Album of the week: Mark Ernestus’ Ndagga Rhythm force – Yermande
Mark Ernestus, the man behind Hard Wax, Basic Channel and a prominent fixture on Berlin’s Techno scene, is not anything but diverse. From Basic Channel’s incredible reign, both as artistic voice and propagandist to Hard Wax’ unremitting pursuit of the harder, more rigid examples of Techno, Ernestus is a figure of great significance in electronic music both on and off the dance floor. Recently – although it’s something we might deduce from the dubby flavours of Basic Channel on occasion – Ernestus has ventured closer to the roots of this music through the music and rhythms of Africa. After a few releases on Honest Jon’s in the context of remixing artists like Nigerian brass band, Obadikah and the South African Shangaan electro artists BBC, Ernestus approaches the album context with a group of assembled Senegalese musicians under the pretence of “Mark Ernestus’ Ndagga Rhythm Force” and a LP called “Yermande”.
Ernestus deconstructs music, taking it back to its roots, music before a time memorial, an animal skin spread over a hollow shell pounding out a contrapuntal rhythm, but displaced into the present with modern instruments and electronic processes. Percussion, Bass and Guitar is the bastion from which the “Ndagga Rhythm Force” embark on repetitive rhythmical devices, which Ernestus then expounds on in providing a significant empty space in which vocalist, Mbene Diatta Seck can move freely, through evocative melodic lines. There’s a connection between Ernestus’ Dance floor history and a history that extends to something intuitive through the Sengalese musicians, and in this debut they set a tone for a collaborative work with incredible depth beyond the minimalist atmospheres that occupy the foreground.