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Orlando Julius with the Heliocentrics, Jaiyede Afro

2014 | Label: Strut / !K7 Records

As Nigerian musicians go, Orlando Julius might not be as recognizable a name as Fela Kuti, but that has less to do with the quality of his output than the scarcity of it. He had an important hand in shaping the emerging fusion of Nigerian highlife and American R&B in the mid ’60s, followed by an unofficial status as an ambassador of that sound — now called Afrobeat — during an extended American tenure in ’70s. But the sax maestro and bandleader put out only a handful of albums that… more »

Kasai Allstars, Beware the Fetish

2014 | Label: Crammed Discs / A Train

The fifth release in Crammed Discs’ Congotronics series challenges listeners to expand their boundaries and get down with the brutal sound of multiple electric likembés, the overdriven and distorted thumb pianos first recorded in 1978 by Konono No. 1. Where Konono consisted of members of the Kinshasa-based Bazombo tribe, the Kasai Allstars, who made their 2008 debut on Crammed’s In the 7th Moon, the Chief Turned Into a Swimming Fish and Ate the Head of His Enemy by Magic, consist of 15 musicians from five different bands and as many… more »

Meridian Brothers, Salvadora Robot

2014 | Label: Soundway Records / Believe Digital

Every song on Salvadora Robot, the new album from the spirited Colombian band Meridian Brothers, abounds with what sounds like dozens of musical parts fighting for space. Though “fighting” is too harsh a word for it — every sound seems to be wiggling, shaking and shimmying at once. The result is densely kinetic music that glows with effervescence and ease.

“Somos Los Residentas” tumbles through flurries of horns, acres of percussion and vocals that emerge in frantic blurts. It’s as if Talking Heads were sped up two or three times… more »