It’s undeniable that the Internet has changed the way we listen to and make music. Albums are dropped without much of a warning, only to gather a bunch of press and comments through social networks. Musicians in different continents can collaborate and make new combinations of sounds that would have taken millions of dollars and years to happen. If we can’t listen to an album anywhere online, it just doesn’t exist. We can’t go back to the ways of old.
Another way the Internet has changed things in music is the way trends and genres get widespread and adopted by different artists. Zouk bass might not be the example that most people would think of right away, but it’s textbook: Buraka Som Sistema was doing a Boiler Room session when they dropped a fresh rhythm that was equal parts tropical and digital, and yet it didn’t sound like any other style you could think of using those words. The beat caught on, BSS named it, and before you could Google it, there were producers the world over already working on their own take on the genre. A year later, the first zouk bass comp appeared on their own Enchufada label. Now, the sequel arrives.
Zouk bass takes its cue from kizomba and tarraxo styles from Angola, doused in electronic petrol and lit by the desire to make people dance in a different way. The style, judging from the tracks on this comp, are spare, dancey in a midtempo setting with airy synth sounds providing a melodic backdrop. The rhythm is of the modern Caribbean variety, broken but insistent and contagious. It’s a heavily processed digital sound, but it’s also minimalistic and elegant in its own way.
This volume of the comp features mostly practitioners from Portugal, although there are also representatives from the U.S, U.K, Puerto Rico, and Uruguay. Bison & Squareffekts’s “Voyager” is a typical example of the style, a track with a debonaire feeling and a synth line that sounds almost like an airhorn in the middle of the night. Lechuga Zafiro’s “Sexo Con Ropa” picks things up a bit, thanks to some glitchy vocal samples, but these are still chill for the most part. Things finally get frenetic thanks to Riot’s “Bounce,” with the party getting busy from here on out.
This is a great compilation to get down on the floor to and also a fine document of a style as it emerges and comes into its own. It’s especially good to see how these artists are crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s as they see fit before the genre becomes a fixed thing. I, myself, would love to hear zouk bass start fusing itself to other sounds and getting weird. In the meantime, let’s dance to this exciting rhythm before someone else breaks the rules and gets people to develop a newer style.