Smiling C trail their Shams Dinn diamond with this bounty of Washington Go-Go picks from the short-lived Aset label’s Whax, Treo, and Latonya, all recorded and originally released c. 1986-88. Like the Shams LP, A Totally New Sound brims with pure soulful optimism and home-baked charm, but rather than early Arabic rap and ‘80s boogie, this one surveys a blindspot in most collections with some of the rarest and most special Go-Go Records in existence.
All eight song were written by the Aset label’s in-house players, revolving song-writers Mbu Mbulu and O Jabbo, and includes their semi-released instrumental Skip, along with three beauties by the 11 year old singer Latonya which are almost worth entry alone, plus one wild one by the Whax duo, and three from Treo, the trio of Cathy Young, Delores Lidell and Linda Lawson.
Seriously, the Latonya tracks are what pop dreams are made of - precocious yet innocent, flush with colourful melodies and driven by that bustling Go-Go hustle, the super infectious Dance Time is a ready-made anthem, while Eyes Of A Child and We Will Teach The Adults weirdly also recall early ‘80s Belgian cold wave crossed with Langley Schools Music Project, or something.
The Aset Players’ Skip reveals the boogie mechanics under their pop hood, while Whax tend to the freakier side with a spot of Rick James-ian flair, and Treo’s close harmonies come out perfectly pop-wise in Demands Demands Demands, but Second Is Too Close and the forlorn romance of When Your Love Is Gone feels too weird to be pop proper, and that’s where the magick lies in this LP, between Aset’s mainstream ambition and a realness of expression that can’t be missed.