Breaking Bass with Califato 3/4


Artwork: jlr_tatuaje

There are many figures in the music scene who have helped flamenco achieve the international recognition it has and by all means deserves.  The late 20th Century saw the tag team of Paco de Lucia and Camarón de la Isla project the Spanish genre on black and white television sets across the sun-stroked peninsula. The start of the 21st Century has seen the more progressive Chambao with her “chill flamenco”, and the much more recent Rosalia take flamenco from the tiled streets and bodegas of Spain, and elevate it to mainstream radio stations and clubs across Europe and beyond.

Califato 3/4 are the next group of Sureños looking to benefit from the versatility and beauty of flamenco by injecting the genre with an electronic touch which we are all much more used to hearing once the bodegas are well and truly shut. That’s not to say they are taking a classic like Paco’s Entre dos Aguas, slapping on a baseline and calling it “electric flamenco”. The thing to note about Califato 3/4 is the way in which they are sticking to their Andaluz heritage in marrying the two distinct styles of music.

This is perhaps best explained through their name - Califato 3/4. Califato (or Caliph) is described as a muslim leader originating from the Arabic word Khalafa, meaning “successor” or “next in line”. Andalucía, the largest of Spain’s autonomous communities was occupied by the moors for a number of centuries during the first two milenia AD. Take the 10th Century, where Cordoba was the most populous city In the Western World. The moorish inhabitants have had a big influence on the Andalucía we know and (personally) love of today, and can be seen in the region’s architecture, cuisine and language. Yes, the Spaniards eventually conquered the moors. But they were by no means going to knock down the Alhambra.

3/4 (or 3 over 4) refers to rhythm. I’m sure you’re all used to four on the floor techno, where the rhythm flows in a 4/4 time with the bass drum being played on every beat. Flamenco uses a 3/4 beat meaning you count 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3 with an accent on the 1. As such, through the use of their name, Califato 3/4 pay homage to their wonderfully unique Arab and Spanish heritage.

Their newest and most adventurous project, Puerta De La Cânne, was released on the Sevillano label Breaking Bass Records towards the end of last year. Co-produced by all seven of the Spaniards that make up the group, it is a homage to their roots. It’s what’s introduced me to them, and it’s given me a sense of nostalgia at times, taking me all the way back to my childhood growing up in and around Southern Spain.

Provided you have a good ear for Spanish, the opening track of the LP, Mencahe der profeta, Andalucía offers the listener quite an inspiring and heartfelt introductory 3 minutes on what it means to be Andalucian, psyching them up for what’s to come. If you don’t, then you’re going have to get a mate to translate. And by a mate I really mean a proper Spaniard - they really don’t speak the King’s down South.

What could serve as a 007 theme tune, Critto de Nabaha is my personal favourite off of the LP. A series of brass instruments and Spanish chit chat fill the space and increase in volume and tempo as they build up to a trumpet crescendo when all hell breaks loose and the almighty amen beat kicks in. In what is a real touch of class, they salute what must be a large musical influence for some of them by sampling one of DJ Karpin’s benevolent bangers to ensure their track doesn’t fall far from the tree. The original - Semana Santa Segun Karpin - is a rare example of early 2000s Spanish breaks you’re likely to find still circling the web.

From here on in, the influence of seven separate artists can be felt as the album kaleidoscopes into a frenzy of beats, tempos and styles. The 12-track LP is diverse as it gets and really pushes the boundaries sonically on how folkloric music can be interpreted.

Each member has followed their own musical passages in life and the inclusion of these different passages is significant. They prove as torn pages from an Andalucian history book, where not only is its past drawn on, but its future is written too.