As Autumn dawns in the Northern Hemisphere we return with another selection of global treats for your earbuds. This is global music in its essence, songs that push borders and traverse genres, mixing folk with electronica, modernity with tradition. It is also music that will make your feet shuffle and your head nod. The perfect antidote to a cold, frosty morning or the adequate accompaniment to a warm, sticky Friday evening. Put it on loud and enjoy! Full tracklist after the jump.
The project united over 50 artists to record a song, showing their solidarity with the campesinos movement. The project celebrates Colombia’s rich agricultural tradition and remains as a reminder that, though the protests are over for now, the pressure for change still exists. In the words of Yo Quiero Papa con Yuca:
No hay tiempo para cambiar mañana. Cambiemos hoy!!!
There is no time to change tomorrow, let’s change today!!!
In the sea of music that washes over our eyes and ears everyday there are those moments that really stand out. EPs, tracks or albums that cut through the masses and make you smile, think or blow you away with something truly different. These are a couple of releases over the past few months that have done exactly that.
Umoja – Vuelo Nocturno
(18th August, INI Movement)
Umoja are a couple of talented young guys making roots-heavy tropical bass from their bedrooms in Haarlem, the Netherlands. The duo have had a steady release of well-produced, grooving, original tunes and their latest release shows their sound maturing and constantly improving. A blend of dubby cumbia, cut up samples, flutes, shakers, bird song and bass, Vuelo Nocturno is a breath of fresh air that manages to simultaneously celebrate global roots and digital culture.
Tremor – Proa
(3rd September, Wonderwheel Records)
Another band that has always stood out in terms of their original sound and fresh direction is Tremor. The Argentine trio carved out a name for making andino-digital music and delivering high-energy live show buts on their latest offering Proa the band have outdone themselves, stepping out of the mould and making a bold statement in a sometimes stagnant scene. This is no longer simply digital folk but a new sound, blending influences and resulting in something unlike anything I have heard in a while. A band exploring their inspirations and finding a new, unknown sound.
Uproot Andy – Worldwide Ting Vol. 2
(27th August, Que Bajo!)
Uproot Andy has done it again with the second instalment of Worldwide Ting courtesy of Que Bajo! Once more, these are six cuts of pure UA gold complete with his trademark sound, solid beats and refined productions. This producer has such a talent for bringing elements together to make sure fire dancefloor warming cuts. “America” is a brilliant example, skilfully blending K’Naan’s Mulatu Astatke sampling track with the original in a whirling global cumbia rhythm. Another producer that has made his own sound in a sea of music. This one doesn’t push the boundaries but Uproot Andy’s treatment of “global bass” is one of the most informed and skillful you can find.
As the unrest and police brutality in Turkey continues, I thought it fitting to shed a little light on the country’s burgeoning underground/alternative music scene. Over the past month or so I have been immersing myself in as much Turkish music as I could find, from the brilliant out there psychedelic / funk from the 60s & 70s to the modern Turkish underground electronic scene. At the centre of the modern inversions of Turkish urban music is Tektosag Records and their sub-label, launched last year, Davalun Sesi.
Davalun Sesi, which translates as “Sound of the Drum”, focuses on Turkish beatmakers with a leaning towards instrumental hip-hop a la Brainfeeder / Soulection. The label’s two free-to-download compilations (Davulun Sesi Volume I & Volume II) offer a comprehensive introduction to the country’s beats scene. Though essentially focussed on hip-hop/beats it is a diverse selection with percussion/sample heavy refixes of traditional Turkish music sitting alongside Californian sun drenched synth swirls and crunching Trap beats. I was taken aback by the real quality and originality of these producers – one of the few 10+ track free-to-download compilations that is consistently good and surprising.
Alongside the compilations, Davulun Sesi puts on club nights and has also released 13 EPs from Turkish producers, all available for free download – the latest from beatmaker Da Poet:
Davulun Sesi is really pushing young Turkish artists, collaborating with graphic designers and offering an international platform for the exciting and fresh sounds that are coming out of the country. It is also great to see the people behind labels like Tektosag showing solidarity and supporting the protestors in Taksim square and beyond.
I end with a rather symbolic article from Taksim Square which has become something of an iconic moment amidst the protests. In an inspiring and touching move, last Wednesday, Davide Martello, a German concert pianist wheeled his piano into the square and began playing free, 14 hour recitals for the protestors. As the police moved in to clean out the square once more with water cannons, tear gas and handcuffs, they also confiscated Martello’s piano, silencing opposition and putting an end to the music.
Despite his limited output, Uproot Andy has made it on to my very exclusive list of reliable producers. Nearly everything (if not everything) the US based producer has released has a real quality about it. His productions have that rare combination of being melodically catchy, well produced, unique and absolutely killer on the dancefloor. This selection, the first release on Que Bajo Records maintains his reputation - 5 sure fire refixes of 5 different musical styles from 5 different countries. And they’re free.
And, for curiosity’s sake…here are the originals:
1. Grupo Socavon - Homenaje a Justino: ”a classic currulao from the marimba ensemble from the Pacific coast region of Colombia”.
4. Fania All Stars - Lamento de un Guajiro ”is a New York salsa classic.”
5. Los Cojolites – Luna Negra is “son jarochofrom Vera Cruz, Mexico.”
Beat Making Lab is a brilliantly simple and stylishly executed idea bringing electronic music education to communities around the world. Though the lab initially started as a music production course at the University, it has since been transformed into a global project with the two teachers taking their know-how and a travelling studio around the world.
The Lab itself is a crowdfunded “electronic music studio small enough to fit in a backpack” that offers young musicians the tools, skills and opportunity to make their own beats. For each lab the “teachers” (producers Apple Juice Kid and MC Pierce Freelon) spend two weeks in a local organisation teaching young people the skills to professionalise their music and become part of the 21st century global digital music community. Though the producers go back to the US, the equipment stays as an investment in the artists and the community.
The whole project is very elegantly designed and is backed by PBS, the American public broadcasting channel which airs an episode of the lab each Wednesday on its YouTube channel. There have so far been labs in Congo and Panama while the Senegal lab is currently being screened. Accompanying the mini-documentaries Beat Making Lab releases a free EP of beats made during the Lab via Mad Decent and sets a challenge for producers around the world to make a beat using samples from the Lab – giving them the chance to appear on the EP.
As always, after a few months of musical digging I have been inspired to put together another Rhythm & Roots Mix. This time round it came out as a celebration of the links between Latin American and African music (and pieces that cross the bridge).
One of my biggest discoveries (though originally released in 2010) has been Donso, a collaboration between Parisien producer Krazy Baldhead and Malian singer Gedeon Papa Diarra. There are also a couple of African edits from Amsterdam’s tropical duo UMOJA and a few unreleased El Búho tracks. Lots of little discoveries making it an eclectic celebration of fresh, contemporary “global” music.