Buraka Som Sistema – Black Diamond – Fabric Integral

George Binning

European clubbers are breaking out their obsidian disco balls in preparation for Black Diamond, the first LP from Portuguese break-beat trio, Buraka Som Sistema. The band claim to be championing a painstakingly underground sound known as ‘Kuduro’. Kuduro, Portuguese for ‘hard ass’, is a really low-tech strain of Techno that was born in Angola and has taken hold in Portugal.

With strong Techno, Hip-hop, Samba and African Folk influences, making use of authentic drum tracks and some very basic sampling, Kuduro can only be described as ‘hard ass’ African folk music. Buraka traveled to Luanda, Angola, to record the album, collaborating with legends of the Kuduro circuit such as Puto Prata and Saborosa. Almost completely unsurprisingly British artists MIA and Kano manage to get in on the act as well (how do those crazy kids hear of such things?).

Buraka have given Kuduro the heavily high-tech break-beat treatment in spades. The real Kuduro is smothered in glossy production and extravagantly distorted samples; Black Diamond is just another African themed dance music album, an established, overworked concept that hasn’t broken any boundaries since Leftfield’s Rhythm and Stealth. The sampling is in danger of sounding patronising: African children, jungle sounds etc.

To its credit the opening track is as hard ass as you like, there are some wicked vocals thrown into tracks 2 and 6, getting folkier towards track 8, petering out into a pretty pretentious ending (“We were not born in Africa but Africa was born in us”). Buy it if you like that sort of thing.


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