Like the Pittsburgh-based dub outfit itself, projects undertaken by Soma Mestizo seem to resist easy, linear explanation ... though perhaps a few choice words can convey the essence. Here's the short version: borderless music; indigenous peoples' rights; free vinyl; local connection. If that's all you need to know, just show up at the South Side's Club Café at 10:30 p.m., Sat., Sept. 19.
Here's the longer version: Over the last few years, Soma Mestizo's Christiane D. and DJ Soy Sos have collaborated, in cryptic fashion, with a Brazil-based music project and label, Indigenous Resistance, headed up by Kokonda Dub.
Several years back, "Christiane received a mysterious phone call from Kokonda calling from Brazil, asking if she would be interested in a collaboration to put vocals on an existing track," recalls Soy Sos. "I let them know of my interest in completing the track and ended up doing the final mix, including a lot of reggae dub-type effects that made them freak out," he says. The resulting track was released as "Eagle Screaming -- Red Sky Alight."
Now, the label is releasing IR22, a vinyl 12-inch containing "Routes to Rootz" and the B-side "Indigenous & Sacred," which features contributions from Christiane and Soy Sos (who also mixed it).
Like many IR releases, the track combines indigenous music with more familiar reggae and hip-hop elements. It opens with bamboo and stone percussion and chants performed by Solomon Islands musicians ("never before recorded," according to the label). These sounds are subsequently incorporated and transformed by oscillating textures, thumping dub bass and swirling synths. Over this heady concoction, Christiane's fluid vocals are calming yet forceful: "In times of danger, be still ... understand the concept of sacred things / there are moments to hold things close / moments to reveal them."
"The source material lent itself to a deep-house type of style," says Soy Sos. "I was going for a deep, heavy mystical kind of feeling. Something that could put dancers in a trance." While Soy Sos says he wasn't able to get many details about the other musicians, Kokonda "played it for the elders and they were very pleased."
The 12-inch is being released with launch parties and DJ events in Colombia, Brazil, the Canary Islands and Pittsburgh, where Soma Mestizo, along with trip-hop influenced band Una de Luna, is hosting the release show at Club Café. As part of IR's "freedub" project, the events include free copies of the vinyl release, distributed to the public.