Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Abstract Index Playlist - September 23/10

photo by Peter Gannushkin, courtesy of Improvised Communications

Aum Fidelity has been releasing music from a new generation of artists who are making some strong artistic statements in jazz. Both Little Women and now the quizzically named From Bacteria To Boys are expanding the avant-free-soul sweet spot where so many Aum Fidelity releases have resided.

This ensemble is led by Mike Pride (described as a "drummer/hustler" by WFMU) and is very much a jazz band in the traditional sense of instruments having conventional roles of rhythm and lead. But it's all in the details of the dense compositions. Epics like "It Doesn't Stop" are based on a rhythms that sounds like poorly looped samples (a good thing!), and the discipline of pianist Alexis Marcelo and Darius jones on sax bring a relentlessness to it that make it sound post punk. Other tracks are quite pretty, like "Rose" before giving way to extremely textured repetition; throughout the album is a sense that heavy wailing is a hair's breadth away. Sometimes Pride's melodies go on a bit long, but the harder hitting vamps keep me coming back for more. This reminds me a bit of Tim Berne's power trios on Thirsty Ear.

And yes, I did play songs entitled "Reese Witherspoon" and "Cruel Intentions" during this show.


woolfia - sillyconductor (local)
cind eram la '48 - taraf de haidouks rmx by juryman (six degrees)
ludacris - amsterdam klezmer band (essay)
tu romnie - mahala rai banda (asphalt tango)
opa jones - lubo alexandrov & kaba horo (no label)
seven - jazz passengers (justin time)
reese witherspoon - from bacteria to boys (aum fidelity)
a beautiful night like tomorrow - ryan driver (rat drifting)
pad - blue daisy (alpha pup)
dubandeando - nahuatl sound system (no label)
voo cego - marcos valle (emi)
siakala - jabula (virgin)
living for the rush - slakah the beatchild (bbe)
cruise control - eric lau (killawatt)
politics of smooth - ion (local)
foundational dub - dubkasm rmx by headhunter (sufferah's choice)
skango - volfoniq vs. caballo (no label)
ykre belni - asmara all stars (out here)
after dinner - rabih abou khalil (enja)
djaba - khiara arby (clermont)
afro rock - the hard rockers (past & present)
cruel intentions - orgone (ubiquity)
one way ticket to nowhere - syl johnson (numero group)

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Strictly For Lovers - Lenn Hammond Interview

One of my favourite moments in Carl Wilson's great book "Let's Talk About Love: A Journey To The End Of Taste" describes Celine Dion's appeal among Jamaica's bad men: "Bad men have fi show that them a lova too". Celine - as in everything - is an extreme example of Jamaica's love for impassioned, unironic emoting in the great American soul tradition. Lenn Hammond is a current standard-bearer of this tradition.

Nephew of all-time singing legend Beres Hammond, Lenn's apple didn't fall too far from the tree. He specializes in lurrrve and classic soul covers - these never, ever go out of style, whether you're young or old.

He's living in Jamaica now (I believe) but has spent much time in Canada over the years. We'll get the full story on his career and new album "Raw Soul" when he stops by at 11PM tomorrow, Thursday September 30.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Must Have Been The Right Place

A slightly belated congratulations to Karkwa, the first World Music act to win the Polaris Music Prize. They don't sing in English, so it's gotta be World Music, right? Am I going to belabor the point? Hell no, except to say that, depending on the situation, any music of any genre or geographical origin has a chance of winning this prize if the right arguments are made for it. Hopefully this will be the case someday - soon - with hip hop....

Karkwa are also the most decorated yet to win (in your face, Ottawa Citizen's "Give Bieber A Chance") : these guys have won more awards than Biebs and Drake put together. I wish I could find some data proving they've sold more than Caribou (2008 winner), but I'm guessing they may be the biggest selling act yet to win Polaris as well.

A few weeks ago, when I was majorly enjoying myself at the Festival of Emerging Music in Abitibi-Temiscamingue I had the good fortune to sit down and talk with frontman Louis-Jean Cormier about the band's sudden ramp-up in momentum. It was hard not to notice that Karkwa was the buzz of the festival. My fellow journalists were eager to try to explain their appeal in Quebec; to a person, they cited their "poesie" - poetry in the lyrics, which was fundamentally different than the majority of first person confessional Anglo singer-songwriter approaches. As you may have noticed, I'm not the most lyrics-oriented guy, but my French (as it turned out) was passable enough for me to understand how people got into it on that level. What really stood out for me were their deft & ingenious melodies - earworms that turned my brain to compost over several weeks. That quality goes a long way to characterizing their appeal outside of Quebec.

However, the visceral reaction of the crowd at FMEAT was ample evidence of their devoted audience. Karkwa's performance at the Polaris Gala was great, but it inevitably missed that sense of connection they achieved with their fans in Northern Quebec. I was lucky to have witnessed them on their home turf.

With this Volume Du Vent in their sails (sales?) in Quebec, I wasn't too surprised to see them ride that wave to the prize, even though such waves tend to hit the breakwall of the Rest Of Canada. But Polaris is wacky like that, and that's a good thing. They weren't my top choice, but I'm glad they won.

Here's my conversation with Louis-Jean Cormier at Exclaim.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Abstract Index Playlist - September 16/10

This one's here for the purty cover art.

Just kidding, it's a heck of a record. I don't know much about the history of Gold Panda, and I'm not sure if the name will lead to instant recognition among the herds of animal-monikered bands out there.

He's just one man. The bio doesn't read like much; he's done remixes for Bloc Party, Simian Mobile Disco and The Field, but only the shimmery yet disciplined electronic compostion of this last artist gives a clue about how this music unfolds.

It's 'worldly' in the sense of being woven from exotic microsamples. However, these songs hit hard with a hiccuping funkiness, though some of my favourite tracks ("Snows And Taxis") feature really compelling downtempo soca beats. It certainly helps that its celebratory mood manages to interpolate Sublime Frequencies-like grimy samples with clear yet creative beats. Despite its clicks and cuts bricolage, this isn't tentative or ironic music in the slightest - it's boldly synthetic.

This week's track "Same Dream China" has been making the blog rounds and it's got a whiff of Konono via Steve Reich about it; soon after that theme establishes itself the beat drops and it's all over.


it doesn't stop - from bacteria to boys (aum fidelity)
soheb - fond of tigers (drip audio)
polka story - warsaw village band (barbes)
la danza azteca - nahuatl sound system (no label)
suzie q (dem hunter bowel blood remix) - gonjasufi (warp)
sanmidor - kaly live dub (jarring effects)
wb - system (rump)
walk moon combo - arthur's landing (no label)
fluck flick - bobby jackson (jazzman)
ne noya - cos ber zam (analog africa)
bump jive #6 - the movers (gallo)
carolina carol bella - os brazoes (mr. bongo)
summertime our league - babe, terror rmx by four tet (no label)
abiogenesis track 7 - tatsuya nakatani (no label)
pareiodolia - steve raegele (songlines)
the shitman - moha! (rune gramofon)
same dream china - gold panda (ghostly international)
respek i speck/touch i heart - dubkasm rmx by gatekeeper & appelblim (sufferahs choice)
chronicles - odel (ohm grown)
black star dub - gg all stars (heartbeat)
seventh seal - sound iration (year zero)
el majagual - systema solar (no label)
chico ye - menea (no label)
tile ban - donso (comet)
el aguajal - los shapis (barbes)

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Abstract Index Playlist - September 9/10

Those who were even slightly interested in the original Peruvian cumbia comp The Roots Of Chicha - and anyone who'd heard one of the best compilations of the last decade certainly would have more than a slight interest - are going to be knocked out in round 2.

The real difference between the compilations is their circumstances. When Volume 1 came out in 2007, cumbia was just starting to enter the conversation among this generation's groove archivists (Soundway etc. as opposed to Charly or Luv n' Haight). Of course cumbia's fan base was already into the multiple gajillions before they ever came along, and chicha itself was pretty damned popular in its day. The narrative around Volume 1 (including my own) was that it shed light on obscure music, with novice compiler Olivier Conan freely acknowledging that he was a total outsider. However the compilation itself was outstanding with Conan's perceptive liner notes putting the music (and the circumstances of the comp itself) into context. (Another compiler who was repping cumbia at the time was Roberto Ernesto Gyemant, who is featured in our cumbia documentary). With its focus on guitars, its crossover appeal was ensured. I tell you, every time I see an Andean flute band busking downtown, I hear melodies that were adapted by artists collected on that compilation.

Fast Forward to 2010 and at least a half a dozen psychedelic cumbia comps have been issued, and contemporary cumbia styles have made further inroads into North American media (Check Soul Sides' post). Thus, there has been more than two months lead time prior to the sequel, so that everyone on Barbes' mailing list has time to soak up these sounds in the heat of the summer. I'm not the first blogger to write about Volume 2, and that's a good thing.

With heightened expectations (how could there not be with so many other options in the field?) Volume 2 trumps the first with more driving rhythms. There's actually less cumbia and more mambo than the first volume, but the guitars cut even deeper.

Chief Boima wrote a provocative post the other day about a tendency towards psychedelics and/or funk in reissues of the past several years. Unquestionably, this reissue falls in that category but it would be hard to doubt Conan's intentions (he's talked about having to overcome licensing difficulties). Through his bar/musical space in Brooklyn and his label's roster of highly original artists as he's putting a lot of culture into the world with Barbes.

Anyways, this is out in October, but you'll be hearing it more and more on the radio - not just my show - leading up to that time.


all that funk - mal waldron (ecm)
red light - cross border trio (circumvention)
kimpungu mpungu - orchestre continental (african)
cumbia del desierto - los destellos (barbes)
tower special #5 - the big brothers (love love)
summer beat - orgone (ubiquity)
restart - bilal (plug research)
the camel (live) - fat freddy's drop (no label)
give a helping hand - dubmatix feat mighty diamonds (7 arts)
wackies - kaly live dub (jarring effects)
unlimited dub - wackies all stars (senraba)
blue skies don't care - ryan driver (rat drifting)
warm clarleston - eric chenaux (constellation)
improvisation - mandalay marionette orchestra (sublime frequencies)
symmetries - gamelan madu sari (songlines)
the silhouettes - sam prekop (thrill jockey)
manzanita - mercury falls (no label)
lovely bloodflow - baths (anticon)
c minus particles - moonstarr (ptr)

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Yo Soy Cumbia - A CBC Radio Documentary

Maybe not the most flattering picture of Benoit Liard and Sergio Elmir...

At long last, Yo Soy Cumbia, the documentary I've been working on with Sergio Elmir, Mr. Dos Mundos Radio, has been given an air date on CBC Radio's Inside The Music.

More information is coming but here are the details.

There are release parties in the works for Toronto and Montreal; I will blog and blog again as details firm up.



Yo Soy Cumbia traces the journey of Cumbia from the Caribbean coast of Colombia to become one of the most popular rhythms in the world. This is more than just a documentary about music; it explores how Cumbia has shaped the identities of some of this generation's leading figures in the genre.

Featuring interviews with:

Ruben Beny Esguerra: Toronto based percussionist and professor of music at York University

Mariano Franco: ringleader of Montreal's Psychotropical Orchestra and part of Sonido Nordico DJs

Andy Gillis: aka Uproot Andy, Brooklyn-based Cumbia producer and DJ

Roberto Ernesto Gyemant
: compiler of Colombia! and Panama! series for Soundway Records

Benoit Liard: aka DJ Bendude, host of Masala radio on CISM-FM and co-founder of Masalacism Records

Yo Soy Cumbia was produced for CBC Radio's Inside The Music.

Hosted and co-written by Sergio Elmir
Produced, edited and co-written by David Dacks

Yo Soy Cumbia airs on Inside The Music Sunday October 17 at 3PM Eastern Time on Radio 2 and 9PM on Radio 1

How to listen:

In Canada:

On FM radio: find your frequency here:
On Sirius satellite Channel 137:

Everywhere else:


Or: - go to "listen now" in the right-hand column

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Friday, September 10, 2010

At The Guelph Jazz Festival

interviewing John McLean of Mr. Something Something last year.

Just a quick post to let you know I'll be co-anchoring CIUT's coverage of the Guelph Jazz Festival once again this year.

Tune in tomorrow (Sat. September 11) from noon until midnight tomorrow for music and interviews from under the big top on Upper Wyndham St. Interviews will include Chad Taylor (Chicago Underground), Rich Brown, Jeremy Strachan & Andrew McPherson. Music sets include Canaille, SoulJazz Orchestra, Fanfare Pourpour and Sagapool.

I'll sneak off in the middle to perform with Huelepega Sound System featuring ace guitarist Colin Fisher at 7:45PM which will be broadcast live to air!

Huelepega is also participating in Guelph's first ever Nuit Blanche. We'll be reconvening for a 2AM at the Synnema! Hope to see you there.

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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Drifting The Night Away

(photos via Exclaim) Join me this Thursday Sept 9 at 11PM for an interview with two of Toronto's most abstract singer-songwriters (OK it pained me a little bit to write "singer songwriters", so just think of them as wonderful, experimental musicians who know how to use their voices) Rat Drifting mainstays Eric Chenaux and Ryan Driver.

To be accurate, Eric & Ryan's new album is on Constellation, whereas Ryan's new album is on Rat Drifting. Confused? Don't be. They'll explain what's going on in slow, measured tones.

The two get down together at the Music Gallery on September 11 for the official release of both albums. It's a perfect venue for their quiet and unsettling sounds. Check it out after you've finished listening to Huelepega Sound System live from the Guelph Jazz Festival on CIUT that evening :)

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