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The Studio Sessions

by Francis Blake / 05.08.2010

Compilations suck, they tend to lack direction, are poorly put together and don’t showcase more than one or two good artists. The Red Bull Studio Sessions forms a pleasant almost-exception. If you don’t already know, the Red Bull Studio, in Cape Town, is a state of the art recording and mixing facility where they invite upcoming South African musos to record, collaborate and mix their stuff. For free! It’s a worthy service for broke but talented local musicians who otherwise wouldn’t get the opportunity to record and remix. Recently they’ve started producing limited release free CDs like this one, The Red Bull Studio Sessions, to showcase what’s been happening behind their closed doors.

With DJ Low at the helm, the record does have decent flow, the tracks merging together into what is meant to be a celebration of the budding local scene. Sadly, the compilation suffers from the general compilation syndrome – too few gems and too many fillers, modern electro versions of elevator music.

The record really belongs to the glitch-hop fiends, with PH Fat’s “Animal” party anthem and Narch’s wobbly disco-interpretation leading the pack, while Spitmunky’s track offers the catchiest vocal hook on top of a rather accessible structure that will have you going “Eyo spitmunk!” for hours after. These are songs that you will go back and listen to again. Other decent numbers are Inge Beckmann’s “I Am Human” – a great blend of out-worldly, Bjork-flavoured vocals and experimentation; the low-key, tongue-in-cheek rhymes of Voicetag’s “Stumbling” and, surprisingly despite it’s cliché appeal, the simple and pure “Township Nights” by AudioPhile021.
The rest of the compilation drowns in mediocrity, starting with the dull opener from the Little Kings – mercifully redeemed by the following Fifi track. Dub-fusion songs about changing the world simply don’t hold much weight today. Other sort-of-rock songs also disappoint, culminating in the flat Plastics’ indie-pop slab of bore. Perhaps due to the developing and popular electro scene in South Africa, the record is crammed full of confused DJs who can’t decide if they are playing electro, rave or something equally manufactured. The most painful moment is the house triple-slog of Mervin Granger, Thibo Tazz and DJ MX – why anyone would put three longest, tedious songs one after the other is a mystery.

Overall, the Red Bull Studio Sessions is more of a testament to the quality of the studios, their recording personnel and DJ Low’s mixing skill, than to any undiscovered South African talent. But watch this space for their next release.

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