May 30th, 2007

Whirl-a-whirls

Two other entities in the (other)worldly spirit I was speakin of — and I mean that in a good way — would seem to merit some shine on em, ‘specially since one’s got a new mix up & out ::

London’s Heatwave crew bring the picante to the blogaparty, lacing together Spanish rap y reggae from across the Americas (and across the pond) &jumping off with an Ini Kamoze dubplate en español (!)

Heatwave, “La Ola de Calor”

It might be worth noting, amidst all this talk of translation (metaphorical and literal), that a great many Spanish reggae songs are quite literally traducciones.

(& Did u know that the Heatwave dudes’ last Blogariddims mix, “An England Story,” is due to be released on CD via SoulJazz?! [that means DL it while you can, sleepers.] && further, that they’ve released a 2CD reggaeton comp in the UK)

The other entity in question is word the cat. With posts all over the map, the cat has been doing some fine work in calling attention to local and global currents and intersections. In “local” matters, for instance, take his recent mammoth textsplurt (a major blog genre for us here at w&w) on UK hip-hop, wherein, it should be noted, JA and the US vie with cockney accents over how one hears home&away, self&uvver.

Chris the cat is responsible for calling my attention (in a comment here) to Uyghur pop, one of the more delightful discoveries I’ve had in recent months on the ‘osphere. Listening to those synthesized, autotuned, near-east/far-east beats and vox (and seeing them on video), I have to admit that my very imagination of “China” changed almost immediately, accommodating itself to less of a Beijing hegemony and instead to an image that included quirky Islamic pop booming in “autonomous” Western provinces. Music is rather powerful in that way — as representation — which is one reason among many to approach our own cultural translations with some serious sensitivity (unless we’re out to thumb our noses at someone or other, a reasonable tactic at times, no doubt).

When I learned, upon further clicking, that the music was to be (re)released by none other than Sublime Frequencies, I was not terribly surprised (though the amount of info around the sounds already promised more than the label’s typical flippancy, I’m not sure whether “purer, more carefully curated form” would simply mean removing some of the sonic&textual context).

Which brings me to another point that’s been rattling around in my head: it’s not that I don’t want labels like Sublime Frequencies to do what they do. On the contrary, I really enjoy a great many of SF’s releases. Part of my pleasure no doubt stems from the way they extend/challenge my familiarity with various places and their soundscapes: years of studying hardly anything but gamelan w/r/t Indonesia serves as fine prep for the dial-flipping pop-detritus on Radio Java. (Of course, other listeners without such background are simply wished to the library. As if.)

My problem then, in some sense, has less to do with the existence and practices of said labels (and other middlemen) and more to do with the fact that they remain clustered in the US and Europe, and hence the perspectives they share tend to skew toward the same ol, same ol. In a perfect world, a world without glaring inequalities of access to the tools of production, distribution, representation, etc., every corner could offer up its own idea of the sublime frequencies of every other corner. Perspectives could meet and diverge, centers could be decentered, things could fall apart and come together in unimagined ways.

How I would love to hear a Javanese take (or three, or four, or more) on, say, the Seattle soundscape.

10 Comments

  • 1. Jorge Vieira  |  May 30th, 2007 at 10:12 am

    Uaahh! “An England Story” @ Souljazz recs! Big up Heatwave crew!

    I just hope they have a double cd with an unmixed version! :)

  • 2. Dominic  |  May 30th, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    In a perfect world, a world without glaring inequalities of access to the tools of production, distribution, representation, etc., every corner could offer up its own idea of the sublime frequencies of every other corner.

    i was thinking about this from yr last post, and it’s cool you stated it more directly here.
    i guess my question is, without the economies that create and are created by inequality, why would folks even do that?

    it seems to me that it’s those economies that create the need/urge/whatever to become musically, or otherwise culturally, recombinant in the ways you are talking about.
    …and i don’t just mean economy in a strict monetary sense but also economies of sound techknowledge, representation, cultural cache, and etc.

    crap i just sounded like some proponent of Darwinian Capitalist determinism or something.
    the spice must flow!!
    haha, ugh.
    yeh, i’m not saying the inequality is good or necessary because it produces x-cultures. just so that’s clear.

    and thanks for posting about this stuff.

    what constitutes “carefulness”?

  • 3. /rupture  |  May 30th, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    to what extent is difference possible without inequality? or, is there a scenario in which inequality doesnt produce difference?

    prefacing anything critical by “in a perfect world” seems… not sure. escapist? like something is being avoided? (in a perfect world, would anything matter at all?)

    that said, when you write: “every corner could offer up its own idea of the sublime frequencies of every other corner. Perspectives could meet and diverge, centers could be decentered, things could fall apart and come together in unimagined ways.” — i think to myself: this is already happening! you want to hear Seattle-born grunge rock reimagined, hang out in Tehran ; to decenter yourself on what was once American (black gay) house music and suburban housewife quaaludes, drive around Jo’burg smoking dagga and mandrax while listening to the latest kwaito joints; personally, i’m a big fan of mislabeled Maghrebi bootleg cassettes of US hiphop (pictures of Tupac, DMX songs & rai hits inside, etc).

    in a weird way, mentioning SF w/o counterbalancing it by examples of non-Americans channel-surfing/weirding-up/bootlegging US culture makes it harder to articulate any critical differences (or comparative pleasures) btwn the two while reinforcing the idea that SF occupies some sort of central position in this whirled music debate.

    No other culture has been as extensively re-worked to local cultures as contemporary American culture — that’s the flipside of US worldwide dominance (both in terms of waning economic power & corporate America’s ongoing majority shareholder stake in the ‘global imaginary’ via music, movies, fashion, tv, etc.)

    am i being contrarian here? i dont mean to be if so! i’m basically saying: this IS happening, we just dont hear about it since the world is fucking unequal and unfair.

  • 4. wayneandwax  |  May 30th, 2007 at 11:24 pm

    i think “in a perfect world” is less escapist than cliched. really bad writing, honestly. i’d like to strike that phrase from the blog. but that wouldn’t address your quite valid points.

    i guess i am expressing some (naive?) idealism at any rate when i fall into language like that. i s’pose the hopeless socialist in me likes to dream utopian. but i’m still not sure that greater economic parity would necessarily mean cultural sameness. at any rate, this is all highly theoretical, eh. and in that sense, perhaps, escapist indeed.

    actually, what i think you’ve done — you too too ex-ex-pat, you — is pointed out some serious blindspots in my critical purview. it’s been too long since i’ve been out of this country, and i’ve hardly been out of this country long enough. even so, the “counterbalance” you suggest, though important in its own way, hardly seems like any sort of “balance” to me. (but maybe that’s what you’re getting at, too.)

    maybe i’m being a stickler for mimesis, but i don’t just want to hear grunge as played in Tehran (or Jakarta for that matter: alt rock tends to get the token pop nod in the ol’ World Music text’s Indonesia chapter), i also want to see Tehranians — or perhaps Jo’burgians is more apt/unlikely — running around Seattle with microphones, snatching up FM radio snippets, Starbucks schmaltz, and homeless harangues & passing it off as the Weird Sound of Washington. but that seems inconceivable at this point, a structurally impossible flipside, as you readily point out.

    ah, thinking out loud. it can get one in trouble. it can also improve one’s thinking.

  • 5. chris  |  May 31st, 2007 at 6:14 am

    (late again) does seems to me like SF, and mislabelled pirate cassettes (and movies in Asia/elsewhere) are approaching ‘other’ media in a similar way – translating it into local cultural terms. for SFreq hipster kids, these local cultural terms have something to do with backpacking, tuk tuks and ‘vibrant’ colours of the records’ sleeves, but wider discources abound too. best example is ‘Radio Pyongyang: Commie Funk and Agit Pop from the Hermit Kingdom’: Korea has been referred to as the ‘hermit kingdom’ in US orientalist discourse since the 19th century when an attempt to force open trade routes (as Commodore Perry had done in Japan) failed. SFreq is translation and like most translations says more about who is doing the translating. Its ironic that its gets an inequality of coverage (compared to other translations) because of its perceived inequality.

    On the other side of the ecomonic mirror, I wonder if something could be said about the way media is willfully mislabelled/presented. Why is DMX on this cassette and (say) Kurt Cobain on that one? This would of course require a wealth of local knowledge that someone in the anglophone academy (or elsewhere) would find hard to summon. Finally, if this meta-level of exchange is happening somewhere I’m not convinced we necessarily need to know about it – the absorption of diverse local knowledge into the anglophone mainstream is problematic because it still posits the economic centre as the cultural centre. Plus who should be getting paid for creating all this (meta)culture: just the musicians? mahgrebi bootleggers? piracy academics (or academic equivalent/un-equivalents) from the global south? DMX’s image rights people too? Mo money mo problems – dunno if that’s me being far too naive (or cynical).

    Thanks for the link.

  • 6. ripley  |  June 1st, 2007 at 9:43 pm

    always apparently late to these things

    “to what extent is difference possible without inequality?”

    this is what I’ve been talking about in my mind with Cathrine McKinnon. and maybe some others. Of course then the difference is gender, existing only due to inequality. difference produced by inequality, to maintain inequality, that’s the analysis

    “or, is there a scenario in which inequality doesnt produce difference?”

    It’s the other of the same, isn’t it?

    but that doesn’t get at something dynamic, living, and uncontrollable that’s going on.

    and then there’s love.

    and then again there is, as Chris points out, getting paid. the question of ownership and what is owed, and what is exchanged..

  • 7. masalababaca  |  June 2nd, 2007 at 10:06 am

    yeah, it’s the second mix I heard from Heatwave and they’re doing nice job, putting all this gemz together. Like Wayne’s mix, I think the thematic is interesting and it’s nice to discover a lot lot of songs.

    But on the dancefloor side, It still very linear. What ? 90-100bpm ??? not much. and all spanish reggae, dancehall-hip hop… cool but I’m bored after 15min. I know what’s comin’, it’s very confortable, no surprise and very easy to mix I guess.

    So big up to you guys at Heatwave for those great mixes and the Soul Jazz release ! But I’m still waiting the thing…

  • 8. droid  |  June 2nd, 2007 at 11:54 am

    I could well be wrong, but as I understand it, the ‘England story’ release will be a straight up compilation with (possibly) a bonus mix cd.

    Just an assumption now, but thats what I reckon. I’ll have to see if Gabriel has more details yet…

  • 9. Gabriel Heatwave  |  June 5th, 2007 at 6:23 am

    cheers for the link wayne, interesting read as always

    >But on the dancefloor side, It still very linear. What ? 90-100bpm ??? not much.

    actually the tempos on the mix range from 75 to 120bpm, though it’s true a lot of the tunes are around 90-100bpm. but the same is also true of most hip hop and dancehall in general, whether in english or in spanish

    and yeah the soul jazz england story will be a two cd, unmixed, 20 track compilation…

  • 10. masalalala  |  June 5th, 2007 at 9:47 am

    “actually the tempos on the mix range from 75 to 120bpm, though it’s true a lot of the tunes are around 90-100bpm. but the same is also true of most hip hop and dancehall in general, whether in english or in spanish”

    exactly, good enough to warm up the place

    but it’s not just about bpm. I think DJ like Bo, Rupture and Filastine are pushing the beats fwd by mixing for example Crunk over Gypsy fanfare or Zanzibar with Rio. playing a 80bpm over a 160 or taking risk, be in an unconfotable zone where you never know what will happen. I’m bored quickly and I like to be surprised.

    But like I side, on the gems and nerds side, your mixes are really great and thx for sharing :)

Wayne&Wax

I'm a techno-musicologist, internet annotator, imagined community organizer.

I left my <3 in the digital global, but I reside in Cambridge, MA, where I'm from.

I represent like that.

wayne at wayneandwax dot com

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