Thursday, 21 May 2015

Listening sessions: Congo Beat The Drum



On the 22nd May, Listening Sessions & Club PST will be showcasing a documentary, 'Congo Beat The Drum'. It's an exclusive screening and there will be some live music on the evening from Kalbata who also directed the film.

This is something new for the regular Listening Sessions crowd who are normally used to hearing Birmingham's finest underground music. The guys behind Listening Sessions (Goosensei & Elkie) are doing something different and interesting and so I asked a couple of questions to find out how it all came about.

FPZ: What's the event about?
G-Sensei: I have been a fan of Kalbata's music since I first heard 'Ninja We Ninja' in 2009.


This was pretty soon after I started to develop an interest in producing electronic music and wanting to DJ. Then one of the 1st records I bought after I became hooked on vinyl was 'Play Music Selecta', out on Soul Jazz, and this was a collaboration between Kalbata & Mixmonster and featured Jah Thomas on vocals.

A record that was played in every one of my sets for about a year after it arrived into my bag. Then after stumbling on the 'Congo Beat The Drum' trailer when it was first uploaded onto vimeo a couple of years back, I was seriously fixed on seeing the full length documentary, so to cut a long story short, I've been looking forward to this one for a while :) 

This is a more in depth description by Freestyle Records who released the album: “Two years ago, Ariel (Kalbata) and Uri (Mixmonster) went into their Tel Aviv studio with the purpose of recording a 100% analogue reggae/dub album, combining the spirit of the late King Tubby and the early dancehall era of the late 70's and early 80's. They insisted on not using any computers in the process, whilst blending in elements of techno, psychedelic funk, African tribal music. They then travelled to Kingston, Jamaica and began tracking down their favourite singers and deejays, such legends as Jah Thomas, Little John, Trinity, Echo Minott, Mutabaruka, Major Mackerel, Puddy Roots and the sadly, recently departed Prince Jazzbo.” 
Elkie: The story of a couple of Tel Aviv based producers travelling to Jamaica to learn the origins of the traditional art of reggae/dub production is really something special, and to observe them tracking down some of the true living legends of the genre whilst they were over there adds another amazing aspect to the whole thing. I've been listening to the 'Congo Beat the Drum' album religiously in the run up to this event - to see how this was all put together, followed up by Kalbata himself playing these tracks is going to make for a really special night. There's some really prolific vocalists on the album - artists like Echo Minott, Mutabaruka and Little John are personal favourites of mine and to hear them lend their unmistakable voices to this project is something really wicked. 'Prisoner In Love' with Little John is a really special track - his vocals paired with Kalbata's excellent production is just a sublime, silky smooth combination!

FPZ: What's happening on the night?
G-Sensei: The night starts at 21:00 and begins with an hour of 'open decks' for anyone that wants to be get involved and spin some Roots music! Then Bongo Damo from Birmingham's Jam Jah Sound, an amazing percussionist, drummer in the Friendly Fire Band and wicked DJ will be warming things up (https://soundcloud.com/jam-jah-sound), then Sticky Joe (https://soundcloud.com/stickyjoe), a local up and coming Reggae / Dub artist will be joined by Birmingham veteran Chesire Cat (who has been vibeing up dances since way back when with groups like Leftfield) which will lead onto the documentary screening which starts at 23.45 running for an hour. Then the main man Kalbata (https://soundcloud.com/kalbata) will be playing a 90 minute set made up of vintage roots and might even find its way into some more dancefloor orientated riddims also! To finish things off myself Goosensei (https://soundcloud.com/goosensei) and fellow Dub enthusiast and producer, Jeph1 (https://soundcloud.com/jeph1) will play back to back for a finish. Also on the night Screams Africa will have a stall setup in the venue where you can buy art and fashion made by African artists so check that out http://www.screamsafrica.com

Elkie: The format of the event is something pretty new to us, whilst in the past we have done our signature "showcase" events alongside a few more standard club events, to throw a documentary screening into the mix is something really new and exciting. I felt like it was another great branch of what we do, and in some ways a logical evolution - to take a step back from the usual dancefloor oriented format and to do something that has a strong appeal to music producers but is still interesting for those who just want to observe and soak up some unique culture. To be able to wrap that up with a DJ set from the man Kalbata is just the perfect finish to what should be a really different vibe!
FPZ: How did you guys make the collaboration happen for Listening Sessions?
G-Sensei: After seeing there was a screening taking place of the "Congo Beat The Drum" documentary in Israel a couple of months back I sent Kalbata a message asking when the documentary would be released looking to buy the dvd. He said officially it wouldn't be out for a while but there was a screening planned in Brixton in early May (just gone) and I could go see it in London. So I enquired about a showing in Birmingham as I knew the perfect venue for it (PST) and it went from there :)
Elkie: We are really lucky in having such an amazing venue who are really understanding of what we are trying to do with Listening Sessions - without PST we wouldn't be able to put on things like this, so I just want to give them a little shout out for all the amazing support. I really feel there is nowhere else in Birmingham this event would work - the intimate vibe of the rooftop will set the perfect stage for a night of real roots and culture.

Here's the trailer for the documentary:


If you like what you hear and see, then come and check it out!

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