As one half of British twosome Earthboogie, Nicola Rose Robinson has spent the last few years offering up joyously tropical musical fusions on Leng. She continues to explore and blur those boundaries with her new solo project, Tigerbalm, whose debut single “Ello Koko” is as colourful a concoction as you’d expect.

Robinson first started work on the track while travelling in Lombok, Indonesia, drawing influence from her humid surroundings, the country’s distinctive musical culture, and the far-sighted blend of aural inspirations. On returning to the UK, she enlisted the assistance of Alex Searle (bass and lead guitar) and Patrick Dawes (percussion) to complete her musical vision. Listen on Spotify.

Opening with an infectious rhythm rich in disco drums and ear-catching hand percussion patterns, “Ello Koko” brilliantly blends flash-fried tropical funk guitars, squelchy electro synths, weighty dub disco bass, warm electric piano chords and sampled Indonesian vocal snippets. The resultant dancefloor-focused workout is simultaneously low-slung, jaunty and kaleidoscopic: it’s as impressive a solo debut as we’ve heard for some time.

As you’d expect, Robinson’s original version comes backed with some similarly inspired remixes. The first revision comes courtesy of rising stars Flamingo Pier, a collective whose glorious fusions of electrofunk, disco, Latin and African rhythms regularly explore similar sonic territory as “Ello Koko”. Their take on the track is powered forwards by an elastic synth bassline, Nile Rodgers style disco guitars, NYC boogie style lead lines and Patrick Dawes’ superb percussion. It’s a summer-fresh treat.

To complete the package, Razor ‘N’ Tape co-founder and Escort band member JKriv sticks a rocket up the backside of “Ello Koko” and turns it into an unfeasibly heavy dub disco treat. Alex Searle’s bassline and Dawes’ heady percussion dominate the mix, with Robinson’s dancing melodies stretching out atop the weighty grooves. Throw in some well-placed, delay-laden breakdowns and you have a version tailor made for celebratory peak-time moments.

Artwork by Andree Martis -
Music Videos by Rory Martin & Andree Martis

Tigerbalm Bio

Tigerbalm music celebrates international sounds, cosmic grooves & movement inspiring dance music. Nicola ‘Rose’ Robinson’s productions fuse a deep tribal sound combined with electronic elements and organic instrumentation, stemming from African & Latin American music.

She is one half of British duo act Earthboogie who released their debut album Human Call in 2018 with Leng Records as well as a series of EP’s including collaborations with singers Nina Miranda, and Angelique Kidjo. Their musical sound is best described as “intergalactic, cosmic, tribal and terrestrial”.

Rose’s music production & inspirations are developed through cultural engagement trips where she can learns about indigenous music and instruments. Key trips include Lagos, New Zealand, Rio de Janiero, Karnataka & Bali. Her DJ sets are known for their fusion of tropical disco, global beats, deep house & dance music. She currently hosts the monthly ‘International Soundclash Show.’

Artist: Tigerbalm – Ello Koko

A1. Ello Koko (Original Mix)
B1. Ello Koko (Flamingo Pier Remix)
B2. Ello Koko (JKriv Remix)

Label: Leng
Release date: 10th July (vinyl) buy here
24th July (digital)

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Photo credit Andree Martis @andreemartis