90’s underground Goa Trance/Electronica kings & contributors to the Matrix soundtrack, Juno Reactor, released their 8th album a couple of years ago “The Golden Sun of the Great East” which was a Middle Eastern driven cinematic symphonic Psy Trance epic.
This year they follow-up on that with a companion remix album which features remixes from Extrawelt, GMS, Bliss, Ritmo, Zeologic, Cylon, Modus, Tortured Brain, and Jitter.
“With The Golden Sun… Remixed, Juno Reactor presents a companion album to its most recent opus, The Golden Sun Of The Great East. An exotic mix of reinterpretations, this stunning album takes the songs in staggering and engaging new directions. Surging trance beats, blended together with cinematic world music flavors create an epic experience for the listener.”
Standouts for me were the pulsating Techno contributions from Extrawelt of the “Final Frontier” track and from Modus of “Shine”, the trippy Psy Trance rework of “Trans Siberian” by Cylon and the Prog Synth epic of “Playing with Fire” by Jitter.
The whole remix album rocks pretty hard and the remixes pay huge respect to the original tracks whilst taking things into riveting and exciting new directions. Both albums are a leading example of the emerging Transnational Psy Trance scene!
We’re also lucky enough to have an amazing Middle Eastern influenced Top 10 from the founder member of Juno Reactor, Ben Watkins, which is full of recent Transnational Arabic beauties. Some of these are really tasty! There’s everything here, Goa Trance, Dubstep, DnB, Trap, M.I.A., Electronica and Rock N’ Rai!
The RSS Boys are possibly the most interesting DJ/Producer duo around and are shrouded in mystery. Apparently there’s 2 of them and they’re from Poland and prefer to remain anonymous. They say “as legend suggests – they met in the middle of Africa, in Benin!”.
They have released 4 albums, 2 of which came out this year “N00W” and “00 FLY”. They fuse raw Techno, often replicating an African inspired rhythmical pattern to create a dystopian world of Post-Apocalyptic Transnational Techno. A mind-blowing sound scape that is dark, nihilistic and thought-provoking.
I approached them for a Top 10 some time back and they’ve finally come back to me with this list and here’s what they say about it in their own peculiar way:
“WE CH0SE ST00F WHICH IS KINDA BASIC AND UNIVERSAL F0R 0UR 0WN EXPL0RATI0NS……….THIS IS N0T A T0P10, ALL 0F TRACKS 0R ALBUMS WE PUT HERE AS EQUAL. THIS IS KIND 0F IMP0RTANT.”
So in no particular order, here is the RSS Boys 10 tracks that inspires their explorations and brace yourselves because this is pretty hard to find material:
* Miriam Makeba – Click Song *
* Fela Anikulapo Kuti & Africa 70 – No Agreement *
* Sir Victor Uwaifo & his Melody Maestroes – Idogo *
I can’t tell you how honoured and lucky I feel that we have this very special list from the lead vocalist of one of of my new favourite bands.
Zohra Atash is the vocalist for Azar Swan and their album “Dance Before War” has not left my playlist ever since I stumbled across it. It owes its dues to the best of The Cure “Disintegration” era crossed with Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus and Kate Bush but yet sounds completely fresh, unique and different to all of it!
I am of the opinion that this lady is one of the most remarkable vocalists of our time. Her voice is just beyond incredible, it transports me to to another dimension, a much more beautiful one, than the world we live in. She has drawn comparisons to Kate Bush but to simply say that she sounds like Kate Bush would be doing a massive injustice and disservice to Zohra’s unique vocal prowess and beautiful sound. It is the magic of Zohra’s addictive voice that has really drawn me into the Azar Swan album.
Finding out that Zohra was also into Middle Eastern music, like me, made my day, so I asked her to curate a special Top 10 (that has become a Top 15) focusing on Middle Eastern and Asian vibes and this list goes straight to my heart. I am in heaven!!! Some new revelations in this list for me like that heart breaking second Fairuz track, the gorgeous Afro-Turkish vibes of Esmeray and the Afghan Elvis, Ahmad Zahir!!!! Wow!!!
I am sure there will so much new and fascinating material in this list even for those familiar with this kind of music. It will also serve as a great introduction for those who might not be. Trust me you will be drawn in after listening to these selections.
Zohra took a lot of time over curating this list and she says:
“I really wanted to curate something special that folks with no background would understand. I hope this is okay, as I took it to heart and spent a fair bit of time on it.”
Over to Zohra, in her own words!!
My name has a curious “h” that confounds most native English speakers as the pronunciation does not warrant the “H”. It is z OR – uh, rhymes with Laura. While I was born in Florida, my parents wanted to keep the essence of it’s Arabic origin, which has a very clear and distinct “h” sound. In Arabic, the “h” creates this beautiful rest between the zo and the ra.
I grew up speaking Farsi/Dari and English, but at the age of five my mother started teaching me Arabic. We would sit on the couch with a stack of blue flashcards and she’d attempt to teach me the points of articulation that were completely foreign to me. At one point, she just put her finger right in the middle of my throat and gave it a light push to get the correct throat sounds, which to a westerner would be akin to a really exaggerated “YUCK”.
Middle eastern music – dabke music and mawals particularly – is inside my heart and in my DNA, and It is absolutely my favorite music to sing to. There are these microtonal movements which have these colors and emotion and nuances that don’t exist in western music.
In my western vocal training there was always emphasis on where your notes were being pulled from: sing from diaphragm with an open throat and a mouth you could fit you whole fist in. The notes flow and and bleed.
There’s so much more freedom singing in Arabic; there’s flow but within that there are these microrhythms because of the rests within words. The notes can be pushed by points in chest, through the nose, or from a lowered or raises larynx. It rises. It drops. It sparkles.
I’m stretching the borders a bit.
Fairuz – Dabke Lebnan/Habaytak Bisayf
This is one of my favorite Dabke songs. It starts at 6:02 and it’s particularly great cos of the female dancers dressed like dudes.
This song just may be one of the most beautiful and powerful songs ever sung.
Omar Souleyman – Leh Jani/Lansob Sherek
I don’t care what folks say in youtube comment sections, Omar Souleyman is fantastic and I love his dabke music. It’s powerful. I don’t like voices because of technical proficiency. I’m in it for the soul, spirit, and heart.
Oum Kalthum – Enta Omri
A voice that transcends race, religion, and time.
Ofra Haza – Im Nin’Alu
Yemenite Jew singing in Hebrew and English who’s dueted not only with Andrew Eldridge, but Iggy Pop with the voice of a Goddess.
Abdel Halim Hafez – Ahlif
I always thought Abdel Halim Hafez was the Arab Jacques Brel. Born the same year, they both started their career the same year, both have undeniably powerful voices, both performers sang as if they were slightly to very unhinged, and both died before the age of fifty.
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – Sansoon Ki Mala
I sometimes feel like we are so small. We are just little specs of light. But Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s voice was larger than anything I can take in with my eyes. I once listened to this song over and over in a bathroom of a hotel in Paris. I wasn’t having a particularly good time, and there was this bit of vocal acrobatics I needed to nail. Even though it’s at the top of his range, and in a comfortable space in mine, the speed and landings were difficult to maneuver. It’s still not perfect, but I get pretty close. (3:55 – 4:03)
Kouroush Yaghmaei – Havar Havar
The youtube description says it best, “Sultun e rock e Iran”.
Googoosh – Talagh
It’s Jesus Christ Superstar meets Iranian Orchestral Pop
Natacha Atlas – Fun Does Not Exist
One of the only few contemporary fusion artists of middle-eastern music I don’t want to push out of a window. In fact, I want to give her a great big hug, I love her so.
Esmeray – Nereye
Afro-Turkish voice of velvet.
The Devil’s Anvil – Besaha
I love psychedelic music from Texas to Turkey. The Devil’s Anvil was formed in New York City in the mid 60’s and only released one record creatively titled Hard Rock from the Middle East which is crazy good. And just like this list, the borders are stretched, as there’s a cover of the Greek “Miserlou” as well as the rebetiko-esque sung in Greek “Kley”.
Dead Can Dance – Persian Love Song
I love songs like “Cantara” and “Rakim”, but I chose this song because Lisa Gerrard is actually singing in Farsi. In a strange accent, but farsi all the same. I would recognize the word “jange” anywhere.
Ustad Nainawaz – Khoda Jaan
My father would sit at the harmonium and play every evening. On weekends the house would be filled with the smell of food and booze and tablas and santoors and singing. Music would be played sitting on the floor, in a circle. The sound of non-players reaction to the music was just as much a part of the whole experience. This sound is home to me.
Ahmad Zahir – Khoda Bowad Yaret
Ahmad Zahir is in the hearts of every Afghan. He was trained by Ustad Nainawaz in Pre-Communist Afghanistan. He’s a symbol of the last of hopeful and happy days. He is called the Afghan Elvis, but to me and to so many of us, he means so much more. Music is healing, and this man’s music has pulled people out of darkness. May he rest in peace.
South Africa’s leading young Bass God, Muzi returns to Generation Bass with his current top 10 tracks.
He recently released his “Fire Up The Bongo” EP with us a few weeks back and you can still grab that for free HERE.
The six track EP is a testament to ingenuity and persistence. These tracks are township battle-heavy beats with chopped and screwed lyrics running in and out of the aural landscape. A mix of nosebleed dub step, drum funk, techno and trap that switches between the genres faster than you can say eclectic. It’s music that’s all energy. Power drink music. Stay up all night playing games music. Blow up that building music. Fuck the neighbours; this is the Ride of the Valkyries coming over the shrubbery; the ghetto piper at the gate of dawn sending out word that suburbia has fallen. But that Muzi has arrived…
Don’t forget to download that EP but for now check out what gets him moving with his Top 10 tracks.
We’re continuing MUNCHI DAY on Generation Bass with his Top 12, yes not 10 but 12 Tracks. Trust Munchi to be different and even defy and rebel against our limits lol!!
His reasons for giving me a Top 12 instead of a Top 10 were as follows:
“It was quite difficult to get a final 10 that I had to make a final 12 – and even that was hard haha. In the end I chose this because it is exclusively of this era though. Quite hard to leave out one of my absolute favorite Reggeton artists – Angel Doze. So I gotta mention if it was about Reggeton in general – Angel Doze would be in the top 3”
It’s a ReggaetonFest!
1. Nicky Jam – Gatas En La Disco Andan
2. Yaviah – Wiki Wiki
3. Nejo – Asi Es La Vida
4. Don Omar ft. Cheka – Amor De Colegio (Unreleased Demo)
Our relationship with Liquid Stranger goes back to the beginning days of this blog but he’s actually been making music since the 90’s.
He had a remix featured on our innovative and futuristic Dubstep compilation “Generation Bass Presents Transnational Dubstep”, which still sounds years ahead of its time, even today.
He first came to my attention in 2009 via the Six Degrees Label and his remix of Bombay Dub Orchestra’s “Journey”, which kicked off my infamous “India Calling”Mixtape. That track blew my mind because it was taking Dubstep to another dimension that was little known at that time, the Transnational Dimension!
Then I heard his second album for the Interchill label“The Intergalactic Slapstick” and that confirmed to me that we had encountered a very special and unique but unassuming and shy talent. If you have not checked out that album, I would encourage you to do so because it is a “Masterpiece”. It displays all the intricacies of a real album made by a real musician and not just a producer tinkering with some music making software.
His Dubstep remixes brought him to the attention of “the” label at that time, “Rottun” where he joined the ranks of some of the most influential Dubstep producers on that side of that pond, Datsik, Excision, Downlink and many more. His sound became a lot more ferocious as a result but he became a huge figurehead within that scene.
However, he never forgot those who he worked with prior to his sudden but deserved rise in the Dubstep scene and he continued to make ambient albums for Intechill to keep his musical & emotive side alive.
To this very day he continues to be at the cutting and leading edge of the Bass music scene. I have no doubt that a new chapter in his musical career is about to unfold following his mega “Infusion” mix which he dropped a few days ago . On that mix he displayed his new Multi-Genre approach where Trap, Dubstep, Dancehall, Hip Hop and everything else nestles side by side and he covered a multitude of artists from Rihanna, Kraftwerk, The Police through to one of my faves, The Cocteau Twins all edited or remixed in that Liquid Stranger stylee.
It’s a huge honour for us to have him back on these hallowed pages twice this week and this time he’s back with his Top 10 tracks.
This list will provide many of you with a sterling education into music, it is a fantastic list containing so many innovative artists and hidden gems inlcuding some of my faves (Bladerunner).
List & commentary by Liquid Stranger.
Tangerine Dream – The Dream is always the Same
Early inspiration from the analogue masters.
Aphex Twin – Flim
Amazing melodies from the Don of electronica.
DJ Shadow – Six Days
One of my absolute favorite DJs / producers of all time – super diverse master of sonics.
Data – Fallout
Kraftwerk on steroids!
Future Sound of London – Cascade
FSOL were so far ahead of their time. Their album Lifeforms was revolutionary when it came out and still remains fresh to this day.
Vangelis – Rachel’s Song
Harmonic perfection. Vangelis music has an uncanny ability to pierce straight into my heart without interference from any intellectual filters.
Johnny Cash – Redemption Day
Originally a Cheryl Crow tune, and Cash turned it into a haunting masterpiece.
Squarepusher – Bleep Street
Masterful combo of electronica, jazz and d&b.
Dimitri from Paris – Une Very Stylish Fille
Original and unmatched.
Rob Hubbard – C64 Computer Game Music
Every electronic musician will name drop Afrika Bambaataa, and Jarre as the originators of electronic dance music – but the music from the early video games is definitely my number 1 inspiration.
Riot aka Rui Pité is one of the most important and unsung heroes in the Transnational Bass scene. One of the team at Buraka Som Sistema, he has often preferred to stay in the background but that has started to change recently when he unleashed some of the most lethal Zouk Bass tracks we’ve ever heard in the scene so far under his own moniker “Riot”.
This year we know he is going to cement his individual ID as “Riot” with his forthcoming Zouk Bass EP and he will demonstrate, alongside his Buraka bandmate Branko, why he is still one of the most talented producers at the top of his game in this scene even after all the years with Buraka Som Sistema and his previous DnB career. His ideas and sounds are continually progressive and fresh!
It is with the greatest pleasure and honour to have him here sharing with us his favourite Zouk Bass tracks and EXCLUSIVE previews of 2 brand new tracks!!!!!
Four Generation Bass Artists in his Top 10, wow!!!!
10. Rathero- Money & Cars
9. Reptilian Commander- Jungle Rebellion
8. Missy Elliot – Get your(Zouk) Freak on (R I O T Refix)
7. JSTR – Panamania feat feat. Ma-Less
6. Insane Fennel- Bang
5. Misanthrop – Deadlock
4. Buraka Som Sistema- Sente
3. Branko feat Compadre- Ramma Dum
2. R I O T- Zouk in the Souk[EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW]
1. R I O T- Coming from my Heart[EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW]