MUDD UP BOOK CLUB: TAUSSIG’S MY COCAINE MUSEUM

The last Mudd Up Book Clubb meetup was the most special to date, as The Slynx’s author Tatyana Tolystaya herself showed up unexpectedly. Translator Jamey Gambrell was able to join us as well. INCREDIBLE. To discuss one of my favorite books with its author & translator was a rare treat.

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[Taussig in a garden with yagé vines with Don Pedro, an Indian healer. Colombia, 1977. Via Cabinet.]

Our next selection is Michael Taussig’s My Cocaine Museum. Stoned anthropology written as a slide through heat & sensation in the shadow of Walter Benjamin. Thinking about gold, cocaine, slavery, boredom, color, history, centered around Afro-Colombian gold miners on Colombia’s Pacific coast. This is our second nonfiction book so far, and like Delany’s Times Sq Red, Times Sq Blue, the prose is incandescent, challenging and rewarding. Join us, we’ll meet in NYC on July 8th for My Cocaine Museum.

Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of the “A Dog Growls” chapter:

A dog growls in the doorway of the house where I am staying in Gaupí. I have never heard this dog growl before. I look out into the street, There are two armed soldiers walking by on patrol in standard-issue camouflage. Strange how the dog picks up what most of us feel but do not express. What would happen if we all growled when soldiers walked by? A whole town growling! How wonderfully appropriate to growl back at the state, mimicking it, growl for growl, watching it magnify in the fullness of biological prehistory, writing being but another form of hair rising on the back of the neck. Slap up against the wall of the forest, you get an acute sense of the thing called the state. To me this is more than a heightening of contradiction exposing something hidden. I think of it as natural history, the natural history of the state.

Writing is sixth sense, what dogs are supposed to have, same as what filled the space between the words.

The first place I ever DJed cumbia was at Taussig’s place in upstate New York (a good friend was getting married – wedding DJ!). It wasn’t until a year or two later when I stumbled across all these lovely tracks from the Rio Timbiqui area of Colombia which he writes about so richly in My Cocaine Museum.

A laptop theft took those tunes out of my hands again, but here’s a related song. “I don’t want it” by Grupo Gualajo – a gorgeous marimba jam about foreigners coming to Pacific Colombia to spirit away “our music, our records, and tales of our ancestors / they arrive happy back home / because they took all our inspiration / we don’t value what we have / others come and take the best…”

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Grupo Gualajo – No Quiero (from the Afritanga comp)

GRACIAS MONTERREY

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[setting up at Norte Sonoro, Casa de las Culturas, San Pedro, Monterrey MX]

Gracias MTY, Gracias Nrmal,

Gracias Artesanía de Colombia in downtown Monterrey, where I picked up this music yesterday – they got the good stuff (dir. Reforma no. 541 Pte. entre Cuauhtemoc y Pino Suarez).

For the record, Mexicans make the best cumbias colombianas.

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Cumbia de Monterrey

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Cumbia Terre

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El Retorno de la Chida

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Bailando la Cumbia

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Problema Matrimonial

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Jorge Meza – Asi Se Baila La Cumbia

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[DJ Rupture y Los Enlace Vallenato at Nrmal‘s NorteSonoro, Monterrey]

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Mama Cumbia

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La Revoltosa

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El Tamborsito 2009

BLACK MARIMBA: EL BOTELLÓN REVISITED

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[from ¡Arriba Suena Marimba! liner notes]

Context — you bring the ropes, I’ll get some grease.

Play this song in Spain, and people will think of drinking calimocho – Coke mixed with box wine – in public plazas. Play it in the bass blogosphere, and people will think of Uproot Andy’s remix, pressed into wax by Bersa Discos. Play it where it’s from, Colombia’s southern Pacific coast, and people will think of dead children… For Grupo Naidy’s “El Botellón (The Jug)” is an Afro-Latin funeral song for performance at an altar holding the body.

A violinist I met in Lima resurfaced at my last show in Philly — she’d been traveling the continent, music-theater as her passport; moving obscurely between swamp and river in Colombia she’d stumbled across this tune. Learning the sadness it framed was a heavy thing. As the liner notes explain, When a child dies in the Pacific, the belief is that the child is without sin, and ascends directly to heaven. Therefore, a child’s funeral (chigualo) is marked by bittersweet celebration.

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Grupo Naidy – El Botellón (The Jug)

The darkness extends: soonafter they recorded this song the two youngest members of Grupo Naidy, brothers, were gunned down on a streetcorner as they left band practice. (Those guns were probably American). Every song is a story is a line you can hum, a book you can lose your page in, a map you can burn, a jungle hurtful or fertile depending on what you are when it grows around.

Released by Smithsonian Folkways, the album ¡Arriba Suena Marimba!: Currulao Marimba Music from Colombia by Grupo Naidy is a treat. This melody appears twice, the second time with saintly adoration lyrics sung to the same notes. Let’s worship Saint Anthony!, go their raised voices. Some of the most amazing music has been made by deeply religious people (syncretic black Catholics, in this case; or maybe the ‘B’ should be capitalized and the ‘c’ should be lower-case). Music as a lean into the beyond.

You can download the album’s bilingual liner notes [PDF], chock-full of sturdy, sober information like: “The Afro-Pacific marimba consists of as many as 24 chonta-wood keys, suspended over bamboo resonators and arranged in local tunings outside the notes of the Western scale” and “As a boy, Saxo was more interested in playing soccer than in the folkloric music of the Pacific coast, until all his friends started going to a school for folkloric dance and music in his neighborhood.”

BETO VIENE HOY!

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Tune in Mudd Up! with DJ Rupture on WFMU 91.1fm tonight at 7PM, as Roberto Ernesto Gyemant aka DJ Beto, the man responsible for putting together those wonderful volumes of 1960s and ’70s “cumbia tropical & calypso funk” from Panama, joins me to talk and share some incredible music. He had a curatorial hand in Soundway Records Panama compilations and the Colombia! Golden Age of Discos Fuentes as well. Deep compilations with informative liner notes, the real deal…

Of course, for those outside our FM broadcast range, WFMU offers live streaming and even has its own free iPhone app!

We (Lamin & I) have been fascinated with the music of Panama ever since our visit from Wayne Marshall and Raquel Z Rivera, editors of the Reggaeton book, broke down Panama’s relationship to Jamaica with some deadly tunes and erudite commentary. (Missed it? It’s streaming here. Subscribe to the Mudd Up! podcast if you want downloadable versions of my weekly show: , Mudd Up! RSS.

Listen, get involved, throw in comments, phone in questions. Again, tonight @ 7PM.

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For a warmup, check Beto’s mix of hard-to-find musica costeña Colombiana and tipica Panameña, streaming here.

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And if that’s not enough, here’s great CD rip of old school cumbias – although you might not guess it from the cover art featuring two cyber chicks (one in cowhide) and a tiny monkey sporting a baseball cap Memin Pinguin [breakdown on this Mexican-concocted Sambo here]. [via]

Scratchy gems include a Vietnam-themed war/love song with a call-and-response chorus.

Descarga Sonidera

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…Y SUS TESOROS

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Quantic & co. list up their 20 favorite Colombian records for FACT magazine.

There’s a long, evolving conversation we need to have, about record collectors, libraries (public access vs. collector hoarding), archives, and all that stuff. Sonido Martines & I talk about these things, but its a huge world, and complicated. Money, cultural heritage, a DJ’s weaponry, value’s slow dance with scarcity. Scorpions.

One way to begin this conversation is to compare the storied, historical micro-universe of the vinyl hunter-collector with the poorly-xeroxed digital multiverse of our current CD-r/MP3 economy. What do the diggers do with ill cumbia and salsa dura LPs when they find them? How to they fill them with value? And what about the diggers of champeta or Colombian rap CD-rs?

Is the lifespan/usefulness of the latter based primarily on (dwindling) newness (novedad so close to ‘novelty’), while the lifespan/economic importance of the former increases over time? Or, how deeply is meaning tied to medium — new Colombian music won’t attract hardcore collectors because its CD-rs and V-CDs and ZIP files simply aren’t durable (not too mention less than hi-fi sound quality for the audiophile crowd)? Or it is less material: does all pop date itself faster than before?

I’m quite interested in the stories record diggers tell about finding their records; the FACT piece contains a few:

“I have this image of sitting in a hotel room with Will listening to the records we found, our jaws hitting the floor as the notes leapt out of the portable turntable, just shaking our heads in disbelief, wondering how on earth these musicians got to be so funky.”

These stories fix or add meaning to music, by mapping out the Xs where one found gold. Finding is the first triumph. It’s a pre-Google pleasure. So what about the CD-r world, where the hunt is stripped of any myths (or realities) of rareness, uniqueness, and rescue? “I have this image of sitting in front of my laptop listening to the champeta I downloaded from some crappy site filled with ads, just like 14,734 kids before me…”

Enough questions for now, I’ll leave you with some of the article’s images, the lite n sleazy kitsch of classic Discos Fuentes album artwork:

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PITCH IMPERFECT & THE GEKO JONES SHOW

the flip side of auto-tune’s robo-correction is bad/out-of-tune singing, as timeless at auto-tune is new. (I find both performance styles quite compelling, to be honest.) Cumbia Sonidera is filled with folks who just can’t hit those notes – and sing anyway! How can you not appreciate that?

I posted a version of this song a few months ago, by Grupo Ginnsu. This is the Kumbia Sonicos’ pitch-imperfect rendition (debe ser guapo dice R!):

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Kumbia Sonicos – Cumbia de los Patos

one of my favorite cumbia sonidera subgenres is the injured lover jam. You hurt my heart, she sings (in-tune).

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Majeza – Tu Herista Mi Corazon

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geko jones

on today’s radio show – “Latin/Caribbean music expert & DJ Geko Jones will be joining Rupture. The Colombian-Puerto Rican digger will share with us some of his latest finds from the cutting edge of tropical soundsystem and street music culture, from Mexican tribal guarachero to freshly made ragga-bass mutations and Afro-Colombian soul gems. A deep live mix from Geko Jones — ¡¡No te lo pierdas!!”

if yr in NYC, catch Mr Geko Jones (Que Cojones) live @ APT tomorrow – FREE – holding it down w/ Uproot Andy:

RADIO U & CARIBBEAN MACHINERY

I’m on the lookout for someone to help out with my WFMU radio show, realtime, about 2 wednesday evenings a month.

Duties involve: helping me move the table from one side of the room to the other, listening to amazing music, taking the PATH train to New Jersey with amazing guests, actively contributing to keeping free local terrestrial radio as vivid as possible, shaking things up, and making sure the needles don’t go into the red too much.

I don’t get paid for it and neither will you, but radio is real magic, invisible waves threading unknown listeners into community & all.

interested parties pls email: rupture45 at wfmu.org

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Tune in to Rob Da Bank’s BBC radio 1 show this weekend to catch a blazing hour of cumbia & new york tropical mixed by yrs truly. details. (I don’t mix on my radio show, I do mix on other people’s.)

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Colombia. I love the cumbia, but i also love it when the guitars go liquid in that African way and we touch the Caribbean. Like in this POWERFUL SONG, liquid and tough, a street vendor declaring his street vendor-ness as the beat says why are you still sitting down? you should be moving! until everyone listens:

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Makina del Karibe – El Vendeor

from the Rough Guide to Colombian Street Party. It’s a nice one!colombian

TIMBALAND SAMPLE SOURCE

I keep digging into Colombian music, and today’s find is exceptional – the source track for Timbaland’s ‘Get to Poppin‘ beat! MuddUp reader Tony IDed it awhile back, but nobody had the recording…

I’d forgotten that I was looking for it until I stumbled across this excellent Aspic records compilation, Colombia – La Ceiba.

 

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Estefanía Caicedo, Totó la Momposina, Paulino Salgado – La Verdolaga

Everything on the CD is as good as this (incluso mejor…) Booklet includes bilingual liner notes & lyrics, which i’ll share next week. As with the other Totó la Momposina-related song that Timbaland has used (La Curura sampled/rebranded into Indian Flute), the words to this one form deep folky poetry. A disfrutar!

IN MY MIND

these two songs are related. And in a sense, adjacency is everything.

Fruko y Sus Tesos – Improvisando

Dead Prez – F&ck the Law

the first one comes from a lively new Soundway compilation CD/2LP, Colombia! the Golden Age of Discos Fuentes, the Powerhouse of Colombian Music 1960-76. Martines recommended it, “perhaps the most important Colombian label.” (Lemon-Red revs it )

A few years ago I received an invitation to DJ some shows in Colombia. I was burnt out from travel & said no. I’m still kicking myself for missing that chance.

 

LA MOMPOSINA Y LAS PALOMAS

People talk about how Eskimos have a few dozen words for snow, how rappers have a few dozen words for cocaine, how Republicans have a few dozen words for fukallyall. It’s an amazing phenomenon. So too is the opposite – single words possessing multiple meanings.

A troubling example of this – if you, like me, think of pigeons as flying rats – is the Spanish noun La Paloma. It means dove or pigeon. That’s what I call a perverse ambiguity.

The white dove, beloved of poets & lovers since time immemorial.

The nasty pigeon, pecking away at nuggets of vomit & discarded fast food in alleys, staining city roofs with its corrosive droppings. Each one a paloma.

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[Image: vagabond shoes, from brainware3000’s cc flickr pool]

“I’ve got my four palomas” goes the chorus of this tune…

Totó la Momposina – Las Cuatro Palomas (from Carmelina)

there must exist a language with a word to describe how those flutes relate to the rumbling drums, one specific adjective for the beauty & movement conjured by that relationship and another for what happens when her voice enters into it.

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“The music I play has its roots in mixed race,” Totó explains. “The flutes are pre-Columbian, the drums of course are from Africa, and the guitar from the conquisadors.”

Totó La Momposina is a towering figure in (indigenous-) (Afro-) (Latin-) Colombian folk, with good reason. “I don’t think of it as ‘folklore’. To me, folklore means something that is dead, in a museum. Traditional music, music from the old days is alive.”

 

Totó la Momposina – La Sombra Negra (from La Candela Viva)

La somba negra – the black shadow. Listen to the way this song starts as an orderly Latin love song, spare acoustic guitar and voice strolling along… then Afro-Cuban drums creep in, slowly accelerating the rhythm. The guitar shifts from lead instrument to accompaniment. The solo vocalist gets swept up into call & response, not one or two people but many; black Africa eats up the solitude. This becomes a communal tune and its drums are racing.

La Candela Viva