Review: Icon of Angolan music Bonga is on first-name terms with the stars and has given true meaning to the concept of 'Africanness'. He belongs to that caste of African singers who have sublimated their roots. His rasping, powerful voice is immediately identifiable and anyone listening to his music remains entranced from start to finish. In the mid '60s,, Bonga's athletic talents took him to Portugal where, ironically, he became a champion under his birth name while playing an active part in the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola. When the Salazar regime finally realised he was playing a double game, he managed to escape and went into exile in The Netherlands. There, in 1972, he recorded a harrowing first album soberly entitled Angola 72, with Cape Verdean musicians for the Dutch label Morabeza - today available on Lusafrica. This key record became something of a soundtrack for Angola's struggle for independence.
Review: Jose Adelino Barcelo de Carvalho, better known as Bonga, has released countless albums since making his debut in 1972, but few are quite as sought after as Angola 74. Released in 1974 (hence the imaginative title), it sees him fuse traditional Angolan instrumentation with the rhythms and sounds of Brazil (and samba, in particular). It's a brilliantly hot and humid fusion that works magnificently throughout, from the impassioned vocals, strummed samba guitars and rich bass of "Kubangela" to the dancing horns and fluttering flutes of "Roots". And that's just side one. The album's genius lies not only in Bonga's fusion of different musical cultures, but also in the combination of both up-tempo and down-tempo offerings.
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: 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: From Angola via Belgium and Manchester, Nazar follows 2018's Hyperdub rough kuduro debut "Enclave" with this immense multi-faceted body of work that analyses the Angolan war of independence, its atrocities and effects on its displaced people and his family. From the portrait on the cover of his rebel general father to many of the samples and stories, Nazar paints an unnerving picture that ranges from the militant drum shots fired on "Diverted" to the eerie juxtaposition of "FIM-92 Stinger" where a surface-to-air missile launcher gives it name to one of the album's most soulful, touching moments. Elsewhere we hear voices of his family on "Mother", we're fired up with gritty, unapologetic universal question "Why" and left asking more questions on the fractured finale "End Of Guerrilla". Much deeper than an album, this is a document, musically, politically, emotionally. Nazar and Hyperdub have created something truly unique.
Review: Cultures Of Soul dig deep into India's funkiest corners with this sophomore selection of Bombay mixes. Rich in range and references, highlights include Asha Bhosie's "Wild Thing" style riffage on "Pass Aao Na", Kishore Kumar's sudden gunshot switches between Mancini and Moroder on "Aaya Sanam Aaya Dweewana Tera" and the ridiculously infectious, stamp-heavy "Dance Music" which more than lives up to its name. A unique collection with attention to detail and sounds that have seldom been heard outside the sub continent, Brother Cleve has done himself proud.
Henry Mancini & His Orchestra - "The Party" (reprise)
The Savages - "Born To Be Wild"
The Bombay Royale - "You Me Bullets Love"
Blossom Dearie - "I Like London In The Rain"
BB Davis & The Red Orchidstra - "Get Carter"
Peter Ivers Group - "Ain't That Peculiar" (feat Asha Puthli)
One Two Cha Cha Cha - "Usha Uthup" (Salimar Soundtrack version)
Gabor Szabo - "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)"
Big Jim Sullivan - "Sunshine Superman" (bonus track)
Review: This tidy compilation from Dishoom shines a light on the largely overlooked cultural crossover between Bombay and London in the mid to late 1960s. While it is widely acknowledged that Western rock musicians looked to India for inspiration during this period, little has previously been made of how British and American rock, pop, funk and soul inspired Indian musicians. Musically, there are some real gems to be found throughout, from the sitar-laden "Jumping Jack Flash" and "Cissy Strut" covers (by Ananda Shankar and Bill Ravi Harris and the Comets respectively) and psychedelic rock thrust of The Bombay Royale's "You Me Bullets Love", to the Merseybeat-goes-Bollywood brilliance of Mohammad Rafi's "Jaan Pechlan Ho".