Sunday 31 July 2005 at 3:26 pm
A film about what happens when you sing a song in a spare
landscape. How that harmony becomes gravity and everything bends a
little bit towards it. Even the camels feel it.
song sung to camel
song-ritual constitutes the central scene of a nice lowslung
slice-of-life documentary set in the Mongolian steppes. Worth
watching if you like movies in which so little happens that every
little happening gets a magic shine. A woman delivers vocals with her
hand on the camel's back. A man accompanies her on a bowed
two-stringed instrument (drone string, note string, i think). The
camel makes camel noises.
a song in an empty place changes that place.
* * *
other news, Tony IDs the spanish-language sample Timbaland used in
Rich Boy's Get to Poppin!: La Verdolaga by Toto la Momposina.
Turns out Timbo wasn't even the first to flip it.
Note to the
collective intelligence and/or Tony: send me the MP3 and I'll post it
Tuesday 26 July 2005 at 6:10 pm
a track worthy enough to follow Dopesmoker: Feedbacky guitar drone
noise from Hototogisu. Think of
the Velvet Underground's Heroin with all the nice parts removed.
- track 3 from Swoon Scream (11minute excerpt)
people pulled this sound into the air. Where they got it from is
anybody's guess. Matthew Bower (Skullflower, Sunroof) and Marcia
Bassett (Double Leopards). This is an 11 minute excerpt of
an untitled song from disc 1 of their 2004 2cd-r release,
Swoon Scream. Self-released on a label called Heavy
Blossom, which is a nice way to describe their sound.
the cop shouts in a flash of recognition, pulling the gun out of his
holster and waving it about, “that's no band, it's the Japanese little cuckoo,
nod slowly, afraid to make sudden movements. He may be right, he may be wrong.
night bird's sad cry heralds summer's arrival, and is often compared
to that of someone searching for their separated lover.” He takes
off the safety. “Or a message from the world
of the dead.”
* * *
MP3s here (the bird not the band) and real-audio streams of various
Japanese birdcalls over here.
cackle, howl: directory of animal sounds on the web. Since
we're spending the best years of our life online, bathed in monitor
radiation and pushing a tiny arrow from pixel to pixel, we may as well use some of that precious time to download
walrus grunting noises.
Monday 25 July 2005 at 08:31 am
cool thing about metal is that it fetishizes non-Negro
blackness (not even poor gloomy Edgar Poe could say the same, much
less yr average internet rap fan), preferring
the white Sabbathy blackness of Ozzy and his bandmates' towering guitar phrases.
is no marketing push or cultural capital based on uninhibited virile brown-skinned people across the world who dance
good and like
- Dopesmoker (8 minute excerpt)
must get at least ten requests a day for stoner metal-- 'jace i
really like your weird & useless little observations, but why
dont you just shut up and post some DOOM METAL?' Well, here it is. Captivating heavy.
The first 8 minutes of a mighty hour-long (!) track from their Dopesmoker
Eventually they start singing about caravans and bongs and Nazareth, for real. It's
an early version of a song they later released as Jerusalem.
* * *
me, sir, did you say 'get my grind on'?
you mean to say 'make a withdrawal from my trust fund?'
be patient: we're trying to act as black as we can.
* * *
comes as no large surprise to learn that the African White Stripes
are blind, and actually married, and have never even met Renée
Zellweger. Unlike Jack & Meg & myself.
Months after it ended, Renée
keeps calling me up (once you go black you never...): “honey," she whispers into her triple-band Motorola bluetooth cellphone, "I know Bridget Jones was offensive...
but let's read Julia Kristeva over a bottle of that dry Catalan white, just like we used to...”
don't want this blog to get too personal, so I'll stop here. Back to Africa:
et Mariam - Toubala Kono
warm bluesy gentle, guitar and organ. from
their 1998 album Sou Ni Tile.
not only are the White Stripes of Africa not white, they are from
Mali, home of Timbuktu--legendary city of thousands of years of pan-African
scholarship. Timbuktu gained its reputation as a dazzlingly remote &
exotic place simply because Western explorers couldn't find it, or died
trying, until the 20th century. That's not entirely true. Plagued by
fever and Tuareg pirates, Scotsman Alexander Gordon Laing struggled his way
to Timbuktu in 1826, but arrived bearing 24 wounds that tattooed his
body like bad poetry.
How do I know? Like Bridget Jones, Alex Laing
kept a diary. He got there, stayed for 38 days under the hostile
eye of Timbuktu's chieftain, and left. And died leaving. The wounds
Caillié, a frenchman who spelled his name René Caillé,
was the first non-Muslim and/or Westerner who was smart enough to
make it to Timbuktu & back again. In 1828. Only 2 other Westerners
would successfully repeat his trip in the 19th century. As any Tolkien
explain, its not just the There that's important, the And Back Again
is critical too.
Jack White's former lover Bridget Jones on the edge of reason and the
dead ambitious Edinburgh man before him, Caillié kept a diary. In it he wrote: “after a difficult journey of many months through the Sahara,
disguised as an Arab traveller, I finally reached the fabled city of
Timbuktu, with its roofs of gold. My greatest reward was the first
sight of its famous mosque, its spires of heavenly mud pointing to
the sky, its fabulous architecture a true wonder of the world.”
loudspeaker. in certain cultures it makes perfect sense to worship
God using mud & loudspeakers.
Hasan ben Muhammed el-Wazzan-ez-Zayyati
aka Leo Africanus
is a) a real person and b) not a Five Percenter.
in Granada when Granada was Moorish and Europe was barbaric and the
bottom of Europe was Arabic, Leo Africanus did a lot of important
stuff then got captured by Castillian corsairs and forced into slavery. He ended up in Rome. When the Italians realized that El
Hasan ben Muhammed el-Wazzan-ez-Zayyati
was a) a real person, and
a smart, important one at that & b) not a Five Percenter, they
freed him and gave Leo a real nice stipend so that he would have no
incentive to leave Rome.
Free the slave, then enslave him with gold's
handcuffs. Less morally offensive than sharecropping! Money plus gnocchi, da Vinche, mozzarella.
l-Asad al-Gharnati (aka John Leo of Granada) is what Al-Hasan b.
Muhammad liked to call himself after Pope Leo X (aka Giovanni de
Medici) baptized him with the name Johannes Leo de Medicis ('Giovanni
Leone' is what Rome's fabulous pizza-makers would call him), this
pasta-lover, Granada John Leo, a man you couldn't just ask “what is
your name?” because he would need an afternoon to answer you, and
besides, he was busy writing books like A
Description of Africa,
wherein he describes Timbuktu as follows:
are in Timbuktu numerous judges, teachers and priests, all properly
appointed by the king. He greatly honors learning. Many hand-written
books imported from Barbary are also sold. There is more profit
made from this commerce than from all other merchandise.”
Dusty against the Sahara. Wealthy cities as ones with open libraries,
even--especially--those shouldered against a desert.
friend is going there to digitize
manuscripts for a few
Saturday 23 July 2005 at 3:40 pm
there's been a way to build it
be a way to destroy it
are not all that out of control
Wednesday 20 July 2005 at 06:16 am
was talking to Pedro the other day. We got on the topic of how blogs
can be like TV, insofar as images-information-sounds flash at you,
fast and fragmentary, a type of fast-food consumer culture
experience. I was telling him about how I never use the
´search´ functions on people's blogs, never browse through
the archives. Perhaps that reflects the amount of free time I have,
perhaps it is how most people extract info from bloglandia-- on the
daily, fast, faster, and fastest. Overvaluing newness. A week is old.
then Pedro brought up the example that someone will be researching or trying to find out more about, say, grime, and
all of the sudden several blog archives become quite useful
resources, full of info, annotated snapshots of music-loving fandom &
DIY kritical nosekrinkles. If fast-moving subcultures necessarily
produce & are defined by ephemera, then blogs crystallize that;
digital ephemera can easily turn permanent. He took it further,
saying that some bloggers will offer guided tours through their own
blogs. You know, a path thru a certain idea or style, even just a
walk beside entries the author likes best-- read this post, then this
one, then this one...
blogs use time to organize themselves (the ´new´ main page, the monthly archives).
Some can subdivide the content into categories like posts on 'music',
'tech', 'politics', so you can just read/search the topic you like.
Handy, but it's still not narrative. Language ensures that our brains
crave storylines, the unstoppable constant telling rethinking
performance of things done or not done. The first-person windowframe
we can't break. Guided tours -- the phrase isn't ideal because i
think of sunbunrt tourists squinting
through their cameras -- present the idea of narrating the
rhizomatic weed-like little
self-encyclopedias we call blogs. Basically, I never browse
blog archives but probably would from time to time of folks threaded
a sharp story through their mountains of text.
can't create stories (it only harvests & documents each
searcher's story: what you want, what you need to find & how you phrase your desires; far from
anonymous, Google records everything you type into it, even--especially--your path through its links...) Unarranged data is
useless, chronologies order things but not in a useful way. The tool
happens (the story gets told) when you receive (or reshape) the right
info in a functional order. Language as tool, telling as weapon: Leftenant's
fine recommendation: Samuel R. Delaney's Babel-17.
Tuesday 19 July 2005 at 06:03 am
a new track o mine (about surfing, narrated by Gregory Whitehead, part of a rupture 7" to be released by kind bearded Swedes sometime between now and George Bush's impeachment) just came out on this Nosordo comp CD.
The opening few songs on the compilation are deeply beautiful. They are
so beautiful I'm gonna direct link to outsourced mp3s of the first two:
Barrett - Marie Rosa
...trying to find someone who has heard anything else by Barrett, no
luck so far. Cracked logic-circuit folk?
- German Holidays
I ran ClearChannel this song would be an international mega-hit.
Bittersweet noisy pop processed guitar stuff, which makes Tuk sound
boring, yet it isn't. (How does Fennesz work up the willpower to (get paid to) click his mouse on the
delay patch 'on' button when so many people whup his Austrian ass at
both processed guitar texture and composition? Oh wait, he doesn't use a mouse!)
** EDIT: Mark from Subterranean Music
in Amsterdam informs us that Tuk's "Germany Holidays" is based on big
samples from the Scorpions track "Holiday". i.e. he didn't make
those amazing guitar & drum loops himself. Yikes! This is what I
get for poking fun at Fennesz, surely. Details in the
yr at it, Subterranean offers various free mp3s (& buyable cds)
of nice wild stuff, like the 10-minute baby goo larynx splatter of
Maja Ratkje & Jaap Blonk´s 'The Abominable Crunch'. Out-Bjoking Bjork with namespelling and Hanatarashi gargles, Maja Solveij Kjelstrup Ratkje is awesome.
There was a period in my youth where i listened exclusively to stuff
like this. Look where it got me.
Monday 18 July 2005 at 06:18 am
perhaps, but, also, I feel, important: ain't nothing gonna stop as
long as (terrible calculus) when a few dozen mostly white mostly
westerners die in London it's a major worldwide front-page event, but
when that level of atrocity is surpassed weekly -- often daily -- in
Iraq, it barely makes a policy-altering or media-consciousness dent.
British prime minister Tony Blair, for one, publicly denies any connection between UK/USA actions
in Iraq & the attack in London.
am not callous, I am simply exhausted. Unmetered grief at
horribleness itself, and then the way various structures prop one
horribleness & ignore its twin, the suspicion and racism and
unreality of places you've never been to. And what it must feel like
to live somewhere forgotten.
& click and click away.
a much lighter note (positivity, motherf--r, positivity), I
just lost all respect for Nonesuch. Check out the UK&world
version of Amadou & Mariam's album art versus the US version! I
wonder if the Nonesuch execs even bothered to tell the blind couple
from Mali that their dignified photo was gonna get a U.S. friendly,
smiling African uplift treatment.
Amadou & Mariam were playing “Je Pense À Toi” (from their Sou Ni Tile
album, mp3 appetizers & pay-for-download at Calabash) on the TV in Brussels
after the Nettle/Nass gig, and it was absolutely incredible. No Manu
Chao-isms, just supple guitar & vocal harmony--the same tune that Manu first heard, which led to his producing their new album.
The couple had quite a presence. Mariam kept rubbing Amadou's
shoulder, holding on to him and communicating it seemed-- intimate
and gentle and stylized, I understand how those chords made Chao an
Monday 18 July 2005 at 04:31 am
By Nass El Ghiwane's
third song people were throwing children into the air. Things were
simply that crazy. The organizers reckon about 3000 people came out,
the majority Moroccan. A whole lotta folks knew each song by heart. (I
forgot that I had remembered to take my camera with me, so no
An email from
Amsterdam sums it up: “Goddammit, did that gig kick ass! Rarely have I
seen a crowd go that nuts. Made a lot of Moroccan friends that night...
I was singing along, even though I only know the lyrics phonetically, and my hands were raw from clapping the next day. Danced my ass off, too.”
Here's a jazz blog entry with a festival writeup, flickerized fotos,
nice words on Nettle, and a funny description of watching thousands of
Arab immigrants freak out to music the blogger just wasn't feeling. "Nass
El Ghiwane is apparently a legendary and politically radical Moroccan
group from the '70s and '80s. I'll admit to having been more interested
in the crowd's sociology than in the music. The first dozen or so rows
were overwhelmingly Moroccan, young and male. They knew all the lyrics
and reacted with an almost unsettling fervour, carrying each other on
their shoulders and so on. Further back, the crowd became more
European, feminine, and observational. After about 45 minutes I'd had
enough and went for a walk."
Afterwards, backstage with NeG, I felt like a vicarious rockstar: fans
were banging on the walls, trying to get in pay respect to Nass. Every
so often someone would talk their past security, run inside, and just
start kissing everybody. We had to wait about 45 minutes before we
could leave, and even then a few dozen people pounced on Nass when they
walked outside, including one guy who had lived in their neighborhood
in Casablanca and was an admirer from back in '69 when they were simply
a very young, cutting-edge theater group beginning to intergrate music
into their performances.
Friday 15 July 2005 at 07:49 am
was gonna write some grumpy comments on bloglandia style-subject-matter consensus. But the world doesn't need more
grumpiness, it needs more bass. New grimy from Londontown, vinyl rips:
- Might Be feat. Gemma Fox
song might not encourage cannibalism like Dexplicit's Forward riddim
did, but wow, when was the last time i was this psyched about a
4-on-da-floor 12”!? A bassline played across different octaves
signifies grime as much as anything. Onward-
Dem - Grime E.P. - Wiley & instrumental
riffs and gunfire: what more does an angry young man need?
addictive gunclatter focus produced by Slew Dem's Waifer. nuff respect.
Deep - The Avenue (Heartache Refix - instrumental)
of the best tracks on the Roll Deep album isn't on the Roll Deep
album. The feel of summer-- that ain't a breeze, it's subwoofers
displacing sinsemilla-spiked air!
in England for too long makes me nervous. via U
here's links to some new southern u.s. hiphop fire (&
Xtremists - Break the Chains. Fast conscious thugs spit minor-key reality. And a pleasure-center-lighter-upper:
2 Slabz - Yah Yah. U Mean sez "I don't know what to make of this
except to listen to it on repeat. It's like Ying Yang songcraft plus
awesome high velocity rapping.”
weekend, kiss a cop for good luck!
Wednesday 13 July 2005 at 8:10 pm
10th birthday, MP3! (via Aurgasm)
OK, celebration over-- now we're mature enough to ask: why on earth
are we still rocking MP3s (a patented, corporate-owned
algorithm for squishing digitized audio) instead of OGGs
(a free, open-source algorithm for squishing digitized audio, one
that sounds better than MP3s at equal filesize)? ...Ogg Vorbis files
(OGGs) can't play on iPods, alas.
slang 'MPfree' is a misnomer: it's proprietary corporate tech. Suits own those pirate-enabling math routines. Large
amounts of money go to Fraunhofer
for official use of their MPEG Layer-3 audio
compression codec. A small percentage of every MP3 sale
is earmarked for Fraunhofer coffers. OGG allows for free unregulated
encoding/decoding, sale, streaming, etc.
a related note: open-source / free culture figureheads will be
speaking at COPYFIGHT
in Barcelona this weekend! Lawrence
Corey Doctorow, Downhill
Wikipedia crew, etc. Admission, naturally, is free & open to
Wednesday 13 July 2005 at 04:38 am
Vinyl cutters perform
magic at the practical end of sound. They translate
immaterial audio into black plastic (petroleum by-products!), literally slicing in
soundwaves. Nuance is paramount and everybody rocks a different
style. Some cutters aim for audiophile accuracy, others target
volume, some write sound with bassbin dynamics in mind. Loud cuts eat
up space; if there's too much low-end, the needle might wobble itself
out of the groove; compression, EQ, tiny hammers and hairs inside the cutter's ear, a sliver of style weighed against
years of experience that settle like dust.
A lot of people call
Rashad Becker at Berlin's Dubplates
the best cutter around. They may be right: as evidence, find a copy
of Hecker's 3 track 12” (titled 2 track 12") on Mego (just realizing now that i may play it at the unintended speed of 33rpm, not sure).
Hecker's music (vitriolic Florian not pastoral Tim) is dynamic
rigorous spilling digital noise. Imagine a German computer's
intestinal tract churning in attempt to process spicy Mexican food
(¿data picante?) and you'll start to get an idea. The vinyl, cut by
Rashad, sounds utterly gorgeous, alive and exacting, with all its
frequency and volume peaks and cutouts. (D&M forms part of the
Rhythm & Sound – Hardwax - Basic Channel Berlin über-empire.)
folk prefer Yann Dub at Reverse.
If asked, Yann will push a riskier, louder sound. Usefully bruised EQs. A
sound sculpted for performance, speaker slapdown. All the PeaceOff
(Damage, Mutant Sniper, Bangarang) material goes thru Yann, as does
Then there's the
DUBPLATE thing. The one-of-a-kind record that dies a little each
time you put a needle in its groove. Back in the day I'd meet up with
Ras Kush would take us down the Flatbush Ave dollar van route
(Brooklyn, people) to a Jamaican studio whose name escapes me. To get
10” acetate dubplates. They patiently cut one-off dubs of I-Sound's and
my music, which at the time was noisy teethbaring songs, with a
little bit of bass and plenty of screetch. Traditional dubplates, cut
on acetate, wear out after a few dozen plays. And are highly
These days the
technology has changed, and I get most of my dubplates cut in England
on one-off vinyl. The cutter is Henry at Bristol's DubStudio.
I don't know how, but they do quality cuts on vinyl, so the dubplate
has a longer-spinpan than its acetate forefather (but doesnt require
the big expensive master stamper required for mass-produced vinyl
records). Like all soft
vinyl, the UK dubplates will sometimes get scratchy when you
backspin, but A) I learned my lesson and cut a few extra bars of the
beat in the beginning to scratch & cue and let it deteriorate
there and B) other than backspins, they have held up just fine. When
I play out it's all vinyl; I can't deal with CD players...
Last week I
hit up Henry for another round of dubs. Because we live in 2005 and
not late-90s Brooklyn, there is no more dollar van for me. We skype and
I upload. Discorporate reality, etching riddim. And that's the big
difference between digital and analog, isn't it? The miniature
landscapes cut into vinyl are the sound wave, it's just a
question of scale. You can use a needle and a paper cone to coax
trebly sounds direct from an LP.
CDs compact sound into
zeroes and ones. So if Tom Cruise is right about the aliens,
or if Fox Mulder is right about the aliens, and one day they come to
Earth and we optimistic barbaric humans have long since torn
ourselves to pieces OR are working by the docks in tight jeans and
leather (wistful, tough, homoerotic, Cruise brings out what Wells did
not), they (the extraterrestrials not the longshoremen) will find vinyl
and can examine it and figure out that the grooves = sound. Vinyl ain't
no Rosetta Stone. Whereas they'll just see
endless CDs pitted with zeroes and ones, sometimes equaling data,
sometimes equaling music, but either way they'll need lasers and
algorhythms to unpack it all, and these aliens probably listen to
better music anyway, they can't be bothered, they have planets to
Monday 11 July 2005 at 3:07 pm
press had gone straight to his head. He believed in
the self-image his publicist got paid to create. A few minor TV
appearances and it was all over. Dude started carrying a red velvet
cordon and two metal posts to hang it on: his own personal VIP area.
Portable. He lugged this stuff around constantly and set it up
whenever insecurity hit. I saw him walking back from the the
supermarket. Sweat was pouring down his dark-tinted sunglasses. The
combined weight of the groceries and the metal posts must have been a
burden, especially in this weather. I tried to avoid him but he saw
me and honed in; every performer needs an audience. He launched into
an excited monologue about himself, talking too close to my face.
After a few minutes he noticed that I wasn't paying attention. (To be
honest, I was wondering where to buy a fingernail clipper. I think I
left mine in Brussels. It was a good clipper too.)
man”, he said abruptly, stretching the little red cable across the
posts. “You´re not on the list. You can't come in here with
me.” People kept passing us on the sidewalk, clearly confused and a
little bit angry at the red cordon they had to walk around. He muttered
something else, eyes avoiding mine, but it was hard to hear him over
the roar of traffic. Finally, I could leave. As I said goodbye he
reached across the velvet barrier to give me the mythical
multipart handshake he uses on all black men.
Thursday 07 July 2005 at 12:16 pm
Saturday my band Nettle plays a FREE, OUTDOOR show in Brussels with
massively influential Moroccan group Nass El Ghiwane. NeG have
requested a 2-hour set. Should be big! I´ll start DJing at 7:30, Nettle around 8pm, NeG after that.
popular vocoders are in north African pop. They rock it like
reverb; vocoded and auto-tuned vocals have become the standard in
rai-- it´s no longer a vocal effect, it´s the new realism.
Cheba Fati - Walla
...From Style Aroubi
vol. 2, a recent comp CD. Most of it sounds like this,
synthetic Arabic ululations and all.
Industry-revealing, mathematically-proofed ire!: Steve Albini on
the problem with major labels. No much has changed since 1994.
He engineered the
album of some friends, and after the mics were placed and the levels
set and all that, the man sat back and read billiards magazines all
day. Albini, they report, is a snooker fanatic. He keeps a heated pool
table in the studio (for most even playing surface, they say). But the heat attracts his pet cat: hence the
handheld vacuum next to the table to counteract the constant cat
Wayne = patient
zero for the unscrewed music concept. Take a screwed song, bring it
back to regular speed but keep the slow pitch. Sludgy sounds, brisk
tempos: another crunky wrinkle in time. Among others, he unscrews the
screwed Roll Deep tune i chatted about here.
Thursday 07 July 2005 at 11:37 am
Simic wrote a poem called GREAT INFIRMITIES.
immense stillness everywhere
the trees always bare,
raindrops coming down only halfway,
so close and giving up.
Saturday 02 July 2005 at 5:47 pm
& I go way back. I´ll expand on this later... As
many junglists & raggoid appreciatives already know, Jake = DJ C,
the guy behind the Mashit label.
(on left) just finished a Euro tour with Aaron Spectre (on right). C's
website has plenty of mpfrees, including tasters of a his new 7” voiced by Quality Diamond for ScandalBag crew. I´m really into
the 7” jungle thing.
may be Europe's wildest party, by the way. When I was there I DJed to a
capacity crowd (who i couldnt see b/c of the camouflage netting..)
& there was this fire outside and two other rooms of beats and
noise and welcome weirdnesses. One table had free anarchist zines &
info, the other sold mushrooms.