Review: First released in 2013 and now reissued due to popular demand, "La Musique Electronique Du Niger" is a genuine slice of West African musical history. It was initially recorded by its creator, organist and early electronic music enthusiast Mamman Sani, between 1978 and 1981, but for a variety of reasons was never released at the time. It remains a fascinating listen - an ear-catching set of traditional Niger songs re-imagined as electronic instrumentals rich in Moog style 1970s synthesizer sounds and electric organ motifs. The material is every bit as alluring as more celebrated 1970s electronic works by European and American pioneers, with the brilliantly layered "Salamatu (79)", bubbly and spacey "Lidda" and organ-rich "Tunan" standing out.
Review: Since first emerging 23 years ago, Turkish outfit Baba Zula has developed a distinctive take on their homeland's psych-funk and psych-rock traditions, offering up albums that combine elements of occidental musical culture with low slung psychedelic rock grooves, spacey electronics and the delay-laden hum of dub. It's this unique fusion of past, present and future sounds from Middle Eastern and Western culture that makes their latest album - their first for five years - such a rewarding and enjoyable listen. While unique and hard to pigeonhole, each of the ten tracks is undeniably impressive, wonderfully evocative, genuinely atmospheric and - as you'd expect given their roots - more psychedelic than tea with Timothy Leary on the moon.
Review: He may now be 72, but legendary highlife vocalist Pat Thomas still has the desire to make new music. In fact his previous set, 2015's "Pat Thomas & The Kwashibuu Area Band" - a collaboration with producer Ben Abarbanel-Wolff, storied Ghanian highlife bandleader Kwame Yeboah and musicians including fellow West African heavyweights Tony Allen and Ebo Taylor - is arguably one of the strongest albums of his lengthy career. This belayed follow-up is equally as inspired, with the golden-voiced Ghanaian vocalist providing the attention-grabbing focal point throughout. Yet while Thomas's vocals are as sublime as ever, it's the quality and detail of the accompanying music - a mix of laid back and dancefloor-ready highlife in the style he made famous in the 1970s - that really stands out.
Review: Recorded in 1983 and '84 respectively, "Feelings" and "Sidiku Buari & His Jam Busters" were the last albums recorded by Sidiku Buari, a New York based musician who turned to music after a promising career as an athlete in his native Ghana. He initially rose to prominence making highlife and afro-disco, but by the early '80s Sidiku was in full-on Afro-boogie and electrofunk mode, offering up tracks rich in colourful synthesizer lines, punchy electronic drums and righteous vocals in his native tongue. There's much to set the pulse racing across both slabs of wax, from the squelchy, club-ready brilliance of "Music" and "Anokwar (Truth)", to the slap bass propelled flex of "Minsumobo", dub disco grooves of "Karambani" and flute-laden breeziness of "Rhythm Of Africa".
Dewayon Et Conga Jazz - "Na Lingi Na Ngai Kubala Te"
Kongo Jazz - "La Belle Lucie Botayi"
Grupo Ok Jazz - "Grupo Ok Jazz"
Rock A Mambo - "Cherie Nini"
African Jazz - "Flowers Of Luckness"
African Jazz - "Merengue Nico"
Rock A Mambo - "Les Voyeurs"
Wendo Kolosoy Avec Beguen Band - "Marie Louise"
African Jazz - "Ngonga Ebeti Independance"
African Jazz - "MNC Uhuru"
Review: During the 1950s and early '60s, the peoples of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo were in the midst of a colossal struggle to gain independence from the European colonial masters. This provided a suitably fertile backdrop for a little known musical revolution, which was taking place in the two countries' clubs and live venues. The result was a distinctive and previously largely unheralded style called "Congolese rumba", which mixed elements of Latin, African and jazz music into a thrilling new sound. It's that sound that's celebrated here on one of Soul Jazz's most eyebrow raising - and, let's face it, interesting - compilations for some time. The music is largely inspired and infectious, while the lengthy accompanying booklet tells the story in vivid detail.