Spanish duo BSN Posse has been the main force behind the rise of footwork in the Iberian country, topping many “best of” electronic music lists with their previous LP, “Forever”. Will their second album live up to the hype? Let’s find out!
After a long string of EPs, remixes and selected appereances at cream of the crop festivals like Sónar, Malaga duo BSN Posse finally launched their first long player (“Forever”, released on Slime Recordings) back in summer 2015, earning widespread critical acclaim and -at the same time- putting the Spanish underground footwork scene on the map. But this newly found wave of success and recognition didn’t happen overnight.
Since forming BSN Posse in 2011, Sergio Ruiz (a.k.a. Stay Puft) and Enrique Gervilla (a.k.a. Broken Lip), have been working very hard to spread the love for this niche electronic genre in the Spanish region of Andalusia -that to some, couldn’t be further from Chicago both culturally and geographically-, not only through their artistic output but also via the creation of “Iberian Juke” (a label and collective that has so far served as a platform for their own releases, as well as a springboard for numerous local artists of similar style such as Stayhigh or Rootless).
After the release of “Forever” the duo has kept its enthusiasm intact, an attitude rewarded with select shows at festivals like Mutek (2016) and a second visit to Barcelona’s Sónar in 2017. But fortunately for us listeners it hasn’t all been about live shows at BSN Posse, as the production team was judiciously preparing a new assault to the underground footwork/jungle scene with “Take Me Back to the South” (Iberian Juke, 2018).
Whenever BSN Posse gets mentioned many of us still picture in our minds the (now classic) 8-bit style music video to their 2014 track “Together”, and it looks like the humorous references to (pre-millenial) pop culture and the duo’s roots are still there. A first look at the album’s art work shows Enrique and Sergio surrounded by images of their heroes (in a clear homage to the late DJ Rashad), seemingly working on new material in their improvised home-studio, located inside a non-subtle knock-off of Dragon Ball’s legendary “Kame House” (a reference in itself to their excellent Kamehameha EP).
But let’s talk about the music, which in the end, is what really matters! The BSN guys have always kept an open mind in their productions, unafraid of blending by-the-book jungle and footwork with more experimental sounds, and the first song is the perfect example, feeling sometimes like a “genre-collage”. The opening track of “Take Me Back to the South”, “Glory Days” is very close to the sound of Teklife artists like DJ Earl, but it subtly mixes its epic string section samples and cutting 808s with a subtle dose of futuristic chords that could well have come from someone like Cid Rim, and tops it off with an unexpected jungle/drum’n’bass bridge, featuring a purist implementation of the ever-present “Amen Break”. One of the highlights in this release for sure.
The second cut, “Nevah Get Tired of Doin’ What U Love”, starts off as a classic hip-hop tune, later turning into a much more “footworky” track, where dusty filtered vinyl-like samples are juxtaposed with bright, polished beats. Next is “”Save Me From Myself”, featuring Amati, a song that’s quite reminiscent of earlier tracks from the duo like the already mentioned “Together”. It has also a bit of a late ’90s vibe, with the electric piano 7th chords bringing back memories from things like Groove Chronicles (now that shows my age right there!).
Track number four (“Diamonds in ma funk”) starts off with a generous dose of sped-up congas and latin percussion, followed by filtered string sounds (that echo the opening track), flutes and vocal samples. After taking a brief breath, the tune turns into a highly energetic (yet less rave-like) glossy version of jungle, that ends with an unorthodox crescendo. The fifth song, appropriately called “Awake Till the Morning”, is the sonic incarnation of amphetamine. It starts off with a strange mix of pitch-shifted chipmunk vocals (another classic jungle trick) and old-school jazzy piano, to be later transformed into a rough edged “darkcore meets chiptune” track, with gobs of proudly digital NES-like sounds.
In contrast, the sixth cut (“The work”, with José Rodríguez) is quite the opposite, featuring more laid back (well, at least laid back for a 160-ish bpm track) and introspective hammond/piano textures, in line with their previous “Forever” LP and specially their “Kamehameha” EP. “Say what” -one of my favourite tracks in this release-, keeps it smooth with liquid synths “à gogo”, while the accompanying TR-909 beats unconsciously make you nod your head like there’s no tomorrow. The chord progressions and vibrato of the synthesizer lines give it an ’80s arcade feel that’s painfully addicting.
The closing track (“Thx Brian”, a very Photek-like sounding tune, featuring samples from Brian Eno) takes on a different formula. Instead of starting off calm while progressively entering more “over-the-top” territories, it starts off as a straight jungle/drum&bass track that later gets “softened” with ambient and atmospheric elements, playfully citing other genres like 2-step, ambient or even abstract hip-hop. That’s all for the vinyl version (that we’re reviewing here), but if you happen to buy the digital version of the album there’s also a bonus track (“No Limits Into This Shit”) that puts together vocal samples of the late DJ Rashad -taken from his lecture at RBMA 2011-, the duo’s signature glassy beats, and a spoonful of dancehall influence.
Overall, “Take Me Back to the South” is an impressive album that strikes you as more focused and “to the point” than “Forever”, while still keeping their trademark, unusually honest take on electronic music. With a less eclectic approach, it feels more homogeneous and direct, embracing a sound that’s drier and more evidently sample-based, closer in style to a purist -yet futuristic- version of jungle and footwork than their previous efforts. While some might miss the “extra layers” and the more heterogeneous, cosmic & synthy sounds of those releases, juke lovers and jungle enthusiasts will definitely love this LP, and will no longer feel the need to skip a track… they’re all bangers!
You can get it here!
About the author: José -Pepe- Coca is a musician, producer and audio engineer from Zaragoza (Spain). He has a PhD in Art and teaches Sound Systems, Synthesis and Mastering courses at CPA Salduie and SEAS. He has also worked as a sound designer for companies such as Elektron, Befaco or HelloSamples.