Review: Thanks to an upsurge in interest in zouk, the synthesizer-heavy tropical style that emerged from the French Antilles in the early 1980s, reissues of superb but hard to find gems from the style's original heyday are becoming increasingly popular. This one from Strut Records is a peach. Originally released in 1988, "Las Pale" is the sole album from Feeling Kreyol, a female trio from Guadeloupe assembled and produced by local studio buffs Darius Denon and Frankie Brumier. It remains a brilliantly effervescent and colourful set, with the trio adding strong and attractive to distinctively tropical drum machine rhythms, shimmering synths, kaleidoscopic melodies and jangling guitars. In other words, it's a giddy blast of electronic tropical brilliance. Don't sleep.
Review: Famed for their thrilling, dancefloor-friendly fusions of West African funk and disco, American electrofunk and post-punk pop, Ibibio Sound Machine is one of the most exciting and essential bands of recent times. It's for this reason that "Doko Mien", the Eno Williams fronted band's first album for two years, is so hotly anticipated. Happily, we can confirm that it's another stunning set, with Williams and company charging through a set of sizzling songs that wrap kaleidoscopic synths, rubbery bass, fiery horns and off-kilter funk-rock guitars around grooves that variously doff a cap to '80s electro, Italo-disco, jazz-funk, Tony Allen and thrusting, mind-altering mutant disco. In other words, it's another must-have collection of cuts from the London-based band.
Review: As a member of several chart-topping groups and an in-demand producer in his own right, Thami Mdluli was something of a superstar on South Africa's "bubblegum" scene during the 1980s. Yet as the decade progressed, it was for his club-focused instrumentals - released under the Professor Rhythm alias - that he became most celebrated. By the time this album was first released in 1995, he'd helped to develop the now celebrated "Kwaito" style of house-influenced South African dancefloor fusion. Bafana Bafana does contain some distinctive kwaito moments, but for the most part it just sounds like a gloriously South African take on mid 1990s U.S, Italian and British house music. Crucially, it's also superb, like some long lost '90s house album made in Jo'burg, rather than New Jersey.
Dur Dur Band - "Duruuf Maa Laygu Diidee (Rejected Due To My Circumstance)" (feat Muqtar Idi Ramadan)
Iftiin Band - "Anaa Qaylodhaanta" (feat Mahmud Abdalla "Jerry" Hussen)
Review: In 1988, on the eve of the civil war that began to tear apart Somalia in the early 1990s, an intrepid band of broadcasters and journalists secretly salvaged some 10,000 cassettes of homegrown music from the archives of Radio Hargeissa in Somaliland. Almost 30 years on, those tapes have finally been mined for Sweet As Broken Dates, a brilliant compilation that finally showcases some of the multitude of gems that were recorded and released in the country between the late '60s and early '90s. It's a brilliant collection, all told, full of exotic music that combines Western styles - soul, funk, disco, pop, reggae, boogie, psychedelic rock and even early hip-hop- with musical influences from the wider region (most notably Arabic and tropical music from islands in the Indian Ocean). In other words, it should be an essential purchase.