Wednesday, September 30, 2009

First Impressions

Here are some snaps of my first night in CIUT's new studios in Hart House.

For those of you outside Toronto, here's some background on the context of this move. Hart House is one of the key buildings on the University of Toronto campus. It was established in 1919 as one of the first student activity centers in North America. It's a gorgeous, iconic Gothic revival structure kitty-corner to the university's most famous building, University College. Hart House includes a top-flight restaurant, a professional caliber theatre, athletic facilities, a swimming pool, and a barbershop. It is a central part of the University of Toronto experience. The rationale behind the move is that CIUT's presence will increase and diversify student traffic and engagement with the radio station and the building in general.

I didn't take any pictures of the Map Room studio, which is still under construction (looks great though...). All programming between 8AM and 6PM will take place there - come gawk at Medicineman while he's doing his show! These pics are taken in the main CIUT facilities on the third floor. This was the former, spectacular apartment of the Warden of Hart House. It was completely off-limits to the public for most of Hart House's existence, and should be a revelation to all past and present U of T students. Truly a candidate for Doors Open Toronto.

The studio ("Studio 3") overlooks Tower Rd's 'back campus' playing fields. its west view should provide some memorable sunset experiences during my timeslot. It was already incredibly beautiful last night.

Things are far from complete, but I still can't believe this is all happening...

1. The studio is three flights of stairs from the main entrance, but the elevator works well too.

2. Skylights abound.

3. A big hallway full of stuff in boxes

4. Catwoman at the controls

5. The interview booth

6. View from behind the mic, sitting in a brand new chair. Note the perfect levels on the board - Abstract Index comes correct everytime, seen?

7. Sunset over back campus, taken from the interview booth window. Wednesday Night Lights.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Abstract Index Playlist - September 23/09

one last snapshot of 91 St. George St. as I left the building...

Indulge me for a moment.

Rock bands build entire careers on mythologizing the four to five years of high school's pressure cooked social dynamics. I spent 23 years at the building I first entered three short months after high school ended, so I feel justified in a little rose-coloured reminiscence.

CIUT blew apart my high school state of mind. Immediately, this 17 year old found himself hanging out with the architects of the soon to be launched radio station, most of whom were about a decade older than me and had deeeeeep collections. 20,000 albums, hundreds of 7" singles and walls of cassettes also contributed to warping my young mind.

As important as the musical bonanza was, it was the volunteers who made the place different than anything I'd experienced up to that time. I would meet Rasta militants, grizzled veterans of Toronto's jazz scene (re: Dick Wattam), ethnomusicologists and activists of every description - all of whom shaped my perspective on what the word "community" could encompass in this huge, diverse city.

91 St. George St. shaped me as a person as well as a musical entrepreneur. It taught me that being the singular person at the controls of 15,000 watts is an incredible thrill and a serious responsibility. It taught me to challenge myself every time I stepped up to the mic; to make spontaneous art which drew from a constant quest for knowledge and insight. At this point, I welcome the opportunity to pass on that enthusiasm to those who say "damn, I wasn't even BORN back then...". Each one teach one.

We're moving to Hart House, which has the potential to become an even more memorable physical manifestation of what CIUT can deliver. The facilities will be more accessible to students and the general public than ever before, and the technical setup more versatile. For someone who's always loved to push the limits of the form with live dub sessions and multi-studio broadcasts, this will hopefully unlock new creative initiatives.

In some ways, like the aforementioned rock bands, CIUT has been an extended adolescence - although it's been more like a never-ending undergraduate degree than high school. I've done other work in radio and audio programming jobs which has been fascinating and far better paid, but these experiences have made me appreciate the specific virtues of CIUT rather than make it seem juvenile or bush-league.

I remain a true believer: radio still represents the lowest-cost, most accessible and most massive of mass media. At its best, campus radio is a brilliant combination of physical facilities, vast musical resources, and most of all, an internal/external community spirit which powers personal and passionate statements by committed individuals.

Onwards and South-Eastward.

Podcast - for those of you who claim that nobody listens to radio anymore...

the alchemy of scott lafaro - ornette coleman (atlantic)
if i took your hand - fire! (rune gramofon)
here comes the family - the family of percussion and archie shepp (nagara)
nirvana - shafiq husayn (plug research)
alchemy - tasa (no label)
druid jazz - cymbali (music gallery)
butchenska ratchenitsa - ivo papasov & his bulgarian wedding band (hannibal)
somalia - k'naan (a&m)
be thankful - bunny clarke (trojan)
i will sing unto jah - squidly cole (no label)
chemical specialist - creation rebel/new age steppers (cherry red)
king tubbys badness - king tubby (trojan)
try love from zion - natto & mountain edge band (no label)
woman dub - chezidek (tabou 1)
tribute to drumbago - king tubby & the dynamics (pressure sounds)
east west north and south - vin gordon (shelter rock)

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Abstract Index Playlist - September 16/09

Asthmatic Kitty's Library Music Series is everywhere you want to be. The website claims that this album is to be used for "accompaniment to cooking, eating, sculpting, exercising, high stakes poker, soaking, panoramic landscapes, cuddling, car chases, drawing, knitting, bandaging, romance, playing chess, or planning the rest of your life, of which this is the first day."

One thing's for sure, Volume 3: Music For Drums, composed and performed by Casey Foubert and James McAllister brings the funk. It also brings the Partch, but definitely this week's selection is more conventionally grooving.

As with so much library music, it's recorded in a most awesome manner - believe me if I'd had my Incredible Bongo Band disc with me at the time I'd have continued with the theme of immaculately slamming drum sounds.

Fortunately there is a real sense of flow and composition to the album as well as being a collection of wonderful noises. Foubert and McAllister are great players who maintain a balance between individual personal style and utility for a variety of different (licensing) purposes. In this age where sales from CDs bring diminishing returns, it's cool to see people reviving the idea of creating music for licensing first - arguably the single most lucrative area of music today - and retail second.

There are two other volumes in the series: Music for Lubbock (1980) and Music For Measuremtents (also featuring Foubert). I haven't heard either of them, but understand the latter also has the funk.

Asthmatic Kitty continues to surprise!


whatever - rob clutton (rat drifting)
walk tall - hiroshi suzuki (columbia)
there in, theatre - on ka'a davis (live wired)
i'd advise you not to miss your train - bobby previte & the new bump (palmetto)
neva hicaz gazel - ayda sonmez (kein & aber)
lelita floare - dona dumitru siminica (asphalt tango)
give you action - dunklebunt (piranha)
eyes of mine - shantel (essay)
holidays in congo - rainbow arabia rmx by myd (no label)
alaniaris - alaniaris (no label)
eastside pride - casey foubert/james mcallister (asthmatic kitty)
devil dub - chezidek (tabou)
give thanks and praises - dubmatix rmx by citizen sound (vx)
sod's law - noiseshaper (cat and roof)
from the foundation - dubkasm feat ras judah (dubkasm)
down town - the dynamics (pressure sounds)
ayatollah - jackie mittoo (basic replay)

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Upcoming Interviews On The Abstract Index

I've been negligent at promoting upcoming interviews on this blog... Not this time, though. There are two you should definitely know about:

image by Geoff George/Exclaim

Next week (September 23) I'll be joined by author and Harbourfront booking agent Dalton Higgins.

We'll be speaking about his new book "Hip Hop World", which came out last month. The book surveys the growth and state of hip hop culture in North America and around the world. As you know, I don't play a tremendous amount of hip hop on my show, but it's part of my musical DNA and affects a wide range of music I represent more frequently. By the same token, Dalton's book delves into these hip hop tangents - I think this is going to be a fascinating discussion.

The following week (September 30), I'll air an edited interview with singjay extraordinaire Jahdan Blakkamoore. His album Buzzrock Warrior dropped this week and oh my it's quite the aural treat. Dancehall, hip hop, dubstep, cumbia, even mambo influences figure into the latest and greatest statement from the Dutty Artz crew. Jahdan has an expansive outlook on music, and will be talking about how he's gotten to where he is today.

Both interviews take place at interview o'clock - 7PM.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Abstract Index Playlist - September 9/09

Having played damn near half this compilation, it's about time for some blog love.

Interchill keeps on rolling after well over a decade of distinctive downtempo music. When DJ Chocolate and I worked on Jamaican Echoes last year, we made sure to namecheck them for their continued contributions to the growth of dub in Canada.

Sonically, this has more Jamaican content than the labels more frequent ambient/techno streaked downtempo sound. Perhaps the beats are a touch more assertive owing to the explicit genre identification of the comp's title.

They continue to split CanCon and international artists roughly 50/50.There's a couple of Twilight Circus productions, and Dubmatix makes an appearance, as does Salt Spring Island's Big Bass Theory. Internationally, Gaudi (a frequent associate of the label) contributes a nice track while one of my favourite dub artists ever, Manasseh, gets the closing tune upon which he sprinkles some folksy violin.

Just about everything I've ever heard the label put out is solid, and this collection is no exception (with version!).


a stork crosses the danube in the company of a raven - taraf de haidouks (crammed)
sama'i farah - john kameel farah (drosstik)
multilateral - caballo & the mothafu kings (no label)
adrift - variant (echospace)
glass - blink (thirsty ear)
suns glaze - professor fingers (5 1/4)
believer - natural self (tru thoughts)
she said - jahdan blakkamoore (gold dust)
huelepega vs chicken - huelepega sound system (no label)
olvidalo - brownout (six degrees)
vamos a bailar - alberto vasquez (musart)
i'll never forget you - the metros (dusty groove)
not far off - eddie c (pawn shop)
gumball machine weekend - yppah (ninja tune)
know love - twin roots (trojan)
spirituanational remix - vibronics vs. brain damage (hammerbass)
binman dub - international observer (interchill)
horns cut - matics horns (m)
blue sea - prince far i (cry tuff)
got to make a way - joe higgs (pressure sounds)
here comes the sun (dub) - seefari (no label)

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Huelepega @ Wavelength - Sunday Sept 13

at Yonge Dundas Square, with Luisito Obregoso on timbales

Huelepega's next jam takes place post-EX and Getatchew. Sunday night marks our return to Sneaky Dee's some 10 months after our first ever live performance. The post-punk (kinda...) crowd may be especially ready to party, as it will be one of the final three performances at Sneaks for the Wavelength series. They're pulling up roots and moving to a new venue called Garrison in October, read all about it here.

Sunday's bill, aka Wavelength 480, consists of:

Transcendental Rodeo Mothership (Doc Dunn's hillbilly trance kollektief) @ 1am

Gordon Grdina Trio (bad-azz improv jazz for guitar & oud, from Vancouver) @ 12

Huelepega Sound System (Latin dub noise masseeeeev) @ 11

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Big Tent Of Jazz

rocking the 'corporate swag' at last year's festival

Once again, CIUT will be broadcasting from the Guelph Jazz Festival.

On Saturday, join me and the gang either virtually (89.5FM in the GTA or or in person at the Upper Wyndham St. jazz tent. We're on from noon til midnight!

It's a big tent both literally and figuratively. As usual this event is designed to welcome one and all to a series of crowd pleasing and musically stimulating performances. Here's the lineup:
  • Jane Bunnett and the KidsAbility Youth Ensemble
    11:30 am

  • Michael Occhipinti’s Sicilian Jazz Project
    2 pm

  • Shuffle Demons
    4 pm

  • Rebel Rhythm
    5:45 pm

  • Jean Derome Évidence Trio +3
    7:15 pm

  • Odessa/Havana
    9:00 pm

  • Mr. Something Something
    10:45 pm

Expect interviews with many of the musicians playing under the big top, and throughout the festival.

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