record player

Sound written in stone plastic!

I just shared the memory of my favorite record-hunting find in a piece for MTV Hive, on the occasion of the 4th annual Brooklyn Flea ‘Superstar DJ Record Fair’.

Here’s an excerpt:

…I used my time off in Istanbul to simply wander the streets, ending up in one of those dusty record shops where the entropy is turned up really high. There I rescued a Cymande LP that was being slowly asphyxiated under sleeveless 45s. The Fugees had sampled the Caribbean-British funk band to great effect, now I could, too. But that was a digger find. It’s value was obvious, external; a truly special record is one you create your own value for. Ebay of the heart. I don’t care for mint-condition first-editions (Recording my “Gold Teeth Thief” mix, I accidentally stepped on one of my most valuable records, an original pressing of the Winstons’ single “Amen, Brother”, whose fierce rhythm break has been sampled by precisely nine million drum & bass songs).


I don’t have a rip of the Houssein LP I discuss later in the article, but here’s a 1-2 of Cymande and the Fugees, plus $400,000 copyright lawsuit backstory.



The better a song is, the harder it is to craft a remix that does it justice. And sometimes the best remixes are the lightest — the laziest — at the level of execution.

On the other side: my inbox is increasingly clogged with promo “EPs” built from two original songs with at least four remixes, most of which are mediocre in the exact same way. It’s like the producers and the remixers only feel comfortable expressing one idea, the same idea, an idea they learned from reading blogs, the same blogs. I love music, but I also love silence, and the delete button too.

But back to the good songs.

As I wrote before, “You can think about a song – a good song – as a miraculous moment when all the dissonances that frame a person’s life drop out of sight long enough to see how it looks without them. So when a band you like hits that groove, sometimes all you can do is listen, because that moment will be leaving.”

Here are two such songs with their recent remix/edits. First off, “Jarabi” from the gorgeous Afrocubism album:

[audio: – Jarabi.mp3]

Afrocubism – Jarabi

…which gets a kickkicksnare treatment from Subsuelo, who rebrand their creation “Cinco Pasos.” Five steps. Two bodies. One song which is endless, and nobody we trust wouldn’t dance to it. How can real joy be optional?

[audio: Cinco Pasos.mp3]

Subsuelo – Cinco Pasos

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For round two, Caribou (as Daphni) takes on Thomas Mapfumo.

Thing about Thomas Mapfumo & The Blacks Unlimited is that they are even better than their name, even better than their album covers. The style is Chimurgenga, which emerged from Mapfumo reconfiguring traditional Shona music for modern niceties such as the electric guitar, back when he was a Rhodesian chicken farmer.

[audio: Shumba.mp3]

Thomas Mapfumo & The Blacks Unlimited – Shumba

How can you remix this — and not be an elephant in the flower garden? You can’t. So Canadian producer Caribou treads lightly. He pitches “Shumba” up a bit. Then he stretches it out to more than twice the original length. The resulting tune is released on a 12″ called ‘Edits‘ (not remixes). Fair enough.


Daphni (Caribou) – Mapfumo

This game — original and edit, version and stretch — could go on all day. It could go on forever. It does. Frictions of power and access and stewardship notwithstanding, it’s one of the the only games we musicians know how to play with each other.



Turns out the only thing in Justin Bieber’s corpus better than “U Smile” 800% Slower is “U Smile” 800% Slower (Sped Up 800%). In which the 36-minute long Bieber smear gets restored to its original radio-friendly length by the same algorithmic process:

It’s a poignant reminder than nothing can ever be fully undone, that life is transients, that the attack matters most… Everything else is simply hundreds of offset and overlapping grains playing back at varying pitches centered around the original frequency.

Furthermore, 800% Slower (Sped Up 800%) restores the Canadian entertainer’s lyrics to full audibility so we can once again appreciate Mr Bieber’s elegant (if unoriginal) Lacanian proposition – rare in a successful pop song – that through the mimetic impulse, immanently subjectivizing and spliced with a libidinal charge impossible to master or suppress, we are all socialized. For better and for worse.

“You smile,” sings Mr Bieber, “I smile.”

File under: advanced banjee realness

220px-Mirror baby



The Argentine pop theorist in the form of a mashup king, Villa Diamante, has just released Empacho Digital (digital bellyache), a “3-disc mashup album”. Of course it isn’t available on disc – one can only download it. He says:

This is just another one of the tireless efforts of making art out of art, with cultural industries at their height, record companies at their worst moments, and the Web functioning as the maximum tool for informational searches, the freedom of Wi-Fi is already showing its first collateral damages.

Here’s a tune from “disc 2”, Dubsteperismo, Spanish-language vocals atop wubstep.


Villa Diamante – Doña María vs Ital Tek

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Three years before, Dutchman Dick El Demasiado was in Buenos Aires, making edits of old cumbias.

He called this song “Sabado Cultural”, although his album doesn’t mention the band he is obviously chopping up and sampling, Julieta con los Nuñez. As if they didn’t exist. Remix as reinscription, a more complete kind of erasure – but then there are always folks spotting the source samples. Identifying where the sounds came from transforms the sample from an (anonymous) point into a lineage, in process offering us a chance to listen to the old music that got folded into the new (or the new music that got folded into the new, like when Burial sampled recent songs by Christina Aguilera, David Lynch, and Beyonce).

I especially like hiphop album sample-source compilations — for example the (bootleg) collection of all the original tunes used on J Dilla’s Donuts. A unique window into musical transformation. A fascinating form of bibliography… or memory. DJs as weird historians, accidentally finding themselves in that position after years of ‘just’ looking for music. Julieta seems to have been forgotten except for “Viernes Cultural”, whose memory Dick both effaces and extends.

First, the original:


Julieta con los Nuñez – Viernes Cultural (also called Cumbia de las Sandalias)

then Dick’s “lunatic” edit (his word not mine), renamed here


Julieta con los Nuñez – Viernes Cultural (Dick el Demasaido remix)


okay, its only late May, so other contenders will surely emerge. But for now – mix of summer! Chief Boima & Sogui So Good : Baobab Connection vol. 2. thanks Lamin!, who posts some excerpts & writes: “Boima continues with his versions and refixes, and Sogui So Good picks up right where Boima left, proceeding to drop straight dance floor pleasing jams that will make the staunchest African two-stepper actually shake his bones, rather than just sway from side to side.”


[c’est un monde de l’photoshop]

several folks have asked me about the Gnawa Diffusion album Bab El Oued Kingston (containing sample-source for Trim’s “Thief in the Night”) – it’s well-down gnawa fusion – especially the 2nd half – with a few excursions into chaabi territory like in “Gazel au fond de la nuit”. The singer’s voice shines throughout.


Gnawa Diffusion – Syndikaina


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Hyssop posts the sample-source for Nas’ Oochie Wally – turns out it’s Gong!! – alongside an excerpt from my related Gold Teeth Thief mix moment.