Review: It would be fair to say that Kokoko! are not just dragging the music of the Democratic Republic of Congo into the 21st century, but also pushing it forwards towards the future. That much is proved by this essential debut album, a set full to bursting with thrilling fusions of Kuduro style electronics beats, lo-fi analogue electronics, traditional Congolese instrumentation, hand-played percussion polyrhythms and basslines so weighty they could crush an average-sized person. It's an arresting audio blueprint that guarantees thrills from start to finish. Highlights include the hot-stepping dancefloor sleaze of "Azo Toke", the foreboding, polyrhythmic 21st century punk-funk of "Malembe" and the intergalactic brilliance of "L.O.V.E.".
Review: Last year Strut released the superb debut EP from Kondi Band, a collaboration between blind, Sierra Leone-based thumb piano player Sorie Kondi and American DJ/producer Chief Boima. 12 months on, the duo is ready to release their debut album. It's a wonderfully evocative set that pits Sorie's traditionalist vocals and thumb piano work - informed by years spent busking on the streets of Freetown, Sierra Leone - with Boima's globally informed electronic rhythms and sounds. While the latter's beats and basslines that provide the platform, it's Sorie who emerges as the star, both as vocalist and chief melody-maker. The results are evocative, atmospheric and rarely less than hugely impressive.
Ricardo Marrero & The Group - "And We'll Make Love"
Koko Ateba - "Si T'es Mal Dans Ta Peau"
Sookie - "Tonight" (feat Jeannine Otis)
Raphael Toine - "Femmes Pays Douces"
Eboni Band - "Desire"
Robert J Riggins - "I Need You Now"
Salero - "Teardrops & Wine"
Momo Joseph - "Teardrops & Wine"
Claude Genteuil - "Dreams Of Love"
Gatot Soedarto - "Sayangilah Daku Kasih"
Synchro Rhythmic Eclectic Language - "Pasto"
Review: Since the Beach Diggin' compilation series launched a few years back, a number of its obscure, Balearic-minded selections have been given full length reissues of their own. We can probably expect a number of the tracks from this brilliant fifth volume to get the same treatment. As usual, the wide-ranging track list is thick with highlights, from the synth-heavy, French language reggae of Raphael Toine's 1986 bubbler "Femmes Pays Douces" (taken from the artist's frustratingly hard to find Ce Ta Ou album) and vibraphone-laden jazz-funk smoothness of Yasuko Agwa's sought-after "L.A Night", to the barely-known brilliance of Andre Maria Tole's Cameroonian gem "Sweet Dole". In other words, it's another essential selection.
Review: Over the years, Cesar Mariano and Cia's 1977 set "Sao Paolo Brasil" has achieved cult status, with dusty-fingered diggers regularly proclaiming it one of the finest jazz-funk/fusion albums of the period (a fact confirmed by the high prices that original vinyl copies often change hands for online). Remarkably, this timely Mr Bongo reissue marks the first time the set has been released outside of its native South America. Rich in glistening jazz guitars, fizzing, Azymuth-style organ riffs, spacey synths, warm bass and skittish drums, the album's eight tracks bristle with breeziness, subtle samba motifs, sumptuous dancefloor grooves, sunny downtempo workouts and effervescent arrangements. In a word: essential.
Special Occasion - "Flyin' To Santa Barbara" (12" version)
Parenthese - "Come Back"
Russ Long - "Never Was Love"
Pacific Dreams - "Mellow Out"
Miller Miller Miller & Sloan - "Key To My Heart"
Scott Cunningham - "Blues Take You Over"
Review: On his fourth exploration of the world of global "Adult Oriented Rock", French crate-digger Charles Maurice focuses on the period between 1977 and '86. That means a greater emphasis on synthesizers, dusty drum machines and the kind of sparkling melodies that would once have drifted from daytime radio at an alarming rate. There's much to enjoy throughout, from the dewy-eyed synth-soul of Arlana's "When You Call My Name" and the breezy boogie of Omega Sunrise's "Too Hip", to the sparse Balearic bliss of Isabelle Mayereau's "Orange Bleue", the flute-laden easy listening hum of Fernando Toussaint, the sax-happy '80s sleaze of Special Occasion's brilliant "Flyin' To Santa Barbara" and the jaunty Latino jazz-funk of "Mellow Out" by Pacific Dreams.
Review: The work of Northern Brazilian musician-turned-bandleader Mestre Cupijo has long fascinated record collectors. Much of the allure can be attributed to Cupijo's trademark sound, which fused African-influenced Brazilian dance music and traditional Amazonian rhythms with sounds from Colombia (notably cumbia), Cuba and the Dominican Republic. The results, as showcased on six albums during the 1970s, were exciting and enthralling; a cross-pollination of sounds heavy on jaunty horns, shuffling rhythms and celebratory vocals. Here, Analog Africa presents the first in-depth retrospective of Mestre's work, hand-picking the finest tracks from his six obscure 1970s albums and offering them up in remastered form. For anyone interested in either African or Brazilian music, it should be an essential purchase.
Review: During the 1980s, Nkono Teles was one of West Africa's most sought-after producers - a studio don called upon when an artist or label sought a modernist, synthesizer and drum-machine heavy sound that had the potential to cross borders. Teles was also a talented multi-instrumentalist, as his brief solo career proved. The highlight of his own artistic endeavours was "Party Beats", a sought-after set that's here reissued by BBE for the very first time. Featuring delay-laden drum machine rhythms, sweet and chiming synthesizers, jaunty fretless bass, glistening guitars, lead vocals by the man himself and a nine-piece Nigerian choir on backing vocals, it's a brilliant set that giddily joins the dot between synth-pop, electro, South African style "bubblegum", highlife and U.S style '80s soul slow jams.