Square Wave 007: A City, A Country, And A Continent By DébruitBy Abdullah Saeed
Square Wave documents an emerging community of contemporary musicians trafficking in electronica, hip-hop, and avant-garde. In an age where any beat geek or tech head can be a producer, technology has given rise to scenes and collectives in unlikely locales; Square Wave is a space for those communities to reach a global audience.
Trilogies are crazy appealing, but you don’t often find them outside of movies and books. If you’re going to do a musical trilogy, the task requires a concept with three dimensions that can stand on their own and complement the whole set, and if you’re not careful, you might just end up with three of the same thing (note: no one wants to hear three of the same thing).
Débruit got it right with a trifecta of EPs that derive funk from three geographical places. Not three places that you can tie together in any particular way. One’s a city, one’s an entire continent, and the most recent is a country. They just all happen to be places with solid music traditions where one can find the right ingredients to chop up into something new.
The series began two years ago with Let’s Post Funk, a dismantling of G-Funk, exposing its roots, and in some glowing moments, its future. I don’t mean that in a “this guy’s a god” kind of way, but rather that it’s got the futuristic elements employed by guys like Onra or Dam-Funk, or any number of producers today that make beats which dreamers of the 1980s predicted we’d be listening to now.
Débruit’s take on this sound is a wonky one; slinky, stuttery beats and seemingly misarranged samples, all part of a sparse production with gaps as loud as their punctuation. It’s like a slightly earthier copy of (the weirdly similarly named) Dabrye’s unfinished _/Three trilogy. More comparisons? Sure. Prefuse 73, but less dense. Mr. Oizo but less earth shattering.
Number two, entitled Spatio Temporel went at African beats of various traditions, an ambitious amount of ground to cover in a four track EP. Debruit gets around it with the bare charm of his beat style fused with each tool in the “ubiquitous Africa sounds” toolkit. He puts the generic feel to good use within the ultra-cheesy percussion sounds and synth lines.
Şiş Sürpriz, the third in the series that dropped this spring, is a fez rocking, baklava eating beat romp borrowing soul from the nation of Turkey. The crunk-factor of minimal instrumental rap beats really shines on this one, with lots of nice and sinister samples, once again falling deliciously into the pitfalls of stereotyping ethnic music, this time the sounds of the Middle East. This one’s the best of the three. It’s got a music video and everything.
Though he’s got a handful of other releases and mixes worthy of note, Débruit’s color-coded triad of the roots of funk is where you should start. For a sound kind of like this, check out Australia’s Spoonbill, also wonky and brilliant at the same time, kind of like what you’d expect from a drunk quantum physicist with various instruments and a couple of phonographs.