Senta Lain - Michel OngaroHippo Records
Senta Lain are a great band from Kenya who were formed by blind band leader Michel Ongaru 8 years ago. Michel is a multi-instrumentalist and plays harmonica, guitar, flute, drums, marimba and piano. Musically the band combine a wide range of influences and cultures which include Kenyan benga and soukous styles with gospel and Cuban Son. Very good.
Graham Radley, 05/09
Sepalot - Red HandedCompost Records
Hailing from Germany, DJ/Producer Sepalot showcases a global presence on his third release “Red Handed”. Sepalot creates a hip hop album that provides plenty of funk, a slew of talented vocalists, a dose of electronica and much more. “She Likes Me” is a definite party banger that features Detroit’s Frank Nitti of Frank n Dank. Rapper Blu is enlisted for the irresistibly funky “Surrender”. Fellow German native Esther Adams, who has worked with Sepalot on her own solo project blesses the track “Liquid Embrace” with her soft buttery voice. On “Jump” Olivier Day Soul sounds like a young Bootsy Collins as he croons over this funky track. He also returns on the soulful “Lights” which is one of the best tracks on the disc. With seventeen tracks, the disc began to loose some momentum. The omission of two or three tracks would’ve made this a much stronger record. Having said that, “Red Handed” is an enjoyable disc that displays the beat making prowess of Sepalot and will undoubtedly expand him to a wider audience.
Reg Dancy, 08/08
Seravince - Hear To SeeMoovmnt
Many of you may remember Vincent Helbers aka Seravince from his band Flowriders. While his 2007 release “R.U.E.D.Y.” was a soul infused broken beat treat, his latest project “Hear to See” is a mellow jazz flavored soulful Aphrodisiac. Helbers creates warm intense compositions while drummer Richard Spaven provides shivering jazzy rhythms throughout this set. If that wasn’t enough Vocalist Renee Neufville’s deep tone heightens the mood on several tracks here, especially “Perfect Stranger” and “World Won’t Stop”. MC/Vocalist Esperanzah seductive wordplay is “Rika” is another highlight. “High” is a funky number aided by the vocals of Sharlene Hector. This is one of those soulful treats that will ease into your system with little effort. Don’t try to fight it, just sit back and enjoy it.
Reg Dancy, 03/13
Serge Gamesbourg - Boston Goes Disco!BBE
"Boston Goes Disco" is a deep drive into the underground world of late 70s early 80s Boston Disco. Boston native DJ/Producer Serge Gamesbourg shines a light on forgotten tunes from Massachusetts. Among this 20 track release are a few notable selections. "All In Good Time" by Wildlife is your typical blueprint disco number with swirling strings and a funky groove. Gamesbourg's edit of funky bass driven "I'm Gonna Get You" is a highlight. The Christopher Michael Band's "You Make Me Happy" bridges the gap between funk and Disco. Gamesbourg's edits and reworks breathes new life into these tunes. For Disco afficionados you'll certainly find some gems throughout this disc.
Reg Dancy, 10/18
Setsubun - Bean UnitAccidental Records
How to classify ? it’s a folked up jazz, fired by dubby brass meets electro type thingy really. Formed by three members of Bellowhead, plus Japanese musicians and the Bon dancers, it’s a wildly different sound that’s often challenging but if we wanted safe we can find enough cans of mediocrity on the shelves can’t we ? Terrific.
Graham Radley, 02/08
Seu Jorge & Roge - Night Dreamer Direct to Disc SessionsNight Dreamer
Seu Jorge & Roge have built a friendship going back 25 years. Although they grew up together in Rio De Janeiro and wrote songs they've never recorded together until now. Due to scheduling conflicts they didn't have time for rehearsing so the recording for this duet was done in one session. Based on the results that's all they needed. This stripped down acoustic recording is accompanied by two percussionists, Peu Meurray and Pretinho da Serrinha. Roge's falsetto vocals lead off on "Meu Brasil" followed by Jorge's regal baritone against the backdrop of sweeping brushes and percussion. Their vocals intertwine seamlessly on "Pra Voce Amigo". "Onda Carioca" is a festive composition with a tasty guitar groove that culminates the recording. Seven splendid songs performed by two of Brazil's finest vocalists. A delightful album that shouldn’t be missed.
Reg Dancy, 02/20
Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 - From Africa With Fury RiseKnitting Factory Records / Because Music
Seun Kuti follows up his 2008 debut “Many Things” with the powerful “From Africa With Fury Rise”. Seun has taken songs he has performed live into the studio and with the help of highly acclaimed producers Brian Eno and John Reynolds has composed one of the strongest albums of the year. This seven track release contains all the essential ingredients to the Afrobeat sound; blistering horns, infectious percussion and a nonstop funky groove. Of course it’s not just about the music, for all the lyrics pack a powerful punch with the intent to inspire the people of Adrica who continue to suffer from mental and physical abuse. Take “Africa Soldier”, the opening track kicks off with a long instrumental before Seun sings about how the African soldier gets into Politics and wants to remain in power, not to help his people but to empower himself. On “You Can Run”, Seun’s message to the oppressors is that you can’t outrun the beatings and betrayal you have piled on our people. “Rise” finds Seun imploring his people to rise above the injustices that for years have shackled his people. Seun follows in the footsteps of his father to spread the message of fighting the system yet succeeds by carving out his own style. This is essential listening that will make you stand up and move to the groove and hopefully stand up for what’s right.
Reg Dancy, 05/11
Sevda - Gul Acdi - A Flower In BloomNetwork
Another terrific Network discovery, this time from Azerbaijan and with a voice, that is beautiful, moving and deeply expressive. Listen to 'Alvida' seven minutes of emotive expression with just piano and voice and the pain of separation, then listen to 'Goy-Gol' and you've got a romping Azeri salsa track or 'Mahur' a classical Mugham improvisation with tar, kemancha and voice or the CD closer 'Lolo, Lolo' which takes us at speed through African, flamenco and Afro-Cuban rhythms. Top stuff.
Graham Radley, 08/07
Shafiq Husayn - The LoopEglo
Laid back psychedelic California soul courtesy of Shafiq Husayn, one third of Sa-Ra Creative Partners. "The Loop" is filled with breezy melodic compositions he's worked on over the past decade. Shafiq has assembled a number of notable collaborators to raise his tracks to another level. Vocalist Jimetta Rose co-wrote and performed on a number of songs here but the breezy jazz infused "May I Assume" featuring fellow vocalist Fatima is a standout. Other highlights include "It's Better For You" featuring the infectious raspy vocals of Anderson Paak. Hiatus Kiayote's poly-rhythmic sound fits like a glove on "Cycles". Despite the A-list of guests it's the sonic brew of musical styles molded into an eclectic soulful sound that makes Shariq's music so joyful and addictive. Long overdue but definitely worth the wait.
Reg Dancy, 05/19
Shankar Mahadevan - Introducing: The Voice Of India TodaySaregama
I've been playing this more & more over the past few weeks, a special priced double CD from one of India's most popular contemporary singers. Classically trained but not afraid to collaborate or bring his excellent voice to other styles, he's been the regular singer for A.R. Rahman and worked with John McClaughlin in the reformed Shakti. Also includes a video of his 1998 hit 'Breathless' Superb.
Graham Radley, 12/06