Thursday, September 27, 2007

Brotzmannia '07 Continues...

The October issue of Exclaim! is out, and my main contributions this month should be familiar to regular readers of this blog.

The first piece is an interview/review on the new album by Extra Golden, utilizing quotes from the Alex Minoff interview of a few weeks ago.

Even more exciting for me is a "Front Five" blurb on Peter Brotzmann's Machine Gun, accompanied by the complete transcript of an interview done with Herr Brotzmann himself. He was charming and affable over the phone, in contrast to his usually fiery persona on record. But his fire does not lurk far below the surface, as the interview demonstrates in a few key spots. All improvisers can learn a great deal from this record, and from Brotzmann's life experiences.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Abstract Index Playlist - Sept 19/07

The most on-point lautari band of them all, Tarf De Haidouks first recorded for the always-adventurous Crammed Discs in 1993. Their technical agility leavened with a bit of skronk, their impassioned singing and their sense of adventure has always been a hallmark. Last year's live disc The Continuing Adventures Of Taraf De Haidouks had all that and then some. I suppose somebody within or around the group asked the question "what's next?" as an artistic challenge.

Maskarada takes on the orientalization tactics of European classical composers, and "re-gypsyfies" them. It's an intriguing intellectual concept, but the execution is lacking. The band sounds oddly restrained until the inevitable "go time" as a piece climaxes. Some composers, such as Bela Bartok and Aram Khachaturian fare better due to their individual styles meshing better with the dense Taraf sound. Other tracks are unbearable, and represent the worst kind of musical in-joke. Bottom line is, they can't, or don't like, to play it 'straight' - right down to some cringe- inducing intonation.

Maskarada is mostly unsuccessful - however with a few kickass tracks. It's got to be difficult to adapt to new artistic challenges when you're a dozen or more players with distinctive instrumentation like cymbalom and accordion, but this experiment didn't really work out. Personally I think they should consider slowing down the pace and putting something out on Constellation.

Taraf De Haidouks Myspace feat. "Ostinato And Romanian Dance"

if you don't work, you can't eat - bobby byrd (king)
i'm a free man - freddie mckay (studio one)
soul of a village pt 2 - joe zawinul (atlantic)
taming the shrew - skerik's syncopated taint septet (hyena)
kidnapped - roy nathanson (aum fidelity)
ostinato and romanian dance - taraf de haidouks (crammed)
sebo psoriatic psongs - gypsy dance (independent)
celebrating new - torngat (alien 8)
ca la breaza - toni iordache (asphalt tango) check the YouTube clip!
once through - steve lantner trio (riti)
1/4 d'heure de culture metaphysique - sao paris (f communications)
flight in dub (dj cil mix) - love trio feat. u roy (nublu)
hera ma nono - extra golden (thrill jockey)
shut me mouth - ranking dread (greensleeves)
we're in this love together - dreamband feat. hermina george (independent)
dis ya a dub - bullwackies all stars (wackies)
i'm not crazy - don carlos/sinbad (greensleeves)
deception - ticklah feat. vinia mojica (easy star)
crash and dub - echo (inthachamber)

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Nadja Interview

Tomorrow's radio show will feature a conversation with Aidan Baker aka Nadja (and more...). He'll be performing, like so many musicians and artists in this city, on Nuit Blanche, coming up this Saturday the 29th. 1116 King West will be the location - one rife with multisensory potential - and Nadja will be throwing down the drone from 4-7AM. The new album drops on Alien 8 next month.

On the subject of interviews, if you enjoyed the X Avant Festival conversation with Jonny Dovercourt and David Daniell a few weeks back, please go here to check out the results of the Music Gallery performance of Daniell's Sunfish.

UPDATE: Despite my spectacularly inarticulate interviewing style on the show last night, Aidan is up for lending a sonic hand on Radio Blanche, live and direct from his gig on King St.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Radio Blanche - An All Night Contemporary Radio Thing!

Feelin' lazy so here's the press release:

On Nuit Blanche, Saturday September 29, it’s going to be carte blanche on CIUT-FM.

CIUT-FM, Toronto’s leading campus community radio station, has brought 20 years of boundary-pushing programming to the airwaves of the Greater Toronto Area. On Saturday September 29, join CIUT from 10PM until 7AM the following day for a very special, experimental broadcast to coincide with the second edition of Toronto’s all-night art happening, Nuit Blanche.

CIUT will present a fluid, ever-changing exploration of rhythm and sound. Utilizing all three studios in CIUT headquarters and an outdoor stage, live musicians will combine with DJing and dub mixing to create a sonic maelstrom. Wherever you are on Nuit Blanche, tune in to CIUT – it’s the largest-scale event of the night!

Confirmed so far are:

The Irie Band (powerhouse contemporary roots dub)
Glissandro 70 (Afridelic Arthur Russell disciples)
Timber Timbre (roots-infused call and response sound looping system)
John Kameel Farah - keyboards
Colin Fisher – saxophone, electric guitar
Nilan Perera- electric guitar, mixology
Ravi Naimpally – tabla, percussion
Steve Birek (of CIUT’s “Electric Sound Basement”) – mixology

…and more to come!

And your ringmaster, the host of “Abstract Index” Wednesdays 6-8 PM, David Dacks, DJing and mixology.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Alex Minoff Interview - Sept. 19 - 7PM - Abstract Index radio show

I recently spoke with Alex Minoff a guitarist/vocalist with Benga-rock band Extra Golden. I blogged about their first disc, and I wasn't alone. Somewhat improbably, they have a new album, thanks to good fortune and subtle political persuasion which enabled the reunion of the Kenyan members of the band and their American mates. They toured together and spent 5 days in a remote house in Pennsylvania to cut Hera Ma Nono. Minoff sounded pleased about Extra Golden's state of affairs throughout our conversation as we talked about his many life-changing experiences bound up in this collaboration.

As usual, the interview will air at 7PM Eastern time at 89.5FM in Toronto and at on the web.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Abstract Index Playlist - Sept 12/07

Victor Axelrod aka Ticklah has been a tireless advocate of reggae music in NYC, as well as being associated with the Antibalas/Daptone constellation for many years. Through his involvement with the Easy Star All Stars magnum opi Dub Side Of The Moon and Radiodread, his own star has risen somewhat. Further success was achieved with his participation on Amy Winehouse's smash album. Ticklah vs. Axelrod is certainly the best reggae-oriented album he’s delivered to date. Firmly influenced by the great early 80s rhythms of the Roots Radics in Jamaica, these spare, space-echoed workouts more than capture fine grooves, they are excellent songs. The first vocal cut featuring Tamar-Kali (a Radiodread vocalist) is the smoky, sexy “Want Not” which mutates into the Scientist-inspired dubscapes that dominate this album. The connection of Jamaican music to Latino rhythms (particularly neighbouring Cuban styles) has existed from the foundation of JA pop, and many tracks from this album see Ticklah successfully fuses the Don Drummond's trombone legacy with serious NuYorican charts overtop of the same driving rhythms. With no songs reaching the five minute mark, Ticklah's songwriting economy sets these catchy, original tunes apart from other early 80s inspired minimalist riddims.

Ticklah - Scratch To Win

saft - lucas niggli zoom meets arte quartet (intakt)
sketches of nyc - nublu orchestra (nublu)
small king of taungbyone - taungbyone min lay (sublime frequencies)
tinerete, tinerete - romica puceanu feat. toni iordache (asphalt tango)
symmetry pt. 1 - open house (indie)
space spy - grachan moncur (bbe)
prayer - burial (hyperdub)
untitled beginnings - mo magic (indian electronica)
slow dancing - robert strauss (bbe)
minute by minute - torngat (alien 8)
eu e voce - antonio adolfo (far out)
sunfish - david daniell (xeric/table of the elements)
warrior dub - michael rose (m)
clint eastwood - shawn lee's ping pong orchestra (ubiquity)
scratch to win - ticklah (easy star)
cop's spy - dennis brown feat prince jammy (blood and fire)
don't go pretending - mikey dangerous (mboss)
be humble - wicked beat sound system (guidance)
natty ting a ling pt. 2 - brentford disco set (soul jazz)
feel like jumping pt. 2 - marcia griffiths

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Abstract Index Playlist - Sept 5/07

In my continuing quest to find music with everything on it (sometimes it leads to heartburn), I've been getting some good mileage out of the crazy new disc from A_Dontigny on the consistently boundary-pushing Notype label out of Montreal. Eric Hill's review in Exclaim magazine does a nice job in summing up what's going on - well realized illbient (and faster...) beats quickly dissolving into puddles of electronic goo, where the decay of electric pianos is as important as any of the notes being played. Beautifully constructed sounds remain beautiful as they are smudged across multiple frequencies and the stereo spectrum. If you're a Plunderphonics fan, you'll find much to enjoy here, although I find Dontigny's work to be even more unsettling because it's hard to discern the overall mood of a pieces - he works hard to make sure our cultural assumptions regarding choices of notes, rhythms and compositional techniques are always kept off balance. Not that John Oswald didn't (during that phase of his long career) but I always find myself laughing at "Dab" or "Pocket" while admiring its mutant compositional style rather than reaching for the Tums out of a sense of disorientation. But, hey, a little ganja will take care of any musically induced queasiness - it is the way of the Index.
tulsa black - cecil mcbee (strata east)
auto retrato em tripas de cachorro - satanique samba trio (amplitude)
acrobat - drumheller (rat drifting)
firebirds - prince lasha and sonny simmons (contemporary)
minor figure - geordie haley's delta east trio (indie)
aeiou - konono no. 1 (crammed)
oblemou - gangbe brass band (harmonia mundi)
james brown ride on - orlando julius (vampisoul)
yeah yeah ku yeah - bokoor band (otrabanda)
hey ya! - shawn lee's ping pong orchestra (ubiquity)
cathedral of light - william parker (aum fidelity)
bird song - robin fox & clayton thomas (room 40)
tidying up after - mike hansen (etude)
all-over - a_dontigny (notype)
horton - low in the sky (pattern based)
dub darvish - joshua penman (lua)
80 creeps - teledubgnosis (wordsound)
dervish - the dub project (M)
nature lover dub - ticklah (easy star)
another one bites the dust - clint eastwood and general saint (greensleeves)

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Dub Is A Many Splendoured Thing

At long last, an article that I've worked on for months - entitled Dub Voyage - is out this month in Exclaim.

The worldwide popularity of reggae's offshoots continues unabated - from roots sounds, to dancehall and in this case dub. The article identifies the key components of dub and how they've journeyed from their origins to have direct and abstract influences throughout the world of popular music. There are a world of issues to be explored, too, so I decided to focus on the paths outward while leaving out more detailed analysis of race, class and economics. Now that this article is done, I can't wait to read Michael Veal's "Dub: Soundscapes and Shattered Songs in Jamaican Reggae" which devotes several hundred pages to these issues which I could only touch on in 3000 words.

Hopefully, full transcripts of the interviews with King Jammy and Deadbeat will be available at the Exclaim website soon.

Dub is truly special music - and a special process - that has been one of my guiding inspirations for 25 years of musical activity. Hope you like the article.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Abstract Index Playlist - August 22/07


I'm tempted to leave it at that when discussing the legendary, just-reissued Machine Gun.

This recording blew the lid offa European jazz. Alex Von Schlippenbach's Globe Unity Orchestra (which included future Can drummer Jaki Liebezeit) had been making some serious rumblings before captivated audiences for a couple of years. But this recording by Brotzmann's group, featuring 3 tenor saxes (incl. Evan Parker and Willem Breuker!!!) throttling out at 110% is about as perfect a free jazz workout as it comes.

I hardly ever use the word "perfect" when describing freely improvised music (which this is not, BTW) but this is one of those rare occasions where everyone is on fire, and not a note is wasted. In the 'head' sections, the band plays with frightening unison, or at least unity of purpose. The crescendos and turnarounds are masterfully executed - the liner notes by Atavistic curator John Corbett namecheck Lionel Hampton's band and Illinois Jacquet as forbears, and at times this is quite apparent, but not at all in a traditional sense. Perhaps the closing groove section strays closest into something approaching 'soulfulness'. But throughout, everyone's playing their asses off, especially the literally feverish Han Bennink on drums, thus 'soul' is hardly in question. The unbearably fierce proto-punk energy is complemented by the clattery recording, expanded only slightly in the sensitive remastering job.

This will be the best chance for a mass audience to access this landmark recording, together with alternate takes and live material.

The Peter Brotzmann Octet - The Complete Machine Gun Sessions

machine gun - peter brotzmann (unheard music series)
ilme - aygul ulkenbaeva (smithsonian folkways)
tumbao - mofungo (aagoo)
crowding into the behavioral space - a_dontigny (no type)
under siege - nublu orchestra feat butch morris (nublu)
remove ya - nudge (kranky)
apache - 17 hippies (tyfoo)
el balaju - mona bell (vampisoul)
el guapo - los diablos rojos (barbes)
si para usted - grupo monumental (waxing deep)
we know we have to live together - eugene blacknell (luv and haight)
yellow ribbon - atons (numero)
baba - oumou sangare (world circuit)
voice of chunk - lounge lizards (milan)
dagmar nao tova nao - wax poetic feat. otto (nublu)
maresia - monica freire (audiogram)
no government - nicolette rmx. by plaid (talkin loud)
linda munequita - los hijos del sol (barbes)
want not - ticklah feat. tamar-kali (easy star)
give another israel a try - barry brown (greensleeves)
ethiopia - jah beng (indie)
i'll be around version - sound dimension (soul jazz)
zimbabwe - soul syndicate (heartbeat)

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