Over the past month or so Colombia has been shaken by nationwide protests and strikes uniting farmers with teachers, milk producers with students. Though their demands are varied, at the heart of the demonstrations were united calls for land reform, rural development and justice for the small-scale farmers in the face of unjust free trade agreements and rising production costs.
While the government recently came to an agreement with the farm leaders, the protests have brought the issue of land rights disputes back to the forefront. Though not gaining the same level of global media coverage as similar movements in Turkey and Brazil, the Colombian protests have stood out for their universality. The movement evolved from a farmers demonstration into a nationwide call for change. Much as the students stood next to the farmers on the picket lines, a group of musicians, artists, video producers and bloggers came together to add their voice to the multitudes with #YoQuieroPapaConYuca.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
From the team responsible for Amsterdam’s rijsttafel of aclub night Denver Nights, Denver Nights Volume 1is a glance into Amsterdam’s continously exciting and diverse electronic music scene and the producers behind it. Celebrating the club night’s two year anniversary, this compilation (available for free download) unites some of the artists that have graced the decks at Denver’s now regular Amsterdam haunt, Canvas. The result, much like the club night itself, is a mix of fresh styles, sounds and tempos – each with an eye for the Denver dancefloor.
Hip-hop mainstays Hayzee serve up a thick slice of bare rhythmic, big bass-ed trap, Glebstar some smooth UK tinged house, Huiz & Ruuw bring their classy indie/house remix of The Applejacks’ Good Timeswhilst your hosts Denver contribute the dancefloor warming, deep house of Flip Ya! Meanwhile the standout track on the compilation has to be Makina‘s staggeringly broken tropi-tech beat on Fixion featuring Maya For Sale with her delightful vocals.
Denver Nights Volume 1 is out now and available for free download HERE. Grab it, enjoy it, share it and play it out.
After a welcome winter hibernation, Rhythm & Roots is back and what better way to start 2013 than with the soulful, fresh, warm sound of Afro-House. Over the past month or so my playlists have been dominated by mixtapes, bootlegs and soundcloud sessions pouring over the offshoots of house music that are flourishing in Angola and South Africa. After a lot of digital crate digging I have put together a mix that celebrates some of my favourite Afro-House tunes, whilst also incorporating some influences from further afield akin to the sound and rhythm. So, a bit of context…
South African House
Unlike other parts of the world, in South Africa, house music is not confined to the dancefloor but has become one of the country’s dominant sounds, leading sales and making stars of its biggest names. Resident Advisor recently celebrated the SA House (centring on Johannesburg) as part of the “Real Scenes” mini-documentary series – a great introduction to the scene.
South Africa has not only become a global mecca of house music but has also managed to formulate its own diverse scene with its own diversity of sound. There is the upbeat, snare driven house sound epitomised by DJ Mujava‘s international breakthrough Township Funk, the deeper, soulful style from producers like Black Coffee, Black Motion and Culoe de Song and then the smash hit, lyrical, Kwaito-hereditary sounds of big name producers Professor, Oskido & DJ Clock.
Meanwhile, the past few years have also seen a house music explosion in Angola, drawing inspiration from the South African scene and offering stiff competition to the Kuduro sound that has, historically, dominated the country’s electronic music scene. As Benjamin Lebrave, who offers a fascinating insight into the rise of Angolan house via This Is Africa, noted in July after a visit to Angola:
“A genre that was practically absent just three years ago during my last visit can now be heard virtually anytime, anywhere.”
Many Angolan producers such as DJeff and DJ Silyvi lean towards the deeper side whilst also emphasising rhythmic richness and incorporating traditional vocals samples. New producers are constantly appearing on Soundcloud with fresh sounds in a genre that continues to spread and diversify. It will be interesting to see two how these scenes now evolve and how they will feed back into electronic music globally.
Hard to believe it has been nearly 13 years since Barcelonian “jipjop flamenkillo” rumberos Ojos de Brujo released their debut album Vengue. The band made a name for themselves for their mix of hip-hop with flamenco and rumba, a captivating live show and socially conscious lyrics. Though they split in 2010 amidst discord and an ensuing legal battle, our favourite Scandinavian purveyors of tropical delights, UrbanWorld Records have revisited the Ojos de Brujo back catalogue and will this week release Ojos de Brujo Reworked.
For the project, fellow Barcelona inhabitant and friend of the band Al Lindrum selected five tracks from Ojos de Brujo’s six albums and offered them up to a team of global remixers. The stand out remixes come from Copia Doble Systema and Empresarios who do Ojos in digital cumbia style (including vocoded vocals!), Makala, subtly reworking Ventilaor R-80 a la Cuba, the deep dub version of Una Verdad Incomoda from Junkyard Productions and DJ Farrapo‘s dancefloor equipped Sultanas De Merkadillo.
It is a pity this release is only limited to five of OdB’s endless resource of quality tracks but still some really well-done remixes on this album. Ojos de Brujo Reworked will be released on the 28th June via UrbanWorld Records and you can purchase it from all the usual suspects. On that note (and because I am just rediscovering it)…well worth checking out La Revancha en Cumbia (Gotan Project Cumbiafied), another album of now classic fusion music remixed.
Musically, Caravana Sereia Bloom shows the singer’s evolution, crafting a more complex and mature sound. Though it sometimes slips into coffee table territory, the album holds together with some stand-out moments, mixing Brazil’s musical heritage (tropicalia, samba, bossa) with her own songwriting talents, for example on ‘Retrovisor (FREE DL)’ ‘Teju na Estrada’, ‘Asfalto e Sal’ and ‘Contravento’.
It is a dusty, road-trip affair, influenced by the singer’s travels between São Paulo and the arid North East, and paying tribute to Carlos Diegues 1979 film Bye Bye Brasil about a troop of traveling artists. This is the perfect album for a sunshine filled road trip or to close you eyes to and wish you were there. Available to buy here.
Schlachthofbronx‘s second album is a head spinning slew of dancehall, cumbia, juke, jungle, hip-hop, 3ball and everything in between. As in their roof-raising live shows, Munich’s favourite global bass duo skit around from one genre to the next, endlessly melting tempos and rhythms with MCs and vocal slices. It is an album made for a hot, jupming dancefloor to be accompanied by plenty of airhorn.
Though there are some tunes which don’t quite hit the mark, you can’t deny the quality of tracks like the dancehall led “Dickie Riddim” featuring Warrior Queen ”Juego” featuring Doubla J and even the off-kilter Andino-tech of “Apizaco”, a breath of fresh air in the sub-bass onslaught. Dirty Dancing is out via Disko B records and you can pick it up digitally HERE or physically HERE.