French voted NO on the European Constitution, which is really great.
The French didn't vote no to Europe or the European Union or an
idea of Europe, they simply chose to reject one unwieldy draft of a
possible constitution for it. This is important, crucial to remember because most mainstream media presents the French No in radically different terms. (The
constitution had a lot of scary legislation in it, and hopefully now
it will be re-written for clarity, so its actual content can be
publicly debated, pro or con. It was disturbing to watch how this
draft of the constitution was equated with 'Europe' and
its legal content went largely unexplained and unspoken.)
pisses me off when the NYTimes reports, in the first sentence of
their first article on it: “French voters dealt a crushing defeat
to the European constitution today, demonstrating their determination
to punish the leaders of France and of Europe after a bitter campaign
that split the country in two.” What!? “determination to
punish...”? Sad that the NYTimes
uses reductivist Bushy-speak and totally inappropriate spin,
that a nation of independent-minded voters cast their ballots to
leadership (whose infinite justice should never be questioned) rather
than because of specific multiple complaints with the constitution and
implementation, etc. EDIT: the online article has been rewritten. It
currently starts: "Turning its back on half a century of European
history, French voters decisively rejected..." (For bigmedia reporting that doesn't shoehorn the issues, try this Reuters piece.)
the weeks up to Spain's vote on the Constitution , the TV &
billboards were filled with 'say yes to Europe!' sloganeering (paid
for by government and EU taxes), while the
street-level assault of stickers, posters & flyers from an
enormous variety of groups, political and
non, all urged NO to the Constitution. Rarely was opinion that divided
that clearly along lines of money; the people who had enough to
purchase broad swaths of cultural bandwidth were pro-Constitution, the
people who couldn't afford nationwide synchronized ad campaigns were No. (Spain voted no, but
nobody read the issues at stake; during football games the govt. handed out simplified,
whitewashed versions of the constitution draft).
Kid606 crafts a couple spot-on respectful remixes, and I team up with 'barrioreggae' MC Pe Ere to produce a straightup reggaeton version. Pe Ere spits blazing spanish-language vocals with quality lyrics too, a welcome departure from monothematic reggaeton party raps (i don't mind the culo tunes, but there's other stuff to talk about).
Pe Ere, a Nicaraguan based in L.A., flexes serious skills. Rafi from Fosforo put us in touch. ...although Soul Jazz doesn't have my final mixdown yet, a review of the EP is already online! Damn! The wax will be out on their 'Microsolutions for Mega-Problems' vinyl sublabel in a month or two.
you're in Barcelona this weekend and want a break from the beach /
bar / club shuffle-- Jenny Jones (cello player I work with
regularly) will be performing with a string quartet up in Gracia. All
issue of Bidoun!
The theme is
Dubai,U.A.E., a very special city. “Las Vegas with a straight
face,” Shehab said to me as we sped past economically improbable
skyscrapers & neonlit downtown edged by desert, heading
towards an African bar in the
basement of a hotel brothel called The
Rush-In. Run, of course, by Russian mafia. Like before, the magazine is big and lovely to look at
and read, my fav part when several architect-types essay on the seething
energy and strangeness behind Dubai. (Several of the architecture
pieces are online)
was the classical age of Dubai,” writes Brian Ackley, “...mall
culture, airports, Starbucks, the Gap and so on, may seem strange and
vacuous in New York, Paris or Cairo but in Dubai there types of
non-spaces and junkspaces are all that there appears to be... We
cannot allege that the plastic world of Dubai is any less real than
the 'gritty' or 'historic' even as it destabilizes our understanding
of authenticity.” Just peep the hundreds of private artificial islands in Dubai.
really it. There's no underground or gritty or traditional in the
traditional sense; even Japan's hyper-built environment affords
glimpses of non-recent structures and (pre-war) history. Random example of something: The only
place you can get uncensored web access is outside of Dubai proper,
in a zone called Internet
City--the actual laws of corporate ownership, intellectual
property, and media access change there to attract foreign
The other immediate brain-perk is a piece by Nav Haq: '"Ebony Tower: strategy of the new self-othering". The essay talks via contemporary UK art, though it resonates broadly: “A new generation has emerged in recent years whose practices transcend racial expectation, and who have never dealt with the increasingly stereotyped issues of postcolonial identity, nor have really felt and pressure to do so. Within the context, previous discussions that still continue to be knocked about around such subjects as 'hybridity' and 'creolization' have undoubtedly been surpassed, in practice at least, if not in criticism... We can even take quiet amusement at such curious anomalies as the number of upper and middle class white Brazilians who come to study at art schools in London in order to produce art about life in the favelas in Rio... The issue here is the total unwillingness to recognize how progressive the current generation of artists form ethnic minorities have been, specifically from the crowd that maintains a sympathetic attachment to the previous generation who gained (limited) recognition through their aspirations for liberation. And so, a new, particularly retrogressive form of 'self-othering' has become the latest method used by parts of the 'diasporic art' community (truly its own sub genre!) for maintaining the recognition they currently possess...”
It's pretty heady stuff, and my choppy quotes don't give the argument and illustrations any room to breathe, but it presents some timely sharp thoughts. And in general I´m enjoying Bidoun's art coverage because you feel that the art in it matters, when presenting ways to think about critical art trends in London, for example; or in the simple way that censorship is rampant across the Middle East; or the way that it's nice to look at beautiful stuff hanging on walls or flip through well-designed magazines or wear a cool belt at the right angle, holding up the perfect pair of jeans; or the way in which visual style can easily and forcefully create or reinforce a concept--think on the transition from Bob Marley's dreadlocked socially conscious reggae-rock to offensive ganja smoking big-lipped happy Rasta t-shirts and bongs in junk tourist shops the world over.
What would have happened if Marley had maintained his 1960s baldhead suit style?
Would he not have become a worldwide superstar? Would white
hippies be dressing like ska kids? Or would the
watermelon-eating / weedsmoking Lazy Negro International archetype have
shifted to another ethnicity?
& I talked about incest songs yesterday. Old-time music is
full of dark things. She says the Palace Brothers do a good one. I
mentioned this Appalachian jam, traditional lyrics complicated; each
verse drives the knife deeper--
It starts with full disclosure then bends forward to the son trying to hide murder from his mom, who in turn -- it is a love song, after all -- tries to hide the son from a father who'll turn murderous when he learns what has happened. B.I.L.'s music plucks and scuffs, minor key, jawharp, this reedy sorrow tone pierces the distance now and again.
Folk culture as dark. Anyone who read Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man will remember the tour-de-force Trueblood incest narrative, when Ellison plays with all those notions of darkness, cultural purity (keeping it in the family), and miscegenation.
Ian McEwan, suffocating & elegant, encased incest at the heart of
a nauseous, masterly book called The Cement Garden.
It starts like this: “I did not kill my father, but sometimes I felt I had helped him on his way... My sisters and I talked about him the week after he died, and Sue certainly cried when the ambulance men tucked him up in a bright red blanket and carried him away... I am only including the little story of his death to explain how my sisters and I came to have such a large quantity of cement at our disposal.”
bloglandia isnt a fun place to visit without a fast connection. I'm looking at you from dialupsville... no downloads, few uploads.
here's an obvious but on-point essay on 'choice fatigue', the pressure to have been entertained by all the (effectively infinite) options out there, if only to hold an opinion on them. Download, surf, digest. Quickly. (Information acquisition disorders? Databulemia? so I look 'well-surfed'?)
Periodically the blog thing is terrifying like that. I had an email conversation with big man Seb Chan that took the form of a lengthy interview in his dope music mag, Cyclic Defrost. I said: “I like a lot of difficult music like musique concrete, noise and more ambient drone-y music like Dead C and Main but if I was first presented with those sounds as MP3s, I probably wouldn’t have been able to give them the necessary attention. I mean, is popular music nowadays just music that is good to write emails to?”
Grime MC Riko
of Roll Deep has a blog! ¿Grime as the first post-blog or blog-enabled musical genre?
I´m biased, but i think the whole
artist-as blogger and fan-as-blogger and randomwhoever-as-blogger is
fresh. Words from unexpected directions very welcome! This is another
way of saying that 'music critics' are often the least qualified
people to talk about music. Even (perhaps especially) when they are
heaping on praise. (Although when they are kickassingly good, kritiks are
the most qualified people to talk about music, even though their
high-school and college friends surely guard deeply
embarrassing/revealing band tapes that could shatter a critic's
Who cares what anybody thinks about a song if you can download it for free and decide for yourself? Pay for magazine, get nothing, browse to mpfree joints like Lemon-Red, get juiced! This is humorous. Riko tip-off via Sizzle.
Riko's blog reminds me: tons of musicians are total self-Googlers, super-insecure, message board lurkers, very sensitive people really, and so you shouldnt say too raw a thing about an artist cuz chances are they'll read it and feel really hurt. Really! I know people on major labels who shouldnt have time to do that sort of thing, but still do, soul-destroyingly, compulsively perhaps. Also, all rappers/MCs are insane.
On a Bigger Scale, artists and bands who deliver in a live situation, who really manifest and burn and perform scorchingly good live shows (like this unsigned Norwegian group called Kill -- I just remembered that i finally managed to extort their demo cd-r from someone but forgot to listen to it--too much damn media in my life!) or even next-level-badness (like Cat Power) seem the future-- record sales will plummet or rise, labels will atrophy or turn into straight-up 'artist management & tour agencies'
but hot performers will always pack a house and get paid decent money to do so. But usually hot performers are insane, so they´ll probably spend their tour money on dry ice and caviar and cocaine and platinum toothbrushes and teach-yourself-mandarin self-help cassettes (for the tour van) and Ukrainian hookers, take it from me, I'm in insider and my commitment to the truth or to something resembling the truth after a hard night of partying in Slovenia is infallible the underage women I mean girls, technically, smoke cigarettes and look overage and this so it is OK to try and try to get in the club by pretending to be on the guest list, that way you're not part of the problem. "You're on the list."
Sindhu “Mole in the Ground” is coming to town! She's the banjo player who did Special Gunpowder's closing song with me. I've invited her out here for a few weeks: we're gonna write & record as many songs as possible.
i was a mole in the ground
i wish i was a mole in the ground
'cause if i was a mole in the ground
i'd tear those mountains down
Men in black. Dark Side. The Age of Unenlightenment: Babel all over again, just quicker, fast-forwarded and reversed, with more sunburnt ghosts squinting the streets in search of Irish bars, all over the world, with and without iPods, Sith ticket stubs crumpled in our collective post-Jungian backpocket, having recently strolled out of movie theaters in more than 100 countries worldwide, having seen the exact same thing (C.G.I. backdrops, a “beeping trash can and a gay, gold-plated Jeeves,” plus some backing action) splintered into national tongues across 5 continents. Babel-cum-chorus. Dolby. Snickers. Shoes sticky from fake butter & Coke spills on the floor.
Gravity is real. The bigger something is the more stuff it draws towards itself.
Mudd Up! we run on anti-gravity of course. So the king of
awe-inspiring cinematic landscapes, politically-tinged narratives,
and vapid leaden dialog isn't George Lucas but rather Greek filmmaker
Theo Angelopoulous. He combines those elements which, under ordinary
circumstances, could devolve into Lucas-style monocultural blandness
or, worse, Artsy-Fartsy. Yet somehow Angelopoulous nails it. Even when his actors talk like robots.
For starters, try Ulysses' Gaze. Here's a track from Eleni Karaindrou's soundtrack. “An extended suite for solo viola, oboe, accordion, trumpet, horn, cello, voice and string orchestra.”
String drones creep inside you. Surface lyrical passage. The film looks like this fragment sounds. Drags time into its space. Angelopoulous would wait until he heard her music to shoot certain scenes; together they achieve a serious hand-in-gloveness. Karaindrou understates: I was looking for multinational music, from Russian revolutionary songs, litanies with Byzantine psalms, Bulgarian and Serb folk songs.
here's a partial tracklist from my BTTB German radio mix. For incompletists only. Question marks represent the curving tail of Schrödinger' cat, 100% dead and 100% alive in semi-eternal itch for catnip & fresh beats, too lazy to open my record bag.(more)
** jail is the new slavery (US drug laws)
Listening to weak cover versions of Brian Eno tunes reminds me how strong his mid 70s pop albums were. The lyrics and music even manage to outdo their formidable titles: Burning Airlines Give You So Much More, Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch, Blank Frank, The Fat Lady of Limbourg, Baby's On Fire.
My own government is turning me into a cynic with its poorly conducted propaganda war. That Newsweek wrote about Koran desecration at Guantanamo Bay U.S. base, then retracted the story after violent protests in several Arab countries isn't a surprise -- Pentagon tells you to remember facts differently, you do.
But none of this uproar erases the reality that Guantanamo remains a terrifying legal black hole, and legal black holes are a precondition to human rights abuse and state-administered torture.
Dale Peck may perform hatchet jobs on books and films, but I dig the way the man manhandles his ax. Chopping off limbs but delicately, sort-of, or at least he stops to do some close reading. Here he cuts into George Lucas' latest 140-minute advertisement for Star Wars merchandise, via Hectic.
About a year ago I started babbling about Mondie's 'Straight' riddim, and most of my mixes since then contain it in some form. (the first 12” I bought via the internet, as a matter o fact). Straight is DJ DNA, made to be mixed and MCed, aggro building blocks like the Neptunes' Grindin' instrumental or hard drum & bass.
I wrote: DJ Mondie – Straights Riddim 12” (white label) This grime beat is plain ridiculous: a distorted kick and an afterthought hi-hat. Nothing else. Makes I Luv U look orchestral. Faced with Straights´ brute simplicity the MCs go bananas trying to outdo each other—-everybody's shouting, rapping, employing weirdo backup vox, doubletime runs, ragga techniques, crappy mic distortion, and more. Seriously bruised. Out of all the East London strugglers on these three 12” (with about 4 versions each), All-in-One rips it the most comprehensively.
Right after that I changed my mind: Shizzle leads the pack. Fast-forward to today--> Prancehall just posted the MP3. I spoke with Mondie on the phone a few weeks ago, seems like cool cat, writing sonic war haikus for a dying kickdrum. If you dig Straight then try his tune “Pull Up Dat”, or the Straight remix 12".
lo-rez html psychosis from U Mean Competitor, “the Johnny
Appleseed of Harlem Rap,” this week. Plus PSF-related psych from Japan.
Dipset, Nipponese noise rock, 'tasteful' 'cool'
design conventions blazingly ignored: nice!
Flight as in fight or... /
Black Problemo, scribbled Basquiat, fists out of my face.
One response: an open
window, curtains stirring, doorbell sounds in an empty apartment. Law
shifts its weight from foot to foot, rings again. What fighting isn't.
An unrecognizable cog in their combat. Melt cuff syntax, unbuild city
Flight not as
transcendence or soaring, which always seem a little aloof, but more like the
opposite of goosestepping or its 21st C. counterpart, “intentional
ignorance.” Orville and Wilbur suffered skinned knees well into
Flights of fancy. Respect for gravity. Sweat for horizon, lift. Kitty Hawk for
Microtonal close group vocals from Tahiti! Put down those lysergic-harmonic Beach Boys reissues, pick this up. (The Swiss company Sandoz invented saccharine and LSD. Their current slogan/line of business is “think generics.” What has your company invented? What!?--you have no company? Who'll protect you?)
They (Tahitians, rarely the Swiss) hit notes that are hard to remember but can open new holes in the heart. Fascinating how the choice of scale & tonal shifts can make folk (music) alien, render the natives less emotionally legible when read from a do-re-mi Julie Andrews over the Alps viewpoint. Are they happy? sad? in vernal love? restless? pastoral? pissed that stockbroker-turned-pervy painter Paul Gauguin gave syphilis to all the youg girls he could afford or force? Inscrutable. I think the CD booklet has the lyrics but I lost it. From the album Rapa Iti 2
reasons unknown, Mudd Up! suddenly stopped working for a day or so,
and just as suddenly started functioning again. Sorry about the bump.
Also: if any of you use the new Google Accelerator -- in addition to the inherent problems of privacy when everything you view on the net arrives via Google & they harvest all your browsing data -- you may be unable to leave comments here (they might be interpreted as spam). Let me know if something funny happens. For real-world privacy scares, read about the U.S. national ID card.
You'd expect massive riots in a town ransacked by 20% unemployment to mean something. But the ritual fighting in Berlin last week seemed spectacularly... pointless.
Now I'm all for civil disobedience, bruising knuckles on apparatus of state power and putting one's physical on the line for beliefs, but every Mayday for the past 20 years or so, these Berlin leftist-anarchist-nazi-police riots are expected, awaited, regularly scheduled like your favorite television program. (RIP Chappelle?) Ritualized, contained. Enemies and friends agree on a day and a place and they all go there to let off steam and everything returns to normal the next day.
Walking around Kreuzburg last Sunday, the Turkish quarter was vivid with a relaxed street party. Mongrel soundsystems on the corners, food vendors everywhere, eyes following skin, conservative punks in punk suits (ripped Exploited tee, check; studded wristband, check), neoNazis rocking New Balance sneakers (apparently only fascists wear New Balance in Germany!), curbside drinkers getting drunk, third-generation German Turks (semi-stateless, denied citizenship by Deutschland even though they were born in Berlin and have never set foot in Turkey) vending falafel with 50 Cent's arabesque 'Candy Shop' slinking out the boombox, East Berlin hipsters envying each other's belt-buckle fashions (geopolitical barriers, vestigial now, demarcate coolness and its gentrifying cashflow thru the city), and polite cops fully aware that this has turned into mass tourism -- which every city craves -- and a public-relations opportunity: the nicer they are this year, the further memories of moments when they were not nice at all will recede.
There are hordes of these cops. They come from all over Berlin. Until the riots begin they don't do much except stand around and ask: are you carrying any glass bottles? Really. I got asked and searched about four times: they set up little roadblocks and pat you down looking for beer bottles and the like. If you do have a bottle, they just hand you a big plastic cup to pour your drink into and you can continue on your way.
Anyhow, at some point, on schedule, the lazy street party turns into a riot: rocks, shouts, fire, broken glass, bricks. The pigs and the fascists and the anarchists join together in a dance that reinforces each one's existence: we are all real, we can feel it now, see it in the mirror, the expression across his face translating the expression on mine.
Broklyn Beats just released a Rupture 12”, re-releasing 3 older tracks (my jam with Puerto Rican rapper Welmo on vinyl for the first time!) along with a slow melodic new tune and a slamming heavyweight remix by Rennes breakcore powerhouse Rotator. The packaging is dope, the cut is clean: go out and buy it! Twice!
The Nettle thing (my band!?) is heating up. I'm in the middle of producting the new album, kinda like a warped quartet: Abdel Hak on violin + oud + basically any instrument he wants, Filastine on percussion, Jenny Jones on cello, me on the wirey roots and studio rhizomes holding it all together. Plus Andy Moor (guitarist for mighty Dutch anarcho-punk-folk-jazz-improv legends The Ex!) adding sparks. Key themes are: EMOTIONAL HONESTY and NO SAMPLES and SANDBLASTED. And spaciousness. Working title: In the Heart of the Heart of the Country.
gonna play Sweden this June at a promising-looking festival called
Clandestino that also features Gnawa Diffusion, Frèdèric
Galliano and, tantalizingly, La Mala Rodriguez-- the only Spanish
Spanish rapper I can actually listen to; she's so much cooler and
flat-out better than every other MC in Spain it's uncanny. (One
popular Spanish rap group's name translates to “Verse Rapists”)
Even better, we're gonna do a FREE, open-air party in Brussels on July 9th with friends and heroes Nass El Ghiwane!!! Here's a sweet deep song (banjo love) from the decent Cous Cous Beat compilation of North African music. It's probably pretty purchasable; Nass El Ghiwane's enormous popularity across the Arab world peaked in the 70s -- before the Western 'world music' market had diversified beyond Ravi Shankar records and L.A. Armenians pretending to be Egyptians on bellydance exotica LPs -- so NeG's material remains hard to find outside of north Africa or Arabic diasporic communities; this comp appearance is a welcome exception.
A team of scientists and animators in Greenland are making a biologically accurate Snow White. They're focusing on biomass. There are 200 million insects for each person on Earth. What does this mean for Snow White?
For example: in that scene where her luxurious singing voice draws out the cuddly forest animals, the same creatures will be wooed, but so will a proportionate ratio of insect life. Her song will lure out overswhelming amounts of ants, termites, beetles, and worms. Here and there rounded antlers or cute rabbit ears will stick up: covered in bugs. You won't be able to hear Snow White's melodious voice because of the overwhelming buzzing, clicking, burrowing, chewing insect sounds, which themselves will be drowned out by the hideous crackle-crunch of beetle shells underfoot whenever White decides to walk.
The Dwarfs? Buried in the swarm. Lost, coughing, doubled-over as their orifices fill with tiny insects and wingless gnats and rare fire ants with red pincers that chirp like crickets in spring, the kind you can cage for good luck.
Somewhere between his employer's uncritically glazed rave review and the NY Press's grumpy rant lies Thomas Friedman's new book, The World is Flat. F is a rhetorician first and a globalizationizm pundit second; itchy slants aside, his subject matter -- outsourcing's mounting geopolitcal oomph -- matters. (NYTimes swallows Friedman's anecdote-powered metaphor wholesale, NYPress gets snagged on said metaphor's unshapeliness upon close inspection.)
I imagine it's a variously interesting and annoying book like The Lexus and the Olive Tree, which was rammed with the limited-sensitivity observations of a smart journo paid to go all over the world but who always stays in fancy hotels with air conditioning and only talks to people in English.
Grimeside, the May issue of UK's RWD mag -- guest edited by Roll Deep -- is juicy, what with Scratchy giving hair advice, Danny Weed waxing on skunk, features on Ears and Logan Sama, even a snapshot of the Jammer / D Double / Ears Bangers & Mash NYC party with my man Mode Raw gettin' down in the audience.
Re: Roll Deep, ima post Wiley's remix of Danny Weed's Shank riddim (instrumental to "Where Im 'Ere") soonish...