Review: There's a slightly different feel to the latest instalment of the fantastic "Africa Airways" compilation series. While previous instalments have largely focused on heavy Afro-funk and Afro-soul, this fifth edition showcases material recorded during the disco and boogie era (1976-82). The ten included tracks are superb, with highlights including the fuzzy, Clavinet-driven thrills of "Sweet Sidney (Edit)" by Black Bells Group, the heavy grooves and dancing synth lines of Gyedu Blay Ambolley's "Highlife", the spacey Afro-boogie badness of Fotso's "French Girl" and the flash-fried disco-funk celebration that is Jide Obe's spacey, Moog-sporting "Too Young". As the old cliche goes, this is all killer and no filler.
Review: In the early 1970s, a new musical art form emerged on the streets of Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago from the social unrest of the time. A group of young guys started to combine poetry with drumming and created the musical art form that is known today as Rapso. Lutalo 'Brother Resistance' Masimba was one of the pioneers of this movement and his 1987 anthem "Tonight Is de Night" receives a much-needed reissue here on Cree. There's much to enjoy on this 12" - we're particularly loving the groovy "Rapso Space Dub" and funky steel drum riddims of "Crucial Decision ('92 Version)". This is total spiritual life music.
Review: This time last year, French combo Cotonete joined forces with Brazilian singer Di Melo to deliver what became one of the sleeper hits of last summer - the Latin disco/jazz-funk fusion of "A.E.I.O.U.". Here they continue their partnership with a first collaborative full length. It's a quietly impressive outing, with Di Melo's distinctive vocals rising above cuts that variously doff a cap to sultry Brazilian disco-funk, Azymuth-esque jazz-funk, soundtrack-friendly cinematic soundscapes, Astrud Gilberto style sweetness and humid salsa-funk (standout "Kilario (2019 Version)". It's a warm, loose and hazy set that feels authentically South American despite its Parisian roots.
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: This official reissue of Arthur Verocai's classic self-titled album from 1972 sounds very much like the epitome of a labour of love for Mr Bongo. The press release states the Brighton-based jazz funk archivalists have had this album on top of their reissue hitlist and with the permission of Sir Arthur himself have come through with this official vinyl reissue in newly remastered form from the original Continental master tapes. Do we need to set the scene for this masterclass in long players from Verocai? The ten tracks bristle with sonic fusion, transcending genre to become something more than Brazilian jazz funk across its sublime 29 minutes. Alongside contributing musicians, Verocai invites the listener on a journey through Bossa nova, samba, jazz, MPB, psychedelics and funk. Tip!
Review: LA 12-piece Jungle Fire live up to their name, being dedicated to the roots. The band's fusion of firesome Afrobeat and blisteringly tight traditional funk is wholly authentic, fully physical and ultimately arresting. From the gradual development and cinematic narrative of the title track to heavier, sweaty jams such as their Fela cover "Comencemos" via more laid back introspective funk such as "Chalupa" and "Snake Pit", this is what a band who know exactly what they're doing sounds like. And it sounds amazing.
Review: Tribal, physical, psychedelic: Joe Claussell's Bolla project is one of his finest creative accomplishments for many fans, and his album Afrikan Basement: Makussa is the gift that keeps on giving. Having previously leaked limited 12"s, Joe's label Sacred Rhythm does it again with another super-limited, one-sided press. Hooky, insistent and far-out for the full 10 minutes, this is shaman material right here. Do not sleep.
Put Your Spirit Up (Joaquin Joe Claussell edit & Overdub)
Other Souls & Things - "Mundo De Agua" (The Psychdelic Transfusion remix)
Afrikan Basement - "Sangre"
ITU High (interlude)
The Brooklyn Heat & Soul Band - "Come & Fly With Me" (Joaquin Improvisational remix mix)
Review: The undisputed master of spiritual house music Joaquin 'Joe' Claussell presents Cosmicdelic Afrika: a collection of demos that the New York City based visionary is currently working on in the studio. The idea for the compilation was inspired by the concept of his event Share: the upcoming Share Afrika will see Claussell digging through his archives and bringing out compositions exploring Afrika, African Diaspora, dub and more. Beginning with the deeply magical and meditative vibe of "African Drug" (Joaquin's Drugged Out Sketch mix) by Bob Holroyd, the soulful and uplifting deepness of "Emarofo Tech" (Joaquin's Demo Sketch Mix) by Mampo or Cosmic Ritual's "Abraxas" (Joaquin demo Sketch mix) which is classic Claussell - reminiscent of work on his seminal Language album from the turn of the millennium.
Review: Selva Discos' Fernando Falcao reissue series continues via a fabulous new pressing of the Brazilian percussionist's experimental 1987 album "Barracas Barrocas". Like the artist's 1981 debut, it's a brilliantly eclectic and esoteric affair, offering up a heady - and uniquely South American - blend of off-kilter jazz, pastoral neo-classical compositions, academic ambient, jaunty tropical fusion, narrated soundscapes and heavy drum workouts. Given that it moves in a multitude of directions, the set actually holds together remarkably well, with Falcao's use of bespoke orchestration acting as a constant thread linking disparate sounds and styles. It's both utterly brilliantly and thoroughly mesmerizing, while the accompanying insert includes essays in Portuguese and English telling the story of the album and Falcao's little-known career.
Review: A staple selection from Strut since its Nigeria 70 collection, this momentous piece of musical history dates back to 1979 when iconic vocalist Shina brought together the likes of Biddy Wright, Fred Fisher, Saliu Alabi and more decorated Nigerian musicians for a one-off supergroup. This epic, slippery freeform 11 minute piece of pure Afrofunk was the timeless result. Having enjoyed a handful of reissues and returns in its near 40 year life, this is the first time it's been remastered and delivered with all its original artwork and a full list of credits. Perfect to the very detail.