Guarapachanga (A Nicholson Miquifaye remix) (9:14)
Guarapachanga (A Nicholson Miquifaye reprise) (5:56)
Review: The New York-based (U)nity is made up of Michael Valeanu, Axel Tosca Laugart, Chris Smith, Max Cudworth and Amaury Acosta. They formed the band in 2006 as a project to explore Afro-Cuban jazz, funk, soul and contemporary electronica. They say they've been influenced by everyone from Chucho Valdes to Art Blakey to Led Zeppelin to Kendrick Lamar, and you can definitely hear all of that in this jawdropping work. "Guarapachanga" is special in that it was the first song written by the band back in their days as music students at The New School. It's derived from the style known as guarapachangeo - the most advanced form of Cuban rumba, heavily improvisational and based on very complex rhythms and melodies. On this recording, (U)nity is graced with a guest performance by Grammy Award winner Pedrito Martinez, a master rumbero, one of the greatest conga players ever, an innovator who has left a permanent mark on Cuban music. Martinez is also a priest in the Yoruba religion and a historian of Cuban culture.
Over its eight and a half minutes, "Guarapachanga" twists and turns and journeys through a mind bending array of different tempos and modes, from Latin jazz to hip hop, ultimately ending with a trippy ambient soundscape. The whole thing is overlaid with free spirited melody, soul and the Afro-Cuban essence that is the band's lifeblood. The white-hot live playing gives it the feel of the best early-morning jam session, yet it packs a sonic punch that will make it sound incredible on a good sound system in the hands of adventurous DJs in the world-beat or spiritual-house vein. If you didn't know "Guarapachanga" was a contemporary work you might mistake it for a Loft classic; yet it's also as fresh and exciting as anything you'll hear this year.
Review: 1974's Coming Right At You, the sole album from 100% Pure Poison, has long been a sought-after jazz-funk gem. Soul Brother has previously reissued the rare (and increasingly expensive) LP, though this double 7" marks the first time most of these tracks have been available on wax since 2001. Check first opener (and title track) "Windy C", a superb chunk of lolloping, laidback jazz-funk that sits somewhere between Bob James and Cymande, before turning your attention to the slow-burn soulful delights of string-laden torch song "Puppet On A Chain". Over on the second 7", "No More City, No More Country" is a more hard-spun Blaxploitation funk affair, while "Hole In My Shoe" is a horn-fired slab of J.B's style funk-soul fusion.
Review: Following an impressive, low-key cassette release on Kitty Play in 2016, Amsterdam-based artist Aan Zee makes the leap to vinyl with this appearance on Pleasure Wave, a label which has already made some waves with releases from g-Marie, Jonny 5 and Miskotom. The Aan Zee sound is a lot to digest, spanning all kinds of cosmic funk, sky-scraping electronics and outernational influences, often all fired off at the same time. Just sink your teeth into "Persona/Funny Berber" for a taste and you'll understand. "Vacation" is equally adventurous, with all kinds of melodic layering and instrument flexing in pursuit of an exotic new brew that doesn't shirk on the groove.
Review: Long-time turntablist, erstwhile Christine band member and recent 45 Live crew member, North French Aeon Seven delivers his first ever 45. A loose-swinging, wah wah-rattling, organ-blasting feel good b-boy bomb with all the cheeky chops and cuts you'd expect from a deck wizard of his calibre, "Seven Breaks" is primed for party and battling devastation. Complete with a creative DJ acapella scratch cut, this 45 is alive.
Review: Nothing screams global music culture like a Senegalese-Japanese Afrobeat band, although listening to Afro Begue you would imagine all creative minds involved come from the mother continent. "Boula Niit Tognie" is a wonderfully expressive slice of Afrobeat in the finest tradition of the sound, all interwoven guitar twisting out complex but utterly natural sounding configurations, and a tumbling rhythm section you can happily float away to. Ryuhei The Man steps up for a re-edit on the flip that does a delicate job of beefing the track up for the club - the difference is subtle, but worthwhile, like a good re-edit should be.
Review: Alex Puddu's Afro Soul Prophecy project continues to blaze into the year with pure molten lava grooves. "Daddy's Groove" is a perfect summer heater with its laid back horns that ooze over the wah wah licks and strutting rim-shots. "Let Me Be Your Lover" takes more of a Latin approach with its upbeat rhythm and bossa tendencies. Listen out for those cosmic guitars in the background... Dreamy business.
Review: Earlier in the month, Parisian producer Afshin joined forces with Kiss My Black Jazz and served up a brilliant, two-track missive of jazz-funk and blues-house reworks on G.A.M.M. Here they reunite for round two. This time round, they begin by reworking a shuffling, chant-along Afro-Brazilian gem of unknown origin, extending the carnival-ready percussive intro before unleashing the shuffling, sun-kissed samba rhythm and some of the sweetest vocals this side of a sing-along in a chocolate factory. Over on side B they give a similar tune to a killer chunk of reggae-funk fusion rich in warm dub bass, bongo-laden beats, bluesy guitar solos, fuzzy horns and James Brown style guttural vocals.
Trouble In My Way (Afshin & Kiss My Black Jazz edit) (7:42)
The Riot (Afshin & Kiss My Black Jazz edit) (6:00)
Review: Something a little different from G.A.M.M here, as Parisian DJ Afshin joins forces with the mysterious Kiss My Black Jazz to offer up two incendiary edits. The real surprise killer is A-side "Trouble In My Way", which subtly turns a blues-era recording of a traditional slave sing-along into a handclap-heavy chunk of infectious gospel-house brilliance. It takes a little time to build up, but when the heavier beats drop midway through you'll have dancers eating out of the palm of your hand. Flipside "The Riot" sees them make merry with a Hammond-heavy chunk of 1960s jazz-funk, extending and reworking the cut to make it suitably sweaty, heavy and life affirming.
Review: The UK's Mr Bongo has been reissuing old music and putting out new tunes since the late 1980's, and the label is still going strong in 2015. This latest 7" features two of Ethiopia's greatest musicians, Alemayehu Eshete and Mahmoud Ahmed, in a head to head, split EP. On the A-side, Mr Bongo has resurfaced Eshete's "Tchero Adari Negn", a supremely funky piece with the man's own voice gliding effortlessly over hard drums and fuzy guitar riffs; "Bemim Sebeb Litlash" goes deeper and more psychedelic on the flip, and Ahmed's voice is a pleasure as always. Check their other material on Mississippi for a broader introspective.
Fade Away (feat Andy Cooper From Ugly Duckling) (2:59)
Review: Aside from releasing 2 albums for the imprint, Bristol's The Allergies have been a pillar of the Jalapeno label's success over the years, helping the label find its feet amid the ever-growing broken beat scene. The duo return to the catalogue with a classic helping of their very own breakbeat science, first up with the vocal-led charm of "Dance Now", a commercially-minded dancehall anthem that strays into pop and r&b with utter ease. On the flip, Andy Cooper features on the rap-pop hybrid vocals of "Fade Away", a feel-good party tune that is solely focused on getting you to move!
Review: Brand new funk from Bristol-based duo The Allergies, these two pant-swinging numbers mark the build up to their third album Steal The Show. As always, it's an all-out funkathon with full eyes on the party prize. "Can't Keep Working This Hard" jumps with a classic JB style break with some gutsy, raw soul vocal chops while "Run It Back" sees them tagging up with Andy Cooper once again with another classic spitfire rap jam that you know you'll be air rapping to within two or three listens. Yeah you will.
Review: What a trip it's been for The Allergies; rolling from one killer album to the next, funk is flying from their HQ at a rate of knots. Here are two fine examples from their last LP Push On, both featuring their long-time friend and MC from Andy Cooper. Best known for his witty wordplay and character on Ugly Duckling records, here Andy gets to show off both sides to his expansive flow; "Main Event" is a chubby disco groove laced with mountains of funk, creating space for Andy's laidback-but-hypey charm. In perfect contrast "Buzzsaw" is a much sweatier funk jam allowing Cooper to get rapid and tongue-twisty in a way that only he knows how. Keep on pushing...
Review: Altin Gun are the hottest property to come out of Istanbul in the last ten years. Fact. Led by Jacco Gardner, the 7-piece outfit specialise in the deepest, most wild-eyed psych funk available at the moment and this was clearly visible from their recent debut LP, On. A similar narrative continues here, one which resonates so well with the traditional sound of 70s Turku-funk from pioneers such as Erkin Koray or Baris Manco, and there is, quite simply, something very honest about this band. O this new 7" from the banging Bongo Joe we have "Tatli Dile Guler Yuze", a seductive vocal groove filled with aptly trippy guitar funk and Merve Dasdemir's sublime voice waving in the distance, and the quirky sounds of the instrumental cut "Hababam" - making this one of Bongo Joe's best EPs to date, and another proof-point for Altin Gun's quality. Highly recommended.
You Are The One (Muro instrumental edit version) (3:51)
Review: An iconic electro boogie / go-hop party jam from 1981, everything about AM FM's delivery on their debut single screams funk perfection; the big synth splashes, the sprightly keytar, the super-juiced basslines and the belting vocals all fuse in such harmony it still dazzles over 35 years later. Here we're treated to two subtly crafted versions from maestro Muro as the vocals take predominance on side A while side B is all about the immense instrumental which breaks down to its bare breaks before building back up again with pure party panache. Timeless.
Review: Longstanding Osaka live troupe Amanita took the bold step into recorded original territory in 2016 with this exceptional 45 on Rustafe. Reissued for 2018, it's still as endearingly lofi and mesmerising as the five piece Afrobeat evangelists lay down two alluring pieces. "Qnitia" leans back on a hypnotising chord swing, sparse percussion and vibrant sax and subtle dubby echoes while "Makossa" takes a well known rim-shotting rhythm and cooks it up slow n' low for another smouldering summer.
Review: Soul4Real has gotten 'soulful for real' with this third outing, coming through in the form of 2 previously unreleased gems from US band The Anglos. This is some pretty niche gear, what with the band having only put out a handful of 7s back in the 60, so it feels like a special occasion to have some new material from them on our shelves. These tunes were apparently destined to land on the Botanic imprint back in the day, and are famously produced and engineered by the great Jerry "Swamp Dogg" Williams, which is why they have a certain roughness that is rarely heard on other soul records. "Broke Down Piece Of Man" is a fast, beat-heavy number with a psychedelic edge that reflects the state of mind back then, while "Four Walls Of Gloom" takes the gospel tradition as its main ingredient, offering a wonderfully uplifting midtempo rocker for the heart and soul.
Review: Destination '77: Nigerian troupe The Apostles lay down their third album Banko Woman. And, with it, this widescreen vibe excursion that's been a go-to for Afrobeat diggers since it was released on Love Day 40 years ago. "Banko Woman" is a firing, energetic funk jam layered with vibrant levels of instrumentation that gradually strip back at points to let you feel the raw tempo of the groove. "Faith Luck & Music" is at once both more bluesy, thanks to the sliding, melting guitars, and spiritual, thanks to the traditional rhythm and chords. A rare and long-awaited reissue.
Review: Aside from reissuing a whole heap of glorious boogie material from the 1980'sm People's Potential Unlimited also have their own distribution roster, and Cosmic Chronic is right up there waving the flag for the US stable. To kick-start 2016, we have a four-tracker from newcomer Arcade Odyssey, and as you'd expect, they're every but as funky and lo-fi as those instrumentals from back in the day. "Spring Yard Zone" kicks off with massive electro baseline, tropical melodies, and a hazy vibe, while "Beautiful Forest" breaks the beat down and goes Eastern with its synths. Flip the plate and you'll be confronted by the huge, stabbing bassline and fast beats of the utterly gnarly "Neon Night Riders" - easily the gem of the lot - and wound down thanks to the gentler, more tame waters of "Port Town". Sick.
Review: Mario Miranda aka Asterix Music hails from Carson, California and this is his debut, a banging little 7" by the name of Stud. Oh yes, super fitting, indeed! Out through Firehouse Sound Labs, the EP opens with the funky-ass boogie bass of "She'll Take U Down", a killer dance floor burner for the party vibes. On the B-side, "First Date" drops some heavy electro swings over sweet, seductive r&b vocals.
Review: Kylie Auldist is a heavyweight Aussie soul singer whose powerful lungs have graced many a hit over the years. Now, with the help of Lance Ferguson and Graeme Pogson, she's recorded a solo album, Family Tree, and this here EP features a selection of tracks from it. Gone is the raw funk vibes of old with Auldist opting for a bright and synthetic mid-'80s pop-soul sound instead. It largely works too with the Donna Allen-esque "Sensational", the chrome and carpet grooves of "Family Tree" and the late-'70s US funk style of "Rewards" as standouts.
Review: A self-titled opus, the OG presses of Aura's one and only album have been known to fetch over L100 while the 2016 Aloha Got Soul reissue was supported across the board from Theo Parrish to Giles Peterson. Here are two of the most delectable highlights in bright white 45" form; "Let Me Say Dis About Dat" is all about the crunchy riffs and rock funk fusion while "No Beginning, No End" is a thrilling disco funk cut that has aged to perfection. Limited and likely to fly.
Review: If you're a DJ who digs funk, soul and disco, there's a fair chance that you are familiar with Average White Band classic "Pick Up The Pieces", a staple of those kinds of sets - and, of course, hip-hop, where its killer break has been looped countless times over the years - since its initial release in 1974. Should you not own a copy of the distinctive, horn-heavy classic, we'd suggest picking up this reissue, not least because it also boasts the band's lesser-known cover of Ned Doheny classic "Get It Up For Love", featuring vocals from no less than Ben E King, on the flip. Their version of the hazy blue-eyed soul gem sits somewhere between Doheny's original version and the arguably better known Tata Vega disco cover.
Who, What, Where, When & Why (Disco version) (5:10)
No Promises (Disco version) (6:46)
Review: Best Records do it again, dusting down a searing slice of robo-funk from the early 80s that will pop your lock every which way. B Funk was a one-off project from Mario Boncaldo and Tony Carrasco, best known for their incredible work as Klein & MBO. They released the "Magic Spell" album in 1983, and it was loaded with richly produced Italo disco and proto house sounds - there's a good reason the original release has been fetching such crazy prices on the second hand market. Now Best have cherry picked two of the finest cuts from the album, sought out the extended disco versions from Carrasco's vaults, and given them a glorious new pressing.
Review: Powerful belters from soul supernova Baby Huey. The only solo 45s he cut for Curtom Records before he passed away aged only 26, this was released posthumously and OG copies regularly go for over 200 pounds. Now reissued on Soul Brother, the two sides give you the full fat Huey; "Hard Times" hits with a raw Lee Fields style gravelly, story-telling delivery while "Listen To Me" shows Huey's deft ability to band-lead an all-out rock jam. Raw and emotional, Huey left this world far too soon.
Review: The Bacao Rhythm and Steel Band are one of the curious outfits who sound as if they're right out of the '70s, when in fact they are happily playing on their instruments in 2016, and making some serious burners. Their zesty ad energetic blend of horns, steel pan and live drums is the sort of African funk for those looking for some fresh and innovative rhythms in this day and age, with "Love Like This" providing exactly that - a bass-heavy, tripped-out kinda groove that spits quality from all angles. On the flip of this tidy 7", Cat Stevens classic "Was Dog A Doughnut" is taken on a more tropical flex, stripping down the groove and laying out one hell of a steel-pan concoction. Bless.
Review: Still scorching from the heat of their debut album 55, Hamburg's mysterious steel pan handlers return with a dope little 45 that features one of the excellent covers from their album plus an exclusive that we guarantee will drive your next floor crazy... Dennis Coffey's "Scorpio" takes the lead with its instantly distinctive break and pace. Flip for Sugarhill's "8th Wonder" that's riddled with confidently swung drums, smoky trumpets and a groove so funky you might just have to drop it twice. Give the drummer some.
Review: Afro 45's / Mr Bongo show no signs of stopping their tireless run of form and, 7" after 7", they just keep on producing the goods. There's yet more '70s goodness with this new little scorcher: the A-side is 1973's "Tessassategn Eko" by Bahta Gebre Hiwot, a pensive Ethiopian pop hit for all sorts of music fans to enjoy, but "Ayalqem Tedqem" by Alemayehu Eshete on the B-side is where it's at... just listen to that bass and you'll instantly recognize this wonderful little cover.