Archive for February, 2010

February 25th, 2010

So You Can Help

This one’s making the rounds, but I can’t resist posting here too — it’s just so funny, awesome, etc. (via) —


I wish there were a way to make a similar gesture in the age of mp3s.

Empty thumbdrives seem to lack a certain poetry.


February 24th, 2010

Reanimating the Castles

Pacey Foster has a great post over at his blog detailing a recent discovery of — and creative engagement with — a 1914 book published by Vernon and Irene Castle, perhaps the premiere dancing couple in the pre-jazz age and crucial players in the formation of the “society” dance scene in NYC during the 1910s.

Go read the whole thing and feast your eyes in particular on the animated gifs Pace has constructed from the book’s plates, e.g.

I love the way Pace’s gifs bring these dances (back) to life, esp if admired alongside some of the music provided by the Castles’ in-house band, led by the great James Reese Europe.

I also like how Pace uses this (re)discovery and (re)animation to reflect on contemporary conversations about global flows of music and dance and (our?) cosmopolitan attachments to them:

From the Cortez, to the beautiful Tango to the Brazilian Maxixe, the Castles certainly seemed hip to the latest global dance trends. They even provide some historical guideposts. “The Tango is not, as commonly believed, of South American origin. It is an old gipsy dance which came to Argentina by way of Spain, where in all probability it became invested with certain features of the old Moorish dances”. What’s more, the first recording made by Europe’s Society Orchestra was the tune Maxixe (though it’s rarely included on Europe comps). I don’t know the story behind the selection of this Brazilian themed tune for the first song recorded by an African American band on a major label, but I’d love to hear it. In any event, with my pals tracking more recent/rapid diffusions of global dance/music trends, I love finding antique examples that seem so similar (if kind of slow mo) in their features.

But don’t just take it from me, go over to Pace’s & check the technique & leave a comment if so inspired. And while you’re at it, don’t miss his similar-but-ska gif (& raggahouse mix!).


February 22nd, 2010

Listening Log #425963

A few recent projects of note landed in my inbox last week. And though I don’t have the time to really give them the write-ups they deserve (and don’t get me started on the backlog of projects I need to big-up), they each grabbed my attention — a remarkable feat in this age of info-glut — and I’ll definitely be giving them some spins tonight at Beat Research. So allow me to pass along some links —

1) DJ Orion, who’ll be appearing on MuddUp Radio this evening, has just released a collection of cumbia remixes, which I definitely endorse. You can stream and/or buy the tracks over at bandcamp, where you can name your price too. Orion says, “anywhere between 0-$1 Million will help, thanks!”

2) DJ Delay keeps the brass’n’bass connections going with his own “album” of remixes of, as he puts it, “mostly south eastern european” sources, done up “in a dub aesthetic but not always inna reggae style.” The first track revisits Tremor’s “Viajante,” keeping some cumbia in the whirled mix.

3) And Out:Here records, a German outfit specializing in current African sounds (from Africa and beyond), offers an EP to tease a forthcoming compilation highlighting the (incredible and still underappreciated) South African house scene. In case those four bangers still leave you wanting, Schlachthofbronx have gone and done a remix of Mujava’s contribution bringing it squarely into the world2.0 matrix.

I’m also well overdue for another “Mix, A Lot” post, but it’s hard enough to find the time to listen, never mind recommend. In lieu of that proper accounting, let me point you to this amazing page collecting every BBC essential mix from the last 15 years! SINK DEEP, like so —

essential mixes, DLing


February 21st, 2010

Harmonico b/w Charlie Dip

charlie dip

February 18th, 2010

That Which Cannot Be Bought Or Sold Or Destroyed

I was excited to find in my inbox today a link to a brand new LP by one of my favorite artists from whom I hadn’t heard much in a while: the mighty Mutamassik! It’s called That Which Death Cannot Destroy and the liner notes very plainly state that it “cannot be bought or sold.” My man Brian Coleman framed it as follows:

I guess she’s just completely fed-up with the music industry so doesn’t even bother trying to sell stuff, just offers it out and lets the karmic wheel spin. So definitely pass the word along to anyone and everyone you know who would be down with what she’s doing – personally I think it’s amazing stuff.

I do too, and I’m happy to help with the karmaloop. Consider the word passed along; the link too

      >> Mutamassik, That Which Death Cannot Destroy

Before the sounds of the Middle East became de rigueur sampling materials for hip-hop, Mutamassik was exploring ways of fusing various sounds and styles into a compelling, challenging whole, shards a-flying all the while. It’s no surprise that she and /Rupture got together for some un?(w)holy matrimony.

Let’s celebrate Mutamassik’s ongoing industry and willingness to share by enjoying and spreading her music, “motivated by funk and apocalypse” (click to enlarge) —


February 17th, 2010

odes to billie joe (riddim meth0d repost)

[Here’s another Riddim Method re-post, featuring a couple mashups which I made all by myself (with the help of Kazaa and Ableton). It attempts to embrace a “riddim method” approach to music blogging — to focus more on musical texts that say things about music than wordy texts. I liked the playfulness and directness, as well as obliqueness, of such an approach. As you’ll see, I nevertheless also like the sound of my voice. The exuberant verbosity below — in stark contrast to what you’re reading here — embarrasses me a bit at this point. But, for me, blogging has always been about putting stuff out there — projecting my voice, so to speak — and hearing how it changes. Feel free to skip the words and listen to the tracks. This was first posted on 30 August 2005, an age ago.]

riffing off kid k’s inaugural post, i’d like to offer a couple mashups of my own for my first entry here. in this space, my posts will generally take the form of musically expressed ideas about music. much as i love words, it is music which draws me in, which informs my ideas, and which, in the end, communicates differently – and sometimes more precisely – than words.

this approach – this riddim method, if you will – is something that i have been trying to carve out over at my own blog, and i’m eager to explore it with some real focus in this new forum. look for more music than words from me here, but i’m already spilling more ink than i would like to, so let’s move on to the music.

wayne&wax, “odes to billie joe”

“odes” is an attempt, like unscrewed music, to execute a musical idea that i had. if mashups are so good at demonstrating the proximity and distance of two or more pieces of music, then the form would also lend itself to new reflections on the proximity and difference of multiple interpretations of the same song. and it would do so rather directly: laying one version on top of another reveals their differences immediately and almost constantly. it also reveals their similarities and their serendipitous (and intentional) signifying on each other. a unique interplay of consonance and dissonance arises from such combinations – a crazy counterpoint made all the more beguiling when one warps the songs to match each other in terms of tempo and key (broadly interpreted).

not that other examples haven’t already transcended the genre’s predisposition toward novelty and nostalgia, but there is something about mashing covers that also seems to take mashups beyond simple signification – dude, eminem sounds so gay over that britney beat! in this case, the mashup has the wonderful effect of making it sound like bobby gentry is being accompanied by a double-quartet comprising tommy mccook’s and lou donaldson’s late 60s groups. their juxtaposition transforms a sparse, spooky country lament into an otherworldly torch song. saxophones weave around the voice and each other, rocksteady pulls against soul jazz funk, while the singer lags behind and darts ahead of her able accompanists.

the central song here is an exceptional one: gentry’s haunting hit of 1967, “ode to billie joe.” but the covers are remarkable in their own right. donaldson’s version is, of course, a classic, providing one of the most cherished and frequently used breaks that hip-hop has ever had. mcook’s version, probably as influenced by donaldson’s version as by gentry’s, cooks in its own way – a rocksteady instrumental, the riddim section bubbles on while their jazz-steeped, ex-skatalite leader blows away the competition (which, since he recorded this cut for duke reid, would have been his erstwhile bandmates over at studio one). together, the three versions make a fourth that seems to stand on its own legs, if woozily.

a brief technical note: i’ve pitched down gentry’s voice so that she blends better with her bands. also, despite the constant presence of some great drumming in both “rhythm tracks,” i couldn’t resist imposing another layer consisting of the intro break from donaldson’s version – the same break that you’ve heard in countless hip-hop beats. i’ve also looped the mccook and donaldson versions after their second pass through the changes, largely because both groups, later in their performances, depart from the regular progression that gentry’s version follows. that’s all well and good for a jazz jam, but here i thought it better to keep them all together. finally, i settled on a tempo in between all three versions, though significantly slower in gentry’s case, which for me, only serves to draw out her dreamy drawl.

and while we’re on the subject of cover-mashups (quick: someone suggest a snappier name), allow me to point you to one more that i’ve done along these lines:

wayne&wax, “hawaiian wedding songs”

this one i put together for my dear friends amy&ron who moved to honolulu a while back and may never move back to the mainland. (jah bless ’em.) here’s how i described the making of this mashed-up matrimony music:

for the wedding of my dear new-honoluligans, i was excited to have stumbled upon the existence – nay, proliferation – of the hawaiian wedding song, which has been recorded dozens of times. i went straight to kazaa and downloaded as many versions as i could find. i was lucky enough to locate renditions by jim reeves, elvis presley, andy williams, santo and johnny, and makaha sons of ni’ihau.

using the andy williams version as the tonal center, i pitched the other tracks around until i found relationships that sounded good to me, but not according to any “rules” of harmony. (you’ll hear that there is a good deal of “dissonance” between the tonal-centers i settled on.) i then “warped” each of the tracks – dig the incidental alias-tremelo effects – so that i could sync them in time at the somewhat arbitrary (but, i would add, stately and banging) tempo of 75 bpm (which happens to be 15 bpm faster than the original tempo of the andy williams “lead vocal”). in some cases, i applied filters and other effects to the tracks, especially since, as random, peer-to-peer mp3 files, they were not always of the highest quality. in the case of the fuzzed out slack-key track (the timbre of which i’ve come to like quite a bit), i used bit-reduction and white-noise to cover up the unlistenable digital belches of a shitty mp3. when pitched up to fit the andy williams tuning, the elvis sounded downright eerie and jim reeves hopped right on the kanye-wagon, so i decided to bring them in later in the song as “backup singers” of sorts. to round out the form, i use a couple classic breaks – the blackgrass and billiejoe – sometimes in combination, and thus give the crooning a bit more drive. (i like the way that the rolled snare gives the track an air of gravitas, if in an ironic kind of way.) finally, i cut and paste some parts here and there, such as the opening percussion loop, culled from the elvis cut.

so there you have it. interestingly enough, as you can see, the two mashups of covers (quick: someone suggest a snappier name) that i offer you here both employ the billiejoe break, which is a total coincidence but a nice bit of synchronicity all the same.

it is my hope that others will take this approach in foreseen (hendrix meets dylan along the watchtower anyone?) and unforeseen directions. i think it has a lot of potential, especially with some rich resources around. the tools are out there, too: live5 does mp3s, and its new-and-improved automatic beat-detection is scary good (except with reggae, which, with the strong offbeats and all, tends to come out upside down, or downbeat up).

the upshot of all this: get a concept. cute don’t cut it in a kitten factory.


February 17th, 2010

Mr. Duty Head

Now, you know, dear reader, that I don’t want to work, I just want to bang on this blog all day —


— but duty calls, whether as a dad, a teacher, a fellow, or a Boston beats booster.

At any rate, realizing it’s been two weeks since I last posted something here, I’m starting to feel duty call as a blogger. So stay tuned for some big posts and some fun rehashes. And thanks for checking in from time to time.

As always, if you’re wondering what I’m reading and thinking, there’s always this and that.


February 3rd, 2010

Make Some Noise Tgthr

As I suspect many readers are aware, next week here in Boston is the first annual Together Festival, this city’s own attempt at an electronic dance music gathering that seeks to highlight local talent as well as bring in some heavy hitters from beyond New England. The schedule and lineup are pretty damn impressive, I gotta say, with a glut of great acts every night of the week.

We at Beat Research are doing our part by bringing back to town the inimitable DJ /Rupture —

Since he’s not exactly a stranger to Boston or to Beat Research, /Rupture has promised to deliver a “special set” for the TGTHR massive. What’s that gonna sound like? Your guess is as good as mine. Rest assured it’ll be special; perhaps unlike anything you’ve heard from /Rupture before. Chatting about the set, he made reference to “sandpaper slipmats,” a suggestive metaphor to be sure, and told me he’s aiming at the more experimental side of the “experimental party music” we promote. /Rupture will be working with his classic 3 turntable setup, so that guarantees quite a bit of mixing and mashing. Speaking for myself, I can’t wait to hear what Jace has in store for us, especially given his recent thoughts on noise and negrophonicity. I expect it to be an enchanting kickoff to an exciting week.

[Oh yeah, need I mention — as is always the case with our modest Mondays — that this is FREE?!]

But I also expect, or hope anyway, to make it out of the house on nights other than Monday — an increasing rarity for this father of two young kids. A few of the other gigs I’m hoping to hit include some of my favorite performers/DJs in the whole wide whirled: there’s Kingdom on Tuesday (w/ DJ Rizzla et al.), Dutty Artz bredrin Taliesin on Wed (c/o Kat Fyte, who put tgthr a transnat’l-bass roundup for the week) — and countless others, from Das Racist to Untold, Tim Hecker to DJ Funk to Nicolas Jaar — and that’s just cherry-picking from my own skewed perspective. Gonna be a wicked pissah week, regahdless.

Also, there are a bunch of panels by day, including a workshop from DJ Flack offering “a condensed version of his legendary Beat Research curriculum” as well as a session about genre distinctions (Thursday at noon), moderated by yours truly and featuring Jazzsteppa | Mikey Lee (Coralcola) | Geoff White (Soul Champion) | Ezra Rubin (Kingdom) | James Therrien (Boston8Bit / Castor Pollux) | Sian (Octopus Records) | and George Gayl (Silent Disco). Should be innaresting!

If you’re as tantalized by all the events as I am, you might want to look into getting yourself a rather reasonably priced weeklong pass.

All in TGTHR now!



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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