Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Drone Zone: Congrotronics!

I think it's important to make forays outside of one's standard listening habits by trying new genres and styles of music. But it's one thing to say, "I need to find more good jazz", or "I wonder what the ten best dub albums are"; it's another thing entirely when the genre that interests you is not a genre but an entire continent. Other than the mighty, mighty Fela Kuti, Ali Farka Touré, and a couple of the popular Éthiopiques compilations, I know almost nothing about the countless varieties of African music. So, shame on me, and my apologies to Asia, the other continent I have yet to explore musically (does Antarctica count?).

This brilliant compilation has gotten me all worked up about Congolose street music. I will admit that the participation of Animal Collective was the thing that piqued my attention, but each and every track brings this wild, rolling, rhythmic, distorted, pulsing, joyous style of music to life. Featuring Western indie/electronic covers, remixes, and adaptations of Congrotronics vanguard artists like Konono Nº 1 and the Kasai Allstars, Tradi-Mods vs. Rockers shows just how much the West has already absorbed from this style of music; it seems that the Animal Collective discovered these artists years ago and have been trying to recreate their electric street hootenanny ever since.

This track, a reinterpretation of Konono Nº 1's "Kule Kule" by Bear Bones, Lay Low, spends a few minutes in deep, distorted bass grime before morphing into a shifting, insistent polyrhythmic space drone. It sounds utterly modern and as primal as Pangaea at the same time. Play it loud!

Bear Bones, Lay Low, "Kuletronics":

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