Review: For their latest deep dive into the world of little-known electronic gorgeousness, Holland's Music From Memory crew has taken a trawl through the impeccable and largely overlooked catalogue of Japanese ambient musician Toshifumi Hinata. The essential "Broken Relief" draws on material recorded by the musician between 1985 and 87, joining the dots between gentle beat-scapes, inspired new age soundscapes, warm ambient explorations and glassy-eyed instrumentals rich in fluid fretless bass, twinkling pianos, shuffling rhythms and chords so tactile you might want to go to bed with them. It's an inspired set all told, with an impressive number of highlights. These include the evocative piano lament "Ikoku No Onna Tachi", the spacey ambient swirl of "Colored Air", and the undeniably Balearic grooves of "Atarashii Yuhbokumin".
Review: Funk Night Records were quick to snap up some newly recorded material from Philly psych band Grimace Federation as soon as they heard it, and for good reason. These tracks were recorded during a weekend in a session with producer John McEntire and manage to sound raw and distorted yet seductive. "Dotsero" echoes the magic of Adrian Younge with its big horns and stirring soul, while "Starspots" is a more expansive track, with nebulous chords, busy drum playing and plenty of jazz elements making it a real cosmic voyage.
Review: Described in the accompanying press release as "the halfway point between Bollywood and Balearic", Rupa Biswas' 1982 debut "Disco Jazz" has long been a favourite of dusty-fingered diggers with a healthy bank balance and a penchant for the quirky. All four tracks are cheery, charming and superior to many "Bollywood disco" records produced in the same period. The sunny disco-boogie of "Moja Bhari Moja" is followed on side A by the delightfully eccentric, bass-powered AOR-disco/funk-rock fusion of "East West Shuffle" and the effortlessly Balearic cheeriness of "Aaj Shanibar". Best of all, though, is the exotic and intoxicating flipside cut "Ayee Morshume Be-Reham Duniya" which expertly joins the dots between cosmic rock and Balearic disco grooves for 16 spellbinding minutes.
Review: Best just keep coming with the Italo heat, once again tapping into that golden year of 1984. Funky Family was a one-shot studio project that left a much-vaunted record in its wake. The visionary nature of "Funk Is On" is impossible to ignore - from the noirish mood to the physical thrust of the arpeggios, the diva vocals and tough 4/4 groove, this is house music in all but name. Whether you want the vocal cut or the instrumental, Best have you covered - either is going to set the dancefloor alight.
Ze Spirits Band - "Tucheza" (Esa extended mix) (5:00)
Nonku Phiri - "Sifo" (feat Dion Monti) (4:27)
Os Panteras - "Melo Do Anjo" (Outra edit) (4:54)
Pascal Latour - "Lague Yo" (Boulo edit) (5:58)
Masalo - "Yera" (feat Doussou Koulibaly) (6:24)
Esa - "Pantsula Traxx" (4:38)
Narchbeats - "Cheeks" (3:41)
DJ Spoko - "#Justsnares" (4:02)
Review: Inspired by his own experiences growing up in apartheid-era South Africa and his travels through music, Esa Williams has put together a compilation of contemporary electronic music from around the world. "Amandla: Music To The People" is well worth your attention and contains some genuine gems. Highlights come thick and fast throughout, from the percussive, chant-along sweatiness of Penny Penny's "Shilungu" and the loved-up, pitched-down dreaminess of Alaska's "Accuse (Instrumental)", to the sweet, life-affirming cheeriness of Os Panteras' "Melo Do Anjo (Outro Edit)" and the thrusting, Italo-disco style dancefloor masculinity of Masalo's "Yera". Esa's own late '80s style pitched-down South African house jam "Pantsula Traxx" is also superb.
Review: Blue Feather were a truly blue-eyed funk outfit from the Netherlands who had a prolific run in the 80s with two albums and a string of club singles to their name. "Let's Funk Tonight" was surely one of their bigger hits, and it sounds resplendent with a fresh master and the full extended version spread out across the A side here. Offering something new for the modern market, Best call upon Faze Action to flesh out this reissue with a killer dub of the track that treads softly but funks deep, just like a good dub should.
Review: It's clear that Naive founder Ines Borges Coutinho put a lot of thought into "Bed Of Roses", her debut album under the now familiar Violet alias. According to the label releasing it, Dark Entries, Coutinho approached the production process with the idea of creating songs that would together form "a sort of childhood-teenage memories diary". While it's largely instrumental, it's certainly true that the album touches on a variety of moods and retro-futurist sounds, galloping between dark ambient, ear-catching electronic melancholia, angry dancefloor intensity, dreamy happiness, good-natured post synth-pop grooves, luscious slow jams and the kind of glassy-eyed, loved-up fare that has always been a significant part of her growing body of work. In other words, it's a wonderfully produced, paced and deeply personal set.