Nervous Horizon: NH VOL 4 Is Reshaping Dancehall and Forming a New Sleng Teng Way In My Sober Brain

April, 8 2022 released Nervous Horizon’s NH VOL 4 label compilation absorbs the whole world and combines the sounds of breaking glacier, easy breathing, quietness and minimalism of arctic landscape with exotic and bloodily loaded history of colonialistic Dancehall. The result is exciting: fresh, new, stylish and forward-thinking.

It is yet another sign from the heart of London UG that club music, reflecting people and their minds, takes seriously new artistic directions: formulates and dreams new ways for our species to exist. Postpandemic reality might ”never be the same again”: the world is changing, and it needs to change

”Way in my brain, is way in my brain
Is way in my brain, well, now, Under mi sleng teng, me under mi sleng teng
Under mi sleng teng, me under mi hey, hey
Under mi sleng teng, me under mi sleng teng
Under mi sleng teng, me under mi hey, heyWay in my brain, no cocaine
I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna go insane
Way in my brain, no cocaine
I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna go insane”

Wayne Smith, Under Me Sleng Teng (1986)

Wayne Smith’s ”Under Mi Sleng Teng,” is but an ode to marijuana, a first strictly digital dancehall hit. It sent shockwaves through the Jamaican music business: the instrumental, known as the Sleng Teng riddim, inspired a run on further computerized dancehall tracks. Yet it reflects the spiritual and political past and present of Jamaica: reggae, dancehall and the history filled with blood, slavery, exploitation and western profit seeking.

Jamaica is an island country at Carribean sea. It ’s nature is fertile: among the variety of terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems are dry and wet limestone forests, rainforest, riparian woodland, wetlands, caves, rivers, seagrass beds and coral reefs. Before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1494 it was originally inhabited by indigenous Taíno people, intelligent and kind society with developed agriculture and a matrilineal system of kinship, descent, and inheritance. Columbus has wrote, that ”they were apparently not carrying any sort of arms”.

They were all killed or died of diseases. Taíno were considered extinct by year 1600.

Spanish men cutting hands of Taíno mine workers.

After losing Taíno slaves Spain brought large numbers of African slaves to Jamaica as labourers. England conquered Jamaica 1655. Fleeding Spanish plantanians and slaveowners freed their slaves, who dispersed into the mountains and joined Maroons, societys formed of escaped slaves and Taíno rooted people.

During British period the number of African slaves and the economy just boomed, based largely on sugar and other crops for export such as coffee, cotton and indigo. All these crops were worked by black slaves, who lived short and often brutal lives with no rights, being the property of a small planter-class.

Jamaica also become a vivid harbour, center and capital of pirates and criminals, Caribbean slave trade, and of course sugar production.

Countrys journey towards independence has been cruel, and long. It’s no wonder panafrican rastafari culture is strong and treats Etiopian king Haile Selassie as God – he ended slavery and developed Africa, and his lineage goes back to bibliotic King Solomon and Queen Sheba (and he is therefore related to Jesus). Jamaican musician Bob Marley is known as a rastafari icon. He infused his music with strong sense of spirituality.

These are the roots for reggae, ragga and dancehall music, carribean rhythms and their indigenous, violent, fertile, criminal rude boy, gunlyrics, slackness and underground tones and tradition. The land is filled with fragitility, unjust, untrust, evil, violence, fear, crime and drugs and then there’s its nature, the paradise island – and yet then there is African music, something that can’t be forbidden and taken away. It has a stronghold of underground and club music of UK, too.

Yet the plantation tradition seems to go on: because of poor copyright and registeration systems, riddims and rhythms born in Jamaica circulate now widely in global, modern R&B and pop music business – though the whole genre is based on repetition, bootlegs, riddims, dubplates, pirate stations, and on the other hand, ”freedom”. Grandmaster Flash has said the roots of rap and hip hop music being ”jamaican toasting, blues and Last Poets.” Toasting is monotone melody chanting or talking over a rhythm or beat by reggae deejay.

”Founded in 2015 by two Italian-born Londoners, Nervous Horizon has been at the vanguard of every recent stylistic shift in the capital’s bass scene.”, Resident Advisor writes. Nervous Horizon is ”East London’s most forward-thinking record label” known for bringing together regional club sounds from all around the world. It’s latest release NH VOL 4 focus on dancehall influenced instrumentals. There’s introduction of some brand new signees: Montreal based Mexican producer Ultima Esuna, Bristol’s rising star Josi Devil and congolese Nyege Nyege affiliate Chrisman. Techno prodigies Happa and Aquarian make their debut appearance on the label as well with compositions that blend intricate sound design with explosive low end.

Nervous Horizon. ”The label is based in a warehouse on the banks of the Lea River in East London, across from the Olympic Stadium. At one end of their studio is a huge custom-built workstation full of production gear. A long shelf along the side wall displays every vinyl release so far, from early 12-inches by cofounders Wallwork and TSVI to the label debut from Lithuanian hard drum enthusiast DJ JM. On the opposite wall, a red Chinese tassel hangs above a computer.

Tommaso Wallwork and Guglielmo Barzacchini grew up just 20 minutes away from each other in the Tuscan towns of Pisa and Pontedera, though they never met until they moved to the UK,” Resident Advisor writes

The cover art of the release is pure cotton white, associating with ancient Greek, mediterranian and the statues of western art history and culture, sand, and the logo of the label is like decorative sculputures of Parthenon or other buildings in Acropolis, remains of an ancient Greek city in Athens, that were temples and places of ritual and mimetic worships of gods and goddesses – events that gave birth to theatre, dance and literature, but were deeply spiritual back then. In reality the label’s logo looks like a silhouette of a modern city, London maybe. The whiteness is also as if everything was frozen, a piece of glacier, or maybe white as concrete – all of this, breaking.

The change is coming.

What is the new posteverything world like, a world where mankinds suicidal use of nature and each other has reached its peak? It is minimalistic, quiet, diverse in perfect harmony, twinkling the incredible richness of all that we have. Nervous horizon artists have managed go absorb sounds and impressions from tribe rhytms to flamenco, techno to dancehall and ragga and make it sound completely new, but natural. There’s deep sense of willingness to forgive, forget and rebuild: mercy, sorrow and pure beauty in the instrumentals. This is post-revolution music, that imagines and creates utopia of new (old, once destroyed) indigeouswise way to exist.

The emotional set is strongly tendensive but still quite different from dancehall and clubbing as a form of just having escapistic extremes of drugs and fun. The clarity and purity, almost meditative dimension is something else. There’s no unjustice and evil ”driving insane”, so there’s no need to escape and ”get high”. The music and only the music is ”a way in my brain”. Sober clubbing is trending in New York and Stockholm, and the recently held first Sober Furious -club in Helsinki, Finland was sold out a month before it took place. It was a huge, wild dancing success.

Nervous Horizons music takes directly to the heart of spirituatility. Using indigenous rhythms, 1980’s digital dancehall tradition, riddims and beats and combining them with art, experimental and the latest digital innovations producers of Nervous Horizon add several more layers and depth to the music. While the heart beats in a trusting and curious manner, the mind floats deep into shamanistic and ancient methods and tradition, directly beyond the short history of humanity and our relation to the one thing motivating and surrounding us daily, – especially without our modern infrastructure, electricity, supermarkets and left alone in the woods – death, and threath of personal death.

Totuus. Truth. The Officially Most Exploited Independent Music & Art Magazine of Finland.


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