For August, we have selected another 10 records from the shelves of our friends at Two Side Records store in Bucharest. This time with a focus on Soundway Records.
A British independent label founded in 2002 by Dj and collector Miles Cleret, Soundway Records started its activity by publishing African, Caribbean, Latin, and Asian music from the 1950s - 1980s. Since its first release with Ghana Sounds: Afrobeat, Funk & Fusion in '70s Ghana, the label drew the public attention with their music curation and a dedicated passion for digging lost songs. Labels such Soundway, Numero Group, or Light In The Attic do far more than license music. They function as music anthropologists, resurfacing forgotten music and grooves. In a world where loudness war is still in place, the dynamic of these reissued tracks is an air gap. The work put in licensing these old jams is hard and takes a lot of time. Think of the music in Ghana, for example, some of the artists featured on Soundway Records compilations needed to be approached directly and not through a label. And if licensing was not the only issue, think for a minute of the work put in listening, digging, and selecting the music that will be on a record again.
But Soundway is not only the home of compilations and rare music. Starting with 2012, the label developed a series of original contemporary releases. These include releases from acts such as Batida, Ibibio Sound Machine, Fumaca Preta, Ondatropica, Meridian Brothers, Bomba Estereo, Dexter Story, The Heliocentrics, The Mauskovic Dance Band and Lord Echo.
The first four releases selected from Two Sides Records shelves are coming from Soundway’s catalogue.
While you are reading, we recommend to tune in to our Spotify playlist where you will find a selection of tracks from this month records.
This year, New Zealand DJ collective Flamingo Pier (DJs Luke Walker, Dominic Jones, and Bradley Craig) returns to Soundway Records with their Indigo EP.
Their previous release, the eponymous Flamingo Pier EP in February 2019, was the beginning of their relationship with Soundway - garnering support from industry peers including Gilles Peterson, Tim Sweeney (Beats In Space), The Black Madonna, Gideon Coe, The Wire magazine, JD Twitch, and more.
Although the New Zealanders still prefer to play African percussion instruments like balafon and djembe, the disco impact is much stronger. Guitar, bass and vocals take up more space, and synthesizers fill up the rest.
The EP was recorded in Auckland and London over the course of 2019, with additional contributions from local New Zealand collaborators: percussionist Isaac Chadderton and brass player Finn Scholes.
Esa Williams partners with Soundway Records and curates the beautiful compilation Music to the people, released in September 2019 . The music selected for this release follows Esa musical journey from growing up in Cape Town during the end of apartheid to become a globetrotting artist.
Growing up in Cape Town, South Africa, during the last days of Apartheid, Esa recalls the immense power that music had in resisting oppression and division. “Amandla, Awethu”, which literally means “the power is ours”, was an ubiquitous chant echoing throughout the politically charged atmosphere of the time – a call to unite, and a call from which this release derives not only its title, but its intention as well.
Producer, engineer, and DJ, Lord Echo’s music imagines a world where reggae and rocksteady rub shoulders with Latin music, disco, African soul and techno. Announcing his third studio album Just Do You was release in 2016 as the first single from the upcoming “Harmonies”. This 12” has something for every occasion with two different vocals and a radical excursion into the realm of left field disco dub.
Last album selection from Soundway shelf at Two Sides Records is Hafa by iZem.
iZem is an acronym for In Ze Early Morning and stands for the work of a traveling French producer who dropped into Morocco to absorb some of the local sounds and work them into his own thing. Hafa is his debut album, and it evokes new days dawning in far-off lands and stirring horizons of the present. The music on the record applies a firmly digital dancefloor structure to the soulful exoticism and organic grooves of North Africa and Latin America alike.
Often writing music whilst crossing continents, the only place iZem allows dust to settle is in the heart, heat, and rhythms of his local-global future sounds. A decade of nomadism between Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Ireland, and Portugal made way for a series of critically acclaimed EP's and remixes for Soundway, GAMM, Far Out, Agogo, ZZK records, Wah Wah 45s, and Mais Um Discos. Arrival on the global, forward-thinking, artistically leftfield scene was predicted by Gilles Peterson, XLR8R, Okay Player, and fellow tropical hed Quantic.
The description of this Ep could have been a really short one: Father and son, Joe and Neil Arthur (aka Kincaid and Blancmange), recorded Big Fat Head. In my case, this would have been enough to keep me near the speakers and listen the entire release.
Released in 2019 by the German label Disco Halal, Big Fat Head has the orignila track and 4 other versions – club mic, dub mix, instrumental, and a remix by Moscoman & Trikk's Nucat. The Nucat Remix by Disco Halal head honcho Moscoman collaborating with Portuguese musician Trikk takes the track on a different slant by adding further percussion and experimental effects which lift the track even further. A new bassline is introduced which rises and falls in tone alongside a vocoder vocal and fluttering key changes.
Being considered as one of the key figures of the new generation of up and coming beat producers from Germany, Bluestaeb was influenced by Pete Rock, J Dilla, and Kaytranada. His production is an unusual display of versatility, ranging from classic BoomBap to synth to 808-based beats.
Bluestaeb marked his debut at Jakarta Records with Rodalquilar. The album will take you on a journey through the Spanish town of Rodalquilar, where Bluestaeb spent some of his childhood in his parents’ house. The release aims to embrace the surrounding atmosphere by including sound drafts, samples, and ideas collected throughout his stay there.
This album could easily be included in the playlist of any August playlist. It is pure fire.
The British progressive jazz trio GoGo Penguin released their latest album via Blue Note Records. The fifth self-entitled album is following GoGo Penguin’s critically acclaimed 2018 release A Humdrum Star. The Washington Post called the release “the group’s most hypnotic recording yet,” while NPR invited them to perform three songs from A Humdrum Star at a Tiny Desk Concert.
The self-titled album delivers a captivating mix of classical instrumentation with contemporary, electronic-inspired arrangements in their continued efforts to further expand the already-complex jazz genre into the 2020s. The group manages to create an incredible and mysterious atmosphere that will make you want to listen over and over again.
Plunky & Oneness of Juju is the name of a rhythm & blues-African-jazz-funk band from Richmond, Virginia, U.S.A. The group, originally known as Juju, was founded in San Francisco in 1971 and has continued to evolve for over 30 years, performing and recording with changes in personnel and under different group names, but always led by J. Plunky Branch.
Strut presents a brand new edition of Oneness of Juju’s Afro-jazz classic ‘African Rhythms’, originally released on Black Fire in 1975 and first reissued on Strut in 2002.
This album is a powerful mix of Afrobeat, soul, jazz, and funk - alternating vocal tracks with jazz instrumentals, all held together under the leadership of sax player Plunky Nakabinde.
For bandleader James “Plunky” Branch, ‘African Rhythms’ marked a significant return to his home town of Richmond, Virginia after a politically charged five years based on the East and West coasts. His personal journey had taken him from activism at Columbia University to San Francisco where Zulu musician Ndikho Xaba used theatre to “resurrect” Afro-Americans with a new African identity. The first incarnation of Plunky’s band, Juju, drew attention to the struggle in South Africa under apartheid, layering heavy Afro rhythms under uncompromising avant-garde jazz.
Lee Moses was an American R&B and soul singer and guitarist. Moses' guitar style has been described as funky and likened to that of Jimi Hendrix. In 1971 he released the album Time And Place, produced by Brantley, on Maple Records. It was recorded with a band consisting of members of The Ohio Players and another project of Moses, the band The Diciples. And yet it was Lee Moses himself, with his scratchy guitar riffs, throat-breaking voice, and upsetting mood, who created the unique mix of funk, soul, and R&B on this album.
After the LP did not sell as well as hoped, Moses went back to Atlanta. There he played again in different clubs, married twice, finally suffered from depressions, and became a drug addict. He died in 1997 at the age of 56 years. After his death, Time And Place became a much sought-after album for collectors, and over the years the cult around the record grew.
Yes sir, no selection without a reggae record. One of the pioneers of dancehall music in UK, Sugar Minott left a priceless legacy influenced by his home country beats and rhytms. Sugat Minott was immersed in the music by Coxsone Dodd, the famous record producer who established Studio One, the Jamaican legendary recording studio. Minott became so involved with the studio that at one moment he proclaimed himself as SOS1 - Son of Studio One.
His best know for his ability to rock rhymes that were taken form classic singles and re-invent them into his own songs. The record presents a selection of eary Sugar Minott recordings for Studio One, that you do not want to miss.