New Black: Couper Decaler Électronique


Couper Decaler is one of the most important contemporary forms of African pop music. It began around 2003 in a Paris diaspora. On the fringe of the French mainstream, a group of young Ivorians, known as the Jet Set, created an unprecedented hype that quickly led to fame and success as it ping-ponged between Paris and Abidjan. Their performances were flamboyant -- turning up at the Ivorian clubs in the Paris suburbs with bundles of money that they would throw to the audience during the show. Musically, the shows revolved around sloppily thrown-together drum computer beats. The main beat, a fast, triplet rhythm on top of a 4/4 bass drum, is borrowed (though slightly altered) from the Congo. Refusing to be recognized as being in any way politically motivated, the lyrics concerned themselves with the singer's fame and success and their assumedly glamorous life-style. There are some people who say that the party culture propagated by Couper Decaler helped prevent much worse bloodshed during the smoldering domestic political conflicts of the first half of the 2000s. The singers on this CD -- Skelly, Gadouku La Star, Gotta Lalman and Shaggy Sharoof -- represent different generations of Couper Decaler. In the last years, they, and others, have continued to develop theatrical stage performances and new dance styles, the so-called "concepts." Couper Decaler has long been a defining musical and trendsetting influence for the Ivorian youth, even if the older generations complain about the artificial (read: electronic and not hand-played) character of the music. And then there are the obscene and licentious lyrics and stage performances. The tracks on this CD are the results of different collaborations, and the product of an exchange between Ivorian singers, producers and European musicians. The songs came into being between April 2010 and May 2011 at first in Abidjan, later in Berlin and Hamburg and during the Donau Festival in Krems, Austria. The Gintersdorfer/Klaßen Group, who have been researching dance, performance and theater phenomena from Côte d'Ivoire since 2005, had the initial idea for this experiment to bring Couper Decaler singers and producers together with musicians such as Melissa Logan (Chicks On Speed), Nadine Jessen, Ted Gaier, Jacques Palminger, Carsten "Erobique" Meyer, and later, Timor Litzenberger and Mense Reents. New Black documents the different phases and stages of these collaborations -- from classic Decaler combined with European electronic music, to Couper Decaler beats enriched using European production methods and notions of sound, right up to dubstep-oriented beats with Couper Decaler vocals.