@ Scala, London, 12 February 2009
act Buraka Som Sistema saw their debut album Black Diamond
released towards the end of 2008 with very little fanfare
in the UK.
is perhaps hard to understand when they are signed to the
usually well-marketed Fabric label, have featured M.I.A.'s
vocal talents on their tracks, been championed by über-cool
hip hop producer Diplo and were winners at last year's MTV
Europe Music Awards.
But think about it another way, and the lack of hype may
actually have worked in their favour. Old fashioned word
of mouth seems to have created the increasing buzz around
João Barbosa (AKA Li'l John), Andro Carvalho (Conductor),
Rui Pité (DJ Riot), and Kalaf Ângelo, which
means the crowd for tonight's gig are a lively, passionate
mob who are here to enjoy themselves rather than look cool
standing around with one hand on their chin in a dark corner
Som Sistema are held up as chief exponents, or many say
creators, of progressive Kuduro, which fuses African rhythms
with hip hop as well as dance music. The end result is a
hard-edged assault on the senses guaranteed to make asses
shake and get crowds jumping and tonight showcases that
drummers produce a dark piece of tribalism before launching
into the main show proper. Two male vocalists and one female
singer MC and whip up the crowd over the pounding beats,
huge basslines and synth stabs that hark back to the early
'90s rave scene. The whole sound pounds you in the gut and
forces you to move as its Soca/African flavours mix with
touches of trance inducing dance music.
various times references to other tracks are thrown in,
for instance when one song mutates brilliantly into Snap's
Rhythm Is A Dancer or the beats from The Prodigy's
Breathe are used to underpin the pumped-up aural onslaught,
much to the heaving crowd's pleasure.
band's live energy is absolutely phenomenal throughout.
The Sound Of Kuduro, the album track featuring M.I.A. (days
away from the birth of her new child, she doesn't appear
tonight), stomps along at breakneck pace, with words spat
out over galloping beats. Then there is the jump around,
pop-edged infectiousness of Aqui Para Voces or the buzzing
rave hook of Kurum. It's lively, even at times confrontational,
but above all enjoyable.
encore sees the crowd invited up on stage en masse - reflecting
the whole party vibe of the evening perfectly - before a
quick rendition of the Prodigy's No Good (Start The Dance)
brings the gig to a breathless close.
formed an education for those unfamiliar with the genre
of Kuduro, or a hybrid sub-genre of it at least, and a celebration
for everyone present. On the strength of this showing, word
of mouth should see Buraka Son Sistema's star ascend even
higher. Enjoy the party while you can.
Ian Roullier, 02/2009