Local Wire

Transglobal Underground

In the 1980s, when Sunny Ade and other African stars surfaced, critics hoped their "world beat" blend of styles would lead to cultural respect and an international vision of pop music. It didn't happened on the concert stage, but since the early '90s, DJs and producers of club music have been mixing hip-hop, techno, Caribbean riddims from reggae to zouk, and the entire Arab spectrum into an underground phenomenon known as global electronica. Transglobal Underground was one of the originators of the style, and the group is still making challenging music that lives up to its name. "Isis K" opens with the skewed harmonies of the Trio Bulgarka riding a rock 'n' roll rhythm before morphing into a traditional Bulgarian folk dance with a dance club backbeat. "Take the A Tram" features Transylvanian fiddler Ferenc Balogh improvising over a groove that combines ska and the accents of an Egyptian string section. And "Radio Unfree Europe" drops sound bites from various politicians onto a track that blends sitar and techno beats for a jaundiced look at today's political climate.
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J. Poet