Review: Digitally splicing four tracks from a tight 7", German ensemble The Ruffcats are the highlight here thanks to ya boi Andy Cooper (think Bombstrikes and Jalapeno) dropping lyrics between the cut up B-boy sounds of Slow Walk's remix done up all Big L-style. Kawasaki's own Generation brings some beefy amplification to his track "Remember Us" alongside the bassy heavy and jazz flecked "Portisheadshop" courtesy of an exclusive collab between Clockwork and Birds Move. Drop it like it's hot.
Review: One of Africa's most influential and enduring musical figures, and big time player in the Ethio-Jazz scene, Mulatu Astatke presents the To Know Without Knowing LP, an inspired work and second collaboration with twelve piece global-funk-machine, Black Jesus Experience. Laced with cool jazz and lounge vibes to wax poetics in both "A Chance To Give" and "Living On Stolen Land" find more laid back, alluring and sultry numbers in "To Know Without Knowing", with hotter rhythms coming through "Ambassa Lemdi" and the cocktail vibes of "Blue Light". Afro-beat free fusion and soul.
Review: The long-running Agogo label drops a compilation that's tailor made for home listening. Although it is released in the depths of winter and focuses on broken beat and jazz, the tracks on Two Tribes are still evocative enough to make the listener long for the summer. From the murmuring tribal chants of Jacob Mafuleni & Gary Gritness' "Zvichapera" to the lazy, languid tones of Elias Agogo's "Some Music", the vivid, brass-led Afro jam that is Tiliboo Afrobeat's "Dekondor" and the dubbed out house of Trio Toffa's "Titon To", there is enough depth and variety on offer here to provide the sound track for sandy beaches and warm sea breezes.
Review: Tel Aviv's Hoodna Orchestra, who blend African and Middle Eastern influences with those from jazz, rock and funk, serve up two tracks from their second album 'OFEL' - soon to be released worldwide - and to say the EP's "eclectic" would be like saying Ronaldo's "pretty good" at football! 'Ofel I' starts out as a sleazy blaxploitation taxi ride, before taking a left turn through a nearby souk while Nik Turner-esque sax blares away on top. 'Breathe', meanwhile, marries similar sounds to a simple, plangent guitar riff reminiscent of Echo & The Bunnymen or The Cure. It's a ker-razy trip, daddio, but one you'll be very glad you took...
Review: German combo Onom Agemo & The Disco Jumpers may be tricky to pin down musically, but their releases are rarely anything less than inspired. Certainly, new album "Magic Polaroid" is rather special, with the Berlin-based outfit giddily hammering elements of Afrobeat, jazz, spoken word, Latin beats, highlife, and punk-funk into ear-pleasing new shapes. Highlights are plentiful, and include - but are not limited to - the Rip, Pig and Panic style madness of "Welcome Echo", the Moog-laden Afro-jazz sunshine of "Magic Polaroid", the dancing sax riffs and chiming melodies of super-sweet closing cut "Super Cranes", and the heady intoxication that is album opener "Trumpets of Denmark".
Review: Berlin based Italian Andrea Benini presents a journey inspired by early African electronic music and modern beats on Drumphilia Volume 1. A rhythmic experiment that is a response to many years spent working with, learning about and listening to African and Caribbean percussion. There are no traditional harmonic instruments on the recordings - the aim was to create melody and texture using only carefully tuned percussion instruments, whether organic or electronic. An album of dreamy and hypnotic polyrhythms where the organic and traditional is emulated by the power of modern (and obsolete) machines. A hybrid sound that continues in the tradition of artists like Frances Bebey and more recently - Peder Mannerfelt. Recorded at Benini's Mop Mop Studios based in the German capital.
Review: Earlier in the year, crate digger and radio host DJ Oonops put together a collection of early works by Japanese nu-jazz trio Nautilus for Agogo Records. It's perhaps unsurprising, then, that he's managed to tease a previously unheard track out of the band for his forthcoming Oonops Drops compilation. That track, "Root Down" is showcased here. Featuring the Bajka-like vocals of German chanteuse Fleur Earth, the track is a low-slung chunk of jazz-funk/soul fusion blessed with rubbery bass guitar, warm organ licks and some crispy drum breaks.
Review: German bandleader Lutz Krajenski has enjoyed a long and successful working relationship with Agogo. The Austrian label has previously released countless singles and albums from his Hidden Jazz Quartett [sic] combo and here allows him a chance to go solo on a fine EP single. Taken from an album of Agogo catalogue covers due to see the light of day in early 2018, "I Got Hope" (originally recorded by the Hi-Fly Orchestra) is a sumptuous, slow-burning jazz ballad featuring superb vocals from Alana Alexander. She reprises her role then, where Krajenski and his collected musicians lay down a killer, Clavinet-heavy version of Timmy Thomas classic "Cold, Cold People".