Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Buraka Som Sistema, world music, and Pythagoras

UPDATE: You can download a Buraka Som Sistema DJ mix here.

When people on these fruited plains from sea to shining sea say "world music," they usually just mean "music that comes from anywhere else," don't they? It pretends to describe something, but it describes what it's not. The term is all tied up in exoticism and American creation of the cultural "other."

After a vague attempt at defining the pseudo-genre ("Closely informed or guided by indigenous music"? Huh?), Wikipedia, in its infinite wisdom, clarifies:

World music does not include

First of all, something makes me think that the only reason reggae is omitted is that every home in the US has a copy of Legend.

Second of all, if the term "world music" wasn't already horrifically outdated, it is now.

In the Internet Age, geographic location plays a much smaller role in the development of your musical self. Case in point: Buraka Som Sistema. These kids make their own brand of "kuduro," a type of sample-heavy, energetic dance music which has been recently popularized in Portugal and Angola, or at least that's what the Internets say.

For those of us who have recently cut back on our weekend trips to Angola due to the financial crisis, there are some familiar musical touchstones in the mix: plenty of techno, plenty of drum n' bass, plenty of hip-hop, a little bit of crunk, a little bit of Baltimore club, a little bit of house? Growing up, these dudes listened to zouk and soca, but evidently also to Dr. Dre and Orbital. Their panglobal melting pot results in a sound that is distinctive, but also unafraid to cop good ideas from anywhere, whether it's Lisbon or Elizabeth, NJ. Betcha five dollars they were up on Napster or Audiogalaxy or Morpheus just a few years back, like the rest of us. Raise you a next generation of popular musicians who have no regard for genre, context, or historic authenticity.

Lil' John, one-third of the group, even does that thing that loads of B-more DJs do where they take a really short loop and repeat it over and over and then move to double time, then double the double time, then double that quadruple time, then faster and faster until it's not even music anymore, it's just noise, but who cares because Omar is holding a gun to your head and telling you to dance so you better fucking dance. Check out the minimix on Lil' John's personal Myspace if you don't know what I mean. He does it with "Crazy" at about 4:00, and in a bunch of other places.

Pythagoras, the ancient Greek philosopher/mathematican/theorist, is said to have cured a young man of his alcoholism through a modal melody. If you believe that's possible, then you better believe this shit will cure your sobriety real quick.

Oh yeah- and they're playing a DJ & MC set here at Santos this Thursday! What a crazy coincidence! It starts at 9PM, is $12 in advance, and $14 at the door.

Tickets can be bought online via Ticketweb.

Check out Buraka Som Sistema's Myspace. All four songs up there are absolute bone-crushing bangers, but "Sound of Kuduro" is even fucking beyond that. For serious.

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