Review: The Kalita crew step up with another finely chosen reissue gem from the history of African dance music, this time welcoming Ghanaian disco maestro Okyerema Asante to the fold with two utterly infectious party starters laced with ample feel good vibes. "Sabi (Get Down)" is a slinky groover with a killer bassline and sweet guitar licks for the heads down crew to bust out some serious moves. "That's My Girl" is a more sizzling affair with a brighter outlook, riding high on soaring brass and woodwind and packing a heartfelt message of love that everyone can vibe with.
Review: Thanks to increased interest in South African dance music of the late 1980s, original copies of this obscure album from little-known trio The Bees have been changing hands for large sums online. Happily, Johannesburg-based label Afrosynth Records has decided to give it the reissue treatment. It was first released in 1988 and offers a near perfect example of the early Kwaito style blend of "bubblegum" South African synth-pop and contemporaneous U.S house. Highlights include the chanted vocals, sun-bright synth melodies and rubbery bass of "She's A Witch (Tikoloshi)", the glassy-eyed mid-tempo Kwaito richness of "Mjondolo (Bus House)" and "Mathatha", an anthem in waiting rich in country guitar riffs, positive lyrical messages and jangling house piano.
Review: This is when reissues feel like they truly do a service to music that would have certainly disappeared into obscurity - Desmond Coke was a gifted musician who sat in on sessions for the On-U Sound label amongst many other places. His sole solo record was a private press job that very nearly blinked out of existence, but Emotional Rescue have been on hand like the diligent diggers they are to rescue his heartfelt, mightily expressive boogie jams from the one dollar bin. Sunny, sweet and soulful, but also with enough depth and punch to stand up to big budget productions of the era, this is a truly wonderful find that will no doubt be a surprise to even seasoned selectors.
Review: Argentinian keyboardist Carlos Cutaia has been active since the early 70s, but diggers have long been fawning after his mid-80s LP Orquesta. Fusing catchy pop-rock workouts with truly madcap moments and glued together by lots and lots of synths, it's little wonder that the Emotional Rescue gang were enamoured with the release and resolved to put together a reissue. There is some really adventurous production going on here, with "Juegos Confusos" being particularly flamboyant and "Uranio Enriquecido" ramping up the oddball keys and splashy effects. Meanwhile the likes of "Sensacion Melancolica" nail that slow and seductive synthwave sound impeccably.
Review: Under the now familiar DJ Rocca alias, Luca Roccatagliati has been serving up Italo-disco, Balearica and boogie-influenced nu-disco cuts for the best part of 15 years. It's something of a surprise, then, to find that "Isole" is his debut solo album (his previous full-length excursions were made in cahoots with Dimitri From Paris and Stefano Ghittoni). It's a colourful and hugely enduring affair, with Rocca flitting between percussive, synth-bass-propelled nu-disco goodness (Rodion hook-up "Nassau"), Balearic-minded soundscapes ("Tokyo", the acid-flecked "Favignana"), delay-laden, proto-house style New York electrofunk dubs (standout "Stone Town", produced alongside Dimitri From Paris), tropical-tinged late night jams ("Taquile") and electro-fired early '80s Brit-funk ("London").
Review: Released deep in the throes of her tenure as Nigerian pop's 'First Lady Of Song', "Give Me A Chance" is the fifth album and the first reissue since its 1980 by the late great Christy Essien captures just why she became such a universally loved artist; Essien can tap any type of groove and make it her own. From the country blues of "Give Me A Chance" to the warm reggae bubbles of "Ife" via the afrodisco of "Rumours" and all fusions in between, the combination Christy's powerful presence and super tight band made this one of her best albums.
Living In A Lie (feat Ale Chambers & De Konichiwa) (5:08)
I Can't Help Myself (feat Francoise D'Argent) (5:34)
Seal The Deal (feat Myles G) (4:28)
Gotta Give Up (My Love) (4:17)
By My Side (feat Rose Lemonade) (5:01)
Friend Or Freek (feat Cazeaux OSLO) (5:24)
Cafe Eliza (feat Myles G) (3:31)
Love Me Down (unreleased demo) (4:14)
Review: The Freekwency quartet are back with their second LP and, as you'd imagine, it's another high-calibre boogie trip that filters down into house and electro - precisely what you need on a mid-August weekender! Seal The Deal is choc-a-block with cameos, from peeps like Myles G or Francoise D'Argent, who respectively explore all the various elements of proto-house - from the vintage house of "I Can't Help Myself" to the classic, SAM-style boogie of "Gotta Give Up (My Love)". In essence, this album is a sure way to get people dancing, and by people we mean everyone in the damn room! Not a bum track in sight on here, so dig in and have a boogie or two...
Review: Queen Constance: Not just the sound of New York but also the sound of rejoicing as a new fully licenced series liberates once acutely rare soul and disco albums from the P&P affiliate label and makes them available legitimately (read: no poorly press bootlegs) at a fraction of the triple figure price some of its cult albums pass hands for. With strong traces of jazz and spirituality ("Love Champ"), delicate ballads ("Destiny") and loose limbed funk ("From Us To You"), there's a reason this one off album from High Fidelity was such a coveted record. This is a moment.
Review: Under the Junior Mendes alias, Luiz Mendes Jr was a key figure on the Brazilian funk/soul scene of the '70s and early '80s. As writer, composer and producer, he had a hand in a variety of releases by such big-hitting Brazilian artists as Banda Black Rio and Tim Maia. In 1982 he recorded and released his sole solo album, Cococabana Sadia, a set that remains virtually unknown outside of his native Brazil. As this Athens of the North reissue proves, it's something of an overlooked gem. Musically, it's typically of boogie-era Brazilian soul and funk, mixing native rhythms and instrumentation with elements borrowed from disco, jazz-funk and bouncy dancefloor soul. It's unashamedly sunny and positive, too, and should be essential listening for anyone who loves Latin disco and boogie.
Review: Given that Junior Boys' Jeremy Greenspan is the man at the controls, it's perhaps unsurprising that this surprise debut full-length from little known Canadian chanteuse Jessy Lanza drips with smooth, synthesized sweetness. Packed with Greenspan's trademark melancholic, Metro Area-ish synths, but built around Lanza's fragile, otherworldly vocals, Pull My Hair Back is a contender for the best leftfield pop album of the year. Variously touching on synthesized R&B, deep boogie, sparse torch songs (see the sublime title track) and starbust wonkiness (the beautifully off-kilter "As If"), Lanza and Greenspan have delivered an impeccable, unassuming delight. Recommended.
Review: It would be fair to say that Magnus Sheehan has taken his time over Echo To Echo, his long-promised debut album for Full Pupp. Since debuting back in 2006 with the brilliant "Kosmetisk", the Oslo-based producer has delivered sporadic singles that hint at greatness. Echo To Echo is, thankfully, a largely impressive affair, with his trademark spacey, colourful synthesizers taking pride of place throughout. Stylistically, it's perhaps a little more varied than you might expect, frequently veering off his familiar Scandolearic nu-disco course to take in elements of dreamy deep house, tactile techno, IDM, electronica and an obviously icy take on new-wave. Throughout, it remains melodious and evocative, as with much of the best Norwegian electronic music.
Review: Long lost groove gold from South Africa, The Movers blessed the world with almost 20 albums during their tenure throughout the late 60s / 70s. A fluid collective with scant documentation on their history, key players changed in the band frequently but Soundway have traced the credits of this rare opus down to producer David Thekwane and musicians Jabu Sibumbe, L Rhikoti, Lloyd Lelosa and Sankie Chounyane. Whoever the line-up was, the key sounds were always consistent as the troupe writhed and frolicked around disco soul axis, as is best celebrated here on the thumping funk fusion of the title track, the sweaty insistency and tightness of "Beat" and the awesome falsettos of "Work Is Done".
Review: While the noise swirling around them is getting close to deafening, you get the feeling that the hype wouldn't penetrate the ethereal bubble that Peaking Lights exist in. The partnership of Indra Dunis and Aaron Coyes exudes innocence and wide-eyed delight at every turn - in that sense they make a pleasing departure from much of the current lo-fi zeitgeist. Where many of these artists have staked their claim to degraded sonics through a cacophony of noise and scrubbed-out vocals, Peaking Lights have a delicate, charming nature to them which uses withered production traits as a pathway rather than an end point. There's no denying that Lucifer is lo-fi (they even wryly name on of their tracks "Lo-Hi" on the album) but they don't use that aesthetic to mask the music that they make. Rather it sounds like they really don't have anything else to make their songs with other than Coyes' ropey home-made equipment and a battered four-track recorder. Whether this really is the case or not, there's no air of contrivance about Peaking Lights. For that reason alone the hype is well and truly justified. Highly recommended.
Review: REPRESS ALERT: As far as collaborative delights go, this really takes the cake. Miami boogie wildcard Noel Williams, aka King Sporty, throwing it down heavy with legendary Jamaican reggae axe man Ernest Ranglin - as you might expect, the results are incendiary. "Soft Touch" has a hint of the cosmic about it as it romps through insanely catchy chorus chants, stirring brass stabs and Ranglin's sweet licks. "Keep On Dancing" has a more uptempo feel, "In The Rain" slips into a laid back reggae skank and "Be What You Want To Be" turns the vintage disco heat back up. Throughout this wonderful mini LP, the duo switch between each other's strengths and bring out the best in each other, like all good collaborations should.
Review: Along with Sheffield combo Hiem, Rayko is fast becoming Nang Records' most reliable artist. It would be fair to say that his latest album, No Stopping - his fourth in total and first since 2014 - is undoubtedly his strongest yet. Blessed with some fine guest vocals from Tania Haroshka and, perhaps more impressively, Crazy P's Danielle Moore, the set features much more "live instrumentation" - most notably bass and electric guitars - than the Spaniard's previous full-lengths. This adds an extra level of musical richness to the Madrid man's synthesizer-heavy tracks, which once again flit between hard-edged nu-disco, sun-kissed Balearica, revivalist electrofunk sweetness and the kind of cosmic disco that we would once have expected to hear from Daniele Baldelli and Marco Dionigi.
Review: Surprisingly, it's been some four years since Croat producer Ilija Rudman dropped his much-played debut album, The Reveal, on Bear Funk. Happily, True Colours - his first outing on Is It Balearic - sees him in fine form, joining the dots between kaleidoscopic synth-funk, rubbery dub-disco, spaced-out boogie and glassy-eyed downtempo jams. Rudman is an expert at capturing the sounds of bygone eras, usually through the use of vintage equipment, while delivering tracks that sound thoroughly fresh and original. It's this that makes True Colours such a fantastic set. Highlights are plentiful, from the close dance smoothness of "Bad Passion" and boogie dub vibes of "All The Time" (check the delay-laden hits and sweeping violins) to the jaunty electro-goes-Balearic brilliance of "Wild Guess".
Review: With recent releases for Internasjonal and Tim Sweeney's Beats In Space Records, Los Angeles based producer Secret Circuit (otherwise known as Eddie Ruscha) has had a breakthrough year with his brittle synth jams, taking inspiration from Balearic disco and minimal wave alike. However, he's been a prolific producer since 1996, and this record on Emotional Response, entitled Tropical Psychedelics, collects productions from Rusha up until 2010 that have previously only seen the light of day on cassette releases. Described by the label as a "Balearic-Tropical-Afro-Psychedelic whirl", the album packs a rich palette of analogue textures into its ten tracks, from the Afro dub of "Afrobotics", through the hazy, beatless combination of piano and analogue synth on "Psouvenirs" to the psychedelic tropicalia of "Foggy Twilights".
Review: Given the sheer brilliance of their early singles, and subsequent debut album, it could be argued that Tiger & Woods have been struggling to meet their own standards ever since. On The Green Again, their second full-length, may lack a little of the surprise sparkle that accompanied their early work, but it's still stacked to the rafters with club-ready material in their distinctive sample-heavy, looped-up, boogie-house style. Highlights include the bubbling synth-funk builds and drops of "Come & Get My Lovin", the elastic electric bass, fizzing synths and hazy vocal samples of "Bestissimo", and the breezy, warehouse-friendly bliss of late night throbber "Phoenix". It is, though, universally impressive.
Review: You can just tell a bunch of record diggers are behind Africa Seven; it's only been going since the turn of the year, but already the Paris-London label is shaping up to be an important name in the world of archival afro funk. Hot on the heels of that Manu Dibango reissue, Africa Seven turn their attentions to the self-titled album from his compatriot Jo Tongo. If you liked Tongo's contribution to the Africa Seven compilation African Airways Volume 1 you should be all over this eight track album, originally issued in 1976, and still a long player oozing with afro funk style. Recorded in both French and his native Duala language and featuring production from legendary Parisian funk/disco/afro soundman Slim Pezin, it is a perfect example of 70s funk meeting afrobeat with African folk styles and flavours.