Foot Village/Super Khoumeissa - Split Series No 21 - Singles - Reviews - Soundblab

Foot Village/Super Khoumeissa - Split Series No 21

by Rich Morris Rating:5 Release Date:2011-07-11

Here's a split release from Fatcat, coupling two acts whose sounds are heavily based around percussion, ambient noise and improvisation. Foot Village are from Los Angeles and call themselves "the loudest acoustic rock band ever". Super Khoumeissa, meanwhile, hail from northern Mali near the border with Niger and incorporate traditional instrumentation into their sound.

Foot Village's side of this 12in is a single piece called 'Let Bebongs Be Bebongs, Idiot'. It fades in quietly, gradually building with percussion and the squeals of abused woodwind. The sound's very similar to that made by Sheffield 'junk yard' band Part Wild Horses Mane on Both Sides but it lacks their spooky focus, instead suggesting more of an improvised free-for-all - not necessarily a bad thing. Eventually, it resolves itself into a martial, war-like beat, accumulating layers of tumbling percussion until it feels like a carnival. Unfortunately, at this point a whiny, punk-wimp vocal comes in, rapping some drivel about parents and teachers, which basically ruins all the band's hard work. It's campy and bratty in totally the wrong way. The vocalist might be shooting for early David Thomas or Devo but he misses and hits Wheatus.

Mercifully, this stage is quite brief, seguing into intense, joyful percussion enlivened by some very Mardi Gras-style female whooping and a chant of "We just want to party!" It's better than what came before, but the band drag it out for too long, until you wish they'd just get on with the bloody party itself. A coda reprising the chant over some monastic incantations is a nice touch, however, and the whole thing probably works better live. Ultimately, you're left feeling that Foot Village are not as experimental, punk or fun as they apparently think they are.

On the flip, Super Khoumeissa bring some more languid, meditative sounds strongly influenced by the traditional music of their native Mali. The band have been together since 1990 but this is their first 'official' release. They were 'discovered' a few years back by Animal Collective, who brought them to this year's ATP. The three tracks here are based around their three calabasse (a percussion instrument made out of a hollowed gourd), chanting vocals and two players using a ngoni, a three-stringed instrument. Apart from the occasional whoop or holler, it's trance-like, possibly trance-inducing music, the twanging, repetitive, almost country & western melodies swirling around the clattering percussion. It's easy to lose yourself in its rhythms but, it has to be said, there isn't much variation. If you let your mind wonder you might not notice where one track ends and another begins.

Overall, Super Khoumeissa's music is the more enjoyable to listen too, as it feels less worked at, less self-conscious than Foot Village's boho posturing. Neither set of music is good enough to make this an essential purchase, however.

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