this weekend Brett Kashmere’s beautifully done documentary about basketball & hiphop makes its New York City debut. I had the pleasure of doing music direction for this film, and will be in a Q&A conversation with Brett after Saturday’s screening. Union Docs is a wonderful warm spot, so please join us! Buying tickets in advance is a good idea.
Black Power isn’t just a way of life that involves the daily fight for dignity and some semblance of justice, it’s also a romantic cumbia boy band from Puebla, Mexico. Here is one of their love / holiday songs:
a little love / a little peace / new year’s eve, the new year, and christmas are all coming close / …a soldier returns / he won’t leave tomorrow / a father suffers / a mother cries / a child comes back / let’s toast to that
This is one of five hundred songs I bought last week. Out in Brooklyn, 500 cumbia MP3s cost $20. Value such a slippery thing.
If you haven’t listened to Azealia Banks’s album Broke With Expensive Taste, I highly recommend it. It’s a tremendous piece of work, sonically challenging, incredibly focused even as Banks unleashes a wealth of singing and rapping styles. I’m shocked that more people aren’t talking about it. BWET would have been excellent even if Banks wasn’t busy doing stuff like discussing the relationship between capitalism’s slavery roots and identity politics on Hot97.
But that album. Few DJ mixes–much less actual albums!–achieve this level of direction-across-variation; as manifestation of a musical persona the parameters Azealia Banks establishes on BWET are wide, wide, wide.
Music remains a charged space to explore not just ideas of freedom but the inevitable, contagious beauty of its realization.
The Mudd Up Book Clubb rolls into 2015 with a Chinese communist crime novel about a poet-cop!
We’ll meet on Sunday January 25 to discuss Qiu Xiaolong’s Death of a Red Heroine.
Set in early 1990s Shanghai, the novel uses the form of a police procedural to portray Chinese society in transition, old Maoists and new money, with lots of Tang dynasty poetry quotations and T.S. Eliot allusions thrown in for good measure. There’s a healthy attention to food, too. Central character Inspector Chen is a Modernist poet and translator, not unlike the author…
Qiu Xiaolong was the first person to translate Eliot into Chinese. He was in the US working on an Eliot book when Tiananmen Sq broke out, prompting him to stay on to remain out of trouble… He still lives in St.Louis. As explained in this interview, Qiu writes his books in English, despite the difficulty–and censors scrub politically sensitive phrases and all specific place references from the Chinese translations!
Death of a Red Heroine. Go here to buy it from local publishers Soho.
Last selection of the year: Hungarian writer Ágota Kristóf’s hypnotic, powerful (and short) debut novel The Notebook. Published in 1986 it is a bracing language bath, narrated in first-person plural by limpid & disturbing young twins in the midst of wartime scarcity. First part of a trilogy (whole trilogy is great). Kristóf’s stark minimalism reads simply (the stylistic opposite of fellow Hungarian Krasznahorkai’s baroque apocalyptics) but after a few paragraphs the awe piles up and, subsumed in her grip, you realize how deep it all goes.
A stone cold classic (that’s impossible to discuss at a holiday party without alienating your peers)! So–
We’ll meet on Sunday December 21 to talk Notebook. Mudd Up Book Clubb.
NOTE: This post went live on the Dutty Artz site 2 weeks ago, a few hours before a deep glitch sent the site offline, so although the Hong Kong trip has already happened, nobody got to read this preview writeup. Check back in a few days for the recap.
I’m about to hop on a 16-hour nonstop flight to Hong Kong (via the Arctic Circle?), where, timeslipped 13 hours ahead into my sleep-deprived Eastern future I’ll step off the plane and head straight to lead a workshop with a half-dozen traditional musicians from HK and my man Chief Boima. What’s going on?! Continue reading HONG KONG pt. 1 : Beyond Digital 852
The Mudd Up Book Clubb rides again. I’m trying to fit in 2 more meetups before 2015 arrives, so to that end:
On Sunday November 30th, we will meet in Manhattan to discuss Jo Walton’s My Real Children. Published earlier this year, it’s an incredibly moving novel about an elderly woman with dementia who remembers two distinct lives, which the book traces out as intertwined narratives.
There’s an understated cumulative power at work here, within an elegant structure. Aging/dementia, sexuality, parenting, also gelato, and a glowing background of divergent geopolitical realities… Continue reading MUDD UP BOOK CLUBB: Jo Walton’s My Real Children
I CAN’T STOP TALKING! Come join me this Friday, November 7th, as a I present on soundsystems & audiences at Union Docs in Brooklyn. From my experiences dancing to jungle back in the day to thoughts on Koranic recitation & improv, robots who love shape-note singing, and maybe some Billy Joel. This forms part of a series on spectatorship curated by Mathilde Walker-Billaud.
Here’s the description for my talk, called When God Is In The Room:
What’s so special about experiencing sound in a packed club? Why does music sound better when God is in the room? How did supercomputers listening to geology improve pop music? Jace Clayton (aka DJ /rupture) will explore these questions and more. From personal stories of after-hours dancing in Boston and Jamaica to a discussion of Koranic recitation in Egypt. Listening audiences considered from the body, the earth below, and the heavens above. Jace Clayton will play music, show videos and images.
On Tuesday October 28th I’m giving a free, open-to-the-public talk at Cooper Union. It’s part of their Interdisciplinary Seminar speaker series. Expect discussion of Sufi Plug Ins, Enkutatash እንቁጣጣሽ, and, if the clock allows, my thoughts on nonlinear time vis-à-vis databases, Aztec loop music, and Christopher Columbus’s faulty biodiesel clipper.
I was asked to assign brief readings for students in the course, and gave them this:
Jace Clayton, “The Voice of Huitzilopochtli” Frieze
Jace Clayton, “Something New: Cairo finds a voice in festival music” Fader
Lev Manovich, “Database as Symbolic Form”
This weekend we’re bringing The Julius Eastman Memorial Dinner to Toronto! I’m happy to make the project’s Canadian debut at the Music Gallery’s Avant X Festival, which is hosting all sorts of interesting events, such as the JEMD afterparty event with Dutty Artz’ DJ Ushka and our Quebecois point-man Poirier!
Things begin on Saturday at 5pm, when I have a free public conversation with Marcus Boon. Then JEMD at 7pm, and the party with Ushka, Poirier, and special guest DJ happens after we take our collective disco nap.
There’s been a nice buzz of preview press for the show, including this article by LBBTQ mag Xtra: “Jace Clayton Honours A Gay Guerilla.”