Image via Bastiengoat/Instagram
Sam Ribakoff misses the days when Bandcamp didn’t cater to Fortnite streamers on Twitch.
For a single slightly beautiful, slightly stupid, slightly ridiculous day, this track, and the new era of Brazilian funk music was the main topic of the day on the blue bird app. Thanks to the greatest apostle of the genre, billdifferen, who posted the video to this track, the surprise of the song’s drop became a meme, and then came the dreaded “discourse” and weird comparisons between Brazilian funk and acts like 100 Gecs or Death Grips. More plainly, the song starts off with a short vocal loop that’s quickly accented by the first hit of the classic “boom cha cha…” baile funk drum break (that I think is derived from “Planet Rock…”?), which you expect to come in shortly, but instead DJ GD Beats drops a death ray laser beam of a high pitched synth wave that’s mixed louder than any other component of the track.
First off, “Set Da GM” is a good track. Was it the best track that came out this month? No. Was it the best Brazilian funk song that came out this month? Probably not. But this is a byproduct of the constant stream of fun and experimental music coming out of Brazil. It’s hard to keep track of. While I’m glad the memes exposed people to Brazilian funk, I hope they take some time to dig deeper into the genre. Take a listen to this great DJ RaMeMes album that came out this month (we’ll talk about it at the end of the year for sure.)
I also hope people realize this isn’t silly meme music, nor chin stroking experimental music. It’s dance music, reflective both of the history of Brazilian music and dance music worldwide, and connected to a contemporary, worldwide, cultural zeitgeist of fast, overstimulated, noisy, DIY dance music that has one foot in traditional folk rhythms and the other firmly planted in globalized internet culture.
Speaking of the international wave of noisy avant-garde dance music producers, Chino Amobi is back with another whirlwind of a song. Amobi sometimes gets lumped in with club deconstruction, or other amorphously defined subgenres of dance music from the previous decade, but there was nothing amorphous about Amobi, his music uses the intensity of techno, rave, and EDM, the attack and texture of noise, and the thematic visions of contemporary classical and experimental music to create high operatic dance music.
With the NON Records label and NON Worldwide crew, Amobi reached across the world to find similar artists interested in similar ideas about experimental Black, Brown, and queer dance music and emancipatory politics. They’ve significantly contributed to the cultural zeitgeist of today’s international wave of noisy avant-garde dance producers that are now making moves in Brazil, Tanzania, Mali, and the U.S. Since releasing Paradiso in 2017, one of the best records of the last decade, Amobi dropped one more record in 2021, and a SoundCloud loosie every so often. “Eroica II” is one of his best SoundCloud drops. With wailing synths cutting across the track, eerie horror movie sound masses of strings in the background, and thudding drums, the track sounds like it could have come straight off of Paradiso, which itself still sounds like the future. Like an email from a mentor telling their mentees to keep going.
Last week I was messing around with some DJ equipment, and just for the hell of it, I put on Charlie Parker’s “The Hymn,” a bebop jam from the 40’s after a footwork track by Vatogato – and you know what, it kind of worked. Although there’s a wide breadth of styles in both genres rely on the artists involved to dig into complex syncopated grooves and pull out harmonic, complex musical ideas. Big Voyage gets it. On “Ultrasound,” the artist builds nocturnal hymns to classic British jungle and drum and bass music with cascades of sax on ’90’s style breakbeats, while looking towards the heartbeats of new life for the genre.
Chicago’s RP Boo created footwork in the late 90’s by speeding up booty house records. Since then, he’s been at the forefront of genre experimentation from the heavy time stretching and manipulation of soul and pop sample chops style, to the almost ambient minimalist spacey sound studies style. As is appropriate for a composer of such stature, Planet Mu put out a previous compilation of RP Boo’s early tracks 10 years ago called Legacy. Legacy 2 picks up where the previous compilation left off, with tracks collected from some mixtapes, some of which were included on the two Bangs and Works compilations, that introduced footwork to a lot of the world outside of the Midwest. As a big RP Boo fan, I’d heard a good deal of these tracks before, except for “B.O.T.O,” one of the best tracks in any genre I’ve heard this year.
“B.O.T.O,” starts out with a slinky guitar line looped so that the couple milliseconds of the end of silence at the end of the loop makes it sound like a skipping record. RP adds a thudding sub bass drum that sounds slightly faster than the loop – that sounds like you can hear him hit the pads on the sampler to trigger the drums. To that, RP adds his own vocals and two other vocal samples that run in and out of the track. As all the elements phase over each other, dragging in and out of time, about a minute and 14 seconds into the track, a sultry electric sitar line from a pretty famous ‘70s Philadelphia soul group (no sample snitching) comes in to the mix, and the whole thing snaps into the palace perfectly. Like J Dilla, RP Boo has a way of manipulating samples and the drums in his tracks that’s really magical.
If you like listening to the sounds of ocean waves hitting the sand while people skate by on a nearby boardwalk, where folks are playing saxophones, guitars, harmonicas, and various other instruments, you’ll like Free Flower. The tracks African-American Sound Recordings cooked up on this album are textured and crunchy. Sometimes, they consist of hypnotic loops where brief sketches of instruments, like the sound of a slowed down Steve Wonder style harmonica line, or a Dean Blunt like guitar riff. Sometimes, it’s field recordings of voices or other found sounds appearing like glints of light.
Mac Dre once said “go stupid, come on, go stupid with me.” Bastiengoat’s new album follows in the lineage of that slice of wisdom on this new album, Harmony. I’ve enjoyed Bastiengoat’s forays into footwork and other dance genres in the past, but this new album is probably the most fun I’ve heard him have, because this is all big room ass shaking rave music. I’m talking big, trebly bass wobbles, whizzing synths, slamming breakbeats, hands in the air causing vocal commands, with brief asides to UK garage, house, EDM, and drum and bass. Music to get stupid to.