Monday, August 20, 2007

Abstract Index Playlist - August 15/07

Any time new material surfaces claiming to be "a missing piece of the Black Ark" legacy, it's best viewed with suspicion. Certainly the vast majority of the good stuff from the years 1976-79 has been available for some time. Compilations like Heartbeat's "Cutting Razor" contain so-so alternate mixes with a few previously unissued and unimpressive tracks. So when Pressure Sounds dedicates a whole disc to the sounds of "Native" at Scratch central (and a few other studios), some dread eyebrows are going to be raised. This is no great surprise sonically, but it's full of that Afro-techno-reverso-futurism that made this period so great. Certainly one or two of these tracks would enliven any Perry compilation.

The Upsetter house band is led by singer/guitarist Wayne Jobson, now a reggae DJ in Los Angeles, but Jamaican-born and a one-time associate of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. At best, his songs bring a new lyrical dimension to the Black Ark rhythmic juggernaut, but being a demo, others lapse into bad high-school poetry. Some tunes never come together into coherent rhythms at all and should have stayed in the can. But on the whole, this flawed but compelling disc is well worth listening to.

As for more bio information on Mr. Jobson, why not spend five minutes googling him.
Native - "Late September In May (Version)"

living peace - kidd jordan (aum fidelity)
transformation - chicago underground trio (delmark)
aufbau - a dontigny (no type)
banjo insult - pau torres (testing ground)
trafelato - ennio morricone (ipecac)
yamabushi - john mayer (vocalion)
ipperwash - geordie haley delta east trio (indie)
lam plern chawiwan - chawiwen damungen (sublime frequencies)
angoma franoas - oyikwan internationals (otrabanda)
sounds like... - bugz in the attic (united)
peace dub - prince jammy feat sly and robbie (csa)
mystical cosmic harakiri - pecker (ROIR)
johnny why you bad so 12" mix - lone ranger (greensleeves)
wa do dem - eek a mouse (greensleeves)
war in the asteroid belt - prince jammy (greensleeves)
drive by dub (live) - dub trio (ROIR)
in a strange land - native/little madness (pressure sounds)
equal rights - heptones (heartbeat)
pretty looks - heptones (heartbeat) MA

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Abstract Index Playlist - August 8/07

Los Destellos, image courtesy Barbes Records
Paging Mr. Tarantino, the soundtrack for your next film is ready... No joke, The Roots Of Chicha is all that and a bag of banana chips. Chicha is urban cowboy music from Peru in the late sixties and early 70s. According to compiler Oliver Conan, this music was never taken seriously on a critical or an official cultural level, and this volume represents the first (international) collection devoted to it. In the press release, Conan waxes enthusiastically about the demography, socioeconomic milieu and the resolutely pop dynamic of the music. He relates that the ingredients in Chicha are almost entirely foreign (like Canadian music?? I kid, I kid because I love...). The main ingredient is Cumbia - for my money, Colombia's most addictive export - mixed with Cuban rhythms, twin surf guitars, greasy wah pedal sounds and a smidgen of vintage Moogery. One track even has a lazy tape echo floating through the mix, which combined with the Andean melodies of the vocals sounds like the Rotary Connection. This comp is badass all the way through, with fascinating approaches to electric guitar which speak to Afro-American influences and to the tradtion of Peruvian guitar virtuosity. This is yet another example of the worldwide youth culture of the 60s manifesting itself through druggy pop hybrids (RIYL all the Vampisoul Peruvian grooves of the same period). I'm looking forward to Conan's band Chicha Libre dropping their debut in January '08.

If you like your psychedelia without grand theoretical analysis, head on over to Sublime Frequencies. Their two new comps Thai Pop Spectacular and Molam: Thai Country Groove From Isan Vol. 2 feature a slightly more beat oriented selection of Thai rock, funk, disco, electro-folk and comedy styles than previous SF comps - with exciting results! As for enriching liner notes about context and whatnot, they offer this: "For assistance decoding or reducing Molam and its makers to a scientific nothingness, please contact the appropriate authorities".

chaos breeds 1 - burnt friedman (scape)
stranger comforts have slipped by (pt1 & pt 2) - qua (mush)
goodbye au revoir - tim posgate hornband (guildwood)
riot of light - the respect sextet (roister)
beva ai laeo bo - thongmark leacha (sublime frequencies)
si ompong - ariesta biwara (shadoks)
mae kha som tum - onuma singsiri (sublime frequencies)
carinito - los hijos del sola (barbes)
cucaraca maraca - the harvery averne band (acid jazz)
liberation song - shirley scott (cadet)
are you there - josh roseman unit (enja)
black stacey (remix) - deadbeat (scape)
mainoo ole bai ke pee lain de - gaudi feat. nusrat fateh ali khan (six degrees)
plummer park - pete jolly (a & m)
rezos - miguel 'anga' diaz (world circuit)
bana - kocassale dioubate (beresanke)
winter in seney - echospace (baked goods)
champion - the dub project (m)
championsound - radio citizen (ubiquity)
forward ever - zion train feat. lua
milk and honey - prince fatty feat. holly cook (mr. bongo)
bring back real reggae music - andru branch (crw)
selassie - k.c. white (city line)

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Abstract Index Playlist - August 1/07

Remixes of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan are almost a genre unto themselves. The late great master of qawwal had a long and well-recorded career with his "party" of harmonium (which he sometimes played himself) percussion and chorus, but since the 80s has been musical translated in all manner of styles. The most famous and widely released example
was Massive Attack's chilled electro-reggae version "Mustt Mustt" from 1990. I hesitate to say "most famous" and "widely released" without mentioning the considerable amount of bhangra remixes dating from this time - all of whom likely outsold anything Massive Attack did at the time. The man himself participated in a few re-imagined sessions - notably the Real World-curated collaboration with Michael Brook - but he always gave tacit consent to the use of his voice in dance remixes, despite the overtly secular/sexual environments for which they were intended. I never found out what he thought of Oliver Stone's utterly callous use of his devotional songs overtop of sensational acts of violence throughout Natural Born Killers...
During the sampladelic years of bhangra, his voice was a natural lead presence signifying tradition within modern production. Bally Sagoo, one of bhangra's early leading lights, created a mix from the same song called "Jewel" which was every bit the equal of Massive Attack's downtempo anthem, though its new jack breakbeat has dated a little bit.

This cottage industry has died down in the last few years, but now along comes downtempo master Gaudi to take another stab at the man's legacy. Dub Qawwali is surprisingly excellent. Based on rediscovered sessions from the 70s, the music perfectly matches Khan's generally mellow vocals from these recordings. Other elements retained from the original recordings are tabla and harmonium, from which Gaudi extrapolates the arrangements. The chords behind the music are ever-changing, leading to progressions which are seldom found in reggae. Yet the uplifting combination of the chords and vocals is simpatico with peace and love themes so common in roots reggae. It's rare to come across a mix so melodic and so dubby at the same time. Drums are a strong aspect of this project, in many cases played by none other than one of the all time great Jamaican drummers, Style Scott of the Roots Radics. There is a certain upscale worldtronica shimmer to the production (someday I'll post more on this topic), but Gaudi never gets carried away with the gloss. This is a heartfelt effort which manages to be both polished and challenging.

Incidentally, I was fortunate to see the man in a fairly intimate context: the Brigantine Room at Harbourfront. It was an astonishing performance, totalling some 4 1/2 hours. Frankly I was amazed that he could sit cross-legged and hit all those notes the whole time.

endless vibrations - lord shorty (crippled dick hot wax)
likambo nini - adam solomon (indie)
atiadele - mangwana all stars (otrabanda)
morsing code - radio i ching (revenant)
be happy - claudia quintet (cuneiform)
onotology (keep thinking) - arkana music (indie)
lord help me - amnesty (now again)
contacto com o mundo racional - tim maia (trama)
quero companheira - rubinho e mauro assumpcao (QDK)
pass it on - pieces of peace (twinight/numero)
2005 05 27 08:13:55 - bitchin' (NCRA)
entry one - moha! (rune gramofon)
how to start a fight - moondata (envision)
raval tardor - radio zumbido (quartermass)
lebleida - malouma (marabi)
dil da rog muka ja mahi - nusrat fateh ali khan rmx by gaudi (six degrees)
black heart man dub - barrington levy (auralux)
no meat - jah batta (wackies)
keep on coming through the door - lone ranger (studio one/heartbeat)
warrior dub - michael rose (M)
on the edge - the dub project (M)

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