Thanks again to my eloquent interlocutors, all of whom had colorful stories & trenchant perspectives to share, and to the Together panel people — especially Sara Skolnik and Ethan Kiermaier — for making it happen. And thx to everyone who attended the panel, tuned in, and/or wish to help continue the convo.
Archive of posts tagged with "whirledmusic"
Speaking of Africa Remix —
That’s “Ewe” — the latest from Throes + The Shine, a project out of Portugal which, as the + implies, is essentially a merger between two groups: (migrant) Angolan kuduro duo The Shine and, as my tipster Ana PatrĂcia Silva puts it, Portuguese “post-hardcore/noise band” Throes. (The b-boy formidably rocking out between bowls of TV-addled oatmeal is, I’m told, a national champ of sorts.)
Ana first told me about The Sine + Throes last May. (I know, I’ve been sleeping, but you should see my drafts folder: 62 and counting!) At the time, Ana reported that the group had “pretty much been taking everyone by surprise here in Portugal.” She continued —
They have a growing cult due to their live shows, which are absolutely explosive and make everyone – from headbangers to hipsters to hip-shakers – go absolutely nuts! It’s really interesting how they are able to unite such different crowds under one roof and it’s a beautiful thing to watch.
A brief profile here helps to make sense of what might seem at first like an implausible fusion:
as far as we know, kuduro and rock is a novel idea, yet it makes perfect sense. Both are full-on, high-bpm styles that demand full bodily commitment for maximum enjoyment, especially live. Still, no one thought to bring the two worlds together until kuduro duo The Shine (AndrĂ© Do Poster and Diron Shine) teamed up with Portuguese rockers Throes (Marco Castro and Igor Domingues). The result is exhilarating.
It’s hard to disagree, especially when seeing the whole crew in action. Here’s a less ventriloquized video, for instance, their first single, “Batida” —
Describing a concert she attended, Ana was deeply impressed by the wide net the band’s performance cast and vibe they created, despite the harsh edges and insistent sensuality —
I saw them live last summer in the middle of the afternoon at an all-ages outdoor festival. During their show I remember seeing old people clapping hands, little kids jumping around, parents nodding their heads and teenagers and young adults pretty much losing their shit. It is impressive how something so aggressive and so sexual in its essence is capable of connecting with so many different people from different age groups, races and social status. It’s the beauty of music, I guess. How it manages to unite such different people in the same space and time. For that whole hour, the world did seem like a great place to be living in.
And just as the perhaps irreducibly jarring juxtapositions of the group are what make their shows so compelling, apparently there are subtler, but perhaps no less affecting, modes of mixture at work in the making of their sound:
There’s another interesting detail that I forgot to add. Their entire album was recorded, mixed and mastered in analogue tape. It was made at EstĂşdios SĂˇ da Bandeira, a music studio in Porto that specializes in analog recording and vintage equipment (which is very rare in Portugal).
I don’t think I had ever heard kuduro recorded in 100% analog format! That’s part of the reason why their sound is so warm and with a bit more emphasis on the rockier side. Every single instrument they used (guitar, drums, bass, synths, marimba, xylophone, etc.) is fully analog, no computer was used in those sessions. And that’s also part of their appeal, I guess: it’s a completely different experience (especially live) to listen to something as effusive as kuduro music backed by the raw power of a drum kit, the melodies of a guitar and the groove of an actual bass.
A touch of rockist romanticism perhaps — and perversely enough, I might like my kuduro best in 128k gritty wifi realism — but I have to admit the group’s sound is awfully warm and punchy.
That said, Throes + The Shine are (obviously) hardly purist, and I was delighted to find that such friends and colleagues as Daniel Haaksman & Emynd have recently done remixes for them. Emynd’s is particularly amazing, departing from the band’s primary genre references to explore kindred vibes. Shuffling between breakbeat techno / protojungle and that ol bmore bounce, with a little trappist jam to stick things together, dude really takes it there, then somewhere else again (compare to the original):
You can sink your teeth into a lot more if you like, including their full first album, Rockuduro (streaming below) — & given such a strong start, I expect we’ll all have a chance to hear plenty more.
update (2/7): All of the above is worth considering against and alongside Alexis Stephens’s probing investigation into Os Kuduristas and the slick PR machine that represents Angola through kuduro.
What (more) can we say? Flack & I have been wanting to get Rekha up here for ages; we’ve both had the pleasure to open for her at local shows; and we both love playing a bhangra track or three in our sets. I’m not sure anyone else in the house tonight will be quite as excited as we are, and that’s how it should be.
A lot of people, myself included, throw the term “ambassador” around when talking about Rekha, and that’s because it’s an entirely fitting description. Rekha’s been along for the ride — and piloting her own course — since just about the beginning of bhangra’s urbanization and transnational spread. For 15 years she’s helmed Basement Bhangra, and she facilitated the stateside premieres of no less than Panjabi MC, Tigerstyle, and MIA in the US. More recently she’s been collaborating with Zuzuka Poderosa, the NYC-based carioca vocalist. Yup, Rekha knows what’s up.
Moreover, though it should go without saying, Rekha’s Bhangra & Beyond approach — and, especially, how bhangra itself constantly opens into and refigures what lies beyond its borders — makes her a quintessential Beat Research guest. Even were she to play a set entirely comprising bhangra, you’d also hear plenty of dancehall, hip-hop, house, garage, and any other groove worth grafting onto bhangra’s big, sticky tree. It’s remix music par excellence, as likely to please conservatives and/or progressives as make them bristle. Here’s how she put it on NPR last year —
â€¦theres a lot of debate around certain aspects of bhangra. Bhangra, if one would technically break it down, it is a male folk dance. It is a very specific rhythm, actually. So what is considered bhangra today is one of many rhythms, not exactly the bhangra rhythm. But as language evolves, culture moves forward, things start to mean other things. So bhangra has become sort of a ubiquitous term to describe a certain style of music and it’s definitely a battleground for tradition versus modernity.
And yet, despite contemporary, urban bhangra being about as “nu whirled” as it gets, I also think there’s something conspicuous about it’s general exclusion from the global / tropical bass repertory. Sure, there are echoes and flirtations here and there (especially if enabled by the likes of Timbaland), and some blogs have been consistently committed to staying up on the latest desi bangers, but for the most part, I’m pretty sure there’s a classic bit of brown-isn’t-black-or-white, ahem, coloring the reception and circulation of bhangra. And I’m pretty sure das racist.
Anyway, I was hoping to feature a little interview with Rekha here about that sort of thing, but she’s been too consumed by travel (to Bolivia last week w Zuzuka Poderosa!), so we’ll just have to chat about it later tonight. Looking forward to her perspective on it, but not as much as her set!
Don’t miss it!
Indeed, you might consider getting there early, if you’re up for it, as we’ve got quite an amazing warm-up act in Scotland-born but Salem’s own — that is, Salem the town in Massachusetts — world-class skweee devoteee, Radio Scotvoid.
Scotvoid is the resident DJ of the Boston 8bit collective & hosts The Curios Show online, spinning a mix of skweee, 8bit & bass music. He recently released a couple tracks on French record label Tiburoni Records. Check this promo mixxx he did for the release:
The main thing you should know for tonight is that Scotvoid is serious about skweee, the semi-obscure but thoroughly awesome and remarkably sinuous synth music based outta Sweden and Finland. Given that its a recent phenomenon, you may be surprised — but then again, not if you’re familiar with the analog-love at the heart of skweee — to hear that a lot of skweee labels issue their music on 7″ vinyl. And Scotvoid is the type of guy (the only guy?) who can put together an hour-long skweee set entirely from 45s. Which is what he’s gonna do. Which is bonkers.
We’ll get things started around 9pm, so come make a night of it with us. Wiggle your mind, baffle your behind.
MAY 30 (AKA 2NITE!)
w/ DJ REKHA
And since I can’t resist sharing, allow me to tease the incredible summer of Beat Research we’ve lined up:
Yes! Next month we’ll be hosting LE1F of critically acclaimed mixtape Dark York, and the producer of such varied material as epic #seajunk daydream songsuites and the winking-ha of “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell” and this ol Burial remix I used to drop in my BR sets years ago.
So this also feels like a long time coming, and I couldn’t be thrillder (trillder?) about LE1F’s support that evening c/o of the NU LIFE crew, who just last week got some well-deserved local love —
I’ve long thought that what Rizzla & D’hana & co have been cooking up at NU LIFE and other things around town is pretty much one of the best — and most original — things Boston has going for it. They bring some real vision to the party, as the article delves into, and/but the way their particular musical address — including the songs of Buju Banton, their orthogonally anti-gay comrade (I’ll have to explain that one sometime) — hails a particular cross-section of actually existing Boston diversity.
Ironically (or not?), NU LIFE is going out on top, ending their 3-year residency at Zuzu in Central Square next Tuesday (June 5), and shifting toward being more mobile & flexible. Sounds like a good move to me; I look forward to the next edition, wherever it may pop up. Meantime, we couldn’t be more happy to host a special post-NU DEATH jam with the NU LIFERS, including a rap set c/o Micah Domingo. Need I say more?
Better to let them say it themselves. Here’s a lil blurb they wrote for the Phoenix to provide a little context for their driving NU DEATH mix (which puts me in such fine company, I’m blushing):
Nu Life has hosted some incredible DJ’s and producers, including Kingdom, Venus X, LE1F, Wayne Marshall, Jubilee, Massacooramaan and Physical Therapy. The vibe can range from 90’s dance b-sides to underwater reggaeton house party. This mix is a blend of some styles we love – club and vogue beats, afflicted big room house, juke and harder rave music with twerk vocals. It’s a mixture of Rizzla’s own remixes and productions, the new school anthem YOU by Fade to Mind label head Kingdom, queer vocalists and amazing Boston-based producers like False Witness, Dev/Null, and Wheez-ie.
Or just listen —
I can’t even begin to describe how amped I am for this. It’s a little incredible, to say the least, that all of these amazing DJs — who have all pursued impressive solo paths — will be back in town and in the same building, stirring up some good ol cross-genre, art-rave sociability like they used to make together, on the regular, as the Toneburst Collective.
This is an absolute dream bill, far as I’m concerned, and a historic occasion. I’m grateful to all of these folks for helping to make it happen! For the record, I was never a member of the collective, though as I recollected admiringly some 7 years ago (!!) —
as more of an occasional party-goer than a core participant, i first approached [the Toneburst aethetic] with a fair deal of wonder and curiosity. sounded like some stuff i’d heard before, but then again it didn’t. i liked that it somehow represented boston (a town woefully marginal on the musical map), but i wasn’t sure how exactly. somehow the music was both smart and gritty, though, which seemed right.
Given the way things have turned out in this mashy, remixxy world — not to mention how Jace & Jake & Keith & Larisa &c have all fared in their own pursuits — I’d say they were onto to something back then.
Beat Research is but one local torch still held aloft for the Toneburst spirit, and I couldn’t be happier about how brightly we’re gonna burn this summer.
We’ve got the one DJ Delay — aka Brian May, aka Beam Up, aka Sonical — in the house at Beat Research tomorrow night. I’ve been into his dub-drenched beats for a minute now, linking to one project (of gritty, bassy Balkan remixes) way back when, e.g. —
After Junior Rodigan’s stunningly sweet set last week, I suspect a slightly more angular, abstract approach to diasporic funk will seem just about right. Hear, for instance, Beam Up’s live set of classic reggae riddims, built from scratch, recorded at the Fusion Festival in Germany last year —
Wearing his Sonical hat, Delay is currently in NYC exhibiting at White Box. For a taste of that, check this —
Another ongoing project, MIDI East, involves some 9000 MIDI files from the Balkans / Turkey, which he’s also making available for others to play around with. Here’s a glimpse of how he’s worked em up:
Come on out if spacey, dubwise Tuesday vibes seem like the proper meds. #noxanax
ps — Adding to the sensory madness, we’ll have twinstars doing live visuals throughout the night!
It begins with a six minute opening from me, then I introduce my esteemed co-panelists — Boima, Poirier, Ripley, Max, and Jesse — and we finally REALLY get into the convo about 10 minutes in. From there it’s a solid 50 minutes of discussion (but not a minute more! #realtalk), followed by another 15 of tantalizing open-mic action (just joking; stop watching at that point; really).
These are some of my favorite voices in wot-ever-we-wanna-call this thing (though the labeling, as we discuss, remains inextricable and carries consequences), so they may be of interest to you too —
And yes, this is / was true —
But I’ve gone and destroyed the beard. Don’t worry, folks, it’s clearly in vigorous condition.
To new vistas, and looking differently —
Do note that we’ve added another DJ/producer to the line up: Blk.Adonis has been our guest at Beat Research before, but given that he’s a great admirer of Rashad and has been working to work juke & footwurk jams into his sets at Nu-Life and TRADE, it seemed like a fine bit of synergy to grow the bill a little more, even if it means less time for all of us (save Rashad, of course).
There’s a ton of great stuff happening this week in and around Boston, and I’ll direct you to a fine roundup put together by the Cluster Mag, our partner on Wednesday’s event. For my part, I’m going to have a hard time escaping the gravity of the Good Life, which is hosting dubstep trailblazer Mala on Friday and providing quite the “tropical” platform for Pico Picante — and many special guests — on Thursday night.
Speaking of the Pajaritos, they’re also responsible for organizing a panel discussion that I’ll be moderating on Friday. The panel brings together the stellar guests they’re bringing to town for Thursday, all of whom, as it happens, are utterly eloquent when it comes to the thorny problems and great possibilities of global / tropical / ghetto bass —
Discussing the panel last week with Ernesto Morales and Ricardo Delima, I told them that I was tempted to take their framing questions and add “besides Diplo” to them, as an attempt to get past the way that these panels tend to devolve into the same ol’ “What Should Diplo Do?” (WSDD) conversation — or as one attempt to sum up our similar panel at EMP put it, “whether we, as people who are interested in the history and origins of music, are okay with Diplo.”
Whether or not we’re ok with Diplo — whatever good that does “us” — there’s a great deal more to discuss about the phenomenon of what I’ve occasionally dubbed nu whirled music & global ghettotech than one guy’s outsize success. But then again, profiles like this one or recurring stories/critiques like this, conspire to create, as Ricardo tweeted, “diplo panic de hoy” (Diplo panic of the day). So I’m sure there will be no getting away from, as I like to think of him, the dinosaur in the room.
That said, I will do my job as moderator to steer us into perhaps less frequently chartered waters, and the panel’s focus on events really helps with this task. For one, it compels us to consider the local dynamics — as opposed to such abstractions as the global and appropriation and such — of putting on events that attempt to address a particular audience through the music & discourse of “tropical bass.” Here we get closer to what I’ve examined in the past as a form of neighborhood, and I could hardly think of better people to discuss such questions than Boima (w/r/t the Bay Area and New York), Poirier (re: Montreal), Ripley (Kingston, London, NYC), and Max and Jesse, both of whom are involved in longstanding musical-curatorial projects here in Boston and elsewhere.
I guess what I’m saying is, this should be worth tuning into (live stream!), especially if you spend a few of the next several nights enjoying some good ol’ bodily/social experience of these sounds and the scenes they call into being.
Tomorrow / today / whenever it is as you’re reading this — Tuesday Feb 28 marks both the release of Munchi’s Moombahtonista EP and as mentioned last week, his first appearance here in Boston, at none other than Beat Research! According to the opaque metrics at Zuckerborg, as I’m writing this some 56 registered users are “Going” to come thru, which is cool. I’m sure the place will pack up. It’s gonna be a special one, no doubt.
As I also mentioned, I gladly penned the notes accompanying the release of Munchi’s EP. It’s an odd job juggling promotion with what I think is also valued as my ability to be a critical observer, but I stand behind the text. (And I appreciate the affirmative nods.) Of course, I’m happy Munchi likes it — and that he thought of me to write it. I should give him some real credit too: he had lots of ideas, as always, and his own ability to articulate where he’s coming from is, I think, one of his greatest strengths as an internet-era artist. Anyway, you can judge for yourself (I added some links for fun):
Soon as the first moombahton edits hit the net, Munchi was ready. Slowing down Dutch house tracks to make mutant reggaeton made a lot of sense to a resident of Rotterdam with roots in the Dominican Republic. Munchi knew as well as anyone (and better than most) that Dutch house and reggaeton were kindred genres, each a skip and a jump away from dancehall reggae. He began cooking up his own moombahton that night, emerging with much more than another set of edits. Arguably the first originals of the genre, Munchi’s tracks were built from scratch, imbued with touches of baile funk, cumbia, kuduro, bmore, samba, breakcore and more. Unlike Dave Nada’s seminal edits or influential remixes by A-Mac, Uncle Jesse, and Melo making the rounds, Munchi could put his name on his tracks front and center. Blowing up the blogs, he proved himself prolific and popular almost immediately, releasing acclaimed promo packs by the pound and building a devoted audience.
By pursuing his own singular vision of what the genre could be, Munchi pointed the way — lots of ways actually — to move moombahton beyond surprisingly serviceable novelty remixes in order to make it a genuine genre. His cross-breeding fusions even birthed a substyle he dubbed moombahcore, a steroidal take on the sound that now boasts hundreds of its own adherents. After Munchi’s wildly successful experiments, moombahton became a lot more kitchen-sink. This EP collects the classics, marking the moment that Munchi blew the frame open. Club wreckers that set the stage for a wave of producers learning to love the space between the kicks, the place to wind your hips. You’ll find it all here: evocative samples, epic build-ups and drops, thick-ass drums, sudden jokes and, of course, that trademark jingle. It also features new twists on old bangers, like lacing “La BrasileĂ±a Ta Montao” with brand new vocals from Angel Doze, Munchi’s favorite reggaetonero, making it the first real meeting between moombahton and its Puerto Rican cousin.
Come hear the man live if you can. I’ve seen him in action. You gotta be ready.
Oh & nice EP art! Props for the totally understated use of boobs —
Ok, one last time, here’s the deets for tonight / tmrw night (TUESDAY!):
Today I’ve got a Q&A with Jared Demick at his site The Jivin’ Ladybug, a “Skewered Journal of the Arts” or in slightly plainer terms, “an online arts journal devoted to word-whittlers, picture-pizzazzers, & sound-slingers, all over this here globe!” Though the latter most obviously describes me, and the middle option may seem more dubious, I like to consider myself all three. (I mean, look at that picture of a ladybug drawn in sidewalk chalk — full of pizzazz!)
At any rate, Jared asked a bunch of questions about the stuff that I do and think about, and because I think it offers a good glimpse at my current thoughts about blogging and DJing and meaningful mixes, world music 2.0 and appropriation, and platform politricks, to name a few, I’m cross-posting the convo here too. Without further ado–
How does your DJing & academic work connect with each other?
I discover a lot of music in my research, and DJing allows me to “activate” these tracks in a new social setting, to sit with them and hear and feel them in new ways, and to share them with other people. As someone who studies DJ culture, and as something of an old-school participant-observer, I think it’s pretty crucial to put my intellectual work into practice in this way. Another way to look at it, though, is that my abiding love for music propels all that I do, and I’ve managed — or attempted — to chart a course where sharing music is central to my life and work.
What got you blogging so extensively?
I started blogging back in 2003 when I moved to Jamaica to do research for my dissertation, which largely consisted of visiting dancehall events and recording studios and turning my own apartment into a collaborative space for making and talking about music. (One result of which, apart from the disseration, was my self-released album, Boston Jerk.) Initially I figured the blog would only be read by academic peers and family and friends, but I was happily surprised when it turned out that a wider readership of people who were interested in taking hip-hop and reggae (and their interplay) seriously had also found their way to my research-in-progress and thinking-aloud. More than anything, the deeply encouraging feedback loop of a community of co-readers (for I think of myself as engaged in a collective process of interpretation) is what turned the blog from a research experiment into the most important and fulfilling part of my work.
Does this â€śworld music 2.0â€ť (or as you cheekily dub it â€śglobal ghettotechâ€ť) phenomenon, this global mix nâ€™ match of genres, leading to greater musical variation or homogenization? In other words, is it a scenario of capitalism doing cultural colonization or is it reflective of increased diasporic movements?
As much as I’m suspicious of how capitalism shapes and circulates culture, I don’t buy the “cultural grey-out” anxiety that haunted so much globalization theory in the 1990s. Examining hip-hop or reggae as a global phenomenon (which is to say, a trans-local thing) gives the lie to any sense that local transformations of these forms are simply imitative. It has been well observed, of course, that capitalism thrives in the production of novelty, so one could argue that the lack of homogenization is, in a sense, just as useful for selling things. At any rate, I think it would be hard to make a case for anything other than greater variety in terms of the music to which we have access today, and whereas “world music” used to be a fairly exotic product, I find some optimism in the newly quotidian qualities of “the world out there” in an age when media travels so instantly and rapidly, especially when coupled with an increasing recognition that our own neighborhoods (at least in fairly cosmopolitan cities) are amazing and rich repositories of world culture. To the extent that exposure to new sounds — rather than simply the products of the media capitals of the US — might engender a more mutual regard for each other, a respect and tolerance for difference, is about as good as it could get. That, and radical wealth redistribution. (But I wouldn’t wait on “world music” to deliver that.)
Are these emerging musical trends sticking around or do they rapidly rise and fade? Who are the primary producers and consumers?
The whole “world music 2.0″ scene is still pretty small and definitely marked by a hype-cycle dynamic. This is perhaps reflective of the “Western hipster” base for a lot of this stuff — at least once it’s been remediated by DJs and bloggers. But for every bandwagoneer, there are people whose interest in new sounds serves to drive their curiosity about other places, about other histories and narratives, and even about other people in their own local communities. Of course, we shouldn’t let out of sight that lots of these exciting sounds from around the world are emerging from rich local scenes which could care less about a few downstream DJs and bloggers (although, on the other hand, there are clearly some opportunities to be had, lest only the middlemen make the metropolitan money). But the production of the music that circulates on blogs and Soundcloud as a sort of “WM2.0″ is no longer entirely “outsourced,” if you will. Rather, instead of simply “digging” for far-flung sounds and scenes (a la funk carioca, kuduro, cumbia), as the case of moombahton shows, new genres have emerged that partake of the templates and circuits for “global ghettotech” while being almost completely unmoored or grounded in any particular place, hence inviting a broader sort of participation (especially from more privileged corners) and perhaps entailing a different approach toward exoticism.
Why do economically disadvantaged urban areas (the ghetto, favela, barrio, shantytown, and its many other manifestations) play such a prominent role in the circulation of this material?
For all their actual impoverishment (or one might say because of it), ghettos are also immense sites of creativity — and, part and parcel of that, powerful repositories of authenticity. I would alter your question to note that while these places play a prominent role in the production of this material, they are less involved in its circulation. Increasingly, grassroots producers from around the world are using “social media” to share their productions with their peers and wider audiences, but a lot of the wider circulation of these genres is being initiated by web-trawling bloggers and DJs who are enthralled by the stuff they’re hearing. Sometimes the grounds for that fascination and/or empathy are spurious, sometimes sincere.
Do you see any political ramifications to this increased cultural dialogue?
It’s not always clear to me that this phenomenon entails a “dialogue” except in a rather vague (and one-sided) sense. I do think that playing music for local audiences (say, here in the US) which is not what they typically encounter can do a sort of political-cultural work insofar as it reforms ideas about us/them. I tend to reserve my greatest hope for the locally transformative power of these engagements — that is, we can work in Boston or New York to reshape our own sense of our soundscapes and our neighbors, and ourselves.
What makes the contemporary musical practice of appropriating and recontextualizing sounds so prominent and attractive?
The relatively novel ease of cut-and-paste is what accounts for the prominence of these methods. As for their attractiveness, I think that recontextualization, reframing, and remaking culture is simply an elemental way that we make sense of the world and share that sense with others. Of course, the advent of the global internet also means that distant appropriations are easier and more commonplace than ever.
Youâ€™ve talked about how this emerging global musical culture is precariously archived within corporate platforms. How could we create a public, non-privatized space on the internet?
This is a serious problem for posterity, and even for present practice. It reflects both a corporate capture of “public” spaces as well as a new prioritization on the part of music-makers and -sharers toward immersion and participation. Toward remedying that — to the extent that people care to — I think we really need to develop (and invest in) new platforms that allow people to personally host (or better, collectively distribute) the media that we make or care to share. I wish there were a will to do this at a municipal or even federal level — to really do it with public funds, as an investment in infrastructure — but there are too many conflicts, I suspect, to make this possible now. So, this has to start with a collective but individual move toward our own servers, and with insisting that we keep copies of everything we post to the corporate platforms whose only value — beyond the user-interface they provide — is entirely generated by our presence and participation there. An open-source alternative to Facebook / Twitter / Soundcloud / YouTube that allows people to maintain more control over their digital culture would be a killer app to be sure.
In both your essays and your mixes, you chart out the routes of particular sounds such as the dembow riddim or the â€śzunguzung memeâ€ť as they get reappropriated in a variety of different contexts. What kinds of insights about contemporary musical culture does such a method provide?
Since — as I think such mixes make audible — it’s not so easy to generalize about “appropriation” when a tune or drumbreak can clearly take so many forms and support such a diversity of messages, the most consistent insight has more to do with the fundamental flexibility and reconfigurability of musical forms (and cultural forms more generally). Although I think this phenomenon far predates the age of technological reproducibility — and results from the essentially mimetic basis of culture — I do think that, with regard to the contemporary, these mixes show not only that it’s easy and commonplace to appropriate or allude to or otherwise invoke and rework previous performances, but that a great deal of creativity, and localization of the power to affect an audience, is very audibly a part of the process.
Which of your currents projects are you most excited about?
I’ve got an ongoing project about the Boston soundscape that I’ve just extended recently with the publication of “Love That Muddy Ether” / Boston Pirate Party — a brief reflection on the rise of Caribbean low-power / pirate radio here in Boston and an audio collage that tries to encapsulate, and take some poetic liberties with, this city’s segregated soundscape. I’m also embarking, after a couple trips to Rotterdam last fall, on a book project about bubbling, the Dutch-Caribbean hyperactive twin of reggaeton, which seems, like kindred genres such as jungle and bhangra, to speak volumes about the musical mediation of a changing sense of place.
This week at Beat Research — now every TUESDAY at Good Life in downtown Boston — we’re enthused to host none other than NYC-based Dutty bredrin (and local alumnus!), Atropolis. Hailing from / representing Queens, Atropolis co-hosts regular parties (and expeditions) as part of Cumba Mela while pumping out remixes that get to the essence of the “New York tropical” sound — to my ears and hips, a contemporary reckoning with the city’s always-already Afrodiasporic soundscape, and as such, a beacon for “tropical” scenes in other transcolonial cities around the world.
Here are a few, if you missed em:
In our redoubtable opinion here at W&W, Atropolis released one of the best albums of the year with his eponymous effort on Dutty Artz this spring. His tracks have been seeping into my sets for a minute now, so I’m really looking forward to hearing a full set of Adam’s distinct approach to world party music. For a taste, check his mix for Cluster Mag from earlier in the year:
We’re thrilled to have the open-eared & big-hearted beats of Atropolis in our underground dance lab this week. Hope u can join us!
Good Life Bar
28 Kingston Street
If you haven’t been getting down to the mixes and remixes of Uproot Andy over the last few years, we’re not sure what sort of dank hole you’re living in. From his perch in multiculti Brooklyn, Andy has been cooking up his own distinctive, irresistible takes on cumbia, dancehall, dubstep, afropop, you name it.
His savvy, crunchy touch has made him a defining presence on the “tropical bass” scene (or wot-ever we call it). Currently at work on his debut album, we’re thrilled to hear the latest stews he’s been brewing, and we’re psyched to finally get him to the Enormous Room to throw down with us.
Just in case you need a primer, here are a few faves, from badass bachatĂłn to certifiably classic remixes of Los Rakas and Amadou & Mariam —
Do help us give the man a proper reception on Monday night. As usual, we’ll be rocking the room from 9-1, and it’s FREE.
A couple items to share, pardon the self-centeredness, but hey, this is a blog, right?
First, hot off the virtual presses: Radio Berkman has just posted a snappily edited podcast featuring yours truly in conversation with the one and only Ethan Zuckerman about world/whirled music, globalghettotech, jerkbow, tribal, moombahton, and platform politricks, among other things. Go check out the full post here (where you can also stream or DL the audio).
Second, it took the dedicated team that organized TEDxIrie just a week and half to edit & post the talks to YouTube. You can see them all here, including my own talk — which, in somewhat classic w&w form, tried to pack in a little too much and grooved a little too hard in places — but if you watch just one, it has to be Ebony Patterson’s “Fashion Ova Style” (which I’ll embed below).
For those of you who have been following some of dancehall’s style trends in recent years — whether we’re talking skinnyjeans and mantourages or bleaching — you’re no doubt aware that Jamaican masculinity appears to be undergoing some peculiar revisions. Unfortunately, a lot of the coverage of such turns — both on and beyond the island — tend toward a sort of surface sensationalism rather than a deeper grappling with their implications. But Ebony goes in DEEP in her art and her talk, and her discussion of dancehall’s “camp” dimensions and the structural relations between gender (roles and representations) and employment seems to me a thoroughly insightful reading. It helps, no doubt, that she is a genuine dancehall devotee who also works in other worlds (the art world, first and foremost).
Her talk is probably the smartest, most nuanced, and most creative engagement — Ebony is a stunning visual and conceptual artist — with these complex questions that I’ve yet to behold. I just wish you could see her art in full color, as we did on the big screen in Kingston a couple weeks ago. Nevertheless, this is well worth your time: