here is what i played on that perfectly situated function 1 system as warmup for Untold (amazing set) and 2562 (amazingly shit set).
bigup Afropop Worldwide for commissioning this piece.
Most definitely not for the faint of heart, made with Berlin’s Berghain Club in mind, this one needs the best sound system you have access to (preferably a Function One), as well as very loud volumes.
“Percussion music is a contemporary transition from melody driven music (of the European tradition) to the all-sound music of the future.” – John Cage
Techno, an umbrella term for various styles of electronic music, can be characterized by an eschewing of narrative song structure and melodic content to focus on repetitive machine beats, usually with a steady 4/4 kick drum, snares on the 2, and a compulsive high hat in between.
A culture of mechanical anonymity and electronic universality, Techno purportedly embodies values from a post-human future, cut off entirely from the mess of our collective past. But reality of the music is the opposite: it came out of specific histories and locations, and is a direct product of both the 20th Century as well as much older rhythmic traditions from the mother continent.
Similar to older Afro-American styles like House, Disco, Funk, Soul, Motown, Rock, and Blues, the 4 on the floor beat emblematic of most techno is a good example of the duple rhythm, which became popular in America (and the world) from the legacy of slaves playing African percussion music without drums, with influence from European folk music. Fast forward to the 1980s, Africa Bambataa meeting Kraftwerk was a new chapter of fusion, and produced new strains of African rhythm mutation under new and specific circumstances. The simplicity of the 4/4 duple rhythm and machine sounds spoke to new generations raised in urban industrial settings, and part of its wide international appeal.
But in Techno African rhythm traditions survive and thrive, in mutant form, re-imagined and reconstructed based on earlier re-imagination and reconstructions. The brightest minds in modern electronic music have all made use of specifically African musical ideas and rhythm sensibilities, and IMHO, the best Techno is polyrhythmic, a reduced and streamlined version of African percussion. The music of the genre’s most important innovators often includes off-kilter syncopation, beats falling not squarely on the grid, as well as different interlocking rhythms playing at the same tempo, such as 3/4 with 4/4. Often subtle in its interaction with the dominant duple beat, these percussive elements and dynamics are expressive of complex rhythmic sensibilities which are, if indirectly, unmistakably related to African traditions. Today it is no different, many of the brightest minds are making the deepest, hardest, most forward thinking and uncompromising underground Techno with, consciously or unconsciously, African rhythm ideas in mind. Synthesizers play the part of Djembes, bleeps and blurps are drum accents: the African-ness of these beat patterns may be more obvious to me and others who spend a lot of time with African music, but I think will also become apparent to anyone who has an open mind and really listen.
If dance music itself can be defined as the design of sound patterns according to, and for, the proportions and speeds of the human body – African traditions have had many tens or even hundreds of thousands of years to perfect exactly this. Techno is often said to be about “functionality” on the dance floor – for this reason it makes sense that the evolution of new dance music should increasingly look to Africa for inspiration.
This mix was made to demonstrate all of this, including legends like Underground Resistance and Jeff Mills, as well as later and present day innovators such as Surgeon, Ancient Methods, Redshape, Peter Van Hoeson, etc, with a sprinkling of samples from field recordings and traditional music from Africa. (It would have been too easy to include UK Funky and other kinds of new bass music, which are often even more explicitly Africanized, so I am keeping this one mostly genre specific.)
just in: the good people at Berghain also wants to hear this in the space for which it was intended: come hear an extended version of this set on 7th of March, with Untold and 2564.
Morgan Geist commented on a pretty scary NYT article on the commercial success of Electronic Dance Music. For now i will leave the numerous serious problems with the article itself aside, and focus on the quote of a quote:
“Let’s remember a quote from a Detroit techno pioneer (possibly Jeff Mills) that I think of often: “At rock concerts, people scream when they hear something they know and have heard before. With techno, people scream when they hear something they’ve never heard before.”
While on the surface it rings true, the much applauded and alleged “progressiveness” and “open mindedness” of electronic dance music culture, now nearly 30 years on, is debatable to say the least. A more accurate description would be:
“techno crowds scream when they hear something they’ve never heard before, but which bangs exactly in the same manner as something which they have heard many, many times before.”
By now, to me at least, a lot of the innovative, genre-defying, unconventional and potentially insurrectionary energy of many forms of Electronic Dance Music such as house and techno has solidified and genrified into a stagnant, closed minded and xenophobic conservatism which still worships exactly the same few sacred recordings: for example, you will find ZERO Acid Techno since the release of Phuture’s Acid Trax* which pushes the genre further, in any significant ways, by even 1 centimeter. Not that there is anything wrong with screaming at the recognition of a sound**, we are all creatures of habit after all, but if you play some EDM which is objectively, formally speaking at least equally as “banging”, “deep” and danceable as Jeff Mills, but which is truly rhythmically and sonically fresh, truly boundaries pushing in the context of western clubs in 2012, say, some Kuduro or South African Electro, at a techno party a lot of people will head for the door. (i know from many personal experiences).
The illusion that Electronic Music is somehow “inherently, by its very nature, more progressive” than anything that came before will not benefit anyone, least of all electronic music makers or lovers — in the history of modern western Louis Armstrong was much more revolutionary than Derrick May. But musicology aside, in the most-boring-argument-ever between “real music” and electronic music, if the EDM heads want their bleeps to be taken seriously, just like “real instruments”, they need to also, at the same time, realize and admit that just because it is done with synths and drum machines don’t make it necessarily any more wild and crazy and new and “futuristic”** than anything else.
* Actaully, now that i think about it, i do miss playing acid techno a hell of a lot. Maybe will get back into it, nostalgically, a little bit :)
** This quote of a quote also embodies the kind of out-dated modernism typical in the serotonin depleted rhetoric of Electronic Dance Music — the self proclaimed but in fact disingenuous obsession with newness actually sets up a reactionary and conservative dichotomy between “new” and “old”, in which the essential truth of the nature of creative progress, that the ideas which drive the discovery and development of the new always arise from the old, is sidelined and dismissed. Techno routinely wheels out the ideas of visual artists from 1910 – 1930 as if they were at all original or even relevant in the 21st Century; the geometric minimalist forms and surfaces betray a wholly retrograde consciousness.
Grounded in the rhythmic traditions and tonal language of North Africa and the Middle East*, Djinn Bass fuses Sufi Ritual Music and Club Beats, Sacred Egyptian Hymns and Abstract Dub, Classic Rai and Dubstep, Turkish Taqsim and Tech House, Moroccan Chaabi anthems and Tribal Electro. Ouds, Flutes, and Darbukas mix and blend with electronic pulse; vocal refrains underpinned by digital bass, sometimes chopped, looped, and dubbed out. Decidedly anti short-attention-span, as the FUSION series have increasingly become, the tracks are long because duration is essential for the ecstatic and immersive nature of this music.
01 Georges Kazazian-Sagate Tassabih + Moritz Von Oswald Trio – Pattern 4
02 Salam E Varzesh – E Bastani + Sideshow – African Cherry (Zhao Extended Edit)
03 Farhang Sharif – Pishdaramad Homayoun + J Kenzo-Conqueror
04 Yaşar Akpençe – Kings of Tomorrow + Jason Cheiron – Afrotastico
05 Unknown – Sultana + Doomwork-Isla
06 Flutes Gasba Du Nord – Est De L’Algerie + Uncle Bakongo – Makonde
07 Es’lam Yfattar_VS_Dj Gregory-Elleeol Ritual (Zhao Percussive Mix)
08 Cheikha Rimitti – Mohammed Ay Sidi + Dj Jeroenski – African nights + Roska – Squark
09 Tabla Voyage – Tablat Barhum + Roska – Jackpot
10 Nass El Ghiwane – Salif Albattar + Zombie Disco Squad – The Dance
11 Nass El Ghiwane – Iahmami + Raw Artistic Soul-Keep On Shining
12 Scarab – Fall of The Towers of Convention + Dead Can Dance – Saldek + Foiledtorsos – The Specialist
13 Ali Hassan Kuban – Walla Abshero + Malente & Dex – Bangkok (James Braun & Dan M Remix)
14 Birol Yayla & Şenol Filiz – Outro
*for a different take on North African and Arabic flavors, get into NGOMA 9.
In Yoruba spiritual traditions (contemporary Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria) as well as its descendant Afro-diasporic faiths like Vodou, Santeria/Lukumi and Candomble, Eshu is the divine messenger between Gods and Man, the gatekeeper, protector of travelers, guardian of the Crossroads, offering choices and reveals possibilities. Often identified by the number three, and the colours red & black, Eshu represents the balance of nature, Day and night, creation and destruction, old age and youth. Yet more than conduit between this and other worlds, Eshu is also a spirit of Chaos and a devious trickster, playing games and serving up mischief with the ultimate aim of waking people up and teaching them lessons.
So, in the spirit of Eshu, FUSION 3 represents the balance between traditional and modern, “east” and “west”, listening and dancing. This mashup album stands at the crossroads between the musical worlds of Yoruba talking steel drums, Cuban piano, Indonesian Gamelan, Cameroon Mbira (thumb piano), Black Panther poetry, South African Jazz, etc., and the House and Techno club sounds of today.
I think it will play a few tricks on minds which insist on seeing the world in discontinuously separate compartments.
01 [Nigeria/Germany] Etubom Rex Williams – Uwa Idem Mi <> Maurizio – M1
02 [Pan-Africa/USA] Guem & Zaka – L’Abeille <> Oasis – One
03 [Indonesia/Cuba] Django Mango – the wisdom of the fool <> Fast Vision Soul – Babatunde
04 [Burundi/South Africa] Chant d’enfant accompagne d’un arc musical umuduri <> Spikiri feat. Hugh Masekela – Spiyanko Bonus Beats
05 [Nigeria/UK] Wahabi Arowoshila – Gbogbo Musulumi Ododo (Fuji) <> Hector and Bryant – Tension
06 [Cameroon/Germany] Frances Bebey – Africa Sanza <> Basti Grub – oma vovo
07 [Cameroon/UK] Frances Bebey – Bameda <> AudioFly – Sweeter Than
08 [Indonesia/Germany] Sambasunda – Sumimaula <> Liapin – BlackMamba
09 [USA/Italy] Sarah Webster Fabio – Glimpses / Nigger Sweat <> Double Dash – Mas
10 [Nigeria/UK] Madam Mujidat Ogunfalu & Her Waka Group – Ololo Nise Awo Won Ni <> Chris Wood and Frank Leicher – Into the Jungle
11 [South Africa/USA] Ricky Rimbiandarison - Imamohamana Dry (The Wake Up Drum) <> Cpen – African Jack
12 [Ghana/USA] Charles Kofi Amankwaa Mann – Funky Hi-Life <> Yonurican – Lucha Machete (Ricardo Miranda Drum Mix)
13 [Mali] Oumou Sangare – Yala (Zhao Fix)
14 [Ghana/Netherlands] Guy Warren – BUILSA <> Gregor Salto – Classic Beat
15 [USA/Nigeria] Sarah Webster Fabio – Boss Soul <> Osunlade - Native Tongue
16 [Mali/Sweden] Ahmed Fofana – Balani <> Jamtech Foundation – Too Fast (Zombie Disco Squad Remix)
17 [Ethiopia/Germany] Bole 2 Harlem – Home <> Booka Shade – Hide and Seek In Geishas Garden