Friday, January 29, 2010

Abstract Index Playlist - January 27/10

The premise of this highly original album is right on: there's so much more to the Hammond organ than just funk (not that "just funk" is EVER a bad thing in my books).

Decoy employ one of the most versatile instruments of the 20th century in sonics that belong firmly in the 21st. In a nutshell, it's free improv plus pulling-out-all-the-stops organ. "Outside In", which started out this week's show, sounds like Merzbow on organ (actually, his name is Alexander Hawkins). Those Leslie speakers are howling for mercy as their extreme volume modulations threaten to bust down the walls of Jericho.

Not that there aren't prolonged stretches of normalcy on the disc. The next couple of tracks settle into something that wouldn't be out of place on a Larry Young album - a conventional rhythm section pulse with some simmering phrases sprinkled overtop. In truth, soul jazz isn't that far away from any of these tracks. However, "Episode #69" is likely going to be the next track I play on the Index - it's a total Sun Ra workout, keyboard mashing all the way with sympathetic sound sculpting from Steve Noble and John Edwards (no, not that guy).

This disc isn't a complete success. Given the concept I'd love to hear wall-to-wall tonal angst and/or see them live. The louder you play it though, the more nuances of the Hammond sound come out. Hopefully this will inspire future recordings and the global Hammond fellowship to start thinking outside the wood-paneled box.

Podcast - sorry once again for the microphone difficulties...

outside in - decoy (bo weavil)
voxels - asura (non projects)
dhine dhadin - trilok gurtu & frikyiwa family (frikyiwa)
light favourites - drumheller (rat drifting)
colours - attila fias trio (no label)
out at night - mi ami (thrill jockey)
odessa - caribou (domino)
cineramascope - galactic (anti)
once you got me going - debby blackwell (strut)
algo - ricardo marrero & the group (jazzman)
shine dub - i plant (no label)
why not tonight? - see i (guidance)
dub inna this time - messian dub (no label)
gideon soldier - courtney melody (no label)
be strong/hold on - ibadan (crw)
dance the night away - danglin (street muziq)
ridiculous dub - jah warrior (tanty)
higher ruff dub - webcam hi fi (no label)

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Abstract Index Playlist - January 20/10

Thanks to The Village Voice for reminding everyone that glitch fell from relevance circa 2002. Fortunately many artists continue to build on what was a much greater musical evolution than most of the other flash in the pan 'microgenres' of the last decade.

Glitch isn't a microgenre. It represented a new way to think about time and tempo that posed a fundamental challenge to pop music.

Old-time blues and folk songs are well known for not conforming to metric song structures. If nobody tells you otherwise, why not write a song with a 15 bar verse and a three and a half bar chorus rather than a more predictable 16 and 4 bar cycle? (For that matter, even the Beatles, particularly with John Lennon's songs, were masters at creating accessible-sounding song structures that fit odd, personal melodies extremely well - "All You Need Is Love" or "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" are just two examples of great pop music which becomes much stranger when you deconstruct what's going on).

When writing music on computer, a 4/4 grid helps to organize one's thoughts, but if you're just fucking around with the infinite possibilities of slicing and dicing audio files, sometimes great ideas appear off the grid. That's the great promise of glitch - if you want to eliminate or reverse a beat or a bar, it's OK to do so. At best, it allows a composer to concentrate on what feels good to them on the tools they're working with, regardless of convention. For a lover of free jazz such as myself, it's perfectly natural (and exciting!) to concentrate on building a feeling or a free-form texture by such means. Of course, for too many casual listeners, the whole idea seems cheeky and overly intellectual, which caused its downfall as the unambiguous grooves of (post?) electroclash and Daft Punk ascended to temporary supremacy.

Band Ane is the work of Ane Ostergaard from Aarhuis in Denmark. I'm not trying to annoint her as the saviour of glitch, but she's taken that spirit of possibility and combined it in her wide ranging repertoire. In doing so the showier aspects of glitch toned down for greater impact.

The song showcased this week, "Keld I Herlighed", restricts its beat shuffling to some minor ripples in its introductory section, but asymmetrical loops become more and more prominent as the song goes on, contrasting nicely with the no-nonsense beat.

Band Ane is not likely to be termed egghead music - there are too many full blooded, body moving beats for that term to stick. Her personal sense of electronics on this double disc release (Anish Music Too & Free) never gets boring and represents further innovation in the intersection of free-tronica with big riddims. Can't wait to drop her digidub cut "DJ Lillemor" sometime soon...


babylon a fall - the prophets (blood and fire)
the seventh moon - kasai allstars (crammed)
keld i herlighed - band ane (jenka)
take notice - suite for ma dukes orchestra (stones throw)
spirit's samba - dave pike (muse)
ti fi la ou te madam (re-edit) - anzala, dolor & velo vs. paul e. lopes (soundway)
african hustle - mombasa (intercord)
if jesus came back - the gospel soul revivals (numero)
shout and scream - teddy pendergrass (PIR)
funky phantom (instrumental) - the queen constance band (P&P)
a nun or a bawd - deep dark united (rat drifting)
istres control - hans tammen third eye orchestra (innova)
zeno - darcy james argue secret society (new amsterdam)
hilsner - tyft trio (skirl)
browen - bjorn svin (rump)
girl i love you - massive attack feat horace andy rmx by she is danger (virgin)
instinto revolucionario - the fire this time feat dubdem soundsystem, zumbi,
dandaradub, jah uli and dr das (IR)
bass inspirations - the powersteppers (universal egg)
i man - king midas sound (hyperdub)
step by step (sax cut) - ras martin (no label)
surrender dub - dubblestandart feat ari up (collision cause of chapter 3)
hiding place dub - mad professor (ariwa)

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Abstract Index Playlist - January 13/10

I won't lie - I didn't play any full length albums this week that blew me away. This week's edition was further evidence that sometime last year this show has reached a tipping point favouring downloaded single tracks as opposed to selections from full length physical promo copies. It's kind of funny that this just happened last year (when others are proudly giving up their entire collection of CDs), but given my interests in jazz and reissues, I held out longer than most! What a Luddite. That said, there's much to say about the audacious new Gil Scott-Heron album and I'll be getting to that in due time.

My fave track this week came from expat Torontonian Moonstarr. His newest creation is a limited edition 7" called Farfisa 45 whose A-Side is "Hav' em". It features typically tasteful and funky drums garnished with vocal scat samples, but the main attraction is the keyboards of Tony Ezzy. Though the keyboard sound is a little thin (yes, it's a Farfisa, but it might have been mixed differently to showcase its unique character), the soulfulness and urgency comes through loud and clear. A nice and slippery tune, can't wait to drop it on Funky Fridays.

Podcast - sorry about the sound quality this week, adjustment to CIUT's new facilities is ongoing.

me and the devil - gil scott heron (xl)
two peas in a pod - interceiving (no label)
actuator - ergo (cuneiform)
in search of truth - lonnie liston smith (bluebird)
raw - james rolfe (musicworks)
monolith - cfcf (paper bag)
hav'em - moonstarr & tony ezzy (ptr)
gps - randolph (still)
keyzer - grupo batuque (far out)
gato cor de cafe - luanda jones (no label)
darkheart - mapstation (scape)
almost black - james white & the blacks (ze)
56% proof - belleruche (tru thoughts)
one armed bandit - jaga jazzist (ninja tune)
version the dread - sugar minott (quality)
dancing dub - bunny wailer (solomonic)
concrete sunrise - roots tonic (ROIR)
love needs expression - chet singh (no label)
imperial stepper - disciples (jarring effects)
bang bang - jimmy riley (heartbeat)
feel like jumping pt. 2 - marcia griffiths (soul jazz)
ital natty dread - prince jazzbo (jackpot)

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Friday, January 08, 2010

Abstract Index Playlist - January 6/10

I don't want to say too much about this landmark release yet. In a nutshell, though, this record takes in a wide swath of Caribbean, American and African rhythms, filters them through Mississauga-style multiculturalism and compresses them into futuristic, psychotically entertaining inducements to acute butt whiplash.

But don't take my word for it, download your own free copy. What a great beginning to the twenty-tweens.


switch - chris mcgregor & the castle lager big band (gallo/teal)
canto oneguine - david murray & the gwo ka masters (justin time)
chairmaster - henry threadgill's zooid (pi)
la frontera - lhasa (wrasse)
dila dushdu - latife cheshmeri (smithsonian folkways)
btan - alejandro franov (nature bliss)
loitering with intent - bill wells/annie whitehead/stefan schneider/barbara morgenstern (karaoke kalk)
like a ship - pastor t.l. barrett & the youth for christ choir (numero)
in my life - dr. music (unidisc)
choo choo beep - south rakkas crew feat deerhoof (mad decent)
cherie lo - vieux farka toure rmx by sabbo (six degrees)
ya yo se - chico mann (no label)
el gozon - caballo & kinky electric noise (no label)
belly off - peter pozorek (no label)
chupchik - schlachthofbronx feat kein vorspeil (disko b)
love in a higher region - king shiloh feat peter broggs (uwe)
david and goliath - ranking joe (m10)
righteousness - cultural warriors (uwe)
samfie man - morphy (nerve)
outta space - king midas sound (hyperdub)
tell me - bitty mclean (peckings)
ganjaman - friendlyness & human rights (no label)
africa we want to go dub - stephanie samuels (channel one)

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Monday, January 04, 2010

Tribute To Lhasa

Today in Eye Weekly I've written an appreciation of the singular talent that was Lhasa de Sela. She died far too young from breast cancer this past Friday.

I didn't play her music all that much on the Abstract Index, but I respected and admired the work she did. Judging from the interviews I did for the article, she never failed to leave a strong, positive impression on those she touched with her music or in her personal life.

You can read the article here.

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Sunday, January 03, 2010

Abstract Index Playlist - December 30/09

My favourite album of last year, and possibly my most frequently played disc, was On Ka'a Davis' "Seeds Of Djuke".

I'll point you to the interview/review I did for Exclaim back in May to run down what I enjoyed most about the album - basically, this was one of the greatest ever fulfillments of the promise of Ornette Coleman's harmolodic concept.

After compiling a million and one best of lists to close out last year, I'm pleased to discover that this album, though far out, isn't in a universe of its own. The end of the first decade of the new millenium produced a bumper crop of profoundly experimental music from Black America.

Years ago, fearless trombonist Tom Walsh told me "Hip-hop music and samplers came along and most of that music has more than one tonal area at the same time. If you analyse it, it's basically harmolodic — it's new ways of finding harmony." Some of my favourite albums from 2009 bore this out: Shafiq Husayn, Ras G, Georgia Anne Muldrow and others all went into deep space to find their funk with varying degrees of coherence. I've always loved funk that pushes and pulls at regular rhythms but I think we are at a new peak (or a serious upswing) in witnessing some tremendously creative artists from different musical backgrounds who trade in the reconfiguration of rhythm, harmony, melody and electronics.

Now I've got to get a hold of On Ka'a Davis' other disc from last year: "Djoukoujou", on John Zorn's always excellent Tzadik label.


uheskoos - collage (wool)
kad ley wey - tato feat nahid akhtar (finders keepers)
mon du don - johnny guitar (sublime frequencies)
ha fang khang kan - teun jai boon prakasa (sublime frequencies)
jet beguine - les loups noirs de haiti (soundway)
la escoba - alfredo y su salsa montanero (soundway)
ahouli vop yelli - orchestre poly rytmo de contonou (analog africa)
pagadeja - tamale (soundway)
fancy dancer - wicked witch (em)
elsa - sonido martines feat fefe (no label)
the birds - telefon tel aviv (bpitch control)
bitrate sensors - filastine (jarring effects)
combat rhythm - two fingers (paper bag)
tarantula - zomby (hyperdub)
one - moritz von oswald trio (honest jons)
bebey - gang gang dance rmx by matt shadetek (gold dust/k7)
helicopter (radio mix) - edalam feat dj lauralee (no label)
na na not me - on ka'a davis (livewired)
you liked me five minutes ago - fire (rune gramofon)
potential things - canaille (standard form)
he looks just like her – st. dirt elementary school (barnyard)
the gaze - bell orchestre (arts & crafts)
pajdusko - storsveit nix noltes (fat cat)
can't stop now - major lazer feat. mr. vegas (downtown)
gimme gimme - bonjay (no label)
sala malpapitando - caballo & the mothafu kings (no lable)
tired of the war - vibronics & macka b (interchill)
rope on in - cornell campbell (joe gibbs/vp)
get on up - babylon system (no label)
red moon - the dynamites/king tubby (pressure sounds)
do good - delroy wilson (pressure sounds)
10 ft. ganja plant & weed - 10 ft. ganja plant (ROIR)

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