literally right now, an Ex special on Brian Turner’s WFMU show. worldwide streaming. includes a studio liveset they recorded a few weeks ago on tour… includes interview w/ Andy & I and an excerpt from our duo performance @ Tonic. (hope it’s decent!!)
Fiesta Soot en NYC today, Friday Jan 5. Flavorpill writes it up.
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ALBUM OF THE YEAR
here, was probably J. Dilla’s mighty swansong Donuts. Repeat listens still open new vistas for us. we shouldnt talk about it too much cuz we might not stop. It’s the sort of record you put on and then all sorts of people come up to ask “what is this?!” with a smile on their face. I hope to one-day live in a world where this album appears at the top of the Google page rank when you type in “donuts.” Donuts! (Has anybody discussed the difference between the CD artwork and the LP artwork?)
We also listened a lot to God’s Money by Gang Gang Dance but maybe that came out last year. So hard to keep up! We felt real good about JME’s Boy Better Know label too, upping the grime game by focusing on sonically generous, lyrically ambitious artist albums.
JME – A.W.O.H (Boy Better Know)
from Shh Hut Yuh Muh
LABEL OF THE YEAR
Skull Disco, right? intrepid xplorers Shackleton and Appleblim just kept on moving, way past dubstep convention into something airy earthy and mythic, what with all those skeletons waltzing atop ground-up soundboy duppies, and that’s not even mentioning the Ricardo Villalobos remix of Shackleton’s “Blood On My Hands.”
ARTIST OF THE YEAR
a three-way tie! Skream and Cheihka Remitti and our brave Mohammed Jimmy Mohammed.
Cheihka Remitti – track 5 from Trab Music
Skream upped the wobble-bass game AND the plastic reggae game. his album was whatever but the stream of singles just seemed very massive and fwd-thinking; as a presence he was a producer’s producer, like, if you were making a dubstep/grime track you’d have to pause and be like “uh oh, if i don’t give this 115% then that teenager on Tempa gonna kick my ass”
Remitti passed early in 2006 but her musical legacy is just enormous enormous, plus she was so obviously braver & bolder than anybody else…
…Except maybe Ethiopia’s Mohammed Jimmy Mohammed, another giant who left us in 06. Jimmy was a fragile blind man with a glorious voice who lived it up right til the end, touring with The Ex just a few weeks ago. Ex guitarist Terrie runs the Terp label, which produced a beautiful album with Jimmy in 2006, made all the better by lush photos and a very informative booklet.
CONCERT OF THE YEAR
The Ex, in any number of U.S. cities. Anarchopunks who make this incredibly potent groove-based music, sweet & low & heavy, more in tune with African sensibilities than rock ones, why aren’t they the most famous guitar band in the world?
if you’ve only heard them on recordings then please remedy that in 2007 and check The Ex live. Unsung Hero award to soundman Colin and Unseen Hero award to the one-woman-rhythmachine of Kat, hidden behind her drums in venues with bad sightlines.
OVEREXPOSURE OF THE YEAR (BEST)
The Knife! we first heard them in Europe, when they were largely indistinguishable from the kind of acts you see on late-nite northern European music video shows, where a platinum blonde lady wearing a shiny bikini-spacesuit sings in German-accented English over synth arpeggio-driven techno while SMS-dating numbers scroll on the bottom of the screen.
But once we realized that The Knife had sidestepped these connotations and managed to enthrall American hipsters, it was like wow! They really do deserve all that praise! Let’s listen to Forest Families again!
OVEREXPOSURE OF THE YEAR (WORST)
Joanna Newsom. Nearly everything we liked about her previous album went missing on the new one. Instead we got pompous strings and an extremely aggressive marketing/publicity push. Ah, humanity!
SANDWICH OF THE YEAR
El Jibarito, somewhere in Chicago. Wayne took us there, to experience this Puerto Rican culinary innovation: a great greasy mega-sandwich but INSTEAD OF BREAD, there are two slabs of fried plaintains. Ay! Ay!
WORST MOMENT WITH STATE OFFICIALS OF THE YEAR
1/3 of Nettle getting deported back to Spain upon arrival in London for a weeklong tour.
How much do we detest borders? And inept UK customs ‘officers’ who amplify them at will? And island mentalities? A strike against geography indeed.
BEST MOMENT WITH STATE OFFICIALS OF THE YEAR
N.Y.C. cops* nearly arresting Andy, Konstantin, and Rupture for soliciting prostitutes at 3AM in the West Village (“Are you aware that these are female impersonators?!”) then realizing that we were just trying to find a cab, and proceeding to hail one for us, in an agitated, tense-faced hurry.
* Maybe they weren’t real cops. Maybe they were cop impersonators… Driving a regular van painted to look like a police van with working sirens & flashing lights.
Touring with The Ex was a wonderful experience, even in cities like Chicago where a predominantly ‘rock’ audience has overtrained themselves into a ‘stare-at-the-spectacle-onstage’ template. Minneapolis and Baltimore were the best — folks got loose during my set and the energy just kept mounting as The Ex took over. “I saw The Ex last night, and they were probably better than any band I’ve seen in the last five years!” There’s talk of us touring Ethiopia together, stay tuned…
Here’s a more recent Ex track, from their 2004 CD, Turn.
i’ll write more about the tour later, mmmm, maybe even review a review or two. Because I am not down with music journos who both can’t I.D. any of the tracks The Ex played and write about my set only referencing the tunes they can recognize. Epistemological corniness will not be tolerated…
“opening your heart makes you vulnerable, but your heart is open. and this is not to be taken lightly.”
Met up with Michael Taussig and Marcus the other day. On the way over I was leafing through Taussig’s My Cocaine Museum — one of those asymptotic books that i haven’t finished, because it is too good; the closer to the end the slower i go — and was reminded, yet again, of just how special the darn thing is. The rigor, rhythm, and quickmix effervescence of his prose underscore the conservatism (structural if not social as well) of most lauded contemporary fiction writers.
(What other artistic form has changed less over the past 100 years than that of the literary novel? Opera perhaps?) Of course, Taussig isn’t writing a novel; he writes anthropology but bends it deliciously, a slide through thought and heat. The chapter A Dog Growls begins:
A dog growls in the doorway of the house where I am staying in Gaupí. I have never heard this dog growl before. I look out into the street, There are two armed soldiers walking by on patrol in standard-issue camouflage. Strange how the dog picks up what most of us feel but do not express. What would happen if we all growled when soldiers walked by? A whole town growling! How wonderfully appropriate to growl back at the state, mimicking it, growl for growl, watching it magnify in the fullness of biological prehistory, writing being but another form of hair rising on the back of the neck. Slap up against the wall of the forest, you get an acute sense of the thing called the state. To me this is more than a heightening of contradiction exposing something hidden. I think of it as natural history, the natural history of the state.
Writing is sixth sense, what does are supposed to have, same as what filled the space between the words. …
Unleashing dogs on Indians was, like the use of the horse, a principal weapon of conquest by the Spaniards in the sixteenth century. J.H. Parry tells us of mastiffs — the name alone makes my hair stand on end — weighing up to two hundred and fifty pounds. Is that possible? Could a dog be that big? Two hundred and fifty pounds of vengeful teeth ripping Indians apart in one leap? These are the canine ancestors of those you see today sniffing in airports, leaping at baggage carousels, and asleep at the feet of guards in black Armani-like outfits in the doorways of pharmacies in Bogotá and Mexico City. “Their dogs are enormous with flat ears and long, dangling tongues,” says a sixteenth-century Native American text found in the Florentine Codex. “The color of their eyes is a burning yellow; their eyes flash fire and shoot off sparks. Their bellies are hollow, their flanks long and narrow. They are tireless and very powerful. They bound here and there, panting with their tongues hanging out. And they are spotted like an ocelot.¨
What beauty there is in these monstrous dogs of prey! And note that other mimesis, not just the one that converts cruelty into hollow-bellied fire, but the fear on the part of at least one conquistador that the Indians might raise dogs to attack the Spaniards! Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, fabled conquerer of what is today called Columbia, told his kind early in the sixteenth century that as the Spaniards had made gifts of dogs to Indians, there were now many villages with five hundred to a thousand dogs. He envisaged a day when the country as a whole might rise up “because they could use their packs of dogs against us.” A whole town growling! How wonderfully appropriate to growl back at the state, mimicking it, growl for growl, watching it magnify in the fullness of biological prehistory, writing being but another form of hair rising on the back of the neck.
which reminds me, tomorrow is as good a time as any to quote Galeano on Pinochet, who is dead.