The Berlin-based duo Africaine 808 – comprised of Nomad and Dirk Leyers (half of the Closer Musik project) – have been challenging the norm with their distinctive flavour of West African bass, rhythms and samples mixed into moreish disco and house tracks. It can quite simply be summarised by their “Africaine 808” name.
In early 2016, they bring their feature length debut, Basar, to New York-based imprint and partymaker, Golf Channel – home to Mark E, Juju & Jordash and DJ Nature. Basar‘s twelve tracks demonstrate how well Africaine 808 have perfected this intercontinental blend, with “Balla Balla” being a standout hands down. No more than a few seconds in, and we’re already way, with something tribal lying at the root of its funk. An uplifting, instant crowd-pleaser for any sweaty dancefloor.
Africaine 808 (A808), the Berlin-based duo of Dirk Leyers and DJ Nomad (Hans Reuschl), is not new to this trend — or, more precisely, to its historical antecedents. Leyers was half of the Cologne/Buenos Aires-based Closer Musik, having spent the early ’00s exploring one intersection of techno and global polyrhythms alongside Chile’s Matias Aguayo. Reuschl, on the other hand, was a musical disciple of Italy’s legendary cosmic disco DJ Beppe Loda. A street-art/photography mainstay of the German music scene for more than a decade (his Keith Haring-like drawings adorn Basar), he adopted the Nomad name in the late ’00s and began DJing at a Berlin party called Vulkandance, which featured an eclectic global soundtrack. The two started making music together in 2012, with two rules: the incorporation of a Roland TR-808 drum machine on every track, and a commitment to a cultural exploration of dance music’s worldly threads. Even the names of the duo’s early singles — „Cosmicumbia“ and „Lagos, New York“ — spelled out a desire to transcend Berlin’s dance-music norms. Yet they also brought to the fore more challenging questions of cultural tourism. So how do a couple of talented, knowledgeable, (presumably) well-meaning Europeans incorporate the sound of the world without repeating mistakes they’re ostensibly trying to correct?