- As half of Basic Channel and Rhythm & Sound, Mark Ernestus will forever be known as a techno innovator, but the man himself seems more interested in African and Caribbean music than anything with a 4/4 beat. When he opened Hard Wax in 1989, the idea was to be Berlin's first outlet of dub and reggae imports—the words "black music" appeared on the window of the shop's first location, and dub 7-inches are still a staple of their selection today. In the past few years, Ernestus has taken to another kind of rhythm: mbalax, a polyrhythmic style emanating mainly from Senegal and Gambia. In 2011 he travelled to Dakar to record with the Senegalese drum collective Jeri-Jeri, and since then has released seven records with the group through Ndagga, a label dedicated to the project.
The Ndagga homepage recently announced a new chapter in this story: "Mark Ernestus' NDAGGA RHYTHM FORCE succeeds Jeri-Jeri. From the initial meeting with a clan of sabar drummers in Senegal, Mark's project has evolved into something new in its own right." Yermande, the Rhythm Force's first EP, embodies the chaotic, fluid motion that separates African rhythms from Western ones. It's at once fast and slow, with manic hand percussion fluttering over lurching dub rhythms. Ernestus's production mastery is obvious: the sound is impeccably rich and clear, the swarms of drums filling a spacious stereo field. It's fantastic stuff, but with four fairly similar versions of the same track (a punchier "Kick And Bass Mix" and a synth-enhanced "Prophet 5 Mix," each with and without vocals from Mbene Diatta Seck) you may be left a bit wanting. But considering how prolific Ndagga has been so far, there's surely more where this came from.
A1 Yermande (Kick and Bass Mix) feat. Mbene Diatta Seck
A2 Yermande (Kick and Bass Instrumental)
B1 Yermande (Prophet 5 Mix) feat. Mbene Diatta Seck
B2 Yermande (Prophet 5 Rhythm)