Saturday, February 18, 2006

Abstract Index playlist - Feb 15/06

Over at Nowarian, Susana Ferreira’s insightful go-big-or-go-home blog, she registered her disgust at the term “world music” as a corollary to the inadequacy of “global hip hop” as a concept. On the one hand, I agree with her, and the comments of DJ Rupture, that anyone who uses the term “world music” to describe a specific piece of music is usually a chump. However, there are plenty of examples of music which can only be described as “world music” because there is no central cultural signpost to point it toward some other more specific form of music. Good “world music” for me is usually a successful abstraction of whatever sources it uses. It can turn the notion of world music on its head (Noah Creshevsky’s hyperreal electro-acoustic), or it can just be just plain funky (William Parker and Hamid Drake’s Piercing The Veil), or can deconstruct the meaning of ‘exotic’ (Clive Bell and Sylvia Hallett's The Geographers). Nonetheless, Su catalogs many of the truly ranklesome aspects of the lazy applications of "world music", so it's well worth a look.

Then there are examples like Storsveit Nix Noltes. Right away upon hearing these curious renditions of Eastern European folk tunes, released on Brooklyn's Bubblecore, I figured that this was not music which came straight from the heart of Romania. Little did I suspect they actually came from Iceland – not somewhere usually identified with sprightly horas. Nevertheless, two Eastern European accented callers phoned me up to express their admiration for the music. No, it’s not ‘pure’, and the musicians would never be described as top rankin’ in a Gypsy orchestra. But whether the callers were excited about the song itself, or the fact that they’d heard it outside of the context of an Eastern European music show and in the context of all kinds of other music (probably all of the above) confirmed that this is at the very least, a fun record that provokes a strong reaction – kind of a slack, slightly punky but faithful rendition of their inspirations with more guitars and drums, with less fire overall but more distortion to compensate.

I’ve learned the hard way not to let geographical stereotypes get in the way of musical analysis. Ethiopians making roots reggae in Sweden (Nazarenes)? Kick-ass salsa dura from Richmond, VA (Bio Ritmo)? Crazy! So no matter where it’s coming from, you have to force your ears and your mind open as much as possible. A banal conclusion perhaps, but it certainly makes my review writing more difficult, and more likely to attract criticism from around the globe if I get it wrong or just say something lazy. Fortunately, on air I just have to make it work with whatever comes before and after....

to solar piazza - quinsin nachoff (songlines)
the heart attack commercial - st. dirt elementary school (rat drifting)
pee wee a des papillons sur les doights - robert marcel lepage (ambiences magnetiques)
trinidad and tobacco - once 11 (the agriculture)
etienne - garage a trois (telarc)
l'ame dansee - driss el maloumi (buda)
arrival - carsick (drip audio)
birds fly by flapping their wings - biosphere (touch)
gankini hore - storsveit nix noltes (bubblecore)
wild (remix) - meat beat manifesto (thirsty ear)
con la concienca tranquila - paulo FG (nueva fania)
jorge cordero (rough guides)
la miga hormiga - charanga cakewalk (triloka)
maldita cancion - zemog (aagoo)
cigil - nuru kane (riverboat)
steppa for violin - kaly live dub (pias)
touba - issa bagayogo rmx. by kabanjak (six degrees)
higher heights - bush chemists (roir)


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