Generation Bass Presents Transnational Dubstep (Six Degrees Records, 2011)
Mr. Pauer – Soundtrack (Fabrika, 2011)
I continue to be wary of the way global music is blended with modern technology. Too often the source material is clubbed to death in an onslaught of simplistic canned beats, flashy effects or dumbed-down production values meant to pacify those who would be just as content to dance to whatever mainstream radio stations are currently overplaying. Happily, more music makers are realizing that the sounds of the wider world can coexist with contemporary recording capabilities.
One example is Generation Bass Presents Transnational Dubstep , a collection spun off from the Generation Bass blog, which has been spreading the word on (and the sound of) global/electronic matchups for the last couple years. Sure, the tracks are a patchwork of real and manufactured sounds, but the beats are much more than mindless thudding and the Indian, Arabic, Latin, African and Balkan elements around which collages of sound are built give those beats something real to grab hold of.
I particularly like the opening creep-in of Mars’ “India Sleeping,” the chunky thrust of Knowa Knowone on “Cumbia Dub,” the way Celt Islam defy expectations by sounding neither Celtic nor Islamic with “Dub Reflex” and Jajouka Soundsystem’s mystic cool-down “Salahadeen.” A few indulgent moments aside, the disc is as inventive, unpredictable and fun as music of this sort should be.
On a more specifically Latin kick is Miami-based Mr. Pauer, whose 25-minute sampler Soundtrack isn’t the music of a feature film but rather a crazy cool slab of modernized cumbia, merengue, salsa and other dance styles rooted in the Spanish-speaking world. “Electropical” is what Pauer calls it, and with the way the electronic effects stab away at the Latin beats pulsing beneath, the tropic zones he enters are charged up most delightfully.
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