Ethnic Dub / Trap / Bass
Liquid Bloom x Numatik – Stand with Us (ft. Yona FrenchHawk & David Brown)
This month, again, we open the blog with a call to prayer, from Liquid Bloom (Amani Friend of Desert Dwellers), various remixing producers, and most importantly, elders from the indigenous tribes who have united in an unprecedented way at Turtle Island in the Standing Rock Reservation, to counter the biggest corrupting force of evil polluting the mind and biosphere of this generation and those who are to come in the future.
Almost every time I hear this song, my eyes tear up. The gentle voice of the elder who calls out in peace, the music, the message and our mutual grief form an undisputable bond through the cyber realm, in a fight for something that is sacred to believers and non-believers alike; our planet. I sincerely hope that our global protector community, no matter how close or far from the perceived frontlines, understand that now more than ever, we need to battle within ourselves and find the courage we require to stand up for what we preach and eliminate this tarpit from our one and only essential cradle.
Ponder. & 5AM – Shūhasū [Hyperbole]
Two of squelch dub n hop’s finest including the Aquatic Collective founder, Ponder, and the sound design beast 5AM get together for this brilliant fluid flood of bassy grooves, organic arps and mind-melding soundbites. The track is the first indication of what’s to come from Hyperbole’s first compilation and it’s a pretty damn indicator of things. With Shūhasū, which translates to ‘frequency’ in English, the duo proves that there’s plenty of soul left within the squelch dub sound when you execute it properly like this.
Shlump – Arabian Acid [Wakaan]
Taken from Shlump’s brilliant recently released album through Wakaan, Arabian Acid is one of those dark minimal trvp bangers with a main flute line and sluggish 808, but the attention to foley and sound design detail around the founding concept is brilliant and exactly what sets pros apart from rookie artists. There’s something melancholically gangsta and psychedelic about Shlump’s sound; there’s always an element of unpredictability and this is reflected quite well in the whole album so we suggest you check out the whole thing.
Vaticaen Production – Dubs For Syria [VA]
A stand-out release of the month in both execution and concept; a remix compilation or extended single, whichever way you look at it. Basically, after an open call to remix a dub for Syria, the cause gathered a lot of support, meaning that the project totalled to 58 different tracks on this riddim. There’s a little bit for every child of dub. Digital, organic, mellow, heavy, dub jungle, steppy, droney, you name it. Funds raised from this project go directly to the foundation, A Heart For Syria, which is a Canadian non-profit organization made-up of Syrian-origin people in Canada and who focus on humanitarian aid during this conflict since 2012.
ASADI – Throne [Artist Intelligence Agency]
Asadi’s back everyone to basically wrap up his unbelievable run this year. He has he been featured on almost every major EDM outlet, thanks to his live MPC clips of remixes, Spongebob meets Kanye, etc. and has now released this song through AIA. But to this blog, ASADI’s year is praiseworthy since he’s solidified himself as The Persian Trap producer around. Throne is a minimal banger in the regular rise, drop, break, drop, outro format with big 808s, trill af hats and a voice sample saying ‘Ey Parvardegar’ meaning ‘Hey God’. It’s textbook stuff within the genre, but its page 666, you haven’t read it yet, and it beholds black magic formulas, boooi.
Releece – Pho Luv
Every now n then you just need a Far Eastern trap song dedicated to the love of pho so you feel good about yourself, life, and just get your shui fenged af. Oh, what a great coincidence then that Releece just released this tasty yumburger, titled ‘Pho Luv’. It’s short, its spicy, and the rimshots sound like they were made with chopsticks. Actually, I didn’t hear any rim shots but seeing as this blog is more of a stream of consciousness and this imagery has now been evoked, we’re just gonna roll with it. Oh how drunk I must be from the love of Pho.
Byzantine Time Machine – Kashmiri Mind Meld [Outtallectuals]
We might have had a few cheeky releases ourselves this month and well… if it’s ethnofusion enough, it should be in here, right? Well, this one from our buddies, Byzantine Time Machine couldn’t be more ethnofusion. The duo recorded every single instrument, added a bunch of their signature digital works and heavy 808s and the result is that super organic sub-continental Asian organic trap banger. Obviously won’t blow our own trumpet too much, but if we compromised on dope quality ethnofusion releases, this blog wouldn’t be credible anymore, would it?
Subleeminal – The Mystic World
The homie, Subleeminal makes one of his meditational positive world medicine journeys in the form of this 6 minute Ayuverdic prayer with a heap of subtle and anthemic instrumentation. It’s mysterious to start with but it gradually becomes more and more triumphant until an ultimate happy-ending jam. Guided meditation, for sure.
Ethnic House / Slow Techno / Mid-tempo
Be Svendsen – Bones (Bwoy De Bhajan Remix) [Iboga Records]
I’ll always have a biased presumption when hearing a new Bwoy De Bhajan track, and despite them saying, ‘never raise your expectations’, I have never gotten disappointed. This month, Bwoy came out with this insanely good remix of Be Svendsen’s classic track, Bones, creating something as forest whomp as his usual self, but with an added Puscifer/Tom Waits kinda vibe and general feel-good tone. The thing with Bwoy’s music is that he gets bunched up with psychedelic bass artists but if we break the ‘scene’ element from the music, this is more Flying Lotus than psytrance, psychill or psywhatever… probably because of the pan-style accessibility embedded deeply in it.
Ion Driver – At Dusk [IDMusic]
If we stretch the definition of ethnofusion to consider wild west music as ethnic American settler music, we got ourself an amazingly dank mega-toon right here. Ion Driver’s cinematic, technical and multi-layered organic blend with that bottleneck sliding guitars is a truly refreshing, inspirational and unique take on all things music. Previously to this author, Ion Driver was known as an immensely talented sound designer, but with At Dusk being one of the best tracks I’ve heard all year, he’s definitely moved into the territory of my favourite composers as well.
Drossel – VAgabunden [Various Artists]
Taking some of the most innovative artists from the downtempo tribal world slow-techno / house realm and uniting them through mega-minimal aesthetic, Drossel crew come out with one of the year’s top compilations. Artists like JGB, El Buho & Steffen Kirchhoff show the true meaning of less-is-more through beautifully executed polyrhythmic organic, textural and tribal music. Bar a couple of tracks, there’s quite a consistent experimental execution to this compilation and in a style that’s generally constrained to straight 4 to the floor rhythms, quite a few of the artists here do a damn fine job of providing an alternative.
Bonobo – Kerala
Well you know it, it’s Bonobo and there’s a reason is… BONOBO. Supposedly as an ode to the coastal Kerala region of India, but sounding like the entrance theme to a riverside resort in heaven, Bonobo uses a distinct UK bass / garage format to bring forward this exotic feel. Perhaps it’s an unlikely realm; gritty grey UK council estate meets a meadow of lotuses, but in a way, maybe its that remedial relationship that makes this such a blessed blend.
Dübelu & Philip Chedid – Akasha [Akumandra]
How deep would deep house sound if deep house could deep this deep? That is a question you have to ask yourself before jumping into this meditational driver. Being released through Akumandra, you can be certain that the overall sound is going to be rather dark overall. But alike the flickering radiance of a night-time lit candle, there is enough shine to this release to make the sparse illumination glow.
Yør Kultura – Pokhara Love [Lump Records]
The legendary exotic house n techno label, Lump Records, comes out with a single from Yør Kultura which takes the number of releases on this month’s articles that are absorbing the beauty of Pokhara, Nepal to two. The beautifully crafted blend of drums with madal percussion and beautiful flute rhythms slowly evolve, ascend, descend and transform over the course of 8 minutes. If you know a thing or two about Nepali folk music, you’ll have heard this type of gloriously happy sounds on dodgy life-defying mountain roads, being blasted out of poor decades-old prayer and slogan-ridden buses. It is now with pleasure that we can bring these vibes into the dance-floor in a well-executed electronic manner. Oh, and there are two remixes for you to chew on as well.
KMLN – Sabilu EP [Sol Selectas]
A multi-cultural collaboration in the true sense of the word, and also with a cool concept. The trio that makes up KMLN ended up having a field trip with people, field recorders, instruments and whatever fell in their path of travels in Indonesia and Mexico, with the aim to “bring back a piece of every musical culture they encounter”. The result is as eclectic as it sounds. It’s primarily based around a reoccurring house music backbone and the repetitive nature is counter balanced over the course of the two tracks with a brilliant amount of organic recordings that pop in to say hello. One can only assume that both metaphorically and literally, these guys had a very clear of what they wanted to do with this trip as despite the vast number of elements, the output is intricately neat and organized.
Ethnic Hip-hop and Trip-Hop
Grup Ses – Alliance [Besides Records]
A full length instrumental beat galore release from the Turkish producer, Grup Ses. For fans of cross-style instrumental world hip-hop from the likes of the Gaslamp Killer and Amin Payne, this is an essential mixtape to have. There’s really a little bit of everything in this; from full 4/4 assaults, to broken breakbeat, ambient skits, collabs with Lebanese and Palestinian rappers, all with overtones of funk, soul, rock, blues, trap on different songs and based over a foundation of Anatolian and Near Eastern aesthetics. A lot of the beats could have been better composed in terms of structure to make full tracks, but the snippety beat-tape format gives it a nice casual vibe as well.
MUDRA – Dhyana
Championing the art of eeriness, MUDRA, the artist known to his blog for his heavy yet minimal approach to devotional music, hits back with a trip-hop sound akin to that of cinematic artists like Arure. The dark winter-esque red moon rising tone that this song evokes could cause howling if listened to on a full moon. It’s a master-crafted blend of detailed drumwork, subtle neuro basslines, lush piano and strings melodies and a wealth of reversed, delayed, echoed and glitched sounds.
Mazzi & S.O.U.L Purpose – Chai Party
New Jersey killer MC, Mazzi of the S.O.U.L Purpose crew brings out the UZI-paced rhymes over a tribal trap beat, delivering two heavy socially-charged verses. We must give him props for the continued fusion of ethnic and tribal elements in his songs, as well as his play on words with the Tea Party. But more importantly, Mazzi is one of the most relevant underground artists in hip-hop today and deserves utmost respect for the work he does for the community. Over the past decade, Mazzi’s bridged the sale of music with development work across the globe, ranging from DIY peacebuilding efforts in Palestine and Israel, and bringing clean water to rural communities in Uganda. These are qualities that many conscious hip-hop agents shout about but very few, almost none have achieved as much as Mazzi and the S.O.U.L Purpose crew and as a result, this inclusion in this month’s picks gets points not only for musical, but also on a higher sustainability level of quality.
Dark and Heavy
Ancestral Voices – Priests of MU
There’s something deeply visionary about Ancestral Voices music. It’s the sort of feeling that is conjured when listening to post-metal / drone metal bands like Sunn 0))); disturbingly haunting and minimalistic, yet palatially heavy and spacious. Brilliant.
Rawtekk & Audeka – Solar Grace
Although we are nearly at the end of the year, Audeka doesn’t show any sign that they want to stop releasing some of the most technical and unique electronic music this year. Getting help from labelmates Rawtekk and delivering on the dark aphotic appeal of Methlab Recordings, this giant collaboration ghosts through a ravenous ancient tribal soundscape, comprised of atmospheric neuro craziness, topped off with the beautifully haunting voice of Rawtekk’s Christine Westphal. This release really portrays some of the most outer edges of experimental electronic music that manages to keep its soul intact while pushing the envelope. Even without the use of a single ethnic instrument, this stellar track gets one of the biggest pieces of the cake this month.
SOOHAN – Bakhshi EP
North America’s headiest spiritual gangster decides it’s time to give us his heaviest dose of ethnic club bangers, this time in the form of a three track EP titled, Bakhshi. The three tracks on the EP are quite an eclectic mashup of styles, mixing everything from chants, foley, gunshots, animal sounds, live vinyl scratches (by Throodown), orchestral choirs, tribal chants, bhangra grooves, reggae soundbites, and more. On paper, there’s no reason any of this should work but SOOHAN’s brilliant hack for flipping and blending sounds from around the world makes this difficult 80 day balloon ride around the world seem like a 12 hour first class ride round the globe on a private jet.
Nuphlo – Adventure feat. Sandhya Sanjana
Nuphlo’s unique blend of drum n bass, jungle, hip-hop and devotional music comes back to the blog for the second month in a row. It must be said that from the over 500 monthly songs that get reviewed for this blog, hearing what Nuphlo executes is rather unique. The uptempo and downtempo switch-up dynamic during this song are praise-worthy and overall, it can be said that Nuphlo is achieving a formidable signature sound that’s easily recognizable and thoroughly enjoyable.
B-Ju x yunis – L’Hindya
Wow, I’m super stoked on this finding this month as it’s definitely unlike anything I’ve blogged before. Ethnic vibes, chants and flutes mixed with gangsta juke / footwork, soulful samples, trap, jungle breaks? Hell fucking yes. Especially with the track Oulala, this duo really hit the spot with fast-paced but graceful snake-charmer vibes. Basically, figuratively or not, it’s not easy to execute jungle in the desert, but these fine gentlemen do just that like they are the Sahara Forest Project. Yep, this is so good, it’s taking me on some totally unrelated sustainability flex. Big-ups.
Dysphemic – Druid Lizard feat. Yiani Treweeke [Gravitas Music]
Picking up where they left it with Inter-G-Lactic’s Anatolian bass vibes, Dysphemic is back alongside his brother Yiani to deliver a hard-hitting Mediterranean bass parcel. The result is a clean mix of Flamenco guitars, Near Eastern strings, heavy multi-layered basses, all laid out on a step riddim that undergoes its own BPM-change, taking the final section of the track to a faster glitch-hop pace. This is essential music in your artillery if you DJ those ancient battle vibes, and the pace change is something you’d wanna have in your bag of live tricks. Solid ethnic dance vibes from the Gravitas crew, once again.
Chamberlain – Deity Vol.2 [Adapted Records]
Earlier this year, Chamberlain came out with arguably the grooviest EP of the year, Deity Vol.1. The two tracks from that EP have been my aces of spade in DJ sets, always coming in handy in almost any downtempo or uptempo setting. Now he is back to wrap up the year with the part 2; another two-track celebrating the devotional heavy bass dance. Vibewise, they are almost identical to vol 1, with Dharma having a slightly more psychedelic tone, and Yaksha hitting home on the heavy glitchhop vibes. Along with the Dysphemic release above, these are two records to put on this month in continuation and get your chakras moonwalking.