Review: Here's something to set the pulse racing: a must-have seven-inch containing two curiously off-kilter cuts from obscure "beat generation" bands of the early 1960s. Der Evergreens "Es Lilin" (that's "Ice Lolly" in English, apparently) is a sun-kissed rhythm and blues cover of a Sudanese love song recorded in Rotterdam in 1965. It's fairly short but very, very sweet. Arguably even better is Les Jaguars De Casablanca's 1962 cover of surf classic "Gonzales". The band was truly international - Spanish and French guitarists and a Moroccoan rhythm section - and on the resultant recording you can tell. Think of it as an "outernational" take on the Shadows, and you're close.
Review: Destination mid 70s Nairobi where Madagascan guitarist Jimmy Mawi was laying down some serious vibes... Signed to EMI's Pathe imprint, he released three singles during his career which have all since faded to obscurity. Until now. Dusty, garagey and steaming with raw blues fusion, it's hard to deny any parallels to Hendrix as Mawi expresses himself with a rough heartfelt frenzy. Highlights include the Zep-level smoked out soul of "Blue Star Blues" and the insistent drive and reverbed out faraway vocals on "Black Dialogue". Another exemplary Afro-funk find from Soundway.
Review: The latest essential missive on San Francisco-based Cumbia label Discos Mas comes from a previously unheard artist: confirmed vintage drum machine and fuzzy psych-guitar lover Pancrudo. The producer's vinyl debut, which has been pressed in limited numbers on gorgeous marbled vinyl, includes two impressively retro-futurist workouts. Check first languid and decidedly psychedelic A-side "Pulsatron", a hip-hop tempo kaleidoscopic dream that sounds like Harry Nillson after a few too many swigs of liquid acid and a fistful of hallucinatory chili peppers. Pancrudo returns to his cumbia roots on flipside "Maestro Del Kiosco", which wraps wonderfully fuzzy, boogaloo-era guitars round a shuffling rhythm track.
Review: While he lived a musical life that spanned from boogie to gospel before he passed away in 2016, Nairobi's David Waciuma didn't get to record much. He was known much more for his live performances with bands such as The Monks Experience then, later, Rapture Voices who he recorded these two records in the mid-70s. "Devil Go" is a thumping rhythm and blues call and response piece while "Jesu Kristo" hits with more of a frazzled bluesy funk. Both make you wish he recorded much more.
Review: Previously spotted changing hands for over L300, the mysterious Argentinian band's one and only album from 1973 gets a long-awaited reissue and the moment you put the needle on it, you can hear why it's been in such demand. A frenetic, fiery instrumental saga that brings Latin, Afrobeat and funk together in one thick, spicy brew that ranges from poignant introversion ("Evenescente") to pure duelling guitar theatre ("Colision") Not dissimilar to acts such Azymuth, this really is a remarkable piece of work. Significant props to Pharaway Sounds for the excavation.
Review: Admirable reissue imprint Comb & Razor Sound continues to unearth, license and re-print lesser-known gems from around the world. Their latest find is Fire Woman, the incredibly rare third album from little-known nine-piece Foundars 15. Interestingly, the album's tracks are not straight-up Afro-funk or Afro-beat workouts. Instead, they various take in Cymande style reggae/soul fusion, psychedelic '60s style pop, wild funk rock/Afrobeat fusion, Hammond-laden torch songs, and skewed Afro-jazz. It's a curious but hugely entertaining hotch-potch of styles that makes for hugely enjoyable listening from start to finish. Highlights include fuzzy, solo-laden closer "Ekele", the anthem-like "Simin Boogie" and Fela Kuti-ish "True Light".
Review: Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou is an Ethiopian nun known for her unique solo piano playing. For three decades she lived a reclusive life with only rare performances, including one at the Jewish Community Center in Washington, D.C. in 2008. Featured here are recordings sourced from the '60s of her truly captivating performances and are deservedly reissued by the Portland, Oregon based Mississippi/Little Axe Records. Featured here are all original compositions available for the first time on vinyl beyond the original early editions, said to be near impossible to find.
Review: Jay-U Experience was the musical alter ego of Justus Nnakwe, a Nigerian musician who featured in several psychedelic rock and funk combos during the late '70s and early '80s. Collectors of Nigerian music have long sought out copies of his 1977 debut album, Enough is Enough, a fact that has inspired Soundway to prepare this licensed reissue. It's a thoroughly vibrant and entertaining set that sees Nnawke slip between leisurely reggae-pop ("Reggae Deluxe"), acid-fried Afro-funk ("Get Yourself Together"), sax-fuelled dancefloor psychedelia ("Some More") and fuzzy, organ-laden funk-rock heaviness (freaky closer "Baby Rock"). Given that finding original copies is near impossible these days, even for those who spend their lives digging in Lagos, this should be an essential purchase for fans of Nigerian music.
Suite Al Culto Solar - Ketzalkoatl Yauh Miktlan (15:16)
Ipan In Xiktli Metztli (En El Ombligo De La Luna) (21:30)
Review: Sacred Summits were the first to reissue Luis Perez's timeless Mexican hymns, back in 2014, but the diligent Mr Bongo has decided to buy the rights to press some more copies up. To us, that's only good news because we absolutely love this album. First released in 1981, it has been an almost impossible record to get a hold of on vinyl, but it absolutely SHOULD be readily available to anyone - through vast landscapes of subtle electronic manipulations and organic instrument improvisation, we are immersed in an endless world of mysticism, where each new listen will unearth something new and wonderful. What a sublime LP. Warmly recommended.
Review: One of the many remarkable things about Rock Town Express's 1974 debut album - originally eponymously titled but now renamed after the album's most celebrated track - is that it was the work of just two musicians, who each manned multiple instruments during the recording process. Given that it sounds fiendishly loose and live, as if it was laid down in one take, that's seriously impressive. As an album, it offers a decidedly fuzzy fusion of early Afrobeat, Sly Stone style funk-rock and the mind of heady psychedelic rock that's more associated with bands from San Francisco. In other words, it's the kind of obscure but brilliant Afro-rock fusion that you need in your life.
Friar Tuck & His Psychedelic Guitar - "Louis, Louis" (3:18)
Flamengo - "Tyden V Elektrickem Meste" (4:06)
Sergio Ferraresi - "Time Of Machines" (2:14)
Krzysztof Klenczon - "Nie Przejdziemy Do Historii" (3:18)
Aleksandr Sergeyevich Zatsepin - "The Shaman's Dance" (2:45)
Pro Arte - "Stari Dvorac" (2:53)
Review: Perhaps a lurch into the direction of head-spinning psychedelic guitar-driven groove wasn't where fans of DJ Format expected him to go next, but this compilation is proof positive that this man will doggedly pursue the funkiest of sound to the ends of the earth and the very edge of sanity. Collecting together gems from all over the globe, including such far-flung quarters as Uruguay and Yugoslavia, he creates a dizzying and ecstatically fuzzed-out melange that has no problem with jumping off the audial deep end in the pursuit of oblivion and ecstasy. Both a heady triumph and a cleansing experience for the third eye.
Review: This collection focuses in an era of Japanese music in which fashion, glamour and kitsch collided to create an addictive sound that morphed Westernized shapes into something kaleidoscopic and unique; the GS (or Group Sounds) phenomenon had seen Japanese artists attempting their own take on the high-energy onslaught of the Beatles and the British invasion, but elsewhere the female artists of the era were crafting a sound that tipped its hat to bossa nova, psych-pop and French ye-ye whilst maintaining a distinctly Japanese approach. Vibrant, eclectic and shot through with an insouciance and style rich even for this era, this is a compilation that sounds as exotic today as it did in the '60s.
Ifang Bondi & The Afro Mandingue Sounds - "Atis-A-Tis" (4:38)
Sory Bamba - "Kanaga 78" (4:55)
African Black - "Nzango" (7:02)
Bunzu Soundz - "Zinabu" (3:21)
Messi Jacques & Les Dissoumbas De Libreville - "Onga Ben Ma Na Mene Mebua" (6:18)
Ofo & The Black Company - "Allah Wakbarr" (3:26)
Damas Swing Orchestra - "Odylife" (2:20)
AKA - "Shake Me" (5:32)
Manu Dibango - "Ceddo" (5:06)
Review: The Africa Seven label might not have been around for very long, but the London-Paris dynasty has certainly established itself as a no.1 outlet for rare, unhinged world music. This is Africa Airways Volume 3: The Afro-Psych Excursion, a gorgeous compilation spanning the years 1972 to 1984, and it clearly offers some of the most magnetic tunes that they label has put out thus far. There isn't a mediocre song in here and, as the saying goes, it's all-killer-no-filler; take African Black's "Nzango", for example, a twisted, FX-heavy tribal experiment, or the more soulful highs and lows of tunes like "Zinabu" by Bunzu Soundz. Rough, dusty, completely psyched-out, and inimitable the whole way through; if you're looking for something that'll get the heads turning, and the diggers jealous, then this is your LP. Highly recommended.
Review: When Black Pearl offered up the first "Bosporus Bridges" compilation in 2005, few others were championing the distinctively exotic sounds of Turkish psych, funk, jazz and beat music. Given that interest has risen in these sounds in recent times, it feels fitting that the label has decided to offer up volume three in the ongoing series. Highlights come thick and fast throughout, from the mazy solos, Blaxploitation breaks and suspenseful orchestration of Seyyal Taner's "Sarmas Dolas", and the Hammond-heavy psych-funk of "Nisan Sakasi" by Lili Ivanova Ve Durul Gence, to the Peter Green style guitar solos of Cengiz Coskuner and the heady psychedelic pop of Donusum and Halit Kakinc.
Hafusa Abasi & Slim Ali with The Yahoos Band - "Sina Raha"
Nashil Pichen & The Eagles Lupopo - "Ng'ong'a Wa Mwanjalo"
Nairobi Matata Jazz - "Tamba Tamba"
The Lulus Band - "Ngwendeire Guita"
Mbiri Young Stars - "Ndiri Ndanogio Niwe"
The Lulus Band - "Nana"
Afro 70 - "Weekend"
The Rift Valley Brothers - "Mu-Africa"
DO 7 Band - "HO Ochiri"
Afro '70 - "Cha-Umheja"
Peter Tsotsi Juma & The Eagles Lupopo - "Kajo Golo-Weka"
New Gatanga Sound - "Thonia Ni Caki"
Sophia Ben & The Eagles Lupopo - "See Serere"
Kalambya Boys - "Kivelenge"
The Loi-Toki-Tok Band - "Leta Ngoma"
Huruma Boys Band - "Theresia"
Orchestre Veve Star - "Nitarudia"
The Mombasa Vikings - "Mama Matotoya"
The Lulus Band - "Mutumia Muriu"
Ndalani 77 Brothers - "Nzaumi"
Review: Having explored the rich heritage of Nigeria and Ghana with well researched vigour, Soundway turn to Kenya for their next adventure... A rare insight: while Lagos was churning out seminal Afrobeat compositions, Kenya took to western influences in a much subtler fashion. With heavy emphasis on the Kenyan benga and Afro-Cuban rumba there's a much deeper, local folk presentation and format throughout most of the selection. Complete with detailed notes and beautiful presentation (like all Soundway compendiums) this won't look out of place in any collection.