Saturday, December 12, 2009

Abstract Index Playlist - December 9/09

I suppose I could have been more ruthless in my search, but here's an album I had coveted for more than 10 years before finally purchasing it last week.

It's kind of remarkable that Fuji music isn't more popular in Toronto given the city's populous and relatively well established Nigerian community (though heavyweight artists Sir Shina Peters & Adewale Ayuba, aka the artist at the heart of this week's disc, have both come to town in the last few years). Moreover, the music hasn't impacted the global dancefloor DJ set as profoundly as one would think, considering it moves along at a quick-stepping 150 BPM.

I suppose it's just too damned funky to be easily transitioned from dance beats of similarly high tempos. Fuji is the exciting sequel to highlife/juju music. But whereas King Sunny Ade and Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey's styles can be described as gently spacey, most fuji I've heard is way, way faster and intended for serious rump shaking.

However, there's an obstacle - lack of backbeat. Though there may be as many as four talking drums chattering away at the same time, and a kit player who would make Bernard Purdie blush, there isn't a consistent thump in the music. Nothing to tell the average North American dancer "shake your ass.... HERE andtwoandthreeandfour". The drum kit dances on top of the aggregate rhythm established by the talking drums, like a set of timbales. Like my other obsession this year, (urban) mambo , there's no emphasis on a repetitive, grounding bassline upon which to latch either.

That's why this disc always intrigued me. It reduces the music to nothing but percussion, vocals and dub effects. I found a quote on NatGeo's site from Iain Scott, the founder of Triple Earth records "The idea behind this was that I was fed up with all the various dance albums which used African or Arabic samples as a bit of exotic fluff on the top of a purely conventional (and boring) four-on-the-floor dance beat. Why not do it the other way round? Use African music as the meat beat and studio dub techniques as the exotic bit." No wonder this has such great appeal for me - it's a kindred spirit to Huelepega Sound System.

Anyways, this disc is more than ten years old and still sounds absolutely fresh. Even the Laswellian track (19 minutes!) with which I started this week's show has a great compositional arc. Fuji Dub is more available now that ever before. It's well worth buying, cause it's only 5 tracks long. Those sites which calculate an album's price as the aggregate of the number of tracks make this a bargain.


fuji chaman - adewale ayuba & fuji dub (triple earth)
musow - bassekou kouyate & ngoni ba (sub pop)
roller skates - samiyam (hyperdub)
doobie down - georgia anne muldrow (ubiquity)
misdemeanor - the cbs (jam city)
hot thursday - bei bei & shawn lee (ubiquity)
rework - a made up sound (clone)
747 dub - yoshinori sunarha (ki/oon)
los ninos de fuera - luciano (cadenza)
please let us know if we may be of further assistance - parkdale revolutionary orchestra (no label)
waris dirie - nicole mitchell black earth strings (delmark)
35 cents - kris davis (new sound fresh talent)
spying glass - horace andy (wackies)
jah no dead - burning spear (pressure sounds)
love and iverstanding - sabbatical ahdah (i grade)
do you see what i see? - friendlyness and human rights (no label)
positive roots rock - mnolo (collage)
come to me - black seeds (easy star)
nuff bread on your table - heptones (lagoon)

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