[Brian Degraw, Untitled John Lee Malvo, 2005, pencil on paper, 36 x 28cm]
As part of our ongoing efforts to keep radio exciting…
Tune in to Mudd Up! on WFMU next Monday, November 14th, for a show with special guest Brian Degraw, visual artist and musician from Gang Gang Dance! It’s gonna be a good one.
And below you can stream this week’s show — a live FM broadcast (& YouTube/film screening) from Spectacle Theater. New formats to help us unfold.
Big thanks to the behind-the-scenes team who made the 100% Arabica night a success: Bill, Dave, Mike, and Liz from WFMU, Spectacle’s Akiva, Tony, and the theater volunteers whose names I didn’t catch. Generosity mob!
Once we were actually broadcasting live and direct, I got overexcited and bumped up the volume without bothering to check the meters — the the 2nd half of the show has a bit of (nice) distortion, and a few minutes of unintentional overlapping audio chaos. Fidelity realism! Can’t be beat.
Adding the element of visuals and a live audience to the usual radio experience was thrilling — so we’ll return to Spectacle at 7:30pm on Monday December 5th for another live Mudd Up! remote broadcast and film screening. Details soon!
Tonight, Monday November 7th, I’ll be hosting a live radio broadcast of my WFMU show at South Williamsburg’s Spectacle Theater, followed by a screening of excellent musical comedy 100% Arabica, starring Khaled and Cheb Mami. Music/youtubery begins at 7:30, film at 9pm, showing up early is a good idea, especially if you want the homemade mint tea and dates… Full info + flyer here.
And then next Monday November 14th, Mudd Up radio returns to the WFMU studios with special guest Brian Degraw of Gang Gang Dance!!
WE LIVE LISTEN IN EXCITING TIMES.
It’s been awhile since I’ve posted MP3s on here. In honor of tonight’s live radio broadcast / rai special, here are 3 songs which may make there way into tonight’s setlist:
Mzien! Next Monday November 7th, live radio & a great, rarely-screened film at a special location in South Williamsburg.
Join us at Brooklyn’s Spectacle Theater for a live broadcast of my WFMU radio show, “Mudd Up!” from 7:30-9pm, built around a YouTube selection, followed by a screening of the fantastic musical comedy, 100% Arabica. Set in the rough suburbs of Paris, this 1997 film by Algerian director Mahmoud Zemmouri stars raï kings Khaled and Cheb Mami. 100% Arabica uses satire and incredible live music scenes to tell the tale of an up-and-coming raï band that must deal with shady cops, cassette bootlegging kids, a conservative imam, and more.
Released just 2 years after Mathieu Kassovitz’s stark social drama Le Haine (Hate), 100% Arabica joyously offers alternatives to a narrow sociological exploration of urban tension by using the same location and same broad themes to celebrate Arab and African immigrant culture in Paris.
Homemade mint tea and dates will be served ’cause we’re nice like that.
Ok, so Khaled isn’t the “Rebel of Raï” as this 2-CD set titles itself. Marketing-driven misnomers are rife; we don’t sweat it. Khaled is raï establishment, Khaled is raï king. And the Nascente CDs help explain why. Here as elsewhere, Khaled’s voice is honey, his performances nimble and generous. (For some raï context, check my 2008 piece in The National).
A survey of “the early years” (late 70s – early 90s), Rebel of Raï offers compelling evidence for the awesomeness of ’80s synths and drum machines. Nerdy listeners will enjoy the way various tunes reflect the production values of their times. There’s one glorious acoustic song from the 70s (“Trig Lycee”), and the electronic adaptations that came later, some propelled by brilliant slinky minimalism (“Hada Raikoum”): pitch-bent synthesizer, guitar snippets, Algerian rhythms inside the drum machine, voice. Here’s “Trig Lycee”, the only track on the compilation without a keyboard (cheesy or otherwise):
Look at it this way: if you don’t mind fruity keyboard lines & occasional studio overproduction, just think of all the music out there that you can now enjoy. Khaled himself sounds great no matter what’s underneath his voice. And so suddenly a huge swath of musical food chain opens up. Another way of saying: If you really like a style of music, you love it, which means you follow it through thick (reverb) and thin. You stick with raï through the 80s and beyond, and you do not frown on Khaled’s 2009 pan-afro-euro-club jams with Magic System. Même pas fatigué…
There are people who stopped liking reggae when Sleng Teng hit (There are people, fewer of them, who began liking reggae when Sleng Teng hit). In fact, thinking about late 80s dancehall may help tunes like this work as a gateway drug to the wonderful world of pop raï. Khaled alongside Cheba Zahouania, a hugely influential powerhouse in her own right:
I was speaking with Cheikha Rabia in Paris earlier this year, and when I asked about her favorite singer, her face erupted into a smile – the child inside looking out, eyes aglow – “Khaled!” Rabia said. “Khaled! He’s the best”.
Before Khaled was Khaled he was Cheb Khaled, and before that, he was in a Nass el Ghiwane cover band. I would love to hear a young Khaled singing NeG, if the band (“The Five Stars”, I think) recorded any…
a new piece of mine on rai, in The National. Yalla!
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and another in n+1. about… how the international DJ thing works? The article isn’t online. Issue launch party in Brooklyn tonite.
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Mode Raw of Bigger Judgement put together an incredible two volume comp, Gaza Lords. Which melts my brains. Lots of Jamaican heat, Di Genius shivering everyone’s spine. I’ll write it up proper in one of those ‘best of MMVIII’ lists, until now, if you harbor a soft spot for gangsta synthetics:
Artist Paul Chan will be joining me on the radio tonite. Kingdom held it down last week, Brazilian funk carioca/MPC wizard DJ Cabide the next. Paul’s playlist is tentatively titled “LOVE/sex: Marquis Muzak”. If I had time I would re-write this post with one of his fonts, maybe the Panther one or the Charles Fourier (!) one.
so there’s this looooong ongoing trope of comparing various types of world/other music to black american music. “raï is the rap music of the Arab world” or “rembetika is the blues of Greece” etc etc etc. it gets a bit boring.
Between Timbaland’s synth arpeggios and sounds like the one in this tune, maybe terrible eurotrance should be the new go-to genre for ’00 comparative musical realness/authenticity.
“Timbaland brings Eurotrash to US pop!” “Raï is the eurotrance of Europe!”
excerpt from Chan’s ‘ambient video essay’ Baghdad In No Particular Order:
I have tried – apparently not hard enough – to find a good source for new Arabic music in NYC. I miss raï! Sheesha bars in Bay Ridge? no problem. Egyptian kebab vendors who make me return to upper-midtown at odd hours to sell me CD-rs & then forget to bring them? Yes. Lemeni bodega owners in Chelsea who tell me all the good music is online, free!, and want to burn me some of it, if only Vista would let them? Sadly, yes. Dusty Lebanese-run cassette shops with Oum, Fairuz, and phonecards? of course. but rai? Not in my path. At least not yet. sigh.
I miss it extra now that crunk has raised/lowered the global synth game stakes! plus, autotune. Nobody autotunes harder than the north Africans.
thanks to everyone who came out for the west coast shows: team hug!
I learned something new on this trip: POWELL’S CITY OF BOOKS. large and independent — no, LARGEST — the largest indy used & new bookstore in the world… simply incredible. ( “rad” as the PDX folk like to say.)
if yr in Portland, I recommend the Atlas party. Find Ez & shout “more reggada!”
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