Thursday, September 29, 2011

Beats, Intl.

All around the Web, blather about a recording called Kinshasa One Two is bubbling up like yeast proofing in warm sugar-water. Let's not be left out, because it's very much worth blathering about.

Damon Albarn (Blur; Gorillaz; The Good, The Bad, The Queen; experimental opera composer and performer) travelled to the Democratic Republic of Congo with a few choice music makers this past July. In just five days, they recorded as much music as they could. They collaborated, sampled, performed and mixed on the fly, and then put together an album sponsored by, and benefitting, Oxfam.

Say what you want about Albarn and the Britpop culture from which he sprang. But while his peers have muddled around doing the same old thing or simply breaking up, (hi, Oasis!) Albarn has proven his appetite for creative stimulation and willingness to act on his convictions with numerous projects far beyond recycling Bowie and The Kinks.

Since some of the Soundcloud embeds on various sites seem to have trouble loading, here's a link to the DRC Music page where you can hear the entirity of Kinshasa One Two and a couple BBC interview with Albarn and a couple of his collaborators. And do listen to the BBC interviews, as it makes Albarn's motiviations clear.

If the music pleases you, pay for it and feel better about yourself. Here's a few quick impressions of what we heard:

"We Come from the Forest" -- Two kalimba loops gallivant in the sun, then race to see who gets to the alien disco rhythm first.

"Ah Congo" -- Whooshing voices pan across the speakers while a man speaks the title (and more) in a basso profundo, outdone only by the molten bass wobble that soon joins in.

"Respect of the Rules" -- Drops a flute onto some Moog-y squish, a melting Alan Hawkshaw theme for off-duty customs officials having grilled cheese sandwiches and soup.

"K-Town" -- Bears the unmistakable stamp of Dan the Automator. Seriously, if that beat isn't his ...

"The Departure" -- More of that dubstep sub-bass rumble lurks below an near-ambient treble. Don't fall asleep!

Reference material: If you liked Albarn's Mali Music or went (justifiably) bonkers over Congotronics, this is for you.