Dance music’s infiltration of hip-hop and R & B culture reaches a decidedly more organic state on the latest release from sample-clearing agency Legitmix and marketing company Vamos Promo, Sabo and Heartbreak present Moombahsoul. Those who fear what dance brings to the table for traditionally urban musical styles have every reason to hate moombahton. Dutch house’s car alarms, dubsteps “sick ass drops, bro,” and the disposable sounds of synthetic melodies are all endemic to the genre. However, if one can ignore the sound and think only of the vibe and style of the viscous sonic stew that occurs when the punishing dembow riddim meets the house music meets reggaeton tempo of 108-112 BPM, moombahsoul, is a sound with magical potential. In the hands of Latin house and deep funk moombahton pioneer DJ Sabo as well as moombahsoul inventor David Heartbreak, the Moombahsoul compilation, if simply just heard, is a window into what many may feel is the lost heart in the metastasizing sonic beast that is “EDM.”
A fan of Sade is a fan of moombahsoul. Nearly two years ago, Heartbreak’s “Shy Day” initiated the style, the heavy pound of dembow bass meeting with Sade’s legendary 1994 cut at a quickened pace for a truly inventive winner. UK techno-inspired moombahton producer Disgraceland takes more recent Sade song “Love is Found” down the moombah path with incredible results on the compilation. Techno’s intense and ponderous style meets with a haunting Sade vocal, the bass drum serving as an insistent heartbeat guiding someone in the dark spaces of navigating love’s emotional content.
Moombahton takes on a frank, adult and sensual vibe when Phoenix, Arizona’s DJ Melo gets into the mix with his take on Maxwell’s “Ascension” and San Francisco funk overlord Dee Jay Theory goes in on pimpin’ Chicago classic “Riding High” by Faze-O. Adult mix champions slowed to a tempo more adept in the bedroom than on the dance floor, for soul fans filled with angst that dance is the flavor-of -the-month,” this is EDM in a vastly improved fashion.
Moombahsoul inventor Heartbreak and funky break master Sabo meet head-to-head on Art of Noise classic “Moments in Love.” The early 80s avant garde classic was a US soul standout at the last time when Euro sounds ruled the urban charts, and between Sabo’s ability to find its swing at moombahton’s tempo, and Heartbreak’s ability to chop a sample, it’s the best of both worlds. Need more classic flair finding timelessness in moombahton’s progressive excellence? In simply bringing 112 member Q Parker’s latest soul cut “Better” up to dance floor standards, Jon Kwest does exactly what he always does. He excels like a moombahton version of legendary remixer Tom Moulton, in that whatever the style or whatever the sound, he finds what is inherently moombah worthy in its composition and showcases it to an incredible degree in his remixes.
Moombahton works because it’s a style that, if you have patience with it, can be everything to everyone. Bringing anything into a vibe a tempo that doesn’t feel rushed makes every song feel like it is exactly what it can be; in that allowing enough space to let anybody feel the desire to catch the groove, it’s a suitable for two-stepping, popping and locking, or even bumping-and-grinding dance floor filler.