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: For their latest release, Matasuna Records has put away their re-editing scalpel and instead decided to serve up two obscure old gems by Peru-based Argentine artist Enrique Lynch. Both tracks were recorded in the early 1970s and have become sought-after items amongst the Afro-Tropical collecting community. Having been re-mastered from the original master tapes, A-side "African Bump" - a jazzy, sun-soaked affair notable for its fantastic use of wah-wah guitar, Blaxploitation grooves and high-register horn solos - sounds better than ever before. The same could be said for Lynch's brilliant cover of The Nite-Liters' funk classic "K-Jee", which adds a little South American sunshine to the familiar grooves and celebrated horn lines.
Review: Those who love classic Afro-Latin music should already know "Lupita", one of the standout tunes from the sole 1971 album by Belgian composer Nico Gomez (real name Joseph van het Groenewoud) and his Afro-Percussion Inc backing band. That album was reissued a few years back by Mr Bongo; here 'Lupita' is given a rare airing on 7" single by Matasuna. This time round, the deliciously percussive mambo workout - all punchy horns, wild organs and vocal breakdowns - comes backed by a fresh remix courtesy of Bosq. This version is arguably even better, with Bosq wisely choosing to focus on the drums, horns, bass and organs for added dancefloor pleasure.
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: 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.
Review: Having previously excelled at crafting party-starting bootleg funk remixes and composing revivalist soul slammers, Mr Bird has now decided to turn his attention to Afro-disco, Afro-funk and Afro-soul. Typically, the results are impressive, particularly "Dance Away", a hybrid Afro-disco/Afro-soul workout featuring the fine vocals of Chief Commander Yaaba. Elsewhere, he lays down a subtly housed-up take on Clavinet-happy Afro-funk (the superb, jazz-funk tinged "Floating Funk"), brilliantly breaks up the beats on the woozy, groovy and bustling "Carnival Beat", and lays blissful vocal harmonies over a sumptuous deep house beat on "The Sasquatch".
Review: According to the South American music specialists at Matasuna Records, Ralph Weeks' 1971 single "Let Me Do My Thing" - recorded alongside backing Los Dinamicos Exciters - is arguably the most sought-after Panamanian soul record around. As this reissue proves, Weeks' original version is rubbery, heavy and rousing, with the singer's rasping lead vocal soaring above a weighty backing track that sounds like a breezier take on the New York boogaloo sound. On the flip, Voodoocuts tools it up for modern dancefloors, underpinning his club-ready edit with punchy new drums that give the cut more of a breakbeat style swing.