Music Review: b-tribe

Simplicity is pure. But b-tribe artfully combines many styles and sounds together with surprising fluidity.

B-tribe was the result of a collaboration project between The Gypsy Kings and Enigma, if you could imagine such a mix. The basis of this compilation is flamenco music - flamenco puro- and synth melodies. It is easy to be captivated by the impassioned, wailing guitar solos, dance grooves and abient samples.

The collection of flamenco influence is the result of two years of sampling gypsies and leading Spanish vocalists and guitarists. The ethereal samples and dance beats can be credited to European and American DJ influence. Everything on the album was from the mind of German dance/pop music producer Claus Zundel.

The native of Heifelberg has lived in Ibiza, Spain for the last 15 years and has spent the last two traveling the Spanish isle, recording bits of musical culture.

Zundel concentrated on R&B music in the 80's, producing three tracks for Chaka Khan (who had moved to Germany) and several popular European artists in the 80's. Tired of the fast pace, he moved to the hippie enclave Ibiza, off the Spanish coast.

Overtaken by flamenco, Zundel amassed 250 hours of these types of performances. Many families and clans of gypsies played for Zundel on the song "fiesta fatal!"

Ibiza's traditional music blends well with the synthetic, surreal melody. However, the dance beats mixed in this track are rather flat and typical of German house music: straight beats without the tempo and the funkier change-ups of domestic house.

The track "lo siento," uses mournful female background vocals overlapped with hip-hop rhythms. This is a soothing track that moves along well with domestic dance beats.

Claus Zundel's musical interest as well as his producing talent, creates an innovative approach to house/trance and flamenco puro. This new approach has been seen in other projects here in the U.S.

Nervous Records as well as other house music labels, has produced tracks using Latino vocals, brass instrumental samples and guitar solos. The domestic audience of music is seeing an increase of this influence in the night clubs and in the underground rave music scene.

With the need for new, innovative music, it is only a matter of time before the "Barcelona Tribe" joins the ranks of domestic producers. A San Francisco producer, DJ EFX, created hip-hop rhythm tracks on this album.

With collective efforts and styles, Zundel formed the recording process liberating. "It's nice to work in a system where you're not tied to a song structure; you're freer to do what you like and what sounds good to you. The only limitation was my own taste."

The b-tribe "Barcelona Tribe of Soulsters" album is a promising beginning to the entrancing sounds of Claus Zundel. Look for it on Atlantic Records now.

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