Music from planet earth: Past, Present & Future
"Simply put, England's Soundway label equals quality. The label is run by passionate people who do things the right way: every track on a Soundway compilation is meticulously re-mastered and I've never noticed a drop in quality on any of it's releases. The track selection on it's multi artist comps is nothing short of astounding"
"I love this label, beautifully produced CDs and vinyl. Rare, beautiful and unusual music from faraway corners of the world curated by the interesting and informed international cratedigger Miles Cleret..."
- Gilles Peterson BBC Radio 1
Soundway Records was conceived in 2002 by label owner Miles Cleret whilst returning from Ghana with a hoard of dusty old 45s and LPs that had mostly not been heard outside the former Gold Coast since their original release. Planned on a whim the trip was not one of the carefully planned research expeditions that Miles would later embark on to any number of far-flung tropical destinations. On the contrary he left England with no idea of what he might find or that it might be the start of a 10-year career in the record business.
Raised in a house full of music, Miles' father an avid record collector with eclectic taste perhaps unintentionally lit the touch paper for Miles' almost obsessive passion for the lost African, Caribbean and Latin music that has made up so much of Soundway's genre defining compilations.
Soundway's first release, Ghana Soundz - Afro-beat, Funk & Fusion in 70's Ghana, featured many of the artists Miles met on his inaugural trip to West Africa. This and other subsequent records have brought some of the artists featured on them an unexpected but most welcome second wind in the twilight stages of their careers. For example Ghanaian guitarist and composer Ebo Taylor being sampled by R'n'B superstar Usher on his latest album Raymond vs. Raymond as well as embarking on a new international recording and touring schedule. The Orchestre Poly-Rythmo from Cotonou, Benin are also now firmly on the international festival and concert hall circuit after having first been re-issued by Soundway back in 2004.
Driven on by an insatiable need to find unusual records to pepper his DJ sets Cleret's record collecting and research expeditions became increasingly numerous and far-reaching. Fueled by the developing success of each chapter released by the fledgling label Soundway has taken Miles to Ethiopia, Benin, Ghana, Colombia, Nigeria, Panama, Trinidad, Kenya and Thailand.
Although the label has it's roots in West Africa the scope has grown to include many other parts of the tropical belt with the aim of making available recordings that have in most cases never been available outside of their original countries and often not even there for over 30 years. Over the years Soundway's modus operandi has been to approach the music from a different angle from many of the more established "World Music" labels. By focusing on more obscure artists as well as big names and often concentrating on progressive recordings more in sync with Cleret's generation and background in DJ culture and dance-music the label has garnered a reputation as a quality outlet of surprising and in many cases unusual sounds. Styles have included afro-beat, funk, highlife, ethio-jazz, molam, calypso, cumbia, champeta, biguine, latin-jazz and disco as well as many recordings that don't seem to fit into any genre. All of of Soundway's releases have no expense spared on the re-mastering process, packaging and artwork, with most releases being accompanied by extensive liner notes and biographical information of the artists involved.
2012 marks a new chapter for Soundway as it releases new material for the first time from a carefully selected handful of contemporary recording artists.