Reviewed this week
You know you're on the cusp of something great when rare-as-hen's-teeth African tapes from the 70s are being reissued digitally. And, yes, you're right, it means that digging is increasingly becoming a digital behavior...which is great for us, but might well rub the vinyl aficionados up the wrong way! At least, however, you do get to download Deke Tom Dollard's timeless, and much coveted, tape Na-You, which is a category favourite. The four tunes are funky, seductive, lamenting but, above all, they are 100% certified to get you DANCING. Some proper vibes with this one...and you don't even need to worry about it selling out!
Strut and Art Yard's access to the very best music seems to be a bottomless pit of wonder, and there is no much better way to assert your dominance as a label than releasing killer material from the legendary Sun Ra. Like the last previously unreleased record, Of Abstract Dreams is a session most likely recorded at WXPN FM studios in Philadelphia, back in 1975. The opening "Island In The Sun" carries a majestic paino over triumphant percussion bumps, and "New Dawn" offers a steady, constant groove with that inimitable piano style stretching and twisting wildly around the hi-hats. "Unmask The Batman" is more of a classic bop piece, complete with a tough bottom end, and "I'll Wait For You" is the most experimental of the three, where Ra's singing comes out for the Sun Gods above. Highly recommended!
XOA continues to lay out a formidable interpretation of African-infused dance music for the modern age, following on from lauded appearances on Shake, One House and Soundway. Alongside Contours, he comes to Banana Hill with some next level transcendental head-quaking business that reaches from the roots of Afrobeat right through to contemporary FX dubbing business. "Too Much Talking" is a proper eyes-closed roller for the hazy moment in the dance, and "Express" ramps things up to a strident tempo layered with a barrage of congas and djembes. The hectic pace is offset by swooning melodies, all wistful synth splashes and plucky guitar chops, stirring the soul as much as the feet.