Review: Matasuna Records' dusty-fingered owners always have one eye on the world of self-released music, scrolling through untold Bandcamp pages to find buried treasure. They've struck gold with Batunga and the Subprimes, a Parisian Afrobeat band who have toured extensively but never before appeared on vinyl - hence this two-track seven-inch single. Both sides are sizzling hot. A-side "Gates of Oauntou" is marked out by some superb, Tony Allen style polyrhythmic drumming, hazy horns and clipped guitars, with the talented ensemble delivering a detailed floor-shaker that should appeal to all those that love Fela Kuti. The spirit of the Nigerian great can also be heard in flipside "Man In The Field", an altogether heavier and punchier affair that's as infectious as tropical fever and twice as sweaty.
Review: We've become accustomed to Matsauna Records licensing and reissuing dusty old gems from Africa, Central America and South America, so it's a pleasant surprise to find that their latest "45" features tracks plucked from a more recent album - the 2015 debut of Portual-based Angolan singer/songwriter Chalo Correira. It's a wise move, because both of these tracks are superb. A-side "Kudiholola" is a galloping celebration of the Angolan Kazakuta style blessed with infectious rhythms, glistening electric guitar solos and wild harmonica melodies. Flipside "Chercher Crioula" is a bilingual song sung in both Quimbundo and French, with musical accompaniment that neatly highlights the cultural links between Angola and the Iberian Peninsula.
Review: Late last month, Matasuna Records successfully mined "Ritual", the sought-after 1971 album by Nico Gomez and his Afro-Percussion Inc (a studio combo helmed by Belgian composer Joseph van het Groenewoud), and reissued one of the standout tracks, "Lupita". Here they serve up another gem from the album, "Baila Chibiquiban", an Incredible Bongo Band-esque fusion of psychedelic rock, heavy funk and even heavier Afro-Cuban percussion. The fine original version is given the re-edit treatment on the flip, with Tonton Boom extending some percussive passages and emphasizing the killer groove before introducing some of the track's headier musical elements. It's the kind of rework that should find favour with proper break-dancers.
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: Founded in 1967 by singer/producer Carlos Oliva and other Cuban immigrants to the United States, Los Sobrinos del Juez were briefly one of the leading protagonists of the turn-of-the-'70s "Miami Sound" - a humid and intoxicating fusion of blues, rock, funk and dancefloor-focused Latin sounds. Their 1974 debut single "Harina De Maiz" - here reissued for the first time since - is a perfect example of that short lived style, offering up a mixture of wah-wah-guitar and psychedelic organ-powered Latin funk grooves and righteous Cuban vocals. On this edition it comes backed by the previously unheard "Corned Beef Hash", a swinging Latin-jazz number rich in vibraphone solos, jaunty piano riffs and plenty of hip-wiggling percussion.