Friday 28 April 2006 at 1:50 pm
So. Ali Farka Toure has moved on but he leaves behind many musical children. Among them Tinariwen. Much can be said about this band -- but not now, I'm saving those words for later. For now we should simply listen:
Tinariwen - Arawan (from the album Amassakoul)
A friend from Rennes copied this for me, knowing I would like it. An awkwardly sublimated colonial guilt plus general relative open-mindedness means that the French French people are fairly familiar with 'world music', which is a term describing a market niche rather than anything else -- and that's a handy thing to have: a term describing not the goods purchased but the type of person doing the purchasing.
An odd but familiar double-standard in Spanish racism is that the Spanish football fans (fútbol meaning soccer) will hurl racist slurs and make monkey noises and heap all sorts of horribly inappropriate abuse on the black players but when the same players win the game, there will be celebration in the streets. The white bigots will hug each other in their tight pants and drive home drunk, slamming on the horn as they steer, cheering for hours on end -- never getting harrassed by the traffic cops. This warped meaty joy, this black magic made of testosterone and crowd psychology and xenophobia and dick envy and an impoverished understanding of basic economics. It turns the athletic talent of a dozen or so men (most of them non-Spanish) into a grand statement on their team, their city, their region, their nation. Barça won! Madrid won! We hate the niggers! Foreigners out of Spain! End immigration in Catalunya! Our sports heroes are black!
Psychology aside, the scariest thing about football fans in Europe isn't the racist double-standard, it's the violence and impunity with which the crowds run wild. This is a mob. If we took away football maybe they'd take a cue from the Ku Klux Klan (who imported their stylish headgear from Mediterranean Catholic ritual) and just round up the immigrants, route them out of their homes and...
But we were talking about music. We weren't talking about our impressive ability to focus on music and ignore everything else. iPods as shields, tune out the world, individually. We were talking about Tinariwen. Whose name means "empty spaces". Which are the opposite of a football mob. The Saharan desert is the opposite of a football stadium with expensive bottled water and Spaniards chanting "monkey". I was talking to you about the Tinariwen CD-r. My computer is convinced that it's Dipset.
"Diplomatic Immunity Vol. 2" it tells me, accepting neither compromise nor critique. Resolute as only a digital creature can be. From the digital standpoint, life is zeros and ones. On or off. Black or white. A complex situation, from a computer's point of view, has a lot of zeros and ones in it. Analog allows for interpretation; digital requires execution. Explaining the nuances of life's rich pageant to my personal computer is useless. It hears Cam'Ron, Juelz. It tells me their song titles, it ignores the Tuaregs of Tinariwen. My computer calls track 6 "Wouldn't You Like To Be a Gangsta Too?" instead of "Amidinin", which the analog Jace knows to be the true title of the 6th song on his CD-r.
At this point an tangential thought enters: there are bloggers who blog to gain access to print media, mainstream media. These bloggers camouflage their diarism with a veneer of professionality. Or of distance, or commonality. And then there are messy bloggers who talk to themselves out loud, in public, often getting ignored because it is easier to ignore potentially crazy people then talk to them, because talking to a crazy person in public can be deeply unsatisfying and make you look crazy too; at the end of the day conformity really is comforting and freaky people are weird. Striving for honesty you may appear cuckoo, which is never fashionable or cool. And in many American cities coolness can be monetized with breathtaking speed. All that is solid melts into air, all that is stylish is ordained.
"Dipset, bitch" says my personal computer. Reverie interrupted. Is this Bill Gates' idea of a joke? Should I upgrade to Windows XP? This is a legal copy of Windows, isn't it? Maybe not. Crap.
Perhaps it's better to reason with the Machine. Zeroes and ones, black or white.
"Diplomatic Immunity Volume 2 is an excellent mixtape, perhaps my favorite from Harlem's Diplomats" I tell my pc, "but it´s not Amasaakoul, an album whose songs mourn the passing of the epic golden age of the Saharan tribes, while endeavoring to map out a future for the generations who must survive beyond it and live with the modern world."
Suddenly I remember that computers have no truck with sentimentality. Must be clearer, more concise. "Look!", I say. "On the CD she wrote 'A KIND OF TUAREG B.' before running out of space. Clearly not uptown rap. Right?"
My computer doesn't respond. In the silence that follows I half remember a story a Jewish African friend by way of Fiji and upstate New York told me about his family's Tuareg servants. Somebody got tied up. There may have been a ransom involved. He told the story with laughter. Comedy. He had had servants, in Africa. I can't remember which country.
The only thing I remember clearly about the story is that his sister, whom I spent more time with, never mentioned having had servants. But one day she complained about American soul food. "It's undignified! It's dirty! This is slavery food, back then the slaves got the scraps and leftovers, all the filthy stuff that nobody else would eat."
Perhaps you've been reading Mudd Up! long enough to anticipate my response: "But ---, that's precisely the beauty of it! You give a people scraps, pieces, subsistence food, and they invent ways to prepare it. To make it taste good. That's noble -- to bend abuse and junk into a kind of cuisine. Sure, chitlins smell something awful and eating pigs guts and pigs feet and pig snouts is kinda yucky but no more so then regular meat. Black soul food is a testament to the Negro Power of Resistance and Invention." My beautiful friend was not impressed. Her former Tuareg servants were nowhere to be seen. She had hidden them. It is impossible to hide the cooking of chitlins because your whole house will smell.
It's hard to negotiate power, whether you have it or whether you don't.
So one of the things I like least is when people with power pretend they have none, act as if their position is natural, pretend that their privilege and leverage is not an issue, is not constructed (and therefore not destroyable), doesn't exist.
Wednesday 26 April 2006 at 1:33 pm
get bogged down with precise descriptions.
Africa is big: fifty-four countries, 900 million people who are too
busy starving and dying and warring and emigrating to read your book... Taboo subjects: ordinary domestic scenes, love between Africans
(unless a death is involved), references to African writers or
intellectuals, mention of school-going children who are not suffering
from yaws or Ebola fever or female genital mutilation... Your hero
is you (if reportage), or a beautiful, tragic international
celebrity/aristocrat who now cares for animals (if fiction).
* * *
For some sweet
70s music from Senegal
a French-language blog upping vinyl rips of 3rd and 1st world funk,
soul, and more. Old posts on the mainpage still sport live mp3
U can google
-- "Of the hundreds of references still fill the shelves with
our municipal media libraries. Invaluable testimonys but which leaves
a bitter taste of enlightened colonialism: 'thus Listen to music
of fright, but especially, remain well fixed on your armchair without
moving during the conference!' Ah, this whore of complex of
superiority of the occident..."
Tuesday 25 April 2006 at 1:57 pm
yo-pop was yo-pop it was souped up juju music with the Yoruba talking
drums loud, giving Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey a run for his money.
Meaning audience. We are superstars the proto-superstars declare. International. In
Lagos Nigeria, as elsewhere, a prerequisite to success is looking successful.
Shina Adewale and his Superstars - Awa Ni Superstars
2005's comp Lagos
Chop Up. Meaning feast. Sir Shina Adewale is not one superstar but two -- Segun
Adewale and Sir Shina Peters.
speaking of Africa
my friend Dídac Lagarriga has just written
a book -- Afroresistances,
Afroresonances -- profiling a number of 'other'
Africas: queer activism, tech
entrepeneurship, even a piece on one of my fav Dakar hiphop
crews, Attaque Libératoire de l'Infanterie Féministe
(whom Maga Bo has been recording with! very good choruses!).
Not a survey (distance, authority rhetoric establishing
'objectivity'), but more a series of Polaroids, close-up snapshots
crisp or blurred, fragments of an impossible whole, finding a shared language, the possibilities
of windows, the conversation's start.
llibre Afroresistències, afroressonàncies és
una introducció a diverses iniciatives socials contemporànies
que han sorgit al sud del Sàhara. Traçant un recorregut
personal, el llibre vol superar l’Àfrica estigmatitzada i
homogènia, que continua empresonada en els bucles mediàtics,
per a documentar moltes de les «altres» Àfriques.
Desmuntant prejudicis, anant amb peus de plom, desviant-se... Però
també testimoniant, denunciant i homenatjant una societat
civil que mai no ha parat de moure’s.
Afroresistances, Afroresonances is an introduction to various
contemporary social initiatives emerging from sub-Saharan Africa.
Through a personal journey, the book seeks to reach beyond the
stigmatized and homogeneous Africa -- ever-present in the media
cycles --- to document a number of 'other' Africas. Dismantling
prejudices, walking carefully, veering off... But also testifying,
denouncing, and paying homage to a society that has never stopped
Thursday 20 April 2006 at 12:41 pm
up for a heap of vinyl rips from The Dark Kontinent, but until then
it's more Nettledom & sonic urtification.
details later, this is the path:
1 London. The Spitz.
With Senegalese kora master Doudou Cissoko*
2 London ((Rupture & Filastine record release party!))
3 Bristol. Venn
4 Norwich. Norwich Arts Centre*
5 Leeds. Brudenell Social Club*
Wednesday 19 April 2006 at 1:03 pm
BASECK + CHRIS CLARK + MORE is a very strange equation indeed, but you can
come see the results this Saturday in Zaragoza, Spain, as all of us
will perform at its Electro
there. Should be wild! Nettle goes on early, 8pm, right before "the
first rapper to sign to a major label" Kurtis Blow. (what on
earth is he doing now, two and a half decades later?)
if you don't know Baseck,
you should: he's an amazing DJ -- one of the best -- applying hiphop
battle techniques to experimental beats and breakcore. Freedom lies
at the 'core' of his live mixing; he'll do all this crazy turntablism
that's technically brilliant and inspiring, and the vinyl gets
flipped and cut in surprising ways so even a familiar tune will come
many radical improvisers, Baseck is hugely respected by those who can
appreciate the level of talent it takes to do what he does, but isn't
yet as well-known as he should be because people are sleeping and
it's hard to get 'buyable product' out of improvers such as DJs
anyhow, and if you don't have an album then The Press can't
really write about you. Anyhow -- big up Baseck.
Note: his moustache may not be real
also vaguely curious to see Autechre, a group whose influential days
were a decade ago, but who continue milking their electronica
mystique and getting paid considerable amounts to perform to large crowds
of vaguely curious people like myself.
often claim that their music
(and this may be partially true), but they never mention their primary generative and self-perpetuating art: marketing
themselves as hermetic geniuses. To do that credibly takes real talent, arguably
greater than their musical talent: who I am to deny it?
Monday 17 April 2006 at 4:41 pm
& brothers: i've been quiet, i know.
enough it's not from lack of words but the opposite: too many things
to say, no time for glib summaries, i want longwinded. For example:
the books I'm reading are all excellent and rewarding, but to
actually talk about them would require paragraphs, which would
require time, which i don't have since i'm doing other things like
reading them in the first place, recording and arranging sounds, and
trying to seriously contemplate what i call "the
beginning of the end" ////
fine burnable books are as follows -- if you have read them perhaps you agree
and neither of us need to explain anything, we can just nod:
File on H. - Ismail
Kadare (thanks Lillevan!!)
My Cocaine Museum - Michael Taussig
Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Philip K Dick (thanks
1. Nada = Nothing.
bizarrely, this doesn't appear to have been translated into English.
Friday 14 April 2006 at 3:45 pm
to recordings of blazingly fast gypsy music you can be sure of one
thing: somewhere in the world, still, there are places where
musicians gather to play even faster and more freely, where
people don't wait til the end of the song to cheer, and suddenly
halfway through the solo the clarinetist is being hugged by a bearish
man, hugged because of the solo, its beauty, this flowing water, this
gold from the river.
And keeps on playing.
you step on the DAT tape, sell the microphones, dip dark bread in
soup, keep time tapping the floor with shoes that don't mind mud.
Öçal & the Trakya AllStars - Çoban
a high quality disc of contemporary Turkish gypsy music. Buyable.
Wednesday 12 April 2006 at 11:50 am
to the Eskimo Appreciation Club: all members who have not
downloaded the Roll Deep mixtape Creeper
are instructed to do so immediately. Free grime beats paid grime, at
level of wallet and sonics. Delivered by Logan Sama. "If you're not f--ed up your
thing this ain't" - Taliban Trim.
- Bastard freestyle
minute mix of the Love Joys
Nobody does existential roots harmony like the Love Joys. Their classic
reggae lovesongs don't depict 'happy'; they embody estrangement,
romance embers, the crushing loneliness only found in a shared bed:
i reach out to you, you turn and say i love you
but you you're only dreaming
this relationship has no meaning
stranger, get up get up get out of here
Auratheft writes "Here
you find marvellous songs about loss, lost and found love, injustice,
social critique and redemption, sung and written by two Jamaican
cousins from Brixton, England: Sonia Abel & Claudette Brown.
Their voices seem perfectly made for each other, creating an unheard
harmonized sound that has never been matched."
other news, soon Mudd Up! will receive a big makeover courtesy
rebranding it and re-launching the site as Mudd Uppity, a
Condoleezza Rice fanblog. I love Condi even more than i love NYT fluff.
Thursday 06 April 2006 at 11:07 am
saturday from 11pm-1am I'll be on the Crossfader show at Scanner
107.7 here in Barcelona. Playing individual tracks and
chatting about them with host David Puentes (en castellano).
runs ClubbingSpain, a
techo/dj website with heaps of interviews (including an old
one w/ yrs truly).
precisamente ahí tengo la sesión de esta noche…
[Señala un montón de vinilos esparcidos con “ordenado
desorden” por uno de los sofás de su estudio].
radio station streams online in a variety of formats for everyone not
in this dangerously beautiful city shoehorned so elegantly between the mountain
and the sea
Saturday 01 April 2006 at 12:26 am
I crouch there, sitting dumbly
pushing the enemas out like ice cream,
letting the whole brown world
turn into sweets.
who are you?
Merely a kid keeping alive.