Review: These days, Hamad Kalkaba is a retired Army colonel and track and field athletics administrator in his native Cameroon. Yet back in the mid 1970s, he was a musician with dreams of potential super-stardom, trying to update traditional Cameroonian "Gandjal" music for the funk generation. To that end, he recorded a small number of singles and EPs alongside his backing band, the Golden Sounds. It's those thoroughly obscure and overlooked releases that make up Hamad Kalkaba & The Golden Sounds, a retrospective of his pioneering work. Sitting somewhere between Afro-beat, Afro-funk and Afro-jazz, with a distinctively Cameroonian rhythmic swing, the music showcased on the album is undeniably special.
Review: It would be fair to say that Kokoko! are not just dragging the music of the Democratic Republic of Congo into the 21st century, but also pushing it forwards towards the future. That much is proved by this essential debut album, a set full to bursting with thrilling fusions of Kuduro style electronics beats, lo-fi analogue electronics, traditional Congolese instrumentation, hand-played percussion polyrhythms and basslines so weighty they could crush an average-sized person. It's an arresting audio blueprint that guarantees thrills from start to finish. Highlights include the hot-stepping dancefloor sleaze of "Azo Toke", the foreboding, polyrhythmic 21st century punk-funk of "Malembe" and the intergalactic brilliance of "L.O.V.E.".
Review: He may now be 72, but legendary highlife vocalist Pat Thomas still has the desire to make new music. In fact his previous set, 2015's "Pat Thomas & The Kwashibuu Area Band" - a collaboration with producer Ben Abarbanel-Wolff, storied Ghanian highlife bandleader Kwame Yeboah and musicians including fellow West African heavyweights Tony Allen and Ebo Taylor - is arguably one of the strongest albums of his lengthy career. This belayed follow-up is equally as inspired, with the golden-voiced Ghanaian vocalist providing the attention-grabbing focal point throughout. Yet while Thomas's vocals are as sublime as ever, it's the quality and detail of the accompanying music - a mix of laid back and dancefloor-ready highlife in the style he made famous in the 1970s - that really stands out.