Musical fusion of the old and tribal can often produce cheesy results. Just check the New Age section of any music store or streaming service and you’ll find third-rate DJs turning indigenous sounds into soundtracks for spas across the world. It takes a special kind of artist to turn this fusion into something else – music that stands on its own. Luckily enough, a whole bunch of them unite on SIBÖ Revisited.
The source material for this record comes from a collaboration between electronic producers Nillo and Sentidor, who made the original record by sampling Costa Rican tribal sounds. The odds of producing a good record were questionable, considering the fact that this release features remixes from 11 different artists hailing from Mexico, Brazil, Spain, U.S., Japan, and Germany. With so many different perspectives and backgrounds, it would have been very easy for this album to be a trainwreck, but it’s quite the opposite. SIBÖ Revisited is a brilliant example of how to make music that is both ancestral and contemporary, without watering down either of these qualities.
The project began with Costa Rican musician, producer, and ethnomusicologist Johnny Gutiérrez, who documents music from native Costa Rican peoples. After studying music from the Ngäbe tribe, he decided to do more than just preserve it. Under the Nillo moniker, he set out to create a project with the sampled sounds, taken for the most part by recording a member of the tribe named Unchi. Gutiérrez also contacted João Carvalho, a Brazilian producer also known as Sentidor, to help him flesh out the arrangements. In their own words, the resulting record is an “electronic reinterpretation of the ancestral.”
They soon decided that the material was too good for just one album, so they enlisted the help of other electronic artists from Latin America and beyond. The call resulted in a selection of global bass exponents including Chico Correa, Pigmalião, Sainte Vie, SNRNG, DJ Ground, Zouyina, and many others.
Global bass has been ripe for fusion ever since it became popular, but it would be shortsighted to describe that blend so simply. Usually, remix albums tend to be a mixed bag of styles and quality. SIBÖ Revisited stands on its own; you needn’t be familiar with the original material, and the songs presented here could pass for the work of a singular musical team. They never depart from their coherence, since they’re anchored by the tribal source material. Each remix makes for a richer experience, demonstrating the heights to which indigenous music and global bass can be taken. Mostly, the beats and the atmosphere remain low-key, even if most of the songs sport club-ready rhythms.
In line with Nicola Cruz, Dengue Dengue Dengue, and the Rionegro project, SIBÖ Revisited is a vibrant musical experience that revitalizes ancestral music and makes it into something contemporary and exciting, without shaking off its roots.