The September issue of Frieze just hit newstands, containing an essay of mine:
“The hunt for rare African funk records raises questions about how the digitized music of the 21st century will be archived. ”
full article online!
Cheb Mami as a carrier of modernity (thanks DJ E3!)
I have tried – apparently not hard enough – to find a good source for new Arabic music in NYC. I miss raï! Sheesha bars in Bay Ridge? no problem. Egyptian kebab vendors who make me return to upper-midtown at odd hours to sell me CD-rs & then forget to bring them? Yes. Lemeni bodega owners in Chelsea who tell me all the good music is online, free!, and want to burn me some of it, if only Vista would let them? Sadly, yes. Dusty Lebanese-run cassette shops with Oum, Fairuz, and phonecards? of course. but rai? Not in my path. At least not yet. sigh.
I miss it extra now that crunk has raised/lowered the global synth game stakes! plus, autotune. Nobody autotunes harder than the north Africans.
thanks to everyone who came out for the west coast shows: team hug!
I learned something new on this trip: POWELL’S CITY OF BOOKS. large and independent — no, LARGEST — the largest indy used & new bookstore in the world… simply incredible. ( “rad” as the PDX folk like to say.)
if yr in Portland, I recommend the Atlas party. Find Ez & shout “more reggada!”
[Atlas crew: The Incredible Kid, Anjali, DJ E3]
Accordion lovers of the world unite! Or at least tune in this evening to my radio show from 7-8pm 91.1fm NYC(streamable at wfmu.org as always), as special guest, writer Carolina Gonzalez, will give us a tour of New World accordion styles. Gonzalez co-authored the first guidebook on Latino culture in NYC, Nueva York: the Complete Guide to Latino Life in the Five Boroughs, and will be breaking out rare vinyl and wonderful stories of the squeezebox as it travels around Latin America.
as reported here & elsewhere, i’ve got a new mix CD called Uproot coming out in October, and the video just went live today, on Pitchfork:
a few years back I saw an amazing video by PanOptic at a DUMBO gallery. When we were brainstorming ideas for the 1st tune on Uproot, I instantly thought of it.
PanOptic, a boutique production company/directors’ collaborative operating out of Soho, very kindly agreed to rework the piece into a music video. Taking inspiration from Kafka’s The Trial, director Gary Breslin developed ideas of a mobile prison – manifested here as the restlessly folding structure which frames the person as he walks through a bleached-out industrial cityscape. The abstract ‘prison’ walls are (partly) night-vision footage of NYC subway tunnels as taken from a moving train… add to that PanOptic’s high-level motion graphics and visual magic, and blam, we’re good to go.
dear West Coast peoples, this is a quick reminder that I’ll be playing at Portland’s Holocene tomorrow night (1st time in Pdx in ages and its only 5 bucks), and at a big Surya Dub party in San Francisco on Saturday.
tell a friend to tell a friend to form an army and march it on through:
my WFMU radio show will not be broadcast (or podcast) today, August 20th – because WFMU’s Free Music Series + Lincoln Center are presenting a FREE CONCERT at Lincoln Center’s Damrosch park from 6-10pm, featuring good friends The Ex & Gétatchèw Mèkurya (famous Ethiopian saxophonist with a contagiously great sense of humor). wow! also on the bill: Extra Golden (not that Benga – the other, far more popular Benga), and the Either/Orchestra with Mahmoud Ahmed & Alèmayèhu Eshèté.
last time i hung out with The Ex & Gétatchèw it was like this (… except that by the time I got backstage, Gétatchèw – a giant in the world of Ethiopian jazz, as chronicled in part by his Ethiopiques release – had crowned Andy with his monkey-skin headdress in exchange for Andy’s guitar)
the last time we all played together was in Flemish Belgium. I was slotted after The Ex & Gétatchèw, set changeover took awhile, and by the time I got onstage most of the crowd had left. I DJed to an emptying room. But then I realized: exactly one person had begun to dance – a tall, gorgeous Ethiopian woman in short-shorts (who was there with her parents I think).
So that was a new, very interesting situation: playing to exactly one person instead of DJing to the kinetic volume of a dancing crowd. And that one person liked the cumbia/afro-colombian stuff. After several songs a few more people joined in (not that there were more than 15 or 20 of us) – by the end even Kat was dancing, and Afework Negussie the masenqo player kept passing me tunes from his mp3-thingy to blend in. That night became a strange, reassuring, ego-free ‘open secret’ afterparty in the heart of Flemish country, where our contingent reality was not only possible but present, embodied, aglow.
Sometimes you play a big rave-type event and you make a bag of money but it feels spiritually vacant. Sometimes you play for a handful of people and you don’t simply ‘strike a chord’ as we say in English, you find yourself within one.
I think this is what, from my perspective, makes The Ex so special: their ability to conjure up meaningful situations and community in ways that are no less natural or moving for being completely unexpected. (Gétatchèw asked them to be his backing band.)
This song came from the Afework’s mp3-thingy. Hulum Zero Zero. He is singing about the Ethiopian government…
The (admittedly loose) theme of yesterday’s radio show was West African Aphasia – songs whose titular information was missing, largely due to bad xerox CD-r packaging.
Bootleg african CDs go for around $2 each up in Harlem – VERY AFFORDABLE.
here’s some soukous from Afro-Rhythme’s Soukouss Vibration vol. 6. The back info is illegible, the front simply says “Ancien Combattant”, with an image of a sun setting over miles of ocean… but the image has been copied so much (or so badly) that it now looks like a nuclear explosion over a dark, blood-red sea.
this Saturday I’ll be dropping beats late (like 3:30am) at the Lose Yr Sh1t! Brooklyn loft party, alongside dutty hermano Geko Jones, and $mall Change & co. Party goes til the sun returns, apparently there’s a nice roofdeck, etc.
Fact is, when you DJ late at a loft party, the guidelines and expectations – already loose – become looser; expect surprises. Plus its my b-day 2 days later so, as Lil Jon says, “Yeeeaaah”.
“I’ll see your cotton candy pop star and raise you one jibaro de campo and a bag of plantain chips.” – Geko Jones on Tatico y merengue tipico.
to which I respond: (this music is too fast!)
this time replaces that time
+ + +
(this is not a hint) Viva el colectivo! latin rips, catgut strings and a protest backbone, from Chile and elsewhere. Long live the collective!
My new mix CD, Porque Soy Sonidero Y Voy A Muchos Lugares (made for this last tour) is now available exclusively at Turntable Lab. An hourlong blend of now-thing summer bump.
DJ Rupture – Porque Soy Sonidero excerpt (Shinehead riffing on Sting into a brand-new DJ Lengua refix)
I’ll have copies with me at live shows as well. Live shows? Like this one.