Will It Blend 2: Powwow-Step

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a tribe called red

The first thing I heard was rhythmic drumming, and an electronic, voice-like synthesizer. Then the speakers exploded with Native American chanting.

I was thus introduced to A Tribe Called Red, a Canadian band that blends elements of “First Nation” music with electronic, club, and other similar genres. I won’t even try to be objective: it’s incredibly incredible.

Some might say that these seem to be polar opposites in terms of musical styles. One is very organic and connected to the Earth, while the other is produced surrounded by electronic equipment. But that fails to acknowledge the fundamental similarities between the two. While there are obviously exceptions, the main component of both club and tribal-esque music is often a simple beat that people can dance to. In this way, it’s perfectly natural to look at it as blending dance music from one culture with dance music from another.

Since both enhance each other so well, it’s hard to say which is the foundation for the music presented by ATCR. Some of the songs involve heavy use of electronic loops, punctuated by chanting, while others are primarily chanting, punctuated by fat synthesizer riffs.

While I would consider this music innovative, it is by no means the most complicated music out there. Since it is such a fledgling genre, I believe a great deal of potential has yet to be realized. The synthesized sounds could be more varied and interesting, and there could be some really slick stuff achieved in non-“four on the floor” time signatures. But for the purposes of dancing, this is perfect. I would love to listen to this at some point while in a dark, fire-lit area, where everyone starts dancing around the fire.

For combining genres that should have been combined long ago, A Tribe Called Red gets my approval; and that’s why I believe tribal music will blend with electronic.

-Kai Fukutaki

KSPC Blogger

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