When all DJ gigs and public events were cancelled in 2020 I didn’t retreat but buckled down in my music cave. Turned out my music friends were doing the same in their corners of the world. Our collective Meerkat Recordings became a platform to create new visions for bass music. On November 11, 2021 we re-surface with the anniversary compilation Nomads in Sound, ranging from the Peruvian Andes to the Asian Underground.
Album Cover by Magnus Frederiksen
Despite death and isolation, we met through channels like French dub radio Roots Legacy and online Lima Dub Club. In their contributions to Nomads in sound artists ranged from the valley of death ‘til David Hasselhoff’s happy-go-lucky-land in Knight Rider. My own contribution, the track Christos Gavanas, became a portal to communicate beyond life and death through making music in collaboration with my brother who died on 2001. The track ends up at a rave, on a field where the sun rises as you dance among hundreds of happy souls.
Simultaneously, over in Lima/ Peru, the musician Saqra Selekta connected with the inspirational force of his late mother, etnomusicologist Chalena Vásquez and her collection on music and dance in the pre hispanic times. With Olaya Sound System, Saqra Selekta crossed traditional Amazonian sounds with reggae cumbia in their organic dub track Corazón Tribulado:
— Born in the Andes, in Cusco from an anarchist and musicologist mother. I danced in the Paucartambo dances, which came from the Takis, the prehispanic indigenous performing arts. My musical, political and cultural journey led me to search in to my afro andean roots and history. Also I have the fortune to work in the production of the shows of Mad Professor and Lee Scratch Perry in Lima. In my sound there is direct influence of Vibronics, Mungos Hi Fi and Manudigital. The live dub sessions of Young Warrior, Jah Shaka and King Shiloh. Dub Master Kush and King Cholo Sound are Peruvian artists who have been my teachers in reggae and dub. In this track there is also influence from Count Ossie and the mystic revelation of Rastafari, and chicha guitarists.
Saqra Selekta y Olaya Sound System at Lima Dub Club, photo by Johanna Arrendondo
The seemingly disparate nomadic sounds on the compilation merge into each other. Straight out of the Asian Underground of the 1990s, Leeds based drum&bass artist Nuphlo/ Miyagi develops this tradition with his Bhangra/ Bollywood-influenced tracks Neverland and Nectair. Nuphlo’s East-West flavoured music is a creative outlet and haven in the midst of a hectic and stressful work life.
— Working and being mentored by artists like Ges-e, Osmani Soundz, Tony Thorpe and more recently John Rolodex have shaped my musical development. I recently started a label along with some friends. The label is called Hundred Colours Music. The freedom to release music that I want is great.
Along with Nuphlo, KingL Man aka D Wattsriot generates an antithesis of the neo-colonialism of world music with his track Adaptor, inspired by Jungle, DnB and Footwork. Currently based on Tenerife, he recently released the album ‘Headonix‘ where he collaborates with migrants arriving in fishing boats from Senegal, Mali, Gambia and Morocco. From a DIY approach, KingL Man finds inspiration from all ports, new and old producers, J.Dilla, Madlib, nature, the birds in the garden, rain drops hitting the bucket outside.
— Back in the day, I would create Pause-Button Edits on my BFR (Big Fuckin’ Radio) aka GhettoBlaster, I continued doing that type of editing when I joined Fun-da-Mental. I brought tape edits into the studio for my first contributions to their records. Only recently I found out that some of the first tunes by Public Enemy and A Tribe Called Quest featured tracks that Chuck D and Q-Tip had started as Pause-Button Edits/Loops before they actually started their respective groups!
KingL Man aka D Wattsriot at El Tanque in Santa Cruz /Tenerife, photo by Christian Buehner
Crafting vibes beyond its UK origins, Swedish dub act Bass Trolls as well as French dub artist Phoniandflore have plunged into Steppers dub. The contribution Special Time by Phoniandflore mix influences from songs in Arabic with nomadic vibes. He recently released his Ten Years of Dub album and is currently on a creative roll:
— The discovery of Dub in 2000 — through High Tone, Kaly Live Dub, Brain Damage, Zenzile, Lobe Radiant, Ezekiel and more — was huge for me. It remains my favorite style of music ever since, but I listen to all kinds of music at home. Jazz, hip hop, world music, drum & bass, dubstep, techno, bass music. After meeting N-Tone Dub, we created the group The Outa Steppaz for a first date in Dordogne, which was my first live experience. A second fundamental encounter was with Sancho with whom I founded the Marée BASS collective to promote underground music through parties and a record label. This motivated me to launch my solo project Phoniandflore and produce reflective albums.
Likewise, my German sound sister Donna Maya emerges out of decades of sound nomadism. Her contribution is about meerkats that build a collective to be successful together. From a few water sounds and drops, her track Live Terminal condenses into an ocean that dictates its rhythm to its environment and makes it move. After almost three decades dedicated to music production Donna Maya recently released her solo album “Lost Spaces → Detroit,” followed the album People Mover Remixed:
— I am always on a journey into music and discover new sounds. First I got hooked by Jamaican Dance Hall, but also listened a lot to Ska and Rock Steady tunes. Shortly after, early Hip Hop made it´s way to Europe. From that I discovered Funk and Soul and dived into Rare Groove. I got really kicked by Jungle and Drum´n´Bass while also listening to Detroit Techno. That brought me deeper and deeper into the electronic music cosmos where I discovered early pioneers of electronic music, such as Delia Derbyshire, Daphne Oram and Elaine Radique and more. So for me its an ongoing process, a never ending expedition into music that shaped me and always brought new flavor into my thoughts about music, musical concepts and how to compose.
Donna Maya with her Theremin, photo by Henryk Weifenbach
From the Stockholm HQ, Joxaren’s evokes a playful flowing spirit in his track Vålnad, an analogue and barefoot dance by the fire. Contemplative and simultaneously urgent. During the latest decade, Joxaren has been influenced by music from places like Romania and Albania, but also African kwaito och Kuduro, and launched unexpected collaborations:
— The record I’m probably most proud of is the single ”Nunta de Valoare,” which I made in in 2016, in collaboration with Romanian artists I got to know in Stockholm by coincidence, and which reached further than I imagined. And I recently released an EP with Eek-a-Mouse, a collaboration I could only have dreamed of previously. I want to let music and life intertwine, keep my senses open to reality’s interventions and coincidences, and try to let music take me to unexplored places physically, socially and mentally.
Joxaren, photo by Marcus Tenderyd
Finally, I am proud to announce that Dhangsha has struck again and it is not meant to be pretty. By means of distortion, UK artist Dhangsha. It delivers his message in a “dansk skalle” style (Danish head-butt) with his contribution Sincronizar 2021. It is the sound of questioning and unrest, of internal and external struggle:
— My musical background is as an experimental dub and noise musician. My use of ‘dub’ has little to do with ‘genre’ but more with the ‘principles’ of dub, particularly the use of space and repetition, and, as a bassist, the use of cyclical melody. Also, I’ve always considered ‘dub’ as a framework within which to audition sounds from different sources, often considered to be disparate. I’ve applied these ideas to whatever project I’ve worked on, including Asian Dub Foundation.
In his post-ADF projects since the early 2000s, Dhangsha has explored a “dubnoiz” approach and subsequently gone totally hardware electronic, as minimal as possible basing compositions around alien ‘call and response’ motifs. Dhangsha’s mutant dancehall is a celebration of individual creativity combined with collective action and responsibility.
— My current projects are Dhangsha, where I explore minimalism, repetition and fragmentation, disrupting and destroying rhythms with distortion and aggressive delays to create a ‘mutant dancehall,’ and DSPSSSSD (“dispossessed”) where I manipulate non-metric sample-based noise. I’m also embarking on an AHRC funded project with other musicians of colour to highlight and challenge the lack of cultural diversity in experimental music practice in the UK.
Together our transglobal network of artists made pandemic standstill into one hell of a ride. Based in the UK, Peru, France, the Canaries, Germany and Sweden we join forces on the Nomads in Sound compilation. This is how I survived the pandemic. BASS is our common foundation in the face of isolation and crisis, resonating dreams and nomadism during a time of closed borders.
Listen to our music and read about all contributing artists here: