Until this year I would always associate the name Gervinho with the Ivorian footballer now earning money in China but since May everything has changed. It was then that the first part of Mushroom House was published (few lines above I mention the second part, chronology is important, right?) and it included the track being called exactly Gervinho. This African pearl was produced by the Australian artist living in Berlin – Jad & The Ladyboy.
The sound of Mandinka people
Londoner Huw Bennett went on what turned out to be a very inspirational trip to Gambia which led him not only into adopting a new name (Susso, taken from one of the local families) but also into producing an amazing album based on the field recordings registered among Mandinka people. The LP starts with the explanation that the title of the release (Keira) means ‘peace’ and peaceful, subtle and delicate are indeed the words most accurately describing this collection of songs.
So I got to know Mexican producer TYU when he published El Considerado last year and I remembered him as an artist with only three-letter nickname, the longest track titles in the history of music (e.g. Police Woman Confronting A Driver In The U.S For Playing His Music Too Loud) and a talent for making dark electronic compositions. With the release of the new EP Between & After The Rupture Mario González proves that his abilities are still there and only the names are shorter now. It was also very good to hear Tony Gallardo’s voice in the last song, that was the least we could get after he had anounced the death of his María y José project.
Carrot Green on vacation
It happens sometimes that you can stumble across tropical beats completely out of nowhere in the catalogue of the labels that you are following due to other reasons. And so it was with the Munich’s Permanent Vacation releasing the fourth installment of their self-titled compilations. It surprisingly included en exclusive composition from Brazil’s Carrot Green.
Moscoman has his own label and so do his frequent collaborators from the Red Axes duo. It’s called Garzen Records and in 2016 they both produced and released the debut solo EP from Abrão, an artist born in the ’60s in Brazil who used to be the lead singer of underground São Paulo’s bands but eventually relocated to Israel at the end of the past century.
Discos Pegaos Cinco
I knew I’d be talking a lot about this Chilean label and at the end of the year there was another – if not the most important – reason to look into the direction of Discos Pegaos. The imprint was celebrating its fifth birthday which is enough to call it a big deal considering how far away from the big lights they operate. They decided, however, to do something special for that occasion and came up with a double compilation showcasing not also everything that had appeared in their catalogue until this year but also bringing new music from the affiliated producers.
Nicolas Jaar’s No
No explanation needed. Quite easily one of the best tracks of the year, regardless of the genre. It was more than satisfying to see cumbia on such a major release.
Mexicans Paula and Raul Sotomayor released their debut album Salvaje last year and waited quite long to bring to the world the EP with the remixes but it finally arrived in the second part of September. It features lovely remixes from Siete Catorce, Illumivty, Chong X and others.
That’s a place the Puerto Rican duo Los Wálters took us with their fourth album. It was probably one of those releases that I surprisingly liked this year but when you choose such masterpiece as Claridad for an opening track, you can safely assume the success of the whole LP. And in this case the success is well deserved.
Larry SKG’s try on Mini Conga
Mini Conga was the name of the first official El Buga’s single that had been already published and released in different forms by Cassette Blog and Hawaii Bonzaï Records. It was high time then to bring it in 2016 to David Bugueño’s own label Sello Regional which prepared an EP full of remixes. My personal favourite is the rework performed by the Greek producer Larry SKG.
Herman Prime’s Maajo
The debut 12” of Finnish producer Herman Prime was once called Maajo but now it is also a name of the collective he’s been leading. They released the debut album Tropic of Tulli this year and it gives a very satisfying listen. The LP is composed of variety of interesting elements like Gambian poetry, balafon sounds, Pygmy chants and many others so you can have fun trying to recognize them all. Oh, and one of the tracks is called Makkara – this is not an African word, it means ‘sausage’ in Finnish.
DJs Pareja, an Argentinian duo consisting of experienced producers Mariano Caloso and Diego Irasusta, is without any doubt one of the most consistent groups in South America creating very much modern electronic music. In 2016 they came back to Cómeme with the EP Alto with which they will get you high (on the title track) and then take to the club of craziness (Club de la Locura). Ready for the ride?
If we’re talking Cómeme and South American artists releasing their music there in the second part of the year, Sano is the guy not be omitted. After his involvement in the supergroup Rionegro in 2015, he went on to produce not one but two EPs in the last twelve months – and Los Muchachos was indeed published by Matias Aguayo’s label. The second one though came out via another German imprint, Munich’s Public Possession to be precise.
Flo’s been nominated
So Auntie Flo’s last year’s Theory of Flo was nominated for the Scottish Album of the Year award and it’s actually a big deal as other nominees included among others Young Fathers and CHVRCHES. This success was celebrated extensively this year by the Huntleys + Palmers label who prepared two EPs with remixes of some of the tracks from the LP. One particularly awesome rework came from Africaine 808.
DJ Inko’s carioca house
Greece brought numerous solid tropical releases in 2016 – be it the music that arrived via Greek labels Shango and Yoruba or produced by local artists – and DJ Inko is yet another musician from that sunny country to add something to the list. And by something I mean a catchy EP Neema in which Kostis Papatzimas presents his version of the Brazilian carioca.
Aero Manyelo solo
This year I had to mention Aero Manyelo’s name many times, mostly due to his involvement in the Batuk supergroup (already featured here) but his solo work is definitely something not to be missed. After all, he’s one of the most prominent South African producers which was only proved by two EPs and one single that he put out in 2016. Standout track? I’d go for Real Stories.
Pirotecnia’s end-of-year attack
Discos Pegaos is not the only label bringing the best sounds from Chilean modern electronic music scene – another one is Pirotecnia and they prepared a more than decent set of releases for the end of 2016. It all started in the middle of October with Fantasna’s single Cuéntame which was supposed to precede the arrival of the LP of the same name but that album somehow has not been published although it was announced for the 15th of December. Anyway, Pirotecnia continued with the release of the newest MKRNI’s song which was then followed by the EP produced by Sebastian Roman, one of the band’s members, who’s part of the Roman & Castro duo specializing in the wonderfully called genre techno-latino. If this wasn’t enough, the catalogue of the label was further complemented with the compilation Pirotecnia Vol. 2 celebrating the second birthday of the imprint and the album from talented Fernanda Arrau. Wow, good job, guys!
Marimba y Tambor
Sumohair, Mexican artist living in the USA now, may actually be both the best producer among the hairdressers and the best hairdresser among the producers. Let’s focus on the music though – in 2016 Nectali Diaz started filling his soundcloud and bandcamp accounts with the uplifting songs resulting from his exploration of the African rhythms. At one point of the year Sumohair got himself into the collaboration with Nelson Buenohora and one of the outcomes was the extremely enjoyable track called Marimba y Tambor.
Clap! Clap! for 2017
Clap! Clap! famously – and I guess equally surprisingly – produced three songs for… Paul Simon and his thirteenth solo album Stranger to Stranger but fortunately there is also a full-length release coming from the Italian artist as well. Cristiano Crisci announced that his second album will come out in February 2017 and he already shared two amazing singles. Nguwe, the most recent of them, is definitely one of the most interesting tracks I’ve heard in 2016.
Kxngs around the world
Earth Sign is both the vinyl debut of Kxngs and the debut release for the London’s imprint Ex-Local which emerged from the party of the same name. The EP sees Brixton producer visiting different countries from all over the globe and exploring their cultures and sounds to create fantasticly well-crafted five-tracker that takes on the journey from South America to Africa.
Enchufada needed a strong accent to finish another successful year and they found it in the bedroom of KKing Kong, yet one more talented teenager from Lisbon. Similarly to abovementioned Alpha S and Recoleta neighbourhood of Santiago de Chile, this young producer draws inspiration from the district name in the outskirts of Portugal’s capital (hence the title Damaia) as this was the place which shaped his personality when he was growing up.
Bag of Bones
In 2016 we saw Felix Laband, an experienced producer from South Africa, continously doing his great job far away from the mainstream and its lousy rules. He came up this year with Bag of Bones EP, a release that presents his trademark style of creating long and minimalistic soundscapes. The tracklist was also enriched by the Luke Vibert’s remix and Laband’s take on his own kwaito classic from 2002.
The Black Moon
The project called Lua Preta (the Black Moon in Portuguese) was one of the most interesting things to appear this year on the Polish electronic music scene. Born from the collaboration between the notable DJ and producer Mentalcut and an Angolan singer Supa Gia G, it brings the vivid mixture of African rhythms and modern electronic sounds. So far there’s only one single but let’s hope that in 2017 they’ll develop their catalogue.
Not much can be found on imzi apart from the fact that he’s most likely from Morocco. Based on that, you would rather expect him to explore the desert music of Saharan regions but instead he released a decent techno EP including for example references to Brazilian samba.
Barcelona’s Shara Music started operating this year and at least until now the label was focused on the new sounds of Mexican underground scene. Firstly they released a single in which Mijo was involved and then a full EP from TKUZ arrived which included an absolutely outstanding composition called Eléctrico. In less than two months from its premiere, the song earned itself a whole release with remixes which features reworks from Dany F, Azari & III’s Ali X and more.
AYA is a newly founded imprint of the famous ZZK Records which is supposed to present ‘contemporary Latin American musical expressions’. Certainly that was the case with the first single of the collective called Rio Mira which in equal sense is a musical and cultural project aiming to bring together people from Afro communities from both sides of the border between Colombia and Ecuador. The original version of the song Adios Morena is accompanied by remixes produced by Nicola Cruz, Chancha via Circuito and Midnight Ravers among others. When you got names like this, you know it’s a big deal.
Sounds and Colours: Argentina
Sounds and Colours is a platform doing an amazing job trying to promote music and culture of the Latin American countries and nothing changed about that in 2016. Just as the year was coming to an end they were able to publish another book – after Colombia, Brazil and Peru this time it’s dedicated to Argentina. As always, there’s also an accompanying CD full of music from the country in question; from that album the favourite track of mine belonged to Nación Ekeko.
Bolivia’s Sikuri is one of those young guns mixing traditional Andean sounds with modern electronic music. Being just 20 years old, he managed to produce an eye-catching EP that was released via UK’s Trax Couture. The closing track Llegada, with its distinctive flutes very much in front of the composition, was for me the standout song.
You rather wouldn’t associate British DJ and producer Melé with the tropical music but the title of his this year’s single side A speaks for itself. The song is called Scouse Afrika for a reason and it’s a very dancefloor-friendly tribal track.
Timboletti’s Ayahuasca experience
German producer Tim Reichelt produced his firt EP for Sol Selectas this year and its title track Wrong Bottle included snippets of the Ayahuasca ceremony that the artist went through 10 years ago in Ecuador. It’s said that this ritual may be life-changing, in this case it was definitely inspiring!
Basy Tropikalne #1 (Latin America)
Last but defnitely not least, there was also one release that Basy Tropikalne was able to put out this year. I did my first ever compilation and although it was harder than I imagined it would be, when it was finally out I was really proud of the outcome. The album includes fantastic artwork from Marta Chojnacka and equally fabulous contributions from Carla Valenti, Derrok, El Traste, Jin Yerei, Lagartijeando, Nacho Libre, Lascivio Bohemia, Radiola Serra Alta, SidiRum, San Ignacio and edits from DJ Ryan R and Sanmon and Phil Pohlodek. Hopefully, in 2017 you’ll see more releases in our bandcamp catalogue! And until then – don’t forget to tune in to the Basy Tropikalne radio show. All the details on facebook, mixcloud and soundcloud. Thank you!