Bob Holroyd Bob HolroydAfrican Drug
PHONICA RECORDS (Phonica006, 12” + digital)
The influence of African music on popular music is not something new or surprising. Saying this might sound far too obvious after the many years that have passed since Afrika Bambaataa, for one, but as sometimes one gets the feeling many people believe it’s a fairly recent phenomenon which has reached its peak of expression with just a couple of hit records, I see fit to call for good sense and avoid adding an unbecoming dimension to the issue. Between 1993 and 1994, for instance, the textures and rhythms coming from beyond the Sahara desert played a crucial role on British house music, which was histrionically fleeing hardcore to pursue a polished mystique and refinement. One of the biggest albums of the period was “Product Of The Environment” by Moody Boyz (Tony Thorpe), an ideal fusion of house psychedelia, IDM and African music. Also from that period are semi-forgotten classics—despite having been remixed by Coldcut after their first vinyl release in 1994—like this “African Drug” by Bob Holroyd, a piece of quiet breaks and kora notes that was usually played in chill out sessions.
This is the track the Phonica label has recovered—they explain that Holroyd went into the store one day and everything came up casually, during a friendly conversation—with two remixes featured on the vinyl pack (the original one is only available digitally). The remix by T.Williams, the owner of the Local Action label, is more rhythm-intensive, sweeping and tribal, though not much happens: its aim is to provide the DJ with five minutes of collective hypnosis. The Four Tet remix, however, is an impressive 12-minute track which alternates mesmerizing bongos with the use of classic, repetitive samplers featuring non-western instruments. The result is not as cosmic as his most recent album (only at the end, perhaps, during the last and glorious five minutes), but what’s for sure is that his remix manages to take your mind and your body to a different plane of reality.