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Buraka Som Sistema

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Buraka Som Sistema

Back in 2006 when four buddies got together to play music at a small club in the center of Lisbon, little did they know they would end up becoming part of a very select group of international bands involved in the process of re-shaping "World Music" — making it the coolest it has ever been.

João Barbosa (J-Wow) and Rui Pité (Riot) met while attending high school in Amadora, a city in the outskirts of Lisbon. They were in a band for a while, but quickly got sick of rehearsals and crappy concerts. Instead they picked up a second-hand sampler, a computer and locked themselves in an attic making beats.

Together they started collaborating with several artists from the Lisbon music scene, where they bumped into Kalaf Angelo. The encounter with Andro Carvalho (Conductor) took place a little before they set their minds on Kuduro — the dance music genre that was taking the ghettos of Luanda by storm and spreading to African clubs in Lisbon. Together, the four started editing and remixing Kuduro instrumentals from artists like DJ Znobia, DJ Du Marcel and DJ Jesus, to play at their then new monthly residence at Club Mercado. The audience, a mixed crowd of youngsters (that had never stepped into an african club), had the chance to experience those songs in a club for the first time - they literally went mad, it was all new, fresh and raw.. Songs like Yah! and Sem Makas became local bangers which only regulars knew about. It was like a secret reunion, the perfect club, in the perfect city at the right moment. After a few months Club Mercado got shut down, but a strong demand for the nights continued, and that spawned the decision to form the band and start touring. They named the band Buraka Som Sistema after Buraca, one of Amadora’s eleven parishes, the latter being Portugal’s 4th most populated city, and hometown to J-Wow and Riot. Buraca is however mostly known for the high number of African emigrants and a high crime rate.

The Band’s first release "From Buraka to the World" (2006), initially a limited edition of 700 copies, sold out in 1 week. It was released by Enchufada, the label created a couple of years before by João and Kalaf. Made out of random un-recycled boxes where every package was different, the EP caught the attention of Sony Music and in a matter of weeks there was a considerably bigger reissue out on the streets with a few extra songs.

With the explosion of MySpace their songs started to circulate on-line and ended up in the hands of taste-making disc spinners like Diplo and Sinden who were blown away by this new sound and started supporting and playing it around the world. It was around that time that the song Yah! was first heard. A four and a half minute ride of sparse 808 hits and infectious warbling bass, with Petty’s unremitting lines punctuating the off-beat grooves with simplistic brilliance. The track quickly became something of a sensation with over 1 million views of a video that cost thirty euros to produce and garnered FACT Magazine’s "12” of the Year" award. By the end of 2007 the band scored a gig in London's famous Fabric club and a new word was added to our dictionary - Kuduro.

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Inbetween globe-trotting, and exporting their unequivocal sound to festivals like Roskilde (Denmark), Glastonbury (UK) or Sudoeste TMN (PT), the group started work on their debut album for the Fabric label. The first single, Sound Of Kuduro, emerged in early 2008, featuring the Angolan MCs Puto Prata and Saborosa alongside number one fun-girl M.I.A. The video, recorded between Luanda and London, took the blogosphere by storm preparing the world for the release of the explosive Black Diamond. The album was as inclusive as it was fiercely driven and focused, earning them an MTV Europe Award for Best Portuguese Act and a nomination for Best European Act. They captured the world’s imagination by taking one of planet earth’s most exciting and previously underexposed dance phenomena and giving it a new lease of life. With other guests including baile funk queenpin, Deize Tigrona on Aqui Para Vocês and angolan scud-missile Pongolove in the single Kalemba (Wegue Wegue) which ended up becoming their biggest success to date, earning them their first ever Platinum award for digital sales. DJ Znobia, one of the few people responsible for the creation and development of Kuduro in Luanda also gave his contribution to two songs on the album, Luanda-Lisboa and Sound of Kuduro, giving the group a very important stamp of approval. Pitchfork couldn't have said it better "Black Diamond is one of the fiercest dance records in recent memory."

Buraka Som Sistema's live reputation continued to grow as Black Diamond's 2009 tour brought the band increased recognition as top performers, with the New York Times and The Guardian raving about the group's stage domination and The Fader considering them “one of the most jaw-droppingly effusive club moments”. Coachella, Bestival, FujiRock, HardFest LA, HardFest NY, I Love Techno, Lowlands Festival or Optimus Alive are just a few examples of where Buraka Som Sistema amazed with their infamous live show.

As busy as they were, 2009 wasn't all about touring the world, the group still had time to launch their website with a gift from J-Wow to the fans, The Blood Diamond Mixtape, a darker side to the Black Diamond album which quickly reached more than fifty thousand downloads in a couple of weeks. Buraka also contributed to the highly respected "Fabric Live" series (Fabric Live 49 - Buraka Som Sistema), with a selection of songs that continued showcasing talent from obscure corners of the world to a wider predominantly western audience.

In September 2010 the band locked themselves for a month in a house in the woodlands of Monchique, in the South of Portugal, to begin working on the follow up to Black Diamond. This was the beginning of a long eleven-month process with the band dividing their time between Lisbon and London, enlisting guests from the likes of Roses Gabor, Terry Lynn and Afrikan Boy amongst others. Ultimately this would lead to Komba, an album that’s grown out of the melting pot of beats that Buraka have been amassing over the past 5 years. For their first single, the band chose Hangover (Bababa), a co-production with Stereotyp, one of the world's most underrated beat makers. The intention was clear, to re-shift Buraka's sound back to the clubs, with a nasty roaring bass topped by the maddeningly catchy "Ba ba ba" hook.

Being on the road solidly for three years transformed Buraka from what was initially a producer's idea into a fully-fledged band. Komba sounds like a band. An album ready to make thousands of people dance in festivals and clubs around the world, it takes the group further on their quest to find their own sound, pushing them away from diminishing labels like "Progressive Kuduro". This evolution is what keeps them relevant in a music world always looking for the next big thing.
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They're not trying to impress anyone with the newest synthesizer patch or the new cool BPM of the season. They're just having fun, making beats and having even more fun playing them out to people around the world, while living life as intensely as possible.
Komba will be out in the fall of 2011, it is set to push Buraka back to the forefront of electronic music with their unique raw take on the global ghetto revolution.

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