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2011/04/20 / monteurhulot

COMP // Baltik Bass Vol. 1

The contemporary World Bass trend is, somewhat paradoxically, at it’s best when it is most local. Electronic dance music spread to most corners of the globe decades ago, of course, but in most cases it was sufficatingly generic and faceless – one could find nearly identical Europop or house in Lebanon, South Korea, Turkey or Colombia. Within the last decade, however, there have been more and more examples of music scenes that use common transnational forms, functions and contexts – music made at certain tempos, with certain amounts of bass, made for dancing in roughly similar kinds of gatherings – as a space in which to inscribe and share difference. While South African kwaito and Angolan kuduro were descendents of house, they had a clear, distinct voice because they incorporated local traditions and trends into a global context. Similarly, funky carioca created a stridently specific version of Miami Bass, and cumbia digital/cumbia nueva reinterpreted the rhythms, melodies and instrumentation of  cumbia with the approaches of Jamaican dancehall and dub. This has been followed by increasing numbers of artists from unexpected places – like Munich’s Schlachthofbronx – borrowing bits and pieces from these new genres to create music which is, then, a local/global synthesis of global/local syntheses from the around the world.

Boom Shakalaka, from Finland, is now offering up a new local/global/local syncretism that takes up a previously mostly unused traditional – the folk music of the Baltic Sea region, including Finland, Estonia (a country that also has strong dubstep and skweee scenes) Lithuania and Latvia and fuses it with dancehall rhythms. If you’re already familar with Argentina’s cumbia digital scene, then this ends up sounding more natural than you might expect: nueva cumbia often samples or imitates bellows instruments, and accordions, paired with fiddle, serve as a main driver of Baltic folk, and are always ripe for chopping up or otherwise modifying.

The seven tracks on Baltik Bass Vol. 1 range from those that fit in perfectly with other current hybrids – “Vamos A Bailar” sounds a lot like moombahton and grabs vocal samples en Español – to those like “Hermannin Polkka” that lean heavily on the energy of the folk music they sample, and don’t add many accoutrements. Shazalakazo, from Serbia, also contribute a bassy reimagining of their own local folk traditions.

The whole set can be streamed (and downloading losslessly!) on Soundcloud, as well as purchased from iTunes and Junodownload.

t.

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