Berlin-based DJ / electronic producer Daniel Haaksman is arguably the person responsible for introducing Rio’s baile funk sound to a wider global audience with his 2004 compilation ‘Rio Baile Funk Favela Booty Beats’, and indeed the musical genre has continued to exert a strong influence in his more recent productions, alongside house, kuduro, trap and hiphop elements.
While Haaksman’s preceding 2016 album ‘African Fabrics’ saw him travelling to Southern Africa to collaborate with the likes of Spoek Mathambo and Kuduro inventor Tony Amado, three years on this third album ‘With Love From Berlin’ sees him paying tribute to the city that’s served as his home for more than 20 years. While all of the collaborators featured him now call Berlin home, in keeping with the German capital’s reputation as a cultural magnet for artists, Haaksman initially met many of them, such as US-born vocalist Robert Owens and Brazilian singer Cibelle during his travels overseas.
In this case, it’s the smooth balance of hybridised musical genres and attention to sparkling production that really impresses here. ‘Corpo Sujeito’ opens things with a shower of gently plucked strings and hammered melodic percussion before Cibelle’s airy vocal harmonies assume centre stage, the juddering bass drum rhythms that power beneath carrying more than a hint of reggaeton as sheeny synth suddenly phase through the mix, adding an urgent pulse that heightens the momentum.
‘Overtune’ meanwhile provides an elegant instrumental interlude as clicking trap snare rolls and clattering dancehall kicks play off a majestic backdrop of string orchestration that dips and jumps in time with the rhythms against a massed background of chorale vocal harmonies, in what’s easily one of the biggest headphone treats on offer here. Elsewhere, ’24-7’ takes things off on a glittering electro-house ride that injects a slight ragga wobble into its step as Robert Owens’ crystal clear vocals get pushed through auto-tune against Kzia’s MC interjections.
It’s the moody ‘Occupy Berlin’ though that unleashes what’s arguably this album’s biggest highlight as former Buraka Son Sistema frontman Kalaf Angelo’s spoken word vocal explores themes of racial tension amidst the cold Berlin winter and eerie synths whir against glowing organ keys and scissoring broken rhythms. Much like the city to which this album’s dedicated, there’s a vivid and lively sense of multiculturalism at work here.