Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Interview - Poirier

photo by May Truong

Today is the official release date of Poirier's new album, Running High. It marshals previously released EPs with new material and remixes, which makes it more of a long form compilation of his work of the last couple of years. I've only listened to the double disc twice in sequence but it certainly holds up as an album, in part because hearing all the EPs jumbled together on the first disc underlines the central aesthetic of 90s dancehall sounds anchoring the various cultural and technological streams running through the mix. Disc two changes up the sounds and rhythms with remixes - two which I'm feeling right now are by Uproot Andy and Maga Bo.

Having been a guest on the show before, I'm sure Poirier and I will have an interesting conversation about where he's at compositionally and as a DJ - and that's just for starters. Tune in at 7PM tomorrow.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Abstract Index Playlist - March 24/10

Full marks to Jonny Dovercourt for pegging my taste so perfectly. Tzadik released the magnificent Afrikan Machinery in 1998, and I slept on it.

In truth, I haven't listened to this whole album yet. But I'm smitten: in a few hours I'm off to the Music Gallery to see Lukas Ligeti live.

This music is a beautiful marriage of marimba and electronics. Ligeti (son of Gyorgy) plays an instrument called the marimba lumina. It was invented by Don Buchla, whose interfaces for electronic instruments (i.e. something other than a piano keyboard) have always been creative and versatile. Once this interface is married to Ligeti's compositional digestion a wide range of African and European rhythmic strategies, the sky is the limit. These songs seem to continuously unspool new melodies and variations: "polyrhythmic" seems too tame a description. But it's no mere math exercise, Ligeti has a ear for good hooks too, as in the pervasive whistling that enlivens "Great Circle's Tune I". No doubt this will yield new delights live.

balafon dance system - lukas ligeti (tzadik)
velvet paws - move d & benajamin brunn (smallville)
see mi yah - willi williams/rhythm & sound (basic channel)
charlie - cafe neon (station 55)
alon basela - avishai choen (emi)
helelyos - zia (finders keepers)
africa - amanaz (qdk media)
rejoice pt. 2 - souljazz orchestra (strut)
anything worse - gaslamp killer (brainfeeder)
goodmorning sun - qua, rmx by aoi (mush)
tanga pa katanga - joe cain (time)
shanty song - bruce peninsula (bruce trail)
the beginning of the end - chris corsano/mick flower (vhf)
a story told - professor fingers (5 1/4)
dark and lovely - sub oslo (sueno)
musically dub - irie invaders feat adubta (step 4i)
riddim culture - citizen sound feat. richard underhill (vx)
shreveport shuffle - john frum (jahtari)
squadron face - fredo (tru thoughts)
yard music - joe gibbs & the professionals (lighnting)
wall street - jackie mittoo (soul jazz)

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Abstract Index Playlist - March 17/10

At the end of the day, dub soldiers on. Who better to give the marching orders than Jahtari Rhythm Force.

It seems that most dub DJs have adopted dubstep as part of their repertoire. It's hard to ignore a musical phenomenon with 'dub' in the title if you like your bass big. To be honest, after a few years, I'm losing interest in it. I'll still play a wobbled bass maybe once every couple of weeks, but mere oscillations ususally don't add up to anything great compositionally. Since dub starts from the distillation of a song, it retains enough solid fundamentals to remain interesting. I hope that this thread runs through the last half hour of each edition of the Abstract Index - I'll always balance out wild production with more conventionally musical rhythms (sweet and sour dub?). Being the proud owner of a KAOSS pad, I can see how it's easy to get carried away with its X/Y axis-based input method, to say nothing of the billions of plug-ins (dub-ins?) floating around online. Too often, dubstep is hollow at its core in a way that its clear predecessor digidub had only hinted at - a victory of technology over music. On the one hand, there is suspenseful empty space in the music, but so often its accompanying release consists of hyper-aggressive sounds which are more annoying than annihilating. Fortunately, dubstep tends to breed artists who go on to push the limits of syncopated minimalism, such as Shackleton, whose hybrid grooves kicked off this week's show.

And then there are the old skool dub aficionados, to which Jahtari belongs. In his (their?) case, the old school is of the 8-bit blurps and bleeps aesthetic which nonetheless infuses actual songwriting to make memorable music. The Jahtari website contains a manifesto outlining the sonic springboard of 'digital laptop reggae' thusly: "We try to pick up the trail of Dub at its most inventive times, before a lot of its biggest achievements got almost forgotten. Dub is the continual background and main reference point of all our releases, its spirit always in the center! Jahtari is NOT about emulating old classics with new technology but about DOING SOMETHING TO DUB THAT HASN'T or couldn't BEEN DONE BEFORE! But Dub and the SOUL of it always comes first. Unlike Electronica, where technology is the music itself. Dub, then technology.". Their music hits a sweet spot of technology, tradition and songcraft.

Their forthcoming release Jahtarian Dubbers Vol. 2 shows just how diverse that approach can be. It is resolutely digital, but quite varied in approach. Echoes of hip hop, broken beat and techno always crop up, partly due to the sonic vocabulary, but the Jamaican lineage is clear. This music is not afraid to wear its history on its sleeve, and is original, subtle and effective. And it's not unfunny....


mountains of ashes - shackleton (perlon)
burning love breakdown - peter brown (tk)
gol e aftab gardoon - noosh afarin (finders keepers)
for the love of money - disco dub band (luv n haight)
combination - jali bakary konteh (akwaaba)
wondigal - alpha yaya diallo (jericho beach)
sister mary lucy - d.o. misiani & shirati jazz (earthworks)
firsteppa - jean paul dub (no label)
heavy as stone - mark pritchard (dub plate records)
whatyagonnado - jacob korn (do right)
fiesta - cobblestone jazz (k7)
throat pt. 1 - little women (aum fidelity)
the thing and i - tommy babin's benzene (drip audio)
no abhor - dawn of midi (accretions)
shadows - joe harriott (redial)
dancehall style - little john (17 north parade/vp)
dub is a moment in space - wayne smith/prince jammy (pressure sounds)
complete control - creation rockers (echo beach)
the youth - ondubground vs. horace andy (no label)
my legs my arms my mind & my brain - brain damage feat black sifichi (jarring effects)
we will destroy your planet - jahtari rhythm force (jahtari)
heart made of stone - the viceroys (mango)
gonna be alright - dubmatix feat prince blanco (7 arts)

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Great Vibes In The Great Hall

The last time I played a big music festival was 12 years ago at NXNE. It was so much fun I swore I would never do it again. So here's to the twelve-year itch!

Come check out Great Vibes In The Great Hall on Saturday March 13 as part of CMF (CMW? Depends who you talk to....). Here are the details:

Great Vibes in the Great Hall!
Presented in association with Nufunk.ca
as Part of Canadian Music Fest

DJs: eLman & David Dacks (CIUT 89.5 FM)

1087 Queen St. W. @ Dovercourt
Doors @ 9 pm
$10 cover, FREE with your CMW wristband or performer’s pass!

Great musical vibes are happening once again in one of Toronto’s most spectacular vintage venues, THE GREAT HALL! Roots, rock, reggae, R&B, folk, funk, gypsy jazz, dubstep, and cumbia … this special CMW showcase has something for just about everybody’s sonic tastebuds!

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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Abstract Index Playlist - March 3/10

Finders Keepers seems to be doing for the Middle East what Vampisoul has done with the Spanish diaspora: looking for modern musical hybrids of the 60s and 70s, some of which are beloved, others forgotten.

Admittedly lumping Turkish, Pakistani and Iranian music into one "Middle East" (how about West Asia?) catchall is dubious, but the liner notes of Pomegranates lean towards grouping musical commonalities together. The term "Global South" is posited - an interesting notion, which doesn't totally hold up, considering Korean psych is thrown into the analysis, and could hardly be described as a Southern nation. But even if the term is suspect, the sentiment is not.

I'm no expert on Persian culture, but the liners trace a pattern familiar to fans of much global psychedelia: indigenous musical tradtion + baby boom + electric instruments + urbanization + Westernization borne by petrodollars = wikkid psych grooves! These factors are remarkably similar to the liner notes of otherwise culturally unrelated comps like The Roots Of Chicha.

Listening to this disc, I'm amazed not only at the American/British influences, but those from India and (West) Africa as well - Zia's "Kofriam" played very well with the clutch of new Soundway reissues with which I started the show. As always, I am grateful for the considerable effort that's gone into the whole package - as much as I love discovering music through blogs, a well curated compilation which explores universal and specific themes is still something to be treasured. Now I finally know what the fuss is all about over Googoosh!


kofriam - zia (finders keepers)
motako - fidel sax and the voices of darkness (soundway)
otachikpopo - bongos ikwue & the groovies (soundway)
agbara - souljazz orchestra (strut)
m'ma love - alpha yaya diallo (jericho beach)
wave - angelite & huun huur tu (shanachie)
deepulese zonicus - the unireverse (total zero)
damaged - benzene (drip audio)
there is wind - brain damage feat black sifichi (jarring effects)
ice storm - andy milne & benoit delbecq (songlines)
high - elizabeth shepherd (do right)
five days a week - victor uwaifo & the titibitis (phonogram)
bye bye bye - clarendonians (pressure sounds)
last dance - al campbell (17 north parade)
rudie can't fail - dubcats (rudie can't fail)
higher dub - bush chemists (conscious sounds)
good enough pt 2 - noiseshaper (efa)

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