Review: Essential reissue alert: Arguably one of his most influential albums of his illustrious career, Wally's third album Echoes has matured incredibly well, joining the dots between electronica, island music, reggae, pop and ambient better than most self-styled Balearic DJs. Sampled by the likes Massive Attack ("Mambo") and Pete Herbert ("Chief Inspector"), we're moved through the moods in such a simplistic but warm, dynamic way as Wally switches from shedding a tear on the Scarface-era Moroder style "Canyons" to shedding a few pounds on the runaway boogie cut "Endless Race". Still sounding current 32 years deep, there's a reason the likes of Grace Jones, Level 42, Herbie Hancock and Black Uhuru worked with him.
The One O Ones - "Radio Cosmos 101" (Bals edit) (4:27)
Gemini - "Take A Chance" (4:34)
The Clean Hands Group - "Night Fly" (4:24)
The CVQ Band - "Whatever You Do" (instrumental) (4:38)
Miss - "Hip Hop" (3:06)
Metal Voices - "At The Banks Of The River" (3:44)
The Clean-Hands Group - "Shake It On" (4:03)
Gigi Flag - "Nymphomaniac" (instrumental) (5:58)
Eddy La Viny - "Havan' Hamac" (3:43)
Review: BeachFreaks Records co-founder Charles Bals is a man who knows about records - and obscure European ones at that. Club Meduse, his first compilation for Spacetalk (a label with a track record for producing these kinds of killer, crate-digging comps), is loosely designed as the soundtrack to life around a mythical (IE imaginary) Cote D'Azure resort. Musically, it gathers together the kind of hazy, soft-focus and life-affirming cuts that you would have heard at resort discos in the mid-to-late 1980s. Suffice to say that Bals' selections tend towards the rare, magical and undeniably Balearic, from the glassy-eyed, cascading jazz-funk of the Keyboys and loved-up post-boogie sweetness of Gemini's "Take a Chance", to the sparkling Euro-electro of Miss' "Hip Hop" and pitched-down drum machine chug of Gigi Flag's "Nymphomaniac (Instrumental)". Essential.
Alex Simon - "Runnin' Out Of Time" (instrumental) (5:27)
Mark Goddard - "Tiny's First Journey" (4:26)
Foe - "Blow Up Girl" (Beautiful Swimmers Big Head Self mix) (4:26)
Nature Love - "You Turn Me Around" (Karu mix) (6:11)
KW Griff - "Be Ya Girl" (4:15)
The Horn - "Whiddon On Down" (4:29)
Hieroglyphic Being Presents Analogous Doom - "Living In A Zome" (4:35)
Spirit Garden - "Electra City" (6:44)
Review: Gatto Fritto set the bar high with his selections for last year's first "The Sound Of Love International" compilation, so it's a thrilling surprise to find that this follow-up - featuring cuts selected by Max D (Andrew Field-Pickering) and Ari Goldman AKA Beautiful Swimmers - boasts an even more inspired track list. The Washington DC-based duo evokes the spirit of the Croatian festival behind the series via the synth-heavy Afro-Balearic bliss of Plunky's "Africa Sunset", the new age dancefloor shuffle of Svend Undseth's "Aquilla Aquela", the vintage deep house dreaminess of Mark Goddard's "Tiny's First Journey", the pitched-up R&B vocals and hot-stepping B-more beats of KW Griff's "Be Ya Girl" and the sparkling piano riffs and smooth New Jersey house grooves of Spirit Garden's "Electra City".
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: Described in the accompanying press release as "the halfway point between Bollywood and Balearic", Rupa Biswas' 1982 debut "Disco Jazz" has long been a favourite of dusty-fingered diggers with a healthy bank balance and a penchant for the quirky. All four tracks are cheery, charming and superior to many "Bollywood disco" records produced in the same period. The sunny disco-boogie of "Moja Bhari Moja" is followed on side A by the delightfully eccentric, bass-powered AOR-disco/funk-rock fusion of "East West Shuffle" and the effortlessly Balearic cheeriness of "Aaj Shanibar". Best of all, though, is the exotic and intoxicating flipside cut "Ayee Morshume Be-Reham Duniya" which expertly joins the dots between cosmic rock and Balearic disco grooves for 16 spellbinding minutes.
Review: Should you stumble on an original copy of N'Draman Blintch's 1980 album Cosmic Sounds for sale, it would cost you upwards of 1,000 Pounds. This, then, is a much-needed reissue. It contains four fine cuts that showcase the Ivory Coast-born musician's distinctively intergalactic take on Afro-disco, where spacey electronics and mazy synth lines rise above bustling, high octane grooves. The album does contain one decidedly laidback and loved-up slow jam - closer "She Africa (Ton Tour Viendra)" - but it's the celebratory brilliance of the set's dancefloor workouts that most impress. Check, in particular, the anthem-like strut of title track "Cosmic Sounds" and the hot-to-trot, solo-laden Afro-disco explosion that is opener "Self Destruction".
Review: Swedish producer Axel Boman seems to have been around forever, delivering solid and occasionally sensational deep house. In fact, he first emerged in 2009, and somewhat surprisingly Family Vacation is his debut album. It's a rather impressive beast, if truth be told, offering a whirlwind trip through his inspirations, from the downtempo analogue wooziness of "Let's Get Nervous" and jaunty, jazz-wise, US-influenced deep house of "Son of a Plumber", to the dreamy electronics and off-kilter rhythms of "No! No! No! No!", and the Theo Parrish-goes-Calypso vibes of "Bottoms Up". Most impressive of all, though, is the dark, humid, tropical pagan flex of "Kings & Emperors". Its' African voodoo atmosphere offers a startling alternative to the quiet positivity found elsewhere.
Review: Splash down to 1978-80: influential Philly funk troupe Breakwater gave the world two albums over two years.Full focus on slow jams and soulful fusion, the Breakwater melting pot is just as strong in jazz and Latin as it is soul and funk. Here we're treated to a selection of the best moments from Breakwater and Splashdown (minus the famous Daft Punk-sampled "Release The Beast") such as the unforgettable Floydian chorus of "That's Not What We Came Here For", the soaking wet bass and tight bright horns of the raunchy boogie jam "Do It Till The Fluid Gets Hot" and the sunshine soul of the sublime "Say You Love Me Girl". A sharp insight into a band that was criminally short-lived at the time..Rumour is there is a new album on the horizon and they still play live -there were two live uk dates in Jan 2017 already !
Review: The first installment of Late Night Tales' After Dark was that rarest of things: a DJ mix that retained a smoky sense of early morning, home listening atmosphere while retaining an open-minded focus on the dancefloor. This follow-up - once again compiled and mixed by Bill Brewster - offers more of the same. Musically it's pleasingly varied, moving from the string-drenched downtempo beauty of Typesun's "Last One Home", to the heady Balearic rock of General Lee, via Justus Kohnke, the soulful post-bruk smoothness of As One, and the sprightly analogue electronics of Emperor Machine's remix of Paqua's "Late Train". There's also a bunch of previously unreleased tunes to enjoy, including killer contributions from the Mang Dynasty (AKA Ray Mang), The Gino Fontaine (Chicken Lips man Andrew Meecham) and - most surprising of all - The Grid and Robert Fripp.
Review: Throughout the 1970s, North Carolina outfit Brief Encounter released a string of fine, but largely overlooked, funk and soul 45s. Their most significant and celebrated release, though, is 1981 album "We Want To Play", a warm and groovy collection of boogie-fired soul songs that regularly changes hands for significant sums online. As this Athens Of The North reissue proves, the LP has lost none of its luster over the years. Highlights include the inspired string-drenched ballad "Now I Know I Love You", the groovy dancefloor heat of "Rocking" and the soaring gospel-disco brilliance of "Always".
Review: Africa Seven ignites 2017 with an outstanding addition to their African Funk Experimentals series with this precision curation of Cameroonian Ekambi's best work. Taken from albums such as Djambo's Djambo's, Africa Oumba and his two eponymous albums, the far-reaching collection ranges from downhome low-swung bluesy funk disco ("Soul Castle") to glistening highlife vibrancy ("Lambo Lena") by way of thumping French disco ("Nyambe"). Brilliant by name, brilliant by nature...
Review: Recorded in 1983 and '84 respectively, "Feelings" and "Sidiku Buari & His Jam Busters" were the last albums recorded by Sidiku Buari, a New York based musician who turned to music after a promising career as an athlete in his native Ghana. He initially rose to prominence making highlife and afro-disco, but by the early '80s Sidiku was in full-on Afro-boogie and electrofunk mode, offering up tracks rich in colourful synthesizer lines, punchy electronic drums and righteous vocals in his native tongue. There's much to set the pulse racing across both slabs of wax, from the squelchy, club-ready brilliance of "Music" and "Anokwar (Truth)", to the slap bass propelled flex of "Minsumobo", dub disco grooves of "Karambani" and flute-laden breeziness of "Rhythm Of Africa".
Review: Favorite Records take us direct to the source: a disco gem of holy grail proportions, Sunshine is Byron's only album, OG copies go for over L500 and it's chock-a-block with dancefloor gold. From the in-your-face physicality of "Galaxy" or the planet-kicking line dance feels of "Space Cowboy" by way of the ultimate 80s sleaze synth boogie of "Heart To Heart Sensation", this was Byron in his prime with so much promise and latent funk, and led to one of disco's ultimate bombs "Dance To The Music". Essential.