Review: Playful Dutch wordsmith Felbm (whose name derives from the auto-correction of Eelco on a Nokia phone) sees a new 'tape' added to UK label Soundway, a platform whose tastes dip into an exotic world of vintage fourth world environments, with Felbm himself offering a minimal jazz and friendly motif to his works. Brimming with the soft pats of vibraphones and strummed guitars in tracks like "Brunnengasse" to a tasty cocktail number in "Midori", it's the perfect soundtrack to the entry of a rainforest cafe. With performative indie elements given to numbers like "Regtur", find minimal piano and birdsong in "Beaufort" next to sequenced percussive numbers in "Colorists" and "Langeweile" that offer a welcomed jazz interlude to a busy city life.
Review: If it weren't for a life changing knee injury we may well have seen the name 'Vaun Smith' on the back of a Barcelona FC guernsey. As a football prodigy he was signed to the Leeds United youth team and by 16 was picked up by Sevilla in Spain! A midi keyboard however was added to his rehabilitation process in which the talented Vaun Smith was able to apply to his music which surfaces sweetly in Warm Nights, the debut album on collectors imprint Soundway. Opting for tropical, Balearic beats, lighter rhythms and upbeat chords, keys and melodies, the album delivers a unique, raw, live and improvised waltz through a new age world of house, disco and exotic bliss. Reuben Vaun Smith scores on debut!
Review: If you've yet to check the Mauskovic Dance Band's debut mini-album on Soundway, do yourself a favour and do it today - it really is a mixed-up, post-punk disco treat. In the meantime, get your ears around this revision of our favourite track from the set, "Space Drum Machine". Whereas that was a heavily percussive, effects-laden chunk of riotous sweatiness, this extended revision from Heist bosses Detroit Swindle brilliantly re-imagines it as a retro-futurist chunk of Afro-house goodness rich in pots-and-pans percussion hits, spacey noises, fuzzy keys, fizzing synth riffs and an extended flute solo that reminded us of Mark Brydon and DJ Parrot's "Sunshine Dub Instrumental" of early Warp Records cut "Hey! Hey! Can U Relate?" by DJ Mink. Given that remix is a stone cold psychedelic house classic, it's a comparison we don't make lightly.
Review: So far we've yet to hear a duff track or release from Flamingo Pier, a hybrid Anglo-Kiwi crew whose vibrant and colourful music combines a plethora of musical influences in pursuit of disco-fired dancefloor gold. There's naturally tons of goodness to be found throughout their latest five-track missive, from the drowsy, Holy Ghost style deep disco warmth of opener "Tripping Up", to the sprightly '80s electrofunk brilliance of "Boogie Meltdown". Sandwiched in between you'll find two more tried and tested heaters: the kaleidoscopic, synth-heavy nu-disco cheeriness of "Indigo" and "Jungle Groove", a tight and throbbing proto-house number that sounds like the missing link between Paul Simpson and Escort.
Review: UK label Soundway specialise in unearthing undiscovered musical gems from around the world, and here they turn their attention to calypso and soca - respectively, the traditional music of Trinidad & Tobabgo and its electrified late 20th Century variant. The focus for this collection of 'obscure B-sides, versions, dubs and instrumentals', though, is on tracks that fuse soca/calypso with disco, boogie, house, soul and reggae. It has to said, the purported influences can at times be hard for the untrained ear to detect, but cuts like Adonijah's soul-infused 'It's Alright' or D'Rebel Band's reggaefied 'Solid' should work well on open-minded floors.
Review: When it comes to offering up albums of carnival-ready Latin-soul, it could be argued that Gabriele Poso is in a league of his own. Certainly, his 2018 set for BBE, "Awakening" was superb, and this follow-up on Soundway is every bit as good. The South American influences - think samba, Azymuth sytle jazz-funk, Brazilian boogie, MPB etc - naturally catch the ear throughout, alongside his extensive use of warming synthesizers, sun-kissed electronics and his own voice, which seems to get richer and more seductive with each successive release. The quality threshold remains so high throughout that it's barely worth picking out highlights: it's literally 'all good', and you really should check out the album when you get a chance.
Review: With a trademark sound that gleefully joins the dots between fuzzy New York "no wave", heavy mutant disco, dubbed-out space disco, Afrobeat and percussion-rich South American styles of music, The Mauskovic Dance Band is a unique proposition. That much is clear from this eponymous mini-album on Soundway, which wraps weighty dub disco basslines, densely layered percussion, spaced-out vocals and meandering 1970s style Moog synthesizer lines around heavy rhythms that variously doff a cap to Afrobeat, Cumbia and other indigenous South American styles. The plentiful musical highlights include the stripped-back percussive intensity of "Percussione & Spazio Sounds", the intergalactic Afro-disco throb of "Space Disco Machine" and the chugging, hallucinatory heaviness of closing cut "It's The Wrong Goodie".
Review: Before heading into the studio, Anglo-Kiwi crew Flamingo Pier built their reputation by throwing celebrated parties that effortlessly joined the dots between a myriad of colourful, tropical-fired dancefloor styles. That's what you get on this fine EP, too. Check, for example, the ragged acid bass, tropical drums and jazzy guitars of standout "Find Your Way", the kaleidoscopic Italo-disco/boogie fusion of "Hold It" and the Fat Freddy's Drop horns, layered percussion, P-funk synths and sing-along vocals of cheery lead cut "Tell Me How". Also worth a spin is the densely percussive and suitably celebratory remix of "Find Your Way" by Leng Records regulars Earthboogie.
Review: Album number four here from Julien Dyne, a New Zealand-based drummer, producer and DJ who's worked with artists as diverse as Fat Freddy's Drop, Nathan Haines, Theo Parrish and the Mizell brothers. The album opens with the abstract disco of 'Design' but goes on to embrace a range of styles and textures, from the future R&B of Ladi6 collab 'Hours' to the fuzzy, psychedelic electro-pop of 'What You Say' (a quirky, catchy little gem), with chopped-up beats, vocoders, lo-fi pianos, space-y synth bleeps and disembodied vocal fragments all having major roles to play. Not every experiment is an unqualified success, but it's certainly never boring.
Review: Hot on the heels of Soundway's fantastic Gumba Fire compilation of South African boogie and synth-soul comes this partner EP, which shines a light on the country's short-lived but influential Heads Records imprint. The label was only originally active for two years between 1982 and '84, but in that time released a handful of killer 12" singles. A few of those came from Starlight, whose sought-after "Picnic" - a proto-bubblegum, boogie affair heavy on rising horns, jazz-funk electric piano solos and rubbery synth motifs - is arguably this EP's standout moment. Elsewhere, contemporary scalpel fiends get their chance to rework classic Heads Records moments, with Frankie Francis delivering dubbed-out renditions of two cuts: Manyane's stomping, Italo-disco-influenced "Thabong" and Adaye's gravelly, gospel-influenced peak-time disco-funk workout "Turn It Up".
Review: Second time around for Lord Echo's Mara TK hook-up, "The Sweetest Meditation", which was one of the standout cuts on the Kiwi producer's brilliant Harmonies album. This time, the "high-rolling summertime opus" is given the remix treatment, with the good Lord kicking things off via a warm, jazzy and sun-kissed "Club Mix" full of wavy deep house attitude and Roy Ayers style Vibraphone solos. Julien Dyre utilizes the original version's dub style bassline to the full on his boogie-tinged deep house interpretation, while Borrowed CS's top-notch reworks sits somewhere between the Detroit deep house of Andres and Joe Clausell's percussive Afro-house productions. Arguably best of all, though, is "The Sweetest Dub", a rolling and echo-laden, dub disco style re-make.
Review: Last year, Gentleman's Dub Club member Nick Tyson tickled the fancy of many serious selectors with two fine EPs under the Xoa alias. Both brilliantly blurred the boundaries between Afrobeat, electronica, deep house and a myriad of other classic and contemporary genres, with Tyson skillfully combining choice samples and organic instrumentation. Happily, he's at it again here, delivering another two hard-to-pigeonhole treats. We're particularly enjoying the fluttering flutes, sampled vocals, vintage synths and Tony Allen style beats of "Mass", though the hazy Afro-soul of "Mon Ecole" is almost as impressive. The accompanying remixes are tasty, too, with Glenn Astro's two-part rework of "Mon Ecole" (a spine-tingling beat-less intro followed by a wonderfully jazzy deep house rub) just edging out Ben Hauke's sumptuous remix of "Mass".
Review: Over the course of the last decade, dub-soaked musical fusionist Lord Echo has delivered a string of fine releases, including two top-notch albums. Given his fine track record, it's perhaps unsurprising that Soundway has snapped up the Kiwi producer's third full-length excursion, Harmonies. It features contributions from a posse of guest collaborators - Tony Laing of Fat Freddy's Drop and regular studio buddy Mara TK included - and giddily infuses reggae and rocksteady with disco, Afro-soul, Afro-funk, Afro-beat, spiritual jazz and, more surprisingly, techno. It's a hugely vibrant and entertaining set, all told, offering a good balance between dancefloor vibrations and more laidback concoctions.
Review: Written and recorded in Story's own Los Angeles studio in downtown Los Angeles with his pal and producer Carlos NiNo Wondem was the debut Soundway Records release for multi-talented jazz-soul artist, Dexter Story. Progressing Story's sound from soul, funk, jazz and folk, the album saw him incorporate sounds East African-influenced music (think Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia, and Kenya). Here the album gets remixed and particular standouts include the spooky laser dub of "Veggie Wandem Combo" (Raf G Afrikan Space Program remix), the moody percussion of "Lalibela (alternative dub)" and the balmy nu-soul grooves of "Mowa" (Al Dobson Jr mix).
Review: For this album, London's Huw Bennett created music directly inspired by the magnificent sounds of the Mandinka people in Gambia, namely Susso and Kuyateh griot families. According to Soundway Records, while travelling and seeking inspiration Huw found himself humbled by such a welcoming community of artists. The tracks are said to be composed from original source material, in addition to field recordings and Huw's own multi-instrumentalist leanings (he is the bass player for electronic jazz outfit Saltwater Samurai), all the while paying homage to a traditional Gambian aesthetic. The traditional instruments of the local musicians and their distinct style combine with Bennett's electronic production methods for a truly captivating and, above all, soulful musical experience.
Review: Auckland-based eight-piece Weird Together are an interesting proposition - and not just because it's helmed by Tokyo-based journalist Nick Dwyer and one-time NRK deep house regular Dick 'Magik J' Johnson. Their style, as showcased on this debut EP for the admirable Soundway Records, is fiendishly hard to pin down. In essence, they take inspiration from a myriad of global styles - mainly localised sounds from parts of South America, Africa and the Caribbean - and fuse them with contemporary house rhythms and structures. Throughout, highlights come thick and fast, from the dense percussion, booming bass and African vocals of "Gban Gban Lewa" and picturesque, Soweto-house shuffle of "Karima's Story", to the South American bliss of "Mbira".
Ranifall (Let The Machines Do The Work remix) - (4:43) 131 BPM
YapeyA (Deft remix) - (4:34) 113 BPM
Kaiowa (Shox Be Easy remix) - (5:04) 128 BPM
Rainfall (Faik remix) - (3:04) 125 BPM
Review: Hirsute Londoner My Panda Shall Fly (aka Suren Seneviratne) likes to keep his listeners on their toes with an unpredictable mix of sonic directions. Here though, we get his recent Tropical EP rejigged by a host of other producers, presumably all faves of Suren. Actually only three of the original six tracks appear here but there's still plenty to enjoy, particularly the misty tropical rave shower of "Rainfall" as remixed by Let The Machines Do The Work, the doomy synth pad excursions of "Kaiowa (Shox Be Easy remix)" and the distorted, broken down house of Faik's take on "Rainfall".
Review: Longstanding Columbian groovers Bomba Estereo have something of a timeless quality to their rich, organic grooves. As much as they roll with a comforting Zion Train pro-retro wriggle, there's all manner of contemporary parallels - not least the XX/Delphic style delivery of "El Alma Y El Cuerpo". Now on their third album, their distinctive blend of deep psychedelic production and rustic, wholesome Latin folk will warm your heart in minutes. But don't get too sun-kissed and sexy... there's some savage club grooves deep in the mix. Just wait till "Pure Love" hits. Wow.