Monday, August 24, 2009

Abstract Index Playlist - August 19/09

When I interviewed Sublime Frequencies' Alan Bishop a few months back, he expressed continued admiration for the incredible sonic hybrids of the 60s and 70s, which he considered to be far more vital and fearless than anything coming out today, hence that label's continued fascination with music from all points related to that era.

The more reissues I collect, the more I find myself wondering whether I'm more attracted to their inevitably titillating exotica, or the familiarity of certain elements. It's the latter characteristic which is predominant for me.

The Sound Of Wonder catalogs "Lollywood" music from 1974-80. These productions are similar to their Bollywoodian cousins of the same era, though the massive studio orchestras are downsized by about a third. I'm completely unfamilar with the Lahore, Pakistan based film industry and its accompanying music, so I'm not going to make any pronouncements about its overall sound based on one collection. However this is yet another anthology of seventies music with drum sounds, analog synths, and guitar sounds made around the world (in half-decent studios, that is) over at approximately the same time. Thus, I think there's a lot more to love about the similarities between the Thai funk of SF comps like Thai Pop Spectacular and Soundway's Disco Funk Special than getting a momentary chuckle from the shallow curiosity about funny sounding music from hot-weather climates.

I can't see how anyone would fail to notice the incredible, world class pop ingenuity in this collection. The way in which massed orchestration, vocalese and synthetic sounds come together is innovative by any yardstick of seventies music. True, the occasional English lyrics add a certain mysterious allure, but with a soundtrack, creative liberty is much greater than with a two minute pop song. According to the liners, the sound of Lollywood was more budget than its Indian cousin, and I wonder whether that contributes to the greater use of synthesizers and vocal scatting as inexpensive substitutes for orchestral elements (though there is quite a long tradition of intricate, percussive vocal styles in Pakistan and Northern India). But again, that's just the liners, and advertising something as "rougher" to a Western audience is a code word for coolness.

No matter how you choose to groove to this collection, it's another winner from Finders Keepers.

I'm on vacation for two weeks, and I'll be back in September.


na teef know de road of teef - pax nicholas & the nettey family (daptone)
blue monsoon - sonny stitt (cadet)
soulful illusion - soulful illusion (bbe)
dein brief - vicki leandros (bureau b)
kad ley wey - tafo feat nahid akhtar (finders keepers)
notorious b.a.g. - magilla funk conduit feat cadence weapon (no label)
rising 5 - hudson mohawke (warp)
no apologies - caballo & the mothafu kings feat relic (no label)
white cloud - sa-ra creative partners (ubiquity)
what you know about this - jahdan blakkamore (gold dust)
neuropastic south step dub - huelepega vs cooptrol (inyrdisk)
ekim - michael urbaniak (bbe)
untitled track 4 - not the wind not the flag (no label)
chimo - david sait & glen hall (apprise)
exit choke chamber - john hughes/lars scherzberg/nicholas wiese (schraum)
dub for dennis - manasseh & praise (interchill)
each is their own - gisto (historical records)
wanna feel more - noiseshaper (visions from the roof)
can't take it easy - bim sherman (century)
imitator - systemwide (bsi)
judgment come dub - slimma (universal egg)
trod with jah - barrington levy (auralux)
sir niney's rock - niney the observer (trojan)

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, August 17, 2009

Abstract Index Playlist - August 12/09

I had the privilege of speaking with Amon Tobin the other day for an upcoming feature on his side project Two Fingers.

The project came about when he and longtime mate Joe Doubleclick Chapman got together to write some straightforward pop songs. Lady Gaga had better watch her back. This kind of pop is both successful as a vehicle for vocals (as with thier first album) and as a extension of Tobin's careful sample mosaics.

First, there's the beats. If you liked The Bug's album earlier last year (and he's on hand to contribute remixes to the current single "Bad Girl" featuring Ce'Cile), you'll find much to love in the unfussy, dancehall-centric drum patterns and Hoovering basslines that threaten to rip a hole in the space-time continuum. Tobin's always been good with bass sounds, but with Two Fingers, such sounds are more overwhelming given the relative paucity of ingredients.

Though there are fewer samples in this project than in Tobin's ridiculously plotted out solo albums, the way in which they are sequenced coaxes unlikely melodies out of disparate, often pan-Asian, sources. The way in which these samples thread together adds a subtle non-linearity to the grooves, but never enough to detract from the simplicty of each track. Tobin told me that these instrumentals took shape before, during and after the vocal album. Some songs are straight up versions of the vocal tracks, others are complete enough compositions on their own. Tobin agreed that it was a Bunny Lee like process, even if it is quite rightly termed an instrumental disc and not a dub album. (We had a laugh when I asked him when the Tommy McCook versions were coming out - saxophonist McCook, as mixed by King Tubby, was one of Lee's typical partners-in-version during the mid-70s)

This 22 track (!) album is coming out in limited edition release on September 8. Which is just a few weeks away. Ugh.


society girl - m. ashral feat nahid akhtah (finders keepers)
el son de victoria - hilario duran (waxing deep)
come carry the day - henry threadgill (sony)
subway rhythm - two fingers (paper bag)
esp orange - bleupulp (cccltd)
waist deep in saigon - david sait & gino robair (apprise)
saxion - geordie haley (no label)
for you - claudia quintet (cuneiform)
subnarkotisch - kammerflimmer kollektief (staubgold)
taqsim - khedayer bin kessab (honest jons)
ghati nen el bal – rached kabbaj (barbarity)
chegret – tinariwen (outside)
sandiya - brahim belkani (drag city)
baldamore - hadouk trio (naive)
nao ta se entender - dred mann-gi feat nell (akwabaa)
100% rootical - gaudi (interchill)
fathers call - king tubby (no label)
good sensi dub 2 - bush chemists (interchill)
tuff dub - citizen sound feat prince blanco (vx)
smiling faces sometimes - tamlins (mango)
i am doing my thing - delroy wilson (pressure sounds)
rock me in dub - thompson all stars (trojan)
throw some dub - michael rose/twilight circus (m)

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

If You Don't Know Me By Now

The Polaris Music Prize has been running profiles of its jury members. Given the reaction to the Short List this year, it ought to help the general public realize that this prize is not the product of a shadowy cabal representing the hidden interests of dark forces in Canadian music. To prove the point, I'm in the cross hairs today, and I'm not part of the dark side (am I?)

I don't fancy setting myself apart from the crowd. I don't like what I like just to be different or more hip, which has traditionally been a motivation for music critics. It's a post-adolescent point of view that becomes less and less relevant as I get older. Anyone who follows this blog or the radio show - or has read many of the articles I've written - knows that I like to focus on community within music. Sometimes an artist is very popular, but the community in which they are best known doesn't have much traction in mainstream and 'alternative' media (like Samini, for instance). Other times, an artist is fairly obscure or grassroots, but happens to have gotten the funding together to put out a disc which gives them a little shine for as long as the money and novelty can drive the promotional effort.

My analysis of music isn't about getting hot and bothered about the next big thing, but looking at the culture, community and economics behind music I'm interested. Hence my characterization of Canadian music in five words: "Myriad entrepreneurs battle industry inertia".

When it comes to music, there is so much to write and talk about, and even more to play with when it comes to radio (which remains my favourite form of musical expression). CIUT has infected me with its values for life. If nothing else I hope this little profile turns people on to some different ish and underlines that contemporary musical analysis can be more than just breathless hype and blogospheric circle-jerkery.


Friday, August 07, 2009

Abstract Index Playlist - August 5/09

"Delroy Wilson has always been one of my favourite Jamaican vocalists" I said to Patrick Roots, updating a list of maybe 50 names in my head. "I've always loved his jazzy flow and his deep bluesy voice". "Maybe it was because of the rum" said Patrick, a little sarcastically.

It's true, Wilson did have his troubles with alcohol, and died from cirrhosis at age 46. Maybe he never quite lived up to his days as a teenage star on Studio One, but in the late 70s he had a very good run of recordings with Bunny Lee.

Pressure Sounds new disc celebrates Prince Jammy's mixing and production acumen as much as Wilson's vocals with this new release. The title, Dub Plate Style, refers to a short-lived mixing ethos that existed in the late 70s. These songs, which were recorded throughout the seventies with various bands and producers but mostly with Bunny Lee, feature the subtractive spirit of dub underneath a full vocal mix.

According to the liners, these full-vocal versions of what would otherwise be dub mixes looked to cross over into a mainstream mixing style round about this time, but never caught on. As such, mixes like this were confined to dub plates for the dancehalls and few saw commercial release. This disc was mixed by Prince Jammy, no stranger to the dancehalls' pulse, and represents what Pressure Sounds calls one of the earliest remix albums.

To most listeners, this disc will sound like a more minimal version of roots reggae with pop crossover appeal. It certainly isn't a remix album in the sense of a radical retrofit of the music underneath the vocals, but Pressure Sounds' point is well taken. To those of us who belong to the cult of Delroy, hearing big hits like "Better Must Come" or "I'm Still Waiting" with more space where ornamentation once was is pretty cool. Maybe not life-changingly cool, but still a nice twist on songs which have long since affixed themselves to the mythical "Time-Life Presents Reggae Gold" anthology I keep re-compiling in my mind.

I dedicated this week's track to my wife. We're both huge fans of the Chi-Lites original version, and Wilson's version of "Love Uprising" is a pretty radical rethink of the original, even discarding the reggae-ready original bass line. Wilson's vocals have never sounded snappier!


ebibi (ekassa 28) - sir victor uwaifo (soundway)
you - pax nicholas & the nettey family (daptone)
baches - za (acuarela)
mundhu - brain damage (jarring effects)
show me a refix - ealzee feat alpha and omega (no label)
yeter artik kadin - bunalim (shadoks)
monarch and the viceroy - quinsin nachoff bruno tocanne project (adami)
you make time - gypsophilia (no label)
overloaded ark - helena espvall & masaki batoh (drag city)
coast to coast - vandermark 5 (atavistic)
license complete - vandermark 5 (atavistic)
gates of zion - mighty diamonds (greensleeves)
if love - agape (sustainable)
freedom fries connection - mossman vs. vander (bass ma boom)
music business dub - burning spear (burning sounds)
naggo head - ring craft posse (moll selekta)
love uprising - delroy wilson (pressure sounds)
don't wanna let you go - dream band (natty posse)

Labels: ,