Monthly Archives: November 2008

CUMBIA SIN PARAR

lively discussion & lovely old tunes with Ian Nagoski (compiler of Black Mirror) on the radio this past wednesday. Sonido Martines next week.

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Bolivia is worth visiting because, from the little I have seen and understood, it is very much itself and unlike other places I have seen. Today Sonido said “I think El Alto is the most futuristic city in the world” and I think he’s right. We’ll try to elaborate. Busy days.

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Cristian Alarcón, author of Cuando Me Muera Quiero Que Me Toquen Cumbia, has a great profile of Pablo Lescano based in part around my cumbia piece for the Fader. en Español

link to blurb. link to PDF.

In addition to a sidebar with translated chunks of the Fader piece, the article talks with Lescano talking about me talking to him (media feedback loop), and what it means for The Fader to cover this unexpected genius, pictured below with a culo real and his “100% black cumbiambero” tattoo.

revc39 cumbia coolta 1

excerpt: Lescano había pasado la noche anterior con un “periodista de Nueva York” al que había llevado a los bailes “para que alucinara”. “Claro, imaginate que él iba a Niceto donde pasan cumbia mezclada con electrónica, o reguetón. Después un poco de rap, después un cachito de cumbia, y reguetón. Es un invento bárbaro. Yo le dije ‘vení que te llevo’, y me lo llevé a Fantástico Bailable, a Jesse James y un par de lugares más. ¡El chabón no lo podía creer!”, cuenta Lescano, en su departamento con vista al río, sobre una avenida de San Isidro.

El amigo americano se llama Jace Clayton, un negro de
Boston joven y atildado, que vive en Brooklyn y que resultó
ser DJ Rupture, un tipo en la vanguardia de la electrónica
global que hace años se dedica a bucear en ritmos alternati-
vos. Saciado de africanos y de orientales, investiga con frui-
ción a los latinos. Había sido enviado a Buenos Aires por la
revista neoyorquina The Fader, una publicación ultra chic,
dedicada a la moda, las tendencias globales y la música. Allí
publicó su recorrida con Pablo por la escena porteña y des-
cribió las noches de las fiestas Zizek y su público internacio-
nal y modernoso, y las de la masa de cumbieros “100%
negros”, como dice el lomo de Pablito, en letras tatuadas.

and the sidebar in its entirety:

“Un tren imparable” Lescano dejó hace tiempo de ser un ícono oculto en la subcultura tropical argentina, no sólo gira y gira por la noche conurbana, no solo recorre el continente, sino que también es el fenómeno musical y juvenil argentino que más curiosidad despierta en los periodistas internacionales que vienen a explicar Argentina. Como le pasó a Jace Clayton, un periodista y dj de Estados Unidos que dando vueltas por Palermo se metió en una fiesta Zizek en Niceto y luego de ver a Lescano no hizo más que tratar de explicarlo, de contarle al mundo su hallazgo, una especie de bob Marley cumbiantero que cambió para siempre el panorama musical argentino. Se fue de gira con él y escribió un artículo que le abrió a Lescano las puertas del mundo bien pensante de la crítica en Estados Unidos. Fascinado por lo que vio, la explosión desmesurada alrededor de Damas Gratis, Clayton quedó fascinado. Explica así, en la revista The Fader, el sonido Damas Gratis, esa mezcla insólita de reggae, hip hop y cumbia que se repite y martillea hasta partir la pista de bailes en pedazos: “La música tropical es el eslabón perdido entre el upbeat de la salsa y el dub somnoliento del reggae. El sonido simple de la cumbia se transforma en cada lugar que llega, manteniéndose presa de un lento groove, un tren imparable que se mueve despacio. No hay dogmatismo en estos músicos que usan sintetizadores, guitarras, flautas, lo que sea. Eso sí: viejos y jóvenes cantantes parecen llegar al éxtasis cuando todos, sin excepción, arrancan emoción del público al gritar
Cumbiaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa”.

Clayton también escribe sobre la evolución de la cumbia hasta el fenómeno Lescano: “En México, en los primeros 80, cuando las bases percusivas electrónicas ingresaron a la música tropical luego de revolucionar la música pop”. Y habla del fenómeno colombiano de las cumbias rebajadas, viejas canciones a las que le bajaron el tiempo para lograr un fluir más lento pero igual de sostenido. “Cuando en los 90 Lescano comenzó a trabajar como tecladista y arreglador, el horizonte no era nada alentador. Tenían éxito los cumbianteros románticos, con una propuesta limpia y comercial que a él no le interesaba. Así fue como
poco a poco comenzó a hablar de su barrio construyendo una estética del desamparo social hasta formar, sin saberlo, el imaginario de los Pibes Chorros que hoy ya es una clase social. Lescano inventó un nuevo tipo de cumbia, análogo del Gangsta Rap, que aquí se conoce como Cumbia Villera”. Clayton se sorprende con la divisón que propone la cumbia
en una ciudad tan rockera como Buenos Aires, donde la gente ama y odia a Lescano con la misma intensidad. Sin embargo, a Clayton en realidad, le interesa explicar también el fenómeno de la techno cumbia que vio explotar en Zizek. Bandas como Fantasma, con el Gran Negro Gran Faso en la voz, o las Kumbia Queers se presentan como una vanguardia que, sin embargo, todavía no logra penetrar en el circuito de bailantas y hasta son resistidas por el público tradicional, que las acusa de conchetas. Todos ellos, modernos y tradicionales, tienen el mismo Dios, un pibe de barrio
que se llama Pablo Lescano.

RAI HEAT, GAZA LORDS

a new piece of mine on rai, in The National. Yalla!

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and another in n+1. about… how the international DJ thing works? The article isn’t online. Issue launch party in Brooklyn tonite.

nplusone-fixed logo
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Mode Raw of Bigger Judgement put together an incredible two volume comp, Gaza Lords. Which melts my brains. Lots of Jamaican heat, Di Genius shivering everyone’s spine. I’ll write it up proper in one of those ‘best of MMVIII’ lists, until now, if you harbor a soft spot for gangsta synthetics:

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Blak Ryno – Mek Di Paypa

00 GAZA-LORDS-VOL-1

GIRA SUDAMERICA pt 1

the thought of going from sea-level to 4 kilometers (13,500ft) up is a bit intimidating, but apart from that:

next Thursday Sonido Martines & I will be playing a show in La Paz, Bolivia. (Test presses of the Sonido Martines 12″ are now floating around London!)

And then I’ll be leading a 2-day hiphop production workshop for some young producers/MCs in El Alto. There’s a lively scene of indigenous kids rapping in Quecha & Aymara.

This free workshop is happening at radio station Wayna Tambo 101.7 fm, who are helping to promote the party. It should be lively, nobody knows quite what to expect… Also probably another fiesta in La Paz saturday night…
the following week we’ll head over to Lima for 3 more events, more in a bit.

also, NYC-side: tomorrow fri. nite Badawi is playing @ Dub War and Uproot Andy & Feliz Cumbe are playing at Bowery Poetry Club. I just received the new final Skull Disco /Shackleton 2-CD with remixes by Badawi, yrs truly, and a bunch of others and its got some great moments, Raz’s treatment is expansive… deep.

S.LEM

perfectvacuum

a big shout out to the Mudd Up! commentors who recommended Stanislaw Lem — I finally found time to read him, and the title I’ve begun, A Perfect Vacuum (Amazon|Google Books), is incredible. It’s a collection of reviews of nonexistent books, erudite and extremely funny. (The best bookstore in Barcelona takes its name from one of the books here discussed: Gigamesh.)

As explained in the A Perfect Vacuum’s opening review of A Perfect Vacuum by Stanislaw Lem (tip of the iceberg, this):

Reviewing nonexistent books is not Lem’s invention; we find such experiments not only in a contemporary writer, Jorge Luis Borges (for example, his “Investigations of the Writings of Herbert Quaine”), but the idea goes further back – even Rabelais was not the first to make use of it. A Perfect Vacuum is unusual in that it purports to be an anthology made up entirely of such critiques. Pedantry or joke, this methodicalness? We suspect the author intends a joke; nor is this impression weakened by the Introduction – long-winded and theoretical – in which we read: “The writing of a novel is a form of the loss of creative liberty. . . . In turn, the reviewing of books is a servitude still less noble. Of the writer one can at least say that he has enslaved himself – by the theme selected. The critic is in a worse position: as the convict is chained to his wheelbarrow, so the reviewer is chained to the work reviewed. The writer loses his freedom in his own book, the critic in another’s.

TWENTYFIRST

this Saturday New York, you’re invited to the opening of “Twentyfirst”, a group (art) show I’ve got a collaborative piece in.

Other artists include: Fritz Haeg – the greatest gardener of our time (no joke !), The Center For Land Use Interpretation, Haegue Yang, Rocío Rodríguez Salceda, Mariana Mogilevich, and more.

Twentyfirst @ the Silver Shed on 119th W. 25th st ph.

Says the gallery:

“Jace Clayton and Rocío Rodríguez Salceda’s collaborative piece takes on generic file attribution and authorship issues of obliterated audio & visual meta-data, reflecting on the potential of cumulative knowledge and the information ecology of memory, erasure, and the recirculating of digital cultural offerings via global formats of compressed data. Clayton is giving away a limited edition CD containing all of his commercially available audio – each bearing the same title (DJ_Rupture.mp3), as Rodríguez Salceda prints found images (all titled “foto_02.jpg”) on edible strips of rice paper, for public consumption. “

T21 meagher back7

SUPER ACCORDEON

this is an indicator of my level of busyness. I am just now listening to a CD i personally bought up in Harlem nearly 3 weeks ago, called Amadou Barry – Super Accordeon. It cost $3 and the store where I got it is open 24-hours. They mostly sell phone cards and dvds.

On the ultra-xeroxed cover Mr Barry is wearing a v-neck t-shirt printed with a large picture of a black woman’s foot. She’s in dark heels with a red flower and matching toenail paint. There is no leg. Barry looks worried, startled, purposeful, intent. “Demi-Talon” is what his shirt says.

The poorly-photocopied image has given Amadou Barry a high-contrast bright white aura rimmed by electric blue. The synth with its resonance pushed way up takes precedence over the super accordeon in this song:

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Amadou Barry – track 8 from Super Accordeon

Here’s a video, audibly taken from a cassette. The sound gets filtered out pretty regularly. Head-cleaner has its uses…

NOCHE DE CUMBIA

tonite, Tues November 11, Williamburg, I’ll be joining residente Geko Jones @ the new QUE BAJO party. Cumbia fans come through!

QBajo RuptQBajo RuptQBajo Rupt

I’ll be playing exclusively cumbia colombiana and cumbia sonidera (read: no crunk cumbia, no mashups, etc). Just that sweet slow shuffle.

I’ve been digging deep into sonidera lately, finding a lot of El Hijo de la Cumbia production on CDs floating around the Mexican sonidera scene in Brooklyn shops. They never list the producers, but his style stands out. Here’s one I found last week. Vox by La Contra.

Says El Hijo: “de donde lo conseguistes ? jajajaa ya ni me acordaba de el .. ”

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La Contra – Cumbia de la Contra (prod. El Hijo de la Cumbia)

BUT LISTEN ANYWAY

Princess Music at 6919 5th Ave in Bay Ridge (Bay Ridge: R stop) is the best Arab music shop in Brooklyn. Don’t get me wrong: it’s not good. It simply happens to be the best, because the competition is even worse. Princess has some headless black Sambo/Aunt Jemima style ceramic figurines too, although they’re not for sale – they’re decoration.

Good thing Beur.Fm has internet streaming!

beurfm

(Beur = verlan for ‘arabe’ ; verlan = we’ll eat this language from our side out)

Beur Fm is a powerful nationwide FM station in France with a satellite broadcast so family back the in the bled can listen in. They have 5 internet streams: the main station, 100% Maroc, 100% Rai, 100% Kabyle, 100% Orientale, and a new one called Ramadan.

Song and artist (metadata) info on all channels except 100% Maroc… That said, I can tell you that the song right now is by Jil Jilala… with Moulay Abdelaziz Tahiri on guembri. I recognized his stride immediately… so clear. This moment arrives bookmarked by music I can neither recognize nor remember // beauty dovetails drift, also the way smoke works, hope rolled up and burning. to know little. to listen.