FRIEZE: MEXICO CITY REPORT

I bang my fist against the sheet-metal grate. I’m in Mexico City’s historic Centro neighbourhood, a grid of beautiful, busy streets whose structural regularity is pushed into chaos by dense flows of automobiles, people, sounds, smells, all compressed and vivid and hyperkinetic by day, often unnervingly empty at night. Another knock. No answer. I open the dusty metal door.

We spill into the Bósforo, an undecorated clandestine bar specializing in high-proof homebrew spirits. Tonight El Nicho, a ‘virtual space with physical manifestations’ that imports experimental music, has staged its monthly pop-up. . .

Thus begins an essay I wrote for the new issue of Frieze Magazine’s Mexico City report. You can read it here; the page begins with Gabriela Jauregui’s piece, scroll down for mine.

Along with our words, you can listen to “an exclusive playlist for Frieze, curated by Eric Namour of El Nicho Experimental.”

CUMBIA MONTERREY: THE BLACK MAN PLAYS HIS DRUM

Celsopina

I am up to my ears in non-blog writing, which means that I haven’t had time to feed the internet with my buzzing thoughts on cumbia; nueva cumbia; Lacanian cumbia trolls; why nobody talks about Super Grupo Colombia even when they come to play a heavily promoted New York City show; the subgenres I keep noticing –  like ‘songs about being drunk in the morning’ and ‘songs about cumbia reaching cities like Philadelphia and Miami’; and much much more. For cumbia is nothing if not generous.

I have a folder containing tribal guarachero tunes that sample Hossam Ramzy and I have another one with the tribal remix + cumbia original done up as nice little pairs, and I will share these things, but before we get to that, we need to do our homework.

CUMBIA EN MONTERREY.   

This 2002 article, Cumbia Sobre El Rio: Celso Piña exports Monterrey’s new Cumbia Dub , goes deep. Required reading.

Here’s a high quality gift — a ‘Monterrey cumbia’ with a guy singing in English about the black man playing his drum. Songs like this were made for me. “The black man plays his drum and the women begin to shout / I want to dance la cumbia de Monterrey

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Parranderos – Cumbia Monterrey

Los Reyes Vallenatos run things in Monterrey. This band played at the ArcoIris tribal party I covered in the Fader article (Erick Rincon pointed out that most of the bandmembers were in their teens!). Pablo Lescano and Damas Gratis have recorded with them as well. This cumbia gets a lot creepier if you live, like I do, a few blocks away from bars where these dollar dances happen.  

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Los Reyes Vallenatos – La Cosita

and the man himself, Celso Piña — given the slo-mo scraper remix, sonidero melt, CUMBIA POWER. Can’t turn it off!

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Celso Pina – Cumbia Poder (rebajada con guaracha)

TRIBAL INDEPENDENCE GUARACHERO DAY

ibomba

I can’t remember exactly, but tomorrow, July 4th, we Americans celebrate our Independence from Microsoft, or the Constitution, or Google, or the British, or the RIAA, or Illegal Immigrants, or Apple products, or People Around The World Who Hate Our Freedom, or maybe Slavery or the Birth Certificate itself. It’s an important holiday, especially if you like to eat dead animals.

So what better way to join the festivities then hunched over my laptop, carpal tunnel syndromin’, listening to incredible new Mexican music of the 1st decade – or is this already the 2nd decade? (Is it true that time isn’t circular but tubular?) – of the 21st century!

Erick Rincon from Monterrey gifts us with a sublime tribal guarachero refix that wraps hypnotic playful voices around some ill tubas. Deep sonic multitasking from northern Mexico. As the 16-year-old producer says: “Bueno pues ahora, Dejandoles algo de Tribal, Mezclandole algo de Norteño!! que suene la tubaaaaaa!!” Let the tuuuuuubaaa sound out!

I just listened to this two-minute song a dozen times in a row, now you can too:

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Erick Rincon – Loituma (3ball Experimented)

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POSTOPOLIS DF: DAY 1

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[Postopolis DF, in the courtyard of Museo el Eco, from Aliviane’s twitpic]

Day 1 of Postopolis DF – blogger introductions & two presentations — went well: a full house despite the rain, a palpable sense of excitement, a magically stocked free bar, the whole thing dematerialized and re-transmitted via web streaming and realtime translation. Plus it’s hard to have a bad day that begins with fish like this:

fish

[perch @ Contramar, photo from Wayne&Wax flickr]

I didn’t really introduce myself or my work in my brief self-introduction, but instead took the time to discuss the people I’ve invited to present, and explain my thoughts on vulnerability and discourse: namely that true interdisciplinary communication involves the speakers being outside of their comfort zones (I only-half-joked that this, for me, meant speaking in Spanish). Listening and talking at the edges of how we would ordinarily relate to something. 100% clarity and seamless understanding are not the goals; translation, epiphany, friction, realization of the underspoken boundaries of one’s typical modes of presentation are. (Speaking of friction: the audience at Postopolis was hot, right?)

So a big part of what Postopolis means to me, as an exploded discursive space, a meatspace and tweetspace phenom happening in one of the world’s largest urban centers, is that conversations about our shared situations in cities and beyond – and the delicious possibilities for collection actions, thinking across typical disciplinary or procedural divides – involve listening very carefully. With active patience and the curiosity of the young. Without linga franca or various ‘master’ discourses be it language or other. (Yo <3 espacios Spanglish.) Events like Postopolis allow us to improvise and generate not only discussion, but the very frameworks for that discussion. How far it reaches & who. The edges of things are where (and how) they interface with other things. Welcome to our exploded house. You’ll find windows everywhere.

+ + +

The opening party @ Rhodesia unfortunately had one of my least favorite spatial arrangements for a club: the DJ booth about 20 feet above the crowd, completely isolated from the audience. You want to play with the people, not at them, and it’s hard to avoid the latter if you are spinning from a lofty pulpit… This is the same problem with upstairs at Santos Party House in NYC and countless other venues. Architects: never ever design DJ booths in distant corners of the room. This problem – unnecessary separation – served to underscore the realtime pleasures of people meeting and making introductions in the Eco, where, later in the evening (I had to jump out for soundcheck, alas), heavyweight architect Fernando Romero and punk/cumbia singer Ali of Kumbia Queers (check my recent post! can’t wait for their album of originals, out this September) both spoke.

Things kick off at 4pm today and we’ll go until 10pm. Platicando platicando platicando…

I’ll end this post with a tweet-foto of Eco’s courtyard last night, from materia:

2postop

Self-organizing system #emergence #postopolis

RUPTURE & AMIGOS IN MEXICO

Tomorrow begins Postopolis DF here in Mexico City, and after the daytime presentations, you can catch me as DJ /rupture, “el indiscutible campeon del clash sonoro mundial”, twice under the auspices of Postopolis, and twice in a rolling deep Dutty Artz formation. Four gigs in five daze – Mexico City No Sleep / all your tacos are belong 2 us. Here we go:

Martes 8 de Junio 8 @ the Postopolis Opening party at Club Social Rhodesia. DJ Rupture, Wayne & Wax, 8106, Noiselab DJs.

 

Jueves 10 de Junio @ terraza Centro Cultural de Espana (entrada gratis, come early). DJ Rupture, Wayne & Wax, Ximbo.

[no real flyer for this one, the place will ram up regardless, this is my 3rd time at CCE!]

 

then begins the Dutty Artz Micro Mexico Tour

Viernes 11 de Junio. In Toluca, outside of D.F. @ Foro Metepec. DJ Rupture, Taliesen, Wayne & Wax, DJ N-Ron, Sonido San Franisco.

 

and the gran finale, back in DF @ Mexinaco. DJ Rupture, Taliesen, Wayne & Wax, DJ N-Ron, Sonido San Franisco, Nimbo DJs.

POSTOPOLIS DF: June 8-12

[El Eco, location of Postopolis DF]

Readers of this blog should know my love for Mexico City by now, so it’s with great pleasure that I announce my participation in Postopolis DF! A 5-day conference-conversation on urbanism in one of the world’s most amazing cities… In other words, if you were thinking of coming to DF this summer, now’s a great time… And don’t worry gringos, vamos a tener realtime Spanish-English translation for y’all. It’s going down the second week of June, June 8-12, at El Eco…

The basic setup is us 10 organizing bloggers each invite around 5 people or groups to present, with conversations from 4-9:30pm daily.

I’ll go into details soon, but I’m especially excited to announce my confirmed invitees:

David Lida, author of the must-read book on contemporary D.F., First Stop In The New World; Geraldine Juarez & Magnus Ericksson discussing Tepito, tunnels, and the internet (here’s a taste); architect and water systems expert Jorge Legorreta; Mariana Delgado of Proyecto Sonidero; Artist Ximena Labra & academic/zine-maker Carlos Prieto Acevedo presenting su nuevo zine físico, “Interregno” cuyo tema es cartografías de la crisis del espacio, poder y monumento, ciudad-fábrica de concimiento…

Main info below. Check Postopolis over the next few days for the final list of presenters and participants.VIVA MEXICO.

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8-12 June 2010
Museo Experimental El Eco
Sullivan 43, Col. San Rafael, Mexico City

From 8-12 June 2010, Storefront for Art and Architecture, in partnership with Museo Experimental El Eco, Tomo and Domus Magazine, will host the third edition of Postopolis!, a public five-day session of near-continuous conversation curated by some of the world’s most prominent bloggers from the fields of architecture, art, urbanism, landscape, music and design. 10 world-renowned bloggers from Los Angeles, New York, Turin, Barcelona, London and elsewhere will convene in one location in Mexico City to host a series of discussions, interviews, slideshows, presentations, films and panels fusing the informal and interdisciplinary approach of the architecture blogosphere with rare face-to-face interaction.

Each day, the 10 participating bloggers will meet in the magnificent courtyard of Museo Experimental El Eco, designed by Matthias Goeritz, to conduct back-to-back interviews of some of Mexico City’s most influential thinkers and practitioners – including architects, city planners, artists and urban theorists but also military historians, filmmakers, photographers, activists and musicians. The talks will be conducted in either Spanish or English, and translations will be available. Each day of talks will end with an after-party hosted by some of Mexico City’s most influential music blogs.

Participating blogs:
Urban Omnibus (Cassim Shepard) www.urbanomnibus.net/
Intersections (Daniel Hernandez) www.danielhernandez.typepad.com/
DPR Barcelona (Ethel Barona Pohl) www.dpr-barcelona.com
Toxico Cultura (Gabriella Gomez-Mont): www.toxicocultura.com/
Tomo (Guillermo Ruiz de Teresa) www.tomo.com.mx
Mudd Up! (Jace Clayton aka DJ /rupture) www.negrophonic.com/
Edible Geography (Nicola Twilley) www.ediblegeography.com/
We Make Money Not Art (Regine Debatty) http://we-make-money-not-art.com/
Strangeharvest (Sam Jacob) www.strangeharvest.com
Wayne & Wax (Wayne Marshall) www.wayneandwax.com

EL BAILONGO / QUE NO QUEDE HUELLA

mty

This party is going to be multiple varieties of bananas. Argentine cumbia villera pioneers Damas Gratis, Colombian duo Bomba Estereo, Mexico’s top soundboy Toy Selectah, and yours truly with special guest vocalist Jahdan Blakkamoore, raising temperatures down in Monterrey Mexico on Saturday May 29th. ¡¡Puro fuego!! also on the bill: Instituto Mexicano del Sonido, Sonidero Nacional, etc….. BOOM.

For those who don’t know about Damas Gratis’ explosive populist power, read up: my 2008 Fader cumbia article involves careening around Buenos Aires w/ Damas Gratis leader Pablo Lescano. One of the songs he played in his S.U.V was The Kumbia Queers cover of Bronco’s “Que No Quede Huella”. Lots of groups version this one, it’s a nu-classic about love, pain, and forgetting.

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Kumbia Queers – Que No Quede Güeya

& the original from norteño band Bronco

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Bronco – Que No Quede Huella

 

& note the poster’s fine print: children under 5 get in free – amazing!

Bueno pues, nos vemos en Monterrey! Somebody say fire?

JUAN SON

Juanson

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