From the primitive days of drum circles right up to industrial techno in a grimy basement, rhythm has always been a central human concern. It speaks the language of the body, compelling us to move, hypnotising until we are outside ourselves, be it just to escape or to commune with something higher. The possibilities of rhythm and tone from a single drum are staggering. Strange then, that so much of contemporary dance music relies on one of the simplest patterns imaginable: the 4/4 kick.
While many of electronic music’s brightest lights may flirt with unquantised rhythms or 2step, few explore the outer possibilities of percussion as dedicatedly as Norway’s DJ Sotofett, head of the esteemed Sex Tags imprint. Whether it be spaced-out breakbeats or African polyrhythms, Sotofett’s music is always alive with rhythmic complexity, and his latest for Aaron Siegel’s FIT imprint is no different.
Siegel and Sotofett are a perfect fit. Not only were they both responsible for some of last year’s mightiest tracks, but the two have collaborated before and Siegel handles Sex Tags’ US distribution. Here Sotofett shows off his impressive drum programming on both sides of the wax. Tribute To “Sore Fingers” is probably a reference to Laurent Garnier’s furious rhythm cut, but takes a gentler approach with a tidy bassline, swooning background synths and a complex cycle of light drums and hand percussion. It’s just the kind of raw drumwork that can spice up a dancefloor, mesmerising right up to its long, spacey outro.
As accomplished as the A-side is, Houran (Percussion Mix) is a wilder beast, and the real prize of this 12”. Tapping the source material from an upcoming LP by Arabic musician Abu Sayah on Versatile, Sotofett uses the keening yarghol (an Arabic flute) as a central melody, adding an intoxicating flavour to his tough percussive workout. The introductory wordless chanting lends the track a cosmic vibe, harking back to the early religious purpose of music, ekstasis, standing outside of the self.
Because isn’t that what we really search for in dance music? A stimulus that will travel through us, the body merely a conduit that takes in music and transmutes it, expelling motion. It elevates us from the mundane, and takes us somewhere new.