Before I offer an embed, allow me to cut-n-paste their poignant, soulful framing of the project and its settings & subjects —
Colony Collapse is filmed at sites of ecological friction, the fault lines of conflict between humanity and (the rest of) nature. For examples we used….
Lapindo (Sidoarjo) Mud Disaster is an eruption of scalding mud and flammable vapors triggered by a gas drilling gone awry. It has buried more than a dozen villages and blocked a major highway, and is expected to keep expanding for the next 25 years. Lapindo is located close to the home town of the the director (Tooliq) and singer (Nova).
Below a freshly shattered dam on the shoulder of Merapi mountain. This required a meeting with an important Islamic mountain shaman, who wanted to know we weren’t up to anything frivolous or disrespectful. After the vetting he sent his crew to guide and protect us, some men went upriver a few kilometers to warn us by mobile phone if a new flood was coming down.
Bantar Gebang is a landscape of trash. Garbage stretches farther than the eye can see. Mountains, rivers, and even villages where the trash-pickers live. Not something easy to summarize in words.
A supermarket nested in a mega-mall within a skyscraper. Air conditioning, shopping carts, muzak, just like any posh supermarket. But right outside is a the permanent traffic jam of Jakarta, a sprawling mega-city of at least 10 million.
Thanks to the many who graciously tolerated us filming in the midst of their disasters: be it a sea of toxic mud or just the daily commute. Extra thanks to those who hosted, drove, filmed or loaned gear. And of course it wouldn’t have been possible to complete without all of you who contributed to the Kickstarter campaign.
It’s a vivid, stunning piece of work. If you have the luxury, take Filastine’s advice and watch it in HD with some headphones or through speakers with a good subwoofer. If you don’t, no doubt there remains plenty to see and hear here —
Following up on recentposts, I decided to do a little looking into how many remixes of James Blake’s “Limit to Your Love” currently reside on SoundCloud. I confess that I stopped after combing through 20 pages of returns for my (somewhat sweeping) search, though SoundCloud indicated that there were another 30 pages or so! With something like 10 tracks per page, that’s a helluva lotta James Blake on SoundCloud (of course, I have no sense of how that compares to other artists — who’s down to crunch some numbers with/for me? I need coders! Holler.)
I’ve decided to be pretty inclusive about sharing some of these with you here. On the one hand, I want to demonstrate a certain stunning diversity and fecundity (which a mere glance at the waveforms suggests). On the other, I want to do a little experiment and see how long these various sample-based tracks remain up on SoundCloud. Check back later to count the tombstones, absent their metadata like so many scratched-out epitaphs.
Of the 25 remixes below, some are far more accomplished or interesting than others; some are radically transformative, others more faithful. Irrespective of questions of quality, there’s an impressive array of stylistic transpositions to behold. From boom-bap hip-hop to glitched-out ambience, hopped-up breakcore to global bass tropicalia, by-the-numbers drum’n’bass to brutalist brostep, Blake’s track — perhaps particularly inviting in its minimalism and spaciousness — clearly serves as fertile ground for a variety of “interlocutors” and co-producers.
I’m not recommending that anyone listen to all these, though there are certainly some gems (especially if you like the song). But I think they make a wonderful illustration of the vibrancy of (unauthorized) activity on SoundCloud, and though such productions may not be so easily quantifiable or directly “monetized,” as they say, I’d contend that they offer quite a measure of the enthusiasm for Blake’s music — and if he / Universal can’t manage to work with that, they’re no doubt missing out.
Without further ado, let’s take it to the “Limit,” one more time…
This isn’t a version, per se, but it’s an interesting thing that came up in my search: answering-machine-inspired audio music-criticism — a different sort of sonic engagement with the song on SoundCloud:
Before I call it a post, permit me two final, germane embeds; rather than remixes of “Limit to Your Love,” they remind us how young Mr.Blake himself made his name by working in (unauthorized) “remix culture”:
If you’d like to hear more about how Masala’s collaboration with Ruff Riddims relates to the central questions of “world music 2.0” — a term that has seemingly (thankfully?) gained as much traction as “global ghettotech” (if among the commentariat rather than, say, DJs and bloggers) — you should tune in to a recent episode of Spark in which I discuss the phenomenon with the show’s sharp host, Nora Young.
The full show, aired a week ago, is streamable/downloadable here, and it includes segments on Glenn Gould’s prescient technoptimism, online curation, toddlers and cavemen. You can listen to any of the segments individually over there (and check out a bloggy supplement I submitted), or you can just stream the world2.0 segment right here (it’s just under 10 minutes long, FYI):
Because the show is based out of Toronto, it seemed a fine occasion to talk about my Canadian brethren at Masalacism — what they’ve been up to and how they fit into world music 2.0’s distinctive media ecology. I’ve been reading their blog for many years now, and we’ve collaborated on a variety of things, from gigs (in Montreal and Boston) to radio shows.
Staying in Canada’s remarkably wide world, then, the show afforded an opportunity to listen to and discuss ATCR’s remix of “Red Skin Girl,” which I described as stunning — a response that lingers. Note how well it fuses Northern Cree traditions with contemporary dubsteppery:
ATCR deserve their own post, opening into the fascinating questions around hybridity, modernity, and refiguring indigeneity, but aside from what I said on the show — noting the marked difference between what ATCR appear to be doing (i.e., inserting themselves into the global bass scene with an air of local authenticity) and what previous sorts of native/indigenous “world music” sounded like (i.e., New Age synthflute fantasia) — I’ve got to bracket that larger discussion for now.
Meantime, you should definitely check their Soundcloud page, especially the Electric Pow Wow Mini Mix (DL), and some of their equally amazing videos, produced by crew-member Bear Witness, a few of which I’ll embed below. Their provocative, propulsive mix of global dance currents (hardly limited to dubstep), traditional music, and surreal pop representations of Indianness (“I’m an Indian Too”!) adds another important accent to the conversation, to be sure.
It’s a gorgeous day in Cambridge. The first day (that I’ve been here anyway — think I missed a couple while in Austin) that you want to wear a t-shirt outside, spend all day outside, cook meat outside, drink delicious beers outside, and listen to music like this —
Between my own desire to share this charming mix, curated with care by Melonhands, and with recommendations (to dead links!) from Hua and requests from afar (incl amigos from Rio!), the sunny springy vibes were enough to compel a lil affective labor, extracting these notorious mixes from ye olde iPod. The following mix is my best guess at the actual infringer; just to test the bots a little, I’m pasting an img of the tracklist instead of the actual text.
Got an email last week from a French netlabel called, of all things, ZUNG ZENG, which, apparently & admirably, “aims to release dub and electronic music under Creative Common licence.” Cue promo —
The first dubtek release (digital only) is out now : the AIR CUT EP by Force Quit (Marseille/FR)
It’s downloadable for free from our website www.zungzeng.net
I checked it out, and a few of the tracks really sizzle and pop. Worked some into my set on Monday at Beat Research to good effect, at both 140bpm and somewhere around 100. But of course, for obvious reasons, I was most intrigued by the label’s name. Their rep, Ramon, was happy to indulge my curiosity:
Of course i can tell you about the name
By this netlabel, we aims to release eclectic and original electronic music based on the power of jamaican grooves.
Zung Zeng is a shortcut from the famous king Yellowman track’s “Zungguzung Guguzung Guzeng” which is for us an iconic ragga tune with simple but so efficient riddim.
Using a transformed existing name is a way to follow the “remix (or re-use) tradition” that takes place in Jamaican music history and in electronic music in more general.
Music can be composed/produced from scratch, but it can be made by transforming and adding existing materials and we like both ways.
In other words, we’re open to sampling and we affirm that by taking our name from something existing and well known.
I hope this basic description helps you. I know it’s just a little but (as you probably noticed) i’m really bad in writing..
Please, feel free to ask me anything else if you need..
And so I followed:
Thanks for the info about the name; your writing is fine! I’m very curious about your choice of that Yellowman track in particular, as it has been the subject of some research of mine for many years now. Was there any reason that you picked that song? Just liked the name? Have you messed around with the Zunuguzung/Diseases/MadMad riddim?
To which —
Why do we pick this song name?
Of course because we love the song and especially the riddim. But also because of the name that is very uncommon and have no sense (for us at least i mean)
So for the madness of the name too.
(and the name of this song sounds really “raggamuffin” i think, so that’s good for a name)
I’m not sure how grateful the folks at ZUNG ZENG are to learn that they’ve been proceeding with a valid interpretation of the term, but they sure seemed psyched that I played their tracks at the club. I told Ramon to let me know if they ever take a swing at their namesake source material.
I’m in the process of working up a short essay on the topic of “treble culture” for a volume on “mobile music.” I’m hoping that some of my awesome readers/interlocutors might lend me a hand (and/or ear). There are two main areas in which I am interested:
1) the rise of “treble culture” and the crucial relation to music technologies (incl mobile devices)
2) the effects of “treble culture,” esp as, ironically, a means of filtering “bass culture”
With regard to the first point, I’m hoping to offer a historical overview of the attenuation of bass frequencies in consumer/commercial music culture with the successive advent of particular player/media technologies. In particular, I intend to trace, alongside an increase in audiophilia and high fidelity, a steady march toward consumer-end devices that have different priorities and have, in effect, progressively moved us toward a rather trebly everyday engagement with music. There are plenty of technologies which have contributed to this “rolling off” of bass frequencies. Here’s a partial list; if you can think of other notable factors/tech (esp particular devices and their quirks), please make a note in the comments:
* vinyl records, esp 78s, 45s, and 33 rpm LPs (the 12″ single, with its deeper grooves, offers an exception) * early AAD CD transfers, which often didn’t account for the bass boost in record-player pre-amps * lo-fi speakers, portable radios, boomboxes, headphones, cellphones, etc. (recognizing a wide degree of difference across brands & platforms) * audio compression (in the studio, but also for radio, in clubs, etc.) * MP3 (and other file format) compression
With regard to the second, I’d like to explore the cultural/phenomenological significance of this trend — what is gained & what is lost, besides certain frequencies — using some ethnography and interview data. In this sense, I’m interested both in listeners’ perspectives and experiences (how frequently do you encounter, or practice, treble culture?), as well as producers’ (from savvy 80s hip-hop heads pushing stuff “into the red” to compensate for attenuated bass to the more recent mid-freq emulation of bass in bassline, niche/electro/blog house, etc.). Please feel free to share any and all thoughts on this. It seems to me that “treble culture” is increasingly broadcast across our city soundscapes. Tell me about the kids on the bus, walking down the street, outside the club, huddled around computer speakers. I’d love to offer more cross-cultural/geographical context than my own curious ears and eyes have witnessed.
Getting us toward phenomenological effects, consider some of the following perspectives (all, admittedly/interestingly, “British”):
Don Letts: “It’s disturbing when I see kids on buses, listening to music on their phones, and it’s just going: tsk, tsk, tsk, tsk, with no bass. Bass culture is Jamaica’s gift to the world and technology is, kind of, ruining that. Bass is sexy. Women respond to bass.”
Kode9: “thereโs a particular kind of bass sound which really fucks me off. … a kind of lowest common denominator way of getting people to move. … a complex of frequencies which works on even the shittest soundsystems. And you canโt underestimate the impact having to play on shit sound systems has on a music culture…”
K-Punk: “Both dubstep and minimal techno only achieve their full potency when played on a club soundsystem. The subtle pressure of sub-bass, the way it moves the very air itself, the hypnotic pulse of the drums, not to mention the role of the dancing crowd iself: none of this can be replicated at home, still less on iPod headphones.”
Finally, here is my (lengthy) abstract, in case it provides further food for thought:
Since the advent of the handheld radio, listeners have long adopted portable music technologies and adapted to the (often tinny) range of frequencies supported by such devices. For their part, producers have tailored their mixes in order to exploit the popularity of such technologies. From one perspective, then, the rise of personal mobile devices — especially mp3 players and cellphones — represents yet another stage in a historical continuum which includes the boombox and the walkman. There are, however, significant differences presented by the latest wave of mobile music products and practices, especially with regard to their ubiquity, their social uses, and their narrow frequency ranges. Whereas previous portable music devices certainly enjoyed some popularity, even that degree of usage stands in stark contrast to the present: today most people — in the overdeveloped world, that is — have a cellphone, an iPod, a laptop on their person, much of the time. (And cellphone usage is rising drastically in the “developing” world.) These digital devices have become, for many, the primary interfaces with sound recordings, especially in the form of mp3s, compressed music files that allow for easy circulation and storage by adding a further layer of frequency range constraint (albeit mostly out of the range of human hearing). While some bemoan the social isolation symbolized by Apple’s white earbuds, remarkably, especially among young people, these personal portable technologies also enable the sharing of music in public. It is not uncommon in major cities such as New York or London to observe a crowd of teenagers clustered around a tinny piece of plastic broadcasting a trebly slice of the latest pop hit.
Despite ongoing endeavors in audiophilia, some of the most commonly used devices for listening today — cellphones, mp3 players, laptops — were not designed with high fidelity as a priority. Rather, as size constraints and style have dominated design, certain sonic dimensions have been conspicuously left out, namely bass. So ironically, even as what Linton Kwesi-Johnson calls “bass culture” remains strong as ever through the global reach of hip-hop, reggae, and other electronically-produced dance music, we simultaneously witness a filtering of such low-end-centric genres through what we might rightly call “treble culture,” as mediated by mobile music devices and their physical limitations. The attenuation of bass is a product not just of the size of these devices but — as highlighted by the issue of bandwidth (both internet/wifi and telephonic systems) — results also from the transformation of sound into digital representations capable of being easily transmitted and stored (i.e., “lossy” encoding).
But beyond tech specs, the rise of “treble culture” calls attention to a number of crucial intersections between music, technology, society, and culture. In offering a history of treble culture, this essay will place today’s digital mobile music players alongside twentieth-century precedents, considering their relative frequency range constraints as well as their relative popularity, but it will also attend to the new practices emerging with such devices: the class issues surrounding cellphone vs. iPod use, the racially-tinged discourses around public projection of mobile sound (or “noise”), the socialization of such technologies via communal listening practices, and the representational strategies on the part of producers and engineers to compose music that “works” through such devices. Just as Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound” was meant to evoke grandiosity through even the most “consumer-end” radio, the recent embrace of mid-range synth lines and square waveforms suggests a kind of zeitgeist aesthetic feedback loop, a way of suggesting bass amidst all the treble. As an utterly mundane — indeed, naturalized — and yet largely unexamined phenomenon, the advent of treble culture merits a serious and critical appraisal.
Hit me on Twitter, in the comments, etc. Tell me all about those trebly slices of life you’ve been a part of and/or a witness to. I’d love to collect some anecdotes, find some angles I hadn’t considered, flesh out my brief history, and so on.
I borrowed it and digitized it and emailed it to Jace. I also asked if I could share some of it here and whether I might throw him assorted odd questions about it. It turns out, according to the DJ himself, that 1 + 1 = 3 was his very first mixtape (!), produced sometime in the late 90s —
i actually cant remember the year i did this. that Saul Williams
track i use had just come out. i was living in central sq…
it was 2 decks, str8 to cassette, all live one-take business.
it was def my 1st mixtape. i sold it at Toneburst shows.
i did the artwork
I was enthused to hear some Toneburst-era /Rupture. Although I attended a few Toneburst parties back in the day, and picked up their comp at Newbury Comics way back when, I don’t actually remember seeing /Rupture play at any of em (or Jake or Flack for that matter). I do remember seeing We, a great favorite of mine, when they came up for a big bash at MassArt.
One cool thing about this vintage /Rupture mix (for me), as featured in the excerpt that I’m sharing here, is that — even if I wouldn’t put 1+1 together (to make 3?), and realize who he was, until much later — the one time I did see /Rupture DJ back then, he was playing Saul Williams’s “Twice the First Time” (which pegs this mix right around ’97/98). The track really caught my ear and made me stand there for a minute, wondering, among other things, who was this dude playing radical music through a decent soundsystem on the lawn in front of the the Science Center. And why wasn’t there more of that?
Even as 1 + 1 = 3 gives a sense of how much he has grown and morphed as a DJ, it still offers some recognizably rupturey maneuvers and seems to prefigure the strange melange of Gold Teeth Thief. Trad middle-eastern sounds meet modern beat science, from slurred boom-bap to minimal dancehall, rollicking jungle to proto-breakcore noise. You won’t hear all of that in these 9 minutes, but you’ll hear a lot.
/Rupture sez he may re-release the mixtape in some form soon; hopefully, this 9-minute clip whets yr appetite. After the mix link/stream-button, you’ll find a brief interview wherein W&W asks /R some funny questions about mojos and noise and math and he replies in generous, off-the-cuff fashion.
note: this interview was conducted over email back in early April
W&W: When’s the last time you played a jungle record? Did dubstep take jungle’s mojo?
/R: Caracas, 3 or 4 weeks ago… But before playing that old 12″ out, I hadn’t dropped a jungle or breakcore tune in ages, like maybe 3 years. Dubstep didn’t take jungle’s mojo, which is part of its problem. although drum&bass is now a genre, its dead in New York, but many cities, especially in Europe, will have a substantial drum&bass scene that’s going strong, usually organized around a weekly or monthly party. Drum&bass is essentially institutionalized, like house or techno, it’s no longer nonstop innovation and surprises, but its still solid food for ravers.
W&W: There’s a lot of dancehall in here. Is reggae the ultimate sonic glue? Or does the breakbeat, skittering in and out throughout at several tempos, deserve equal standing?
/R: the exciting parts about reggae aren’t strictly sonic, so it’s not quite sonic glue — BUT reggae culture does have some powerful music values: there’s a constant emphasis on populist experimental/novelty, the incredible importance of the performativity of prerecorded music (whether dub versions or enlivened by deejays or DJs, etc), a long history of close links between audio engineer-musician-soundsystem, and lots more. All these things combine to make reggae culture central to what I do, much moreso than breakbeat (think of all the great new music w/ programmed beats instead of sampled breakbeats). Of courses, jungle’s appeal stemmed from the exuberance and shock of it, but also b/c it had all sorts of dancehall references folded up inside it.
when i think of sonic glue, i think the the Technics 1200s themselves, the fact that since the 70s we became used to performing records themselves — its not a sonic component that drives my mix style, the sounds are always changing. for me its more of a “well, you’ve got these records made by other people. how do you combine them into something that bears your style?” and that search for a voice or style or narrative line is basically the creation of sonic glue. and i was never interested in the easiest route– just playing one style and letting it end there.
W&W: One classic component of your mixes is a healthy dose of noise, whether as unintelligible masses of sound per se, or as when jungle tips into breakcore. Without those latter genres in the mix so much these days, how do you still manage to bring the noise?
/R: the ‘noise’ on Uproot was the ambient stretch in the middle — noise is so flexible, so contextual. the noise on Minesweeper Suite was breakcore mixed with Borbetomagus. but listen to enough Borbetomagus records and the saxophone assault stops sounding like noise. same for breakcore. So i’m more into noise as something textural that challenges the notion of music (or beats). pulling out the beats into floating melody was more of a risky or radical gesture, for me, then slamming into breakcore — the noise that folks had come to expect. I think of noise as a moment almost outside the logic of the sound, so ambient in a beatfilled world works now as well as more traditional noise worked a few years ago.
that said, come see me live*, i always have a few full-on turntable noise moments. I love playing w/ soundsystem dynamics and saturating the mixer and pushing records into that almost physical space where its all just noise and vibration. with the right records and the FX i use and whatnot, i push for that. sometimes it’ll just be at the end of the concert. i think its really cool to have played dance music for awhile then end with something totally other, using the decks in a completely different way, working with feedback and delay, using vinyl as percussion instrument, that sort of thing.
playing with Andy in Orleans once we had terrible problems w/ bass feedback from the turntables — finally at the end of the concert i decided to work with it, and managed to get (and partially control) an amazing bass drone from the turntable — you can hear it in one of the tracks on Patches.
W&W: How about the title? It reminds me on the one hand of SFJ’s great article about mashups “1+1+1=1,” perhaps expressing a sense of the greater-than-the-sum logic of DJing. But perhaps the more obvious parallel is 2+2=5, which could either represent, as for Orwell, the fascist project of manufacturing truth, or, as for Dostoevsky’s protagonist in Notes from Underground, a desire to reject cold rationality for human messiness. By asking this, have I already overdetermined the mix too much? Have you invited that? Are you now or have you ever been a Stalinist?
/R: haha, you’re reading too much (into it)! to me 1+1=3 is the DJ’s axiom. plain as that. the work of the DJ lies in taking one record, blending another, and getting that magic moment where the sum is greater than the parts, when the ‘third’ record emerges and you can hear the two tracks individually, superimposed (if you know what to listen for) and also can hear the new thing they make when they play in unison. so yeah, rather than some call for the irrational or illogical, to me it was a simple statement of turntablist logic. it also worked with the xerox ziney stuff i was doing then, like the cover for the mixtape. with a quick cut and paste, a lot can be created.
* attn, Boston headz: DJ /Rupture (and Dutty labelmate, Matt Shadetek) will be playing this Friday evening at the ICA
On Friday and Saturday this week,
I will be presenting artworks for the body
at WAVES AND SIGNS,
a conference on low-frequency vibration,
at CAVS, organized by Wendy Jacob.
That’s right, a conference about vibration!
On Friday, there will be a wildly diverse
series of 10-minute talks on vibration.
There will be scientists, biologists, artists,
roboticists, designers, acousticians…
(Peep the lineup below.) [see here]
I will be speaking around 11:30AM.
WAVES AND SIGNS
a conference, workshop and dance party
Center for Advanced Visual Studies
265 Massachusetts Avenue, N52-390
Conference: Friday, April 24 10AM-5PM
Workshop: Saturday, April 25 10AM-5PM
Dance Party: Saturday, April 25, 8-10PM
A specially-built raised floor at MITโs Center for Advanced Visual Studies will be activated with low-frequency vibrations. During the conference, the floor will be used as a platform on which to hold a dialog (in speech and sign) between artists, designers, scientists and students. During the workshop, the floor will be used as an instrument for acoustic experiments in resonant vibrations. At the dance party, the floor will become a stage for performances and dancing.
Waves and Signs was initiated by Wendy Jacob with students and faculty from MIT and Gallaudet University. Gallaudet is the world’s only university in which all programs and services are specifically designed to accommodate deaf and hard of hearing students. Wendy Jacob is a Visual Arts Program lecturer, Director of the Autisim Studio, and a fellow at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS).
Saturday, April 25 8-10PM
A floor will be activated with low-frequency vibrations and will be used as a site for performances and dancing. By sitting, standing, dancing on the floor, visitors will be able to experience sound through their bodies.
DJ Pandaiโa, of BASSIC
Jessica Rylan, Center for Advanced Visual Studies, MIT
Andrew Colwell, throat-singer
Eric Gunther, electronic musician
With sound by Damion Romero, Nikolas Francis, and Resonance Workshop participants
Wish I could make it to the conference, but I gotta teach all day tomorrow. The “silent” dance party will have to suffice. Pandaia has been raving about the vibrating floor. Dubstep and beatbox and throat-singing sound perfect for it. I think we’ll take the babies and let em vibrate along.
These days, and for the last several years really — ever since the rise of the mp3/blog mix (h/t L-R?) — I listen to music mainly in mixed form. I download mixes at the rate of about one per day (though it feels like more than that). They range anywhere from 15 minutes to 2.5 hrs and from genre-hopping/mashing exercises to downright “purist” explorations of a particular style, subgenre, or artist.
Mixes are like little worlds to themselves, opening up for me to enter and inhabit. I enjoy the way they can transport me like that — especially when walking, driving, and cooking.
Although I do a great deal of tagging and annotating and sharing my web wanderings, I don’t take the time/effort to shed some shine on every mix I dig. But I wish I did. So here’s an attempt to call attn to a few faves from the last month/year that have caught my ear and remain on rotation —
Timeblind’s Flora had my earbuds on lock for much of the winter. Centered on dubsteppy sounds, but ranging into reggae, hip-hop, and some srsly off-kilter techno, among others, it somehow suited early evenings and long nights.
So did Lone Wolf’s Nightwind, released last spring and still holding a precious spot on my not-so-spacious 4gb iPhone. (For the record, though, I think I most enjoyed it mid-morning on a coffee buzz.) Full of trancey hip-house&b bangers mixed up and sloooooooooooowed down, the tracks keep opening up in unexpected ways. (If ur into “screwed oddities,” you might also like this.)
More recently, I’ve been really getting into all the house and techno coming out of (or filtered thru / inspired by) Africa, especially South Africa. Check Spoek Mathambo’s H.I.V.I.P. (!) mixes (here and here) for wonderfully weird refractions off the global disco ball. Also well worth your time: DJ Zhao’s Ngoma 2 and 3, as well as the “obscurer” followup mix it elicited from DJ Deep. (If you haven’t heard Zhao’s sui generis Fusion 1 btw, it’s absolutely arresting in its old “world” meets nu-whirled aesthetic.) One final tip of the cap to Zhao for pointing me to this DJ Cndo track, which says “funky” house its own awesome way and makes me wish for a South African house invasion.
Finally, far as spotlights go, I wanna shine a lil light on Nicholas Jaar’s recent mix for Air Drop Records. Talk about funky house! What really grabs me about this one, though, is the constant presence of samples from all over the place, especially horns, voices, and percussion — good “earthy” sounds. They add a great deal to the musical and affective texture, especially in contrast to the more mechanical sounding synthwerk, and Jaar does a very nice job weaving them in and out over some smooth-but-bumpy mnml-ish grooves. Sound design indeed!
Finally, just to illustrate/document my willy-nilly collection of mixes (and point you in further directions), here’s a list of all the ones I’ve downloaded since Jan 1 2009, in whatever random order resulted from copying&pasting out of my finder. Google em if ur curious, most should still be up somewhere —
teleost – process part 122.mp3
subfm mix feb 2009 (Timeblind).mp3
Rinse FM – Blackdown & Dusk (29-01-2009).mp3
playa blanca mixtape.mp3
Pandai’a Studio Mix (Feb 09).mp3
noah gibson – process part 121.mp3
Moulay El-Hassan_ Essaouira.mp3
Mishka presents Keep Watch Vol. 6.zip
Luny Tunes Presents Calle 434 (2009).rar
kid kameleon – nse 12.28.08.mp3
H.I.V.I.P – POST COITAL DEPRESSION.mp3
Fairtilizer 24798 – UMB – GLOBAL GHETTOTECH.mp3
Cumbias con bass.mp3
Butterz Ft. Terror Danjah – 13-02-09 – GrimeForum.com..mp3
FACT Mix 30 – Joakim (Feb 09).mp3
djmicron- intertwined mix 10JAN2009.mp3
VA – I Ride on Gilded Spinners
Actionable Flattery 1.mp3.zip
baile funk ol skoolmix.mp3
auratheft – Oceans 11. Jamaican Soul Jazz Originals. Volume II.mp3
Afrocan House Mix.mp3
dj zhao – NGOMA VOL. 2.mp3
dj zhao – NGOMA 3_ Zulu House, Afro Electro, UK Funky.mp3
Dj Sin-Cero – Presenta Guelo Star La Pelicula Viviente ((The Oficial Mixtape)) (2009).rar
The haunting echoes of r&b and garage ephemera are hallmarks of Burial’s music. Myriad, minute vocal snippets, tossed-off castaways in a sea of murky radio remembrances, reanimated as deeply expressive fragments, pitched around, recontextualized rhythmically and harmonically and vibewise. This is a poignant poetics, sometimes jaw-droppingly so, as the producer projects an alarmingly “human” voice despite denaturing the originals so audibly. (Reminding me of my reactions to Mouse on Mars’ excursions in synth-bent emoting, evoking an obviously artificial but affective fragility — but that’s the topic for another post perhaps.)
Beyond Burial’s own distinctive remixing of the recent past, the approach has become more broadly adopted across contemporary electronic/sample-based production, especially by dubstep producers wielding similarly semi-obscure (and sometimes truly obscure) reggae samples. Burial falls into this camp too, with recent dancehall recordings — like their r&b and garage counterparts — serving as suggestive sonic signposts of post-millennial/colonial London.
Living in Kingston in 2003 I bore repeated witness to the power of Sizzla’s massive one-drop revival album, Da Real Ting, so Burial’s allusion jumped out at me way back when his first album dropped. One of the things I found so striking and beguiling about Burial’s use of a phrase from “Just One of Those Days” was the way he displaced its original emphases by shifting its place in the meter by but an eighth-note.
So, while the original sounds like
whose FAULT no ONE but mySELF
in the Burial track, it goes
WHOSE fault NO one BUT myself
This may seem like a subtle distinction, but that’s what makes it great. Indeed, that’s what makes it better, to my ears, than a rather similar attempt at transformation: e.g., what strike me as the baldly (and badly) manipulative efforts of Zomby for “The Lie,” which takes the following Sizzla lyric —
I was born in a system that doesn’t give a fuck about you nor me, nor the life of our kids
and turns it into
I was born in a system that doesn’t give a fuck about you nor me, nor the lie
Is this supposed to be a sly and suggestive gesture? If so, it comes up woefully short. I think it rubs me the wrong way, interestingly, a lot more than than, say, Kanye West’s equally brazen use of Chaka Khan’s “Through the Fire” to propel “Through the Wire” (which I find funny and surprisingly compelling) — and I think this difference emerges largely for ideological reasons, which are inextricable from aesthetics (or, in other words, my idiosyncratically but also historically / culturally / socially / politically situated reception of the poetics at work in these tracks), despite that some may want to make room for “strictly” musical considerations in these rarefied conversations.
Now, obviously I enjoy Zomby’s production in other instances, so I don’t think this is just some simple prejudice expressing itself. Rather, it’s an attempt to work out why I find essentially the same sample-based procedure to have very different effects/affects in two different instances: whereas Burial’s subtle, muddled invocation of Sizzla invites a range of responses, Zomby’s strikes me as simply distortionary, rubbing against accumulated affective resonance in an awkward, hamfisted way. When we’re talking about handling such materials as beloved, if dated, reggae and r&b — so treasured and variously remembered and embodied — I guess I prefer a more sensitive touch.
Not necessarily the most gripping video or anything, but I do like the demystification of the process it presents. Just to clarify, what you’re seeing here is the playback of an arrangement that I’ve already mixed down (live, w/ improv) and then tweaked & tweaked until I was happy with the transitions, etc. So it’s more like a performance of a performance of a performance, or something. Don’t mistake it for the performance itself. To catch that, you gotta come to the Enormous Room on Monday nights.
Again, hope you dig/gig. If you do, gwaan and get some of these fine tracks for yourself!
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.