Black Classical ‘Candomblé’ (On The Corner) 4/5

South London based On The Corner is one of the most forward thinking record labels of the last few years who are never concerned with taking risks, with their latest offering from Black Classical being no different. ‘Candomblé’ is a six track mini album that is truly eclectic and indefinable, incorporating numerous disparate influences, frequencies and sensibilities from many worthy origins. His tracks are heavily influenced by the rhythms and sonics of the African diaspora, and that is the focus here with this project continuing where ‘Running the Voodoo Down’, his last release on On The Corner, left off.
The six tracks featured include ‘Mina Nagì’ with its post-D&B/jungle beats and drum programming, ‘Orixas’, which fuses hypnotic polyrhythms with female ceremonial vocal chants and ‘JEJê’, a rather bizarre piece that comprises of relatively static and un-dynamic organ, mixed with gospel soul claps and punchy snare samples. ‘Voduns’, the longest track at 4’17”, is lighter on percussion duties, but again incorporates some straight organ playing that is more 1970s ‘end-of-the-peer’ variety summer show than Jimmy Smith, but it kind of works.

‘Mawu Batucada’ is an obvious percussion heavy fusion, with its dance floor friendly tempo, rhythmic whistle blowing and jolty piano appearing after the mid point and is very infectious. Shame it’s only 2’33” long, but this is common with batucada. ‘Batuque de Nação’ is my most favoured piece, with its samba percussions mixed with Edu Lobo-esque acoustic guitar and touches of cuíca, the Brazilian friction drum; my preferred Brazilian percussion instrument.

Currently available on Bandcamp (vinyl soon?), ‘Candomblé’, perfectly blends African, Brazilian and UK electronica, but without being forced or unnatural. Its strength is in its rhythm tracks, which contain totally absorbing, addictive and interesting pulses and patterns that combine the traditional with the contemporary, the loose with the tight, blurring the lines between the past and the future, however, this is not just a retro reproduction of old ideas and styles, but rather, ‘Candomblé’ maintains a modernity that is central to its heart, but with a heavy influence from West Africa and Brazil – just with an added twist of UK eclecticism.

Black Classical possesses a vast musical heritage and this is clearly on display here. Previously, he has had guest DJ spots on NTS Radio and his now legendary 12-hour spiritual jazz mix from 2012, which can be found here, is essential. And with On The Corner, there is never a dull moment, and there’s an obvious synchronicity between artist and label, with every OTC release having a purpose but continuing to sound fresh and interesting. With its release tomorrow, at the end of 2016, I just hope it doesn’t get forgotten about, with my only criticism being its short length.

Moreover, any release that is dedicated to two of the most important and unsung heroes of UK club culture, Colin Curtis and Machester’s Hewan Clarke is a winner with me, as these guys have also had an influence on my musical development. And as On The Corner’s Bandcamp profile states: ‘Deep Jazz-Experimental Electronic-Field recordings from the Future’ – and you can’t argue with that.

Damian Wilkes