Buraka Som Sistema
Black Diamond


4.0
excellent

Review

by StreetlightRock EMERITUS
January 24th, 2009 | 15 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Dancing to your tribal fire in the heart of downtown Ibiza.

DJs since time immemorial have been busy doggedly fiddling percussive elements into dance, and for the most part, failing miserably with equal vigor. After all, most of them are just there trying to work a bit of bingo bango into the Clubber Top 40 charts, and frankly, its been just downright insulting to have to buy into the idea that it’s in any way exotic. But there’s hope yet! Hailing from Lisbon and carrying the dark dust of their deep Angolan roots, Buraka Som Sistema fall into no such trap. Their sense of fun isn’t derived simply from some ‘AfricanDrum_03’ preset swiped off a random programmable synth, but from a real sense of intensity that stirs while getting lost within the tribal ecstasy of relentless beats around the blazing flames of jungle clearing bonfire. The best part of course, is that their debut record, Black Diamond comes off as a decidedly modern record, drenched deep in a mix of unrelenting tech-house and furious urban grime, aimed squarely at the darkest confines of 2AM DJ sets in the beating heart of world club culture. The Buraka crew are well aware of this too, with the album’s sole manifesto “New Africas pt. 1” proclaiming that “Yes. It’s rising. Yes. You are in London. But it feels like Rwanda, or Lisbon. It’s ugly, but embodies the beauty of the pure and raw. It s sexual. Fast. Innocent… And lives by the rules of the now.”

And living up to that promise, Black Diamond doesn’t allow itself to be carried away on whirlwinds of rhythmic complexity, but for the most past blazes its way on through by laying down a raft of pulsing 4x4 beats crafted for the simple pleasure of the dancefloor. Far from experimental, opener “Lunanda/Lisboa” kicks things off nicely with a taste of Buraka’s penchant for fusing mindnummingly addictive and earthy beats with tension filled undercurrents of electronic swaths, only to pave the way for one the coolest dance tracks in recent memory: Featuring the presence of the culturally effervescent M.I.A. and a boatload of other musical guests, “Sound Of Kuduro” isn’t just a handshake welcome to the genre that the Buraka’s champion, but a literal kick in the face introduction to their Angolan dance influences. With her trademark half-spoken, half-sung delivery of “One drop, two drop, three drop, four/Sound of Kuduro knocking at your door”, it’s the best of everything that Buraka Som Sistema have on offer and the shiniest diamond here. Follow up “Aqui Para Voces” is also a highlight, featuring Black Diamond’s most electro inspired song, with a pulsing, distorted, bassline playing partner to Dieize Tigrona’s Carioca Funk roots, as her Spanish spit-rap style round up an bangin' set of album openers.

Interestingly, it’s deep in the heart of Black Diamond that the Buraka’s manage to explore not just their electronic pedigree, but their mystical side as well. While the excitement level is toned down to some degree, songs like “Kurum” and “Ic19” delve deep into sound bordering on edges of exotic acid-house mixes, with their mid-paced repetitive beat passages evoking the sort of relentless mysticism associated with crazed ‘speaking in tongues’ rituals. “Kurum” even manages to play though it’s entirety with jungles noise samples in its background, while “Ic19” at one point slows down enough to stop for a 15 second rave addling just to mix things up a bit. And none of this is to even hint at the Caribbean lounge-dance number of “General” that the band throws in half way though the record. Still, the Buraka crew are more savvy than to think that small exotic allusions sell in this industry climate, and closers “Beef” and “Black Diamond” end the album on a dark, edgy note, with their grime influenced proto-dubstep sounds pushing the album back into more familiar club territory. MC Kalaf’s restrained rapping carries a weight that seems like it’s screaming to burst forth, while The Virus Syndicate channel a mix of grimemasters Wiley and Dizzee Rascal, once again placing Black Diamond firmly within it’s genesis of harsh, urban infused dancefloor bangers.

Besides – look at it this way, not only can you dance around to the hippest bass pumpin’ tunes in town, but you can go home and feel culturally enlightened too! Sure, It’s always been a risk to buy into any sort of dance album promising to “reconnect with urban music’s deepest realities” by throwing in a couple of tribal inspired beats over typical electronic melodies, but Buraka Som Sistema are hella serious about what they do – and given that they do it so well, let them fires rage and get your tribal on.

4/5



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user ratings (14)
Chart.
3.4
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
StreetlightRock
Emeritus
January 24th 2009


3912 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

www.myspace.com/burakasomsistema

Digging: Ghostface Killah - The Lost Tapes

Willie
Moderator
January 24th 2009


17609 Comments


Great review, I want to hear this but I'll have to wait til I get off work (Myspace is blocked).

Willie
Moderator
January 24th 2009


17609 Comments


Alright, since everyone else sucks I guess I have to double post. I checked out the 15 songs on their myspace (while playing some Bad Company on the 360) and this is as good as you said it would be.

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
January 24th 2009


3912 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Haha, thanks man, I just really like their sound.

jrowa001
January 24th 2009


8752 Comments


i tried listening to this sometime in december and i couldnt get into itThis Message Edited On 01.24.09

SynGates
January 24th 2009


2467 Comments


while playing some Bad Company on the 360


sup

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
January 27th 2009


4942 Comments


I've seen this on like six blogs recently, added with this review, I will probably give in and give it a listen

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
January 28th 2009


3912 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Just give the myspace tracks a go

ReturnToRock
March 12th 2009


3446 Comments


Suck. sucksucksucksucksuck.

Good to see a review for a Portuguese band on a foreign site, but did it have to be THESE guys?

"Progressive Kuduro music" can kiss my effing ass.

ReturnToRock
March 12th 2009


3446 Comments


by the way, do you know what their name means? "Buraka" (or Buraca) is a highway area on the outskirts of Lisbon, which these guys come from. "Som Sistema" is basically a literal translation of "Sound System".

God, this band sucks!

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
March 12th 2009


3912 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I love them throughly, saw them live about a month ago, they made my body do things I didn't know it could do. Just curious though, do you like dance music?This Message Edited On 03.12.09

ReturnToRock
March 12th 2009


3446 Comments


not really, but even people who do think these guys are posers. i mean, "progressive Kuduro?"

kuduro, unto itself, is seen as a "lowly" form of music here in Portugal. trying to make it "progressive" is just utterly ridiculous.

but hey, to each its own, I guess.

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
March 12th 2009


3912 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh I dunno about Portugal itself, but I mean these guys stuff have been put on mix tapes and remixed by big name dance acts like DJ Tayo, Hot Chip and Diplo, you don't get that unless you got some serious cred. And then there's M.I.A's appearance.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
April 19th 2009


2806 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This album rules hard. And as for this being "lowly" in Portugal, "Wegue Wegue" was #1 and they won the MTV Europe award for Best Portuguese act. So people like them. Also, Sound System is a throwback to Jamaican reggae at the very roots of hip-hop. Nice try though.

ADaptorAllMusic
April 10th 2010


2 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i'm portuguese and i actually like their sound, it's a matter of taste



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