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CD: AYBEE - The Odyssey | reviews, news & interviews

CD: AYBEE - The Odyssey

CD: AYBEE - The Odyssey

A Californian in Berlin injects some extraordinary variations into the city's techno

AYBEE - 'He's pulled back towards more straightforward rhythm'

Berlin's electronic music world has been traditionally been very white. Sometimes, as with the inward-looking minimal techno of the 2000s, it could feel painfully so. Obviously a city can't really help the nature of its demographic, but monoculture is rarely healthy for the development of living club scenes – and it certainly needn't be that way. Techno, the city's life-blood over decades, has always been at heart about the interplay between the European avant-garde and black American music, and back in the Nineties, many of Detroit's techno originators held musical residencies or even lived in Berlin.

More recently, though, there has been a fascinating musical and cultural diversification going on in the city. It's not exactly anything you could call a movement, as the sounds and musicians are too varied and separate. But from the radical abstractions of global club sounds of Lotic and the Janus Berlin label, through the many connections of much beloved DJ, booking agent, promoter and Uzuri/Süd Electronic label boss Leratho Kathi aka Laukti, to the introspective work of post-dubstep singer-songwriter KRTS, some of the most exciting developments in the city are coming from musicians of colour.

It's in this tentatively fertile climate that Oakland, California-born, and lately Berlin resident, AYBEE is operating. Over three previous albums, he has injected improvisational, hugely rhythmically varied cosmic jazz and Afrofuturist elements into the world of house and techno. In particular, his Sketches of Space, a collaboration with Afrikan Sciences, last year was one of the finest recent expressions of just how far out electronic music can go while still retaining its fundamental club groove.

This time round, he's pulled back towards more straightforward rhythms – there's plenty of the sidereal Detroit techno sound of musicians like Carl Craig or Patrice Rushen, the psychedelic hip hop ebb and flow of AYBEE's fellow Californian Flying Lotus and his Brainfeeder collective, and on tracks like the xylophone-rippling “Ark” and the swooshing “Build Them”, jagged ping-ponging rhythms that have no obvious precursor. This is electronic music as blissful yet as intellectually stimulating, as heartfelt yet as rigorous, as just about anything you'll hear this year: let's hope that AYBEE's choice of Berlin as a home bodes well for his grooves infecting the rest of the city's scene.

@JoeMuggs

There are jagged ping-ponging rhythms that have no obvious precursor

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