Bongo Joe’s All-time Favorites: Now

· by Rupert Bottenberg

If there’s a common thread running through the releases on the feverishly eclectic, routinely revelatory Swiss label Bongo Joe, it’s that something’s always just a little bit off, and usually in just the right way. Yours for a single Euro, or more if you’re generous, this label sampler slaps the listener with something different at every turn – occasionally vexing, far more frequently gratifying. One gets the impression this comp was thrown together on impulse and in haste (the cover art is a clue), driven by the anxious zeitgeist, but it doesn’t lack for noteworthy content.

The Mauskovic Dance Band’s “Weather” and Yīn Yīn’s “Pingpxng” each show a chiller side to two of the label’s most prominent acts, their sinuously groovy neo-exotica, frantic danger-disco, and exospheric dub-rock resolving themselves well at room temperature. Hyperculte are here as well, with the woozy, characteristically inscrutable “Penser Ensemble”. A Turkish quotient is covered by the trippy disco-folk of Altin Gün and Derya Yıldırım & Grup Şimşek, as well as the morbid, staggering post-punk of Lalalar’s “Isyanlar”.

Al Doum & The Faryds ’s frenzied “Satieva” is an asteroid collision of cosmic jazz and acid rock, Mameen 3’s “Jahrab” an electro-reggae novelty, while “Be Thankful” is one of Bostonian electro-hippie The Space Lady’s endearingly homemade signals to the stars above. On the acoustic porch-jam side of things, Malawian duo Madalitso proffer the sunny shuffler “Wasalala”, and Madagascar’s Damily let the hectic, vertiginous “Havandra” off its leash.

There’s more where that all came from, including “Atlantis”, a slippery slice of phase-shifting mystery Moog pop from Switzerland’s L’Eclair, teasing their upcoming EP Noshtta. And more still, if you grab this compilations sibling, Bongo Joe’s All-time Favorites : Reissues. Reflecting the other side of the Bongo Joe operation, it’s a loot bag full of quirky tropical flavours from decades past.

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