Paraphrasing the Soul Sonic Force and sorting through today`s releases for tunes that could have graced Alfie & Leo`s Amnesia dance floor.
Starting with the compilations. Studio Mule have called on legendary Japanese DJ, vinyl digger, and dealer – via his Ondas Music site – Dubby, for their second volume of Midnight In Tokyo. Impossible to find “Nippon No” Boogie, City Pop, and Fusion, chosen by someone who definitely knows. Personal favourites are the gentle, sun-soaked Exotica of Today`s Latin Project`s Danza Lucumi and Shigeru Suzuki`s cute duet, On The Coast.
While Augusto Olivani and Millos Kaiserhas AKA Selvagem have been busy with Optimo, creating Selva Discos, Millos has also complied Onda De Amor: Synthesized Brazilian Hits That Never Were (1984-94) for Soundway. “Pop” obscurities that eluded the Brazilian charts, and have remained similarly hidden from DJs and collectors. Until now. Vania Bastos` cover of Sade`s Sweetest Taboo is likely enough to make any “Balearic Head” fork out, but Andre Melo`s strange, Electro ballad – which gives the comp its title, and Ricardo Bomba`s coconut shell-percussed Voce Vai Se Lembrar are also essentials. Rosana Mendes And Grupo Veneno take a shot at Reggae, employing timbales and accordion. Ending up with something that could pass for Lena d`agua`s Danca Cominga. Regiao Abissal`s Feminina Mulher sounds like Mtume juicy-fruiting Teddy P`s Love T.K.O. While Grupo Controle Digital`s Zouk-y party tune, a Festa E Nossa, was a highlight on Simon “Faze Action” Lee`s recent mix for Ban Ban Ton Ton.
Jim Breese`s Balearic series reaches volume 4. A smart selection that includes music from Aficionado (Simon Peter), Osaka`s Em (Emerson Kitamura), NuNorthern Soul (Private Agenda), Phantom Island (Kay Zee), and Wonderful Sound (J-Walk). From Hell Yeah! there`s ambience, care of Max Essa and Gallo (the comp is currently the only place to get that Fabrizio Mammarella remix of Faron on vinyl). There`s Joe Morris` Italian homage, via Pleasure Unit, and Quinn Luke`s Willow Man-inspired blue-eyed Soul. New to me were Max Manetti`s mix of Happy Mondays and Mediterranean House (licensed from Uber), and Robot 84`s fine slice of Cantoma-esque Flamenco dance. The mysterious Los Twangueros also supply a nice cover of Paco De Lucia`s classic Entre Dos Aguas, which receives an Adrian Sherwood / ON-U Sound dub.
From comps to reissues, and new Austrian label, Edition Hawara, have Zenit`s Straight Ahead. Privately-pressed Jazz-Funk from 1986, that will appeal to fans of Seawind, Señora and Unlimited Source. Slapped basses. Keyboard wizardry. Dub trickery. Axe and sax solos. Ballads and Latin dancers. The album`s Pop lyrics and melodies making for a crossover to the Balearic crowd. Assisted by flashes of Spanish guitar. The standout`s possibly the ambient intro`d finger-snapping, Waitin`. Which struts and strips off in the manner of Fandam`s Juices.
Another new label, Vive La Musique, select the brass-constructed, string and sunshine-soaked Tabala Mouv. Just one track lifted from a ten LP-strong set of French Zouk issued in 1986. I guess we need to watch this space.
Best Record Italy continue to produce limited runs of the cream of the country`s Boogie and Disco. Pick of the latest batch, for me, is Oro`s Sexy Lady / Stop The War. One side sounding like it could well have been a source of inspiration for Nu Guinea`s Nuova Napoli. The horny, rubber band Funk of the other must have featured in a Daniele Baldeii set. Originally on 7, back in 1977, Best Record located the master-tapes and have restored full length recordings to a 12.
Also with a touch of the Italo`s, Be With Records sign up their second sortie from John Rocca`s Pink Rhythm project. Following Melodies Of Love with the lesser known India. A downtempo Pop Fusion seduction from 1985, that explodes in a burst of Bossa guitar and displays of synthetic twilight fireworks. Assisted rhythmically by the thunder thumbs of Level 42`s Mark King.
Maya`s Lait De Coco is cool sought after laid-back French Pop from 1987, that got a nice edit a couple of years ago. Now legitimately pressed to a 10” by Attic Salt. Written by Christophe Laurent, it`ll slot in right alongside your Alec Mansion.
Emotional Rescue-d from 1990 is Paul Chivers / Ramjac Corporation`s Proto-Hardore smash, Cameroon Massif. Originally released by Techno oddballs, Iridal (check their LP, Recordings Of Shortwave Numbers Stations) its detuned 808 toms and chants set ravers Warrior Dance-ing to Massive Sounds. Its Tribal House part The Holy Ghost`s The Word, Renegade Soundwave`s The Phantom, No Smoke`s Koro Koro, and Bobby Konder`s Maasai Women. Birdsong samples mixed with the ON-U Sound of Stebeni`s Theme. The tune`s taken further into the extraordinary by a Sun Ra-inspired, improvised electric piano solo. It must surely be a touchstone for DJ Sotofett and the Sex Tags crew.
For new, new music, Greece`s Anatolian Weapons deliver Black Sea, an E.P. of Trance dances and pounding, psychedelic marches, for now Washington-based Lurid Music. Percussion and electronics rattle. Low-ends buzz, throb, and border on acidic. Its four tracks of sleazy, dark, exotic, raw analogue EBM coupling large Diskant / Durian Brothers rhythms to African and Middle-Eastern vocals. Drawing on Greece`s cosmopolitan heritage. The peoples of Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Bangladesh, Biafra, Bulgaria, Congo, Georgia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Romania, Senegal, Syria, Turkey, and Zambia, who have sought shelter in the cradle of Western civilisation. Outernational meltdowns, yours for a dollar. With all proceeds donated to the charity, Humanity Crew with the aim of providing aid to the country`s refugee population.
L.A.`s Daniel T. cites sunflowers, roller-skates, and East Hollywood street names on his long-player, Heliotrope, for New York`s Cascine. The label specialises in Modern Pop, and Mr. T. generally adheres to that template. There`s an `80s influence but it`s beefed up and upgraded. Call Me`s kinda Cyndi Lauper via Molly Nilsson. Time After Time on the American Express. Moonlight Bounce polishes Nu Shooz. Back Again is chugging sing-a-long Italo. Mopedbart going Ace Of Bass skanking. Master Plan`s Electro-Funk combines half-sung / half-chanted vocals and a Tackhead b-line in a dance that`s caught between Baker`s Breakers Revenge and McLaren`s Duck Rock. Drum machines back gentle vocodered Latino shuffles, and kick irresistible fidgets behind Jazz men scatting. They thud to Kosmische oscillations. Mutate into the thrust of a Trans-Europe Express attempting warp-speed. There are interludes of birdsong, a Dub take on Tatsuro Yamashita`s City Pop classic, Windy Lady. Breathless Lovers in the mode of Major Force`s rework of Rita Wright`s Touch Me, Take Me Rare Groove. Heat-wave, sharing a title with Daniel`s NTS radio show and weekly party, could be Sorcerer doing Phoenix. If you dig Shy Layers, you should take a listen.
Also out of L.A., Dam Funk releases a quartet of tunes, designed to further illustrate his “Glydezone” aesthetic. The vinyl for Architecture II being handled by Spanish label, Saft. The slower tracks are born at an intersection between Electro, `80s R&B, and Detroit Techno. But it`s the two House cuts that leap out. Don`t Give Up sounds like Mandre meeting Jun Fukamachi. Damon`s Garrett alias taken dancing. In The City heads for Chicago, and makes like Larry Heard and Marshall Jefferson vamping on Ten City`s Right Back To You.
Yarra River`s #Lucky #Boy E.P. seems a good fit for Parisians, Antinote. For starters, Respiration Alternee delivers its instructions en Francais, as it builds House from military snares, Ambient pads, and choirs of gated angels. Space Geko`s alien rainforest pokes out its tongue and emits whistles and rattles that recall label-mate Dominique Dumont. Sli Ggogg punctuates a dubbed-out chug – beats and tabla getting Soul II Soul bogle-ing – with strange horns and voices. Not unlike Alek Lee.
Lastly there`s Local Artist on Mood Hut. The more dance-floor orientated alter-ego of Ian Wyatt AKA Slow Riffs. Filtered kicks excuse-me with sub-aquatic b-lines. Jazzy keys, and funky grunts and shrieks. Disco loops and drums tumbling through Tubby`s Hi-Fi dubwise. To my ears, dans-le-mode of the classic “French Touch” of Super Discount`s Le Patron Est Devenu Fou. With Cecil McBee doing Expansions, and Prince on the telephone.
Zenit – Waitin` – Edition Hawara
Vania Bastos – Tabu – Soundway
Shigeru Suzuki – On The Coast – Studio Mule
Anatolian Weapons – Zanka – Lurid Music
Ambala – Morning Lights – Music For Dreams
Rosana Mendes And Grupo Veneno – Reague – Soundway
Tabala Mouv – Tabala Mouv – Vive La Musique
Oro – Stop The War – Best Record Italy
Daniel T – Back Again – Cascine
Robot 84 – San Vorera (Breese Edit) – Balearic
Yarra River – Respiration Alternee – Antinote
Dam Funk – In The City – Saft
Local Artist – Dancer – Mood Hut
Ramjac Corporation – Cameroon Massif – Emotional Rescue
Zenit – Come On And Try – Edition Hawara
Todays Latin Project – Danza Lucumi – Studio Mule
Maya – Lait De Coco (Dub) – Attic Salt
Pink Rhythm – India (Instrumental) – Be With Records
Los Twangueros – Entre Dos Aguas (ON-U Dub) – Balearic