With its unshakeable focus in seeking the very best vintage music from virtually everywhere south of the equator, Soundway Records has reissued a true gem here. Ifetayo, the lone album by Trinidad's Black Truth Rhythm Band, was released in 1976, and disappeared soon thereafter -- until the dawn of crate-digging culture. It is an ambitious, steamy slab of Caribbean funk that endures the test of time. Though the cut "Save D Musician" appeared on Kon & Amir's Off Track, Vol. 2: Queens compilation, and has been sampled elsewhere, this is Ifetayo's first reissue on either LP or CD. Black Truth Rhythm Bandwere an odd and prophetic unit. While most of the acts from Trinidad during the '70s were busy sopping up American soul, funk, and disco and offering them in clubs with their own rhythms added, these cats looked to the motherland, Africa, for inspiration. Populated by electric bass, guitar, various keys, flute, keyboards, marimbas, and steel drums, and fronted by lead vocalist Oluko Imo (who later sang for Fela Kuti's Egypt 80 band), this music is a far cry from anything that was coming from their homeland. Steel drums were usually employed as novelty instruments in island bands during the '70s as an attraction for tourists. BTRB used them instead as foundations that were essential to the ensemble's sonic architecture; they mixed them in equal balance with the rest of the instruments on any given track, adding an uncommon darkness to their rich, deep, and moody grooves. While the title track and the aforementioned "Save D Musician" are obvious starting points because of their their eerie, humid, elastic funk, the true depth of the band's genius reveals itself in "Kilimanjaro," where Latin-flavored keyboards, circular Noruba drumming, and the kinetic use of mbiras and flute accent and illustrate the polyrhythmic flow. Another stand-out here is "Aspire," where a near-Trinidadian calypso is melded into a contrapuntal series of layered rhythms, guitar vamps, and sweet, chorus-like vocals. The best is saved for last, however, when the BTRB throws everything into the pot on the eight-minute "Umbala." It crosses calypso, dread reggae, Fela's Afro-beat, and the melodic richness of Sonny Okuson with an organic funkiness that is not unlike Cymande's, only smoother. Ultimately, Soundway does it again: Ifetayo is a gem through and through. AMG.