several plates spinning

* Tomorrow, I’ll be in Durham, North Carolina, performing at the Duke Coffeehouse.

* Friday Nettle will make our D.C. debut at a special edition of Africa Is Not A Country hosted by DJs Bent and Mothersheister! We have new songs to play, a new album to sell, and hope to see you.

* Saturday, Nettle returns to Brooklyn for an intimate show at Williamsburg gallery space Vaudeville Park. We have four hundred candles and Ian keeps talking about tapestries and/or pillows. ATTENDANCE MANDATORY, NEW NEW YORK. Lamin Fofana will DJ.

* Then on Monday December 5th– the action never stops, does it? — you are invited to Spectacle Theater in south Williamsburg for a live broadcast of my WFMU radio show. Thanks to everyone who made our inaugural 100% Arabica Spectacle broadcast a success. Live FM from our favorite underground theater!


[Nass El Ghiwane]

The December 5th radio show will be built from a YouTube selection of my favorite Moroccan tracks, and will be followed by a screening of Ahmed El Maanouni’s gripping and poetic Nass El Ghiwane documentary film, TRANSES (1981). Nass El Ghiwane, a group of working class musicians from Casablanca, revolutionized Maghrebi music in the 1970s and remain Morocco’s most important band. TRANSES captures them at the height of their power.


[self-portrait in my Transes poster]

Here is an oft-compiled Nass El Ghiwane track, Mahmouma. This version comes from Stern’s epic 18-CD “Africa 50 years” box set (“The most comprehensive compilation of African music ever achieved. . . 183 classic recordings by 183 important artists from 38 countries in North, South, East and West Africa.”)

Sterns cut Mahmouma down to half its length, but the mastering is good:


Nass El Ghiwane – Mahmouma

johnfpeters bdmoroc 5828

[John Francis Peters – Meryem by the sea in Casablanca]

And last but not least, head to Time Magazine’s Lightbox to see “Insha’Allah”, a photoessay by John Francis Peters, taken in Morocco as part of our Beyond Digital project.


On Sunday December 11, the Mudd Up Book Clubb returns to Manhattan, to discuss Lauren Beukes’ 2010 novel Zoo City. If you wanted to throw genre signifiers at it, you could say that it’s new African urban fantasy sci-fi noir with a strong musical component. There is even an accompanying soundtrack , released on African Dope records:

As I wrote in my August post on Zoo City, “It’s weird noir, set in contemporary Johannesburg, featuring an ex-junkie protagonist named Zinzi December and her magic sloth. The unconventional pair is caught in a web of intrigue involving murder, 419 email scams, and a missing kwaito/afropop teen star. In short, it sounds like a book specifically engineered for my peer group.” Check out the full post for more thoughts on Zoo City, or join us on December 11th in New York City for realtime talk.


Past Book Clubb selections:

November 2011 NYC edition: Samuel R. Delany Times Square Red, Times Square Blue

September 2011 Tangiers edition: Juan Goytisolo – Exiled from Everywhere

August 2011: Madrid edition: Cesar Aira – How I Became a Nun

June 2011: Casablanca edition: Maureen F. McHugh – Nekropolis



Join us for an intimate night of sound & celebration on Saturday, December 3rd @ Vaudeville Park in Brooklyn (L to Graham). Mint tea, dates, and homemade deliciousness will be served.

We are celebrating the release of Nettle’s new album on Sub Rosa, El Resplandor: The Shining in Dubai. (get it at: iTunes Amazon Boomkat eMusic actual record stores, etc)

“Dubai may be a cipher masquerading as a city, but it’s not a complete blank slate unencumbered by theoretical and contextual baggage, and El Resplandor depicts it as you might expect: ancient and dignified ‘Middle Eastern’ airs buffeted by howls of the ghosts in modernity’s machine. This is not to say that the album is merely conventional, however, for El Resplandor contains some of /Rupture’s most vivid and striking music… provocative and as chilling as anything in the real Shining” – Peter Shapiro, The Wire Nov 2011

Sat. December 3rd: Nettle (live), Lamin Fofana (dj). Vaudeville Park, 26 Bushwick Ave. Bklyn. doors at 8:30pm $8. Come early warm bodies shining ghosts.


in which the ladies of Super Tight get incarcerated for copyright infringement (showing my 90210 clip); face potentially catastrophic replacement by the men of Bronx Juice; receive a curious video message from the M.E.D.E.A Housewives Terrorist Group; learn Jonny Oso’s background in law; and hear a prison guard wax — interruptedly — on generic narrative conventions, among many other developments, plus puppets and some extra meta. “What is a puppet?”


Busy season… I’ve been meaning to post about September, when Nettle, Maggie and Juan, and Hassan and Abdellah and I met up in Tangiers Morocco for a week. Until I get the time to explain more about that, here is a video which captures the spirit and sound of what happened:

This September 2011, Hassan Wargui (Imanaren) from south Morocco met the group Nettle from New York City in Tangiers. A week of collaborative songwriting and recording led up to a concert outside the Cinematheque de Tanger in the medina. This is “L’Avion”, one of the songs they wrote during this time.

Imanaren. and their album, out now on Dutty Artz.

Nettle. And their album, out now on Sub Rosa.


During last night’s radio show I said –

Whoeover wants to hear David Lynch singing through a vocoder for seven minutes, please raise you hand.

– and then complied with the raised hands I couldn’t see.

This happened after I had played many other songs, all of which you can stream:

Listen out for a debut of Venezuelan indie act Algodón Egipcio’s incredible remix of Cardencheros de Sapioriz / Cantos Cardenches, which I got to witness him create over the course of several amazing days in Monterrey, Mexico, with the Norte Sonoro project. When the Cardenches heard Algodón’s live version, they were visibly moved, saying “nuestra música va a vivir para siempre”! So great when “remixed” and “remixer” can listen together and rock the same stage.

More on Norte Sonoro soon.. until then, radio up and enjoy the cumbias.

tracklist: Continue reading RADIO CANTO



[setting up at Norte Sonoro, Casa de las Culturas, San Pedro, Monterrey MX]

Gracias MTY, Gracias Nrmal,

Gracias Artesanía de Colombia in downtown Monterrey, where I picked up this music yesterday – they got the good stuff (dir. Reforma no. 541 Pte. entre Cuauhtemoc y Pino Suarez).

For the record, Mexicans make the best cumbias colombianas.


Cumbia de Monterrey

[audio: CUMBIA TERE.mp3]

Cumbia Terre


El Retorno de la Chida



Bailando la Cumbia


Problema Matrimonial

[audio: SE BAILA LA CUMBIA.mp3]

Jorge Meza – Asi Se Baila La Cumbia


[DJ Rupture y Los Enlace Vallenato at Nrmal‘s NorteSonoro, Monterrey]

[audio: MAMA CUMBIA.mp3]

Mama Cumbia

[audio: LA REVOLTOSA.mp3]

La Revoltosa

[audio: EL TAMBORSITO 2009.mp3]

El Tamborsito 2009


PW cover front

This is the artwork for a small-run tape / cassette-art project initiated by Simone Bertuzzi. One side features his recordings from Tangiers and the Joujouka Festival in Morocco, and the flip side contains a mix that Maga Bo and I arranged while on a train from Casablanca to Tangiers during Beyond Digital. Simone asked us to select tunes, keeping in mind that the tape would be inserted into Moroccan “bootleg” distribution networks, given out for free in Joujouka, as well as being avaible to all you lovely internet creatures via a 10euro paypal order.

For more on The Master Musicians of Jajouka and/versus The Master Musicians of Joujouka, check out my piece for The National, “Past Masters.”

Simone’s project intrigued me however, as he was more or less sidestepping the aura of arty mysticism around Joujouka and working with what you might call distributional aesthetics — something I think about a lot as well.

tape label

[artwork from the notorious lost Fesmaatic edition]

Bertuzzi writes: “My main goal was to have a sort of non-official distribution in Morocco, things are quite interesting in terms of bootlegging, cd-r and distribution in general in Morocco. I wanted to let locals listen to both the music of the Master Musicians of Joujouka (very known in the rest of the world, but more or less unknown within Morocco) and the eclectic mix of music by Rupture and Maga Bo. This is also why I didn’t decide to focus specifically on Morocco and moroccan music, but I asked the djs to put as much music as possible from many different countries and epochs.”

This is taken from his long, honest post chronicling the ups & downs of whole process.


Last night’s Samuel Delany Times Sq Red, Times Sq Blue Book Clubb meeting was very nice. In attendance were two filmmakers who have spent significant time shooting in Times Square itself!

There was Julia Loktev: her netflixable Day Night Day Night (2006) follows “a 19-year-old girl who prepares to become a suicide bomber in Times Square.” Trailer:

And Jem Cohen, whose has shot Times Sq at various times over the years, most recently as part of his “Newreel” shorts on Occupy Wall Street, which are screened before features at the IFC this month, and viewable on Vimeo (but not embeddable).

And as we walked away from the Clubb, a car full of women pulled up alongside me. One of them shouted in accented English: do you know how to get to Times Square? I laughed, and told them.



[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!