The U.K.’s Strut Records has launched a startling new collaborative artist series titled Inspiration Information, which brings together eclectic underground reggae, funk, dance, and African superstars.

After issuing pioneering funk, disco, and Afrobeat compilations between 1999-2003, such as Club Africa and Disco Not Disco, Strut went dormant. The label was reactivated in 2008 and is now part of the !K7 label group. This year Strut released its Funky Nassau: The Compass Point Story and Disco Italia compilations, and for its latest project, has united Sly & Robbie, Amp Fiddler, Mulatu, Ashley Beedle, and more for a series of one-off collaborations.

After linking the various artists together in the studio, the creative synergy was strong enough that some sessions were completed in a matter of days. According to officials at Strut, “The focus [is] on spontaneity and a true fusion of styles rather than the marketing-led restrictions of a traditional artist album. Each album can take any form that the artists choose, from three-minute song structures to more extended freeform pieces.” Each album focuses on capturing the vibe at each session and getting material out to the public as quickly as possible.

The announced albums include:

Sly & Robbie and Amp Fiddler (Out September 2008)
The series’ first release features J Dilla’s mentor, Detroit soul maverick Amp Fiddler, in session with reggae legends Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare (a.k.a. Sly & Robbie). “I’ve been a fan of their productions,” says Fiddler. “Their work with Grace Jones–her ‘The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game’–that’s an old Detroit Motown track!” Recorded at Anchor studios in Jamaica, the album features “Sticky” Thompson on percussion and Dalton Browne on guitar, and is mixed by Island Records studio regular Godwin Logie.

Horace Andy and Ashley Beedle (January 2009)
Massive Attack guest vocalist and original Studio One legend Horace Andy collaborates with Ashley Beedle (X-Press 2/Ballistic Brothers) on an album that blends roots and club styles. “When I talked through the album with Horace,” Beedle recalls, “he said, ‘It’s all about the drums.’ I have about five rhythms on the go at the moment–there’s one with a Nyabinghi percussion bass and another which heads more into dubstep territory.”

Mulatu Astatke and The Heliocentrics (February 2009)
1970s Ethiopian jazz-funk vibesman and percussionist Mulatu Astatke presents his first studio album in over 20 years. United with The Heliocentrics (Stones Throw Records), who are responsible for backing DJ Shadow and laying down beats for Madlib and Yesterday’s New Quintet, this album should produce some exceptional, international funk creations!