Friday, January 25, 2008

Abstract Index Playlist - January 23/08

I had 120 words to state my case on Adam Rudolph's Moving Pictures - Dream Garden in Eye Weekly. I could have used more.

This is highly accomplished world music fusion. I firmly believe that "world fusion" is better than it used to be, despite the profound uncoolness of the term. Those words evoke an image of a bliss-faking, unstructured jam session between random instrumentalists overwhlemed by poorly conceived electronics. But people have been working on this shit for years, learning from past indulgences and post-colonial aesthetics. Or at least paying more attention to these matters.

My interests in free music and "world music" converge on those musicians, like Zakir Hussain, or Rudolph, who are able to create a wide array of of tonal and rhythmic possibilities beyond the musical conventions in which they were educated. Blended with years of experience communicating with other master musicians in diverse genres, the level of improvising can become extremely high and engaging.
But hardly anyone has the nerve to call themselves world fusion anymore....

What would have been hesitant, technically underwhelming and poorly thought out 40 or even 20 years ago have been succeeded by hybrids which are far more robust. Why? Rudolph, for example, has gained 30 years experience since his early days with the Mandingo Griot Society, and that shit was pretty hotttt to begin with.

I would cite several factors in the general amelioration of world fusion:

-Musicians in general have a better idea how to actually compose for and intergrate the sounds of differently-scaled instruments than ever before. This album is a perfect example, I simply can't imagine anyone with enough knowledge, chops, recording know-how and sympathetic musical comrades to have produced this music decades ago -

(Although this is pretty cool... from '82 and re-released last year: Norway's Bitter Funeral Beer Band)

-The interaction of musicians is at a higher level. On this record, the big names in the band are Hamid Drake (drums), Steve Gorn (ex-ECM, on bansuri flute and other woodwinds), Graham Haynes (son of Roy, often plays with electronics but can dig into the microtones just as easily without them), and Ned Rothenberg (minimalist, kinda atonal and super-rhythmic in many languages). They've all worked very, very extensively with global palettes of sound, and more importantly, in different contexts in which to exchange ideas. While jazz is at the heart of this mix, I never know where the exact sources of the rhythms are - which highlights my ignorance as much as it underlines the unique grooves made possible by an ensemble of sintir, cajon, bendir to name but three memebers of the rhythm section. The rhythms may be in complex time signatures, but one never gets the sense that the musicians are counting out beats - everyone of them can lean into the grooves or float on top. The harmonic combinations of say, bansuri flute, shakuhachi and electric guitar, are frequently breathtaking, not just an attempt to show off.

-Engineers around the world, especially in Europe and North America, have a better idea how to record and mix a variety of different instruments thanks to decades of experience. The physics of sound haven't changed much in the last 20 years, but what might have sounded thin and cluttered at the same time in 80s fusion is much more "realistic" - a loaded term, sure, and very much based on personal aesthetics. But although electronic world fusion is still happening in earnest, its no longer the same kind of painful soundclash that it used to be; the parts are more integrated.

-The scope of world fusion has changed. 25 years after world fusion was first marketed as such, sometimes the most effective fusions are under the radar. One of my fave discs of the last few months is Sandro Perri's Tiny Mirrors. It's clearly indebted to Brazilian singer-songwriters and to the flourishing improv scene in Toronto, but is considered neither "world music" nor anti-populist. This album is indicative of the wider range of instrumentation, rhythms and geographic inclusivity in the ever-expanding sphere of popular music than ever before. Looking into past fusions, global funk and global psych continue to kick ass reissue-wise... going forward there's global ghettotech; don't even get me started...

If you're looking for good world fusion, check out one of Toronto's most valuable resources.

And with that, here's my playlist:

olive - colin fisher/jean martin (barnyard)
via l4 norte - nemeth (thrill jockey)
cousin of the moon - adam rudolph's moving pictures (justin time)
bavarian calypso - globe unity orchestra (intakt)
phleeng khuk phaat pt. 2 - thewapasit ensemble (dust to digital)
reluctance - debasis sinha (eema)
already there - shuta hasunuma (western vinyl)
aminata santoro - toumani diabate (hannibal)
untitled saw 2 cd 1 track 2 - aphex twin remixed by four tet (domino)
tell it like you hear it - quantic (ubiquity)
music is ruling my world - kutiman (melting pot)
sweeter than a plastic pipe - jean martin/evan shaw (barnyard)
moses on call waiting - john rapson (9 winds)
los ejes de mi carreta - quinteplus (vampisoul)
sarko east - eddie senay (vampisoul)
moving on - ray camacho (ubiquity)
quimbamba - dr. harvey (home records)
uptown jungle - avatars of dub (select cuts)
hotter claps - ja man allstars (blood and fire)
rock vibration - yabby you /king tubby (blood and fire)
shoulder to jah wheel - claudius linton (sun king)
blue dub - irie band (no label)

Hour 1 Podcast

Hour 2 Podcast

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