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: 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: Afrodesia may come on like another dusted down gem from those dedicated detectives at Best, but it is in fact a modern construction from the talented studio trysts of Mystic Jungle and Whodamanny from the Periodica camp. These Italian producers have more than proved their knack for crafting sublime, honey-smooth jams with a nod to the golden studio era of the 70s and 80s, and they're more than up to the task on this killer 12" of heavy funking jams with a dose of boogie and a nod to Ivory Coast disco. It's quite simply perfection, rendered with love and attention to detail, but utterly natural in its feel and flavour.
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: 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.
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.
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: Comprised of Uhuru Dance Band members Ebo Taylor and Gyedu-Blay Ambolley, The Apagya Showband only delivered a handful of releases but they're all worth digging out. Mr Bongo have started the excavation with these two 1974 vintage licks; "Tamfo" is concentrated uplift with big horns and an unescapable highlife guitar lick. "Mumude" is a deeper, drum-heavy jam that switches suddenly with the help of big organ splashes and sermonised spoken word.
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: Earlier in the year, the Marseille crew behind the Wewillalwaysbealovesong label DJ'd alongside Art Of Tones and wowed at some of the self-made reworks and re-edits he was dropping in his set. A short time later they'd reached an agreement to release this EP of revisions from the French producer's vaults. Our pick of the bunch is the driving, housed-up gospel disco revision "Back Again", though the similarly raw and guttural gospel funk re-edit on the B-side, "Good To Me", is equally as potent. A-side "At The Club In Lagos", a brilliant blend of R&B style male soul vocals, fuzzy Afrobeat horns and jaunty disco grooves, is also wonderful.
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.
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.
Review: Serial alias addict, Kris Holmes returns with a double side of split personality: The Disciples is a rough, bluesy layered piece of slo-mo surf rock where the drums only just keep up and the organs provide heavy soul salvation. "He Spoke" shows Kris on much more of an African inspired trip. Similarly hefty organs power the main groove but there's more uplift in the riff and instrumentation. Insatiable.
Kool & The Gang, Gene Redd - "Give It Up" (DJ Soopasoul edit) (4:04)
Aretha Franklin - "Rock Steady" (DJ Soopasoul edit) (3:30)
Review: Fast-fingered mash-up merchant and lauded scalpel fiend DJ Soopasoul can usually be relied upon to bring the goods. In fact, we've yet to hear an edition of his "Soopastole Edits" series that doesn't include the kind of sure-fire, party-starting fare guaranteed to get any DJ out of a dancefloor hole of their own making. Should you still doubt the validity of this statement, we suggest you check this timely reissue of the series' second volume, which has been going for serious bucks online. On side A you'll find a suitably punchy, funky and chunky revision of Kool & The Gang's Gene Redd produced 1970 jam "Give It Up" - the original source of one of hip-hops most familiar breakbeats - with a tight, club-ready revision of Aretha Franklin classic "Rock Steady" on the flip.
Apollo Studio Band - "Honkey Tonk Woman" (instrumental) (2:39)
Review: For their latest deep dive into the world of obscure funk, Vienna's Record Shack has decided to reissue two hard-to-find gems from the Just Brothers and Apollo Studio Band. The former's "Honey" was recorded in the 1970s but first released in 2001. Full of their trademark surf style guitars, stomping Northern Soul style beats and dreamy, psychedelic era vocals, it remains one of the outfit's greatest tracks. On the reverse you'll find the thrillingly fuzzy "Honky Tonk Woman (Instrumental)" by the Apollo Studio Band. We found next to no information about the outfit online, suggesting the track was taken from a lauded, private press release. Either way, it's a prime chunk of Northern Soul style instrumental fuzziness that's worth the admission price alone.
Review: The Mushi 45 label doesn't release all that much, but what it does put out is invariably insanely good. For the avoidance of doubt, this two-track missive sits in that category. It serves up two rare, sought-after 1970s gems from Rinsyoe Kida, Akira Ishikawa & Count Buffaloes, who made some of the tidiest Japanese funk, jazz-rock and jazz-funk of the period. A-side "Tan To Setsu" is superb, with the assembled players brilliantly blending traditional Japanese style melodic motifs - played on traditional instruments - with a riotous, high octane funk backing track rich in heavy bass and fiery horn lines. "Jongara Bushi" is similarly inclined and every bit as raucous.