Image Jimmy Baikovicius
Collaborating with Urbanscapes ‘16, Musika Publika is hosting their quarterly vinyl and music bazaar on Saturday 23 April at Black Box, Publika. Since it is also Publika’s Eco Month, I was asked to play a few world music records for the occasion, naturally I’ve decided to play the more dance-oriented world music cuts from my collection. There’s a common thread throughout the selection in that the songs have elements that are hypnotically rapturous. I would say that the need for music to be transcendental is almost universal, be it to serve the purpose of providing a soundtrack that is spiritual or used to make the body move to a higher state, and for this reason, dance music comes in different forms and shapes.
Here is a list of 10 world music-themed tracks for the eclectic dancefloor.
1. Francis Bebey – Forrest Whistle [Daphni Edit] (Born Bad, 2013, original from 1986)
Cameroonian Francis Bebey is known for his electronic interpretations of polyrhythmic African music, and this one is edited by Daphni – the techno music alias of Caribou. For a lot of these techno artistes, the raw sound of Africa has always been a big inspiration.
2. Mariah – Shinzo No Tobira (Palto Flats, 2015, original from 1983)
Even without listening to the music, reading reviews of the album, Utakata No Hibi, will give you goosebumps – the result of the album being so strange and yet so enigmatic. The album is sung partly in Japanese and partly in Armenian; it’s synth pop, it’s no wave, and downright folksy at the same time even, simply put, there is no other record like this. Pretty much unknown for 30 years until the crazy diggers Optimo discovered them for the world to hear, the original release has now reached astronomical prices but thank god for this reissue by Palto Flats. It’s one of the most talked about reissues of recent times, and it’s clear why.
3. Insanlar – Kime Ne (Honest Jon, 2015)
Another big one. This band’s description includes “shamanistic techno folk hybrid, rooted firmly in Anatolian Alewi religious poetry.” I leave that to your imagination but what I can say is that give it time (it’s 25-minutes-long) and it will turn you delirious. Oh, there’s also a Ricardo Villalobos remix on the flip! Also, if you’re looking for an online record shop that stocks world music dance records well, look no further than London’s Honest Jon.
4. Vermelho – Trouble in the Streets (Brazilian Shakedown, 2014)
Brazil has a long tradition of dance music culture, there is so much traditional and ethnic music to choose from but I am not going to do that, instead I’m choosing something from the realm of house music. In this case, one that uses subtle samba drumming. The whole of Brazilian Shakedown EP, where this appeared on, is a treat.
5. Ata Kak – Daa Nyinaa [Noema’s Tribute Edit] (African Shakedown, 2012, original from 1994)
This Ghanaian Highlife and ghetto-rap hybrid first appeared on Brazilian Shakedown’s sister label African Shakedown. When this came out, a couple of KL DJs were playing this quite a bit, especially at Pisco. It’s interesting to see this work beside your usual Chicago house and German-type techno tracks as to give the set a sense of flair and unpredictability.
6. Mogollar – Cigrik [FOC Edits Rework] (Ostra Discos, 2015, original from 1972)
Another Turk track with an Insanlar ringleader — Baris K — connection in the list. There is just something about traditional Turkish instruments, especially the kemenche, that make it mind-bending. Scouring the ample discography of Turkish psychedelic folk music, Baris K did a compilation titled Istanbul 70, from which an edit appeared on the amazing Portugal based exotica label Ostra Discos. Also, check out Baris K’s label Disco Hamam while you’re at it. This is the one track I don’t own in the list, so if you’re buying me a gift, you now know what to get me.
7. Hot Chip vs. William Onyeabor – Atomic Bomb
When I decided to do this list, I told myself that I need to include one of the world’s greatest funk masters, William Onyeabor – this guy needs to be the thing. So, this is the Hot Chip cover of his biggest hit ‘Atomic Bomb’, not quite world music as the cover borrows minimal amount of its original Nigerian Afrobeat vibes and instead uses the usual western dance music tropes. But still, heavy stuff.
8. Googoosh – Talagh (Finder Keepers, 2011, original from 1975)
This Persian music goddess needs no introduction, so sit back and just listen to that voice on top of one super killer bassline. Strangely, that bassline is sampled from Andrew Llyod Webber’s rock opera album that is about Jesus Christ – this proves that the borrowing of musical ideas knows no boundaries or borders.
9. Elias Rahbani And His Orchestra – Liza… Liza (Voix De L’Orient, 1978, Reissued 2015)
Arabic disco from a time when Lebanon was one of the cultural centres of the world. This has a topless Middle Eastern woman on its cover, something that is unthinkable now. What a different time that was, and you could also see the same influences locally, in that Malay disco music of this period had a lot of Arabic and Hindi musical traces. For this kind of thing, you can also check out the Berlin-based label Disco Halal that does new remixes of Middle Eastern-themed underground dance music.
10. Carl & Carol Jacobs – Robot Jam (Emotional Rescue, 2015, original from 1986)
Swirling electro-calypso tune from Trinidad and Tobago. A rare drum-heavy track that is just super fun, think vocodered Caribbean chanting, Moog bass parts, and punctuated claves and palitos.