Various: Tropical Riddims

Strains of Afro-Caribbean music have always been present on the UK dancefloor from the reggae and dub inflections of DMZ to the incendiary British dancehall scene, vigorously backed by enthusiasts such as The Heatwave. But in the past couple of years the ‘Afro-’ in Afro-Caribbean is rightfully laying claim to some of the attention from the Western club scene. One trend we at Truants have been enjoying in particular is the deliciousness of marimba tones invading our favourite clubs. UK label Honest Jon’s first brought the brilliant marimba vibrations of the Shangaan Electro scene to our ears and feet early last year, with the energy of the Limpopo rhythms catching the ear of producer’s such as Pearson Sound, who featured arguably the biggest hit from the Shangaan Electro record on his Fabriclive mix early this year:

Stream: Tiyiselani Vomaseve – Vanghoma

Whether it’s a happy coincidence or direct influence, hearing the playfulness of beats from south of the equator thawing out the otherwise cooler-than-thou UK scene has been a real treat. Pearson Sound went straight to the source for undiluted rhythms, but recently it seems like every producer and his aunt wants to warm up arctic bass notes with some serious heat. Hackman‘s excellent “Close” saw the Leeds-based producer dosing up well-loved 2-step beats with balmy marimba melodies, combining soft xylophonic melodies with a sexy garage shuffle in admirable symbiosis.

Stream: Hackman – Close

Jamie xx has been another one to add a touch of tasty tropicalia to booty-shaking bass, with the simple pleasures of “Far Nearer” lighting up the dancefloor back in February:

Stream: Jamie XX – Far Nearer

Bristol’s Phaeleh rounds off the already bulbous marimba-style bounces on “Cheki” with a flute sample that floats above the bass melody, making the latter sound even more deep down and dirty than it otherwise would. Clever stuff.

Stream: [wpaudio url=”″ text=”Phaleah – Cheki” dl=”0″]

On the house side of things, John Roberts’ rework of Darkstar’s luscious ‘Gold’ beefed up the tender elements of the original with some shuffling percussive elements, while over on the continent everyone’s favourite ambient techno maestro David Moufang lay down yet more marimba grooves on his Workshop 13 release.

Stream: Darkstar – Gold (John Roberts Remix)

Stream: Move D – Untitled 1 (Workshop 13)

There’s been a lot of detraction of microgenres and what some critics feel is the detrimental fragmentation of the (rather broad) genre of electronic music. It’s worth remembering, however, that not all trends are reductive or unwarranted. Sometimes they’re just good fun. What have we missed? Get involved in the comments box.

Tabitha Thorlu-Bangura

Camberwell based ricecake enthusiast. twitter