EP singles that look to the rhythms of Africa for inspiration. This outing for Heist Recordings draws on many similar influences, but shuffles further towards original production than their rework style back catalogue. Opener "Afrorleans" is a jaunty trip into shuffling Afro-house territory in the company of a cabal of Cajun musicians, while "Luanda Dub" is a booming, bass heavy late night trip full of swirling vocal samples and densely layered drum hits. If you are after some party-starting Afro-disco/deep house fusion of standout, then "Endless Summer" and a cracking Soulphiction remix of the same track will pushes a rubbery disco bassline to the fore to devastating effect.