Artwork by Jill Sylvia
A tightly woven exploration of tribal acoustic instrumentation alongside driving electronic flourish, this extended EP from Burnt Friedman is an adventurously warm-hearted and eminently danceable set. Friedman, a jazz musician, DJ, and experimental sound artist with an extensive discography and wide-ranging musical experience, has harnessed a dizzying range of flavors over these eight tracks. And while on paper elements of dub, techno, psych, and African music may sound disparately grouped, the space is ably pulled together by an ever-evolving rhythmic pulse befitting of a master percussionist.
“En Bu” is a reserved opener, utilizing beautifully rendered live drums (the EP was engineered by Rashad Becker of Dubplates & Mastering) alongside acoustic fills and woody stabs. The pace is upped considerably on “Riku Ro,” in which frenetic percussion is interwoven with weird synth washes and any number of unknown instrumental interjections. More somber moods are evoked on “Kowai Koiru,” heavily processed vocals and tick-tock woodblocks lending a mournful shipwreck air. Indeed, there is a lot of sound to get your head around across these eight tracks — and the playful skill of the live musicianship really lends a spectral looseness that is missing in so much over-quantized DJ fodder. That these tracks will fit well into any number of sets is a satisfactory bonus to what is already a fulsome listen.
The past couple of years have seen increasing focus on roiling afro-centric rhythms within the left-of-center electronic world — the Shangaan Electro series, various Congotronics remixes and Shackleton’s evermore extreme visions to name but a few. Here Burnt Freidman ties together a serious combination of rambunctious august rhythms that should definitely draw exploration from fans of the aforementioned.