Monday, April 28, 2008

Abstract Index Playlist - April 23/08

The latest incredible reissue from the Numero Group got to me just in time for Passover. How better to get your "next year in Jerusalem" groove on than by loading up the iPod (jPod?) with the psychedelic Hebrew soul of Good God! Soul Messages From Dimona?

The title format may seem familiar to Numero-logists. The first Good God! volume was a stunning collection of obscure, funky gospel. But this is something else.

Undoubtably, it's a novelty to come across such incredibly polished music produced by a various groups formed from a community of Black Hebrews living in Dimona, a village in the middle of the Negev desert in Israel. They regard Dimona as the spiritual center of the universe, and that sentiment comes through loud and clear in often startling lyrics. If this was Christian proselytizing, I wonder if I'd be quite so taken with this disc - though V1 of Good God! certainly nudged me a little closer to Jesus. But the pitch perfect Hebrew Curtis Mayfield concept of the Soul Messengers "Go To Proclaim" is stunning. It's a trans-Atlantic, trans-Mediterrean , bond across the ocean to the main Black Hebrew community in Chicago.

I find myself asking questions like: how did the residents of this desert hamlet stay in tune with the vanguard of tripped out soul? Seriously, this stuff out-cosmics Roy Ayers and Earth Wind and Fire put together. Like EWF, the core musicians were session players for second tier Chicago soul indies like One-derful and Mar-v-lus. Also like EWF, they were hip to Phil Cohran and the nascent AACM. But this music is from '75-'81, some 10 years after they left the States via Liberia (that's a whole other utterly compelling story, recounted in the liner notes) to end up in Israel.

I also wonder why this almost apocalyptic soul became known as the finest party music in Israel? Then again, the version of party anthem "Na Na Na Na Hey Hey" works surprisingly well in Hebrew.

Finally, music this professional, this complex had to have been arranged and rehearsed extensively - might we be hearing the world's most successful community centre program of all time?

I can't say I'm surprised this disc exists. I've never been to Israel, but it's an incredibly diverse place which draws from all parts of the Jewish diaspora. Anyone who's hip to the music coming out of Tel Aviv right now (Kutiman, Boom Pam) knows that there's a whole lot of cultural mixology going on. So Black American Hebrews funking it up in the desert doesn't seem all that unusual in a country alongside Indian Jews, Ugandan Jews, Chinese Jews and their respective party musics.

Hour 1 podcast
Hour 2 podcast

autobonsai - shot x shot (high two)
bondage - lucas niggli drum quartet (intakt)
miss o - jason adjemian (delmark)
broken promises - quiet village (k7)
ajhoon na aye - sunil ganguly (sublime frequencies)
parkdale - elizabeth shepherd (do right)
tete muo bu mo - tony tete & the star heaters of nigeria (strut)
modernization - sons of the kingdom (numero)
street parade - earl king (soul jazz)
southern fried chicken - bill thomas & the fendells (perfect toy)
italy 73 - shawn lee's ping pong orchestra (ubiquity)
showdown - don armando's second line rumba band (strut)
a refreshing night/a union them - ken aldcroft's convergence ensemble (oval window)
slant - mario pavone trio arc feat. paul bley (playscape)
volks! - icarus (rump)
we lost the signal - fidgital (fidgital)
truths and rights - ernest wilson (BBE)
i'm in love with a dreadlocks - brown sugar (greensleeves)
i love you so - twinkle brothers (virgin)
my woman pt. 2 - bim sherman (pressure sounds)
musicology dub - keith hudson (pressure sounds)
rockers lead the way - prince ras murray (moll selekta)
bells of death - crystalites feat augustus pablo (makasound)
smile orange reggae - crystalites feat robert butler (BBE)
i am a levi pt. 2 - ijahman levi (basic replay)

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Red Gold Green and Blanco

Veteran Toronto reggae citizen Prince Blanco will be stopping by the Abstract Index Radio Show on Wednesday April 30 at 7:30. He's a knowledgeable cat who's been deep into the heart of the one drop and lived to sing about it . We played in a band together way back when - the mighty Skanksters.

His latest CD, Rebel Discotheque, is being feted at Version Xcursion's Dub and Beyond night this coming Saturday.

We'll be talking about the roots and branches of reggae music, Toronto and UK style.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Abstract Index Playlist - April 16/08

Unearthed from Belgium, after being buried for close to 40 years, it's the Free Pop Electronic Experience.

For starters, I think I'll quote "STEREOLAB HAVE THIS RECORD 100% SURE......". It leans heavily on a Cannonball Adderley type soul jazz sound, but with that competent anonymity which makes the library records both sterile and more bizarre. But with much longer songs - peaking at nearly 15 minutes - the Free Pops do get to indulge all their Blood Sweat and Tears fixations. As for the claims of free jazz... not so much. Perhaps more in spirit. Then there's the electronics of Arsen Souffiau. Recorded at the only electronic music studio in Belgium, the treatments aren't pitch-based, it's pure electronic synthesis. Richly textured frequency swoops and tape delayed, slingshot-like effects are everywhere. I suppose that's the free jazz element to it all, as the electronics are a bit of a parallel track to the band. But it all adds up to a pretty good trip and as a bonus, Vampisoul has done well with the mastering for a change.

Hour 1 podcast
Hour 2 podcast

fatouma - abdel hadi halo (honest jons)
baly mash ghoul - hossam ramzy (arc)
kaba apocalyptica - fanfara tirana (piranha)
mevea k - max pashm (eastblok)
we're through - james pants (stones throw)
cosmos rhythms - free pop electronic concept (vampisoul)
love affair - s-job movement (soundway)
tuguchili elia - umalali collective (cumbancha)
moonstruck - malone barnes and spontaneous simplicity (luv n' haight)
no one like you - al green (blue note)
gossip - cyril neville (soul jazz)
tuff love - galactic feat. trombone shorty (anti)
modul 42 - nik bartsch ronin (ecm)
njulli/fulani journey - afrissippi feat. john sinclair (no label)
which way to domino's? - jean martin/evan shaw (barnyard)
crows - jukali vs. badawi (roir)
charlie - cafe neon (station 55)
ayatollah - jackie mittoo (basic replay)
fully charged - souljah fire (love empire entertainment)
nice up the session version - king culture (basic replay)
wicked dub - the revolutionaries (trojan)
great guga muga - sound dimension (soul jazz)
can't you see - slim smith (sonic sounds)

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Abstract Index Playlist - April 9/08

No podcast this week - it was fundraising, and those shows don't make for good repeat listening. Thank you very, very much to everyone who contributed, especially my advance donors. If you'd like to donate to CIUT you can do so here.


Steel an’ Skin was composed of Africans and Carribeans in Britain bringing the sounds of African diasporic culture to young Britons of all ages to combat racism in the late 70s. Their mission is explicitly outlined by front man Peter Blackman on the incredible 35 minute DVD documentary included in this package. The doc is the main reason to buy this collection: grim streetscapes of British inner cities contrast with joyous scenes of little white kids jumping up and participating in the irresistible grooves.

As for the music, there’s one main reason to buy this: the superlative “Afro Punk Reggae (Dub)”. This smoking dub mix is basically LCD Soundsytem with steelpan – utterly contemporary despite having been recorded in 1979, and one of those magic tracks that gets everyone out on the floor. The other tunes are nice, especially a steelpan version of Sonny Okuson’s massive African reggae hit “Fire In Soweto” and the bonus track “Acid Rain” from 1984. Although the quantity of music is slight, the overall package is well worth buying.

This page contains a sample of Afro Punk Reggae (Dub)

afro punk reggae (dub) - steel an' skin (EM)
mere liye too bani - kazi arindam (sublime frequencies)
makaya and the rain - tommy meier (intakt)
koyaya - colin fisher/jean martin (barnyard)
you already are - brownout (freestyle)
GPS - randolph (still)
going places - kid creole and the coconuts (strut)
something wicked - rise ashen (no label)
innulamane - toumast (real world)
proletariado - dj dolores (crammed)
oshogbo - adam rudolph (justin time)
pluk a dub - amsterdam klezmer band (essay)
i shall be released - freddie mcgregor (studio one)
i don't need nobody killing me - ljx (no label)
the love illusion - ljx (no label)

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Abstract Index Playlist - April 2/08

It’s a fine line between jam band fatuousness and cutting edge rhythm abstraction. With so many contemporary instrumental bands, often these two tendencies coexist in the same tune. And I don’t know what it is about trios these days. I blame Scott Lafaro for brilliantly exploding the conventional jazz rhythm section/solo voice. Several dozen musical generations later, we have trios such as this where all three members are multi-instrumentalists switching roles within songs. Electronics can be used as another sound source as they are here, or they can interact with the band as with the Australian piano trio Triosk. In any case, I'd say the trio has been reinvented more thoroughly than the quartet, in which there's still a division between the front and back line instruments.

Despite containing all the elements for disaster - sprightly flute leads, lush keyboard pads, big 'verb - more often than not the Hadouk Trio ends up sounding like a particularly inspired Bill Laswell production. The band is far more of a unit than most studio projects - that 'live album' energy is a big part of the sound here. than a studio session. It doesn’t take long for most grooves to lock into some serious dub postures anchored by hand drums and sintirs.

This is capital 'W' World Music - fusion with all the trimmings. But rarely is the cheese factor sustained for long, though a couple of tracks on this disc leave me cold. When it seems like they're threatening to turn into this decade's Enigma, the use of microtonal harmonies and the good ol' ring modulation gives some much needed tension to these billowing grooves.

Hour 1 Podcast
Hour 2 Podcast

chewing gum delirium - the free pop electronic concept (vampisoul)
little rootie tootie - jerry gonzalez (sunnyside)
exchange - matana roberts (central control international)
untitled 12 - box (rune gramofon)
the tiniest spy - insideamind feat laura barrett (no label)
you make me free - lal (ptr)
alena minena - think of one (crammed)
leanin' - randolph (still)
barretta - brownout (freestyle)
casa leule - abdoulaye n'diaye (justin time)
sufi bhakti - debashish bhattacharya (riverboat)
sonido amazonico - chicha libre (barbes)
parasol blanc - hadouk trio (naive)
maisha haya kufa kupona - les embassadors feat. michael ongaru (nonplace)
stop all the violence - sizzla (greensleeves)
ego - etana (vp)
genocide - queen ifrica (flames)
rastaman - jamayka boyz (junior boys own)
musical revolution - version xcursion feat. ammoye (vx)

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