Friday, October 31, 2008

Abstract Index Playlist - October 29/08

Retro-soul isn't played out, but it probably peaked somewhere over the last year or so with the gossip fiesta surrounding every last move made by Amy Winehouse.

One development over the last couple of years, especially chez Daptone, has been an expansion of the retro vocabulary. Retro-soul has dovetailed somewhat with Afrobeat, the Arkestra, and Mulatu-driven Ethio-funk.

I find at times this can be contrived. For instance, the Karl Hector & the Malcouns disc on Now Again came off as a pastiche to me, though I've certainly played a few tracks from it (one of the nice things about having a radio show built from individual tracks rather than exclusively writing reviews about full length albums). Though the Malcouns are better known as The Poets Of Rhythm, one of the granddaddy groups of this whole retro soul thing, their deliberately loose songs are slapdash with the primitivist/cosmic/tribal influences. One of the problems I have with the new followers of Sun Ra is they take the exotica (esp. in his pre-1960 work) too seriously. Not that Ra was being insincere - his whole African concept and the music he composed to achieve it was genius-level abstraction - but some of the light cha cha cha rhythms of his fifties work are downright humourous. Those retro groups these days which use vague chanting and massed, "spooky" percussion to function as some kind of faux spirituality in music leave me cold. So while the funk of the Karl Hector album is fine, there are other bands that try harder to fuse their constituent influences.

The Menahan Street Band get it right. It's the first release on the Daptone subsidiary Dunham (referencing the Dunhill record label perhaps) under the leadership of Thomas Brenneck. This disc was recorded in Brenneck's bedroom. The MSB are best known as being the sample source for Jay Z's"Roc Boys", but they go much deeper than that. For instance, it's not everyday that I get to drop some Daptone into the reggae set at the end of the show, but they hit a wonderful Miami meets Sound Dimension groove. The Ethiopian horn arrangement of "Birds" is respectful but not at all orthodox going into some Tito Puente sassiness to balance out the reserve. Another triumph for bedroom recording - Mr. Brenneck, you've got a funky residence.


smeseno - lubo alexandrov (ccm)
space hole - march fourth marching band (march fourth music)
belgrade riddim - sub swara feat. march fourth (low)
ab tsimwa geza - daniel nebiat (no label)
vinu niguirayali - group ibimeni (sub rosa)
tatao - royal hartigan (innova)
dirac's theory - gustavo aguilar (henceforth)
my technical difficulties led to rhyhtmical complexities - justin haynes/jean martin (barnyard)
latino - orchestra universitaii de jazz din illinois (sonar kollektiv)
destroy the nihilist picnic - london experimental jazz quartet (bbe)
modul 44 - nik bartsch quartet (ecm)
chickpea - food (rune grammofon)
dodging droplets - INSIDEaMIND (ptr)
entrance to jah world - norris reid (shanachie)
can't stop natty dread - linval thompson (blood and fire)
jamaican collie - charlie chaplin (greensleeves)
shepherds bush - o'luge (last gang)
montego sunset - menahan street band (dunham)
red ash - duke reid group (treasure isle)
can't stand it - alton ellis (treasure isle)



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