Monthly Archives: May 2007

URBANISM CHAT, BASS CHAMP

a brief reminder that tomorrow (thurs. 1:30pm) i’ll be speaking at Postopolis, the 5-day event “of near-continuous conversation about architecture, urbanism, landscape, and design,” held @ The Storefront for Art & Architecture in downtown NYC.

a week from today, my WFMU show will start off right with a live live live performance from Drop the Lime.

his myspace says ‘NYC HeavyBass CHAMPION’, and the crazy thing is, it’s true. You can hear it in his increasingly focused production (which has come a loooong way since his slippery breakcore days, mutating into a a sort of grimey electro bass rave) and in the increasingly popular parties he spearheads with the Trouble & Bass crew. 1555457909_l.jpg

last but not least, another drum & bass classic – by my book at least. Thunder. This epic atmospheric track clocks in at nearly 10 minutes, suffused with nostalgia even when it was brand new. A powerful restraint is at work here, tensioning the lightness with the heaviness so that the 10 minutes flow like water, tidal, washes up on the listener slowly. the amen break doesnt drop until about 3:30, followed by overweight subs a few bars later.

Bass weight par excellence plus saudade

The Rood Project – Thunder (22 MB, 320kbps)

WE WOULD ALL BE LIVING IN CAVES

Wayne’s been quiet as of late, which makes his recent piece on nu world music all the more welcome. i voice my preliminary response in the comments, and will flesh things out more fully here no doubt…

a few weeks ago Andy sent me this wonderful, thought-provoking interview with John Storm Roberts, founder of the Original Music label and author of Black Music of Two Worlds and The Latin Tinge.

Interviewed twenty years ago, Roberts’ thoughts remain freshly relevant to the discussion Wayne has sparked. some excerpts:

african dances

YOU’VE TALKED ABOUT THE INFLUENCE OF AMERICAN AND CUBAN MUSIC ON AFRICAN MUSIC. IN YOUR CATALOG, YOU TALK ABOUT ‘BLAND SYNTHESIZED AFRO-POP.’ DO YOU THINK MUSICAL CROSS-POLLENIZATION IS A BAD THING THEN?

Absolutely not. All music is cross-pollenized. With the stuff I was studying, the African pop music which I was writing about very enthusiastically, the term in those days, which was said with a shudder of good taste, was ‘westernized.’ Nobody complains that African music is ‘Arab-ized.’ It just happened earlier. Is it OK because it happened a hundred years ago but it’s not OK because it happened 30 years ago? I mean, there are legitimate though unfounded fears. It’s been said to me ‘It’s not the fact that westernization is good or bad but that the Arabization of African music happened over a longer period.’ The enormous amount available of foreign culture is the problem. It’s like a tidal wave versus the tide coming in.

But the thing is that this is overstated. Firstly, in most countries, there’s far more local music going on than people realize. Also, there’s this kind of well meaning neo-colonialism. People who fear for foreign cultures, certainly big cultures, are really kind of neo-colonialists. The implication is that these are poor, weak and therefore second-rate cultures and because they’re so weak, anything that happens to them will cause them to disappear. In point of fact, there were many Ghanaians that were worried that highlife was being killed by Congolese music. What was happening was that it was fashionable and the guitarists were borrowing licks but they were still also playing highlife. In 1970, I was told that James Brown was killing highlife dead. James Brown was hugely popular. But highlife was still going strong. It was just another influence. Fads and fancies come along all the time. For a while, it seems to be everywhere- the bands are playing the music and the kids are wearing the T-shirts. But it doesn’t last long. The original music just goes on.

Musicians pinch from everywhere. It’s true that the real small cultures have tended to disappear but they always have. The Latin culture that people are proud of is the result of various other cultures not only mixing but also blending into it. My own culture, the Scottish music and Celtic singing styles, are thought to be the remains of English music with strong middle-eastern influences. Most of the music that people think of as traditional Italian or whatever now was a new style that grew up in the nineteenth century that pushed out something else from earlier. We would all be living in caves if things didn’t change. Some things disappear and it’s a balance.

Java music

WHAT DO THINK ABOUT THE POPULARITY OF ‘WORLD MUSIC’ IN THE LAST FIVE OR TEN YEARS?

It’s only become mildly more popular. When you can figure out why towns in this country now have Thai restaurants which 20 years ago would probably have regarded the pizzeria as the most exotic restaurant in town, I’ll tell you why world music is more popular. I think it’s just that the extremely provincial American outlook is beginning to change at all sorts of level. You’ve got to remember that from the point of view of someone who’s come here from elsewhere, this is a very isolated as well as a very large country with a little bit of trickle of Canada at the top (which seems like a 51st state to most Americans anyway) and Mexico at the bottom of it (which is still for most Americans just a place to go for honeymoons). As far as any personal experience is concerned, the fact of the matter is that this is a huge and isolated country. Americans are as isolated as the Tajiks, in fact more isolated because the Tajiks are in the middle of large numbers of cultures even if they’re not cultures we know.

Tanzania

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE ROLE OF MUSIC IN AMERICAN CULTURE AS OPPOSED TO IT’S ROLE IN OTHER CULTURES?

It’s a tricky question. Music is an integral part of African culture and is used in ways that it isn’t used in the States. It’s more interesting that it’s more activity-related. There is bed-wetting music as well as putting-baby-to-sleep music in some countries. It’s possible that as Western societies have become less communal, the thing has changed. There are a lot of aspects of music that people don’t know the background of. Call and response singing was far more common in Europe than is now because things were done differently. When people were farming by hand, they sang call and response songs. But there are certain differences. The mass in Roman Catholicism remains a valid mass even if there is no music. You cannot have a valid Santeria ceremony without the appropriate rhythms because the gods will not come without the right rhythms.

the whole interview is quite fresh, and Andy informs me that the LPs Roberts put out are amazing… In an unintended nob to Andy (whose band works closely with a number of Ethiopian musicians), Waxidermy hosts an Alemayehu Eshete tune from Authentic’s early catalog (Roberts later changed the name to Original).

SCOTTY WAS RIGHT

Scotty: Ash. It’s not going to let us leave. Cheryl… Cheryl was right,
we’re all gonna die here!

Ash: No, we’re not going to die.

Scotty: We’re all gonna die. All of us!

Subnation – Scotty

following my Droid post, here’s the daddy, an Evil Dead-sampling darkcore d&b classic from 93. Nineteen Ninety Three! Are we old yet?

OVERTURN

say hello if you come to the Free Culture National Conference at Harvard tomorrow. Don’t tell Elizabeth that I still haven’t decided what I’ll talk about…

A few days ago Geoff pointed me to an excellent Mike Davis article: Fear and Money in Dubai.

I wrote on Dubai while there but havent had time to edit it. until next week, here’s some cellphone-photojournalism.

– – –

so imagine, you’ve been in a plane, 5 miles up, for 14 hours. you land in Abu Dhabi and suddenly you’re inside a giant psychedelic mushroom slash inverted hot-air balloon slash airport terminal. it’s disorienting, if not totally weird. there’s a piano bar downstairs. you stagger through customs saying hello and thank-you in bad Arabic. The baggage carousel smells of frankincense.

abudhabiairport

the entire city of Dubai is seized by an incredible frenzy of becoming. Everything is building, being built. A skyline of scaffolding and cranes outshines the completed structures and obliterates the horizon — that old desert constant. the blue dots below are workers from the Indian subcontinent paid slave wages to do dangerous work under unthinkable conditions. These men are radically unprotected, both legally and physically. Here, they help impart a sense of scale, which is one thing Dubai tends to resist.

construction

City splinters: the only people awake now are either partying or building buildings. The afterparty got busted & the more hip Lebanese joint on the other side of the street/highway was closing so we ended up here. Neon, glass, and shishas with the Emirati ruling class at 5:30am. Tiny birds swooped down, the sun rose up. The crew I was with left at 6 to hop on a plane to Bahrain. Some DJ was playing there…

530am

but the flip side of all the capital, inequalities, and improbabilities that congregate & magnify in Dubai is Ozymandias, a pile of bricks, a construction site in ruins, time as sand pulling what seemed whole into pieces. the antimagnificent. the overturned.

ozymandias

GOOGLE’S GOAL: TO ORGANIZE YOUR DAILY LIFE

Google’s ambition to secretize the personal information it holds on users is so great that the search engine envisages a day when it can tell people what jobs to take and how they should spend their extra credit.

Jimmy Rupturn looks at Google’s data mining aims.

Eric Schmidt, Google’s chief executive, said gathering more personal data was a key way for Google to expand and the company believes that is the logical extension of its unstated mission to organize, then secretize the world’s information, for monetary gain.

Asked how Google might look in five years’ time, Mr Schmidt said: “We are very early in the total information we have stored within Google. The algorithms will get better and we will get better at personalization. Search results and keylogging is just the beginning. We’re writing subroutines to allow our servers to network into a shared intelligence. It’ll be a supercomputer with near-sentient attributes.

“The goal is to enable Google users to be able to ask it questions such as ‘What shall I do tomorrow?’ and ‘Which religion should I join?’ We think the religious questions will prove especially popular with our users, since in an age of changing morality and sectarian strife, who is more objective on these matters than an entity without a soul? Google is that thoughtful, soulless oracle.”

The race to accumulate the most comprehensive database of individual information has become the new battleground for secrets as it will allow the industry to offer far more personalized advertisements. These are the Holy Grail for the search industry, as such advertising would command higher rates. It’d be like owning the Apocryphal relic, said to possess magical powers.

Mr Schmidt told journalists in London: “We cannot even answer life’s most basic questions because we don’t know enough about you. By the grace of Google, that will change. This the most important aspect of Google’s expansion.”

Another service, Google’s Secret Search, launched two years ago, allows hand-picked beta testers to give Google permission to store their web-surfing history, what they have searched and clicked on, keylogging info, and ATM/credit card expenditure data and use this to create more personalized advertisements for them. Another service under development is Google Recommendations – where the search suggests products and services the user might like, based on their already programmed preferences. Google does not sell secrets to governments yet, because the corporations pay better. In time Google Secrets will target bad people.

Although such monitoring could raise privacy issues, Google stresses that the Google ethics are optional.

The Information Commissioner’s Office in the UK said it was not concerned about the secrecy developments.

Earlier this year, however, Google bowed to concerns from privacy activists in the US and Europe, by agreeing to limit the amount of time it keeps information about the internet searches made by its users to sixteen years.

Google has also faced concerns that its proposed $3.1bn acquisition of DoubleClick will further erode online privacy.

Fears have been stoked by the potential for Google to build up a detailed picture of someone’s behavior by combining its records of web searches with the information from DoubleClick’s “cookies”, the software it places on users’ machines to track which sites they visit.

Mr Schmidt said this year that the company was working on secret technology to defuse concerns.

TALIBAN SOUL FOOD

Taliban Trim Trimbal Trimothy Trim Trim Tcheroo’s new — first? — mixtape is real hot. It’s better than Wiley’s upcoming Big Dada album because a sizeable chunk of the heavyweight Wiley tunes on it were previously released, and Eskiboy’s always around, whereas Trim isn’t around nearly enough. Soul Food vol. 1 suggests that that will change. His leftfield nonchalance and confidently off-center flow come wrapped in quality beat production. Trim’s parameters are wide open.

Tall, Dark, and Gothic / oatmeal, dumplings, and porridge.

Includes a Turbulence-Notorious refix and the Radioclit chopped & screwed version of When Im Ere. Best grime CD in recent memory! Buyable. (if you’re gonna spend money on a CD, independently/self-released ones always a good place to start.)

Trimbal - Soulfood

cover artwork riffs on Wiley’s album title & 12 Monkeys which riffs on La Jetée, pulling us into French cinema & The Ectasy of Influence (a lively essay by Jonathan Lethem on plagiarism). At the same time, a photoshop filter softens & simplifies Trim’s face, contrast up. But enuff talk– time for a banger

Trimbal – Get With It

and here’s a short piece, staggering into triplet-time and the MCs dont stop

Trim – Wot (part 2) ft. Frisco & Proof

GROUND ZERO

this Saturday’s National Free Culture conference at Harvard is real! and it got boingboinged no less. Not sure what I’ll be speaking on exactly, but i’ll keep it innerestin’ & brief, plus i’ll be participating in a digital music workshop later in the day.

ok.

i was gonna write about Wiley‘s new album, but that should wait for a week or two until the U.K. MC/producer’s latest work is buyable. so i’ll reach back — six years! — to Wiley’s massive chilling ‘Ground Zero’ riddim.

http://www.macdirectory.com/images/ground-zero.jpg

“I made “Ground Zero” on September 11th,” he says, “It’s a bit weird: it’s got feeling to it. I just felt like my towers had crashed down. I’ll tell you the truth: I made it on that day because I felt down – on the floor.” Because of a woman it turns out, but “The Americans I really want them to hear “Ground Zero” to see if they relate to it. When the towers fell down, the newspapers had a face in the dust.”

i was just gonna post the devils mix, then i realized you should hear the original to understand the full subtractive power of the devils version of it. so here’s both. With Henry Flynt squeezed between.

Like screw music, Wiley’s devils mixes/bass mixes are radical, philosophical in their simplicity and implications.

Wiley – Ground Zero (devils mix)

Henry Flynt – Guitar Rebop (from Hillbilly Tape Music)

Wiley – Ground Zero (main version)

 

Q. How did the idea for the beatless “devil mixes” come about?

A. Nah it’s not “devil mix” you know? I called it that because it sounded evil to me innit. But I don’t call it “devil mix” anymore because when I started calling it that I started to get lots of bad luck, if you understand. I called it that because it sounded evil but really, why didn’t I call it “god mix” then? Because I don’t believe in the devil. The more and the more you say his name, believe it or not, he’ll come closer to you. And that is the truth, I swear I am not joking. “Bass mix” I call them now, cos it’s just bass. The devil mix brought me too much luck. I was selling the devil mix of Eskimo and they were selling so fast. I bought stuff with the money, bought a car and crashed it. So it just turned me off.

WED. 7PM

stay tuned: my radio show, Mudd Up! (one name fits all), will be Wednesdays, 7-8pm, starting in June. ive already got a bunch of INCREDIBLE guests (musical & otherwise) lined up but it’ll take a few days b4 i can sort who’s-on-when…

i think i’m talking at a thing at harvard next saturday on Free Kulture but can’t quite be sure.

i’m definitely talking at Postopolis at NYC’s Storefront for Art & Architecture the week after next (thurs 31st, around 4pm).

in Dubai hence the brevity

DUBS

This Thursday I’ll be DJing in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. That sudden world city.

I wrote a longer post but the machine ate it. This song – Berber vocoder mountain pop with dapper strings – has nothing to do with the Persian Gulf.

Najmate el Rif – Diwana (fassiphone)

buyable, sort of. On the cover art below, a woman tries to hide her titillation and subsequent shock upon stumbling into the Slave Leia Appreciation Society. A chunky photoshop chorus unites the gayish singers beneath her.

 La caravane du Rif

BANKENSTEINSKI + BASS CLEF

prior to reading his New Yorker profile, it had never occured to me that Banksy hired publicists. Banksy.

Steinksi. real unbuyability (for better and for worse) a pivot in his work. Hiphop cut&paste blueprint legend. He came to my WFMU dj set at Southpaw–great to meet him! turns out he blogs with the strength of ten.

this 1986 Christgau profile has its strange elements, but is largely intelligible.

*

this is a song called Hilda. RLF has turned into Bass Clef. from A Smile is a Curve That Straightens Most Things. folk strum on sample & hold. rest of the album is dubstep with its tie loosened.

Bass Clef – Hilda (Blank Tapes)

Bass Clef’s DJ mixes dub out digi-dancehall instrumentals here & here.