Review: The always on-point High Life imprint sees the return of Alma Negra with that is possibly the Basel crew's best EP to date and one that's been causing quite the commotion in the promo / upcoming terrains! "Maloya" is exactly the sort of tune you'd imagine the likes of DJ Sotofett or Max D playing in a set: a broad range of ethnic rhythms, far-out vocal chops and even a grainy, tape-saturated kick drum to boot! On the B-side, "Midnight Run" is an off-kilter house tune with a hint of Balearica and a gorgeous tribal groove for yet more exotic-house quality. Limited and hand-stamped so act fast!
Review: The Highlife Edits series from the Huntleys & Palmers crew has proved a rip-roaring success so far with Auntie Flo, ESA, Alma Negra and Mehmet Aslan all dipping into their personal collections for some dancefloor weapons for the more adventurous selectors out there. The Berlin based Aslan returns for this fourth volume, sharing sides with I'm A Cliche's Tel Aviv correspondents Red Axes and the results are sublime. "Adimiz Miskinder" sees Aslan look to his Turkish roots, treating a a psychedelic folk cut to some hefty delay effects and beefing up the bottom end, but as good as it is the track is fairly overshadowed by the B Side beast from Red Axes. If you've been digging their efforts for I'm A Cliche's Edit Service you will love the midtempo industrial madness that is "Chew The Gun".
Review: Highlifedits is the new label from Auntie Flo, the Glasgow dwelling Goan producer who shot to prominence with the excellent Goan Highlife release on Huntleys & Palmers back in 2011. As you might expect from the name, this new label is dedicated to edits from the man himself, having clearly got a taste for them after contributing to the Autonomous Africa label set up by JD Twitch. Fans of those two records will love Highlifedits Vol 1 with both "Doodle" and "Lumbalu" heavily percussive house work outs derived from un-named African source material. The type of music that's meant for the dancefloor and executed with aplomb.
Review: It's been a successful year to date for Brian D'Souza, whose work under the Auntie Flo moniker - for Permanent Vacation, Huntleys & Palmers and Autonomous Africa, amongst others - just gets better and better. Here he delivers his second EP for the excellent Highlife Edits series. It's a little different to previous installments, with flipside "Miajica" turning an obscure, Hammond-laden deep soul cut into a chunk of rolling deep house dynamite. "Sun Ritual II" is a little more in keeping with the series' African roots, but again D'Souza rolls out the house rhythms. Here, they're supplemented by shuffling African percussion and looped, rising chords. The effect is decidedly Balearic, and - of course - very, very good.
Review: Brian D'Souza and Esa Williams' 2015 album, Theory of Flo - the second Auntie Flo full-length - has picked up many plaudits since it was released last year. Here, a trio of album tracks gets given a new lease of life via brand new reworks. The Revenge kicks off proceedings, in the process delivering a dreamy, evocative, hypnotic interpretation that belies his reputation as a maker of forthright house and loopy disco. Cain gets in the Afro-futurist spirit with a throbbing, polyrhythm heavy take on "Hewal3", before D'Souza's Highlife pal Mehmet Aslan steals the show with an inspired flipside remix of "Cape Malay Prayer". Full of lilting electronics, trippy effects, indigenous instrumentation and rolling percussion, it's something of a soft-spun delight.
Review: Early in 2014, Highlife regulars Auntie Flo and Esa traveled to Cuba to play at the country's biggest music festival. While there, they hooked up with a string of local vocalists and musicians to lay down the first installment of Highlife's World Series. Predictably, it's something of a triumph, with both artists gleefully joining the dots between Afro-influenced drum machine rhythms, traditional Cuban instrumentation and the kind of skewed synths that are such a feature of their work. Auntie Flo's effort is a 13-minute epic featuring the rambling vocals of Eric Eleindro and some snaking trumpet action. It's Esa who steals the show, though, with a dreamy, Balearic-minded cut that sounds like a contemporary update of Hugh Masekela's mid 1980s work.
Christopher vs Swahili Alley - "DoaDoa14" (extended mix) (6:20)
Santuri - "Min Kula" (Esa 12" mix) (7:44)
Bantu Clan vs Sarabi - "Africa Ni Leo" (extended mix) (7:46)
Bantu Clan vs Sarabi - "Africa Ni Leo" (Behr remix) (5:59)
Review: After pit stops in Cuba and Kenya, Auntie Flo and Esa's Highlife World Series lands in Uganda for its closing edition. Recorded over various stints at the East Africa music conference DoaDoa in Jinja in the past year, these four tracks find our intrepid pair of travelling fusionists working with musicians from Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya and South Africa. First up is "DoaDoa14" by Christopher and Swahili Alley, named in honour of its genesis at that year's conference and a fine journey through spiritual African house music. Next up Esa shows off his prowess at extended dancefloor burners with a superb twisting remix of Santuri's "Min Kula" whilst the B side features Bantu Clan Vs Sarabi's "Africa Ni Leo" in both extended and remixed by Behr form. A fine end to a consistently enlightening series.
Review: Next up on Huntleys + Palmers Highlife edit series is label staple Auntie Flo, serving up a remix of Grammy Award-winning, Malian Wassoulou musician Oumou Sangare's "Djoukourou". Her career has spanned two decades and the track was featured on last years 'Mogoya LP', her seventh studio album. Dreamy and drifting spiritual life music that doesn't get much better than this - it was apparently rinsed by Innervisions boss Dixon a lot during the Summer of 2016. It's complimented by a brand new original on the flip entitled "Desert Island" which keeps on with the lush and evocative vibes. Its hypnotic xylophone melody casting its spell on you, while slack beats provide a momentum for a real sense of travelling without moving. This the 18th edition in the series so far, follows up other great edits by the likes of Cain, Alma Negra and Tanzania Soundsystem.
Review: The Highlife offshoot of Huntleys & Palmers has really blossomed into a platform for the roving collective's growing roster of artists to show off their edit chops thanks to contributions from Esa, Mehmet Aslan, Red Axes and, of course, Auntie Flo. This sixth edition introduces another Scottish talent in the shape of Cain, with these cuts representing his debut vinyl release. If you've been to a H&P party over the summer you will probably have been charmed by the warm sub bass and infectious vocals of "Nagan" whilst the label describe "Vatula" quite aptly as Daphni via Delhi. If you are looking for something with a bit of a different flavour to pepper your sets, these two tracks are perfect.
Review: Cain has already appeared once before for the Highlife Edits label, the Huntleys & Palmers offshoot that has been significantly promising since entering the scene not too long ago. The Scotsman returns with "Bakhtin" on the A-side, dripping its neat tribal percussion over a steady house beat that spews a mystical sort of energy from its cinematic synths. "Gordito", the opener on the flipside, is a much nastier affair, one with a dastardly bassline ready to bounce with each kick of the 4/4, while "Cajal" strips it all right down to a halt, offering instead a desolate, Eastern jam that recalls a lonesome night in the desert. A fine EP, and a highly recommended one, indeed....
Review: Highlife's Highlands hero Cain returns with three more completely unique afro/techno fusions. "Atai" thumps from the off with flappy kora licks loosely leading the groove. "Juok" strips things back to percussion and an ominous sub driving tension before the big kick drum release. Finally we land with "Levare" that adopts a classic dancehall/breakbeat arrangement for its structure while accordions woozily wheeze gently in the background and dubby horn textures float heavily in the foreground.
Review: Auntie Flo's Highlife imprint gathers more groove momentum as South African producer Esa Williams joins the party with two acid-tickled jams. "Shaka Zulu" is deep, tribal affair as an acid bassline undulates beneath bold drums and far-away cries. Building with snares and added synth magic, it's a sure-fire way to send your floor into a near-shamanic state. "Sipho Gongonzo Hulle", meanwhile, is an uplifiting slice of analogue euphoria with soft African chants and tightly woven synths that sparkle over the bubbling bassline. Both are absolutely stunning.
Review: The Highlife World series project is the product of Auntie Flo and Esa William's collaborations in the studio. After the previous Cuba chapter comes the present Kenya release, and in case you didn't know, all proceeds from the sales will be returned to the respective countries to fund further music-making. All in all, you get to buy beautiful electronic music and help at the same time, a bargain! Esa reworks gorgeous African rhythms by Sarabi, along with Sam Jones, while Makadem comes through with the charming chimes of "Salaam". Lovely stuff.
Review: The Highlife crew is remaining tight-lipped about the identity of the producer (or producers) behind the Tanzania Soundsystem project. Whoever it is, they've come up with some genuine dancefloor stormers to kick-start their career. Opener "Msichana", a kind of semi-organic tribal Afro-house bomb built around intoxicating rhythms and wide-eyed chants, is particularly good, though glistening closer "Upotofu" - all dusty old drum machine polyrhythms, sweet vocals and tumbling juju guitars - is almost as good. Furthermore, like most of the rest of the material on the EP, it's wonderfully positive and life affirming. Highlife 12" singles tend to be nigh on essential, and this is no exception.