Here’s some music trivia to end your week to. How many tracks could you name that were released in the 50s that have been reinvented in every decade since, by internationally-known artists from across the musical spectrum and to massive popular and critical acclaim? Nothing? Nah us neither, until the opening track on Andras’ new record for Public Possession prompted some research.
‘Jin-go-lo-ba’ was originally released in 1959 by Nigerian percussionist Babatunde Olatunji. The Yoruban call and response (translated as “do not worry”), combined with raw, uninhibited drumming created what American DJ Francis Grasso described as a “rhythmically sensual” sound; one that inspired musicians and producers in every decade since its inception to put their own spin on it. Serge Gainsbourg was the first in 1964, followed by Santana in 1969, then Candido in 1979 where it became a Paradise Garage classic. This version was, in turn, remixed by Shep Pettibone in 1983 with a ‘Breakdown‘ version that harks back to the track’s percussive origins better than any. In the 1992 it was Todd Terry‘s turn to remix Candido, then Fatboy Slim created his own cover in 2004.
Closing out the seventh decade with six months to spare is Melbourne polymath Andras, who opens up his Boom Boom EP with a version that strips things back to the percussive core of its original. Never one to shy away from idiosyncratic club textures (ditto Public Possession), the entirety of ‘Jingo’ is composed from samples from the UE boom turning on and off. “I had the idea to do a percussion-DJ tool using those sounds for quite a while”, Andras recalls over email, “but was waiting for the right idea of what to cover. Given the story of ‘Jin-go-lo-ba’ I thought it was a fitting track to use.”
There’s little chance Olatunji could’ve foreseen the journey his creation would take in the 60 subsequent years, but for a track with as many different versions as this, Andras has done a fine job continuing its evolution with verve, curiosity and ingenuity.
Boom Boom EP is out now – buy from Public Possession website and all good retailers.
Read the email exchange between Andras and EU Boom, which also features on the EP’s front cover.
Andras: Could you clarify where the UE boom 2 percussion sounds are sourced from?
UE Boom: We custom record all our sounds. A lot goes into each sound that you hear on our speakers. We reviewed dozens of different instrument sounds and permutations, from what type, duration and tone, before deciding on the final sound which is the Congo drum.
Andras: Do they have a name?
UE Boom: Yes, the name is “Congo”
Andras: When were the sounds introduced into the range?
UE Boom: We introduced sounds for our speakers when we launched the original BOOM in 2013 and never looked back. Different sounds are assigned to different actions, for example powering on and powering off sounds different.
Andras: Why percussion effects rather than the generic bluetooth beeps and blips?
UE Boom: We chose Congo, after testing and living with it over time. Some sounds may sound interesting initially but hearing them over an over soon became really annoying. Most importantly, we wanted each sound to be as intuitive as possible. There are basic humanistic psychological practices we consulted on. For example, ascending tones indicate a “positive” action such as Power on, Connected, Pairing. Descending tones indicate a negative action such as Power off, Disconnected. It’s a subtle thing but very important to us.
Andras: Do the percussion samples reflect the exterior design of the product?
UE Boom: Our speakers are designed to be portable and virtually indestructible, to take your music with you wherever that adventure may be, and the Congo drum sound played well to convey that sense of ruggedness and adventure. To us, it’s more about the personality that we want to convey with each speaker.