‘From the Horizon’ is Débruit’s debut album. It is the culmination of 3 years work, collecting field recordings, delving into restricted archives, sampling lost African VHS and reinterpreting discovered African melodies and rhythms, for synths and drum machines.
This is a remarkable record, filled with groundbreaking combinations of styles and sounds, constructed with passion and energy, driven by adventure and ideological principle and packed with intrigue, authenticity and tribute. Perhaps even more importantly this record is fun, and never does its depth displace its energy, groove or feel.
Inspired by Western African music past and present Débruit splices the musical roots and subsequent evolutionary patterns of Benin, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria and beyond. He set out to harness the creativity and rawness of the music, from tribal beginnings through to 70’s highlife and psychedelic afro funk. Despite the clear inspiration, his challenge was not to emulate but to incorporate, to fuse the musical expressions of the many different cultures and eras with those of his own, to create something new and unheard.
Débruit’s genre swerving approach to making music has always been unrestricted and on ‘From the Horizon’ he has deliberately created truly original pieces with unique combinations of instrumentation and style, in such a way that they feel natural, expected and time honoured. For example on ‘Afro-Booty Musique’ where traditional drums form a booty Chicago house structure and combined with talk box and guitar, or on ‘Mega Wagna’ where funk leads and syncopated vocals are coupled with Gnawa music (a mixture of sub-Saharan African and Berber songs, where one phrase or a few lines are repeated over and over and songs can last for hours.) Such diverse combinations can be heard throughout the record as can the influence of the Yoruba people of Nigeria and Benin whose advanced drum patterns are combined with Débruit’s bump-hop beats and low-slung bounce.
These African influences run concurrently with the ever present ideals of Hip Hop. Its openness to other musical styles via sampling can be consistently identified, never more so than in ‘Cuivree’ where African TV samples are crossed with lo-fi horns and 808 percussion or on Rêve Du Niger where an early recording of a throat singing child from Niger is looped, layered, re-sampled.
Tribal rhythms and looping vocal samples appear in many guises, through the rattling high hats and sub bass of sonically flamboyant party starter ‘Akoula’, amongst the haunting, distant synth scape setting of ‘Ouest Wind’s Seagulls’ or in the epic closing piece ‘The Day I Lost My Funk’, where African instrumentation preempts a climaxing finale of deep electronic bass and 808 kicks.
“I like it when electronic music and instruments lose control of what they’re meant to do” says Débruit, and amongst the beats and samples, styles and influences Débruit plays much of what you hear, guitar, keys and synths, talkbox, multiple forms of both traditional and ethnic percussion and also includes his own swallowed vocoder-style vocals such as in ‘Ogene Udu’ where they combine with the traditional Igbo instruments of the Ogene (a kind of metal gong with a bulging surface and elliptical shape) and the Udu ( a clay pottery-drum used to produce bass sounds).
The artwork, by the ever talented and consistent collaborator “The Rainbowmonkey” draws on the ethos of the album project further, paying homage to Belgian surrealist René Magritte’s 1928 work ‘The False Mirror’.
“être surréaliste c’est bannir le ‘déja vu’ pour faire du ‘pas encore vu’ ”
“To be a surrealist means barring from your mind all remembrance of what you have seen, and being always on the lookout for what has never been.”
– Rene Magritte
A quote that whilst more poetic in its native French, parallels the principles of the creative process undertaken by Débruit, to make only that which has never been made before.
This stunning debut deserves repeat listens and much contemplation. Indulging in its many dimensions is continually rewarding. Its true excellence is in the effortless enjoyment that it provides, engaging listeners on many levels, without its depth ever becoming a barrier, providing pleasure for all, from the casual listener through to the seasoned ethnomusicologist or surrealist philosopher.
‘From The Horizon’ was preceded by three 3D EPs ‘Sis Sürpriz’ in which Débruit visited Turkey and the Middle East, ‘Spatio Temporel’ which covered West, North and Saharan Africa, and ‘Let’s Post Funk’ which spanned the Britannic French Ouest Coast and the American West Coast. The album is also supported by 2 different live shows; Débruit’s Intergalactic A/V Live band and his club shaking solo machine show.