Review: Berlin's Matasuna label welcomes a debut appearance from Afrobeat-flavoured outfit Heroes Of Limbo. We're not certain on where this band originally hail from, but they've got the vibe down perfectly on this smoking hot 7". "Madchester Woman" skits and scatters with loose in-the-room drums, a sassy brass section and sweet high life guitar licks. "White Noise" brings Clair Fallows on board for a strong vocal turn that turns the temperature up. This is soul-stirring Afrobeat in the mould of the originators, executed with respectful accuracy and played with passion.
Review: Remarkably, percussionist and DJ-turned-producer Hiatt DB is the first ever American artist to sign for Rhythm Section International. Based in New Orleans, he makes music inspired not only by his love of club music, but also sounds and styles from around the world. This debut neatly reflects these disparate influences, offering up vibrant tracks that defy easy categorization. Check first the twisted lead lines, pulsing sub-bass, sweaty piano stabs and pots-and-pans percussion of "Sun Spell", before admiring the densely layered breakbeats and West African drums of "Palimpest". "6 O'Clock Rock" is a woozy and warming shuffle where calypso percussion, hazy strings and cut-up vocal samples make an impression, while "Everyday Break" is a luscious chunk of sun-up goodness for dancers who like it warm and breezy.
Review: Two titans of African music come together for a collaboration that will sadly never be repeated after the passing of the late Hugh Masekela. Allen's instantly recognisable drumming and Masekela's iconic trumpet are a match made in heaven - after all their paths first crossed back in the 70s thanks to Fela Kuti's galvanizing energy. Forget the throwback stuff trying to capture the spirit of the originators, this IS the originators sounding cool and deadly in every way. Funk lovers, Afrobeat heads, curious ears and dancing souls take heed - this right here is an unmissable transmission from two grandmasters in their field.
Review: Joni Haastrup's classic, cosmic disco LP is among the best of the best in terms of Afrobeat. What is particularly special about it is its 1978 release date - this was miles ahead of everyone else at that stage of African disco music - and the fact that it was the only piece of music to be released under the artist's real name. There is not much we can say about this absolute gem of an album, apart from the fact that it should not be missing from your own shelves, or DJ bag, for that matter. On the latter point, these six tunes are perfect for just about any situation requiring a dance. This is top Afrobeat beat music in all its glory. NOT to be missed. Warmly recommended...
Review: We've now come accustomed to sometimes unlikely cross-cultural musical fusions, though this album is the first we've come across that takes North African Gnawa music - one of the oldest Moroccan cultural traditions, fact fans - and fuses it with 21st century electronics and dancefloor-centric rhythms. It features vocals and traditional instrumentation from a renowned master of Gnawa, Rabii Harnoune, blended with the infectious grooves, contemporary synthesiser sounds and bass-weight of VB Kuhl, a Frankfurt-based producer whose roots are in off-kilter hip-hop. It's perhaps an unlikely pairing, but the results are simply superb. Don't take our word for it though - check it out for yourself. We'd be surprised if you weren't impressed.
Review: Strangelove Music's latest vinyl-only outing dips into the infrequently explored archives of American multi-instrumentalist Frank Harris and collaborator Maria Marquez, a pairing that previously released a couple of sought after "ethno-wave" singles in the late 1980s. "Echoes" gathers together unreleased music made in 1985, presenting it as an unheard album that oozes off-kilter quality from start to finish. Most of the tracks were made using Harris' custom Synclavier synthesizer station, with his humid and breezy new age melodies and dreamy chords working brilliantly with Marquez's folksy, multi-lingual vocals, a variety of world music inspired rhythms and some seriously atmospheric field recordings. It's a formula that guarantees unusual but inspired results from start to finish.
Review: Jazz Room Records is the work of legendary London jazz-dance DJ Paul Murphy, so it's perhaps unsurprising that the label's first outing is an essential reissue of one of his personal favourites: Hugo Heredia's spiritually-minded 1976 Latin-Jazz fusion masterpiece, "Mananita Pampera". Although it begins with a dense and psychedelic collage of Heredia's breathy flute playing, the album's genius lies in its' combination of heavy Latin percussion, skittish jazz drums and the bright and breezy instrumentation atop (piano, double bass and Heredia on sax). Of course, there are a few slower, laidback cuts to be found dotted across the album, but for the most part it's a sweaty, excitable dancefloor excursion that's been a staple of Murphy's sets since the 1980s.