Guarapachanga (A Nicholson Miquifaye remix) (9:14)
Guarapachanga (A Nicholson Miquifaye reprise) (5:56)
Review: The New York-based (U)nity is made up of Michael Valeanu, Axel Tosca Laugart, Chris Smith, Max Cudworth and Amaury Acosta. They formed the band in 2006 as a project to explore Afro-Cuban jazz, funk, soul and contemporary electronica. They say they've been influenced by everyone from Chucho Valdes to Art Blakey to Led Zeppelin to Kendrick Lamar, and you can definitely hear all of that in this jawdropping work. "Guarapachanga" is special in that it was the first song written by the band back in their days as music students at The New School. It's derived from the style known as guarapachangeo - the most advanced form of Cuban rumba, heavily improvisational and based on very complex rhythms and melodies. On this recording, (U)nity is graced with a guest performance by Grammy Award winner Pedrito Martinez, a master rumbero, one of the greatest conga players ever, an innovator who has left a permanent mark on Cuban music. Martinez is also a priest in the Yoruba religion and a historian of Cuban culture.
Over its eight and a half minutes, "Guarapachanga" twists and turns and journeys through a mind bending array of different tempos and modes, from Latin jazz to hip hop, ultimately ending with a trippy ambient soundscape. The whole thing is overlaid with free spirited melody, soul and the Afro-Cuban essence that is the band's lifeblood. The white-hot live playing gives it the feel of the best early-morning jam session, yet it packs a sonic punch that will make it sound incredible on a good sound system in the hands of adventurous DJs in the world-beat or spiritual-house vein. If you didn't know "Guarapachanga" was a contemporary work you might mistake it for a Loft classic; yet it's also as fresh and exciting as anything you'll hear this year.
Review: 1974's Coming Right At You, the sole album from 100% Pure Poison, has long been a sought-after jazz-funk gem. Soul Brother has previously reissued the rare (and increasingly expensive) LP, though this double 7" marks the first time most of these tracks have been available on wax since 2001. Check first opener (and title track) "Windy C", a superb chunk of lolloping, laidback jazz-funk that sits somewhere between Bob James and Cymande, before turning your attention to the slow-burn soulful delights of string-laden torch song "Puppet On A Chain". Over on the second 7", "No More City, No More Country" is a more hard-spun Blaxploitation funk affair, while "Hole In My Shoe" is a horn-fired slab of J.B's style funk-soul fusion.
Habbanera (Leo Mas & Fabrice alternate remix) (6:41)
Review: Over the years, Italian eccentrics 291out have proved tricky to pin down. While their releases are rooted in the spacey end of the jazz-funk spectrum, they also touch on film soundtracks, quirky electronica and meandering progressive rock. This time out they're operating on a Latin tinged jazz-rock tip, with crunchy guitars, fuzz-soaked horns, rubbery bass and eyes-closed electric piano motifs rising above a head-nodding groove. The band's included "Alternative Version" is noticeably wilder and more intense, with a looser beat and a greater number of mind-mangling horn solos. In terms of remixes, you'll find Italian veterans Leo Mas and Fabrice at the controls. Their A-side revision sounds a little like a jazzier take on Italian Balearic rock merchants Almunia, while their flipside "Alternative Remix" is a bounding, peak-time-ready jazz-house workout.
Review: Following an impressive, low-key cassette release on Kitty Play in 2016, Amsterdam-based artist Aan Zee makes the leap to vinyl with this appearance on Pleasure Wave, a label which has already made some waves with releases from g-Marie, Jonny 5 and Miskotom. The Aan Zee sound is a lot to digest, spanning all kinds of cosmic funk, sky-scraping electronics and outernational influences, often all fired off at the same time. Just sink your teeth into "Persona/Funny Berber" for a taste and you'll understand. "Vacation" is equally adventurous, with all kinds of melodic layering and instrument flexing in pursuit of an exotic new brew that doesn't shirk on the groove.
Review: Exploring the sounds emanating from South Asia, Masaala is a new label with a fresh outlook. The first release features Manchester-based producers Raheel Khan and Adesi turning in some powerful edits that will appeal to anyone seeking invigorating sounds from further afield. Khan's twist on "Mast Qalandar" sounds like a striking version of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's "Mustt Mustt". Adesi offers up the lions share of the edits though, channeling South Asian sounds through grooves ranging from the fierce disco stomp of "Sansani" to the low slung funk groove of "Nah Nah Nah". "Kammata" has a more dense rhythmic complexity at its heart, and "Kuchi Kuchi" collides traditional sounds with contemporary broken beat to brilliant effect.
Review: Originally released in Kenya way back in 1987, "Hinde" was the sole single from an obscure outfit called African Vibration. The track has since gone on to become something of a sought-after gem; a sparse, drum machine-driven, synthesizer-sporting jam that offers a uniquely tropical and wholeheartedly East African take on electro/synth-pop fusion. Happily, Soundway has decided to issue it on 12" for the first time, having previously included in on 2016's superb "Kenya Special: Volume 2" compilation. The brilliant original comes accompanied by a fresh Julian Dyne rework that makes more of the original's fluttering, sun-kissed synths and rainforest sound effects. It's a little deeper, dreamier and exceptionally blissful; in fact, you could almost describe it as being "Balearic".
The Devil Made Me Do It (The Invisible Cosmic Echoes version) (4:51)
The Devil Made Me Do It (The Invisible Astral Wave version) (4:30)
Review: Like many drummers, Alex Puddu has long been inspired by the work of Tony Allen. He pays tribute to the legendary Nigerian sticks-man on "The Devil Made Me Do It", a sumptuous dose of groovy downtempo Afrobeat laden with Allen-style polyrhythms, Africa '70 horns and lashings of eyes-closed electric piano solos. On the flip you'll find two different interpretations from Puddu. The first, subtitled "The Invisible Cosmic", doffs a cap to the Afro-cosmic world of Daniele Baldelli while retaining much of the warmth and musicality of the original mix. "The Invisible Astral" version is an altogether more spaced-out dub, with Puddu smothering the drums and horns in copious amounts of tape echo.
Review: Alex Puddu's Afro Soul Prophecy project continues to blaze into the year with pure molten lava grooves. "Daddy's Groove" is a perfect summer heater with its laid back horns that ooze over the wah wah licks and strutting rim-shots. "Let Me Be Your Lover" takes more of a Latin approach with its upbeat rhythm and bossa tendencies. Listen out for those cosmic guitars in the background... Dreamy business.
Review: Building on the heat of last year's "Devil Made Me Do It", Alex Puddu's Afro Soul Prophecy returns with more smoking jazz fusions. "Red Light District" is as hot and illicit as the title suggests thanks to its prominent drums and heated horn work. "The Game Of Love" plays the perfect counter with its much softer, sentimental swoons and loungey dynamics. Instant summer soul soothers.
Trouble In My Way (Afshin & Kiss My Black Jazz edit) (7:42)
The Riot (Afshin & Kiss My Black Jazz edit) (6:00)
Review: Something a little different from G.A.M.M here, as Parisian DJ Afshin joins forces with the mysterious Kiss My Black Jazz to offer up two incendiary edits. The real surprise killer is A-side "Trouble In My Way", which subtly turns a blues-era recording of a traditional slave sing-along into a handclap-heavy chunk of infectious gospel-house brilliance. It takes a little time to build up, but when the heavier beats drop midway through you'll have dancers eating out of the palm of your hand. Flipside "The Riot" sees them make merry with a Hammond-heavy chunk of 1960s jazz-funk, extending and reworking the cut to make it suitably sweaty, heavy and life affirming.
Review: Copies of Francisco Aguabella's 1977 album "Hitting Hard" are not only extremely hard to come by, but also suitably pricey when they do come up for sale online. Fret not - Dynamite Cuts are here to help. They've decided to reissue two of the Afro-Cuban jazz/funk fusion set's most potent track, thus saving us the need to fork out the best part of 800 pounds. A-side "Ramon's Desire" - a cover of a Ramon Robes song - is suitably breezy, jazzy and positive, with glistening guitar and vibraphone solos combining wonderfully with a soulful vocal. Flipside "Casa Fuerte", on the other hand, is an all-action, high-tempo Afro-Cuban jazz dance treat, with high-octane piano solos rising above a Tito Puente style rhythm track.
Mahmoud Ahmed - "Aynotche Terabu" (with Equators Band) (4:02)
Girma Beyene - "Ene Negn Bay Manesh" (2:24)
Review: The Afro 45's / Mr Bongo lineage has produced some of the hottest, most sizzling funk reissues from around the globe, and this tasty two-header from Mahmoud Ahmed - who has appeared heavily on Portland's monumental Mississippi label - and Girma Beyene, two greats of the African soul / funk heritage. Ahmed's "Aynotche Terabu" is backed by the Equators Band, and the man's voice rides like crispy waves over the dusty percussion and charging trumpets of the outfit; Beyene appears with a less moody but equally brilliant jazz-leaning piece named "Ene Negn Bay Manesh", bringing through the spirot of greats such as Mulatu and the rest of the African luminaries.
Review: Although best known as the lead singer of well-regarded Japanese funk-soul band O.A.S.B, Amy Akaoka has long dreamed up recording a salsa album in the style of '60s and '70s pianist and bandleader Larry Harlow. This tasty two-track 7" single is her first release in the style - the album will appear later in the year - and is as summery, breezy and life affirming as you'd expect. She begins with "Tu Jamas", where male backing vocals, jaunty pianos and her own passionate lead vocal ride a sweat-soaked salsa rhythm. Turn to the B-side for the horn-heavy delight that is breezy salsa shuffler "Solo Tu Amor". Naturally, both are hugely authentic to the style of salsa championed by Harlow.
Review: The UK's Mr Bongo has been reissuing old music and putting out new tunes since the late 1980's, and the label is still going strong in 2015. This latest 7" features two of Ethiopia's greatest musicians, Alemayehu Eshete and Mahmoud Ahmed, in a head to head, split EP. On the A-side, Mr Bongo has resurfaced Eshete's "Tchero Adari Negn", a supremely funky piece with the man's own voice gliding effortlessly over hard drums and fuzy guitar riffs; "Bemim Sebeb Litlash" goes deeper and more psychedelic on the flip, and Ahmed's voice is a pleasure as always. Check their other material on Mississippi for a broader introspective.
Review: Back in 2016, legendary Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen approached techno pioneer Jeff Mills with the idea of working together. A series of live gigs and off-the-radar studio sessions followed, with the first fruits of their joint efforts finally appearing on this must-have 10". As you'd expect, the duo's collaborative work combines Allen's traditional Nigerian polyrhythms, traditional Afrobeat instrumentation, and the far-sighted, sci-fi inspired electronic futurism that has always marked out Mills' work. The result is a quartet of cuts that could arguably be described as retro-futurist Afro-tech - all delay-laden beats, basslines and organs subtly sparring with gentle acid lines, Motor City electronics, beguiling deep space textures and shimmering, 31st century motifs. It's arguably Allen's stylistic contributions that dominate, but that's no bad thing.
Fade Away (feat Andy Cooper From Ugly Duckling) (2:59)
Review: Aside from releasing 2 albums for the imprint, Bristol's The Allergies have been a pillar of the Jalapeno label's success over the years, helping the label find its feet amid the ever-growing broken beat scene. The duo return to the catalogue with a classic helping of their very own breakbeat science, first up with the vocal-led charm of "Dance Now", a commercially-minded dancehall anthem that strays into pop and r&b with utter ease. On the flip, Andy Cooper features on the rap-pop hybrid vocals of "Fade Away", a feel-good party tune that is solely focused on getting you to move!
Review: Brand new funk from Bristol-based duo The Allergies, these two pant-swinging numbers mark the build up to their third album Steal The Show. As always, it's an all-out funkathon with full eyes on the party prize. "Can't Keep Working This Hard" jumps with a classic JB style break with some gutsy, raw soul vocal chops while "Run It Back" sees them tagging up with Andy Cooper once again with another classic spitfire rap jam that you know you'll be air rapping to within two or three listens. Yeah you will.
Review: Clear the way when you see them coming through! Three albums deep since 2016, Jalapeno's in-house funk machine The Allergies wheel up with more brand new material. "Every Trick In The Book" shakes and slides with a wry psychedelic groove, a familiar vocal, big horns and lavish dollops of the feel-good flare the Bristol duo have made their signature. Need something spicier? Flip over for "Nuff Respect" where long-standing MC partner in vibes Andy Cooper steps up to cover one of the all time OGs: Big Daddy Kane. Back up and bow.
Review: What a trip it's been for The Allergies; rolling from one killer album to the next, funk is flying from their HQ at a rate of knots. Here are two fine examples from their last LP Push On, both featuring their long-time friend and MC from Andy Cooper. Best known for his witty wordplay and character on Ugly Duckling records, here Andy gets to show off both sides to his expansive flow; "Main Event" is a chubby disco groove laced with mountains of funk, creating space for Andy's laidback-but-hypey charm. In perfect contrast "Buzzsaw" is a much sweatier funk jam allowing Cooper to get rapid and tongue-twisty in a way that only he knows how. Keep on pushing...
Review: Take a listen to the four cuts that make up Jackson Almond's WotNot Music debut, "Open Your Head", and you'll hear a myriad of influences and musical reference points. That the DJ/producer has managed to get them to compliment each other is particularly impressive. Check, for example, the jaunty U.S garage/jazz-funk/broken beat/Afro-house fusion of "EEYE", for starters, or the sparkling opener "Open Your Head", where glistening guitars and marimba style melodies ride a rubbery synth bassline and rich, life-affirming chords. Almond's love of layered percussion is once again evident on the piano-sporting, sun-kissed deep house shuffle of "Common", while "People, Places, Things in Spaces" sees him pepper a jazzy, off-kilter deep house groove with the kind of spacey jazz-funk synths that were once a hallmark of Herbie Hancock albums.
Review: Altin Gun are the hottest property to come out of Istanbul in the last ten years. Fact. Led by Jacco Gardner, the 7-piece outfit specialise in the deepest, most wild-eyed psych funk available at the moment and this was clearly visible from their recent debut LP, On. A similar narrative continues here, one which resonates so well with the traditional sound of 70s Turku-funk from pioneers such as Erkin Koray or Baris Manco, and there is, quite simply, something very honest about this band. O this new 7" from the banging Bongo Joe we have "Tatli Dile Guler Yuze", a seductive vocal groove filled with aptly trippy guitar funk and Merve Dasdemir's sublime voice waving in the distance, and the quirky sounds of the instrumental cut "Hababam" - making this one of Bongo Joe's best EPs to date, and another proof-point for Altin Gun's quality. Highly recommended.
Review: Longstanding Osaka live troupe Amanita took the bold step into recorded original territory in 2016 with this exceptional 45 on Rustafe. Reissued for 2018, it's still as endearingly lofi and mesmerising as the five piece Afrobeat evangelists lay down two alluring pieces. "Qnitia" leans back on a hypnotising chord swing, sparse percussion and vibrant sax and subtle dubby echoes while "Makossa" takes a well known rim-shotting rhythm and cooks it up slow n' low for another smouldering summer.
Review: Some 18 months after it appeared on Amp Fiddler's ace "Amp Dog Knights" LP, "Keep Coming" is given the remix treatment by a quartet of hugely talented producers. The headline rework comes from Ninja Tune signee Jayda G, whose effortlessly soulful version not only makes great use of the Detroit veteran's brilliant vocals and keys, but also flits between smoky deep house and sweaty, percussive madness. Elsewhere, Jahn Cloud and Meftah offer up some sweet post R&B beats, Julian Dyne re-casts it as a Latin-tinged chunk of beatdown brilliance and Brenk Sinatra does his best impression of Motor City beat-makers Platinum Pied Pipers.