Ramin & Reda - Eastern Cuts (Afrobotic Musicology, 2020)
A breath of fresh air exudes from this sublime 6 tracker debut from the Geneva based duo.
Sample based dance music can often lead to interesting places, depending very much on how it conducts itself. Within the sea of edit/sample based music we get to enjoy these days, the ones that stand out the most usually draw from a slightly less worn path, from a side of music that has been less explored by those before and now. In many ways, this aspect adds just one dynamic to the interest, with the selection of a more niche or unexplored genre just the beginning point on the journey to crafting new and exciting tracks. You then have to go about how to reimagine these samples and tunes in your own image - how can they be reconstructed and reconsidered to a new audience, what about these samples makes them so compelling initially and how can we add further to this factor. There are many labels these days that dedicate themselves to the notions of exploring the possibilities that arise from utilising obscure sources, the brilliance of the tracks allowed to speak for itself but showcasing how the producers have rekindled a lost connection to this music. Its not an easy task, and sometimes the sample can see a little bit shallow, wherein the power of it hasn't been utilised to maximum impact. But with a solid enough vision, and musical structures and styles built around it to craft something new and invigorating, then it gives new purpose to the original songs and to the new ones. We feel a connection to the music being celebrated, both in that it comes across as fundamentally interesting and hypnotic, but that it has been reconstructed for the present day in such a way that we almost feel instantly familiar with it. A kind of warmth exudes, a comforting blend of sights and sounds that keep us hooked from the very off. A narrative, woven into each song, begins to leap from the pages and paint vivid pictures of what came before, what might come next, and how we feel in the moment too. And hey, maybe we feel compelled enough to go back and explore for ourselves. Who knows what else we might find.
In terms of a label that continually crafts these kind of relationships through their releases, Afrobotic Musicology have surely found a winning formula when it comes to edit and sample based music. The label, that began life in 2016, has released a slew of superb edit and original composition music, which all hang together in this wonderful realm of dynamism and experimentation. Not just satisfied with crafting expertly groovy numbers for the dance floor, the label is just as concerned with the appeal of listening to music at home, where the narratives and characters found within the music begin to shine to full effect. Each release sees a new chapter being added to this never-ending story, where we dip our toe into a different realm full of wonderment and beauty. This is perhaps what hangs it all together, in that each time we are greeted with music that sets the boundaries far and wide, allowing for all manner of musical experiences and genres to be accommodated, the personality of the originals and the producer coming across so very strong. Looking back through the label's discography, there is much goodness to highlight, with our favourites including the first two records out on the label, the amazing edit 'Time To Set The Night On Fire' EP, and Hekkla's gorgeous deep house tinged 'Sunset Strip' EP; both edit records '04AM' and '06AM', from 2017 and 2018 respectively; the amazing 2018 'Percussion Grooves' record from AFROBOT; the equally amazing 'Brazil Edits' by Outra; the sonically rich and dense 'Reflections' EP by Articulat; and the beautifully bold 'Pure Parodia' by Odia. All in all, these records all paint a vivid picture of scenes far away, or maybe in your own mind, and its that kind of experience that you don't find anyway. The music contained within is, at its core, fundamentally interesting, with a richness that runs through its veins, a diversity that swings between releases like its never going to go out of fashion. And that, in itself, crafts such a compelling narrative, keeping us continually on our toes as we anticipate the next vibe or genre to be explored in the next record. This speaks volumes to the people behind the label and all those who make music for it, as the world of AM is one of such promise and musical fulfilment, where the rhythms flow through our minds as much as they flow through our body. Its music for a new age, music that gives over so much for our enjoyment and satisfaction, and this is a label that everyone should get to know. Immediately.
So we now arrive at one of the label's latest, the debut offering from production duo Ramin & Reda, 'Eastern Cuts'. The record borrows much from the sights, sounds and textures of Bollywood, Asian and Middle Eastern music, with these samples carefully and respectfully blended into a series of undeniably groove and progressive tracks. Each cut displays a new angle to club sounds, crafting a dynamic that allows for listeners to enjoy at home as much as they do on the dance floor. Smooth, deep and beautifully composed, it is a worthy addition to the AM family, and takes the label's ethos to new and elevated plains. So lets get into it.
Up first comes 'Jmel Jmel', and the opening vocal line sets the tone of things to come. Floating in the breezy early evening air, the drums then catapult into proceedings, their superb depth and swing moving this track on rapidly into the limelight. The track begins to build up steam, the bass line thumping right through the middle with such purpose, crafting a real sense of groove. Then the switch up, and what a switch up it is, as the kick moves the previously swinging beat into full on power mode, drawing all the energies from around it and channelling it into the groove. When the beat is in full on mode, its quite a sight, the depth of the track only gaining traction as it moves through the gears. What an intro. Up next comes 'Medusa', and we begin once more in subdued surroundings, but the energy is more immediate. The deep set kick underpins all manner of instrumentation, that carefully flows through the higher ends of the track. This sea of elements moves with an ease and swagger, with the drumming never needing to up the ante at any one moment, its sultry groove giving a platform for all manner of experimentation on top to occur. The energy is upped a bit with the intro of a layer of claps and hats, which just adds another beautiful scene for the song to flow through and describe. The track has such vitality, its features moving from the record and into the spotlight, its epic scale demonstrated by the superb production and excellent balance between drums and melodic elements. Up next comes 'Akam', and we begin once more with the carefully considered drumming patterns. From above moves in the keys, which match the drums for intensity and character, as the two elements begin to wrap themselves around each other. This bond begins to strengthen as the snare introduces itself, with the track looking to whip us up into a frenzy, before the switch occurs into the subdued, the drums dropping back to create such an amazing transition. Its the flows on this track that give over so much, the movements between the samples and the drumming patterns creating a journey for the listener to embark on, where we are taken away to a new place full of wonderment and beauty. What a track.
Up next comes 'Demets', and we are met with the drums once more. The claps and deep set kicks inhibit the low ends, crafting this sparse but dense feeling at the same time, with the spaces between drums feeling so full and vibrant. The vocal line soars above, drifting in and out of view, as the track reaches a head with the hats signalling the shift into a new passage of sound and time. The instrumentation sample adds flavour and continues to aid in the flows of the song, with the drums and additional keys responding enthusiastically to all these new injections of narrative. In full flow, like the ones before, this track is so effective at whipping us up into a fit of ecstasy, the power of the vocal and instrument samples backed up by a flowing percussive structure that is as dynamic as it is emotive and beautiful. Up next comes 'Amin Shanti', and this is the big one. The track is immediately straight up, unlike before where the beats very much waited their turn before becoming full blooded, no no, here we are right there on the dance floor. The beats are hard and fast, as the vocal line harks the build up and the drops, that work so flawlessly within the constructs of the tune. The lovingly placed key sequences do their magic, adding a layer of intrigue and texture to proceedings, as the tune just moves and flows through these amazing phases of build ups and slow downs. Whilst its more of a straight up kind of vibe, the duo still take the time to craft a beautiful ebb and flow into proceedings, with the relationship between emotive elements and drums still the stuff of legends. To finish up, we have 'Iraj Garang', and we have one final chance to engage with this wonderful record. The track starts off with the vocal line rising above the percussive masterclass that persists underneath, with the sparse arrangement of keys and samples floating between the two with ease and purpose. Its a final demonstration of all that makes this record so damn good, and we are all for it. We are completely convinced and engaged, to such an extent we feel so involved in this world. Damn.
Well then, that was an experience. The quality of the music found within is absolutely matched by the inspired samples, which create a real sense of vividness and narrative within these tracks. The beauty in the little things, such as the wonderfully composed beats that fill the room, the spaces and voids that reside between the instrumentation, and the superb flows that link it all together, creates a story like no other. As debuts go, this is quite something. We feel like we have said enough, and at this point we implore you to just give it a listen. One of the finest of this year, for sure.
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