Golf Channel – February 19th
Berlin-based DJ Nomad and producer Dirk Leyers first met in 2000 at the city’s annual Fuckparade, but the duo’s first album as Africaine 808 eschews that event’s more radical intent for the pleasure-principled escapism of the Nineties ambient house scene.
Nomad’s love and application of African rhythms might be the album’s USP, but Basar remains anchored in the clubs of Europe, its clean-lined body of intelligent techno embellished with ethno frills. Aside from the catchy kora-like lead riff and juddery synth bass on early highlight ‘Ngoni’, its first half seems content to plateau pleasingly, if imperceptibly, like a Nightmares On Wax release, before coming up with a rush during the freaky Afro-funk and contorted synth hubbub of ‘Rhythm Is All You Can Dance’, the first in a run of four standout tracks.
The irreverent ‘Crawfish Got Soul’ follows, with a slick pacing of double bass and vibraphone that sounds like St Germain getting daft with Mr Scruff. ‘Balla Balla’ is where the duo’s fusion of percussive Africana and electro effects strikes gold, the warped metallic riff on this tribal banger could easily be the glorious work of Konono No1. We’re then brought down gently to the musical strains of ‘Yes We Can’t’, an African Headcharge-style dub pallet that sets the droning twang of a mouth harp to a strumming country-rock acoustic and a juicily jazzy meandering synth lead. That such an unlikely mélange works so well should hopefully convince Africaine 808 that their future direction lies in the kitchen-sink adventurism of this debut’s peaks.