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...
Henry Wu - "Substance" (IG Culture & Alex Phountzi remix) (4:36)
Son Of Scientist - "Spartan Riddim" (4:52)
NameBrandSound & Sonar's Ghost - "Can't Hold It" (4:43)
Alex Phountzi - "2nd Intention" (feat IG Culture & Henry Wu) (4:39)
IG Culture & Seiji - "Gangz" (4:26)
Review: Bruk bastions, the CoOp collective were one of the brightest, most exciting musical movements in the early to mid 2000s with their barbed, broken soul take on bass music emanating from Plastic People playing a heavy role in the forms of contemporary house music, dubstep and all things in between. Freshly reformed since a Boiler Room comeback in 2015 and loaded with new affiliates, the ensemble, First Word proudly present their first collective EP. Ranging from the jittering soundclash bashment of "Spartan Riddim" to the sensual Bias-like harp heaven of "Can't Hold It" via the technoid stutters of "2nd Intention", this marks the start of a very exciting new chapter for the CoOp crew.
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: 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: Building on the heat of last year's "Devil Made Me Do It", Alex Puddu's Afro Soul Prophecy returns with more smoking jazz fusions. "Red Light District" is as hot and illicit as the title suggests thanks to its prominent drums and heated horn work. "The Game Of Love" plays the perfect counter with its much softer, sentimental swoons and loungey dynamics. Instant summer soul soothers.
Review: Ever since their first record launched on Futuristica Music, back in 2008, Emanative have been quietly shaping the contemporary jazz-dance landscape - an achievement for which they are rarely accredited to. Hopefully, we can change some of those misconceptions by telling you just how special this new EP for Jazz45 is sounding! The opening "New Day" features the soulful vocals of Ahu over a rolling, breaks-centric groove with plenty of melodic quirks and, of course, the unstoppable euphoric power of the flute; the flipside's instrumental allows you to get even closer to the music constructed by Emanative, which is undoubtedly the outfit's long-running forte.
Review: Former Bugz In The Attic crewmember Alex Phountzi first joined forces with fellow broken beat pioneer IG Culture four years ago. Together, they launched the NameBrandSound project with a tidy EP of bass-weight business on Ninja Tune's Technicolour offshoot. Here the experienced twosome return with their first - and presumably only - missive of 2018. A-side "Shrunken Heads" is something of a percussive, off-kilter dancefloor beast, as the duo re-imagines Talking Heads classic "Once In A Lifetime" as a rolling, bruk-up floor-filler. Over on side B, "Bebop" sees them pepper another swinging, house-influenced bruk-up rhythm with lashings of synth-sax and some suitably shimmering chords.
Review: Another weighty slab of Ethiopian music history from Mr Bongo... First up is the hugely influential fusionist Mulatu Astatke with the Latin-meets-Afro jam "Assiyo Bellema". Loaded with frenetic guitars and mesmerising drum work from Frank Holder, this was actually recorded during Mulatu's time in London. Flip for an equally influential force in Ethiopian music: Soul Ekos Band affiliate Teshome Meteku with a more traditional local sound, Teshome's yearning insistent vocals wrap around the horns and tight drums like fog around a mountain. Captivating.
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: German bandleader Lutz Krajenski has enjoyed a long and successful working relationship with Agogo. The Austrian label has previously released countless singles and albums from his Hidden Jazz Quartett [sic] combo and here allows him a chance to go solo on a fine 7" single. Taken from an album of Agogo catalogue covers due to see the light of day in early 2018, A-side "I Got Hope" (originally recorded by the Hi-Fly Orchestra) is a sumptuous, slow-burning jazz ballad featuring superb vocals from Alana Alexander. She reprises her role on the flipside, where Krajenski and his collected musicians lay down a killer, Clavinet-heavy version of Timmy Thomas classic "Cold, Cold People".
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: 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: 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: 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.
Review: Exploring the sounds emanating from South Asia, Masaala is a new label with a fresh outlook. The first release features Manchester-based producers Raheel Khan and Adesi turning in some powerful edits that will appeal to anyone seeking invigorating sounds from further afield. Khan's twist on "Mast Qalandar" sounds like a striking version of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's "Mustt Mustt". Adesi offers up the lions share of the edits though, channeling South Asian sounds through grooves ranging from the fierce disco stomp of "Sansani" to the low slung funk groove of "Nah Nah Nah". "Kammata" has a more dense rhythmic complexity at its heart, and "Kuchi Kuchi" collides traditional sounds with contemporary broken beat to brilliant effect.
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: German imprint Pingipung has been doing a great job in re-introducing the world to the music of Umeko Ando, a Japanese folk singer who spent decades championing her native Ainu culture before passing away in 2004. Pingipung has already reissued her rare debut album, 2000's "Ihunke", and here gives a deserved first single release to that set's closing track, "Atuy So Kata". Her beautiful and haunting original version - all handclaps, traditional instrumentation and her sublime vocals - nestles on the A-side, with Patric Catani's remix on the flip. His version is drowsy, foreboding and fuzzy, with the remixer expertly mixing Ando's vocals and instrumentation with crunchy electronic drums, psych-rock guitars and all manner of out-there noises.
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: 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: This is Berliner Ant Orange's third release for Cologne's Karaoke Kalk and forms something resembling a trilogy for the label, while introducing more electronic ingredients and taking an increasingly exploratory approach to rhythm and composition. From the sexy and dusty late-night deepness of the dynamic opener "Right There", the super lo-slung funk of "Drunk In The Trunk", the evocative slo-mo soul of "Comfort Zone" or the tense yet mesmerizing neo-jazz of "Rudi Goes Offline" - this album truly marks a turning point in Ant Orange's sound. The name of the label comes from the 'Koeln-Kalk' district where the label started out. Over the past 20 years the label has amounted a superb catalog totalling well over 90 releases by a dazzling array of artists spanning the broadest possible spectrum of musical output.