A Tribe Called Red Raises the Innovation Bar

A Tribe Called Red
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And now for something completely different…. What would you get if you mashed up three Native DJs (NDN, DJ Shub, and the deliciously named Bear Witness), some Native voices, a roomful of electronics, and a postmodernist/post-tribal imagination? It would probably sound a bit like A Tribe Called Red, and I’ll be damned if they’ve invented a label to describe it, though they call it “Pow Wow Step.” It’s heavy on loops, drums, keening, and electronica, but other influences pop in as well; “Shottas,” for example, has clear reggae roots. The label is called Soundcloud, which is apt for the experimental soundscaping done on each of the eleven tracks. “Red Skin Girl,” for instance, has piercing, primal female screams mixed amidst scratches, and electronic bleeps and beeps; “General Generations” loops echoed historical and modern voices and serves them from an electronic soup bowl; and “MoombahWow” is rave-meets-pow wow. Hip-hop, club, and dance beats are in evidence throughout, and form the staple of weekly performances in Ottawa, where the ensemble is based. As innovation, production, and spectacle, this is fascinating stuff. At eleven tracks, though, it may be a bit too much for the ears when taken from its club context. But here’s the best part: You can try it for yourself; the entire album can be downloaded for free at www.electricpowwow.com
Rob Weir

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