Monthly Archives: September 2009

JUAN SON

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Juan Son in concert. I’m still learning about Mexican mustache semiotics…

Last month I began my radio show with “Las Hadas” (The Fairies) by Juan Son. I was in Mexico at the time, and I didn’t manage to write down the songs I played. Many listeners asked me what it was. Yesterday, after yet another email inquiry, I decided to listen back. (The full tracklist is now up, the show is streamable and podcastable).

I had no recollection of airing this song, or even hearing it before. And it’s lovely! A gently twisted piece of gauzy pop. How had I forgotten this? Easy, actually, but that’s another story… The upside of constant forgetfulness is nonstop surprise.

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Juan Son – Las Hadas

Even more strangely, as my radio show was airing on WFMU, I was sitting in the airport beside Gerardo Naranjo, director of Voy A Explotar – the film whose soundtrack my friend gave me the day before. Not talking to him about this music. Missed connections.

As bodies fall through the air. The sounds of children playing. Field recording ambience from Mexico City’s Childs:

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Childs – ….

VOYAEXPLOTARSOUNDTRACKCOVER

It turns out that the 22 song soundtrack is free – detailed track info at Club Fonograma, download the MP3s here.

From the same release, a track which starts in the filtered clouds and floats down to some sunset dance party, cumbia shakers at the end tethering us to earth.

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El Remolon – Bonita

ANTIPOP TODAY

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Be sure to tune in to today’s radio show: NYC’s legendary rap innovators Anti Pop Consortium will be joining Lamin & I live on-air. Priest, Beans, M Sayyid and Earl Blaze. We’re gonna rap about rap, music, afrofuturizm, and much more, alongside an all-A.P.C. selection of exclusives and influences. Should be big!

Today is the eve of their new album release. Fluorescent Black is my fav APC LP to date, and tomorrow they’ll be bringing it live at Santos Party House.

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SPATIAL SATURDAY

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New York City: tomorrow is the launch party for Geoff ‘Bldgblog‘ Manaugh’s incredible new book!

“On Saturday, September 26, Manaugh will be joined by many of the writers, thinkers, and practitioners whose work is featured in The BLDGBLOG Book, in a day-long event of back-to-back presentations at Storefront for Art and Architecture. It is free and open to the public.”

Things kick off at 3pm and go til 8. At 3:30 Geoff and I will discuss The Shining in Dubai, and further explore some topics raised by Geoff’s interview with me in the book: cities as musical instruments; urban radio; how a city defines its own sound (if it has one), etc.

If you haven’t been to Storefront, now’s the time! The space itself is fantastic, and this promises to be a fun afternoon…

BIGGER THAN THE BEATLES

mudd revisited (original post was 4 years ago!):

Enta omry 1

we are dealing with the basics here: love and time.

“What we missed is not little,” sings Oum Kolthoum.

“Whatever I saw before my eyes saw you was a wasted life.”

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Oum Kolthoum – Enta Omri (86MB, 59 minutes)

A live version of one of the world’s classic love songs! In concert, Enta Omri could continue for hours. Ahmad Shafiq Kamil penned the lyrics and Mohamed Abdel Wahab wrote the music, which bypasses the ears to enter the heart directly.

West (Cornel not Kanye) and Ralph Waldo (Ellison not Emerson) compare jazz to democracy– individuals playing with and against a group dynamic, ready to improvise and comfortable with change. Imaginative, flexible, dedicated to making their abstract tools sing: a model of social organization.

Western orchestras, on the other hand, are conspicuously totalitarian: the fixed scores, the funny black suits, musicians forced to follow the strict leader at the top, utter suppression of individuality, etc.

I wonder what they’d say about this incandescent Egyptian, whose songs move her listeners with tidal force, leading orchestras (composed of the usual suspects plus Abdel Wahab’s new friend: the electric guitar) in swooning iterations of song and theme, reacting to audience response/requests, cycling through stanzas for hours (Americans wouldn’t call it progress but we are certainly going somewhere, the same words or notes arrive but they mean different each time), emotional eddies make the river flow. Her popularity & impact remains vast, nearly compulsory, undemocratic.

Thirty years after her death, Kolthoum still outsells many popular Egyptian artists. Take that, Elvis!

 

Ramadan’s over, Eid just came to a close. Today’s radio show – WFMU, 91.1 fm 7-8pm – will feature celebratory music from Muslim areas of Africa and beyond, as well as the usual helpings of new heat & decentertainment.

FREE GOWANUS GUACHARACA

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it goes down today, Wednesday Sept. 16 – I’ll be spinning an all-cumbia set at the Treehouse party. Free! It’s a gentle evening for the 9-5 set; I start around 10:30pm, so show up early… It goes down at Littlefield in Gowanus, alongside Treeboy, Gamall, and Raspberry Jones.

When I say all-cumbia, I mean it! Material you can find in many many places, such as Mexican shops in Brooklyn, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, etc., or via online stateside shops from Discos El Papi & Barba Azul. The point is, cumbia is close. So this set will contain no crunk cumbia, no ‘cumbia digital’, no bloggy remixes.

Expect current Mexican cumbia sonidera, with an emphasis on tracks that shout out Nueva York, like…

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Formula 5 – La Cumbia Maestra (a re-post but hey)

…alongside more classic material from the 60s 70s & 80s, like:

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Andres Landero – Canto a Cartagena (written by Betty Ochoa de Anillo)

And be prepared for potentially cheesy sad love songs, like:

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Los Star Boys – La Culpa (“we had problems, the blame goes to both of us”)

…and, darker still, songs about death:

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Lucy Gonzales y su Combo Orence – La Ley Poderosa

Great lyrics on this one, “The Powerful Law”. I have cumbia songs about Satan, but I don’t play those in public. On a tangentially related note, Spanish uses the same word for eschatology and scatology!

In closing – come through, come early, and enjoy this last one, an instrumental about the Lone Ranger’s scraper (in which we hear the sounds of his horse), from a DJ presumably named after Keanu Reeves’ character in The Matrix:

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DJ Neo – Guacharaca del Llanero Solitario

RUPTURE ROAMS THE STATES

I’ve got 4 interesting gigs this week. All-out parties on Wednesday and Saturday, a free artist’s talk / Q&A /demystifying-what-i-do-mini-set on Friday, and my duo for guitar & turntables with Andy Moor on Thursday. I’m psyched to meet Chattanooga!

details:

Wed. Sept 9: Madison WI @ the Annex. event info + interview ‘on cumbia and Stephen King

Thurs. Sept 10: Chicago IL. Duo with Andy Moor at The Wire’s Adventures in Modern Music festival, Empty Bottle. Lucky Dragons will also be performing!

Fri. Sept 11 + Sat. Sept 12: Chattanooga TN. On Friday, a free artist talk/Q&A/turntablism demo early. Club gig on Saturday. The talk with be live streaming and maybe twittering here. Friday talk facebook page, Saturday party facebookery.

WorldTown flyer

WE ARE ALL T-PAIN + FUTURE TONE CLOUDS

My essay on Auto-Tune published in Frieze magazine earlier this year concluded with:

“Auto-Tune is a contemporary strategy for intimacy with the digital. As such, it becomes quite humanizing. Auto-Tune operates as a duet between the electronics and the personal. A reconciliation with technology. This development was sparked by a sexagenarian pop star and spread like wildfire across genre, language, and geography. We live in a world saturated by electronics and we’re finding ways to make that situation sing. T-Pain and the software manufacturer, Antares, are currently at work on bringing Auto-Tune to your mobile phone. The intimacy – or is that an invasion? – deepens.”

Well, the “I am T-Pain’ iPhone app has arrived! I love the idea of artists collaborating on strange new iPhone apps. For $3 one can now go cyborg to the backing beats of T-Pain hits… I wonder how much longer before a mainstream/viral hit is produced entirely on a cellphone – from beats to vocal recordings.

Perhaps another R&B singer will attempt to replicate Tallahassee Pain’s unprecedented success by embracing a different form of digital audio voice processing — in a left-field turn, The Dream starts putting his choruses through granular synthesis algorhythms [this involves cutting sounds into tiny slivers, and twisting those slivers about with lots of math] – ushering in a new era of Hot 97 radio hits defined by bristling tone clouds, diva voices gone spectral…

Subwoofer sales die down, replaced by exorbitant ‘tweeter battles’ where high-end definition replaces low-end whoomp and treble starts signifying blackness/corporeality instead of bass.

Beyonce sparks scandal by demanding her full cameo rate while only delivering atonal washes of sound containing, allegedly, her voice split into 144,000 forty millisecond slices each with distinct pitch, speed, and phase parameters. Disgusted, her ‘husband’ comes out the closet (as a Republican or bisexual, the future remains unclear) and continues making music by sampling old vinyl records and rapping into expensive microphones in expensive studios wearing tailored suits.

Britney Spears partners with AudioMulch (a bit too late, the initial hype has died down) and Fennesz moves to Los Angeles to work on his tan while co-producing Salt N Pepa’s comeback album – which turns out to be largely indistinguishable from Endless Summer. Acid makes a resurgence (apparently granular delays synergize indescribably well with the retro psychedelic), Nicolas Bourriaud writes a book – in Ebonics! – called ‘Durational Aesthetix’, and Lil B enrolls at Mills College.

Until these things come to pass, we have T-Pain + Antares teaming up to tune you electric. After 45 seconds of promo talk, the video becomes kinda awesome:

GANG GANG DANCE RUPTURE + SHADETEK REMIX

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for our upcoming mix CD, Solar Life Raft, Matt Shadetek & I reached out to some local musicians whose work we love, folding their sounds & voices back into our world via the magic of dutty artz remixology.

In other words, Gang Gang Dance times Rupture plus Shadetek equals = Super Bebey. Music for your survival kit! Downloadable because we’ve got heat to spare…

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For additional burners, check the Village Voice blog Sound of the CitY. They just upped a Jahdan interview & exclusive MP3 of ‘The General (Remix)’ featuring Smif-N-Wessun’s General Steele.

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A grimy mix of hip-hop, dancehall, electronic, dubstep,and pretty much anything else with chest-caving bass, Brooklyn’s Jahdan Blakkamoore is a vocalist who’s taking that pan-global headknock from neon-coated Philadelphia warehouses back to NYC, where cohort DJ /Rupture kicked this shit off almost a decade ago. It helps that he’s dragging it kicking and screaming through the streets. Blakkamoore’s Buzzrock Warrior has a hip-hop-centric noir feel that matches the darker, moodier topics it covers:… – Village Voice

PON DA STREET SWEEPER

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Notable instruments: Oberheim DMX, Drum machine, Electronic keyboard, Sequencer

 

10 years ago I was driving through Boston listening to one of the reggae mix shows on WERS (i think). A riddim came on which nearly made me stop the car. It was Steely & Clevie’s Street Sweeper. A strident minimal percussion pattern, little fragments of guitar washing in & out. A string flourish there, a whistle sound here, a vocal snippet. I’d been following dancehall for awhile and was used to surprises, but Street Sweeper floored me. As a DJ, producer, and listener.

wycliffe-steely-johnson

[Wycliffe 'Steely' Johnson]

It was possibility and emphatic silence as much as it was a song. To clarify: Steely and Clevie built the Street Sweeper riddim, which a few dozen vocalists transformed into songs, riffing on the beat’s undeniable power to deliver some top-notch chatting. Here’s a youtube medley of the popular versions:

Wycliffe ‘Steely’ Johnson passed away in New York City & the world is poorer without him. Street Sweeper cracked things open for me; they had countless other hits but it was these moments of skullcrushing genius economy that made this riddim one of my all-time favorite pieces of music.