Thursday 27 January 2005 at 1:48 pm
Sounds first, words later. Ndanzwa Ngoma Kurira by Zimbabwe's Thomas Mapfumo. From his 1984 Mabasa
album. The lyrics and LP artwork are both stunning, add a whole new
next-level deepness to this already deep track.
The song title translates to I Hear The Sounds of Drumming.
A quick lookabout pulled up this relatively recent article
I´ve heard the sound of drumming,
Guys you´ve let me down
I have heard the sound of drumming
Guys, I would like to go
I´ve heard the sounds of drumming
The girls here are proud
I´ve heard the sound of drumming
Guys you´ve killed me
I´ve heard the sound of drumming.
Sunday 23 January 2005 at 07:00 am
warped iPod sketch (5.5MB quicktime movie) feels entirely like Jam-era Chris Morris (detached
voices, skewed video effects, queasy dark comedy, ambient music bed) but
was made by these guys.
Soft-brain humor for a lazy weekend. AKA everything
else i´ve looked at on the internet recently is hugely depressing.
Like-- Chant down Babylon, right? Nope.
In addition to atrocious bungling & greedy bids, my country is
actively trampling millenia of history-- the entire scale of violence
shifts. Wayne hosts an amazing pic of Neo Babylon strolling Nebuchadnezzar Bablyon. Where is Bob Marley / Indiana Jones / the U.N. when you need him?
Also: ads hack consciousness. and conscientiousness. & vice versa. Media conflict looks like this. (2.5MB quicktime movie)
Saturday 22 January 2005 at 12:56 pm
Roadz, the most ambitious of the handful of self-produced
grime/garage scene DVDs I've seen, is a cluttered, bugged-out
forest. You can literally get lost in it, with submenus navigating 3+ hours of handheld digicam footage, a majority of it
featuring poor young black guys shouting urban poetry and/or warrior
chants into overloaded microphones with or without musical
accompaniment. POW! If you call that music.
shows in a WHITE BATHROBE to drop laid-back (chilled-out, utterly non
David Brentian) mic management tips, accapella, then takes a sip from
his white coffee mug. You can't see his feet but I bet
the brother's rocking terrycloth slippers.
Friday 21 January 2005 at 07:19 am
While typing a longish piece on the odd intersection btwn M.I.A.´s neatly tailored package and the unruly tangle that is the Risky Roadz
DVD, I look up and Simon Silverdollar has posted one of my fav grime riddims
, a perfect alien bruiser known as Pulse Eskimo aka the Gunshot Riddim
(Downloadable as a m4a file, whatever that is..). A
crucial listen, Gunshot humps and clatters with a movement all its own.
Simon sez: "despite being built from uniformly ultra-brutalist sounds
it never lapses into the repellent macho rigidity of much extreme
electronic music. this is a more organic take on extremism, on a human,
even personal, scale. the sound of people losing and terrifying
themselves, rather than machines terrorising people." Yup.
I feel like I´m outsourcing my work, so, biggish post soon,
complete w/ a pic of Kano slaying sucker MCs in a bathrobe, coffee mug
in hand. I meant to post old (read: pre-Diwali) Lenky riddims, but I
can´t remember if they were destroyed in last years car crash or not.
Thursday 20 January 2005 at 05:02 am
at least we´re not alone.
bbc world service interviewed 22,000 people in 21 countries about international peace & security under the bush
Wednesday 19 January 2005 at 9:32 pm
grime lovers / detractors take note: simon platinum plus on a track-by-track writeup
of 2004 postrave british eskimo thug music.
On the delicious epic draw-jopper that is Jammer´s 'Feedback' :
"Jammer merks sunn-o and all those people, with a meditation on bass
feedback and thrum. sludgy, but in a really pure, almost blissy way,
it's right out there with wonder's 'what', and may be even beyond, at
that end of the grime spectrum that takes delight in making no sense
and confusing everyone. in theory that's great, and in practice it's
lots of fun too." Yes.
I´ve never heard anything hang in the
air & electrify it the way 'Feedback' does; I respect the
frequencies too much to cramp them onto an MP3 or I´d rip it. Thrilling inexplicable sound pressured onto vinyl.
Even (especially?) if you nobody hears these tunes, people
should read the writeups & try to make music that sounds the way
Simon describes it. Sad, in a way, but true: printed music
magazines are like dinosaurs with arthritis.
Wednesday 19 January 2005 at 2:01 pm
My greatest achievement yesterday was
rearranging the preschool letter-magnets on a friend's refrigerator to spell:
FUCK UP GANSTER COPZ FOMENT CLASS WAR
I used all available vowels.
Saturday 15 January 2005 at 2:45 pm
the deal: Rothko´s the spot, Chain Agent´s the gang, and
whatever Rupture is, he, er, I, don´t get over to the U.S.
much. So when I do, it´s time to PARTY.
Spread the word, come out, get low, Crunklandia ahoy!
Up For Tsunami Relief
Jan 28th / Rothko
116 Suffolk NYC
admission, to be donated to humanitarian relief in SE Asia &
/Rupture (Barcelona, Soot Records, Tigerbeat6)
(NYC, Full Watts, Transparent Records)
Sound System (NYC, Warp, Sound-Ink, Shockout)
Raw (NYC, Change Agent)
Friday 14 January 2005 at 08:32 am
2004 I got to meet & hang-out with 2 true giants in my
audio/cultural landscape: the Moroccan band Nass El Ghiwane & the
American radio artist/wound technician Gregory Whitehead. Who?
just posted an MP3 anthology of 20 years of Whitehead´s radio
plays, performances and outcasts, along with a few of his writings.
The MP3s range from his early tapes (where I first heard Ziggurat) to an 11minute excerpt from “The Loneliest
Road”, a 2003 radioplay for the BBC with music composed by The
Books (as soon as I heard Thought for Food I sent it to
Gregory, he loved it, contacted them, and the rest is...)
always been impressed with the way Gregory´s stuff circulates—looking for it directly is never the best option
because his material moves simultaneously via several seemingly
unrelated channels: cassettes traded in the old experimental
mailswap circuit, pseudonym 7”s, screamscape studies for local
radio & audience telephones, commissions from the BBC, articles
here & there, editor behind some definitive books on sound &
radio. He sidesteps the usual categories of musician/critic,
academic/street, high art/no-fi art, documentarian/confidence man,
thanatos/eros, etc. Even at its most theoretical, his writing remains rooted, relevant.
heard the tapes first. Whitehead's soundwork is viscerally
compelling—a lot of it is simply words, gasps, and utterances.
Additional sounds set a psychological mood or unnerve. Yet
it's playful--overtly funny, flirting with desire. It tells or
suggests stories, though the narrative may be linear, cyclical,
disarticulate, or straight-up impossible. Quality creepy + dead-on
“Drone Tones and other Radiobodies"
is mostly a set of relationships, an intricate triangulation of
listener, “player” and system. It’s also a huge corporate
beast, and the awareness that you’re working within a highly
capitalized network. Finally, there is the way in which radio is
listened to, frequently in an extremely low-fi environment, with
people listening on a car radio, or they’re in the kitchen and
they’re cooking and they’re listening with only half an ear. To
me, radio art comes to grips with all of that, it comes to grips with
both the context of production and the context of listening.
is a great resource in and of itself, containing all sorts of audio
gems & interviews from the 20th century avant-garde,
such as a 1967 Salvador Dalí flexidisc, a 3-hour FMU interview
with Henry Flynt, Artaud, Dockstader (“because I´ve had no
schooling in traditional music I in a way start back where I suppose
hundreds of years thousands where the first guy picked up a rock or
something and started to me music is just very simply a matter of
tension and release.”), Tzara, many many more.
& further quotes from Whitehead
Thursday 13 January 2005 at 11:57 am
somebody posted this on my building.
Wednesday 12 January 2005 at 07:19 am
There's a fun mix of
misapplied statistics and dry social observation in today's
article on Spanish lifestyle rhythms:
big meal of the day at 3pm, dinner around 10pm, etc. (if you don't
have a log-on name, use "toneburst" for both user ID &
password to read it). My favorite sentence: "Spaniards
work more hours per week than the average European, according to the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, but they
accomplish less." Apparently Spanish people sleep less
than the average European too. "The lack of sleep has
serious health effects for Spanish society, he said, including a
greater incidence of physical and mental illness and higher rates of
traffic and workplace accidents." (Nobody except the
dude NYT found truly believes that more sleep would make Spain a less
few months ago the free ´Metro´daily here ran an article
about how 3 out of 5 Spaniards nap on the job, interesting how all
this data collides. But it´s true: in Madrid we went out to
dinner at 1:30 AM once--- because all the other restaurants were
full. "Afternoon" stretches until about 8 or 9pm.
Late night tangle with mornings.
they cut up time says a lot about a person or society (or musician).
Spanish time is abundant, resinous, hard to get off your fingers and
easy to get stuck in. Tour time (a surreal variant of Commuter time)
is detached, stuffed & mounted: you watch yourself wait to
travel, wait to eat, wait to soundcheck, wait to play, everything
changes every day except the rhythm: somebody else's time giftwrapped
as your own.
Sunday 09 January 2005 at 1:56 pm
god,” snorted the Madrid bookstore clerk, “...Ray Loriga.” I was in Loriga's hometown, purchasing his novel Tokyo Doesn't Love Us Anymore. And the guy
selling it made fun of me for buying it.
haven't been able to locate a single Spanish person with good things
to say about Loriga: he's vapid, he's a pijo,
he likes shallow fame, he just writes about rich pijos
having sex with each other, he's got a cheesy
wrist tattoo and contorts himself adjusting the watch and cigarette
to make sure it's visible in his publicity shots, he uses too much mousse which is to
say you can't trust a man who spends both time and money
to make himself look disheveled. Fair
enough. But I wanted to find out for myself.
had compared Tokyo to Philip Dick, which was good enough for
me: on the basis of A Scanner Darkly
(this is to say, willfully ignoring the fortysomething other novels
he cranked out) Dick is one of the most exciting writers I've
read in any genre in awhile, period. Hard to describe, but he´s
good in a way that few are: the hilarity, the paranoia, the
lucidity, the narrative charge & pacing, the souped-up druggy
lucidity. The generosity. He believes in people, empathizes with
undazzling frayed everyday people.
judge a book by its cover when you can judge by the first
sentence? (Especially important to not judge Dick's books by
their covers, which tend to be embarrassing science fictiony/fantasy
if-someone-sees-you-reading this-in-public-they're gonna-think-you're
goofy- and/or-a Trekkie- style drawings.) A Scanner Darkly begins:
“Once a guy stood all day shaking bugs from his hair.” The way
the rest of the opening treats poor aphid- and/or drug-afflicted
Jerry not with no trace of topdown caricaturization or pathos is a
refreshingly gentle, unassuming way for an author to relate to his
characters, even burn-outs and potential burn-outs. If you haven't yet, my
advice is to read Scanner before the movie debuts & Keanu
Aside: It's interesting to read Dick with Chandler in mind,
boozy Raymond Chandler for whom the morally ambiguous terrain of LA
is littered with abstract clues that eventually lead to a unified
truth--a solution; and pill-popping Philip Dick, whose LA is
hallucinatory, plural, personal in the way that one´s dreams or
nightmares or drug reveries are personal--dissolute.
L.A. vs addict L.A.
started as a post about Loriga but now it's about coffee. Namely
espresso. Particularly, caffeine. In my bloodstream. I realized that
the bpm count of my recorded output was dropping steadily, hence the
new year's resolution : drink coffee. Later I'll try to wrest my own
attention span back towards the book I just read.)
Thursday 06 January 2005 at 11:31 am
is Día de los Reyes
in Spain, aka National Blackface Day, where the Biblical three wise
men (Santa surrogates to the secular)
leave presents in everybody's shoes, one king being Balthazar the
African. Even though plenty of Negroes populate Spain,
it's just as common to find a white Spaniard in black greasepaint
doing the honors. You'll see dozens of blackfaced Spaniards during this
time of year: on TV, in parades, waving at children in malls,
grinning over products in syndicated commercials, and so on.
know a lot of Africans here who wouldn't mind some extra cash around
Christmastime, but I guess getting white guys to charcoal their faces
is less hassle.
roscón de Reyes is the typical holiday dessert—interesting only because in a land of exceptional pastries,
it acts just like American fruitcake: leaden, dry,
on the other hand, are a popular candy here any time of year. The
tasty chocolate-covered peanuts aren't as black as white
Balthazars, but they dance compatible shimmys.
Saturday 01 January 2005 at 12:06 pm
off: pretty much nobody who bothers to write up a "top X albums
of the year" list actually buys albums. Most of them are
journalists, which means they receive free copies from publicists
hired by the artists/labels to repeatedly bug media workers to generate
buzz about said albums.
significant chunk of what you've read online or off- is basically
rehashed "one-sheet" prose. Publicists send out
info sheets along with the album, explaining the music, giving
context and suggesting spin angles, hyping the CD using metaphors and
comparisons and imagery that inevitably get recycled into reviews and
writeups. (Happens so frequently it's funny; writers must
absorb one-sheet images subconsciously.) And not just in music, of
course--unimaginative journalists crib from publicity
sheets all over: film, literature, news. In Washington it turns into
lobbyists, and things go really haywire. In every big city you'll
find a bookstore specializing in reviewer's copies of books:
reviewers get free promo editions, read them, then sell 'em. Lots of
CD shops turn the same trade.
there are the DJs like myself, who buy tons of vinyl singles yet only
shell out cash for a full album when there's a song on it that we
really want to play live.
Then there are the hardcore music fans
with a reasonably well-paying day job, honorable folks who actually
purchase CDs by artists they like. These same people probably vote
regularly in local and national elections, and if their savings
aren't tucked away in some sensible investment portfolio yet, they
will be soon. Everybody else downloads everything. The only CDs we
buy are blank.
My first problem with top 10 music lists is that applying
hierarchies to artistic endeavors is absurd at best. It's like
talking about the weather using superlatives ("April 9th was the
best sunny day of 2004!").
I'm not into dudes with big record collections pretending they can
build a canon, or even wanting to try.
My second problem with top 10 lists is that when music is hottest and
most interesting it isn't concerned with being "the best".
"The best" is always retrospective. Good music is always
ahead. If you want taxidermy & placards explaining it all, go
to a natural history museum. (A few years back they finally removed
the stuffed dead African "Black Man" on display here in
broadly, music moves in currents. For example, grime & dancefloor
breakcore were cool this year, but neither genre coughed up any
albums that captured the excitement of the scene it stemmed from. Both
scenes flourish around singles, mixtapes, parties, radio shows, and
stoned producers who rock out with their mini-entourage in the attic or
basement of Mum's house, towel jammed under the
door so she don't smell the skunk.
Albums coming from hot scenes tend to arrive long after the heat has
moved on. Dizzee's debut CD hit so hard because it was
many listeners' first grime immersion. His 2nd album paled in comparison for a
lot of reasons--namely substandard beats, but his
former companions blazed ahead making crazy brilliant half-music,
shooting off whitelabel singles and one-off dubplates, agile and
warped and fast, while expensive ads for Rascal's Showtime album lumbered
by on the sides of London doubledecker buses.
This year I
heard a lot of hype grime mixtapes (Logan Sama, Lord of the Mic, etc)
& pirate broadcasts (Flex, Jah Mek the World, many more), and I
saw a lot of amazing breakcore (Snares, Sickboy, Shitmat DJing). But
albums that channeled or redirected the wild energy of sketchy FM
transmissions or singed bass on overworked soundsystems...
The whole "album" concept when looked at via the popular
narratives of music criticism makes little sense. There's a
contrived, quietly racist division between music that is naive native
genius aka "street" (i.e. raw, unselfconscious, stylized
representations of a lifestyle that happens in a neighborhood where
you would either be afraid to rent an apartment or where you want to
rent an apartment because it's edgy/has colored people living there)
and music that is more brainy, less populist, less real. One of the
main ways these straw-men categories are reinforced is by people
condemning the latter for mistakes while praising the former for
doing the same thing, and vice-versa.
Kayne West raps about buying furniture at IKEA it's a big deal, he's
breaking rules and upending conventions via behind-the-scenes
confessions--look, it's a bear suit!; whereas when Anticon raps about
anything at all the same people couldn't care in the least. It's good
to keep an eye out for what artists can break the (unspoken?) rules
and what artists people don't think any rules apply to. Rules behind
the rules is what we're trying to crack here.
example of the attempts to differentiate into existence “street
music” & “bedroom music”: both breakcore and grime are
weird, oftentimes abrasive peripheral dance musics being made by a
handful of in-the-know producers and released through tight DIY
distribution networks. But critical consensus is quick to praise
grime as raw/street/populist and breakcore as individualist/bedroom even when, in
absolute terms, breakcore records are selling better, the genre is
more widespread and grassroots and internationally-catchy than grime.
(It's like survival of the least fit!) The categorization is goofy
but yes, I believe the world's 'street' is vibing more with breakcore right now.
Hmmm.. I don't remember how all this relates to reason #5...
Maybe something about how albums are hastily cast, either/or style,
as individual gems of idiosyncratic brilliance or shiny platinum-selling metonyms from a vibrant subaltern culture. ???
My fourth problem with top 10s is my lack of a problem. People ask me
to write Top 10 lists, I oblige. Everybody needs filters. Everybody
has new stuff to learn from people whose tastes they trust.
Problem number six: why start & stop at music? I want to see
anybody's Top 10 Scary Pieces of Legislation Passed in 2004. Or the
Top 10 Non-imaginary Threats to Healthy Democracies in 2004. And if people
really wanna boast about how cool they are, instead of naming a bunch of
musicians and rappers, why not the Top 10 Things I Did to Make A
Globally Horrible Year Slightly Less Horrible.
for one, didn't do anything, hence all this talk about music. . .