“World music” and experimental dance have been reaching new heights in the past year or so, with many important contemporary artists often associated with IDM finding innovative ways to combine the two. Be this with Indian ragas as in Four Tet’s Morning/Evening, or Floating Points’ self confessed obsession with Brazilian sounds and rhythms, a coupling which had remained in relative obscurity for years now seems to making its way into the mainstream. Africaine 808 is the project of DJs Dirk Leyers and DJ Nomad, two Berlin veterans, invigorating the city’s reputation for minimal techno with sounds from around the world, whilst maintaining a classically German feel.
Their first album Basar follows on from their long standing VULKANDANCE parties in Berlin, and is a showcase of how much this genre has to offer. Four to the floor beats push the tracks on, with a plethora of different cultures being given the nod, often to devastatingly groovy effect. ‘Balla Balla’ sees a short Asian melody transformed into a wonderfully funky, tech-house amalgamation, which is immediately followed by the bluesy ‘Yes We Can’, featuring typically African instrumentation and a didgeridoo melody. However, this exploration of cultures isn’t solely reserved for places far flung from Western musical traditions; ‘Language of the Bass’ is more of a homage to UK dance and rave culture, with a melody reminiscent of Northern Bassline, a pulsating beat made using the Roland TR-808 analog drum machine (of which they are extremely fond on the whole album), overlaid by vocals which serve as a lesson in the history and importance of UK sound systems.
This willingness to incorporate such a vast and diverse number of styles makes the album rather difficult to pin down – a fascinating hybrid. Genres and samples travel from India to America’s gospel south, via Israel, Nigeria and the Congo, however, and most crucially, the tracks maintain their highly distinctive sound with help from the 808.