Yes, with this week’s blend this column has officially devolved into ethnotechno, something I promised myself would never, ever happen. But it’s not my fault. First of all, the third world is going steadily more and more techno every week. Trinis and residents of the other outlying soca islands have always been on some warp-speed ravers vibe (they may have even invented the term rave—or was that Bob Marley?) but even grimy gun-drop champs like Busy Signal have been churning out track after track over riddims with aggro synths, afrohouse chants and astronomical BPMs.
GP104 Ethnotechno Blend
Busy Signal, “How You Bad Suh” (Stephen McGregor/Big Ship)
So Shifty f. Busy Signal, “Lift Up Dat”
Delorean, “Stay Close” Banana Clips refix (Mad Decent)
Nic Sarno, “Mana Wesa”
Kode9, “You Don’t Wash” dub (DJ-Kicks)
Bunji Garlin, “Me No in Deh”
Buffy, “Anything” D Bandit/Doc Jones Road Mix
Download: Ghetto Palms Ethnotechno Blend
The aggro-afro-astro Stephen McGregor production thats sets this blend off is a case in point. Seems like Stevie McG decided it was time for Major Lazer to stop having all the fun and did for Busy what remixers like Douster (and So Shifty—see the next track) were doing with his vocals anyway. The result is one of my favorite Big Ship releases in recent memory, a true Di Genius anthem in the maximalist dancehall sense. Starts with tribal percussion and chants, which last a scant four bars before the acid flange kicks come in, closely followed by a “Pon Di Floor” toy-soldier drumline followed by the big-tent rave synths. “Pon Di Floor” again, wait here come the tablas. You get the idea. Say what you will about Di Genius, he makes the most of digital tech’s ability to make it sound like he has a Kingston marching band, a full Bollywood orchestra and Konono No.1 in the studio for every track.
Then comes the ethnotech core of the blend, with one Banana Clips refix of Delorean (I picture a squad of about 20 Gaultier-dipped sapeurs hanging out the gull-wings while Doc Brown hits the Bamako-drift switch) one euro-kuduro (read: ethnotechno) track by Nic Sarno and one soca-ish dubstep track by Kode9. Finishing up strong, we close with Bunji and a new-brand road mix of this Buffy track—which must be big in the carnival circuit because I keep getting invites from fools who have named their parties after it. If my characterization seems at all snide, I am thoroughly not-mad at all of this music. In fact, I may have to learn to embrace my inner ethnotech-head—which would be a throwback to my childhood in Detroit, where they stayed playing 808 State’s “Pacific” on the radio like it was Madonna. If nothing else it definitely makes the blends easier—no weirdly cadenced vocals to complicate your 20-bar blend, pitch things to plus or minus 8 and they still sound basically the same. This Tiesto dude might be onto something.