Monday, December 07, 2009

Abstract Index Playlist - December 2/09

I'm in full thrall of end of year/end of decade navel gazing, and here's a disc which will definitely end up among my top picks for the 00's.

Badawi is one of the more heavily played artists on the Abstract Index, and I still love to give Soldier Of Midian a good airing out from time to time. This was a bit of a departure from his dub-oriented side which was predominant in his catalog when this album was released in 2002.

In some ways this album is both among the last of a dying breed and a harbinger of things to come. It's a no nonsense sample collage which sounds infinitely more layered thanks to the complexity of the rhythms. The time signatures of the sampled loops of darbouka, zarb, daf, bendir and other hand percussion get knotty within seconds. Three minutes later, once you've gotten a handle on where the rhythm is coming from and going to, along comes another song. Reed instruments provide melodies and drones, and electric bass crops up ever so often to orient this music a bit more towards Western dancefloors. This album wasn't the first "Middle Eastern dub" album (Muslimgauze was in the thick of it for many years prior), but it certainly has loads of compositional integrity that most projects which came before it lacked. This is about as close as I've heard to a digitally animated version of the Master Musicians of Jajouka, though the Palestine-Morocco comparison is a bit of a stretch.

At its heart, this is a trip hop album - a term that was pretty much dead by 2002. These samples aren't broken apart and rearranged, they just fit together well. So in this sense, this was among the last of that a dying breed. Looking forward, however, one finds French dub artists like Brain Damage, to the wider popularity of Chaabi in Europe, to musicians like Filastine putting together similarly hard driving Levantine/Maghrebian electronics. I wouldn't say it's a cause and effect thing, but Soldier Of Midian was among the first to stake out this turf, and has pulled off that eternally difficult challenge: making a classic electronic album which transcends the technology of its day.


trouble's a loser - mickey stevenson (fantastic voyage)
extra extra - ronnie mcneir (dusty groove)
vamos tratar da saude - rita lee (lo recordings)
bir yagmur masali - hardal (shadoks)
gbe mi lo - ofege (emi)
rafiki - neal creque (muse)
dub to the seven seas - andre afram asmar (mush)
i will follow the storm - badawi (roir)
hazel - hassle hound (staubgold)
i'll come see you - patrick cowley & jorge sacarras (word and sound)
jonoj - franck vigroux (d'autres cordes)
max the drummer - ralph dumas & the primaveras (marenda)
electric cockroach - ocote soul sounds feat adrain quesada (esl)
strumming (homage a john lennon) - tim brady/bradyworks (ambiances magnetiques)
medical personnel are on the scene - parkdale revolutionary orchestra (no label)
quodlibet - canaille (standard form)
amy - bassekou kouyate & ngoni ba (sub pop)
bimoko magnin - super djate de bamako (syllart)
the bubble - black seeds (easy star)
everlasting - nazarenes (i grade)
love of the father - kiddus i (grass yard)
in love - ammoye (no label)
gimme back - wackies rhythm force (wackies)

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