Review: From the bones of Staff Benda Bilili, Congolese misfits Mbongawna Star arise to make their debut. And it's clear their intention to turn African music completely on its head. From the hip-hop style chants and processed vocals of "Masobele" to the punk-like fury and frenzy of "Nganshe" via the soft, yearning bluegrass slides and soul of "Coco Blues", From Kinshasa fuses, amuses and at points confuses. Most importantly it keeps you coming back for more. Genuinely an album like no other.
Review: '70s Arabic psychedelic funk, courtesy of Hany Mehanna on this reissue by Belgian retoverts Radio Martiko. An Egyptian musician and composer, Mehanna played as a young, talented organist next to stars like Oum Kalthoum and Abdel Halim Hafez and was a member of Ahmed Fouad Hassan's Diamond Orchestra - one of the country's finest. Up to this day he still writes for various Arabic artists and composes scores for Egyptian movies and series. This is (according to the label) a 'belly dance holy grail from the organ king of Cairo.. as good as it gets!' Originally released in 1973, 'The Miracles of the Seven Dances' is a work of pure genius that combines traditional rhythms with spaced out modern sounds. Hear a blissfully exotic mix of hypnotic organ grooves, psychedelic guitars, mystic strings and haunting percussion.
Review: The latest reissue from the PMG camp comes from Steve Monite, an obscure Nigerian artist whose most famous track, the brilliant "Only You", was one of the highlights of Soundway's brilliant Doing It In Lagos compilation. Monite's sole album, recorded and released in 1984, remains something of an unheralded classic, with the Nigerian artist joining the dots between boogie, Beach Boys style dream pop, electrop and, on the previously mentioned title track, reggae-boogie. Arguably the album's most potent moments, a pair of instrumental wig-outs, pay tribute to the celebratory, hedonistic thrills of vintage New York disco.
Review: There's rather a lot of mystery surrounding Fortuna Records latest release, which comes from a previously unheard (and decidedly publicity-shy) producer known only as Moontribe. The album itself is intense and otherworldly, with the mystery man or woman dousing heavy African tribal rythms with intoxicating Middle Eastern instrumentation, off-kilter organ lines, mind-altering Jew's Harp motifs and copious amounts of 1970s style type echo. The resultant cuts veering from dense, percussive workouts (wild opener "Moontribe") and jaunty, intergalactic jams ("Technology", "Bottles"), to deep space soundscapes ("Moon's Moon"). It's very impressive and immersive stuff, all told.
Review: After starting the year with a fine EP of fresh Italian deep house dreaminess from rising star Rhythm of Paradise, Colin Volvert's Kalahari Oyster Cult label dips its toe into the reissue scene via a new edition of a legendary Kwaito full-length. Mpumi's Singapore album has long been considered one of the most important releases from the early years of South Africa's indigenous, pitched-down house movement - a joyous expression of the "freedom dance" vibe full of saucer-eyed synthesizers, tweaked New Jersey garage influences, luscious vocals and more colourful dreaminess than your average Sueno Latino 12". Wisely, Volvert's label has not only given the album a deserved re-master, but also stretched the tracks across two slabs of wax to allow for louder, DJ-friendly cuts.
Ruby Andrews - "You Made A Believer (Out Of Me)" (2:39)
Kalyanji Anandji - "Back Ground Music" (2:29)
Jake Wade & The Soul Searchers - "Searching For Soul" (part 1) (2:40)
Hot Butter & Soul - "ABC" (4:43)
Dick Walter - "Spooky Do" (1:33)
Roy Head - "She's About A Mover" (3:13)
Hot City Bump Band - "It's Just Begun" (2:53)
Val Merrall's Orchestra - "The Horse" (3:45)
Frank Pleyer Big Band - "Sally" (3:24)
Art & Ron - "Can't Stop Talkin" (2:55)
Johnny Griffith Inc - "Love Is Just A Word" (3:23)
The Generation Gap - "Family Affair" (2:40)
Tinga Stewart - "The Message" (2:55)
Jerzy Milian Orkiestra - "Gacek" (2:19)
John L Watson - "Rockin' Chair" (with White Mouse) (3:19)
The Alan Tew Orchestra - "Pink Panther" (3:39)
The Rias Orchestra Conducted By Helmuth Brandenburg - "Pru Urebu" (4:55)
Oscar Harris & The Twinkle Stars - "Twinkle Stars Boo Galoo" (live) (3:54)
Review: Magic happens when Mr Thing hits the crates. His ability to unearth recordings you're guaranteed to never have heard before, and join the dots in ways you'd never have thought before, his "Strange Breaks" series is legendary. Long since off-press, to celebrate their 20th anniversary BBE have repressed this seminal 2009 sophomore. From the turbo blues fusion of Roy Head and the speeding Mancini feels of Val Marrall's Orchestra to the more sedate, slinky funk of Johnny Griffith and sunny-side roots of Tinga Stewart, Mr Thing's odyssey remains as inciteful, intriguing and as full of treasure as it did seven years ago.