LIBROS ASADOS: Book Burning Society of the Americas

Libros Asados: Book Burning Society of the AmericasMusic is bringing me to Mexico City this weekend. I’ll have time to dig around some of the megacity’s great bookstores in addition to parrandeando.

So, dear reader, can you recommend me some good books to check out? My Spanish-language contemporary fiction bookshelf has a lot of dudes in it — much as I love Paco Ignacio Taibo II, Cesar Aira, Juan Pablo Villalobos, Yuri Herrera, etc — I’m particularly curious about recent writing by women. And yes, Rita Indiana’s new novel Nombres y Animales will be published next week! My Mudd Up Book Clubb reading list gives you an idea of what’s up my alley. OK gracias.

MEXICO CITY GETDOWN

VLcrop I am off to Mexico City, Distrito Federal, to perform at the Vive Latino festival this weekend. DF is without a doubt one of the world’s most incredible cities — friend visiting for the first time just wrote me: “Such an incredible place, oozing with humanity from every opening… the hustlers, the colors, the shrines everywhere, the highway underpasses playing midi classical music, those guys in the official outfits playing those weird piano boxes from another century…”

Adding to the already overloaded megalopolis, Vive Latino has created a massive musician vortex with many good friends in town: Helado Negro, Ceci Bastida, Sonido Martines, Javier Estrada, Boogat, DJ Rashad, Chancha Via Circuito, and more will perform. I’m particularly excited to be on a lineup with legendary sonidero soundsystem Sonido La Changa!

NORTE SONORO EP 2 – Tijuana Edition

Norte Sonoro EP 2 Tijuana
Last November I invited a half dozen incredible musicians to Tijuana, Mexico to participate in the second edition of Norte Sonoro. Now you can watch a mini-documentary about the project and stream/download the songs produced. Here’s the English-language writeup, y aqui lo tienes en Espanol.
They say:

Mexico’s musical landscape is fascinating, from the emerging proposals that have traveled the (virtual and physical) world, going through the traditional music and sounds of our country. Nowadays is inevitable to keep it away from the cultural hybridization, and actually under that premise –and context– is that Norte Sonoro emerges in 2011… In 2012 the idea moved, under the same premises, to the city of Tijuana with the particularity of a border town such as this and making sure the artists not only explored the city through its music, but also contextualizing it with its traditional food and corners, and of course by its divisions and contrasts. DJ Rupture selected Cardopusher (Venezuela/Spain), Poirier (Canada), Psilosamples (Brazil), Sun Araw (USA) and Venus X (USA) to participate in this project. And we also had Los Macuanos (Mexico) to choose the local corrido sierreño, cantos indígenas, banda sinaloense and movimiento alterado sounds, interpreted by Grupo Estrella Brillante, Fuerza Nueva and Banda Agua Caliente.

NORTE SONORO: TIJUANA 2012

[crossing la frontera in a van, all photos from my Instagram]

We drove into Mexico at the San Diego/Tijuana border last night. We’re in TJ for Norte Sonoro, a weeklong musical event that I’ve curated this year.

The idea behind Norte Sonoro: bring a half-dozen international producers to Mexico to work with several regional musicians, culminating in a free fiesta and keeping the energy afloat by releasing a free EP of the collaborative works a few months later. Getting an on-the-ground sense of contemporary Tijuana, and of the contexts that gave rise to the sounds we’re working with is key (and includes a strict dietary regimen of only delicious food).

[weathered musicians, Playas]

Who’s here? Poirier, Sun Araw, Venus X, Cardopusher, Psilosamples… Norte Sonoro’s bilingual website has full information; the project is run by Monterrey’s NRMAL, and Los Macuanos are producing it. Friday’s party has a Facebook page — it’s free (come on down, L.A.!) but RSVP is mandatory.

This is the 2nd edition of Norte Sonoro — I participated in the first version, which was held in Monterrey last year. You can read my writeup + download the 2011 EP.

I’ve written a fair amount on Mexico, this complicated land I love. A good place to begin is this recent essay for Frieze on the music of Javier Estrada as it relates to Aztec-inspired ideas of cyclical time or this account of tribal guarachero (3Ball MTY) from 2010 for The Fader.

Last but not least, I can’t stop listening to Ofrenda Al Mictlán, an incredible (& free) 2010 album from Mexicali’s Juan Cirerol. Guitar, lyrics, voice.

Whole thing is stellar, pulsing with a dark & hopped up lifeforce. Here’s a song:

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Juan Cirerol – Mi Rostro

“it’s so easy to believe yourself blind in order not to look… the storm’s a perfect time to take a stroll”

RADIO: DJ JAVIER ESTRADA

Wednesday’s radio show with special guest DJ Javier Estrada is now streaming! El programa de este miercoles con la participación especial de Dj Javier Estrada ahora streaming!

We go in deep, with Javier explaining why he made 430 songs in the last three years & gave them all away for free; an introduction to the legacy of cumbia in his hometown of Monterrey Mexico and how that manifests itself in his remixes, making crowd-pleasing norteno aliens, talk of indigenous gods, and lots more. Bilingual to boot.

Vamos en profundidad, con Javier explicándonos por qué produjo 430 canciones en los últimos tres años y las ofrecio gratis; dándonos una introducción al legado de la cumbia en su ciudad Monterrey México y enlazándolo con sus remixes, norteños que comunican con los aliens, beats que hablan de dioses indígenas y mucho más. Bilingüe hasta la médula.

The evening ended with a fantastic LES rooftop hangout: Rotterdam’s Munchi, Javier, Bass Squad, and myself — incredibly, it was the first time that Munchi and Javier had met IRL! And Munchi and I finally had our breakcore conversation…

RADIO: AIRHORN PRAISE & DJ JAVIER ESTRADA

Last week’s radio show, In Praise of the Airhorn, is now streaming:

And I’m pleased to announce that prolific Mexican producer DJ Javier Estrada will be my special guest on tomorrow’s radio show. The young powerhouse from Monterrey is one of the most interesting beatmakers around right now, and I’ve got a coupla thousand of words-in-progress on why… Coming soon.

Until then — tune in tomorrow to catch DJ Javier Estrada live from 8-9pm EST, on WFMU! We’ll be talkin in Spanish with simultaneous translation by Talacha so all you monolingual gorillas can enjoy.

The radio show comes on the eve of Estrada’s NYC debut. We’ll have some tix to giveaway for his Thursday event with A Tribe Called Red.

FREE EP – MUSIC FROM NORTH MEXICO REMIXED BY TOY SELECTAH, CHANCHA, RUPTURE & MORE

Back in November the buena gente of Nrmal invited several international producers to Monterrey, Mexico, to collaborate with living legend old-school musicians from the area. Over the course of an intense, well-fed week, we worked out of jefe Toy Selectah’s studio. Norte Sonoro culminated in a free outdoor festival. There’s so much incredible music coming out of Mexico right now — Monterrey, Tijuana, DF, y más — it was an honor to participate in a project like this.

Who was involved? Along with Toy and the Nrmal crew, there was Algodón Egipcio (Venezuela), Chancha Vía Circuito (Argentina), myself, DJ Rupture (US), Helado Negro (Ecuador/US), Mumdance (UK)and White Rainbow (US). The Mexican artists were Javier Villarreal (Bronco guitarist!, they just played in NYC), Los Cardencheros de Sapioriz, Grupo Esencias and Osvaldo Lizcano con Enlace Vallenato. Today Nrmal released the free EP featuring tracks by all us internationals in conjunction with the various local groups.

Go get it!

We had an all around amazing time there — muy buena onda especially considering that most of the folks involved were meeting each other for the first time. My favorite track from the EP is from Caracas’ soundboy Algodón Egipcio (“Egyptian Cotton”!), who applies his sweet & experimental indie aesthetic to the time-damaged roots vocals of Los Cantantes Cardenches, a trio of septuagenarian cowboys who sing hypnotically heavy acapella songs about stuff like hangovers and dying out in the desert.


There’s more information (in Spanish) on Nrmal’s blog, and here’s an earlier post with behind-the-scenes photos. Below you’ll find a snapshot of Enlace Vallenato and I rehearsing, and a bilingual text I wrote about my participation:

For the Norte Sonoro project, I was invited to Monterrey for a week, to work with several regional musicians, leading up to a free public concert. I paired up with Enlace Vallenato – we decided that for the concert, they would play a short set, then I’d join them for three songs, adding beats, sound FX and scratches, and doing a little live dubbing on the lead accordion. It was a slow crossfade between their bouncy cumbia jams to my solo DJ set.

We rehearsed in Toy Selectah’s studio. Labbing up with Enlace Vallenato, was great – the ‘blind date’ awkwardness quickly melted away and we set about listening, learning how to twist our various musical idioms into something strong. Eduardo Galeano calls music “a language where all languages meet,” and he’s right.

Towards the end of the rehearsal, Enlace Vallenato hit on a low-slung groove that really worked. We’d already figured out the shape of the concert, and Toy was like: “let’s record this! Right now.” So we did. It was amazing to see Toy in action. First off, his studio is magnificent. People talk a lot about how with a cracked copy of FruityLoops you can make incredible music (and it’s true), but seeing Toy at work, recording and directing Enlace Vallenato floored me, reminding me of how important real-world brick & mortar spaces of shared creation are. Toy’s a consummate producer– coaching the musicians, adjusting the recording setup for maximum quality, all the while keeping the vibes right.

Later that night he & I returned to do some editing on the session files, and I took those back with me to Brooklyn for the remix.

The main collaboration between Enlace Vallenato and I happened en vivo at the Norte Sonoro party, so I felt that this remix should flip things and offer a serious departure from their original. I asked Ben Lee aka Baby Copperhead, to add live banjo. I sped things up, brought in several synths playing new melodies developed with Ben. I left in some of the original accordion, and build a new synthed up soundworld around their rock-solid percussion.

“Para el proyecto de Norte Sonoro, me invitaron a Monterrey varios días a trabajar con músicos regionales y a dar un concierto público gratuito. Me emparejé con Enlace Vallenato –decidimos que para el concierto tocarían un set breve, y luego yo me les uniría en el escenario para añadir beats, efectos y escracheos a su set, y también hacer algo de dubbing en vivo sobre el acordeón principal. Fue un buen crossfade entre su fiesta cumbianchera y mi set de DJ.

Ensayamos en el estudio de Toy Selectah. Trabajar con Enlace Vallenato fue fantástico –la dificultad de la “primera cita” se desvaneció rápidamente y nos dedicamos a escuchar y a decidir como íbamos a enredar nuestros idiomas musicales para crear algo sólido. Eduardo Galeano dice que la música es ‘un idioma en donde todos los lenguajes se reúnen’ y tiene toda la razón.

Hacia el fin del ensayo, Enlace Vallenato encontró un ritmo lento que funcionó perfectamente. Ya habíamos determinado la forma del concierto, y Toy dijo: ‘Vamos a grabar esto! Ahora mismo!.’ Y eso hicimos. Es sorprendente ver a Toy en acción. Primero que nada, su estudio es magnífico. La gente habla mucho de cómo con una copia pirata de FruityLoops puedes hacer música increíble (y tienen razón), pero ver a Toy trabajar, grabando y dirigiendo a Enlace Vallenato, me voló la cabeza, y me recordó lo importante que son los espacios creativos físicos hechos de ladrillo y mortero. Toy es un productor consumado- coachea a los músicos, ajusta su equipo para obtener la máxima calidad posible, y siempre tiene buena vibra. Más tarde esa noche él y yo regresamos a editar los archivos de la sesión, y me los llevé a Brooklyn para hacer mi remix.

La colaboración principal entre Enlace Vallenato y yo sucedió en vivo en la fiesta de Norte Sonoro, así que sentí que este remix debería de darle un giro de 180 grados y alejarse de la original. Le pedí a Ben Lee, también conocido como Baby Copperhead, que le agregara algo de banjo en vivo. Aceleré todo y metí varios sintetizadores con melodías que desarrollé con Ben. Dejé algo del acordeón original, y construí un mundo de sonido sintetizado alrededor de sus percusiones impecables.” ―DJ Rupture

VIDEO: NETTLE IN STUDIO & SONIDEROS ON THE STREETS

Last week Nettle gathered at DJ N-Ron’s studio in downtown Brooklyn to record several new songs. Here is a snapshot of the control room magic, creativity captured in full swing.

And here’s a quick montage from filmmaker Sam Fleischner. Sam, director of Wah Do Dem, was recently in Mexico City. I gave him some tips, and he ended up using “Soy Sonidero” from Mudd Up! to cut his footage to. It’s a kind of a meditation on state power vs the power of the people’s daily rhythms. Everybody knows there’s something tragically Freudian about the size of that flag in Zocalo.

MEXICAN DRUG BALLADS & MARATHON TIME

Last week’s radio show with USC professor Josh Kun was a real treat – and it’s now streaming. An hour of real talk on the current state of narcocorridos – Mexican drug ballads – prefaced by two new heaters from Tijuana’s blooming indie scene. Listen close:

WFMU is in the middle of its yearly fundraising marathon! Our independent, advertising-free FM radio station is almost entirely listener supported (which is incredible, in today’s rapidly consolidating and corporatizing mediascape), all on-air DJs are 100% volunteer (aka I don’t get paid), and now’s the time when we asking for your help… For more reasons on what this fundraiser is all about, you can listen back to my show this week with co-host Therese, or simply tune in to WFMU 91.1FM NYC.

Or go straight into altruism mode by donating and telling your peoples what’s what:

As always, thanks for listening. FILE UNDER: Generosity.

MUDD UP RADIO: special guest JOSH KUN

This Wednesday at 8pm on WFMU, USC professor Josh Kun will join me on Mudd Up!, to discuss the current wave of hyperviolent Mexican drug ballads (largely produced in L.A., it turns out) and to examine the question ‘why aren’t other songs being sung?’ Kun is a rare academic who manages to do inspirational work both in & out of the academy — such as TED-talking with Ozomatli, curating the Grammy Museum’s current exhibition Trouble in Paradise: Music and Los Angeles 1945-1975, and doing smart, passionate writing about Tijuana & the complex membrane that is the US-Mexico border. His knowledge of Mexican music goes deep… So tune in! Wednesday night, 8-9pm WFMU 91.1FM, streaming at wfmu.org.

If you are unfamiliar with contemporary Mexican corridos in light of the drug war, Kun’s recent essay on what he’s termed ‘necrocorridos,’ is a good place to start. As is this video from Movimiento Alterado, where catchy and lush horn production sparkles alongside bejeweled bulletproof vests as the ‘Sanguinarios del M1′ sing from the assassin’s bloody viewpoint and proudly name the narcos they work for.

And check out the first few minutes of the Kun-Ozomatli “Edge of Urban Identity” TED talk! Josh on the mic, rapping about the new gospel of the monkey (“One of the 20 figures on the ancient ritual Mexican calendar, the monkey sported an ear-ring and wore a crew cut. He was a shapeshifter, a transformer, a changeling…”) It’s great: