Various Artists – 101 Things To Do In Bongolia (Electric Cowbell)
by Scott Creney
Electric Cowbell is a record label in New York City that’s spent the past year releasing nothing but 7-inch singles. 101 Things To Do In Bongolia is a digital-only compilation of these singles. Like its home base of New York City, the label is all over the map. You won’t hear this many different musical ideas on an album all year.
The music on Electric Cowbell is eclectic as fuck, to an almost compulsive degree. The songs consistently veer off unexpectedly into different sounds, different genres — from Bollywood to Dance, Dubstep to Hip-Hop, NYC indie to Salsa, oftentimes within the same song. It’s a music informed by living in the city, informed (it sounds like) by file-sharing. It’s always interesting, and occasionally it’s even otherworldly.
The songs on this comp are jazzy, chaotic, unpredictable, and (most importantly) fun. Music for the dance floor, music for parties, the IDM of World Music — though it’s too different to be retro, to irreverent to be reverent. The songs on Bongolia walk the line between authenticity and sacrilege. At times, a song may veer dangerously close to something, in its rhythms and instrumentation, from Buena Vista Social Club, but more of than not the song will then head someplace totally unexpected. Here’s Debo Band in a live performance.
On record a lot of these types of songs are chopped up and remixed. Brooklyn Chimp does a remix of CSC Funk Band’s ‘A Troll’s Soiree’ that has to be heard to be believed. The track opens with latin percussion accompanied by Kraftwerk’s swelling organic synths. When the drums from Kylie Minogue’s ‘Love At First Sight’ kick in, followed closely by some soulful horns, we are in another place entirely.
There’s a dub mix of a Greg Ginn song — yes, that Greg Ginn — by Dif Juz that turns his song ‘Freddie’s Tea’ into something off Can’s Soon Over Babaluma. There’s a remix of a Bio Ritmo song where the female voice is phased until it sounds like a flurry of insects, with gunshot-reverb snares going off in the background as oriental melody lines play in the background. Here’s a link if you’re interested.
Amazing Ghost have produced a rare thing in 2011 pop — a song whose joyousness doesn’t feel cheap. Its triumph is earned, without a hint of naivete, or any of that blissy youthful ignorance that is all the rage these days. It’s a synthed-out TV On The Radio that’s better than anything that band’s done in five years. The video’s kind of silly though, so close your eyes.
Or take Los Riberenos.
You think you know what it is, you think you’ve heard this kind of thing before. And then the last minute of the song takes off for uncharted territory. it turns into a salsa-dub explosion. I wish someone would send me an extended remix of the last minute of this song that went on for an hour.
The future of music is limitless. And anyone who’s paying attention knows it’s going to keep evolving in all kinds of infinite directions. It’s obvious from this compilation that Electric Cowbell are doing their part to keep pushing music world. They know what they’re doing. You’d be a fool not to keep an eye on them.
You can find out more about Electric Cowbell Records here.