Review: Four years on from their last outing, Japan's premier neo-Afrobeat band returns to the warm embrace of Soul Garden Records. A-side "Scarface" is arguably one of the band's most addictive and ear-pleasing tracks yet; a rousing Afrobeat workout that sees band members trading solos over a densely percussive, Fela Kuti style workout. In a bid to let us have a bit of a breather, flipside "This Day" is a more languid and laidback affair, with drunken trumpet solos and jammed-out keys relaxing over a shuffling, Afro-Latin groove. As ever, the playing is immaculate and the production authentically fuzzy. Worth a listen.
Review: Nu-wave afrobeat swingers, Jaribu Afrobeat Arkestra, touch back down on Masamichi Ishikawa's Soul Garden, and they have arrived just in time for what we hope to be a blazing hot summer of joyful Fela vibes. In fact, these guys have cited Kuti as their main inspiration - which is always a good thing, in our opinion - and the title track "Bomb" is clearly of that ilk, unleashing a driving bass surrounded by wild chanting and a little disco sensibility. On the flipside, "Panama" provides a deeper, cooler edge that's much more in line with Kuti's work alongside the Afrika 70 band, with booming horns guiding the jazzed-out percussion. LUSH!
Review: Fela Kuti fans Jaribu Afrobeat Arkestra last came to our attention in 2014 via a fantastic sophomore set on Soul Garden. Here, the Japanese neo-Afrobeat combo returns to the same imprint with the first of two simultaneously released 7" singles. A-side "Eastern Comfort" is a typically jaunty and undulating affair, with bold, Fela-esque tenor sax motifs and delay-laden spoken work vocals dancing around Nigeria '70 guitars and loose, Tony Allen style drums. Flipside "Eko Ile" is an altogether more forthright and up-tempo affair whose rasping horns and JuJu guitars are slightly overshadowed by some elongated organ action.
Review: Jonny 5 can rightly be considered a mainstay of Bahnsteig 23 now, as he returns to the label for the third time. It seems that the main source of inspiration for this latest opus from the intermittent producer has been the Indian sub continent, and he's channeled those vibes into three wild and wicked tracks for the weird dance party. "Bengali Dub" channels the proto electro vibes of 80s synth pop and shoots it through with some illustrious sample drops, while "Simha" works more like a particularly bold edit loping in a polyrhythmic fashion that will have the floor hopping like mad to keep up. "Tum Tum" turns up the heat on the B side with a deadly electronic revision of an Indian classic.
Review: Juan Laya and Jorge Montiel pay homage to the heartland with this beguiling album. A deep trip up and down the amazon, hopping off as and when they see fit, the album sees them paying homage to Latin standards such as "Fruta Fresca" and "Manduco". Rebuilding them electronically with, no doubt, a fair few classic synths in the mix. From disco to blues with just a touch of Latin folk magic, it's yet another unique and vital trip from the Los Charly's Orchestra lads.
Review: Los Charly's Orchestra sorts Juan Laya and Jorge Montiel impressed earlier in the year with "Electropical", a set of sensuous re-imaginings of Latin standards in a synthesizer/drum machine style. This follow-up is equally as impressive. The sensual samba-boogie goodness of "Esta Musica", features the wonderful vocals of Andre Espeut, the delayed-laden Balearic-goes-Amazonian breeze of "Sabana", and the jazz-wise, percussion-rich brilliance of "Semana Santa En Achaguas". Elsewhere, Pete Herbert re-imagines "Sabana", a jaunty, synth-heavy chunk of Balearic nu-disco brilliance while Oyobi delivers a fine broken beat/synth-funk fusion version of "Vuelo Del Condor". Simply essential.
Review: Love Circle returns for a second release, digging deep into the misty past of golden era disco and finding rare gold for the reissue market to rejoice at. This time it's the work of Barry Blue and two projects he produced in the early 80s, lovingly re-edited for maximum dancefloor pleasure by Velvet Season & The Hearts Of Gold (aka gerry Rooney and Joel Martin). First up is surefire party starter "Breakin In" by Javaroo, and on the flip it's low down seduction workout "Love The Way You Love Me" by Marti Cane getting a fresh airing for all vintage-minded dancers and DJs.
Review: With that excellent pair of remixes from Place No Blame's label debut last year still ringing in our heads, we've been awaiting new material from London's Japan Blues with a worrying level of anticipation. While his reworks of DJ Slyngshot's equally magnetic tunes saw the mask-ridden producer branch out onto new territories, this LP marks another significant change in his approach to releasing music. Sells His Record Collection, as with anything this man does, is an honest approach to sampling and a magnificent reflection of so many years spent digging through Japanese records. From folk dances, to soundtrack scores, and even glitchy waves of post-punk beats, this is an unmissable excursion into the most unknown territories of the music that the Far Easte Asian's island has to offer. There are few people who have taken such care, attention and dedication to bringing the listener a singular view of the country's music, and there is something in here for any serious music connoisseur's ears. Unmissable (and limited!).
Review: Jay-U Experience was the musical alter ego of Justus Nnakwe, a Nigerian musician who featured in several psychedelic rock and funk combos during the late '70s and early '80s. Collectors of Nigerian music have long sought out copies of his 1977 debut album, Enough is Enough, a fact that has inspired Soundway to prepare this licensed reissue. It's a thoroughly vibrant and entertaining set that sees Nnawke slip between leisurely reggae-pop ("Reggae Deluxe"), acid-fried Afro-funk ("Get Yourself Together"), sax-fuelled dancefloor psychedelia ("Some More") and fuzzy, organ-laden funk-rock heaviness (freaky closer "Baby Rock"). Given that finding original copies is near impossible these days, even for those who spend their lives digging in Lagos, this should be an essential purchase for fans of Nigerian music.
A2 (feat Loa Myst & Nu Fvnk - El Buho remix) (6:53)
A1 (Sooma remix) (7:32)
Review: The Banana Hill crew continue in their quest to represent some of the finest sounds transmitting from the African continent, this time showcasing the immersive ruminations of Kenya's Jinku. "A1" takes a seriously deep trip into stripped back house percussion and atmospheric vocal chants, while "N1" sports a more jagged rhythm section that meanders through emotive suites of sound before the mellower downtempo mood of "N2". On the flip, "A2" features moody vocal turns from Loa Myst and Nu Fvnk that suit the laconic house structure, which El Buho gently nudges into a more crooked remix without losing the heady atmosphere. Sooma then tackles "A1" and ups the bass-led house pressure with a measured touch that respectfully embellishes the original.
Review: Between the mid 1970s and the late 1980s, Cameroonian duo J.M Tim and Foty recorded a string of killer Afro-funk albums. This superb compilation from Africa Seven shines a light on the best of the duo's early work, with each of the ten tracks recorded between 1977 and '79. There's much to set the pulse racing throughout, from the crunchy Clavinets, punchy horns and heavy grooves of opener "Douala By Night" and the rubbery disco-funk of "More and More", to the swirling, celebratory vocals, sun-kissed guitars and dazzling analogue synth solos of "Ale". Elsewhere, check the Bee Gees-in-Cameroon flex of "Funky Boogie Love" and "I Love Youande", a breezy affair with a touch of country-funk swing and an a sublime bass guitar riff.
Review: Just shy of a year after their last Electropical escapade, Juan Laya and Jorge Montiel return with another fiery fusion of afrobeat, Latin, funk and disco treats. This time recorded in the Bolivar Film Studios, Caracas with Venezuelan drum ensemble, we're treated to two new originals and two exceptional updates. "San Juan" hits with a sleazy, dreamy groove and yearning vocals crying over the top while "Electropical" is an immense hit of percussive magic that gradually opens up into technoid chords that no crowd will hear coming. Flip for a loose-limed and sparkly take on the proto house blueprint "Spacial Paradise" and contemporary, heavier hitting take on their 2011 evergreen dancefloor kiss "Sexmachina". Get on the scene...
Review: Since first pricking the collective consciousness at the dawn of the decade, 12-piece ensemble Jungle Fire has released some killer fusions of funk, Afrobeat, and more tropical dancefloor flavours. Jambu is their second full-length, following the release of acclaimed debut album Tropicoso in 2014. As vibrant, colourful and hedonistic as you'd expect, it sees the Los Angeles' band lay down a series of scorching original compositions built around heavy funk grooves, bold Afrobeat horns, and the kind of intricate, layered percussion more often found in vintage Cuban dance music. As usual, you'll find nods to numerous South American styles amongst the Afro-funk throw-downs, ensuring a set that doesn't settle on one sound for any significant length of time.
Review: Under the Junior Mendes alias, Luiz Mendes Jr was a key figure on the Brazilian funk/soul scene of the '70s and early '80s. As writer, composer and producer, he had a hand in a variety of releases by such big-hitting Brazilian artists as Banda Black Rio and Tim Maia. In 1982 he recorded and released his sole solo album, Cococabana Sadia, a set that remains virtually unknown outside of his native Brazil. As this Athens of the North reissue proves, it's something of an overlooked gem. Musically, it's typically of boogie-era Brazilian soul and funk, mixing native rhythms and instrumentation with elements borrowed from disco, jazz-funk and bouncy dancefloor soul. It's unashamedly sunny and positive, too, and should be essential listening for anyone who loves Latin disco and boogie.