Cross pollination of traditional music and Western culture isn’t anything new, or surprising. Anyone who has been to a Hindu festival or Africa will know that their music permeates drum-heavy rhythm with hypnotic horns. Brian Jones was one of the first to merge the two when he recorded and produced the first Master Musicians of Joujouka album in 1968. At first it sounds like both are playing against each other with the effect to disorient you but after long exposure you realise that the two are playing as one and the desired effect is to put you into a similar trance as the players. Kuenta i Tambu, or KiT for short, are the latest in the rich tapestry of World Music to mix their heritage and their loves. On the new Muchu Danki EP, the Curaçao quintet showcase what they’re capable of and the results are as fun as they are rooty.
The Muchu Danki EP is practically fluorescent, or as close to fluorescent as music can get. Deep bass weaves with ritual tambú rhythms to create music that has one foot in the past and one on the dancefloor. 'Peace of Mind' and 'Where to Go' both start off sounding all Euro sex-pop. After a minute, 'Peace of Mind' goes two-step and dancefloor subs almost make you forget the opening slavo. The rest of the track is a call and response between the pop verses and EDM choruses. 'Where to Go' sticks in the classic pop mould and sadly the lack of variation is its undoing. In short, it’s too pedestrian.
The EP’s stand out track is 'Muchu Danki'. Tradition goes arm-in-arm with club culture as tribal chants and rhythms are given a filth workout, very similar to Nozinja on his excellent debut earlier this year. You can never quite tell who has the upper hand in this knock-down drag-out match between two contrasting cultures. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter as the song is a proper banger and deserves to be played again and again at louder and louder volumes. Closing track 'Mi Kueru' follows the same blueprint as the title track, but never quite reaches the perfect synergy of it. Though the tempo is faster, there is less going on and it sounds like any bedroom producer could have churned it out trying to work out how their new kit works.
KiT make something that fits perfectly between European bass, moombahton and traditional Afro Caribbean music. The emphasis is on tribal rhythms, dance production and lots of day-glo fun. The Muchu Danki EP does have its flaws but these are only brought to light by the incredible highs.
Muchu Danki is out now via Jiga Musica.