Bambounou – Cobe
Although the gospel of contemporary bass music has been spread across the world, France’s involvement has been fairly minimal to date – with the exception of French Fries, most would be hard pressed to mention any memorable names, the country seemingly still suffering the fallout from the Kitsune and Ed Banger days. However, Teki Latex’s Sound Pellegrino imprint has released music from the likes of Bok Bok, L-Vis 1990 and Teeth in recent years alongside its electro house offerings, suggesting an enthusiasm for it in Paris at least, but somehow those relatively colourful offerings seem incompatible with the darker, techno influenced sound that seems to be in the ascendant at the moment. It’s interesting then, that Bambounou, a promising Parisian who collaborated with, of all people, Joakim last year on some particularly oddball house, should arrive with such an impressively serious release on 50Weapons.
In many ways the Cobe EP is the quintessential 50Weapons record – a canny melding of syncopated techno and melody eschewing low-end which reflects the off-kilter productions of the label’s owners Modeselektor, and while the label’s releases can be hit-and-miss depending on your taste, this EP nails the label’s aesthetic far better than albums from Shed or Addison Groove ever could. Initially there’s not much to mark out opener “Chrome” – a tracky piece of sand dry techno with swung garage hi-hats and sub-aquatic bleeps – with much distinction, but like Dave Huismans, (specifically when operating as A Made Up Sound), he understands how to work the underlying mechanics of broken techno while keeping things as lean as possible. “Mass” meanwhile flirts more explicitly with contemporary bass styles, wrapping its shackling percussion around a ghettotech inspired vocal cut-up, however there’s something distinctly Gallic about the vocal selection and their treatment. It has the energy that stems from a youth spent listening to old school ghetto house in the post electro-house years than from listening to recent second-rate footwork copies – something that seemingly also marks him out as a parallel development to London’s Night Slugs family.
The real gem however is “Deepstaria”; it’s hard not to hear echoes of Boddika’s “Electron” in its twisting Drexciyan synth line and cavernous subs, but you get the feeling on listening to it that Bambounou understands the balance between rhythm and bass that many of Boddika’s imitators just don’t quite get. This kind of techno is notoriously tricky to pull off – even Huismans’ or Untold’s rhythms can feel rigid at times, but there’s none of that here – but Bambounou seems to have stumbled on a rhythmic golden ratio that marks out his potential to equal the efforts of those producers.