Presenting Ethnofusion Picks, version August 2018; this month, we give you a dose of top-calibre psychedelic & global dub music, socially-charged fusion music from Haiti, Costa Rica and Colombia, cultural exchange between Iranian and Indian beatmakers in Australia, Hispanic LA hip-hop legends working with Egyptian MCs, and a whole other bunch of related dopeness.
sub.conscious — Neural Plastic ft. Cello Joe [Shanti Planti]
Combining his prowess with that of the string player, Cello Joe, sub.conscious gave us this tune as a part of a new whompadelic Shanti Planti EP. The trading relationship between digital trickery and organic instrumentation sat real well with me, with a spacious and confident mix creating maximum dynamics through a gracefully minimum number of elements. Crispy and ever-FXed drums, intuitive instrumental recordings and a thumping psydub groove; that’s a winner in our books!
Sleepy Koala – Astrum [Shanti Planti]
Another Shanti Planti release this month comes from Sleepy Koala, exploring the jazzier sides of global electronic fusion. The four track EP merges elements of many musical avenues, and elements of jazzy prog rock, cinematic trio-hop and psychedelic breaks giving it a distinctive digital 70s revival sound. You can even hear some flamenco dub in a collaborative piece on this EP which closes the album, leaving the wonder of other unexplored fusion possibilities in your ears.
Flintwick — Hourglass Hustlin’
Presenting Flintwick; a new artist on our radar who’s carrying on the tradition of world-infused psytrap in exquisite style. With his latest track, “Hourglass Hustlin'”, the artist blends live sitar recordings with intricate interstellar squelches, crunked out 808s and plenty of tasteful variations within the track’s groove.
Recommended for fans of artists like Zebbler Encanti Experience & Halfred.
Here are some thoughts of inspiration from Flintwick about this release:
Q. What was the inspiration to mix live instruments with the glitchy psytrap vibes?
A. I think live instrumentation is a strong tool for translating that “organic” depth that “psy” music adheres to. Some music out there can sound like it was made from an algorithm or something, but the natural velocity and emotion from the years of practice, can’t be simulated *as easily.
Q. Why the sitar?
A. The way that beautiful, unsynthesizable tone strikes you right in the chest is just magnificent! I’ve always been a fan of “obscure” instruments, my first being a mandolin. Oddly enough, that was the instrument I studied and taught music theory on from the beginning. Maybe the weird reactions I got from that is what sorta kicked me into buying all these ethnic instruments that everybody seems to know the sound of, but nobody knows the name.
(When I say obscure, I’m basing it on my region..)
Q. Any concept behind the title, ‘Hourglass Hustlin’?
A. On a deeper note, It could be seen as symbolizing the balance of time and nature, and how time is running out, hence Hourglass Huslin’. Because music saves time, and creators such as myself are more or less “hustlin'” these tunes out there.
But on a more honest note, when coming up with this title I was picturing this disreputable, black-merchant crocodile hustling contraband hourglasses in a dystopic future where time is bought and sold. The sitar makes me picture him doing this in sand dunes. Feel free to help me name this unlawful croc, maybe he needs another song.
Q. What can we expect from you in the future?
A. Hopefully I’ll have the next EP out before the year is up! There are still styles I work on and frequently perform live that I have yet to actually finish and post for people to hear so i’m excited for that. Those styles being my more funk/ jazz inspired glitch music; something that certainly appeals to the psy/glitch crowd, as well as the more mainstream pop-oriented sounds being recycled constantly.
Got some extra saucy collabs getting cooked up, and of course the neuro-twerk, psytrap isnt going to stop!
Q. Any final comments?
A. Thank you so much for listening to the sounds I pour my heart in soul into. Time is precious, spend it doing what you love; that hourglass cant always turn back around.
Slow Machete – Ola Mala [Postlude Paradox]
Five years ago, one of the first artists that we featured on our blog and early free compilations was an explorer who quested by the name of ‘Slow Machete’. Having eagerly followed the project’s slow evolution over the years, it was a matter of time until a follow up would emerge, finally leading to the recent Ola Mala album.
The ten-track album is a stylistic continuation of 2013’s Mango Tree in terms of its atmospheric and organic field-recorded aesthetic, making it one of those releases that makes you feel like ‘you are really there’. This is evident in the opening 2 tracks and visually visible in the video for ‘Red Mountain Choir’, showing life in Haiti and the overall community value that the Slow Machete project exuberates. However, the credits for the album show that recording stretches out over Haiti, Costa Rica, West Virginia, Monteverde, and Pittsburgh, featuring a wealth of collaborators stretched beyond borders.
Musically, the songs have an overall humble and triumphant feel, carefully crafted over organic trip-hop, cumbia, indie, future house and ambient structures. The overall sound of the album is closer to a folk album than an electronic one, but the fusion agenda is clearly audible, alive and pronounced in it. We’d recommend this for fans of Bonobo, or Mumford and Sons if the latter group had significantly more creative and authentic umph to their sound.
Tropical Twista Records – Esquizogonia V/A (TTR043)
The magnificently creative Tropical Twista Records gave us a new compilation this month, displaying 10 tracks in their hybrid triphop and downtechno style. From the album’s haunting ambient vocal opening three tracks, the pace is sluggishly increased with the remaining tracks, plateauing at a cloudy and non-turbulent rave forest.
Props should be given to the label for its wild imagination across this spectrum of downtechno music as they manage to coalesce ’10s techy textural music, 80s electronic synthesis and a chronology of 4/4 dance genres into the same cohesive package.
Free The Robots – Nasi Goreng [Bastard Jazz]
The Nu-Jazz and electronic producer, Free The Robots graced us with a two track EP through the formidable Bastard Jazz imprint, seemingly tackling music from the Far East, specifically naming his tracks after an Indonesian fried rice dish, Nasi Goreng, and Maranao, a “people of the lake” in the Philippines known for their artistic culture. The music is certainly bastardised enough to have it’s own identity and both of these tune deliver the vibes. Maranao has a more minimal hip-hop instrumental vibe from the LA beat movement aesthetic, while Nasi Goreng uses a lot jazzier cuts and has a more organic feel.
Fans of the Brainfeeder / Alpha Pup camp of experimental aesthetics should definitely check this release out.
Plu Con Pla – No Más Velorio EP [Galletas Calientes Rec.]
Brought to our attention through the OUTTA-associate artist, Biomigrant, this 5-track EP by Plu Con Pla is an amalgamation of various musical grooves from the Colombian Pacific coast, as well as hip-hop and reggae. While certainly being one of the most ‘band music’ and least electronic features this month, the 11-piece band stands out in its social message and creative merging of Caribbean, Colombian and African instruments. Songs like “No Más Velorio” translate to “No More Funerals”, acting as a plea of awareness to Colombia’s socioeconomic and political violence, especially in the band’s region.
Biomigrant further clarifies on the process of this EP’s creation in an interview for Cassette Blog, citing his lucky meeting and subsequent living with the band for two months in a trip to this region of Colombia, eventually leading to the creation of this project which has been highly-praised in local musical festivals, as well as supported by institutions such as La Fundación Tumac which focuses on the conservation of local folklore.
If you are looking for socially-active, soulful and richly-composed world reggae with dashes of other genres, you couldn’t be in better hands.
Amin Payne x Hari Sivanesan – Sarasvati [Multicultural Arts Victoria]
One of our favourite hip-hop and all-round well-rounded beat wizard released a collaborative project with the Veena artist & vocalist, Hari Sivanesan in a follow-up to Multicultural Arts Victoria’s ReMastered Myths project back in 2014, one that we reviewed in one of our first Ethnofusion articles.
Having also worked with Amin Payne through Outtallectuals in Bhutan International Festival, we can vouch for his prowess to make beats in a jiffy with his MPC and pretty much any instruments you throw at him. On this project, you can sense the fluidity of ideas between the two collaborators and guest bassist, Nathan ‘Ra’ W. The EP is a brilliant continuation of vibes on his previous stellar Saffron album, mixing that funky old school ‘grown man’ hip-hop with traditional Hindi musical values.
We got in touch with the homie to give us a little bit more juice about this collaboration and his take on ethnofusion music. Enjoy the read:
Baxtak: Nice to hear you on the world vibes again. What was the creative process like working with Hari Sivanesan?
AP: Thanks bro it’s always a pleasure working with Hari. So my previous release SAFFRON was all sampled based, this project however doesn’t contain any samples so Hari and I had to write original tunes basically with me laying the foundation being drums & percussion and him adding Veena and vocals. From there I would continue to compose and add more instruments such as keys and Bass, arranging, recording and mixing it all in my bedroom studio. The final product was just Hari & I bouncing Ideas back & forth in an improvisation format.
Baxtak: Can you refresh us about the relationship between Multicultural Arts Victoria and these collaborations?
AP: Well these collaborations were birthed by Multicultral Arts Vic meaning it was them that instigated the idea and made the artist come together to collaborate, it wasn’t really done by choice but that’s the beauty of the concept to me, it really give you an unique opportunity and makes you work outside of you comfort zone. We are very grateful of MAV and the platform they provide for such ethic fusion projects and of course embracing the native people of the Australian land(Naarm).
Baxtak: You recently released an EP as Teymori which we blogged in July. That EP also had quite a distinct world vibe which is something we associate with your ‘signature sound’ now. What prompted you to make this side-project and separate the aliases?
AP: I just wanted to make organic house music with live instrumentation & afro inspired percussion. Few artists had me super inspired so I really channeled it & did my thing. The main reason I wanted to separate Teymori from AP was mostly for booking purposes and to create an alter ego that allows me to focus mainly on uptempo music. Everything else I do can stay under the AP umbrella I guess for the vibes that I’m known for such as boombap, G funk and the ethnic fusion release.
Baxtak: The million-dollar question is: Will there be a follow up to Saffron?
AP: Up until this Teymori release Saffron was my most popular and well responded release so a follow up is a must but I wont treat it like a part 2 or sequal, it would be more of a new chapter. And now that I know more musician such as Hari and other percussionist then I can use then on the follow up release instead of sampling so that can really change the format.
Baxtak: Any other interesting fact about this project that you’d like to share?
AP: The lyrics on the album are all poems that Hari recited. One is by Meera & other by Tulsidas.
This whole EP was exclusively made for MAV and it was written and recorded within 7 weeks which was the original deadline. Due to some delays & staff changes in MAV album was released 3 months after its completion.
Cypress Hill – Band of Gypsies
Cypress Hill debuted the first single from their return album after 8 years, giving us an unexpected nod to North Africa with a video partly shot in Egypt and featuring local rappers and vibes. With the immediate loud annunciation of the Arabic language, Kareem Rush, Mc Amin and Yousif Salah’s invite for B Real to ‘Cairofornia’, the song breaks down into a huge riff and the hip-hop begins. DJ Muggs kills production duties and both B Real and Sen Dog smash their verses, showing very promising signs of their ‘Elephants on Acid’ album dropping next month. Be psyched for something strange coming soon!
Atropolis – Yasou Astoria Ft. Stavros Skyrianos
Serving as one of the earliest trendsetters in trappy global 808 fusions, Atropolis makes a welcome comeback with an EP through WONDERWheel Recordings, giving us music in Greek Cypriot, Brazilian and Colombian collaborations. Apparently, this release follows up a major loss of recent works by the artists spanning across 2016-7, except the title track which survived the accidental purge. Regardless, the three original tracks are of absolute top-tier quality, providing warm and professional mixes of organic tribal dance music in their own rights. If you like your global bass music to come in both an elegant family and ratchet-friendly format, this EP is the one for you.
Sander & Jugurtha – Tunisia EP [Souq Records]
Unearthing millennia-old instruments from the Middle East, the due of Parisian artists, Sander & the Jugurtha duo give us the desert house EP, “Tunisia”, inspired by the overarching South Asian, Middle Eastern and North African musical traditions through the sounds of the oud, Sarangi and darbouka. It is also worth mentioning that upon asking the Souq Records’ label manager about the source of these sounds, I was impressed to hear that these instruments were played and recorded, replacing the need for sampling and hence, adding to the overall value of the EP. That is something that we can get behind here at Ethnofusion and we salute the two artists as well as Souq Records for pushing the realness.
Yestegan Chay – Sponja EP
Tapping into early childhood memories of Persian music playing in his family’s background environment, the Israeli producer, Yestegan Chay gives us this three track EP which is a further evolution in his principal and signature global dance sound. The artists’ bulbul tarang is distinctly audible as it interacts with the guest oud recordings of Osher Ezra.
Considering how complex and interwoven Middle Eastern backgrounds can get, Sponja EP is a sonic indication of how closely Jewish, Arab, Iranian and other local identities are interlinked; perhaps the harmony of all these musical influences in the form of song is a symbol of how synergy can be achieved on a fundamental cultural level, be it through musical and/or social laws of harmony.
As a writer with origins from the same region, I find it crucial to establish as much dialogue as possible on such parallels of music and coexistence, hence why this review is a great avenue to explore this further with the artist. Here are some questions I asked from Asaf Simchy, a.k.a. Yestegan Chay about this release:
Baxtak: Can you tell us a little bit about the album’s concept and what ‘Sponja’ means?
YC: Sponja (slang) is basically the act of washing the floor – Israeli style… for me, it is also represents an experience – happens every Friday noon (as a preparation for Shabbat the Jewish holy day), done by my mom while in the background there is happy Oriental Israeli music or Persian music playing..i guess this is the main concept of this album: me… trying to get back to my childhood sounds… and if to think about it metaphorically…it is also me trying to “wash” away some of my “complex” modern influences which I really like but not necessarily represent the “inner” me.. in other words, this is me “wannabe” simple… doing it by using more organic sounds… live recordings… fewer channels… more soul.
Baxtak: Seeing as you come from an Israeli-Persian background and these nationalities are in very bad political terms in recent decades, how do you see yourself and your music as a bridge between these cultures?
YC: I’m not sure how to answer this question…i guess you described it perfectly in your review… I just can tell you that I always feel great when getting good feedbacks from so called “enemies” from over the world.. I guess it is just a regular “peace and love” hippie instinct J …never got much into those political or philosophical questions when it comes to my own music… I just do music. or maybe I still haven’t experienced it deeply and one day I will be able to answer this question…
Baxtak: Back to the music, your compositions are usually quite long and slowly evolving. What draws you to this production style rather than the usual 3-5-minute format?
YC: Just some old habits, I guess. Influenced by the common “psy” genres… and maybe I just have too many ideas for the same track so I’m trying to use them all and 3-5 minutes is not enough. But this is also part of this complexity I was talking about in the first question which I’m trying to decrease from production to another. I guess some of my future works will be shorter.
Baxtak: What do you think distinguishes this EP from your past work?
YC: most of my past works are somehow “oriental” but I think on this one I went one step further. Using more live recordings especially “bulbul tarang” with continuous Darbuka rhythms trying to keep the dancing energy flowing all over the tracks. I also think it is a bit less “psychillin” than my past works.
Baxtak: Any other thoughts you’d like to add?
YC: I think it takes some kind of courage and honesty to release music that is not necessarily connected to your usual listeners or that don’t match the “trendy” sound… I had and still have some insecurities about how people will feel about this kind of productions, but I believe that authenticity is the key…so as a self-compliment or as a tip for new producers… try to wash some of the star dust and keep it simple from time to time 🙂
Gaddy – Mixtape Reality [The Rust Music]
Fans of funky hip-hop as manifested in a more digital format can rejoice in the vibes induced by Gaddy’s new release through The Rust Music. With releases through Digital Whomp, Adapted Records and a number of other glitch-hop outfits under his belt, Gaddy’s sound can predominantly be described as modern boom-bap. Meanwhile, there’s enough in this release in the way of chants, Eastern melodies and oriental strings to qualify it as ethnofusion, hence why we definitely recommend it for y’all noggin wobblers who like their immigrant musical scales.