It can’t be much of a surprise that Glitterbeat would eventually assemble a collection of dubs and versions of songs by our artists. Our very first release in the spring of 2013 was a 500-piece limited edition 12” where two tracks from the Malian Afro-rock newcomer Ben Zabo were given an inspired dub treatment by legendary Berlin producer Mark Ernestus (Rhythm & Sound, Jeri Jeri). Those two tracks are included here as well as eight other reinterpretations from our growing catalog.
Having had the privilege of working with each of the Malian artists remixed for this album (Tamikrest, Ben Zabo, Samba Toure, Aminata Wassidje Traore & Lobi Traore) we can safely say that this project will not seem as strange to them as one might assume. In contemporary Malian music, reggae plays a fundamental role and nearly every electric based band we have encountered in Bamako and beyond incorporates at least some reggae elements into their sound. Also the rapid, ubiquitous rise of Hip Hop in Mali has brought samples, remixes and programming into the direct orbit of the country’s urban musicians. And in the dusty, open lots of Bamako’s sprawling neighborhoods, the music that one most frequently encounters being performed is Balani, a sort of Malian variant of dancehall, where laptop electronic beats and declamatory “toasting” are combined with samples of balafons and other traditional instruments. Balani is by definition a remix-generated music.
Bringing together the different mixers with the songs of the original artists was an exciting process.
Our choices of who to invite rose intuitively out our record collections and our personal networks and almost every mixer that we approached thankfully accepted the invitation.
Mark Ernestus was asked to fashion our original 12” not only because of our deep love for his work with the abstract dub duo Rhythm & Sound but also because of his albums in collaboration with Jeri Jeri, the Senegalese sabar group. Dubmaster Dennis Bovell’s work with Linton Kwesi Johnson, The Pop Group and Orange Juice has been a big part of our personal soundtracks for more than thirty years. His recent dub album, Mek It Run, is a killer. We were introduced to the South African Nozinja via his infectious Shangaan Electro productions. Honest Jons released an excellent remix album (Shangaan Shake) of his tracks and we thought it fitting that he join our remix dialogue. We stumbled upon the British-Ghanaian performance, visual and musical artist Larry Achiampong’s self-released LP More Mogya and were excited by its mashup of palm wine and high life samples with Hip Hop beats. We have been fans of Mark Stewart all the way back to his days in the seminal post-punk band The Pop Group, but it was his recent dub album Exorcism of Envy that really caught our collective ear. The intricate afro-techno of Harmonious Thelonious is by definition a sort of West African music remix project, and he seemed a perfect choice to invite. Rounding off the list of mixers is our old friend Dirk Dresselhaus AKA Schneider TM whose wide-open musical obsessions have embraced indie rock, analog electronics, improvisation and field recordings. He recently journeyed to Mali and Burkina Faso to study balafon music.
With the finished master of this album right now echoing from our speakers we are already thinking about Glitterbeat: Dubs & Versions volume II. Can’t wait.
++Chris Eckman & Peter Weber: Glitterbeat Records