Austrian DJs and producers Makossa & Megablast hit big four years ago with their debut album Kanuaka, a wild, daring meld of club music and raw, authentic African rhythms — a superb dancefloor mix. They’ve taken their time over the follow up, and the thought shows. The title track has already been a huge Ibiza hit with its outsized, anthemic sound, but the rest of the record doesn’t try to repeat a winning formula. Instead, it throws the windows wide open and looks beyond Africa to the new territory of Latin and R&B with remarkable success.
Not that they ignore the base of their sound. It’s there on the bone-rattling “Wangu,” with Tony Allen, the man who powered Fela Kuti’s Afrobeat, behind the kit, adding his subtle bedrock of layered rhythms that propel the infectious sound of OG Spiritual Goddess’s voice. It’s an album where the guests, most of them vocalists, bring much to the party, but none as much as Hubert Tubbs, once the frontman for the mighty Tower of Power. His two contributions, “Peace” and “Coming Home,” are ripped right out of his heart — soulful and intense, the accompaniment a gloriously spare frame tinged with R&B that lets the vocal shine bright. Nothing’s phoned in here; every performance is majestic, every detail of the music carefully created. The instrumentals are equally compelling, whether on “Release the Pressure,” which lives up to name with its twisting build that erupts into shimmering melody, or the twinkling atmospheres and bubbling analogue synths of the closer “Love You.” The heart of Makossa & Megablast might still be in Africa, but the look in their eyes is decidedly global.