Review: Israel's infamous Tvsia Abarbanel, a Goddess in her own right, is back on our charts thanks to the ever-impressive Fortuna Records, and the label have once again dug up an impossibly rare independent recording from the 1970s that has rarely ever been seen or smelled by even the most addicted of diggers. Much like the other 1970 recording they reissued back in 2012, Eastern Soul is Abarbanel attempting to mix traditional Yemenite sounds jazz, funk and soul, resulting in a veritablely singular sound throughout. The opening "Wings Of Love" is a moody jazz track made for the dancefloor, but our favourite is the B1, "Yahlel Hawa", an incredible display of traditional Israeli percussion, iconic singing, and the American jazz influence that just ties it all together.These won't last long. Recommended.
Review: Destination Lebanon circa 1979, local disco hero Al Munzer delivers an album Belly Dance Disco. Fusing folk with future, it translated traditional musical motifs with modern studio kit in such a way it still sounds timeless today. "Jamileh" is a juicy, jittering jam that's rich in distinctive Moog sounds while "The Joy Of Lina" is a more upbeat, multi-instrument affair that could charm the snake off any dancefloor. A dense arrangement full of twists and turns, it looks as far back as it does forward. Limited and hand stamped, bag this and you'll be wriggling and giggling all the way to the decks.
Review: Wow. Fortuna have really thrown a curve ball. There is very little out other on Arbanel Tsvia but the music speaks for itself. Both cuts are furtive fusions of East meets West as we shake away to dramatic Salim-Sulaiman style cascading melodies before being thrown in Charlie Parkier style jazz madness and big swing band action the size of 10 Glen Millers. A unique listen, there's not one dull moment throughout.
Review: While some of you might jump to conclusions by categorising Kalbata as a newcomer, the veteran producer has, in reality, done it all and seen it all. He's been making wild and diverse electronic concoctions for over ten years, and his style is as unstable as his beats, which are largely undefinable and ever-shifting. This time, he's on the Fortuna label with some Middle-Eastern jams, and "Al Shark" is powered by a subtle techno undercurrent and gnarly sequence of digitised synth keys - all nice and distorted for added effect. Part 2 of the same tune leads into much more tribal territories, where the synth of side A are still looming in the background, amid an ocean of percussion and swamped atmospherics. TIP!
Review: Tel-Aviv's Fortuna Records are doing their nation proud by releasing an impressive volume of native music, both old and new, that is sounding perfectly relevant in this day and age. More than anything, it's just great music that most of us haven't heard yet. For instance, their previous effort - a timely reissue of Tsvia Abarbanel's Eastern Soul - was an invaluable snapshot of Israeli femininity across the ages, while this reincarnation of Shimson Miel's acid-rock output from 2007 is a clear nod to the man's visionary style, more than a decade ago. "Amsterdam Experience" is the stand-out track, a bundle of loose, percussive waves that verge on the electronic while still sounding organic and improvisational. Much the same, "Nueiba Nueiba" is a delightful slice of deep-minded exotica, and Kalbata's edit of "Amsterdam Experience" provides a more wholesome slew of beats to the original.
Review: There's rather a lot of mystery surrounding Fortuna Records latest release, which comes from a previously unheard (and decidedly publicity-shy) producer known only as Moontribe. The album itself is intense and otherworldly, with the mystery man or woman dousing heavy African tribal rythms with intoxicating Middle Eastern instrumentation, off-kilter organ lines, mind-altering Jew's Harp motifs and copious amounts of 1970s style type echo. The resultant cuts veering from dense, percussive workouts (wild opener "Moontribe") and jaunty, intergalactic jams ("Technology", "Bottles"), to deep space soundscapes ("Moon's Moon"). It's very impressive and immersive stuff, all told.
Review: Hot on the heels of Arbanel Tsvia, Fortuna skip from India to 70s Israel where resident Greek songsmith Nino was brewing a unique fusion that quickly became very popular thanks to his distinctive voice. Interestingly, though, the single leads with an instrumental. And what an instrumental! Manic, lo-fi and infectious, the chaos between eastern and western scales on the organ combine the very best of the middle east and the med. "Var Ne Soranim" is more your classic Nikolaidis; all croony and whimsical, he puts so much soul into it his heart is hanging off the mic.
Review: We knew the Fortuna label was capable of delivering some high-quality output, but this new EP has truly taken us by surprise. The imprint have dub up the timeless music of Lebabon's Raja Zahr, an artist who, alongside the Turkish connection, revolutionised disco music and gave it an extra layer of Eastern charm. These three tracks are a collection of his best and most provocative tunes from the 1980s: "Drum Sequence", as the title suggests, is a drum-heavy, tribal-ridden, disco charmer with fiery electronic twists and turns around its edges; on the flipside, "Dabke" spins the entire formula on its head by delivering a truly oddball piece of pseudo disco that has a lot more in common with the leftfield scene of the modern day, and the rampant "A Drummer & A Dancer" takes the disco blueprint off-piste, and into more bizarre corners that showcase this enigmatic and charismatic artist's abilities. Warmly recommended.