Album Review: Auntie Flo – Radio Highlife [Brownswood Recordings; October 2018]  


Brian d’Souza is a Glaswegian-born DJ, musician and producer of both Goan and Kenyan descent, who spent seven years travelling far and wide to places such as Uganda, Cuba and Norway. As Auntie Flo, d’Souza created Radio Highlife – released on 12th October 2018 via Brownswood Recordings – that can be described as a scrapbook from his travels, offering a look into his collaborations with various friends and artists alike in the regions he visited.

The aim of dance music is in its name, but like any genre, dance music should also be able to tell a story that both your mind and body can interpret. Auntie Flo has found a way to do so, allowing the music to slowly unravel, instead of giving the plot away too soon by ranking up the volume too high and overcooking the situation, a method that sadly too many producers are guilty of today.

It is this quality that allows Radio Highlife to often straddle the line fairly between easy listening on one hand, and floor-filling material for the clubs on the other, as shown in “Havana Club Dance” and “Isbjørn”. Another example, “Lights in the Northern Sky”, sets a poignant scene perfectly for a day winding down to a close, fitting for someone on their travels on a path of self-discovery.

“Cape Town Jam” and “Western Princes” are the most immediate club tunes on this record, the former in a more conventional sense, whereas the latter first hits you with its penetrating bassline before providing a rhythm that’s too catchy to leave alone and pass you by.

Along the way, tracks like “Radio Souk”, “Malawi Skit” and “Magic Stones Skit” work as interludes to make the album more three-dimensional, encompassing the journey Auntie Flo took and the people he met along the way.

The simplicity of some of the songs compounded with their lengths does make you wish for some of them to either continue narrating their story (if they’re short) or be further developed before they reach their end (if they’re long). But as we are still in winter, for some the chance to escape to the sun couldn’t be more irresistible, with Radio Highlife posing as a kind of antidote for the winter blues.

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