Afro Bruk Band - Afro Bruk Band (Eclectic Beats, 2021)
Prepare to immerse yourself in the sounds of Brazilian musical street culture as the Bruk Band take us on a never ending ride through intoxicating rhythms and beautiful intricate melodic interplays.
Making people ride to the rhythm is no easy feat, but when the content is reaching far and wide in order to craft otherwordly percussive patterns and densely layered melodic excellence, you know that you're in for a treat. The art of the blend in this sense remains key, which involves an artist or group looking to merge varying strands of thinking together into one cohesive structure, looking beyond established tropes and exploring somewhat new realms of possibility. The how of getting to this point is very important, and the evidence remains very much in the music being presented to us - a intuitive flow binds us into the sequence, and its up to the genre morphing aesthetics that keep our heartbeats in check, maintaining a steady flow of engagement that emerges during the first bar and lasts til the very last note. It broadly falls on the shoulders of the creatives behind it all when determining the success of such an endeavour, how they achieve the blends and the feels of each cut, and how these tracks move and operate along side each other. For some though, this effort comes very naturally indeed, and this notion is supported by how the tunes sing and interact with one another, with the crafting of interconnected bridges between the varying cuts helping to develop a succinct but widely expressive record that hits all the right buttons at all the right moments. Its the sequences of familiarity laced with the unexpected that hit home the most, the intertwining sections where various moods and tones come together in the most delightful of ways, outlining to us a feeling that is big on the embrace and warm in its depth. In this day and age, creating records that tick multiple boxes is only a good thing, as these kinds of records only serve to push onwards the pre-concieved notions of what is and isn't possible, utilising existing boundaries and intersections as a means to create new crossroads of musical excellence. Hybridisation of genres is one of the oldest tropes in the game, but there is an level of skill and vision involved that helps to create a sense of forward momentum, seizing the opportunity to reflect your wildest creative visions by channelling it all through application, touch and technicals. Its a wonderful thing seeing worlds collide and merge in the most unexpected and ultimately satisfying of ways, allowing us to drift away into new realms that help develop new tastes and experiences, windows through into new places and spaces which tantalise us with their invigorating sounds. Music has an amazing ability to help us visualise contexts which we are fairly unfamiliar with, the sounds bouncing off the walls and colliding down the streets of areas we imagine on occasion but cannot see vividly, with the tracks serving as a medium into worlds that are clearly beloved and invested in by those responsible for the creations. A visceral world, unblemished and tonally consistent in its application, containing a spectrum of vibrancy that provides an enormous amount for us to look at, to marvel at, to come back again and again and still feel that wonderment swell within us.
These kinds of genre morphing sounds are exactly the kinds of things you come to expect from the newly formed Afro Bruk Band, who took the audial values of Brazilian street music and packaged it into a game changing fusion mix of the old and the new. The project is helmed by Brazilian producer and DJ Ruben Estevez, who alongside fellow musicians Rade Marinkovic, Patrick Gudel, Fabien Perler and Serhan Cetin oversaw the development of the Bruk Boogie Kru, which during the mid 2010s released a handful of genre defying records that served as a basis for much of the ideals of the Afro Bruk group. The heads behind it all draw inspiration from all across the global, with genres touched upon including Afro Beat, Nu-Jazz, Broken Beat, Funk, Deep house and Bossa, with the sensibilities of each strand distilled and impeccably built upon to craft and nurture a sound deeply entrenched in cultures and places. This melting pot of influences birthed some profoundly engaging music, creating frequencies and feelings that leap out of the cuts and take you globe trotting to differing eras, places and spaces, packaged up and delivered with highly effective musicianship that we have all come to expect from people engaged with creating vivid and live feeling music. The collective became well known for their abilities to push forward the concepts of morphology, not just simply repackaging one or two styles within a modern context but picking apart the best aspects of a well establish genre and breathing new life into it, pairing elements together from differing strands to provide a ultra-fresh sounding vibe that toed the line impeccably between the past and the present, to produce something worthy of being named future pointing. Its rare to see such a cultivation of a new sound coming from a rich and varied selection of influences, but as the Bruk Boogie Kru, these guys knew exactly what to aim for, how to achieve it and where they saw their sound starting and ending. It only comes from those deeply engaged with the essence of such musical movements, and its their care and attention to these scenes that saw the meaning and vision resonate so brightly within their own music. All of the music from the Bruk Boogie Kru is worthy of discussing when reflecting on the group's releases, starting off with their string of 2014 releases, 'Orixia', that featured the singer Margareth Menezes, and is a incredible saunter through a rich and vibrant house underbelly laced with Latin and African features that really set the pulses running. Up next came the 'Zanzile Project' record, that saw the collective head deeper into the dance than ever before, utilising a heavy drum led feel that nodded towards Broken Beat and Afro Beat in equal measure, with the resulting sound a deeply intoxicating one. Up next came the 'Freakin' record, that featured two remixes of the title track, and represents two very solid attempts at recreating that 90s vocal house sound we all know and love (pulled off with the BBK twist, of course). Finally, the group released the 'Ancestral Carnal' record, that sees a mixture of atmospheres come together to complete a expertly well rounded experience that focuses on the beginning, middle and end of sets. The foundations were set during this period of output, and the BBK crew exported their enthusiasm and passion across the globe, eager to share their affection for genre blending music to as many crowds and individuals as possible, with the overall atmosphere that resonates from the group one of enjoyment and vibrancy. It makes for infectious listening, so why not give their works a listen and imagine yourself somewhere in the dance, surrounding by like minded individuals being carried along for the ride, at ease with the vibe and content the feeling in your heart.
Building upon the audial scope of the BBK project, Estevez has pulled together a blend of poets, singers, musicians and family to be a part of his new collective, Afro Bruk Band, which has resulted in their debut self-titled record, that lands curtesy of the Eclectic Beats imprint. Much like the BBK sound being built upon a truly global palette, this record sees the focus maintained on incorporating sounds from far and wide, with genres such as Afrobeat and Broken Beat infused with the Brazilian sound of Bossa-Nova and the Yoruba culture found in Brazil and Cuba, with the resulting flavour a truly tantalising one. This is perhaps the most ambitious project that Estevez has ever embarked upon, and like with the BBK project the music is flawlessly conceived and executed, moving between the lines with a confidence and understanding that allows for the various genres on display to merge so intuitively and creatively with one another. The songs fluctuate and deviate with a magical intensity, transfixing the listener with its internal complexity and driving rhythms that have you both yearning for the dancefloor and reaching over to press play. So, without further delay, lets get into this joyous celebration of all things musical...
Up first comes 'Arboles', and we begin with the shuffling percussive patterns to get us going. The drums skip and frolic within the structure, playfully inviting other elements to come along for the ride, with the bass line and delicate rhodes like chords chiming in within the spaces provided, as further percussive features add depth and intricacy into proceedings. The vocals arrive soon after, speaking over the top of the rhythmic cocktail, providing a solid sequence of thought on top of the ever evolving instrumentals, the two features working so very well alongside each other. The overall vibe is one of continual momentum, the sequences and segments flowing like water as we move into the first breakdown, that sees everything but the shakers remain, and before long we are lifted back up into the main structure, which sees some wonderful variations in the various lines. The bass line moves around a lot more, the chordal arrangements become more complex and ascending, with the flute solo that arrives towards the end remains the icing on the cake. What an opener! Up next comes 'Vem Val', and this one begins with a denser drumming pattern leading the way. Congas lightly tap away on top of the shakes and snares, creating a rich percussive feel to the track, with the feeling that this is a more Afrobeat leaning cut confirmed as the guitar aligns itself over the top, producing that iconic rhythmic feel that we all know and love. The vocal lines call out over the top of proceedings, giving vibrancy to the ensemble, as the congas move up a gear to be utterly infectious, with the vibe of the track getting upped as the kicks become more full and energetic. The section that follows is deeply involving, bringing together some excellent ideas musically, with the flow through to the end point stuffed to the brim with creativity and flair. Stellar! Up next comes 'Lost In Rio', and this one starts off once again with the dynamic and rhythmically top draw drumming patterns. The dense shaker and hat layer provides a layer for which the chords can stab through and abound over, with their placement providing a sense of progression and momentum that's so pleasing to the ears, with additional chiming key lines adding further to that sense of onwards and upwards. The variations that peek through the ceiling make the overall tone overtly engaging, keeping the fire burning within us as the cymbals and keys float within the deep set pools, as we drift from here to there and back again, carried along by the rhythmic variations and gentle intricate melodic features. Bliss never felt so good.
Up next comes 'Spanish and Brazilian Love', and this one starts off in the most emphatic of places. The drums are suitably up tempo, shifting like liquid across the ground plain, as classical Spainish guitar chimes out across the top echelon, calling out to us with its lucid intricacy, with its application slotting in so very well with the broken beat percussive structure. The feel is bold and soulful, with the vocal lines that slide into the composition adding further to the warm embrace found within this cut. The key work drives through the heart of the composition, adding another layer of intrigue into the mix as we stand on the spot within the sea of flows, looking in every which direction to get as good a look as possible at the unravelling gorgeousness. Its a mightly impressive series of sequences, with the guitar work impeccable and the drumming placements equally compelling, all of which make for a really satisfying experience that carries the mind away on a soft bed of feel and tone. Gorgeous stuff. Up next comes 'O Son Da Familia', and this one continues onwards into similar surroundings. The opening segment is bold and full, with the drums paired back to allow for more solid melodic sequences to let their presence be known, as violins, guitars, flutes and keys all throw themselves into the mix. Vocals swing through at the peaks of the composition, adding further weight and emphasis to the momentum, as the track keeps evolving inwards and upwards in equal measure. A real delight, this one. To wrap things up, we have 'Vira Lata', and here we begin with a more paired back house orientated rhythm to get us going. That singularity doesn't last though, as light percussive elements throw themselves into the right hand side of the pan, with the keys doing much of the work here in this stripped back but highly expressive affair. The chords move along with two lines, the backdrop progression chiming along as the foreground sees the placement of two to three note arrangements, with their application fitting in very well indeed with the drumming underneath. Its a sultry and relaxing track, and a perfect way to see out a record thats big on expression, soul and feel, a record that could ignite a fire in the coldest of rooms, and one that we have had an absolute blast getting to know.
As the final track sees itself out, we feel all kinds of which ways, perhaps due to the collective here showcasing just how genre morphing can be achieved when you put your mind to it. Blending the right ingredients correctly and inventively comes down to many factors, but sharing a vision and having the technicals to pull it off remain solely in the hands of the musicians behind it all, and Estevez and his collective of talents pull it off in spades. Each track has a unique flavour to it that adds up to form a collectivised sound thats highly infectious and warm to the touch, showcasing high levels of dexterity and creativity at every turn that at times take the breath away, keeping you locked in at every twist and turn as we saunter through the early evening sunshine. Its a triumph, one that showcases the collective's abilities in turning many strands of world music into a singular piece of streamlined excellence, and we are all for it. An amazing slice of music.
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