Mahmoud Ahmed - "Aynotche Terabu" (with Equators Band) (4:02)
Girma Beyene - "Ene Negn Bay Manesh" (2:24)
Review: The Afro 45's / Mr Bongo lineage has produced some of the hottest, most sizzling funk reissues from around the globe, and this tasty two-header from Mahmoud Ahmed - who has appeared heavily on Portland's monumental Mississippi label - and Girma Beyene, two greats of the African soul / funk heritage. Ahmed's "Aynotche Terabu" is backed by the Equators Band, and the man's voice rides like crispy waves over the dusty percussion and charging trumpets of the outfit; Beyene appears with a less moody but equally brilliant jazz-leaning piece named "Ene Negn Bay Manesh", bringing through the spirot of greats such as Mulatu and the rest of the African luminaries.
Review: Last spotted on wax together 16 years ago on New Standards, Italian kindred spirits and diggers Conte and Petrella collide once again. A culmination of many records savoured and ideas shared between the two friends, this 12" is long overdue and fizzes with fusion. "African Spirit" is focused on a rolling tribal MAW style house rhythm with Gianluca adding his signature trombone with staccato finesse while "New World Shuffle" is a much dreamier, smoky affair that sounds perfect any time between sunset and sunrise. Spiritual.
Review: Nicola Conte and Gianluca Petrella follow up last year's beautiful "African Spirits / New World Shuffle" with two more lavish instrumentals. "Sun Song" lives up to its name with wave after wave of heated musicianship from the belting harmonies to the light-touch keys. "Nigeria" taps deep into the source too as it drives us through the heart of Lagos with full horns and sweeping keys. Spiritual, sun-splashed and vital.
Review: vKeen Africa 45 followers should recognise Eshete's name as he's appeared on the series before. Mr Bongo call him the Ethiopian James Brown and the Abyssinian Elvis... And they're not far off. This 74 rarity shows him crooning and crying at full pelt over a solid funk groove that's powered by piano and guitar. Flip for an equally rare vocal track from fellow Ethiopian Girma. Recorded in 69, full focus is squared on the lavish organ leads while the horns provide a soft but sturdy backdrop.
Maria Sabina (feat Huaira - Nicola Cruz remix) (4:47)
Agua De La Tierra (Nicola Cruz remix) (4:54)
A La Muerte (Nicola Cruz remix) (4:21)
Review: Matanza member Rodrigo Gallardo has long been interested in the "folkloric traditions" of South America .....El Origen is his attempt to incorporate these traditional sounds, rhythms and instrumental tropes into a contemporary electronic music setting. His original productions - all fluttering flutes, gentle acoustic guitars, warm electronics and evocative vocals - are showcased on the A side, with pal and fellow Chilean Nicola Cruz providing his own interpretations on the B-side. Naturally, his revisions tend towards the more cosmic and dancefloor-friendly, but also retain enough elements from Gallardo's original tracks to not be too revolutionary. Crucially, all Cruz's versions are superb.
Review: A bona fide Afro funk legend, Tony Grey cut his teeth in Nigeria as a James Brown impersonator before establishing pacts with his backing band The Black 7 who later morphed into the Ozimba Messengers. Their album The Message was released in 1981 and gave us both of these outrageously funky jams. "Time Factor" is undiluted disco complete with cool pops and whistles that Dave Lee has been championing for 30 years. "You Are The One" shows more of its Nigerian heartbeat amidst the tight horns and Tony's emphatic vocal delivery. Complete with a poster, this is a really special reissue.
Review: To stay in tune with the heatwave France just went through, Guts brings you two remixes from Poirier + Voilaaa and two unreleased tracks in the Afro-tropical train of it's 'Philantropiques' album. Best served under a scortching sun, to live the full musical experience.
Review: Philophon is a Berlin-based label run by Max Weissenfeldt. Part of Philophon is the Tonstudio Bluetenring in Kreuzberg, operated by Benjamin 'Stibbo' Spitzmueller. The label's essential motivation is to support any form of local culture with reason, freedom and ludic drive. North-Ghanaian singer Guy One presents his first international release here. He promises what his name is saying: he is the number one artist of Frafra music, named after his people. "Everything You Do, You Do For Yourself" is a driving Highlife rhythm and his only song having a phrase in English. "Estre" features one of the leading voices of Frafra-Gospel named Florence Adooni. She interweaves perfectly with the horn arrangements by Weissenfeldt and the drummer. Washington's Hailu Mergia, San Francisco's Idris Ackamoor and the Pyramids and the legendary Scandinavian producer Jimi Tenor have also released on the label over the last year too.
Review: Following their surprise reunion and Strut-release album We Be All Africans last year, Idris and The Pyramids return... This time on Max Weissenfeldt's Philophon imprint. Laying down a spiritual arrangement so frenetic and full of its own life it takes up two parts, Idris's sax plays duet with Philophon's own vocalist Guy One. Gutsy, raw and full of surprises, it's another out-of-body experience from the longstanding jazz troupe.
Review: Timed to coincide with the upcoming 2016 Olympics in Rio, the $tateside label comes through with a 7"-shaped celebration of Brazilian music featuring two classic cuts from the archives of Airto Moreira and Gilberto Gil. Even if you don't know it by name, Moreira's "Celebration Suite" should be instantly familiar, a jazz-fusion/samba batucada anthem that truly lives up its joyous name!! Flip it over and Gilberto Gil is on hand for a more mellow accompaniment in the shape of bossa samba standard "Maracatu Atomico," lifted from his 1975 album Viramundo. Comes as a yellow and green samba seven special!
Review: The moment you put that needle down on "Ye Mele" you will know that you've lit a serious firecracker; that bold piano hook and silver harmonies have that instant classic appeal even if you've never heard it. A bona fide Brazilian classic. It's backed by a 68 track from the Golden Boys. A much more introspective fusion of late 60s American folk, Latin and Ennio-style original score music, full attention is arrested right until the stunning crescendo finale.
Review: Here's something rather unusual: a reissue of two tracks from experimental New Zealand outfit From Scratch's 1983 12" 3 Pieces From Gung Ho 1,2,3D, plus a trio of contemporary translations. On the A-side of record one you'll find two of From Scratch's eccentric originals, which were created using "tuned PVC pipes, drums, chimes" and "whizzer drone" (nope, we've no idea either). Fundamentally, these are loose, languid, tribal-inspired percussion works created using custom-made instruments. It's perhaps fitting that one of the standout interpretations comes from percussion-obsessed, polyrhythmic techno specialist Don't DJ. His epic, hypnotic and trippy version is joined by a woozy cover from Japan's Goat and a drowsy, heavily electronic, ambient influenced translation by the Utena Kobayashi Group.
Review: The team behind Tropical Diaspora Records recently described this album as "representing everything the label stands for". It comes from Renato Gama, an artist from the outer fringes of Sao Paolo who underpins socially conscious and hard-hitting lyrics with expressive and infectious music. "Olhos Negros Vivo" is naturally sunny and ear-catching affair, mixing tracks that mine Brazil's jazz-funk history (think Azymuth in particular), with forays into samba-jazz and smoother, more downtempo excursions. The musicianship is brilliant, the production sympathetic (it's almost like being in the room with Gama and his band) and the vocals hugely evocative.
Review: According to the dusty-fingered diggers behind Bongo Joe Disques, General Franco Lee Ezute is the "aficionado's choice" when it comes to the "Anioma sound", a variant on the Igbo highlife style that was popular in Nigeria during the 1970s and '80s. If you are unsure what the style sounds like, we'd recommend checking this reissue of "Onye Kata Obia", an obscure, four-track release from the musician and his backing band, Harmony International, that was most likely recorded around the turn of the '80s. Full of glistening guitars, heartfelt vocals and insatiable, dancefloor-friendly rhythms, it's one of the most joyous and sun-soaked records you're ever likely to hear.
Review: Edinburgh is perhaps not the place you'd look for authentic 1950s and '60s style New York salsa, but that's exactly where Grupo Magnetico earned their stripes. The collective regularly performed in a small cellar bar before cutting their first record, which was released last year by Athens of the North. This debut album, which boasts contributions from singers and musicians from across South and North America and was mixed in New York by legendary Latin producer Aaron Levinson, expands on that single, offering a wonderfully authentic tribute to the glory days of Eddie Pamieri, Tito Puente, Ray Barretto, classic NYC salsa and the infamous Fania label.
Review: Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou is an Ethiopian nun known for her unique solo piano playing. For three decades she lived a reclusive life with only rare performances, including one at the Jewish Community Center in Washington, D.C. in 2008. Featured here are recordings sourced from the '60s of her truly captivating performances and are deservedly reissued by the Portland, Oregon based Mississippi/Little Axe Records. Featured here are all original compositions available for the first time on vinyl beyond the original early editions, said to be near impossible to find.
Review: Gambia's Guelewar Band Of Banjul have been sat right at the top of the African psych game since the 1980s and, although they released a highly successful album in 2011, Halleli N' Dakarou, they have remained largely silent since the golden era of afrobeat. In fact, this latest reappearance form the band comes int he form of a reissue of 1981's Warteef Jigeen, a time when the group was really beginning to take shape and find their sound. The title track is the perfect opener thanks to some prophetic vocals, a big beat accompaniment, and something beautifully 60s garage about it. Other favourites include the more Afro-leaning "Mamadu Bitike", the Fela-style charge that is "NTC The Gambia", and the instantly hummable horns of "Jilanna". What a corker - highly recommended!
Groove Ma Poule (feat Djeuhdjoah & Lieutenant Nicholson) (3:54)
Daddy Sweet (feat Pat Kalla) (6:18)
Li Dous Konsa (5:59)
Kenk Corner (3:50)
Sa Ce Kado (6:25)
Shake It & Rise Up (4:05)
Nosso Carimbo E Do Mundo (feat Pinduca & Nazar Peirera) (3:53)
Se Nou Menm (4:06)
Boug Bagay La (4:23)
Penda (feat Emma Lamadji & Kandy Guira) (3:48)
Review: Under the Guts guise, instrumental hip-hop beat-maker turned tropical soul enthusiast Fabrice Franck Henri has become one of Heavenly Sweetness' most reliable artists. "Philantropiques" is Henri's first album for three years and could well be his most expansive and adventurous to date. The set's 14 tracks are as colourful and musically rich as you'd expect, with the storied producer and a range of vocal collaborators conjuring up tracks that draw influence from a myriad of Central American, Caribbean, South American and African styles. The results are uniformly excellent, with highlights including the tropical shuffle of "Mucagiami (feat Vum Vum)", the sun-kissed French Caribbean funk of "Daddy Sweet (feat Pat Kalla)", the Afro-Tropical rush of "Kenk Corner" and the synth-powered brilliance of "Shake It & Rise Up".