Presenting the April edition of Ethnofusion with in-depth textual analysis of our favorite releases this month in a wide range of global styles; ranging from pan-Asian atmospheric beats, 12-min live band reenditions, Togolese trap, deep oriental dubstep, post-apocalyptic Israel metal-infused ethnic breaks, Ethiopian mid-tempo, cinematic bass music and plenty of downtempo from around the world.
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Howie Lee – Natural Disaster EP [Do Hits]
One of our label’s all-time favourite Chinamen is back this month with a 6-track EP through his Do Hits imprint, exploring the Silk Route’s least-trodden musical paths. To the author, this EP exemplifies the ancient merchant’s mind-frame, sounding like an amalgamation of sounds that he committed to his sonic memory in those travels. There’s little on the EP in way of description, translation or other form of textual context, but there is definitely a sense of story-telling to be heard in these tracks.
The tracks utilise a heavily ambient aesthetic, representing a slight shift from Howie Lee’s often chaotic outburst into a more graceful prayer-like affair. Tracks like “Dry Prayers, No Echoes”, “Light, Tunnel And Ashes”, “First Rain”, “Mirage”, and “Rebuild” which features the Do Hits artist and Outtallectuals collaborator, Jason Hou, all sound atmospheric enough to pass off as a blind movie soundtrack. “Be Buried” sounds like an alien anime manifestation of a Persian Sufi.
Overall, this EP undoubtably sounds like another master-class Howie Lee offering, while presenting a new horizon through its cinematic quality, and fans of OSTs, conceptual not give-a-fuckisms about whether you can dance to a song or not and a migrant Asian sound must check this EP out.
Also, if you need any visual persuasion of why Howie Lee is ahead of the game, look no further:
Eccentricity = 10 (unique signature sound to the artist and his team)
Lucidity = 10 (spacious and legibly mixed cinematic music with a warm and wide master)
Intricacy = 10 (layers upon layers of instrumental expressions, intertwined by endless atmospherics)
Cadence = 8 (steady and graceful progression despite the ever-present ambient flavour)
Sentiment = 9 (the music and videos do almost all the talking needed, but a small textual input is missing)
Median = 9.4
Aztek – Summit [Courteous Family]
Aztek returns this month with a 12-track release in his unique wonky trap style, including heaps of tribal elements throughout it. The release has the trademark West coast bass sound of the Courteous crew on lock, and the whole thing consistently sounds like tiptoeing in and out of confusion as you get lost and found in a thought on acid. There are plenty of anti-drops and unexpected transitions, as well as enough limp to those grooves to qualify the songs for the Paralympics.
Some Ethnofusion highlight tunes include CrumblyBumbkin’s Demise, Ramsey’s Curse, and the Tsuruda collab, Edd Hardy Summer Kamp, hitting hard with the flutes, tribal percussions, FXed vocal chops and random sounds. The fully drowned lo-fi moombah trap aesthetic of “Cunninglingus with Joan Sanders” definitely deserves a shout out here as well.
Overall, fans of indigo trap, future-ancient bass music and a dominant sense of daze should definitely peep this one.
Eccentricity = 10 (every single track can be traced to Aztek’s signature soudn)
Lucidity = 10 (balance of a lo-fi aesthetic and intricate sound design)
Intricacy = 9 (definitely enough sounds in here for you to discover on 2nd, 3rd, and 10th listens)
Cadence = 9 (superb switchups in songs and progressions into wonky but danceable grooves)
Sentiment = 8 (the confusion sentiment is truly well and alive, visible in the absurd track names)
Median = 9.2
Clap! Clap! – Ode to the Pleiades [Black Acre]
Moving beyond a thousand skies and written as an ode to the star cluster in the constellation of Taurus, another all-time favourite of our blog, Digi G’Alessio, a.k.a. Clap! Clap!’s new release comes in a 12-minute live band format, backed-up by two remixes. Taking the post-electronic music bionetic approach to organic aesthetics, Ode to the Pleiades combines chants, Middle Eastern melodies, euphoric bells, jazzy keys and chords, and an evolving drum-line to create what sounds like a seemless trailer to Earth as we would want to broadcast in an interplanetary-wide-web terra-tourism promo video. The song accelerates and deaccelerates a number of times while effortlessly gliding between different scale variations, and at no point does this release feel boring or pretentious.
The remixes also do this beautiful composition justice, with Photey bringing a distinct classy crunk flavour to the track, and the formidable duo of Daniele Baldelli & Marco Dionigi give us the retro feel with organic drums and sweeping arpeggio melodies on the keyboard.
Overall, this release is as victorious of an effort from Clap! Clap! as it sounds like the resolved clap of victory, and it even further solidifies his place as a crucially important artist in this genre.
Eccentricity = 10 (few other artists can pull off such a unique experience)
Lucidity = 9 (brilliant live-feel of mixing and not overly polished, but would that have added to it?)
Intricacy = 10 (instrumental foley-led electroacoustic band music with organically-remixed versions)
Cadence = 10 (grooves accentuated with a blend of harmonic progression & percussive variance)
Sentiment = 8 (no crazy over-bearing concept but certainly the live band sentiment is strong)
Median = 9.4
Sángo – 27_feb_2018.mp3
It’s only 1 minute 20 seconds, but when Sángo drops a Togolese bass track, we blog it… cause you never know when this opportunity will occur again. Sángo’s unorthodox approach to anything Afro and Latin bass related is always worthy of praise and there’s not much else to be said about that.
Eccentricity = 10 (Togolese electronic dance music…. that is all)
Lucidity = 7 (What’s there is top notch but it would have really hit the spot as a complete song)
Intricacy = 9 (Lots happening and great balance of organic basslines and deep whomps)
Cadence = 10 (the force of syncopated grooviness is strong with this one)
Sentiment = 8 (can be improved by getting Sángo to Togo to jam out this tune with local musicians)
Median = 8.8
Temple Step Project – Blessings
Inspired by the slowly growing appeal of world bass music, this month also sees the return of a trendsetter producer in this scene, Temple Step Project, who made a number of brilliant releases from 2011 to 2014 and who has now been resurrected. The EP is mixed and mastered to perfection with a warm and pleasurable overall sound, and it is comprised of three tribal and South America inspired tunes with brilliant syncopation, layering, instrumentation and composition. The remixes also come in a brilliant variety of styles, ranging from Dysphemic’s signature wubbadelic heaviness, and Mose and Forever & Ever’s more gracefully calm renditions.
It’s safe to say that in my opinion as a writer, this release is a classic “return of the OG” display of mastery, while the artists’ approach is far more genuine than just that, serving as a way to connect the community through the ritual of ecstatic dance.
For fans of Dengue Dengue Dengue, Byzantine Time Machine & Liquid Bloom.
Eccentricity = 8 (rooted in principal genres but executed to perfection)
Lucidity = 10 (brilliant mix of loud, warm and clear mix and master, and character in all sounds)
Intricacy = 10 (instrumental, atmospheric and gracefully sound-design-led; a compositional beast)
Cadence 10 (you could dig up someone from 4000BC and they’d still know the dance to this)
Sentiment = 9 (it serves its purpose as an offering to provoke dance)
Median = 9.4
OZFERTI – The Call [Nubia Nova]
We welcome back OZFERTI to the blog; an artist who’s heavily caught our radar recently seen first spotting him recently in 2018. Taking a similar approach to beat-making as greats of pan-Afrobeat and Jazz-based beatmakers such as Clap!Clap! and Dirtwire, OZFERTI records his own soulful guitars and keyboards on this EP as well as handling all visuals, mixing, and even releasing through his Nubia Nova label. The Call EP is a brilliant blend of pan-ethnic music, Ethiopian jazz, electronic beats, and an element of live executability which is attributed to the artist’s multi-instrumental talent. Expect danceable scores and more experimental features such as Incognito. Welcome to the world of NUBIAN BASS!
Eccentricity = 9 (Definitely a unique approach to OZFERTI’s music and overall sound)
Lucidity = 9 (good warm vinyl-friendly vintage sound, balanced with a modern execution)
Intricacy = 10 (a great balance of electronic elements, live instruments and samples)
Cadence = 9 (most tracks are prefect for dancefloors with a veteran grown-up vibe to the grooves)
Sentiment = 10 (brilliant story-telling, especially exemplified through The Call’s music video)
Median = 9.4
Jugurtha – Odalisque EP [Souq Records]
Souq Records hit as heavy as being a contender for April’s label of the month with two EPs, one of which being this Odaliqsque EP by Jugurtha. The 8-track release includes 3 originals and 5 remixes, and the title track is the one that nails it home for me between the originals, as well as Rafael Aragon’s night-time rider remix of it. Overall, this release is great material for anyone into highly instrumental downtempo house/techno, and we recommend you to check the whole thing out.
Eccentricity = 7 (adhering to genre norms but with true honour)
Lucidity = 8 (slight old school vibe to the mix on the originals, yet neat and sonically legible overall)
Intricacy = 9 (orchestral feel and a great emphasis on multi-instrumentalism)
Cadence = 9 (adventurous rollers with plenty of twists n turns on otherwise smooth rides)
Sentiment = 8 (its not too far-fetched that odalisques will concur that they relate to this music)
Median = 8.2
Rodrigo Gallardo – Minero [Underyourskin Records]
Rodrigo Gallardo gives us an EP through Underyourskin Records in his signature vintage-sounding and vocal-driven sound. With the title translating to ‘Miner’ & ‘As If They Were Gods’ in English, and Chile’s strong track record of being a mining-rich country, one can assume that the music is the story-telling tale of miners. Regardless, musically, you can expect the sort of gramophone-friendly lo-fi aesthetic that this artist and others such as Nicola Cruz are known for.
Eccentricity = 8 (takes only a few seconds to clock the fact that its Rodrigo Gallardo’s unique sound)
Lucidity = 9 (lo-fi aesthetic but slyly technical mixing and overall sound)
Intricacy = 9 (perfect balance of multi-layered-ness and minimal feel)
Cadence = 9 (the sort of dance music you can enjoy with your elders)
Sentiment = n/a (I have not been able to translate the music or get insight about the song’s meaning)
Median = 8.8
Tuğçe Kurti – Songs for My Grandmother Remixes [Souq Records]
Souq Records assemble an army of veterans to give this amazing release from Tuğçe Kurtiş and her long-term collaborator, Santi the re-vamp it has deservedly earned. The duo’s original work was and exemplary honest bridging of cultures, in this case Turkish and Paraguayan folk music, and these remixes take the scope of reinterpretation and cultural collaboration across the globe. Starting from Acid Pauli’s haunting atmospheric rendition of Yıldızların Altında gives glistening meaning to being ‘Underneath the Stars’, while San Miguel, Alvaro Suarez and Anatolian Sessions, Rodrigo Gallardo and Alizarina bring their blends of modular-feeling slow techno and house music to the table. The EP also features two unexpected yet welcome representations, in the form of the oud guru, Spy From Cairo and his reworking of the original into his signature, and Drumspyder’s more wub-heavy and percussion-led rendition.
Overall, there is a refreshing amount of experimentations inside and outside the downtechno genre’s general reach, and this marks a truly varied experience overall.
Eccentricity = 9 (nice ventures outside the expected stylistic range of remixes)
Lucidity = 9 (all tracks are vivid, spherically comprehensible and diamond sharp)
Intricacy = 8 (there is a fair degree of instrumentation by each artist beyond the original stems)
Cadence = 10 (the EP gives many triumphant variations of the original for different dancefloors)
Sentiment = 8 (the sentiment to remix songs yet retain the original character is truly well-served)
Median = 8.8
Shiso – Funky Cha Cha [Guerilla Crew Rec]
Been a while that we’ve featured a track like this; I often find that the jungle terror genre goes a bit too far on the screechy end of the spectrum, but this rendition of a Cha Cha by the Japanese producer, Shiso has the perfect balance of heavy EDM character and smooth charm to fit our books. There’s not much else to say, except that you should put this song on and if you don’t instantly smile from its guilty pleasure hip-winder quality, then… frown instead?
Eccentricity = 7 (a descendent of early Moombah bass but a great return to a tasty genre)
Lucidity = 9 (very crispy and ‘big’ overall sound, with zero hesitations of quality on a sound system)
Intricacy = 8 (rich and seamless mix of layers with no obvious shouting for bragging rights)
Cadence = 10 (I can’t stop dancing and people are looking at me weirdly in this coffee shop)
Sentiment = 9 (if you are here for that happy playful funky cha cha, you’re definitely in for a treat)
Median = 8.6
Gisaza – Assassin EP [DeepEnd!]
Deep End Movement’s rising deep dubstep star, Gisaza teases us with a few clips of his mystic prowess while cooking up hype for his vinyl release with the label. This producer has easily penetrated our list of top ethnic dubsters and tunes like these sit next to the genre’s greatest. So fans of The Widdler’s deeper scores like his remix of India by Dub Killer, and other similar gems, DO NOT SLEEP ON GISAZA.
Eccentricity = 9 (curious blend of styles with clever switch-ups)
Lucidity = 9 (neat low-end movements and intricately simple high end details n melodies)
Intricacy = 9 (lots of instruments,
Cadence = 9 (expect heavy hard-hitting mosh-friendly grooves for your soundsystems)
Sentiment = 8 (stealthy ninja bass music, coming out of the dark to assasinate)
Median = 8.8
Caidance – Mask Off In Dub [Dank ‘N’ Dirty Dubz]
Taken from DnDD’s annual 4/20 EP, Caidance comes through with the smoked-out digital dub, whirling echoes, double time skanks, vintage-sounding leads, and the unique riddim style, blessing us with the vibes on this ceremonious day. Props to Caidance for keeping that oten-forgotten OG reggae vibe to this riddim. You know what to do to enjoy this one!
Eccentricity = 8 (unique double-time skank pattern interaction with other elements)
Lucidity = 7 (drums, especially kicks are slightly lost in the mix but it gets the job done)
Intricacy = 8 (lots of intricate paddy, vocal and siren-esque details, and melodic basslines)
Cadence = 9 (definitely music to get your chest vibrating to in the haze of a 420 blunt)
Sentiment = 8 (the sentiment of being ode to the culture is highly present)
Median = 8
Rednote – Pagoda
Taken from his new Futursim EP, Rednote came through with the British blend of (for the lack of a better word) ethereal bass music, taking inspiration from future garage, liquid drum n bass and dubstep, and sprinkling dashes of lush crystalline melodies and ethnic-sounding strings. Tune in for them night time feels.
Eccentricity = 8 (nice blend of percussion n melody styles in an amalgamate UK sound)
Lucidity = 8 (slight lack of crisps and a bit too synthetic with the synths but intricately mixed)
Intricacy = 8 (really nice balance of melodic and percussive syncopations and harmonic instruments)
Cadence = 9 (probably the strongest aspect of this track is the dominant and ever-evolving groove)
Sentiment = 7 (not much in the way of written release details but sonically, it hits in the feels)
Median = 8
Cosmic Touch – Nataraja EP [Visionary Shamanics Records]
A new artist on our radar this week is Cosmic Touch with his brand of squelchy psychedelic ethno-hop, with an end-game seemingly akin to the Shanti Planti aesthetic. Over the course of the EP, the artist gives us that whirly and wailing neuro-inspired dose of psychedelia, with plenty of timely hymnal Hindi chants and instrumentations to press your chakra activation big red button.
For fans of a nice bridge of modern and classic psychedelic neuro music, i.e. Quanta & Dysphemic
Eccentricity = 7 (not too far out of the ordinary but definitely has character)
Lucidity = 8 (the overall master and mixing style might be a bit too different for some)
Intricacy = 9 (lots of tasty layering, intricate sound design and elements)
Cadence = 9 (definitely dancefloor-friendly with plenty of umph)
Sentiment = 8 (a guaranteed psychedelic trip and familiar cerebral refuge)
Median = 8.2
Jan Amit – Killing Future VIP [Hyperboloid Records]
Every now and then, I hear a tune that reminds me of the bar of intricacy I need to maintain for a 10/10 rating and this 2016 VIP from Jan Amit is one of such calibre. Presumeably an old track that has now surfaced on SC, the two-year-old age it marks has no negative baring on its next-level cinematic appeal, if not adding to its monumental value. Jan Amit has impressed us before with his album that we covered last year (hyperlink), and he has done it again.
For fans of Bwoy De Bhajan, Eric Oberthaler and similarly cinematic music.
Eccentricity = 10 (one of the most unique tracks we’ve heard on this blog recently)
Lucidity = 10 (loud, clear and dominant composition with amazing use of the sonic space)
Intricacy = 10 (brilliant abundance of atmospheric, melodic, and percussive elements)
Cadence = 9 (meets the balance of cinematic composition and dance-friendliness very well)
Sentiment = 9 (the emotional response on this is so strong, it doesn’t even need a track title)
Median = 9.6
Zebbler Encanti Experience x FLY x DOC – Kites ft. Ganavya [Wakaan]
That’s a hell of a lot of names, but if you are here because you saw the word reading as the acronym, ZEE and you wanted to see your inner G come to the surface, then you shall not be disappointed. Sufficiently different to his previous tracks and fitting of the Wakaan bonanza aesthetic, Kites is frenzied, whimsical, and full of energy. Expect signature Zebblerian charm, as well as the long-term collaborator, Ganavya to bring the brilliant vocals and transform you into a kite.
For fans of Dysphemic, David Starfire and Halfred.
Eccentricity = 8 (Ethno trap-stepy vibes, but the ZEE Signature is real!)
Lucidity = 9 (Ready for the main-stage or a close encounter with a third kind)
Intricacy = 9 (Expect whirling vocals and ZEE’s dribbling alien arps)
Cadence = 8 (definitely to be consumed with an EDM dancefloor in mind)
Sentiment = 7 (certainly fitting of the discordant Wakaan sound)
Median = 8.2
Ra Djan – Ishtar EP
It’s not every day that you hear a cover of a metal song in an electronic formaf but Ra Djan on production and Mike Sandman on vocals has manifested in the form of this classic joint by the legendary Brazilian ethno-metal band, Sepultura. This ode to Ratamahatta is taken from an EP titled Ishtar which sees Ra Djan take the Israeli psy sound, fuse it with heaps of Jaw Harp and explore this unique terrain of world music. Another standout track includes the title track with a fast dnb breaks format, Pantera style riffs, and a whirling Ozric Tentacles type of appeal.
If you dig the heavier realm of electronic music, make room for this release in between your copy of Infeceted Mushroom’s Heavyweight, Fear Factory and Igorrrr.
Eccentricity = 8 (Resurgence of the 90s cyber metal sound but in a unique format)
Lucidity = 9 (it’s a good mix if the Berimbau sound comes through over the growls n distorted melodies)
Intricacy = 10 (jaw harp, lots of FX, tribal percussions, growls, guitars and other insturments)
Cadence = 8 (definitely to be consumed with an EDM dancefloor in mind)
Sentiment = 9 (post-Apocalyptic steampunk global bass electro metal from Israel with music videos)
Median = 8.8