Earlier this year I tweeted: New Africa Proverb #137: It takes a village to make a crazed Auto-Tune fieldwork docu-art project. Well, I wasn’t kidding.

I’m teaming up with Maga Bo, Fader magazine photo editor John Francis Peters, and Taliesen Gilkes-Bower to explore musical innovation in Morocco via collaboration, teaching, documentation, and digital storytelling. It’s a monthlong art project, going down in & around Marrakesh this June.

Our focus? How creative adaptations of global digital technologies in Morocco — such as Auto-Tune use in Berber folk music — are helping to transform youth culture and suggesting powerful alternatives to Western concepts of digital literacy. To learn more & help out :
Beyond Digital: Morocco




Over at the Kindle Project, a guest blog post by yours truly, on my Radio GooGoo sound installation project for the Studio Museum in Harlem, which I never recorded or documented. The generosity of the Kindle Project was a real lifesaver & inspiration in the past months; I’ll post more about that soon. Until then, here are two pieces of my write-up for them:


“In 2010 the Studio Museum in Harlem invited me to create an audio installation for the museum’s front rooms, as part of their StudioSound series. My main concern was for the museum staff – the guy who does coatcheck, the people behind the front desk. They have to stand around there all day, so the last thing I wanted to do was make a 10-minute song which they’d be forced to listen to, on repeat, for months. Museum guards are the main audience for museum art. How could I create a constantly changing audio piece that wouldn’t wear out its welcome? “


“When it was up & running, Radio GooGoo cycled between three FM stations/algorithms, one each day:

* A classical station transforms into floating ambience. The results are a gauzy, drifting cloud, which is periodically tuned to the dominant musical scales of North Africa (Arabic, Berber). Classical music receives an enormous amounts of funding. This piece engages ideas of “classical” both as a Western system of listening and a virtuosic performance, but mostly it sounds like Beethoven on zero-gravity painkillers.

* My piece for Hot97 (“blazing hiphop and r&b”) makes the station’s broadcasts sound like a lovesick synthesizer inside a dripping cave. Mostly it’s a lot of atonal, irregularly spaced bleeps with a timbral palette that alludes to classic mid-20th century musique concrete, but at times it resolves into legibility and you’re able to recognize the stacatto main riff of a popular song (albeit replayed on a vocoder). Sometimes the signal with go completely unprocessed for seconds, so listeners can hear the transformations.”

read the rest



Eddie Stats got it right in this week’s Ghetto Palms over at The Fader: “I actually can’t think of a better soundtrack for this moment that’s unfolding in Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia than the saaidi hardcore of my longtime (and I mean loooongtime) homegirl DJ Mutamassik.”

You’ll need to scroll down, but here’s an excerpt from Mutamassik on the making of her album — on the conditions in which it was made:

“…Going from a predominantly raw urban experience (see: childbirth on Medicaid in Brooklyn, many etcs.) to a raw, rough, rugged rural experience has taught me many things.

Let me give props where props are due: A decade plus+ in the streets of New York City and Cairo cut my teeth; half that time in Nature, however, has kicked my ass. Not just once, but continuously. This has been a boot camp. If inner city life made me hard, Nature made me harder. [. . .]
{The American gear (which 99% of our gear is, brought over from N.Y. on a ship with the entire $5,000 given to us by the U.S. government for being hard-working, poor and with child) is converted and stabilized by voltage transformers used by the U.S. military in the hairiest parts of Afghanistan–not proud, just real}. There is no central heating. We go deep into the forest to collect firewood, chop trees, burn burn burn. We make fires to stay warm (9 months out of 12). CAVEmen-style. . . Our only form of transportation has been our son’s stroller which we used well after he started walking to haul up large tanks of cooking gas. From it’s beginnings on Atlantic Avenue, and after many brutal years of international service as person, baggage, tank, garbage rickshaw, it has once again been recycled as a safe home for cats. {Note: None of this new or harsh to anyone but us city slickers/urbanites/suburbanites/industrialites}.

We have a relationship to Nature that is mostly not Soft, Ethereal, Romantic as somehow propagated by Dabbling-Vegan-Hallmark-Hippies, but rather Tense, Negotiating, Respectful…Intense. “

Bonus points if you have a copy of WAR BOOTY, her 12″ EP that I released on Soot a decade ago. Now a super sold out collectors item, the original vinyl came with rough cardboard record jackets that had the Arabic word for ‘soot’ branded into them. I lit two kitchens on fire doing it.

mutamassik war booty-SOOT004-001mutamassik war booty-SOOT004-001mutamassik war booty-SOOT004-001

Over here at Mudd, I’ve re-upped a classic Oum Koulsom MP3, head here to grab it. Of Koulsom, I wrote:

“…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.”


Did today happen? Does adulthood exist? All I know is that it’s snowing, again — or maybe it never stopped. The last time I was this tired I was walking through a forest after a show and before the airport. Mudd. Deliciously low visibility. A river. Nature has so many things without off switches. We passed a homeless guy pushing a cart.

Last night’s radio show, now streaming, featured a very informative Benjamin Lebrave from Akwaaba Music.

you can subscribe to the Mudd Up! podcast for downloadable versions, issued a week after FM broadcast: , Mudd Up! RSS. Also useful: WFMU’s free iPhone app. We also have a version for Android (search for “WFMU” in the marketplace).