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BAMBARA

Bambara

Dreamviolence

    DREAMVIOLENCE is BAMBARA’s full-length follow-up to their acclaimed debut EP Dog Ear Days (2010). After playing countless deafening shows in their hometown of Athens, touring the US in sweaty house shows and sharing bills with Iceage, Grimes, Liturgy, A Place to Bury Strangers, and Parts and Labor, BAMBARA decided to leave their beloved Athens and move to a basement apartment in Bushwick, Brooklyn for a change. Here they practiced, slept and recorded for the majority of 2012. Following the release of a Kate Bush cover and a 10 minute improv noise EP RINGS early in the year, BAMBARA began to work on DREAMVIOLENCE.

    With a minimal recording set-up and little sunlight, the band was able to completely capture the dark, grimy, noisy sound they are known for while maintaining the lush beauty that glues it all together. Reid’s voice croons and snarls the fragmented images of the city. Blaze and William’s driving rhythm section plows and swings through the dirge of vocal noise with furious power. BAMBARA doesn’t want you to get comfortable inDREAMVIOLENCE. They prefer to send you through vortexes of haunting noise before you reach the dreamy euphoria waiting in the wreckage.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. All The Same
    2. White Dresses
    3. Bird Calls
    4. Hawk Bones
    5. Young Mother
    6. Nail Polish
    7. Train Daze
    8. Bar
    9. Divine Teeth
    10. Z
    11. Breaker
    12. Blonde
    13. Disappear

    Bambara

    Swarm - 2023 Reissue

      Upon ‘Swarm’’s 2016 release, Brooklyn-based Bambara had been honing their noise-rock brutalism since forming in Athens, Georgia in 2009. On ‘Swarm’, their second full-length, the band began to pull their approach into sharp focus, and the result was a foundational triumph.

      After the pure noise experimentation of their 2013 debut, ‘Dreamviolence’, here the band began to develop many of their later trademarks. Marrying the maniacal ravings of The Birthday Party and the brutality of early Swans with the tangled roots-punk of The Gun Club, the spotlight started to fall on vocalist / guitarist Reid Bateh’s lyrics as well as the ‘Spaghetti western’ atmospherics that would come to the fore to such effect on later releases such as ‘Shadow On Everything’ and ‘Stray’.

      For fans of Bambara’s visceral and pummelling performances, which led to extensive touring opportunities along rising star contemporaries such as Gilla Band, Algiers, and IDLES, before earning the band their own headlining slot on multiple international tours, ‘Swarm’ will serve as a sort of missing link. Now, for the first time ever, live-set favourites such as the brooding ‘An Ill Son’, the flawlessly dynamic ‘Black’, and the pop-snarled ‘All the Ugly Things’ can be listened to at a level of audio fidelity on par with the band’s later recordings.

      Tiny Mix Tapes praised ‘Dreamviolence’, the band’s first LP, by saying that “complete, utter anguish has never sounded this good.” ‘Swarm’ made it sound even better. With these 12 songs, Bambara proved that sometimes the only way to confront a fucked-up world is to sink to its level. As Henry Rollins succinctly summed it up at the time, this is a “REALLY cool record.”

      “‘Swarm’... is a beautifully dynamic nightmare.” – NPR

      “Since 2008, Bambara have reined nigh-unintelligible noise into something more artfully restrained, but the wildness remains intact.” - Pitchfork

      “Bambara hail from Athens, Georgia, famously home to REM and The B-52’s, but what they do is far noisier, angrier, scarier. They sound like a band always on the lookout for something bigger.” - The Quietus

      “Bambara write chaotic songs held together with formless washes of noise and anxious vocal drones, crafting pallid but vibrant pieces that thrashed with... mutant energy.” - VICE

      TRACK LISTING

      Clearing Out The Weeds
      Her Sister Touya
      An Ill Son
      Black
      Like Waves
      I Don’t Mind
      Filled Up With Night
      It’s Nothing
      All The Ugly Things
      I Can’t Recall
      In Bars
      As Her

      Bambara

      Love On My Mind

        With ‘Love on My Mind’ - the six-song mini-album, mixed by Claudius Mittendorfer (Tennis, Parquet Courts, Johnny Marr) - Bambara condense all the energy and darkness that have made them so compelling and rearrange it into something defiantly new.

        Opening track, ‘Slither in the Rain’, all hissing high-hat and spectral synthlines, is a true statement of intent. It’s minimal and atmospheric, foregrounding Bateh’s raw vocals as he introduces one of ‘Love on My Mind’s main characters years after the events of the album are over, a lonely man who throws bottles at airplanes and dances a two-step in the pattern of a figure-8. While Bateh has always been adept at character sketches, tracks like ‘Slither’ introduce a newfound vulnerability that runs true through the entire album and cause the songs to hit on a more human level.

        Similarly, ‘Point And Shoot’ - in which each stanza describes the louche, lawless scenes of “rooftop girls / standing shoulder-to-shoulder, naked figures with their hips / cocked,” busted up jaws, and couches full of burnholes captured by the snapshots of ‘Love on My Mind’s female lead - displays an autobiographical intimacy that is not as apparent in Bambara’s previous releases. This tenderness is echoed on ‘Birds’, a rare love song (from which the EP’s title is derived), and album closer ‘Little Wars’, a gripping finale of loneliness and isolation.

        But while these songs may display a softer side of Bambara, it’s important to note that they haven’t lost the thrill of what attracted so many people to them in the first place. ‘Mythic Love’ (featuring vocals from Bria Salmena), with its driving bassline and ricocheting guitar lines, brings to mind past rave-ups like ‘Serafina’ and ‘Sunbleached Skulls’ but obliterates them in the process, while ‘Feelin’ Like A Funeral’ - a dangerously oscillating tale of a city knifing - is probably the most thrillingly anthemic song the band have ever recorded.

        Taken together, ‘Love on My Mind’ amounts to another massive step forward for Bambara - the boldest thing they’ve ever done - and the sound of yet another breakthrough.

        “Engrossing, dark and irresistible… an adventurous group, who just keep getting better all the time.” - CLASH

        “Never anything less than captivating.” - Upset

        “What Athens, Georgia bunch Bambara do, they do very well… the trio’s commitment to the dark side is never in question.” - DIY

        “Bambara are ice cold and sharp as a knife’s edge.” - Loud & Quiet

        “Brooklyn based doom-mongers delight… the trio go further than most in their quest to rattle.” - Q (4/5)

        For fans of Daughters, Protomartyr, IDLES, King Krule, Ice Age.

        TRACK LISTING

        Slither In The Rain
        Mythic Love
        Birds
        Point And Shoot
        Feelin’ Like A Funeral
        Little Wars

        Bambara

        Shadow Of Everything

          Released in 2018 to widespread critical acclaim, Bambara’s Shadow On Everything represented a decisive step forward for twin brothers Reid and Blaze Bateh – frontman and drummer, respectively – and their childhood friend, bassist William Brookshire. While prior to its release they had always been adept students of noise rock and post-punk, mining the work of bands like Swans and The Birthday Party to construct what NPR called “beautifully dynamic nightmares,” on Shadow they boldly redefined their sound to create an album that clearly transcended their early influences and dramatically quickened the pace of their ascent from the underground. Consistent with their frenetic live set, the musical center of Shadow On Everything is Bambara’s impossibly tight rhythm section, with Blaze’s manic drumming and William’s rock-steady basslines serving as the perfect canvas for Reid’s wild guitar squalls and howled vocals.

          But the album’s recording marked the first time that Reid’s voice was pushed to the front of the mix, highlighting the damaged characters and seedy locales that interact and overlap throughout its 12 songs. A stridently experimental record, Shadow features everything from violin to saxophone arrangements, and is meticulously interspersed with outré ambient noise loops distilled down from hours of manipulated vocal collages. Just two years after its release Shadow On Everything may seem like it was the logical next step for a band with experimental and punk origins that would go on to construct the intricate compositions displayed by its follow up Stray. In fact, Shadow memorializes Bambara putting everything on the line because they knew they could be more than what anyone may have seen in them up to that point in time.

          TRACK LISTING

          1. Dark Circles
          2. Doe-Eyed Girl 
          3. José Tries To Leave
          4. Night’s Changing 
          5. Monument 
          6. The Door Between Her Teeth
          7. Human Hair
          8. Steel Dust Ocean
          9. Sunbleached Skulls
          10. Wild Fires
          11. Backyard
          12. Back Home

          Bambara

          Stray

            One thing you won’t be able to avoid on Bambara’s 'Stray' is death. It’s everywhere and inescapable, the key to the whole record. That though won’t be the first thing that strikes you about their fourth – and greatest – album to date. That will be its pulverising soundscape; by turns, vast, atmospheric, cool, broiling and at times – on stand out tracks like “Sing Me To The Street” and “Serafina” – simply overwhelming. This NYC-via-Georgia trio (the Bateh brothers, Reid and Blaze, singer and drummer respectively, and bassist William Brookshire) have been evolving their midnight-black noise rock into something more subtle and expansive ever since the release of their 2013 debut 'Dreamviolence.' That process greatly accelerated on 2018’s 'Shadow On Everything,' their first on New York’s Wharf Cat label and a huge stride forward for the band both lyrically and sonically.

            A rapturously-received concept album (NPR called it a “mesmerising…western, gothic opus”), it elevated the band’s status on both sides of the Atlantic (capturing the attention of, among other people, the UK band IDLES – who invited them to tour with them – and influential British 6Music DJ Steve Lamacq, who dubbed them the best band of 2019’s SXSW). The question was, though: how to follow it? The band knew that they wanted to push further: experiment with instrumentation and not limit their songwriting in terms of what they could or could not reproduce live. They also wanted to showcase a wider range of influences. Their Georgia upbringings means that Southern Gothic is in their DNA (the likes of Flannery O’Connor and Harry Crews) but there’s more to them than that and this time they wanted to show that, offering up touchstones as diverse as Laurie Anderson and Sade as well as classic French noirs like L’Ascenseur Pour L’Echafraud as key influencers on their thinking.

            The record was written in an airless Brooklyn basement in the first half of 2019, the songs being continually reworked over many months. Once they felt cohesive, they travelled back to their hometown of Athens, GA to record the building blocks with their friend Drew Vandenberg. After that, a period of experimentation and enriching began: additional instrumentation was added, (violins courtesy of Adam Markiewicz, trumpets via Sean Smith), as well as a crucial and leavening layer of female vocals (thanks to Public Practice’s Drew Citron and Palberta’s Anina Ivry-Block). Finally, in a remote cabin in the woods in rural Georgia, Reid laid down his vocals.

            Now, while the music itself is evocative and propulsive, a fever dream all of its own, the lyrical content pushes the record even further into its own darkly thrilling realm. If the songs on 'Shadow On Everything' were like chapters in a novel, then this time they’re short stories. Stories that are connected by death, both abstract and personified, and that deal with how that affects the characters in contact with it. “Death is what you make it” runs a lyric in “Sweat” and in a way that’s the key line on the whole record. It would be wrong to characterize 'Stray' as simply the sound of the graveyard though. Light frequently streams through and love and longing are present too (particularly on “Made For Me”). It’s a record that avoids simple characterization but one thing that is certain about it is that it represents another monumental leap forward for the band. Sometimes groups need time to grow. Here Bambara finally sound like they’ve locked into what they were always destined to achieve. It’s electrifying!

            STAFF COMMENTS

            Barry says: Brooging, gothy rock a-la Nick Cave, meets the cavernous insistent guitars of mid-80's Manchester, and hazy surf percussion underpinning the whole adventure. Brilliantly diverse but cohesive collection from Bambara.

            TRACK LISTING

            Miracle
            Heat Lightning
            Sing Me To The Street
            Serafina
            Death Croons
            Stay Cruel
            Ben & Lily
            Made For Me
            Sweat
            Machete

            Various Artists

            Bambara Mystic Soul - The Raw Sound Of Burkina Faso 1974 - 1979

              Post-independent Burkino Fasso saw an urban middle class willing to invest in the Burkinabe arts. A cadre of singers, bands, orchestras and, most importantly, competitive record labels arose who all played their part in ushering in a golden age of music in their landlocked nation during the 1970's - a decade marred by political instability in the country and an era of artistic enlightenment empowering the whole of Africa.

              In search of better gigs, well-to-do producers and sufficient recording equipment, Burkinabe musicians ventured across the surrounding region, returning home with a wealth of knowledge of their neighbors' distinctive styles. The raw sound of Burkina Faso combined Afro-Funk, traditional Islamic rhythms and subtle Afro-Latin sounds brought over by visiting Cuban ensembles. Mandingue melodies and guitar techniques from Mali and Guinea, however, were by far the most defining traits of a potent African mix that distinguished the Voltaic style between 1974 and 1979.

              Record labels across Burkina Faso sprung up to capture the newly born mystic and soulful sound taking over the country. Volta Discobel and Club Voltaique du Disque (CVD) emerged in 1974 and competed for the modern music of their people. Despite its humble beginnings as a record shop, CVD came to dominate the industry. Both labels worked with the heavyweights of the time, such as the majestic Amadou Ballaké, a national icon who is featured extensively on this compilation.


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