Portugese futurists Buraka Som Sistema came to prominence with their MIA collaboration- 2008’s ‘Sound of Kuduro’. Since then they’ve toured the globe a few times over, picked up a European MTV Award and completed ‘Komba’, their sophomore album. ‘Komba’ sticks with their signature high energy fusion of Angolan Kuduro rhythms, stabbing Euro techno riffs, grimey bass heavy melodies and raw punk aesthetics.
At its heart Kuduro music is pure percussion- and this is the albums engine, with every track built up from rattling congas, whip cracking snare hits, wood block tattoos, and jungle toms. Added to this propulsive mix are space invader synths and cone shuddering bass drops, all laying a tableaux for vocal melodies sung, chanted and rapped in Portugese and English.
There are also occasional nods to BSS’s love of the harder edges of rock, with doom laden opener ‘Eskeleto’ teaming hard UK grime with the grinding power chords and fuzzed up growls that gave the Prodigy their metal credentials, whilst the lyrics deal in lurking, malignant spirits
“When I entered this world I entered to darkness… Look into my eyes, can’t you see I’m a demon… there’s a lion on my arm eating up a cobra…”
And again on ‘Lol & Pop’ BSS pick up the guitars and give vent to their punk chops, heavy bass riffs and feedback squall powering the digi dancehall rhythm into a bruising new form.
Outside of these two tracks ‘Komba’ sticks to an anarchic mix of hip hop, rave and high speed beats—‘Tira O Pe’ stands out with its syncopated percolator bubbles and UK house motifs carried on a hot equatorial breeze, and ‘Hangover’ is a shot of exhilarating bass heavy dance spiked with scatter gun vocals and nimble snares.
Whilst the constant high tempo may prove a little one dimensional for some- there’s no let up from start to end- Buraka Som Sistema still, just about, pull off the tricky task of making a dance album rather than a couple of bangers and a load of filler. Despite the darkness and dischord that stalks ‘Komba’, there’s a sense Buraka had a lot of fun making the set, and that translates into an album that works well as both dancefloor fodder and headphone gear alike.