Review: Label newcomer Canopy Records, compiled and conceptualised by label head Sumosui, sends out some super Afro transmission for this first release. 'Africa No 1' is a single that features a superb tune from Benin City in Edo State, Nigeria, which was first put out locally in 1987. It is by the late great Nigerian reggae artist Ehi Duncan and his The Africa Army Express band and next to the uplifting original are two new mixes from Captain Planet. He brings the tune into the modern day with some tight key, horn and synth sounds for the first mix, and the second is a slower, more mid-tempo bit of afro disco. Lovely vibes.
Review: This latest installment in the 'Katakana Edits' series draws pretty much entirely from global music, which makes trying to identify the source material nigh-on impossible! Still, there's a kind of 60s/70s lounge-y vibe to opener 'Besoka', augmented by wave sounds, while 'Hong Kong' is a more Mexican/Latin-sounding affair that'd be best served in the summer sunshine. The fluttering 'Kikiribu' again has a Latin feel, with a chanted vocal this time, while 'Tropical Sant' maintains a similar MO but has more of a hazy, psychedelic vibe about it. One for the more eclectic DJs that like to mix up different world rhythms.
Review: Chalk up two 'Katakaka Edits' outings on the bounce for El Paso, as hot on the heels of the soul-flavoured '115', released just a fortnight ago, he brings us four re-edits that look to vintage Latin music, and particularly 60s boogaloo, for inspiration. Leading the charge for this reviewer is 'Spanish Butterfly', which pairs the lead male vocal with melodic female BVs to die for. Elsewhere, pianos and trumpets take centre stage on 'Nuevo Boogaloo' and sparkling vibes/marimba (?) augment the sunny 'Brother & Sisters', before 'Supimos Callarnos' plays us out in far more laidback, lounge-y, almost melancholic style.
Review: Two new remixes here of this Afro-flavoured production by Dave Lee in his Doug Wilis guise, which first came out back in 2007, and which was also remixed by Audiowhores the following year. The man picked to do the honours for 2022 is Emmaculate, AKA Chicago's Eric Welton, who doesn't flip the script too much, retaining the hi-life-ish feel of the Original but now augmenting the Rhodes that took the lead first time around with some scorching sax work. An Instrumental is also supplied, so if you'd rather dispense with the chanted male vox, you can.
Review: One of the soul scene's most influential DJs, it's little surprise that Colin Curtis' Jazz Dance Fusion compilations on Z Records have been so impressive. He's dived even deeper into his vast record collection on this third volume, serving up a fine array of both classic cuts and sought-after obscurities. There's naturally plenty of Latin jazz on show - the backbone of the jazz-dance scene since the 1970s - but also forays into spiritual jazz, Hammond-heavy dancefloor workouts (see the sweaty 'Yatra Ta' by Martin Johnson), soul-jazz (JuJu), energy-packed percussion jams (GeeW) and Afro-Latin fusion (The Drive).
Review: There's a time for accessible podium belters, and there's a time for deeper jams that aren't afraid to take a left turn now and again. This five-tracker is one to reach for when you're firmly into the latter zone, as Multi Culti serve up a collection of eyes-down, late-night cuts that mine various global musics for inspiration: Sheila Chandra has been a stalwart of the British Asian music scene for 40 years, Sababa 5's 'Nasnusa' is a take on a classic Mizrahi song, while the title of 'Amakondera' references a style of Rwandan music that uses horn- and gourd-based wind instruments. An EP that will delight those whose tastes lean towards the exotic and the less familiar.
Review: The 1990s Afro-Cosmic scene, highlighting on Munich's The New Morning project, is the focus of an in depth reissue, collected across 3 six-track EPs.
As the influence and cult of Baldelli's Cosmic sound spread out across Italy from the late 1970s, the music expanded, mixing new wave, African, funk, electro, space rock, Brazilian, jazz and dub, all delivered in a freestyle playing that became Afro.
Adding percussion, samples and effects, the music spread north to Austria and Southern Germany, where DJs, producers, labels and parties flourished. In 1994, DJ Otti and Jay Pee started Global Rhythm Records and with friends DJ Thilo and DJ Fred released 1O EPs and 1 LP over 4 years.
The 3 EPs select the best of this output, including unreleased tracks, mixing a love of funk, disco, hip hop and house with syncopated analogue beats and live percussion. The 90-110 bpm sample heavy tracks, often running for only 3 to 4 minutes, showcase their eclectic sound collage.
More than DJ tools, the EPs were warmly received by aficionados and clubbers alike, becoming mainstays at the afro-tribal gatherings taking place throughout the scene. Secret plays for taste-making DJs since, their scarcity and value have increased considerably, bringing a new appreciation of their Afro-Funky sound.
Review: Henrik Schwarz's surprise remix of "Ene Nyame Nam 'A' Mensuro' - a suitably obscure collaboration between Ghanian highlife legends Ebo Taylor and Pat Thomas, originally released somewhere round the turn of the '80s on a ridiculously rare LP - has arguably been one of the underground dancefloor hits of the summer. A ten-minute chunk of loose and languid, Highlife-deep house fusion, Schwarz has cleverly combined sections of the sweet-as-you-like original with his own atmospheric electronics and tech-house influenced beats. The veteran German producer also provides a dub, which strips out the vocal and allows his electronics, Taylor's delicious guitars and the original's punchy horns a little more room to breathe.
Review: Galaxy were leading lights of the Nigerian funk and Afrobeat scene in the late 70s, delivering nine albums in the years 1976-1983, no fewer than four of which were, somewhat confusingly, simply titled 'Galaxy'. What we have here is a single-track reissue of the closing cut from their 1977 long player of that name, which starts out as a languid, horn-led Afro-jazz jam, then gets progressively more frenetic as it builds into a fast and furious dancefloor workout that'll put even the most dedicated b-boys and jazz dancers to the test.
Review: A double dose later and we're welcomed into a Red Axes latest Trip, a multimedia project at large that's giving cross platform to music, film and travel documentations that seeks out far-flung collaborations from the countries they visit. Finding themselves in India for this EP (following excursions through Vietnam and Africa), the epicly charged, psychedelic-tinged and acid-dubbed burner "Pad Yoga Raga" delivers arguably the best track in the series (at 11-minutes long). Keeping it in the mangroves still is "Little Prince (Bangalore Rave version)" with its continued panpipe influences and vocal morphing techniques while the EP finds its clubbiest passages in the percussion-concussion of "Mumbai Syndrom". And for the real deal, Beatles and Ravi Shankar fans alike, all roads lead to "Delhi Little Prince". Please come again!
Review: With the Dekmantel machine growing by the week the label has come to a point over the last 10 years where it's happy to stand up and represent the otherside of dance music, bands. That now includes The Mauskovic Dance Band, a five piece group outta Amsterdam sending some tropical cosmo flavours for the silly summer season. The album delivers a lo-fi and almighty analogue sound of disco and psychedelica next to the bells and whistles of percussion music, 60s dub ethics and a chic 70s cosmiq.
Review: Whilst we wait for a new long player from Forge and Franck's Da Lata ensemble, we have a new version of their most recent record, Fabiola, featuring rare versions and remixes of the songs found on it. There's a whopping 17 tracks to get through, and highlights include the ghetto electro sleaze of "Um Amor A Mais (Funkee remix)", the shimmering reggae jazz of "Unknown (Marc Lee Brown mix) and the beguiling late night afro-house vibes of "The Shore (Toni Economides/Carl Smith remix)".
Review: Safely curating from Montreal a line up of disco, electro and dancefloor tracks to rise from the ashes of the early 2010s, Thomas von Party, aka Tiga's brother, has curated a discography that includes the likes of Zongamin, Golden Bug, Jamie Paton to Sascha Funk and Red Axes. Hybridism presents a second record for Cruz in 2020 and this five-track drop sees the French-Ecuadorian drum up a dubby and jazz-tipped assortment of lo-fi, exotic percussion and space rhythms that remain slow-mo while maintaining their chuggings pulses. 5 stars.
Review: Galletas Calientes simply won't stop handing us the goods, piling up the compilations on a weekly basis, and opening our ears to whole batches of new artists out there. This particular episode is the second remix instalment of the Palenque Records AfroColombia series, showcasing the very best of South American Afrobeat. Plenty of killer dance vibes and carnival moves throughout, from the likes of DJ Panko, Umoja, and the rest of the contemporary dance scene blurring the lines between African heritage and Hispanic tones. Wonderfully seductive material for those looking to add a bit of warmth to their January blues.
Review: Mexican merchants of dark disco, Duro, return this week with label co-chief Mateo Gonzalez aka Theus Mago, teaming up with Tyu (Tony Ullmann) on new offering "Piel De Oso" featuring Spanish rapper Livia. The entrancing, slo-mo exotica of the title track is complimented by some great remixes by Rina X Benji up first, who pick up the pace with some added snare rolls reminiscent of a certain Plastikman anthem, while Moisees & Zea's perspective takes the track into the peak time with pumping bass and a tighter rhythm section.
Review: Spain's Fabrice Henri, AKA Guts, returns to French label Heavenly Sweetness with a seven-track EP showcasing his trademark blend of world music, jazz, electronic and hip-hop influences. The title track is a sprightly Afro-funk jam that gets a light-touch house makeover on the Poirier Remix, while a rawer funk sound characterises 'L'Origine Du Monde'. Latin/Afro house vibes are the order of the day on the two rubs of 'Mucagiami', 'Corner' is a straight-up Afro workout, while last but by no means least there's 'Nou Menm', a jazzy funk/soul cut with Afro percussion and a spoken, French-language male vocal.
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: Following the success of their Africa Airways series, London's Africa Seven introduces a new compilation focusing on some of the continent's most recognised female artists - and even some underrated heroines. The under-acknowledged musical contribution that African women have given to the funky sounds of Africa are celebrated here. This release will coincide with International Womens Day, and indeed what a tribute. Features the diggers delight "Kilimandjaro Take Us Higher" by South African songstress Letta Mbulu, some smokin' hot Nigerian boogie by Mona Finnih on "Ani Kewa Jo" and Miriam 'Mother Africa' Makeba with the sultry slo-mo groove of "Xica Da Silva". Makeba is known equally for her musical contributions as she is in fighting the apartheid and becoming a UN Ambassador.