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Burnt Friedman – Bokoboko review

There are those artists out there, in the field of electronic music as much as any other, who flatly refuse to make things straight forward. A good example of this would be Sutekh, who a friend once described as being “slippery”. This word applies well to those true auteurs who refuse to fit moulds and follow trends, with back catalogues that tend to confound and befuddle rather than comfort. Burnt Friedman is almost certainly one of these “slippery” artists, and he’s back once again to grease your gears with his particular strain of musicianship.

If there is one hallmark of Friedman’s sound, it’s the organic, resonating quality imbued in his sound sources. Clearly a man who celebrates the recording process, over the years his palette has moved through all kinds of traditional instruments, reaching to ever more obscure or customised means of generating hits, scrapes, tones, echoes and hums. On Bokoboko, his particular (but not exclusive) fascination is purportedly with steel drums, oil barrels and other such metallic percussion.

It doesn’t take long to grasp that from the intricate layers of chiming hits, exquisitely arranged with such fluid motion as to sound utterly natural when it is clearly a methodical and considered process of creation. While the notions may be quite avant-garde, the real triumph of the music is its immediacy. There’s no need to set aside five listens before you “get it”; this is simply engaging and satisfying music with graceful arcs of composition that happen to employ a dazzling array of tools to express with. “Sendou” typifies this beautifully, as separate segments of percussion meld with gentle steel drum hits in a staggered beat while steadily rising strings build into an elegant crescendo of harmony and rhythm.

There is a point where these reams of interlocking taps, hits, drums and knocks merge into one mellifluous haze. Perhaps the constraints of specific source material make it difficult to escape such trappings, but upon closer inspection each track has its own unique depths to reveal. There’s an atypical airiness to album closer “Memai”, which breathes bold lungfuls of drones in and out over a relatively focused beat, and yet you could imagine the component parts being interchangeable between tracks. Really it’s the natural hum that orbits every shred of detail in Friedman’s music that makes it so warm and comforting to listen to, where many of his contemporaries are somewhat icy in their demeanour. Slippery though he may be, there’s little to stop you from catching hold of Bokoboko and sinking your teeth in.

Oli Warwick


1. Uzu
2. Deku No Bo
3. Sendou
4. Totan Yane
5. Tom Tom Keppo
6. Mura
7. Bokoboko
8. Rimuse 3
9. Memai