STILL - I

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  • There's a lot to unpack with STILL. It was conceived by Simone Trabucchi, a staple of multiple creative scenes in Milan who has made music as Dracula Lewis and runs Hundebiss Records. There's also his work as a visual artist as part of Invernomuto, a collaborative project with Simone Bertuzzi, a DJ who plays soundsystem-based music as Palm Wine. The pair's shared love of such music led them to curate an exhibition at last year's Unsound Festival. Among the sculptures and installations was a feature-length documentary, Negus, about Lee "Scratch" Perry's ritualistic bonfire in Vernasca, Trabucchi's hometown. (It was a response to an effigy of the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie I, which had burned in Vernasca 80 years prior.) I further explores Negus's themes, including the impact of Italy's occupation, in the 1930s, of much of East Africa, including Ethiopia. All of that adds up to an unexpectedly weird dancehall record. On I, Trabucchi enlists six African-Italian vocalists—Devon Miles, Keidino, Taiywo, Freweini, Elinor and Germay. With such a diversity of voices, there's never a dull moment here. There's Devon Miles's rudeboy chant on "Don't Stop [Wondo Riddim]." Germay's nasal tones oscillate between the piercing devotional of "Haile Selassie Is The Micro-Chip" and atonal sweetness on "Gozpaal (Mustard Riddim)." Freweini and Elinor's spoken-word vocals undergo various manipulations on "Nazenèt [Wasp Riddim]" and "BANZINA [Banzina Riddim]," respectively. Although STILL is clearly influenced by The Bug—"BANZINA [Banzina Riddim]" could be an outtake by the British artist—Trabucchi's sound is cleaner and more digital. His goals are different, too. While The Bug favors heavy sonic impact, STILL is more interested in spirituality—that's especially audible in the droney hymn of "Haile Selassie Is The Micro-Chip." It nods to a sect of Rastafarians who believed Haile Selassie I to be Christ reborn and Ethiopia to be Zion (hence Perry's cleansing burn). But dancehall is party music, so I comes with plenty of skank. The LP's greatest asset is the sheer freshness of its ideas and how they rub up against each other. I feels genuinely conceptual, risky and unusual.
  • Tracklist
      01. Haile Selassie Is The Micro-Chip 02. Bubbling Ambessa [Afrikan Messiah Riddim] 03. Nazenèt [Wasp Riddim] 04. Don't Stop [Wondo Riddim] 05. Rough Rider 06. BANZINA [Banzina Riddim] 07. Gozpaal [Mustard Riddim] 08. Still Sound Boy Test {Interlude} 09. Mangrovia