Ethnofusion Picks #March2017

April 10, 2017 - Blog

Bwoy De Bhajan – Universal Squid Express [Iboga Records]

Oh my. Bwoy released a video to this track through RedBull, covering his live performance of it in Copenhagen. Ever since then, we (at least definitely I) have been gnawing at the walls to have the track within our grasp and it’s finally here. Bwoy De Bhajan is yet again proving that as long as he stays on this level of production, he is an untouchable force within this or any other music style. It’s just that bar a handful of artists, no-one can do the intricate hybrid of crystal clear field recording percussions, deep basslines and lush melodies this good; listen for yourself!

What Bwoy De Bhajan had to say about the track:

“Universal Squid Express”.. Is it, a ride at the fair? An underwater train network spread out through a giant squids tentacles? Or, an expressional squid understood by all? You be the judge. This track has been very anticipated from folks out there, and i’ve been asked for a couple of years now when it will see a release. As i worked on my album, i thought i would build it up around this track. Arguably it has an “underwater” theme to its name, and as i tried making music in that direction, the crispiness and natural elements that i appreciate so much in music got lost. It only slowed me down, and i just had to scrap it in order to move on. Therefore i’m really happy to contribute it to Iboga’s 20 year compilation “Hologram”, which will be out on the 17th of April!

Haquin – Vrddhi [Outtallectuals]

We released this single by Haquin this month; a project that has been in the works for months, originally going from an abstract downtempo future bass track to having live cellos and drums added by musicians within Haquin’s sphere. We then sent everything over to Keli of Bassline Drift who managed to record on his Bansuri-flute before delving into a journey from Texas to India in search of his dream bansuri flute and sounds. The concept of this track revolves around cyclic life, and it seems appropriate to release this right after Spring equinox, celebrating the new solar year.

A few lines from Haquin about his side of the story:

“hm I guess the track for me was a collection of everything going on in my life at the time. Each section was developed at different time, during which I was going through different emotions which are reflected in the track. As well as that It simply was meant to depict through audio what life means to me. Not sure if this is helpful. As I’ve said before I’m awful with words haha”

Symbolico – Connectika (LP) [Merkaba Music]

The new LP from Symbolico is an immensely well-produced psy-bass album, standing at the helm of how this genre should sound like in 2017. Songs on the album mix the traditional psy aesthetic with trappy 808 grooves, immaculate drumwork, nature foley and appropriately placed vocals, and a healthy dose of fat non-cholesterol delays. The percussive work is absolutely stellar as exemplified in Like Water. The super-detailed grooves intertwine in helix rhythms similar to the experimental works work of Halfred and Quanta who arguably lead this type of wizardy. Definitely one of, if not the best psy bass LP release of this year so far.

Rygby – Sireadh [The Pack Recording]

The deep dubstep warrior Rygby digs into his bass-bag to grab a few of these 10 ton smackers, topped off with some lush flute and pad work. This is the sound of ’06 OG dubstep where the focus was on a banging groove and dubbing it out for minutes, and it has been revitalised to meet 2017 standards. Superb tough meditation riddim to bang your chakras’s heads to.

We asked Rygby what the song title and meaning behind the track was:

“Sireadh is a really important song to me. I grew up surrounded by the sounds of celtic folk, my dad was in a folk band and him and my mum both take any opportunity to meet up with their mates to play tunes. Sireadh roughly translates from Gaelic as ‘Quest’ or ‘Mission’ and I feel like that really explains the whole tune, you know? I guess it’s kind of like a mantra, the soundtrack to the mission or something similar, hah!”

Deya Dova – Myth of the Cave [Reflekta Records]

Few manage to sing in organic spiritualinguistics and voice their authenticity as well as Deya Dova does on this release. She channels a kind of aesthetic you’d hear from an old tribes leader whose true identity as Bjork’s long lost desert soul sister is revealed when the wind brushes the sand veil off her nomadic attire. The EP’s self-titled opener, Myth of the Cave sets the tone of this release pretty well, sounding like the opening of a religious procession, bridging ancient melodies and contemporary singing with many a wail. The song evolves in a organic old-school squelchy direction, traversing between various verse topographies and wooden bridges. The second track, Return of the Bird Tribe which is accompanied with a music video, is perfect for new agers looking to revel in CloZee-style beats and high tier vocals.  The other tracks in the EP take a similar approach while gliding between ambient and house formats.

Bottom-line is, this is great music for anyone who enjoys their music with a few grains of sand crystals sprinkled on top, or in search of organic meditative music with a few electronic touches.

We got in touch with Deya to learn more about the EP and the creative process that lead to it:

  1. Seeing as you hail from the deserts of Australia, does your style of art stem from any sort of indigenous ceremonies you encountered there?

 “I grew up on the Nullarbor desert region of South Australia traditional land for the Aboriginal people the Mirning people, the whale dreamers, and also for the Pitjantjara people who had come out from the central desert and also the Wirrangu and Koogatha. Growing up there has had a huge impact on me and my perception of the world.

I carry those vast ancient landscapes with me.

The songs I sing do not stem from any particular culture or ceremony. The songs come from what i like to call my inner culture or pre culture. The inspiration comes from sitting on ancient earth at powerful earth locations and sacred sites and connecting with the energy, frequency and vibration of the earth. The earth counts time in billion of years and when i’m singing on these places I’m connecting with an energy that is pre culture but can sometimes sound familiar in terms of different cultural references.”

  1. Your predominantly vocal style is quite a fresh take on how earth music should sound like. How does this work live?

The live performances have a ceremonial quality.  The set is crafted to activate the dance floor and take the audience on a journey. To collectively remember and dance up ancient earth.

We play where we are invited and especially love outdoor festival shows. So many festivals take place in amazing locations and it is so perfect to perform in those environments. Last year we played a 20 show tour of the U.S. and Canada as well as shows in Australia, New Zealand & Bali.

On stage I am live vocal looping as well as singing lead. I perform with my husband and co-producer, Hamilton Barnett on the live electronics and his modern take on primal drums.

  1. Seeing as you produce these tunes as well, what does your creative process entail?

I work together with my husband and co producer Hamilton Barnett. He mostly writes the bass and the beats and I create the sonic atmospheres and melodic layering. Although this varies from track to track. From an initial idea I then immerse myself in writing the song and developing the production. I engineer all my own vocals and in general use the magic of the first take. We then come back together to mix and refine the arrangement.  

  1. Did you record any of the vocals in these tracks at a sacred site?

The Great Sky Lodge, track 7 was recorded live on location as the sun set and the first stars appeared above Mato Tipila – Devil’s Tower, Wyoming USA. 

The ancient lava monolith towered above in the sky having just blazed gold in the setting sun. I sat at its feet, on the earth. The stillness seeped with eternity. The last things I remember as this song touched my lips was being able to hear the rock and mourning doves high up on the summit, the vortical spin of the land and the presence of unseens gathered around. Then I disappeared. Into the timelessness, into the creation story. Riding the song, I found myself at a campfire in stars. As above so below. The information in this song, record as energy, frequency and vibration is what followed…

Mato Tipila is sacred to the Northern Plains Tribes including Lakota, Kiowa, Arapahoe, Cheyenne, Shoshone & Crow and known to the Lakota as Mato Tipila, Bear Lodge, Mato Tiplia is considered the birthplace of wisdom and is connected to ancient star lore. It is the sacred place where the Lakota People first received the sacred C’anupa bundle from Pte-san win-yan, spiritual being White Buffalo Calf Woman. White Buffalo Calf Woman’s teachings and message have travelled across vast oceans touching and awakening people of all nations and colours. My family and I visited Mato Tipila on pilgrimage July 2016.

  1. Tell us anything you think might be interesting in the evolution of this EP; I.e. a memorable incident in the making of this EP.

Well the most memorable thing was filming the Return Of The Bird Tribes film clip in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. It was quite a spontaneous collaboration with director Johann Wolf and friends as cast & crew. We set out in the middle of the desert and a very intense dust storm blew up. We shot the clip in that storm for 5 hours. We all ended up huddled under blankets in the back of the truck. It was perfect because we wanted it to look like a non-specific planet in some possible galaxy and that is exactly what we got – the footage is amazing. It was definitely all for the love of art.

In 2016 we played 20 show tour of the U.S. and Canada. And did location recordings at 9 different sacred sites.

In 2017 we head back to North America between June and August. 

Thank you for your time!

Eviali – Avanti

Waving the flag of elegant European world bass music, Eviali releases Avanti which is a full length with as many collaborations as on a national Olympic football team. The album’s sound is extremely impressive with the amount of recording that has gone into it. Robbie (a.k.a. Eviali) plays guitars, mandolin, slide, ukulele, bass, synth, percussions, while programming and composing the tunes (at times with the help of collaborations) while a string section duo, three vocalists, violinists, percussion players and more collaborate on other tracks.

Despite the major production value, every sound has been implemented with reason, with songs spanning CloZeesque dreamy trip-hop on Told You 2 Stop, multi-cultural house on Mekong, Ejalamajella and Alleka, gypsy and swing bass on Tagada & It’s All Rubber, world-inspired downtempo on Avanti and Doi Suthep, anthemic instrumental future bass on Still Waiting, funky glitch-hop on Nervo.

Overall, this is probably the most complete organic release of the year so far. The only thing not keeping this as the best release of the year is that it could do with more wizardry on the sound-design side of things. Imagine the techy appeal of Culprate’s Deliverance mixed with this… FUTURE!

We had to dig a bit deeper in this release and ask Eviali some questions. Here’s what he had to say:

1 First of all, your SC details say you have done a lot of high profile touring; what do you play on these tours and what landed you a gig with Fred Durst out of all people?

My main instrument and what people know me for… is electric guitar. I am a session player giving my service as guitarist for tours and studio, and my career revolves around that. I have no agent and all of it is by referral by word of mouth. I’ve been fortunate enough that have been doing this for many years, and I guess people like how I play and how I turn the amp at 11 sometimes!!!! lol

But when in my home studio I do enjoy playing all kinda of acoustic instruments  …the main instrument on this particular record is, in fact, my cheap nylon string guitar that I have since the age of 13… In general I do enjoy anything that has strings and frets like bass, mandolin, ukulele etc… but also play few percussion instruments like darbuka, djambe, and especially shakers….

  1. How long did this album take you?

It was 2 years and 1/2 ago when I started putting down Ideas and crafting a sound as Eviali… I had about 16 songs and ended up finishing 10 for this first release… I was also touring with Frankie Valli at that time and trying to be focused into writing and producing when touring is a real challenge. My next release will be much faster now.

  1. The vast instrument and musician list on this album is certainly a talking point. Can you tell us why you chose this approach?

Yes. Nowdays technology is really handy if you are a composer/writer/producer. You can have some of the most amazing recorded samples and loops at your disposal to make music at a very high standard. And I give props to all the people that very cleverly use them. I do not come from that world, though. I come from playing and recording instruments, and wanted to keep that as much as possible in Eviali also. I wanted to involve some of my friends that I share the stage or session world. With them I do sessions regularly for other artist and most of the time you need to be at service for the music and can’t really express yourself, so this was also an opportunity to have them really express themselves and shine on their instruments the way I know they do so well. 

Would have been silly to write a song with an afrocuban feel and not call my afrocuban friends to jam on it. And same on for Drums, Horns and Violin. Beside being my friends these are some of the best musicians in the world, people I honor and respect on a musical level to be the best in their field, and wanted to have their personal touch and spin on it. I’m really proud of everyone that come to my studio and brought a little bit of them into my music. For the 2 song with vocals instead, was a true collaboration. Those songs were done instrumentally and both of those singers just come in and added their own thing to the music, and made it something else.

Live I’ll be doing a similar thing by having 2 or more musicians jamming and improvising with me on top of loops and samples… I see few other acts doing it now, fells like the livetronica movement is rising and I was meant to be here already.

  1. I get a sense that this album symbolises your background and how it has evolved through your travels and this journey has been turned into Avanti. Is that the case?

Yep You nailed it! Eviali is a word play on “I viali” a street in my hometown where, in my youth, teenagers would seek a social life away from adults, discovering life values: from brotherhood, friendships, being street smart to seduction and how to flirt and how to be romantic…. the best memories of my youth comes from there. Music I was exposed  back then was definitely romantic and mediterranean. I then studied jazz and started playing in Pop-Rock and RnB bands after moving to US in my teens. This is where I come from  and my musical evolution. But after touring the world and discovering all the music that us westerners are missing out, I felt the need to learn again, discover, sample, and let those other influences into the making of Avanti. I also went to South East Asia and sampled sounds, voices, little percussive instruments, and got different inspirations into writing new music that ended up in Avanti.

  1. Often, I find myself using the term ‘French-hop’ or European trip-hop as a distinct sound which can be attributed to your sound, CloZee, Giyo, Beats Antique, The French Touch Connection label, etc. Do you agree with it and what do you think it makes that distinction?

Oh totally! I don’t know exactly what it is…but you ear it al the time from old school stuff like Daft Punk to new artist like FKJ. It’s this different approach to harmony and use of simplistic beats that gives the composition a less aggressive vibe.  In a way we could say classy or less gangster, to make sense. I don’t know if I fit in there, but I’ll be honored if so.

  1. There must be a good story or two from all these recording sessions. Can you share a couple with us?

Oh man so many! But the best one was my last session. I thought I was done with all the songs when my friend Staphan Jacobs suggested me to call Delevo to add lyrics on a gypsy jazz track I did. We were both so busy and scheduling a time to get together was not happening. So I just let it go and decided that song was going to be instrumental only. Then the day before mastering she hit me up saying she was now available and ready to come over and sing on the track! She never sent me any ideas so I wasn’t sure about it anymore and I told her she could have swing by the studio and we could have give it a shot, but if magic wasn’t happening we needed to leave and just go out for drinks. She was ok with that. On top of all this pressure, it was election night!!!!!!!! She was so humble, positive, authentic and brought the song to a different level. We were having a lot of fun, and when we were about to finish tracking, my phone got the notification of the presidential winner… we were shocked. I wasn’t sure if I was able to keep recording but Delevo was a trooper and we told each other “let’s be positive here, and start fighting back with music!”

Best memory ever!

  1. Thanks for your time!

Thank You!

Skeewiff – Skeewiff in Wonderland [Pedigree Cuts]

Skeewiff’s new conceptual trip of a release is a story of its own. Quite unlike anything we’ve heard before, the release conceptualises Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, going through eerie and orchestral sections, while gliding through a ‘genre-hopping’ format between breakbeat, drum n bass, dubstep, trap and glitch-hop. It’s electronic jazz in one of its most sincere forms, breaking any unnecessary mould to highlight its intention and that is to genuinely live up to the story of our favourite Alice. Some favourite moments on the EP include the entirety of the opener, Down the Rabbit Hole, and effortless blending of bhangra within the track on Advice from A Caterpillar.

In-depth Interview with Skeewiff

  1. Since it’s quite the story in itself, what inspired you to give a shot at reconceptualising the infamous Wonderland?

Skeewiff have been releasing records for two decades now… Literally, man and boy. When we first started out as kids we were purveyors of breaks, but along our musical journey we have been through the drum, the bass, the funk, the latin, the jazz, the ghetto and back again. Today I guess we broadly fit into the ‘Vintage Remix’ category. Essentially we’ve always had a penchant for genre splicing, pastiche and interesting sound collisions.

We see Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland as predominantly about growing up, and the struggle that a kid faces in understanding the adult world. That essential premise was perfectly suited for remixologists like us, who were keen to revisit our own beginnings, and at the same time open up the field for experimentation. Skeewiff in Wonderland is about our young innocent breakbeat selves taking a voyage into a new musical land of the unknown. Often unsettling and challenging, like drowning in a sea of trap in ‘The pool of tears’, or, other times, playfully running around in circles in the infinite loops of ‘The Caucus race’, its a chronicle of our musical evolution as seen through the eyes of our former selves.

Most importantly, however, it gave us licence to do whatever the hell we wanted, which was also handy. The script positively encourages the bizarre and fantastical to be married with the mundane, and for the sounds of the past to intertwine with those of the present. Set phasers to extraordinary… we’re going in.

2. We think conceptual records are some of the most crucial types of music that should exist as they push the arts forward. What’s your thoughts on this?

Couldn’t agree more. Now more than ever. It’s the perfect antidote to the cherry picking, short attention span, play-listing, sound-biting, you-tube-streaming diet that many of us subconsciously find ourselves on. Plus, as an artist, they give you an opportunity to escape the pigeon-hole.. It’s Ok to visit somewhere new.. just for a concept album. Thoroughly liberating. Musical holiday.

  1. To what extent did you guys record the instrumentation on the album and find samples for it?

With an album like Wonderland, we couldn’t rely on a conventional band set up to nail all the different emotions and characters: Take a track like ‘Tea Party’ for example.. It starts out orchestral, then settles into a little dub, and then dubstep before developing into a bhangra/free jazz festival of weird. That was never going to work with drums, bass, keys and a guitarist…

So, we had to rely on quite a bit of “here’s some we made earlier’ to genre-hop effectively. In just one track you’re likely to hear loops, licks, sessions and samples spanning the last 20 years of Wiff. For ‘The Queen’s Croquet ground’ for example, we cut up several drum breaks we had made in the 90s and interspersed it with strings recorded in Portugal in the 00s and keys and wobs from the present day. The entire album is a collage of us collaborating with our past selves. Its a real mix of technologies too with parts being pooled from old Tapes, DATs, Vinyl, Sample CDs & Film spanning a century of recorded history.

What is most bizarre is that the cat, heard as ‘meows’ throughout the album, was also all recorded in the 90s, when we had no idea this album would ever exist. Ghost of Skeewiff Past must have thought that one day we would definitely need recordings of meows in a slightly French accent… Unless of course, it was entirely Skeewiff-Past’s plan to inspire this album 20 yrs from then? Damn. Outsmarted by ourselves. Still.. No use going back to yesterday, we were different people then.

  1. What the hell is a ‘Skeewiff’?

No idea. We’re always open to suggestions.

Thanks for your time!

Dirtwire – Showdown

Last year, we covered every single that came out from Dirtwire’s world and this year, we see those tracks and a number of new ones being compiled into one impressive album. The quality is at a senior musicianship level, really only sounding vaguely closely to a mix of Beats Antique (duh) and Den Sorte Skole. Favorite new tracks are the traveller-themed Lost Highway, the whacky wild west funk of GoGo and the multicultural flavor to gloriously hoppin Bridges of Suns.

The Polish Ambassador – Color of Flight [Jumpsuit Records]

Another big dog release this month from The Polish Ambassador with a 13-track full-length. The album is a stellar piece of production with a professional and clean sound, and each track has something unique to offer. Starting with the tribally chanted opener, Take Wing, world aesthetics are carefully engineered into these tracks, with Punjab Shuffle bringing in the South Asian vibes, and the saQi collab, Que Rico, and La Que Quiero providing the Latin bass dankisms. The instrumental organic sound doesn’t stop there; all tracks are a bright mix of world influences, subtle synthesis, and immaculate drum work. This album is perfect for everyone who likes their music ‘grown up’ yet playful, laid back yet groovy, and instrumental but electronic in nature.

Kking Kong – Damaia Remexe feat. Pongo [Enchufada]

Damn, this is definitely one of the funkiest songs I’ve heard this year. Reminds me a little bit of the new Clap!Clap! with its unconventional rhythm and sheer intricacy. A really rich groove, made up of fine-tuned and well-mixed bits and bops, topped with Pongo’s intense vocals. Kking Kong is new on our radar, but hearing this really has inspired a whole other type of Ethnofusion we can focus on now.

5AM – Fills EP [Aquatic Collective]

The folks at Aquatic Collective give us a new release courtesy of the wobbelator, 5AM. The EP is unique in the sense that it’s mainly inspired by super-jazzy aesthetics, merging it with the psy-bass aesthetic, making it sit somewhere between traditional psybass and the music of labels like Night Owl Collective. The highlight of the EP that is relevant to this blog is the world-inspired track Dripstone with Eviali providing the guitars with a similar quality of his own release this month, Avanti, although we highly recommend you checking out all of them.

Sudakra – Araya (Ft. BozzhoggBeatz)

A highly dynamic dancing anthem, based around a synth and flute driven melody as it evolves through a half-time, double-time n other-time groove. Definitely a fun score to play in a world fusion bass set and per our platforms’ ethos, Araya’s good attempt at making omni-genre (ethno) music is very welcome here.

Zwirek – Rebel

Zwirek comes back every once in a while to remind everyone why he is still top 2 artist for ‘ethnic trap’ search on Soundcloud. Having upgraded his sound from ‘Jihad, Bitch’ days to suite the trap requirements of 2017, Zwirek hits every note on the ethnic trap banger book to make this groovy party anthem. Not much else needs to be said to be honest.

DJ Gon – Qawwali [Console Records]

With what seems to start as a moombahton track, DJ Gon delivers a BPM-bending composition which at various points in the track, gears up and down while subtly switching details in the groove, while paying tribute to Qawwali Sufis of South Asia. It’s a super fun track and something that would work for a dancing crowd and it gets extra credits for breaking the monotony of static BPM choons.

ElPeche (Feat. Artéria FM) – Rosas Bandidas [Tropical Twista Records]

The cross-continental collaboration between ElPeche’s beatmaking and Artéria FM’s poetry has fruited in this track, Rosas Bandidas which is a 7.5-minute track exploring Brazilian indigenous music styles, in the slow rave style of artists like Nicola Cruz et al. The song is rather minimal and slow-evolving and the polyrhythmic transition in the mid-section is the juice that binds it all together. We need more of these types of crazy grooves, and thanks to ElPeche, we have a few minutes of it here.

Omeria – To Baku [Moonster Music]

The new Munich & Istanbul-based label makes a strong statement in the sadness-ridden deep Caucasian house vibes (that’s the mountains in Asia, not white people). For anyone digging the vibes of Shkoon and similar well-produced Mesopotamian highway music, you got yourself a treat here.

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