219

Radio Citizen: Berlin Serengeti

Chris M. Slawecki By

Sign in to view read count
Radio Citizen: Berlin Serengeti
Berlin's Niko Schabel knows what German techno-music pioneers Kraftwerk began demonstrating all those years ago: if people program them right, even machines got soul.

A multi-instrumentalist and producer who leads a jazz quartet and plays with The Last Poets and other groups, Schabel weaves together the electronic jungle of Berlin Serengeti from samples, loops and electronic textures, plus his own alto saxophone, kalimba, percussion, Rhodes, clarinet and bass clarinet, flute, synthesizer and vocals.

"I think Radio Citizen encompasses a lot of my influences, Schabel writes. "There are shades of my love for sixties jazz, funk 45s, soul, dub and reggae, hip hop, afro beat, electronica, trippy stuff, d&b, early eighties avant-garde, surf, the old school, the new school, Arabian music, Latin, boogaloo, rocksteady, whatever!....But the artist I admire most is John Coltrane.

It's a very modern electronic, and sometimes quite Teutonic, work. Yet it also sounds very influenced by jazz, specifically by two giants of modern saxophone, Pharoah Sanders and Coltrane.

So you can pluck from it two singles for dance clubs, "The Hop and "Championsound, skeletal post-millennial electro-funk, cold-chillin' to the point of frozen. Or you can dig the flute and saxophone as they lead thickly African bows to Sanders and Coltrane; more specifically, to the 1960-65 Coltrane quartet with pianist McCoy Tyner and drummer Elvin Jones.

Jones' wicked, brutal sound turbocharges "Night II and "Voices into flute/percussion free-for-alls. "Density drops an incendiary bomb spiritualized with Coltrane's ghost, its saxophone growing like a hyrdra's many heads from the throbbing bass, its flute rustling in between like a rattlesnake in the weeds. "The Prophets sounds like Sanders trying on colorful flowing robes of jungle and hip-hop.

"Producing this record was kind of like playing a game, Schabel notes on the CD sleeve. "Taking live recordings and turning them into samples, taking samples and arranging them as if they were live. I think this record seriously blurs the lines.... never mind how much studio-tricknology was applied, behind every track is a song.

"Liberty should be not just a word seems more than just a lyric to the third track ("Everything ). It's more like a great summation of the adventurous spirit of Berlin Serengeti.

Vocalist Ithamara Koorax also lends her angelic voice. On the title track, she rings in the dawn as supremely bright as a streaming ray of morning sunshine, and she transforms "An Evening Prayer into a reverent piece that seems precisely that. Her turns on "The Exile Song and "Urumutum/Swing Low Sweet Chariot are just as gorgeous.

Track Listing

The Hop; Mondlicht; Everything; Night Part I; Night Part II; El Cielo; Birds; The Prophets; Roads; Voices; Black Forest; Championsound; Dust; Density; Nightingale; Love Serenity Blues.

Personnel

Niko Schabel: samples, loops, electronics, alto saxophone, kalimba, percussion, Rhodes, clarinet, bass clarinet, flute, synthesizer, vocals; Wolf: flute, saxophone; Bajka: vocals.

Album information

Title: Berlin Serengeti | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Ubiquity Records

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read Jammin' With KC
Jammin' With KC
Sylwester Ostrowski
Read What Comes Next
What Comes Next
Peter Bernstein
Read A Silent Play in the Shadow of Power
A Silent Play in the Shadow of Power
Bruno Parrinha/Abdul Moimême/Carlos Santos
Read Suite!
Suite!
Roberto Magris

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.