Various Artists – Glitterbeat: Dubs & Versions I

Glitterbeat Records describe themselves as a label for ‘vibrant global sounds’, predominantly working with Malian artists and forming collaborations that spread across the world. Their latest release is a very personal project for co-owners Chris Eckman & Peter Weber. A special remix catalogue of previous Glitterbeat releases, they’ve sought help from artists and producers who fill up their own record collections and for whom they hold a personal admiration. This includes post-punk legend Mark Stewart, the Shangaan king Nozinja, dubmaster Dennis Bovell and Berlin producer Mark Ernestus.

Glitterbeat explains their project as an amalgamation of traditional Malian and African music with the electronic sound. With the recent rise of hip-hop, sampling and remixing has become a more dominant part of the Malian music; indeed, the dominant urban sound in Mali is currently ‘Balani’, a variant of dancehall which is steeped in electronic beats and samples. Reggae also plays a fundamental role in contemporary Malian music, so it is appropriate the compilation should open with with Barbados-born, London-bred, reggae guitarist and producer, Dennis Bovell. With its mandolin like flutters and twanging guitar melodies, it starts off the compilation with a intriguing and commanding sound.

For their first release in 2013, Glitterbeat brought together the Malian rock artist Ben Zabo with Mark Ernestus legendary producer, founder of Berlin’s Hard Wax and one half of Rhythm & Sound. Their collaborative tracks, Dana Dubwise and Wari Vo Dubwise, also sit proudly on the compilation, with Dana Dubwise being another standout  for us, providing an exquisite blend of Zabo’s Malian Afropunk, dubbed down by Ernestus.

Our favourite, however, is another Ben Zabo original – the Healing Remix of a Harmonious Thelonious reinterpretation, which we’re delighted to premiere here. The German producer is no stranger to the African sound, with his production being a meeting of  American minimalism and African rhythm. In Danna,  Stefan Schwander takes the original by Ben Zabo and builds African drum patterns over a racing melodic beat, making for a commanding and pulse-raising track.

And we’ve only picked out the three tracks currently online! The whole album is a treat and well worth further exploration. Glitterbeat: Dubs & Versions I is out 20th October on Glitterbeat Records and is available to pre-order from Bandcamp.

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