Monday, May 28, 2007

Abstract Index Playlist - May 23/07

It's been a while since I last checked in with the Turtle Island (String) Quartet. I recall a couple of albums from the late 80s on Windham Hill Records (yechhhh....) in CIUT's new release rack - back when new releases were LPs displayed on a rack. Despite my utter obsession with harmolodics and SST-style jazz-punk, I ended up gravitating to the lively, shifty arrangements. Some decades later with more albums (and a Grammy) under their belts, comes this tribute to John Coltrane. A tribute to Trane is a tall order for anyone, but the TIQ are up to the task. Their playing is more robust than I remember, and hella more robust than other string quartets.

There's a part of me that wants to try out their original "Model Train" over a big PA to goose the bass to where it should be - it's a true head-nodder begging for a remix. But this week I treated the sturdy JBL monitors at CIUT to Turtles' ultimate challenge, the untouchable "A Love Supreme". TIQ can't be expected to equal or surpass the original's intensity and spirituality, but they sidestep those impossibilities by way of an introspective arrangement by leader David Balakrishnan. In the "Acknowledgment" they resist the temptation to go into funny, self-consciously strident harmonies as some kind of "freedom quest" intro so common to 70s dilutions of Coltrane's work. They launch right into the spiritual quest of the composition, with a careful arrangement which incorporates Coltrane's improvising into the charts. The playing is sincere and inspired. "Resolution" is what sets TIQ apart from other string ensembles, with cellist Mark Summer rock solid propulsion, the group solos with abandon, brilliantly capturing the Coltrane quartet's collective mindset in this unlikely and ambitious setting.

a love supreme: acknowledgment & resolution - turtle island quartet (telarc)
eyi yate/elene ni wa - ebenezer obey (honest jon's)
nyirabisabo - mighty popo (tamba)
voce e eu - domenico + 2 (luaka bop)
smoking car - degenerate art ensemble (tellous)
nutimik - venetian snares (sublight)
city saturate pt 2 - naw (noise factory)
ode a marrouf - nawal (nawali)
black as vera cruz - ethnic heritage ensemble (delmark)
waka kanos - adam solomon (indie)
bodo riddim version - brotherman (minor 7 flat 5)
only for a time - ras myrhdak (minor 7 flat 5)
"a" minor squadron dub - irie band (indie)
the source - high tone vs. zenzile (jarring effects)
tower block dub - urban dub (urban dub)
killing version - ljx (ljx)
justice - meditations (makasound)
revolution dub - augustus pablo (greensleeves)

Labels: , ,

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Abstract Index Playlist - May 16/07

Another tip of the hat to DJ Chocolate who turned me on to this week's pick.

I'm going to find out a lot more about local reggae artist LJX when he stops by the Index for a chat on June 13 to promote the release of "Two Chord Skankin'" on June 16. The disc is a low budget affair but features excellent songwriting which raises the level of the band interplay. LJX is a tasty guitarist with a predeliction for jazz, not just in terms of his soloing but his surprising chord changes throughout his songs. He's an engaging singer as well with a strong debt to Steel Pulse's David Hinds in his vocal delivery.

One notable presence on this disc is former Upsetter Ronnie Bop (he was an important contributor to the Wailers Lee Perry sessions), who plays bass. LJX credits Ronnie Bop's nimble lead guitar work on early Lee Perry spaghetti western type singles as being an inspiration, as well as Wes Montgomery.

I've always been impressed with reggae lyrics which reflect new and more specific subject matter which reflects reggae's many ports of call. There are issues in Toronto, New York, Cote D'Ivoire or Japan which demand different lyrical treatements. "Strugglin'" is about failing to cope with the soulless existence of workaholism and addiction to money. It certainly spoke to me in the last couple of weeks as I've been overwhelmed by life and work. Myself, I'm more self reliant (I hope) than what the song describes, but this is far from a simple "believe in yourself" song, it wallows in discouragement. Nevertheless, as laments go, this one features a deep bass line.

bridge and tunnel people - nsi (kompakt)
revealing - james blood ulmer (in and out)
tidal wave - gordon grdina's box lunch (ncra)
columbia dos santos - deep rumba (american clave)
asante - mighty popo (tamba)
new york is moving - ahzz (p and p)
hadd mondjar el - sarolta zalatnay (finders keepers)
big herm - LAPD (luv and haight)
north - fond of tigers (drip audio)
shades of you - our theory (nublu)
muskox - kevin lynn (under see)
kweli il - nawal (nawali)
chai massala - samsara sound system (baboon)
paradise dub - cyrus (tectonic)
casting out the nines (live) - dub trio (roir)
jackson park - phase selector sound (roir)
strugglin' - ljx (ljx)
king at the controls - carlton patterson/king tubby (hot pot)
79 rock - revolutionaries (trojan)
world peace - abassi all stars (universal egg)

Labels: ,

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Abstract Index Playlist - May 9/07

Continuing with another show related review...

Love Trio in Dub is yet another project by Nublu club and records main man Ilhan Ersahin. Despite expectations raised by the name, and the participation of foundation DJ U Roy, this is a wildly experimental, somewhat jazzy album which remains true to the dub ethos. For that matter, U Roy has reinvented himself several times in the last 35 years, and maintains the essence of his original appeal - this is just another new challenge.

The waltz time skank of "Rock The Rhythm" finds him with the same vocal strength he's always had, and able to navigate an untraditional riddim to say the least. Despite the jazz credentials of the band members (Kenny Wolleson of the Bill Frisell Trio is on drums) nobody gets carried away trying to do too much with the music. Even when Ersahin gives some harmonic tension to his sax solos, the sound is never too laboured. The trio explore reference points from Egyptian strings to Black Ark-ish keys to compliment the rock solid yet unusual dub grooves. Two remixes, one by Ersahin and another by Montreal's Deadbeat (new album next month!) further broaden the scope of this disc.

powerball annie - the fun years (barge)
seep - taylor duepree (room 40)
it goes without saying - nico muhly (bedroom community)
nu - our theory (nublu)
physical cities - the bad plus (heads up)
and then i said - kris davis (new sound fresh talent)
batak - co streiff sextet (intakt)
tyranny of appearances - feuermusik (indie)
dede - jimi tenor & kabu kabu (ubiquity)
abidjan - ray barretto (fania)
africa - ba cissoko (totolo)
samba de orfeu - don cunningham (luv n haight)
what is hip - juju orchestra feat terry callier (agogo)
el gato - nilo espinoza (vampisoul)
na na - coke (jazzman)
natural reggae beat - black uhuru (virgin)
cost of living - half pint (cornerstone)
flight in dub - love trio feat u roy (nublu)
judgement come dub - slimma (universal egg)
dub 51 - dubblestandart (collision cause of chapter 3)
hot tamale - jackie mittoo (studio one)

Labels: , , ,

Abstract Index Playlist - May 2/07

Sorry for the absence, but I've been way too busy lately. Here are a couple of album reviews related to show content in the last couple of weeks.
The highlight of this show was somehow managing to play "Don't Touch My Sad Soul" and "Don't Chain My Soul" back to back. But my favourite track was by Fanfare Ciocarlia.
One of the best Balkan Brass bands, they have upped their profile recently by recording with A Hawk And A Hacksaw. Queens and Kings furthers their fusion while staying true to their roots, resulting in their best and slickest work to date. The production fascinating; there's a thick coating of reverb over just about everything. But somehow, the bombast works. This album endeavours to fuse two offshoots of Gypsy culture: Gitane guitars and Balkan brass. These days the Gipsy Kings are best known as a bookshelf speaker staple of bistros and cafes, but the sound is put into fresh context here. At best, as on the superb "Cuando Tu Volveras" from this show, the flamenco and brass impulses are seamless. The guitars weave an atmospheric pattern around the bubbling tubas and euphoniums, and the whole is driven by a rock solid reggaeton backbeat - this worldbeat in its best sense. On the other hand, their version of "Born To Be Wild" is worldbeat at its worst. About 2/3 of this disc is excellent stuff.

funky not stinky - organic grooves (codek)
watanzania watu wa amani - achigo band (limitless sky)
satchelaise - mice parade (fat cat)
rozadi rezadu - tcheka (times square)
one heaven - rise ashen (indie)
vodou - schneider tm (city slang)
cuando tu volveras - fanfare ciocarlia (asphalt tango)
red bula - mahala rai banda (crammed)
degmen benim gamli yasli gonlume/don't touch my sad soul - edip akbayram (shadoks)
don't chain my soul - carlton basco (perfect toy)
main road - evergreen club gamelan ensemble (artifact)
straight psyche - amon tobin (ninja tune)
slowjob - gel-sol (upstairs)
isulamea - isula (tandem)
canberra... come in - the red eyes (echo forest)
version galore - love trio & u roy (nublu)
think (about it) - the lions (ubiquity)
funky nassau - juju orchestra (agogo)
opportunity rock - big youth (shanachie)
very well (dub) - wailing souls (island)

Labels: , ,