Release Date: 16th July 2021
Steel Drum Covers of Grace Jones, Galt MacDermot, Slum Village, Minnie Riperton, Jay Z, Ike Turner, and more.
Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band, the mysterious steel pan outt hailing from Hamburg, Germany have amassed a cult following around the globe. With a slew of classic 7”s and two critically acclaimed full length albums, they set a high bar for themselves, one they clearly intend on pushing even higher with this new offering. On their third album, aptly titled Expansions, BRSB are back with more of the same, but more of the same with them is inherently different. Covering songs that span genres and range from mega hits to album cuts, they make them their own with their unique approach to the traditional steel pans of Trinidad and Tobago.
Part of the allure of a new record from Bacao is nding out what covers they chose. However, die hard fans are also waiting to hear the original numbers like the stellar album opener “Tough Victory”. Its airtight rhythm section, brass arrangements, and layers of steel pan melodies make the term “cover band” a shoe that could never t Bacao. Within the next three songs they go from Jazz (Galt MacDermot), to Hip Hop (Slum Village / J Dilla), to a dance ‑oor classic (Grace Jones) taking them all on with their signature style, expanding on the originals. An easy crowd favorite is their gritty, gully, and neck snapping cover of the Timbaland produced Jay-Z club hit “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”. The infamous crushing Bacao drums start the show and the moment they start playing the top line on the pans, all bets are off. Sure to become a dance ‑oor ller is their bottom heavy, four on the ‑oor version of Sylvester’s classic “I Need Somebody To Love Tonight”. They venture into some gutbucket funk with Ike Turner’s “Getting Nasty” and bring the steel pans to Minnie Riperton’s Jazz classic “Les Fleurs”. Digging deeper in the modern canon and paying tribute to a tribute, they cover Erykah Badu’s homage to the late great J Dilla, “The Healer”. This is the type of thing to make Spice Adams jump on his kitchen counter and scream. From the second the beat drops they give the original Madlib production a run for its money, shaking subwoofers with the eerie tremolo bass while the pans play E. Badu’s
By the time the album is through Bacao has taken the listener on a journey that spans a myriad of energies, tempos, and moods while somehow managing to keep it all under one umbrella. For all that, these songs are alive, and they will be taken out of the context of this album and sewn into the fabric of DJ sets around the globe for many years to come. Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band is breathing renewed life into the originals and continuing to push the boundaries of steel pan music, or, as the title suggests, expanding on it.
1. Tough Victory
3. Raise It Up
4. My Jamaican Dub
5. I Need Somebody To Love Tonight
6. Dirt Off Your Shoulder
1. Getting Nasty
2. Blow Your Cover
4. The Healer
5. Les Fleur
6. Squaring The Circles
Release Date: 13th August 2021
- El Michels Affair reimaginging Liam’s Ekundayo Album.
- Produced by Leon Michels.
- Also includes three unreleased vocal tracks from the Ekundayo sessions.
There has always been a Reggae inuence in the music of El Michels Affair. From their cover of “Hung Up On My Baby” done in a Reggae style, to the general sound and approach that permeates Leon’s production style. While recording Bailey’s 2020 Ekundayo album, they did some straight forward reggae tunes inspired by different eras alongside some modern R&B tracks that would ‑t more comfortably next to Frank Ocean than Jacob Miller. It is this same notion that old and new can live so comfortably together that birthed the idea of Ekundayo Inversions.
Traditional dub came out of reggae in the late 60s and early 70s when pioneers like King Tubby and Lee Perry started taking the multi track recordings of songs and running them back through the board adding effects and additional instrumentation. These recordings are called “dubs” or “versions” and are typically instrumentals with ourishes of vocals from the original tracks.
El Michels decided to use the blueprints left behind and make something using the inuences of today. He wound up straying so far from the traditional format that it didn’t seem right to use the word ‘Dub’, hence Ekundayo Inversions. All the songs are tied together by WhatsApp messages between Leon and Liam that perfectly narrate the story of this record and their working relationship.
One of the highlights on Ekundayo Inversions is a guest appearance from the legendary Lee “Scratch” Perry on the “Ugly Truth” version. L$P switches between singing and talking, proclaiming his powers one minute and playing with the track’s title the next. On “Awkward take. 2” Leon takes one of the most experimental songs from Ekundayo and actually straightens it out. A track that once seemed to be oating in space has now been anchored by the addition of drums and bass. “Faded”, a version of “Paper Tiger”, is given the full EMA treatment with the addition of emotive horns over an uncomfortably sparse rhythm track peppered with Liam’s voice drenched in delay and echo.
“Champions” features a verse from Black Thought of The Roots and halfway through, El Michels sends the rhythm section 50 years back. At the end of the day, Ekundayo Inversions is a testament to how strong the original songs are. Whether they’re in a R&B style, reggae style, stripped down to their bare bones, or loaded with production, the songs will move you.
a1. Conquer & Divide feat. Black Thought
a2. Amazing Woman
a3. Angel Face
a4. Walk With Me
a5. No One Else
b1. Ugly Truths feat. Lee Scratch Perry
b2. I Love NY
b4. Awkward (Take 2)
b5. Lucky Man