Friday, 14 November 2008

Buraka Som Sistema - Black Diamond (Fabric 2008)

Bit of a weird one this because it contains the MIA seal of approval and has been okayed by global ghetto music champion Diplo who has done some nice tunes but ultimately this is a frenetic album lacking in tunes, high in energy and attitude but containing music I tend to hate out in clubs, made only listenable by the MIA/Diplo association. Is this right? Should I like this more because one of my favourite artists does? Is she just as responsible for latching on to a multitude of styles, pillaging genres everywhere she goes, like Buraka Som Sistema? No, because MIA can write a melody and a chorus and while the energy on Black Diamond is furious and the production is tight, I can't really find much to engage with. Now, this is on headphones, in the privacy of my own home; it probably translates better to a huge system in the middle of a 3am rave when the second wind kicks in and the sweat is palpable.

There are variations all through as Buraka go reggaeton, soca, house, Afro-beat, ghettotech and house. MIA pops up on housey Afrobeaty soca-y 'Sound of Kunduro', which features some of the most blistering Portugese rapping you'll ever here. 'General' is a political march, a revolution of swirling basslines and exploding synths. 'Shank and Move' features another top guestie (his second this month) from London-based Kano. But ultimately, there's something lacking. It's all pace and fury and beats and explosions and while it may sound good in Fabric or Matter on a Friday night, it's not comfortable listening to in the privacy of your own headspace as there's not much melody, there's not much soul behind it. It manages to capture the zeitgeist of global dance music but beyond that, behind the style, underneath the cool garms, there's a bunch of producers and MCs who would stand in good stead playing with melodies and varying the pace a bit more. I can see people loving this and I don't begrudge them it, but ultimately, it's glorified house, rebranded in lieu of the MIA/Diplo connect, and that ain't my bag, Morag.


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