Monday, March 31, 2008

Benga - Diary Of An An Afro Warrior

"I had that boxer's movement in mind," Miles Davis said of the music on his 'A Tribute To Jack Johnson' album, "that shuffling movement like boxers use. They're almost like dance steps, or like the sound of a train ... That train image was in my head when I thought about a great boxer like Joe Louis or Jack Johnson. When you think of a big heavyweight coming at you it's like a train."

Benga's (21-year-old Beni Adejumo) knock-out album 'Diary Of An Afro Warrior' self-confidently melds Dubstep and Electronica and Jazz.

Listening to that album brought the music of Miles Davis' electric period to mind. Of course, Benga's music is rather more slow-moving than the high-energy music of Davis' electric period - it is Dubstep, after all.

But the minimal, metallic surfaces of 'Diary Of An Afro Warrior' reminded me of Davis' love of fast sports cars; the heavy punch of it's sub-bass reminded me of Davis' love of boxing; and the title of Benga's album brought to mind the black ethnic self-consciousness of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

What's more, Miles Davis' music was a sorcerer's brew of the music of is time: Jazz, Funk, Soul, Blues, Avant Classical, Psychedelia. Likewise, Dubstep, Jazz, Electroclash, Detroit Techno, Minimal, IDM, Triphop are the 'points-chauds' with which Benga runs the Voodoo down.

By incorporating electric instruments in his music, Davis managed to steer clear of the too-smooth, the too-clean, and the too-perfect, creating music that was more than a little funky in the original sense of the word; likewise, Benga's militant sound avoids the superficiality that plagued the Jazz-influenced Drum & Bass that was pioneered by LTJ Bukem.

Of course, there's no comparing Benga's track record with that of Miles Davis. But Benga brings to Dubstep some of the clear-mindedness, sense of physical exhilaration, and stamina that went into Davis psychedelic jazz-funk fusion.

No comments: