Monday, June 20, 2011

101 Things To Do In Bongolia




A Nice Little Trip: 101 Things To Do In Bongolia (review)

There is something super satisfying for the collector in me when a label like Electric Cowbell, which is known for its awesome 7” 45 RPM releases, puts out a CD collection of all its 45s plus bonus cuts and remixes and whatnot. So when Jimmy Thompson asked me to write a little something about it, I was very happy to do so. In this day and age when CDs seem to by dying out, I still like having them as backup for my vinyl and digital versions. Maybe that’s an anathema to pure vinyl freaks or people who can only deal with digital downloads, so call me old fashioned.

While its one thing to have a stack of 45s from Electric Cowbell, its really quite another thing to have them all housed in this handy little storage device with some nice artwork to boot. Having attended a label showcase for these guys a few months ago in NYC, I can say I am pretty familiar with the bands in a live context – indeed I consider myself friends with several of the acts, and an acquaintance of some of the others. And yet though I was familiar with these bands and their music, having it all here at my fingertips is a real bonus. It helps me understand what the label is all about – stretching boundaries, taking the listener on a trip to “Bongolia” as it were. What’s great about this little album is if you put it on and hear it in one sitting, there is a flow and a kind of cohesion on the CD that you might not get if you just had a couple of 45s on the turn tables. A compilation is a curatorial collection, so you are hearing someone’s sequencing and selective process at work, and at least for me, that aspect of 101 Things To Do In Bongolia is an added value for sure. While not all of the tracks may not be to my personal taste, what I do find tasty is the variety of sounds and textures, proving what I knew all along: that Electric Cowbell is more like “Eclectic” Cowbell! While you can just go to the Electric Cowbell web site and check out band bios and song samples, I am going to run it down track by track as I see it, just for shits & giggles:

Human Happiness - Superhuman Happiness
Great funk track with some Easter European brass, which leads nicely into…

Adderech Arada - Debo Band

…sinuous Ethiopian funk with some authentic vocals and instrumentation; a great band to watch in the coming year…

Let My People Bugal├║ (Clay Holley and Jeff Dynamite Remix) - Spanglish Fly
…and my frinds in Spanglish Fly sure know how to rock another sort of funk, from 60s Spanish Harlem this time! A lot of fun, a great party jam (watch the sudden ending though)…

Dina’s Mambo - Bio Ritmo
…now the more 70s salsa/funk fusion kind of like post-Castro Cuban, named for a band member's cat - sly and sexy, purring feline moves…

GMYL - Superhuman Happiness
…some electro-New Wave style weirdness with God references…

I Gettupa - Amazing Ghost
…odd electro funk pop – sort of if Prince took some downers and covered Ween…

Silbando (GRC For NYC Trust) - Los Ribere├▒os

…amazing version of the old Colombian cumbia classic, remixed tastefully; good for outdoor summer BBQ beach parties, ever if it’s only a tar beach you are rockin’…

Hounds - Superhuman Happiness
…interesting funk with some brass and samples – existential party music…


Majadero (That Little Chimps Remix) - Bio Ritmo

…a total departure into electro dub funk for Bio Ritmo & I love it – remixed by a couple of Japanese Surrealists…

Tiny Raindropz - Amazing Ghost
…OK I am trying to like this but I am not really feeling the vocals and ridiculous lyrics – perhaps people who like funky synth-pop will go for it….

Cosmic Attidude - Talibam!
…I laughed when I heard this zonked-out white-boy freak funk…

Adderech Arada (Kiddid Remix) - Debo Band + Kiddid
…sinister remix of track 2 – not feelin’ it too much but some beat hedz might go for it…

La Muralla - Bio Ritmo
…beautiful progressive salsa that sounds real and has meaningful lyrics…

String Theory (GRC Vocal Remix) - Superhuman Happiness Vs. Sahr Ngaujah
…enjoyable mashup of up-tempo tribal funk and house, groovy brass stabs, dub effects, New Wave guitar, and soulful vocals…

A Troll’s Soiree (Brooklyn Chimp Remix) - CSC Funk Band
…I absolutely LOVE this instrumental track – very beautiful, trippy tribal tech – thumb piano loop, afrobeat percussion, deep house bass, jazz brass, and electro dub flourishes (makes me think of the great band Nomo) – I got first dibs on this baby for my movie soundtrack, y’all…

Freddie’s Tea (Diff Juz DUB) - Greg Ginn and The Taylor Texas Corrugators vs ENE
…and then we swerve left into psych/prog rock territory with another (but completely differently flavored) dope instrumental, courtesy of Black Flag genius Gregg Ginn; really out there but thoroughly enjoyable and brings this collection into indie rock territory, which is kind of a fun 4/4 detour after all the Afro and Latin inspired grooves......

Gravity - Superhuman Happiness Vs. Sahr Ngaujah
…and we finish up our trip to Bongolia with a really cool trippy disco dub jam from Superhuman Happiness and Sahr Ngaujah, which goes from future to ancient and back again. I found myself enjoying this one in spite of myself and that’s just what I find so satisfying about the whole Electric Cowbell experience – it’s all in the labels’ name in fact – it’s got the modern machine element (electric) and the ancient human tribal aspect (cowbell). It’s a mind-stretching course in one label’s quest for self-sufficiency and expression.

So, at the end of my little trip, all I can say is bravo to all the bands, artists, crew, etc. involved with Electric Cowbell - definitely a label to watch in the future!


Sahr vs Superhuman Happiness


Debo Band


Bio Ritmo

2 comments:

Dynamite Ham said...

Hey DJ Bongohead!
I wasn't sure how to contact you except thru the comments section here. I wanted to find out if your graphic designing skills are available for hire for an album I'm working on, and what the details, $, etc would look like. You can contact me via email at:
dynamiteham@yahoo.com

Thanks!

Ethan Stoller, Chicago

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