Today a re-newed attention and devotion to percussion is appearing on the many different shores of Northern Hemisphere electronic dance music; as a new generation of artists in America and Europe are channelling, re-interpreting, and recontextualizing Afro-diasporic drumming traditions according to their own local sensibilities, reaching to complete the Mother Continents circle of musical influence.
In Detroit and Chicago intricate percussive patterns are growing right between the rigid 4-on-the-floor, snare-on-the-2 beat. Evolving directly from street level forms such as Ghetto-Tech and Booty-House, new styles of drum sounds integrate with the cold and hard latices of industrialized assembly line structure. interlocking microscopic beat segments by Afrikanized robot drummers are revitalizing increasingly tired and impoverished styles like Hip Hop and Techno, machines under duress reaching new states of intensity. Juke may be a freak mutation, a strange autistic grand child of Afrikan music with a mechanical brain and artificial limbs, and is itself giving birth to new hybrid styles both at home in the US and abroad (many of the tracks here fall in this one-step-removed category of Juke-inspired music).
In Europe, the UK-Funky movement is in full swing, with its obviously Afro-Caribbean derived beat propelling the dance forward, represented here by mainstays Roska and Doc Daneeka. in Germany artists like Mode Selector, Dark Sky, and Schlachthofbronx are formulating their own Afro-Teutonic sonic worlds, sometimes reflecting the cold and sun-deprived climate of their homeland. There are also micro strands of European producers making direct interpretations of Afrikan styles such as Angolan Kuduro, exemplified here by Diamond Bass and Portuguese artist Roulet. Besides proponents working within genre delineations, there are many exploring unclassifiable areas between them. For example UKG legends Bias and Gurley’s “Roll” remixed by Blackdown is a frankenstein monster borne of Garage and Juke, Sampology with the epic and all encompassing “Transatlantic Skanking Dub”, Gremino and Baobinga & I.D.’s hard edged mutant Afro-Bass, and Chicago artists like Wheez-ie and Brenmar from the Movelt Posse, with their Juke inflected club music sometimes more informed by Afrikan urban music than anything from America.
Northern Tropikal is either the lastest chapter of the continuing story of the African pulse spreading, pollinating, multiplying, or “western” urban nomads accessing deep memories of Afrikan rhythm heritage within the harsh reality of concrete jungles. Which ever perspective you choose, one thing is clear: Afrikanized Killer Beats are on the swarm.
- DJ Zhao 2011