Review: In 1996, Dreamscape's Ed Marshall donned a new alias, Aplomb, and delivered the first fruits of his new project to New Age House Records. Only one track was ever released on a limited label promo, "Wondering". World Building's Ari Goldman, who previously put out a compilation of Marshall's work as Dreamscape, is a fan and has decided to rescue it from obscurity via this single-sided 12". The track itself is hard to accurately pigeonhole, combining as it does dense, carnival style drums, female scat vocals, warm bass, dreamy deep house chords and synthesizer flourishes reminiscent of early '80s jazz-funk. Either way, it's a sunny and groovy chunk of obscure house positivity that's well worth a place in your collection.
Review: Pat Biggerstaff's ZIP catapults itself into the modern soul game with an arresting statement of intent; St Louie-born, Kansas-based Bryan Austin takes time off his calling as a missionary to lay down two soft, dreamy, string and piano based ballads. "What Would Marvin Say?" is rich in references and respect while "Sunday" takes The Moments' classic to slower, deeper, emotive pastures. Both establish ZIP as a new label with promise.
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: Although best known as the lead singer of well-regarded Japanese funk-soul band O.A.S.B, Amy Akaoka has long dreamed up recording a salsa album in the style of '60s and '70s pianist and bandleader Larry Harlow. This tasty two-track 7" single is her first release in the style - the album will appear later in the year - and is as summery, breezy and life affirming as you'd expect. She begins with "Tu Jamas", where male backing vocals, jaunty pianos and her own passionate lead vocal ride a sweat-soaked salsa rhythm. Turn to the B-side for the horn-heavy delight that is breezy salsa shuffler "Solo Tu Amor". Naturally, both are hugely authentic to the style of salsa championed by Harlow.
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: Back in 2016, legendary Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen approached techno pioneer Jeff Mills with the idea of working together. A series of live gigs and off-the-radar studio sessions followed, with the first fruits of their joint efforts finally appearing on this must-have 10". As you'd expect, the duo's collaborative work combines Allen's traditional Nigerian polyrhythms, traditional Afrobeat instrumentation, and the far-sighted, sci-fi inspired electronic futurism that has always marked out Mills' work. The result is a quartet of cuts that could arguably be described as retro-futurist Afro-tech - all delay-laden beats, basslines and organs subtly sparring with gentle acid lines, Motor City electronics, beguiling deep space textures and shimmering, 31st century motifs. It's arguably Allen's stylistic contributions that dominate, but that's no bad thing.
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.
The Devil Made Me Do It (The Invisible Cosmic Echoes version) (4:51)
The Devil Made Me Do It (The Invisible Astral Wave version) (4:30)
Review: Like many drummers, Alex Puddu has long been inspired by the work of Tony Allen. He pays tribute to the legendary Nigerian sticks-man on "The Devil Made Me Do It", a sumptuous dose of groovy downtempo Afrobeat laden with Allen-style polyrhythms, Africa '70 horns and lashings of eyes-closed electric piano solos. On the flip you'll find two different interpretations from Puddu. The first, subtitled "The Invisible Cosmic", doffs a cap to the Afro-cosmic world of Daniele Baldelli while retaining much of the warmth and musicality of the original mix. "The Invisible Astral" version is an altogether more spaced-out dub, with Puddu smothering the drums and horns in copious amounts of tape echo.
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: 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: 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.
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: 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: 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: 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.
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.
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.
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: 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: Take a listen to the four cuts that make up Jackson Almond's WotNot Music debut, "Open Your Head", and you'll hear a myriad of influences and musical reference points. That the DJ/producer has managed to get them to compliment each other is particularly impressive. Check, for example, the jaunty U.S garage/jazz-funk/broken beat/Afro-house fusion of "EEYE", for starters, or the sparkling opener "Open Your Head", where glistening guitars and marimba style melodies ride a rubbery synth bassline and rich, life-affirming chords. Almond's love of layered percussion is once again evident on the piano-sporting, sun-kissed deep house shuffle of "Common", while "People, Places, Things in Spaces" sees him pepper a jazzy, off-kilter deep house groove with the kind of spacey jazz-funk synths that were once a hallmark of Herbie Hancock albums.