Review: These days, Mulatu Astatke is widely considered to be the "Godfather of Ethiopian jazz". Yet when he recorded the two-part "Afro-Latin Soul" album in 1966, he'd just left music college in Boston. As this fine reissue proves, Astatke was years ahead of the game. While rooted in American jazz from the period, all 19 tracks (both albums have been compiled on to a single disc for this edition) draw heavily on Cuban jazz, in particular, as well as Ethiopian musical traditions. In truth, the latter aspect doesn't come through quite as strongly as you'd perhaps expect, though some of the album's highlights - the brilliant "Soul Power" in particular - draw more heavily on the percussive polyrhythms of Africa. Regardless, this is a superb set of forward-thinking global jazz that delivers high quality entertainment from start to finish.
Review: Hot Casa's latest deluxe reissue should delight all those who enjoy Afro-funk fusion from the early 1980s. It comes from Togolese artist Itadi K Bonney and is thoroughly obscure even by Afro reissue standards (if you can find an original copy for sale, it will cost you the best part of L900). Bonney and his backing band recorded and released it in 1983, filling the album with rich political soul, William Onyeabor style Moog motifs and thrillingly loose fusions of U.S funk, boogie and contemporaneous African dancefloor styles. This edition not only comes with an insert containing a rare interview with the now sadly departed singer, but also two previously unreleased tracks. In other words, it should be an essential purchase.
Review: In the early 1970s, a new musical art form emerged on the streets of Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago from the social unrest of the time. A group of young guys started to combine poetry with drumming and created the musical art form that is known today as Rapso. Lutalo 'Brother Resistance' Masimba was one of the pioneers of this movement and his 1987 anthem "Tonight Is de Night" receives a much-needed reissue here on Cree. There's much to enjoy on this 12" - we're particularly loving the groovy "Rapso Space Dub" and funky steel drum riddims of "Crucial Decision ('92 Version)". This is total spiritual life music.
Review: American artist Joe Coleman's soulful boogie-down number "Get It Off The Ground" was released back in 1982 and is still popular amongst those that know. Austrian imprint Record Shack present a hot edit by New York City legend DJ Spinna on this edition, which retains the infectious energy of the original but gives the track some much needed dynamics for modern dancefloors. Although we give credit to the edit, the lo-slung funk of the original will always be king and rest assured that is indeed featured here on the flip.
Review: The DNA Edits label gets right to the heart of the music it reworks and adds to, subtracts from, or extends all the key elements required to make it absolute dance floor dynamite. DJ DSK is behind the sixth EP - which lands just ahead of a very fun 7" that is made up of short samples from various Street Fighter console games. Once again here the crate digging, breaks making splicer and dicer comes correct across a duo of beefy beats, sunny soul jams and funked up loops that will get you in the mood to groove.
Review: Selva Discos' Fernando Falcao reissue series continues via a fabulous new pressing of the Brazilian percussionist's experimental 1987 album "Barracas Barrocas". Like the artist's 1981 debut, it's a brilliantly eclectic and esoteric affair, offering up a heady - and uniquely South American - blend of off-kilter jazz, pastoral neo-classical compositions, academic ambient, jaunty tropical fusion, narrated soundscapes and heavy drum workouts. Given that it moves in a multitude of directions, the set actually holds together remarkably well, with Falcao's use of bespoke orchestration acting as a constant thread linking disparate sounds and styles. It's both utterly brilliantly and thoroughly mesmerizing, while the accompanying insert includes essays in Portuguese and English telling the story of the album and Falcao's little-known career.
Review: These days, Hanad Kalkaba is a retired Army colonel and track and field athletics administrator in his native Cameroon. Yet back in the mid 1970s, he was a musician with dreams of potential super-stardom, trying to update traditional Cameroonian "Gandjal" music for the funk generation. To that end, he recorded a small number of singles and EPs alongside his backing band, the Golden Sounds. It's those thoroughly obscure and overlooked releases that make up Hanad Kalkaba & The Golden Sounds, a retrospective of his pioneering work. Sitting somewhere between Afro-beat, Afro-funk and Afro-jazz, with a distinctively Cameroonian rhythmic swing, the music showcased on the album is undeniably special.
Review: Since the success of his breathlessly good debut album 99.9% in 2016, Kaytranada has become one of the most in-demand producers on the future R&B and leftfield hip-hop scenes. Here he takes a break from remixing Robert Glasper and producing Craig David records to drop three high-grade instrumental versions of tracks included on last year's U.S-only "Nothin Like U" EP. "Chances", a gorgeous mix of spacey chords, crunchy MPC beats, intergalactic synths and lilting melodies, sets the tone, before he reaches for the pianos on the low-down fusion of twinkling pianos, rolling beats and raw bass that is "It Was Meant 2 B". Closer "Track 3", meanwhile, is a sparkling slab of unfussy positivity.
Review: One of disco's biggest divas gets served up on a red hot platter here by Vinylators. "Extended Woman" is eight plus minutes of bubbling, piano laced and string happy disco with the iconic "I'm every woman" vocal taking centre stage over nice clipped drums. It's a tasteful edit that brings all the key parts to the fore. "Piano Woman" is more stripped back, with plenty of emphasis on some busy piano playing and the soaring original vocal left in place up top. "Dub Woman" is more paired back and built on the leggy drums, while plenty of golden strings add real colour.
Review: On this sizzling seven-inch, two of Italy's most productive disco talents - Lego Edit and Vito Lalinga - join forces to energetically sprint through two righteous slabs of "Dancefloor Funk". First up on side A is "Afro Funky Now", a loose-limbed, bass-heavy Afro-funk workout rich in addictive organ stabs, delay-laden saxophone solos, Fela Kuti-esque horn blasts, beefy bass guitar and infectious drum breaks. Over on side B, "Booker" is a driving force of nature: a saxophone, trumpet and harmonica laden romp through swamp funk territory with more energetic instrumental flourishes than you can shake a stick at. We're unsure whether they're edits or original tracks (most likely the former), but either way they're ace.
Review: Stanky sickness from the Brizzle's double M funk machine, Mako & Mr Bristow return with the fifth instalment of their deeply dug (and consistently sold out) Stank Soul Edits series. For this edition we're treated to a heavy weave of breaks and dusty grooves on "Funky Diggin'" and something a little more cosmic and psychedelic on the B with "Dynamic B-Boy". Stick it to the man and get busy on the dancefloor.
Review: Released 40 years ago in 1977 ''Rhythm Of Life '' by James Mason was possibly one of the greatest vocal Jazz fusion releases of all time . New vinyl imprint Dynamite releases a quality limited edition double pack release showcasing the highlights from that album plus some additional rare versions of the tracks. The version of 'Sweet Power Your Embrace'' is taken from the incredibly rare 7 inch promo only issue. On the flipside is a different version of the club floor dancer ''Free'' which features a heavy bongo workout . The 45 second slab on this package features two tracks featuring the vocals from Clarice Taylor on ' I've Got My Eyes On You'' and the superb 'Slick City' which were both never commercially released as a 45 before.
Notes: Mukatsuku high quality professional stainless steel cut away dome shape 45 adapter with easy lift off design similar to ones used by DJ Koco. 117 grams. Height 27.5mm. Tip: Use WD40 ( to clean and maintain your adapter) Regularly spray the adapter leaving for 40 minutes, & then using a clean cloth to polish. As used by Euan from Athens Of The North,Huw 72, Graham Parker etc
Review: Everything about Birmingham-based singer/musician/producer Laura Mvula is striking; her appearance, voice, lyrics and adventurous musical approach all suggest a star in the making. This major label backed debut album, Sing To The Moon, is pretty special, too. It touches on a myriad of styles, from the Charles Stepney/Rotary Connection-ish gospeldelia of "Diamonds" and grandiose "Like The Morning Dew", to the twinkling soul-jazz of "That's Alright" (like Emile Sande, only 100 times better) and mournful strings of the beautiful "She". Throughout, Mvula's voice provides a constant reminder of her immense talents. Atmospheric, entertaining and immaculately produced, it's some debut.