Copenhagen’s Music For Dreams comes with yet another strong release - a double album of personal favourites compiled by Jan Schulte.
According to all maps and witness accounts, Germany does not officially have any tropical forests. This is of no concern to Schulte however, who has unearthed many stunning examples of tropical drum music recorded there. Perhaps the number of botanical gardens and palm houses in Germany confused musicians into mistaking the climate, or maybe it was just a happy blend of escapism and multi-cultural integration within musical scenes that spawned such a curious output of undefinable tribal folk jazz.
Most of the tracks picked by Schulte were released on small labels in the late 80's. The musicians involved were mainly traditionally schooled, born and raised in Germany. At that time to be interested in foreign folk music might have seemed a gimmick to some, what with the emerging "world music boom" already snowballing into the mainstream. But these songs, while they may be based on musical traditions from foreign lands, deal much more with introspection than exploitation. Schulte himself points to his "general fascination for music that describes places where the artists have never been. Songs about the jungle or the rainforest made by people that know the rainforest only from television and books. Somehow I think you can hear their mythical imagination and fantasy in those tracks," he explains.
We certainly hear it in the extensive use of wildlife samples on both "Tagtraum Eines Elefanten" by Argile and on "Wuhan Wuchang" by Total Art Of Percussion. Or on the repetitive and trace-inducing drum circle re-enactments of Ralf Nowys "Akili Mali" and Bob Moses’ & Billy Martin’s "Boat Song Part II". And while Austrian band Sanza stands out with their interpretation of the traditional folk song "Sounouh", many of the inclusions take an avantgarde stance towards their visions of the tropics. The works of Om Buschmann and Trimopen seem to convey the stark and feverish nature of the jungle and its dangers, without relying on clichés. And while there is certainly a European approach in the production techniques on many of these recordings, the artists created something beyond all templates. In fusing folk music traditions from various corners of the world with avant-garde jazz improvisation and a distinctly European sound, they carved out a path of their own.
Düsseldorf-based Jan Schulte has been following this path with his own productions in the past years. During the present resurgence of tribal influences in underground dance music, his recordings under the alias Wolf Müller and Bufiman have stood out as the most interesting, funky and mindblowing within this niche. With the compilation "Tropical Drums Of Deutschland" for Music For Dreams, Jan Schulte re-traces this path to its origins. With the inclusion of two exclusive edits he also engages and re-examines these tracks and incorporates his own musical expression into the mix.