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Various Artists—The Sound of Wonder!(Finders Keepers Records)

Various Artists—Absolute Belter(Finders Keepers Records)

Various Artists—Lagos Disco Inferno(Academy LPs)

Various Artists—Brazilian Guitar Fuzz Bananas(Tropicalia in Furs Records)

For many Anglos, indigenous foreign music is fascinatingly surreal: odd sounds, odd meters, odd instrumentation, and who knows what the heck they’re singing about. But when non-English-speaking regions get a hold of American or English rock and pop styles and put their own spin on them? Well, then, now you’re really talkin’ high musical adventure.

Quoting its website, Britain’s revelatory Finders Keepers label aims to “[introduce] fans of psychedelic/jazz/folk/funk/avant-garde, and whacked-out movie musak [sic] to a lost world of undiscovered vinyl artifacts from the annals of alternative pop history.” And The Sound of Wonder!, which dusts off 15 wild gems from Pakistani movie soundtracks circa 1973-1980, is easily one of the already-flawless imprint’s greatest achievements. Dubbed “Lollywood” by in-the-know collectors, the stuff here is, yes, reminiscent of India’s Bollywood and filmi music—only crazier. Here’s a world where squelching synths and Mellotrons swirl together with belly-dance beats, childlike vocals (usually in hackneyed English), exotic percussion, surfy guitars, and funk bass. Hits in this house include the title track and “Good News for You,” both by M. Asharaf, and Tafo’s “Karye Pyar”—and that’s just the first three tracks. Amazing.

Another Finders Keepers winner is Absolute Belter, a survey of Spain’s long-running Belter label’s deep catalog of weird prog, psychedelia, garage, and funk rock. Freaky, fuzz-fueled trippers and groovers by the likes of Fusioon, Los Huracanes, Albert Band, and Fuerza play like scenes from some lost ’60s/’70s exploitation flick (and may well have been). Bizarre Spanish-language remakes of the Stones’ “Get Off of My Cloud” (by mysterious Beat chick Sonia), Cream’s “Crossroads” (Los Roller), and David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” (crazed TV comedy duo Hermanos Calatrava) add to the lunacy.

Disco is still a dirty word to many of us who came of age in the ’70s. But fear not when it comes to Lagos Disco Inferno, a fantastic vinyl-only comp of Nigerian rarities dug up—in some cases, literally—by the relentless DJ “Voodoo Frank” Gossner. According to the German-born/New York-based Gossner, featured acts like BLO and Tirogo began as guitar-based rock bands, which “explains how the Nigerian brand of disco has so much more energy, a more urgent and sometimes rebellious feel, and a rougher sound than the slick and overproduced sounds of the Western world.” Indeed, typical cuts like “Everybody Get Down” by the tellingly named Asiko Rock Group and the 15-minute “Hang On” by Nana Love lean much harder toward organic, funky soul and Afrobeat than any robotic, Giorgio Moroder-produced pabulum.

But for all-out insanity Brazilian Guitar Fuzz Bananas definitely rules the roost. Handpicked by another foreign-bred New Yorker, eccentric collector Joel Stones, the owner of the taste-making record shop Tropicalia in Furs, this set is the absolute sickest comp to hit the bins in eons. Rounding up 16 mind-melting and impossibly obscure Brazilian psychedelic 45s made between 1967 and 1976, it’s even better than its brilliant title suggests. Ready here to singe your cortex and change your life are the opening “Teme De Batman,” an unreal deconstruction of the “Batman” theme by Celio Balona; Fabio’s grunting, funky organ/vibes/congas mover “Lindo Sonho Delirante” (LSD!); 14 Bis’s acid-rocking “God Save the Queen” (predating the Sex Pistols track by years); and Ton & Sergio’s heavy-nodding “Vou Sair Do Cativeiro”—and narrowing it down to those four was quite a chore, believe it. Comes with a fat, full-color booklet filled with notes, photos, and label/sleeve scans. Man, you need this. Don’t sleep.—Peter Aaron

The Sound of Wonder!, Absolute Belter:
Lagos Disco Inferno:
Brazilian Guitar Fuzz Bananas:

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