Balka Sound – Balka Sound LP [STRUTLP322]

Strut present the first ever compilation of Balka Sound, bringing together their influential 1980s recordings. Hailing from Congo-Brazzaville and led by revered vocalist and ngonfi player, Nkibi “Lusialala” Albert, Balka Sound created their own unique musical world, re imagining traditional Congolese Balka rhythms with electric guitars, electric bass and drums, alongside the traditional 5-string ngonfi.

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Balka Sound – Balka Sound LP [STRUTLP322]

Gordon Koang – Community LP [MIE020]

South Sudan’s undisputed ‘King of Music’, the Juba-via-Melbourne eccentric outsider Gordon Koang, returns with his second full-length of original material since emigrating to Australia, the masterly titled follow-up, Community. Eight tracks recorded in Melbourne with a cast of the city’s finest musical minds, including Zak Olsen, Jesse Williams, David “Daff” Gravolin and Jack Kong, the record draws upon Gordon’s pitch-perfect pop sensibility and compulsion for composing irresistibly catchy melodies. Add to this brew the extensive creditienals of his collaborators, who are known for their work with Trafik Island, ORB, Leah Senior and more, and you have yourself a perfect blend of East African pop and vintage psychedelia that is surely one of the most interesting records of the year, outstripping it’s Australian counterparts both in songwriting, production value and downright good energy.

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Gordon Koang – Community LP [MIE020]

Ayanda Sikade – Umakhulu [AFS052]

Born in 1981 in Mdantsane in the Eastern Cape, Ayanda Sikade is one of South African jazz’s most in-demand and respected drummers, a familiar face on the scene for years and a driving force behind its growing prominence on the world stage. Dedicated to his grandmother who raised him, Sikade’s long-awaited sophomore album as a bandleader, Umakhulu, follows his 2018 debut Movements. Recorded in Johannesburg in early 2021, it features the talents of frequent collaborator Nduduzo Makhathini on piano, young Simon Manana on alto sax and Nhlanhla Radebe on bass. The album’s nine tracks, composed and produced by Sikade, pay homage to the artist’s heritage — most noticeably on ‘Mdantsane’ and ‘Nxarhuni River’ — while forging onwards to a brave new world on others, like ‘Imithandazo Yeengelosi’ (Prayer of Angels) and ‘Space Ship’.

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Ayanda Sikade – Umakhulu [AFS052]

Shane Cooper & Mabuta – Finish The Sun LP [KJR004]

Finish The Sun, the second offering from Shane Cooper & Mabuta, is a glowing and energetic album, rooted in grooves from all over the African continent. The six-piece outfit draws on influences from Mali, Nigeria, the Sahel, Morocco; and the many sounds that make up their native South Africa. This musical trip seamlessly dances through Afrobeat, maskandi, funk and hip hop, to moments of cinematic beauty. All embedded with subtle hints of 70s psychedelia. The core group of Shane Cooper, Bokani Dyer, Sisonke Xonti, and Robin Fassie invited international guests on drums including: Jamie Peet, Arthur Hnatek, Christopher Cantillo, and more…

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Shane Cooper & Mabuta – Finish The Sun LP [KJR004]

E&S Brothers – Taduma [AFS053]

E&S Brothers’ 1985 album Taduma holds a unique yet overlooked place in the history of South African dance music. When Shadrack Ndlovu and Ernest Segeel teamed up with Dane Stevenson, owner of Blue Tree Studio in downtown Johannesburg, and journeyman producer Taso Stephanou, South Africa’s bubblegum era had just begun, spurred on by the success of Shangaan disco. The relative success of their debut 12” ‘Don’t Bang The Taxi Door’, marketed aggressively at taxi ranks throughout the country, helped put the Blue Tree label on the map and E&S were invited back to record a full album: Taduma, featuring on keyboards Dr Buke, an in-demand session player from Soweto. Rooted in Africa, yet purely electronic, Taduma was a moderate hit, spurred by tracks like ‘Taxi Door’ and ‘Mhane’, its hypnotic refrain ‘Mhane, famba na wena’ meaning ‘Mother, I am going to you’. Other tracks like ‘Mapantsula’ and ‘Be Careful’ place Taduma within the street-savvy ‘pantsula’ style and dance synonymous with consecutive waves of music from disco to kwaito, house and beyond, while ‘Sikele Masike’ repurposes a traditional Shangaan work song. Vocally E & S are closer to rapping than singing, in a combination of English and vernacular – predating other credited pioneers of kwaito in SA like Senyaka and Spokes H. Driving the music instead of vocals are waves of searing synths over rudimentary but explosive drum machine sounds – the word ‘Taduma’ meaning the sound of the drum.

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E&S Brothers – Taduma [AFS053]

Giuliano Sorgini – Mad Town / Ultima Caccia [FLIES4540]

Four Flies presents a super juicy treat for all 7-inch vinyl devotees: the first of its 45s series singles to feature tracks from Giuliano Sorgini’s masterpiece Zoo Folle. The psychedelic funk number “Mad Town”, on Side A, drags you in with its infectious drum breaks and the rapid yet hypnotic flute of Nino Rapicavoli. “Ultima Caccia”, on Side B, is sheer afro-tribal bliss, with drums by Sorgini himself and massive funky percussion by legendary session player Enzo Restuccia.

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Giuliano Sorgini – Mad Town / Ultima Caccia [FLIES4540]

VA – Essiebons Special 1973-1984: Ghana Music Power House [AALP093]

VARIOUS - Essiebons Special 1973-1984: Ghana Music Power House

Dick Essilfie-Bondzie was all ready for his 90th birthday party when the Covid pandemic hit. The legendary producer, businessman and founder of Ghana’s mighty Essiebons label had invited all his family and friends to the event and it was the disappointment at having to postpone. That prompted Analog Africa founder Samy Ben Redjeb to propose a new compilation celebrating his contributions to the world of West African music. Essiebons Special features a selection of obscure workouts from some of the label’s heaviest hitters, including a 12-page booklet. But in the course of digitizing his vast archive of master tapes, Essilfie-Bondzie found a number of Afrobeat and Instrumental masterpieces tracks from the label’s mid-70s golden age that, for one reason or another, had never been released. Those songs are included here for the first time. Sadly Essilfie-Bondzie passed away before the compilation was finished. But his legacy lives on in the extraordinary music that he gave to the world in his lifetime.

vinyl / CD

VA – Essiebons Special 1973-1984: Ghana Music Power House [AALP093]

Arp Frique – The Seed: Dedicated To Jesamy [CW004]

ARP FRIQUE - The Seed: Dedicated To Jesamy

Arp Frique’s second album on Colorful World, exploring the globe via a concoction of sounds that takes in disco, synth boogie, funk and the sounds of the Caribbean, West and East Africa. The result is an album that feels potently alive, sonically exploring the globe via a concoction of sounds that takes in disco, synth boogie, funk and the sounds of the Caribbean, West and East Africa. The album radiates the feeling of a lost gem, the kind that a crate digging aficionado may find in some far flung place that ends up with a re-release. Whilst Arp Frique expresses a real fondness for such classic sounds – “honestly I wouldn’t even know how to make modern stuff, I am stuck in the 70-80-90s and I love it there” – a tired exercise in retro nostalgia this isn’t. Instead, the album feels more like a fresh take on sounds that once ignited dance floors across the world.

vinyl / CD

Arp Frique – The Seed: Dedicated To Jesamy [CW004]

VA – New Horizons 2 [AFS051]

VARIOUS - New Horizons Vol 2

Following a definitive first volume jam-packed with forward-thinking musical talent working in the South African creative improvised music idiom, New Horizons returns with a fresh iteration of young artists who continue in the same tradition and tone. The compilation showcases recent recordings from 14 more leading lights in South Africa’s contemporary jazz scene: pianists Thembelihle Dunjana, Afrika Mkhize, Sibusiso ‘Mash’ Mashiloane, Blake Hellaby and Siphephelo Ndlovu’s The SN Project; saxophonists Sisonke Xonti, Muhammad Dawjee and Linda Sikhakhane; singer Spha Mdlalose; drummers Ayanda Sikade, Leagan Starchild and Tefo Mahola; and trumpeters Ndabo Zulu and Marcus Wyatt accompanied respectively by Umgidi Ensemble and The ZAR Jazz Orchestra. Together they form part of a vibrant, connected community charting new sonic territory that speaks to today’s troubled times while building on the country’s unique and proud jazz history.

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VA – New Horizons 2 [AFS051]

Okyerema Asante feat. Plunky – Drum Message [STRUT247]

ASANTE, Okyerema - Drum Message

Strut return to the rich archives of Black Fire Records for the ”Drum Message” album by Ghanaian master percussionist Okyerema Asante from 1977. Featuring members of Oneness Of Juju and Brian Jackson on piano.

vinyl / CD

Okyerema Asante feat. Plunky – Drum Message [STRUT247]

Amajika – Got My Magic Working [LCT007]

AMAJIKA - Got My Magic Working

Heavy South African cut, unearthed by Dene from La Casa Tropical. The origins of Amajika is a tale of two worlds colliding at the perfect moment and begin in KwaMushu Township outside Durban. Here would be where a young Tu Nokwe would set up a school to help teach other aspiring youngsters like herself in music, dance and acting. This would become known as the Amajika Youth and Children’s Art Project and would be run from the Nokwe home, a common hangout for artists at the time. Some boast 2000+ pupils going through this program while others claim it wasn’t more than a backyard dance group, but for the lucky group of kids that were members in the mid 80s it would be their chance at stardom. Fast forward 30 years from the original release to a smokey club where ESA hears Got My Magic Working played by Rush Hours Store’s own Bonnefooi. Instantly he inquires about the track from his homeland and feels it a perfect addition the repertoire of the Afro Synth band he is quietly cooking up. Here you have compiled the two title tracks from original Amajika singles along with the instrumental version by ESA’s Afro Synth Band.

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Amajika – Got My Magic Working [LCT007]

Afrobuddha – Obama / Zone [MYST012]

AFROBUDDHA - Obame/Zone

It’s a little unclear of the intentions behind London-based Japanese duo Afrobuddha’s name, but on their first release they were certainly working in collaboration with African musicians. Afrobuddha’s two previous 12”s came out in the first half of the last decade, and have since become highly sought after. Mysticisms now gathers the tracks together on this 12”, leading in with ‘Obame’, which was originally recorded with the Kakatsitsi Drummers in Accra, Ghana. Both the original and the dub mix channel a powerful Afrobeat flavour, with the source material from the Ghanaian singers and players front and centre of the mix. ‘Zone’ takes things back into a more club-oriented sphere, with plenty of synth layers and some nimble hand drumming from Davide Salvietti, which of course comes to the fore on the purely percussive ‘Drum Mix’.

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Afrobuddha – Obama / Zone [MYST012]

VA – Cameroon Garage Funk [AALP092]

VARIOUS - Cameroon Garage Funk

Analog Africa presents their 32nd compilation, “Cameroon Garage Funk”, highlighting Yaounde’s 1970’s underground music scene. The quest to assemble the puzzle-pieces of what seemed to be a long lost underground scene took us to Camroon, Benin and further on to Togo and it was in the cities of Cotonou, Lome and Sotouboua that we managed to lay our hands on most of the songs presented in this compilation. Since there were no local labels, no producers, and almost nothing in way of infrastructure in Cameroon at that time, the artists had to be everything: musician, producer, executive producer, arranger, financier, promoter and sometimes even distributor. The sixteen tracks on Cameroon Garage Funk pulse with raw inspiration and sweat DYI mood uniting the featured diverse musicians around their willingness to do everything themselves in order to take a chance in the music scene.

vinyl / CD

VA – Cameroon Garage Funk [AALP092]

Kumasi – Live at Marigny Studio [ZONE002]

KUMASI - Live At Marigny Studio

Kumasi, New Orleans’ own 14-piece Afrobeat orchestra, is back with their third LP and first live record. After two private-press releases, Kumasi is presenting Live at Marigny Studios to an international audience for the first time via Hiatt dB’s New Orleans-based Mystery Zone Records. Live at Marigny Studios, features 4 original compositions: jazz-centric interpretations of Fela’s classic form that incorporate rhythms and sentiments from New Orleans and the surrounding Afro-diaspora, namely Cuba, Haiti, and Brazil. It’s a bold effort that perfectly captures the infectious mix of heavy rhythms, spontaneous, improvisatory musicianship, and inclusive, participatory style that characterize Kumasi as a group, as well as Afrobeat as a whole.

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Kumasi – Live at Marigny Studio [ZONE002]

Teaspoon & The Waves – Teaspoon & The Waves [MRBLP225]

TEASPOON & THE WAVES - Teaspoon & The Waves (reissue)

Official replica re-issue of a South African jazz-funk rarity from Teaspoon & The Waves. Released in 1977 on Soul Jazz Pop, a subsidiary label of Mavuthela Music Company / Gallo, Teaspoon & The Waves’ self-titled album is an absolute masterpiece. Best known for the song ‘Oh Yeh Soweto’, which is an astonishing adaptation of Lamont Dozier’s anthem ‘Going Back to My Roots’, this track has become a contemporary underground club classic in recent times and has been featured in sets from a cross-section of DJs.  ‘Saturday Express’ is a jazz-funk/disco stomper which will soon be lighting up dancefloors again. ‘Wind and Fire’ is true afro-jazz-funk excellence, with great spacey synths and reggae-inspired guitar grooves riding throughout. The opener, ‘Friday Night’, also has a slightly reggae-tinged tropical groove, whilst ‘Got Me Tight’ finishes off the session with a feel-good jazz-funk workout that features cool, quirky, Patrick Adams-esque synths.

vinyl / CD

Teaspoon & The Waves – Teaspoon & The Waves [MRBLP225]

Nahawa Doumbia – Kanawa [ATFA039]

DOUMBIA, Nahawa - Kanawa

Nahawa Doumbia’s new album Kanawa concisely captures this current moment in Malian history. The singer, whose storied career spans more than four decades, reflects on the immigration crisis from the Malian perspective in the title of her new album Kanawa. Across eight songs recorded in Bamako with a band including traditional and modern instruments, Doumbia merges her early work that relied on a spare expression of her trademark didadi rhythm with the bombastic range of contemporary Malian pop. The beautifully complex musical accompaniment that results is courtesy of the large ensemble she pulled together with producer and arranger (and day one collaborator) N’gou Bagayoko. The band features two highly expressive Malian string instruments, the ngoni and the slightly smaller kamalé ngoni, as well as a variety of percussion, drum programming, karignan (a metal scraper) and acoustic and electric guitars. Doumbia weaves together a roadmap of her psyche when it comes to the good and bad life has to offer. She talks about marriage and women leaving home to join another through the metaphor of a tree in the garden; she includes gunshot samples in the song “Foliwilen” to honor the bravery of hunters, soldiers and other courageous people; she uses a bird in “Djougoh” to talk about lazy people; and, in “Ndiagneko” she advises people to ignore critics, just do you. Mali has gone through an intense period of regional strife and terrorist incidents over the last ten years and Doumbia roots the album in tragic local concerns with deep global implications.

The meaning of Kanawa is so simple. We see our children trying to cross the ocean all the time. I said that many of our children die in the ocean and some of them die while crossing the Sahara. But I ask them why do they leave their country? They said that they leave because of the family situation or problems like poverty and unemployment. I ask them to stay and work in their country. I call on the UN and African leaders so that we can coordinate our efforts to find a solution, to create jobs for them so that young people stop leaving. That’s why I chose it as the title of my album so that everybody can learn from it and also so that there is a reduction in the number of people emigrating. So that some will hear the message and stay home and grow the land. Leaving is not the only solution. My message is to help the youth find jobs.

vinyl / cassette / CD

Nahawa Doumbia – Kanawa [ATFA039]

Alostman – Kologo [STRUT234]

ALOSTMEN - Kologo

Strut present the brand new album from Alostmen, led by Stevo Atambire, a band at the forefront of kologo music in Ghana. Formed by Stevo and Wanlov The Kubolor (Fok’n Bois) at the suggestion of co-producer Percy Yip Tong, Alostmen’s music is based around the Frafra traditions of the kologo, a stringed lute and uses purely traditional instrumentation in entirely new ways. “I always like to do something “out” withmy instrument, I like to force it to work,” explains Stevo. “I’m a yout’man and into different kinds of music: commercial, rap music, reggae, Malian sounds. I add all of it to the band’s sound in different ways.” Wanlov continues, “The kologo is traditionally played a certain way but Stevo will play it at the shortest end of bridge and accentuate, almost Hendrix-style! He plays with a pedal sometimes and can keep it an octave down with a bass sound. He has evolved the instrument in his own way.”

vinyl / CD

Alostman – Kologo [STRUT234]

VA – Out of Addis [SHBLP001]

VARIOUS - Out Of Addis

Presented in collaboration with Sheba Sound, and originally released on the ‘Eastern Connections’ this compilation was Paradise Bangkok’s first foray into East African music. This album presents a selection of contemporary recordings from Ethiopia, an ancient country where incredible musical traditions have been brewing for centuries, unbeknownst to much of the Western world. The Horn of Africa nation is most often associated with the famous Ethio-Funk sounds produced during the latter years of the Imperial era, which lasted until 1974. But in this defiant culture – Ethiopia was the only African state never to be colonised by Western powers – the golden age for music never ended, despite decades of war and social upheaval. Ethiopia is home to over 80 ethnic groups, each with its own deep-rooted language and culture. Contemporary musicians living outside Addis Abeba, the capital, have little opportunity to record their mesmerizing sounds. Sheba Sound is redressing this by recording and releasing high-end audio music of local stars. So far, Sheba Sound have recorded more than 25 groups in ‘pop-up’ studios across Ethiopia.

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VA – Out of Addis [SHBLP001]