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Mr Bongo presents...Various-The Original Sound of Mali

Despite being one of the poorest nations on earth, coupled with the strife of religious war and restraint, the Malian people have always risen above - not least through their rich musical heritage. This 13-song album offers many of those ground-breakers of the last 50 years, expertly chosen by Dave Buttle of Mr Bongo Records along with a pillar of Malian music, Vik Sohonie. The importance of the guitar, intense percussive rhythm and call-and-response vocals is the backbone to this period. The influence of Cuba can not be underestimated as is evident through Les Ambassadeurs du Motel de Bamako:o on stellar form for both 'Tiécolom-Ba' and 'Fatema'. The other of these two leading bands to have a large following, The Rail Band  have a slice of James Brown Funk via 'Mouodil' included. This outfit also gave greater exposure to  what was to emerge as Mali's best-known singer since the '70s: Salif Keita, (later controversially joining Les Ambassadeurs). Here, Keita also appears in solo form on an anthemic piece called 'Mandjou' as muted trumpet and guitar solos surround his soaring voice. The Mande language is prominent throughout in addition to the many traditional instruments exclusive to the nation - (the beauty of the balafon comes to the fore on Zani Diabaté's 'Fadinga Kouma'.) Discover the untainted sounds from that most fertile musical landscape that is Mali.

Jeb Loy Nichols-Country Hustle

Jeb Loy's got the Funk...the Soul and the Country , to boot.

A unique (and questionable) fusion, one might think, however, Wyoming-born Mr Nicholls is an artist who seems to have no peers by producing this 12-track long-player.

Following the release of three singles and a mini album, (some of which are included here), there is a common theme of the raw and the cool coming together - instrumentally through the weight of the bass-guitar - which is evident through single 'Katie Blue' and the mid-tempo 'Don't Drop Me'.  Not afraid to blend the acoustic with the electronic, 'Long Live the Loser' deals with the plight of the average person while rhythm guitar scats throughout. There is even time for a brave twist to Luther's 'Never Too Much'. If pushed to select an essential, 'Til the Teardrops Stop' is pure positivity: guitar, bass, drums and ethereal keyboards supporting a delectable melody and vocal. Lyrically and sonically, this represents a raw and refreshing approach to songriting and expression - and without pretence. A big record awaits you in March 2017...

The Brothers Nylon-Bitches Cold Brew

Part 'No-Wave' era James Chance and the Contortions, thrown in with the comic Funk of the Cuban Brothers, and topped off with a touch of Frank Zappa and mid-1970s Roy Ayres - this is a good time to release such avant (and post) garde, all-embracing music. Michael and Nick Rufolo from New York take charge of rhythm, strings and horns whilst London-based master-of-all-trades, Shawn Lee does the same on guitars, keys and percussion, completing the trio. Herein is another collection of ten songs of splendid composition and serious musicianship, counter-weighed by humorous lyrics and contrasting vocal deliveries: nowhere better exemplified on the Middle-Eastern Funk-Rock of 'Selfie Stick'. The madness begins with 'Khaleesi' as Funk drips through the middle of a frantic Larry Graham-like vocal from Shawn. A unique stamp of alternative Soul fills (just about) the best piece from the genre you may hear in 2017 on the album via 'All Man Milk'. 'Cous Cous' sets up as a piece of reflection before a sudden change in mood and purpose. Signing us off is the extended departure of 'Rockwell Welch' from string-led instrumental Soul to  swingtime rhythm and back to laconic beats and melodic treats. The climax of the year so far. Out now.

Dokta Venom-Mood Swings (EP)

As one of the pillars of Far Out Recordings and the scion of a rather important songwriter, guitarist and producer Daniel Maunick puts on his modern-dancefloor hat.

As Dokta Venom, there have already been EP releases on Five Fold Records, including the melodic dovetailing of plucking bass, electric piano and a unique kick-drum sound on 'Space Dust': the influence of latter-day Azymuth present.  Here, it is another four-tracker tempting us into a hybrid of Deep House and Tech-Soul. The lure of Daniel's drum progamming (that bass drum has impact but is not dominant), especially evident on the highlight 'See the Sun'. That afore-mentioned kick drum on 'I Owe U Something' embellishes a couple of vocal loops that soar over a synthesised builder: skipping beats and drum rolls stretch it over 7 minutes. 'Soul Crush' is the most straight-forward dance-floor orientated of the gathering. The kind of soulful instrumental which may have been produced in the gap between the eras of Electro and House. All together, an array of different dancefloor gems for mature feet. Out now.


Janka Nabay & the Bubu Gang-Build Music (EP)

After a near-30 year existence as a record label, David Byrne's Luaka Bop continues to showcase the global past-and-present of music talent, the world-over.  Nabay became a star of electronic 'Bubu' music back home in Sierra Leone but was soon forced to escape to the US from his homeland’s explosive civil war in the 1990s. Bubu, to new ears, can perhaps be compared to the spirit of Hi-life. As a harbinger of what's to come on this new album project, there are now two singles available, taking Janka's sound to new audiences. 'Game Ova' is frantic and minimal as the bass guitarist earns his keep at 170-plus bpm, beneath a hypnotic keyboard. 'Santa Monica' is slightly slower, with a female chorus supporting Mr Nabay's call-and response. Blissful message music deserving of the wider-world's attention. 'Build Music' is out at the end of March.

Various-Running the Voodoo Down

April will see the release of a timely, 2 CD/vinyl release, reflecting a revolutionary period in the history of Rock and Funk.

Australia's Festival Records plays host to 23 songs from that boundary-breaking late '60s-'70s period. Funk, as a musical entity, had become fully formed through its main protagonist, James Brown, while San Franciscan DJ and producer Sly Stone and his multi-ethnic band looked beyond confines with Funk as its bedrock. In turn, the mixed-ethnicity of Jimi Hendrix influenced his unique place in the Rock world: likewise having a considerable knock-on impact on Funk and Jazz. George Clinton's vehicles for his eclectic, embracing approach to the genres completed the picture.The results of these pillars' standing in music is well-represented on 'Running the Voodoo Down'. Herbie's Headhunters stepped out on their own for the most memorable release 'If You Got it, You'll Get It', Sly's meandering 'Thank You for Talking to Mr Africa', driven by Larry Graham's slap-&-pop bass guitar, Parliament's seminal 'Maggot Brain' is here in edited form; the late Eddie Hazel's solo is an important as it was then. Santana ignites Miles Davis' 'In a Silent Way' live at the Fillmore in 1972.

Izzi Dunn-Belong

What a pleasure to see such an underrated and much-respected performer back with a new collection. A cellist, singer, songwriter, once part of the Alternative Soul/Broken Beat hierarchy - from solo to her work with I G Culture and Bugz in the Attic, she produced an exceptional LP, 'The Big Picture', back in 2013, which continued the high standards she had already set.

The samples available for 2017's effort hint at another musically rich and soulful journey, accompanied by profound songs. Preceding the release of 'Recycle Love' comes one that resonates: a string-led affair with the cello to the fore, Izzi combines simplicity and impact. A deeply meaningful piece is topped off with an effortless vocal delivery, of which similarities can only brought to that of Alice Russell. The album is out soon. In the meantime, enjoy the video accompanying the single on the picture link.


Christian Prommer (feat. Adriano Prestel)-Tin Man (Remixes)

A man for all seasons, whether it be at the cutting edge of Twisted House; shining a different torch on Drum & Bass with Fauna Flash, forming part of the Nu-Jazz movement, Herr Prommer has tended to deliver over the last 25 years. A regular host to his career has been Compost Records, the platform for 'Tin Man'. The title tune gets a former-colleague remix from Mr Trueby and current team member Corrado Bucci (aka Truccy) on what feels like Victor Davies' Compost Records output 15 years ago: sunshine, Soul/Soulful House. RJ's remix puts the accompanying music into a contrasting key to the vocal on a Nu-Boogie angle with enough changes to keep even a May fly attentive. Richard Dorfmeister teams up with Stefan Obermaier for an ambient 4/4 track as plenty of electronic percussion accompanies reverb and delay over nearly 5 minutes. Max Joseph is one of two parties to take another look at 'Aturo'. The percussion is stripped to the minimal, drawing out a loop of the rhythm guitar from the original, taking it to a euphoric place. Chris Wood and Meat's interpretation is beefier, riding a riff, adding a few claps and other touches and driving it up and down. 'Beautiful' is represented by the Tech-House builder from Skyboy as it undulates over 9', giving the vocal Soul room to breathe. Out now.

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