Viola Klein
cat. mea021
release EP + digital
release date January 2017
mastering Original master on vinyl, lacquer cut by SST Brüggemann / Audio files mastered by Helmut Erler
distribution Clone
artist page
Additional credits
Track A
Featuring: Ndongo Samba Sylla
Producer: Viola Klein
Composer: Whodat, Abdoukhadre, Abdou Aziz, Adramé Diop & Family, Viola Klein
Track B
Featuring: Kim Sherobbi
Producer: Viola Klein
Composer: Whodat, Abdoukhadre, Abdou Aziz, Adramé Diop & Family, Viola Klein

Viola Klein is the house music 'auteur' behind two beautiful and contemplative house music records on her own Viola Klein imprint. Her Bring Your Ass parties in Cologne have long been some of the most interesting and informed celebrations of house music the city has to offer. On her first outing for meakusma, Klein collaborates with musicians from Senegal and Detroit to produce two tracks centered around Senegalese percussion, spun into gentle and informed club music hypnosis. Klein works as a film editor, DJ and writer. Her origins are in jazz theory which she combines with a filmmaker's perception. The two tracks on Exchange dwell in repetition and subtle confrontation. Typical of her work, they are explorations of the social force inherent in house music.
Ndongo Samba Sylla, Kim Sherobbi, Abdoukhadre, Abdou Aziz, Adramé Diop & Family, Whodat and Viola Klein are exchanging. Whodat is a Detroiter. The beats of Whodat lay the musical foundation for the Family Diop’s sabar. The Senegalese griot family keeps the everyday tradition of sabar alive through programs in Saint-Louis’ high schools; it’s fresh when everyone is responding to one another on street corners and on patios. Ndongo Samba Sylla is a Senegalese development economist and a francophone Scrabble world champion. In Dakar, he equips environments for the youth. Kim Sherobbi is an ex-basketball player and educator at James and Grace Lee Boggs school in Detroit, where she teaches children how to be serene when things change.


Excellent extended tripping & percussive Beatdown House jams

Cologne’s Viola Klein has long been interested in exchange. One of her past singles was an “appreciation” of a church in New York, cutting thoughtful house music with a recorded sermon. The other centred on the “presence” of two other artists, among them Detroit producer Whodat. Detroit often features in Klein’s exchanges. The film editor, DJ and writer has flown some of the city’s key house DJs to Germany for her Bring Your Ass party, and presented a 2012 art exhibition in Berlin called New Michigan. This release, for Belgium’s ever-adventurous Meakusma label, connects the city with another node in Klein’s global network. She works as a facilitator, combining Whodat’s beats—demurely soulful, deepest-of-deep house—with the Senegalese Family Diop, practitioners of traditional Sabar drumming.
The exchange is two-way on the A-side, where head-nodding drum loops are interwoven with live percussion that tugs and nudges loosely at the groove. The feeling of flux isn’t entirely comfortable, because of a tense high pedal-note, but jazzy chords in the second half soften the mood. They might be taking their cues from Senegalese writer Ndongo Samba Sylla, who sprinkles in a few optimistic statements. (“History is full of potential, it’s full of avenues. And we have the capability to choose and to build the avenue we find desirable to take.”)
On the B-side, Whodat’s beatmaking steals the show. Her delicate chord-bassline interplay and wafts of pensive piano make for a Detroit house groover of rare vintage. The serenity is emphasised by Kim Sherobbi, an educator at a Detroit school, instructing us to “have an open mind, knowing that things change all the time.” Sure enough, after seven minutes, they do: that gentle beat is picked up by the Family Diop and taken for a leisurely walk.
Angus Finlayson

Als Viola Klein vor etwas weniger als zwei Jahren für die Am Deck-Serie vorstellig wurde, brachte sie in ihrem Mix gekonnt afrikanische Musik von etwa dem kamerunischen Sanza-Maestro Francis Bebey mit House und Techno der Detroiter Schule von Moodymann, Hieroglyphic Being und K-Hand zusammen. Ihre neue EP für das belgische Meakusma-Label zeigt sich ähnlich engagiert darin, die Wurzeln ihres verspielten, oldschooligen House-Sounds zu ehren. Exchange entstand tatsächlich in einem Austausch, der Klein bis nach Senegal und die USA brachte. Über zwei Tracks erstreckt sich das transatlantische Projekt, das neben Sabar-Trommeln der Family Diop und Grooves der Detroiter Produzentin Whodat auch die Stimmen des Schriftstellers Ndongo Samba Sylla und der Detroiter Aktivistin Kim Sherobbi hörbar macht. Eine 18-minütige Weltreise nach dem Motto, welches Sylla am Anfang des ersten unbetitelten Tracks vorgibt: „We need to be more utopian.“
Kristoffer Cornils

Back in 2014, Viola Klein set the pulse racing with a pair of 12″ singles that effortlessly combined the loose, jazz-fuelled deep house of Detroit – and most specifically Moodymann and Theo Parrish – with homemade recordings of African percussionists and musicians. This similarly minded follow-up is equally as inspired, and features musicians, drummers and vocalists from Senegal and Detroit. There are two sublime cuts to choose from: the rolling, percussive hypnotism of “B”, where tactile synth bass and rich electronics combine brilliantly with dense Senegalese percussion, and the slower, more intoxicating fusion of “A”, which includes a brilliant spoken word vocal musing on the nature of democracy.