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Go to the Ben Wa website  Ben Wa - Disciples Of Retro-Tech [Stray Records - 2001]

Electric boogie, breakdance, grafitti, computergames, synthesizers and drumcomputers: the early eighties had its own typical style of American urban culture. New technology defined the sound of rejuvenated funk and early hiphop.

The second EP, released previously, 'Elektro-Crazy' showed the direction to be taken with 'Disciples Of Retro-Tech'. Phat electro-funk like people like Africa Bambaataa and Jonzun Crew made in the eighties. The album of Les Rhythmes Digitales is somewhat in the same vein of this particular music. Music of the past updated to this time, with much better production and an occasional contemporary influence.

Ben Wa consists of Dr. Ware and Butthouse. The latter played bass in funkband The Limbomaniacs with Brain (Godflesh, Praxis, Primus, Giant Robot, Guns 'n' Roses) and Mirv (M.I.R.V.) with whom he released 'Stinky Grooves' in 1990. These two also played on their debut CD: Devil Dub, along with Adrian Isabell, DJ Disk and Buckethead. This album was a celebration of dub(reggae), the old Jamaican tradition of instrumental remixes of A-sides of 7" records on the B-side. This materialisation of a longtime wish to make a dubalbum by the duo was not the definition of Ben Wa's sound. Their first (vinyl) EP already was more electro, but less retro-sounding. The piece 'Born To Synthesize' can be found on this CD in a remixed form.

Again as a duo with the exception of percussionist Adrian Isabell they made 'The Disciples Of Retro-Tech'. 'Retro'-intruments like vocoders and synthbass are used to make funky, electronic dance music as made back in the day. The production is much more 'crisp' and the use of samples, like the Tuvan throatsinger in 'Tuvan Tube Top' and several ones derived from hiphop, are more typical of these times. There also are some juicy keyboardleads in some tracks adding some melody to what would be bare grooves otherwise.

Just like the Devil Dub album they emphasize certain aspects of the musical style they chose, sometimes approaching to a caricatural extent. I don't mean this in a negative way: I think it adds a 'wink' to the the music, so you experience the retro-aspect in a slightly humorous way and not as a lack of creativity.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

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