- Available on:
Buraka Som Sistema
If we ever doubted Portugal’s electro-dance crew Buraka Som Sistema could find a way to turn a funeral into a party then consider that question…well…laid to rest. Their new album, Komba—named after an Angolan religious ritual where friends and family celebrate the life of a deceased loved one by throwing a big party seven days after their passing—is a bass bacchanal fit for a terrestrial party and a celestial afterparty.
The Lisbon-based quartet’s first two releases–2006 EP From Buraka To The World and their previous album, 2008’s Black Diamond–introduced their bass-heavy fusion of African and Afro-diasporic riddims (like kuduro, baile funk, soca) with EDM genres (like dubstep, techno, and drum and bass) to the masses. Buraka’s 2008 LP, featuring a guest appearance by MIA on the song “Sound Of Kuduro” transformed the quartet into “reluctant ambassadors” of the Angolan riddim.
BSS brings their trademark bruising beats and powerhouse bass with Komba, but this time in a tighter, more cohesive voice. Gone is the live party/mixtape vibe of independent collaboration from its earlier recordings. All four members—dj/producer João “Lil John” Barbosa, dj/producer Rui “DJ Riot” Pité, rapper Kalaf Angelo, and rapper/producer Andro “Conductor” Carvalho—do continue to pursue their solo work, but somewhere between Black Diamond and Komba, in the three years of constant touring and almost yearlong album production, Buraka Som Sistema went from being a collective of producers and performers to becoming an actual band. (This new work might just be the komba to that phase in their history.)
Komba is quintessential movement music. Yes, it impels you to shake it hard, but it also embodies a flow past geographic borders, rigid musical categories, and even past spiritual realms. From the carnavalesque title song and “We Stay Up All Night feat. Blaya & Roses Gabor,” to the glitchy, screwed soca “Vem Curtir feat. Stereotyp,” many of the standout tracks on Komba share a mysterious, otherworldly vibe in common…as well as guest collaborators. In typical Buraka form, they also invited many of their talented friends on Komba. Nine of the album’s 12 tracks have guest credits—including from BSS live show performer Blaya, Austrian dub producer Stereotyp, Colombian electro-cumbia outfit Bomba Estereo, and SBTRKT collaborator Roses Gabor–it’s a communal endeavor through and through. Komba is a return to dance as a method of communing with spirits here and not here–and if Buraka’s bass can’t make our spirits sweat then let’s just all of us call it a wrap.