Saturday, November 27, 2010

Abstract Index Playlist - November 25/10

I love Vancouver trumpet player J.P. Carter's approach to his instrument - freaking loud and lashed by electronics. On this new release, he forgoes the effects, and not surprisningly, he still has a wide sonic range. The Aeroplane Trio's "Naranja Ra" uses that range to different effect than label mates Fond of Tigers. Both Skye Brooks on drums and Russell Sholberg on bass contribute just as much to the melange of songwriting, textural exploration, and straight out grooving.

Right off the top, "Pre-Rumble" contains a wonderful section of Carter and Sholberg exploring some dirty low end sounding almost like throat singing. All the while Brooks is helping to build the tension with bustling tom work. Then again, there are mutant funk grooves like "Whitehorse" and the molasses bossa abstraction of the track featured this week "Callejula" which have a more conventional trio sound but retain the group's questing character.

This trio's variety is put it its best light by excellent track sequencing. I still haven't fully digested this disc but it sounds like some of the best work I've ever heard from Carter and Brooks.

I think Drip Audio wants you to buy this for Christmas because it comes in an attractive package with a bonus DVD. As of today, you can.


there's where do you want to go - kahil el'zabar ritual trio (delmark)
callejuela - aeroplane trio (drip audio)
strange fruit (remix) - jesse futerman (no label)
paper street - airhead (brain math)
unlighted - senking (raster noton)
impressions d'afrique - kreidler (italic)
masikulu dub - mark ernestus vs. konono no. 1 (crammed)
ze da lua - ulungu wami (analog africa)
asem ato me - kwasi boateng's band (continental)
palladium - ed lincoln (musidisc)
do what you feel - pursuit grooves (no label)
si mi ya - sugar minott (easy star)
don't want to let you go version - dream band (no label)
jbc days & proper education dub - mikey dread (auralux)
seven and eleven - tommy mccook and the supersonics (pressure sounds)
mussum - saravah soul rmx by quantic (tru thoughts)
heartbeat - t. williams feat terri warner rmx by mosca (local action)
african warrior (instrumental) - donae'o (soul jazz)
black moon - jason rivas rmx by sheeqo (3ballmty)
munt - boom pam (essay)
evidence - the jaki byard experience (prestige)
barrel fire - gordon grdina trio feat mats gustafsson (drip audio)
track 3 - vine (no label)
highest - the detroit experiment (planet e)
the nile dread - early w~rm (no label)

Labels: ,

December Interviews

I know I said that I was going to cut down on interviews, but interesting people just keep finding me. The next three weeks will feature some excellent conversation.

First up, on December 2 I'll be speaking with Kat Cizek, director of the NFB Interactive project, Out My Window. Here's the NFB blurb:

Out My Window is one of the world’s first interactive 360º documentaries. Delivered entirely on the web, it explores the state of our urban planet told by people who look out on the world from highrise windows.

It’s a journey around the globe through the most commonly built form of the last century: the concrete-slab residential tower. Meet remarkable highrise residents who harness the human spirit — and the power of community — to resurrect meaning amid the ruins of modernism.
With more than 90 minutes of material to explore, Out My Window features 49 stories from 13 cities, told in 13 languages, accompanied by a leading-edge music playlist.

It's this last part that makes the topic particularly intriguing for further exploration on a music show. Cizek has developed interesting views on community-building which should be very relevant for community radio.

On December 9, I'll be airing my interview with the one and only David "Ram Jam" Rodigan. He remains the number one roots reggae DJ in the world, the John Peel of reggae in Britain and the master of an untold number of exclusive dubplates. He turns 60 next year but shows no signs of slowing down.

Finally, on December 16, I'm joined by Badal Roy. The first jazz tabla player, he was an essential part of Miles Davis' On The Corner, and played with a bewildering array of jazz greats including Ornette Coleman (for 12 years!) Pharoah Sanders, John McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock, Herbie Mann, Pat Metheny, Lester Bowie, Airto Moreira, and Charlie Haden. He was a lot of fun to talk to, and has great stories about On The Corner.

All interviews take place at 11PM.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Abstract Index Playlist - November 11/10

Tradi-Mods vs. Rockers reminds me of the two volume compilation Macro Dub Infection, compiled by Kevin "The Bug" Martin in the mid 90s. In fact it would've been perfect if Martin had been invited to take whack at some of Kinshasa's finest likembe grooves in his own style....

The basis for comparison is both compilations' viewpoints on music as process. The MDI comps may have been the first collection of a decade-old phenomenon which posited dub as a means of composition outside of reggae-based rhythms: take elements of a song, reconsider its structure, and make it more diffuse. Musical background didn't have to enter into the equation to produce convincing dub - as witnessed by artists on the comps as diverse as Mad Professor, Coil, Tortoise, New Kingdom, and Rhys Chatham.

Similarly, Tradi Mods Vs. Rockers taps a wide range of contributors to reconfigure the Congotronics series. If this had happened a decade ago, you could've counted on a brace of thumping dance mixes (like Crammed's Electric Gypsyland Vol 1 and 2, which nevertheless still sound good to these ears) or tepid A-faux-beat, but this project is an excellent example of cross-cultural communication circa 2010.

Even artists in demand for remix work turn in some remarkably different work. Shackleton's mix features a cavernous beat during its consistently entertaining ten minutes, but is one of many meditations on how awesomely cool metallophones can sound sped up, slowed down, stretched out and generally fucked with. This is the inspiration common to all: take the elliptical, distorted and percussive rhythms of the Congotronicians and filter them through your own place in the musical universe.

Where dub started out as the inverse of a song, this project is the inverse of Kinshasan street music culture. Artists explode possibilities within the source material and their own imaginations. Implicit comparisons are made to the repetitive aspects of each artist's music and how the Congotronics sounds appeal to their method.

This isn't a likembe taffy-pull throughout. As with dub since the late 70s, random and unabashedly foreign influences have been successfully stirred into the pot, and that recipe works well here. No matter the cultural background of the contributing artist, each one is committed to finding a synthesis of their talents and the source material. Juana Molina adds her own words, Megafaun essays some Banjotronic styles, Andrew Bird maps out the rhythms with pizzicato violins, and Oneida just giv'er with their guitars roughly sketching likembe patterns.
Distorted textures are this project's sonic constant where digital delay landscapes were the unifying factor for MDI.

Tradi-Mods vs. Rockers might have been the most entertaining musical assignment ever for many of these artists. I'd reckon most of them were honored just to be asked.


hymn for louis moholo - dennis gonzalez band of sorcerers (konnex)
kuletronics - burnt friedman vs. konono no. 1 (crammed)
rrrr - peverelist (punch drunk)
part time - ango rmx by selva (no label)
sunset b35 - dj/rupture & matt shadetek (dutty artz)
careful mind - danuel tate (wagon repair)
zharp - lv (hyperdub)
flores de fuego - rita indiana (premium latin music)
sibou odia - orchestra baobab (sterns)
money's too tight to mention - the valentine brothers (bbe)
lero lero - luisa maita rmx by dj tudo (cumbancha)
crumb dub - early worm (no label)
babylon you wrong - cornell campbell & u roy (zion high)
give it up - horace andy (minor 7 flat 5)
conference table - kush i (glover)
warrior no tarry you - junior delgado (sound boy)
dub music give i strength - jah billah ft iyano iyanti (no label)
dem can't stop we talk about dub - dubblestandart feat anthony b (visions from the roof)
awake - janaka selekta rmx by sunskript (no label)
progreso - lido pimienta (helmet room)
goes to hollywood - paul white (no label)
la cygne - say my name (no label)
i don't want to work - kabanjak (esl)

Labels: , ,

Monday, November 08, 2010

Abstract Index Playlist - November 4/10

I don't know how to love you, Rita Indiana.

This is my second blog post about this incredible talent in the past year. Her album "El Juidero" dropped last month with pretty much no notice. Though she maintains a healthy presence in New York, all the tastemakers were blindsided by the sudden appearance of a brilliant, genre-melting album. Considering all I do all day is comb the internet for music news (yes, I'm available for parties) the notion that someone with any kind of profile would release an album with no advance promo is simply unheard of.

Now that it's out there, you'll want to read Club Fonograma's excellent blog post which sings the praises of this album in depth. It's got 160 BPM dance workouts heavily garnished with metalloid guitars. It's got rambling dub workouts for days. It's got those sour, one-finger synth lines. It's got a neo no-wave posture that drives the hipsters wild. But I don't pretend to be able to fully appreciate her. I don't speak Spanish, and with this artist, that's a real liability. This music is far more than "A Bailar, A Gozar".

I can't enlighten you about the specific political issues she gets into this album. Heck I couldn't even do that if she were singing in English (which she apparently can quite well, judging from abut 5% of the album). Even if I could speak Spanish, there's a great deal of slang at play and a heaping dose of Dominican reality & personal backstory in the works. Lyrics are crucial to this album, and in failing to understanding them even after Google Translate, I'm missing a significant part of the art.

Admittedly, this is a problem in writing about non-English and French music. So often I'll hear music whose words I can't understand, and I'm in a position of critical authority in writing about it. Often there's a press release or liner notes to give some context, but that can only be partially helpful at best and totally misleading at worst.

But, hey, I've never staked my reputation on my analysis of English lyrics either. My brain condemns me to seize on the music rather than the lyrics of a song, though I totally respect my music critic peers for which the opposite is true. Nor do I think that being an outsider to her music is categorically a bad thing. This was a strong theme in Yo Soy Cumbia which aired a couple of weeks ago. Uproot Andy observed "I come to almost all music styles living in an immigrant city for more or less my whole life, the different music that I’ve been exposed to, have always been brought to me from different places. I think, more and more, that is a natural situation for a lot of people, I mean, whether we grow up rooted in some musical tradition or not, we’re all much more exposed to music of different parts of the world now. So I think that it’s only natural that we like those things, and take those influences when we make music and as listeners, you know, listen to those things".

From my standpoint Rita's music is trading in a number of elements that I, and most urban dancefloor guerillas throughout the world are familiar with. That's where my appreciation starts. In her case, I just stand back and marvel at how she's brought severely danceable elements together with such substantial lyrics. That's an explosive combination.

I'm really hoping to interview her. No doubt a short, staticky conversation won't be a wide open window to her soul. However she's someone whom I would love to hear explain where she's coming from in her own words; the words I can't get to in her music. Do I understand exactly what she's all about? No. Can I write about her music intelligently? Let's hope so.


o aetnos - alaniaris (trio)
traducteur de tradition - glenn kotche vs. konono no. 1 (crammed)
impulse - gaslamp killer & daedalus rmx by teebs (brainfeeder)
dance music - r.d. burman (nascente)
build to last - dubblestandart (visions from the roof)
dear heartbeat - darkstar (hyperdub)
pasame a buca - rita indiana y los misterios (premium latin music)
chacarerada del engano - semillo vs. elpidio herrera vs. tremor (zzk)
regresara a cali - greenwood rhythm section (names you can trust)
cinnamon sugar - danuel tate (wagon repair)
riddim box - nb funky (soul jazz)
ruby (live at berghain) - mount kimbie (hotflush)
khalija pt 1 - khalija (force intel)
pressure in the air - dark bird (under see)
the tribe of triclops - lori freedman (ambiances magnetiques)
bicycle - tania gill (barnyard)
brother b - arthur jones (byg)
leaves and smoke - opsvik & jennings (rune framofon)
el farrah - aisha kandisha's jarring effects (barbarity)
eki attar - huun huur tu (world village)
massani cisse - quartete sextette (syllart)
ena eye a mane me - african brothers dance band (afribos)
tirogo - tirogo (qdk)
pichito - frente cumberio (names you can trust)

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Abstract Index Playlist - October 28/10

(Note: there's no playlist or podcast last week due to the Abstract Index fundraising show. If you like what you read/hear on this site, please donate to CIUT)

So we're just into November, which means that hard-bitten music critics for myself are closing out 2010 already with lists upon lists. One artist who will certainly make mine this year is James Blake. A few months ago he released one of my favorite singles of the year "CMYK" (the word "damn" is pretty much foolproof hook).

More recently comes the Klavierwerke EP released a few weeks ago. The serious-sounding title translates into music with a darker tone. Unlike the Burial-meets-Kanye vibe of CMYK, the slow moving dubwise atmosphere isn't so much post-dubstep (if lumped in with great records by Darkstar and Mount Kimbie) as strongly reminiscent of Pole's glory years of the late 90s. There's one big difference between James Blake and Stefan Betke, though - Blake keeps things warm and round-toned, whereas Pole in his numbered albums was trying to stay as remote from dub's Jamaican sunshine as possible.

I love the slow, undulating textures of Klavierwerke. It sounds like steam driven-pistons gradually urging things along, punctuated by terse piano statements. Often the rhyhthms and melodies will be hocketed between the small selection of sounds in each piece. This makes the distinction between "groove" and "breaks" much more nebulous. The uncertainty of the song structures heighten the drama of these minimal constructions. But this isn't tense music: this music is full of heart warming, bass-heavy reassurance. That always finds a good home on the Abstract Index.


set the captives free - gregory isaacs (shanachie)
let's dance - gregory isaacs (virgin)
all I have is love - gregory isaacs (trojan)
black liberation struggle - gregory isaacs (virgin)
mr. know it all - gregory isaacs (blood and fire)
mind you dis (rude boy) - gregory isaacs (vp)
system breakdown - dubmatix (seven arts)
answer my question - ras david (no label)
he o de oro - puseletso seema e tau ea linare (globestyle)
no lies - mc zulu/dub gabriel rmx by caballo (no label)
lero lero - luisa maita rmx by dj rupture (cumbancha)
tale of two cities - carlton livingstone (channel one)
samba - moussa doumbia (lassasse)
think - bossa 70 (jeff)
no swing - ramadanman (hessle audio)
a dark and stormy night - alaniaris (trio)
by ear - tania gill (barnyard)
kamogawa - hauschka (fat cat)
hopscotch (for john zorn) - fred frith arte quartette (intakt)
klavierwerke - james blake (r&s)
her string - clown n sunset collective (clown n sunset)
helicopter does not exist - walsh (tough love)
track 2 - vine (no label)
remain in jam - lemonade rmx by chrissy murderbot (true panther)
oro yi bale - king sunny ade and his african beats (mesa/blue moon)

Labels: ,