Monday, May 31, 2010

Abstract Index Playlist - May 27/10

The vibe has changed.

Three weeks into my new time slot (and already behind on blogging) I'm starting to get used to my new digs.

Being neighbours with Jason Palma is wonderful. we really have a lot in common jazz-wise, and talking with him has spurred me to dig out more avant-soul-jazz than I'd been playing recently. Not surprisingly, I've also noticed that many other albums sound better at night than in the evening.

John Kameel Farah's Unfolding is one of them. Its fiendishly complex layers of keyboards, hand percussion and breaks take some time to appreciate, and probably didn't make their best impression when I played the disc during the dinner hour. But drop that shit at 10PM, and it's no wonder a happy listener called up to rave about it.

This has been one of my favourite Canadian releases of the past year, and as the title implies, I keep finding new avenues to explore within the dense sound. As the tags at the bottom of the post say: "electronics, Middle East, jazz/improv, 21st century composition" all collide with a purpose. I'm going to vote for it on my first round of Polaris Prize balloting.


vala izwe - big voice jack (motella)
purity - music revelation ensemble (diw)
untitled/fantastic - suite for ma dukes orchestra rmx. by georgia anne muldrow (mochilla)
procisao - tamba trio (universal)
charade - the quincy jones orchestra feat roland kirk (emarcy)
expanse - john kameel farah (dross:tik)
8 mile road - the asphalt rmx by juju & jordash (deep explorer)
afro punk reggae - steel an skin (em)
chance (dub) - cobblestone jazz (k7)
bastard - high tone (jarring effects)
dj lillemor - band ane (jenga)
thoda resham lagta hai - lata mangeshkar rmx by daniel haaksman (man recordings)
back at caligari's - andrew downing (black hen)
limnoid pt 2 - aidan baker (alien 8)
restoration - the acorn rmx by four tet (paper bag)
underground - loop 2.4.3 (music starts from silence)
know love - twin roots (trojan)
whispering dub - skatalites (motion)
girl i love you - keeling beckford (hit)
spacing out - the invaders (duane)
rollin' home - dr. music (grt)
yes - cinister cee (neferiu)
loulou - orchestre african all stars international (albarika store)
can't get used to those - dimlite (afterlude)

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Abstract Index Playlist - May 20/10

There's a lot to say about Janelle Monae.

First up, read my piece at Exclaim for the June issue.

I was extremely impressed with her, or at least with her phone manner. She was very professional, but frequently went off script into concise but illuminating asides. That's not a bad metaphor for the album. It's a polished major-label release with fascinating and well-developed tangents.

At its heart is the concept adapted from Metropolis. Though Monae told me she hadn't researched the various remakes of the movie, hers is both a departure from the usual themes associated with it, as well as a strong reaffirmation. Basically, she attaches perspectives of race and gender to a story of workers and elites. With that as the lyrical focus to the album, she explores many different flavours of future soul, psychedelia and pop. And it all comes out well - from neo-folk interludes to gurgling guitar solos which actually feel appropriate to her overall vision rather than a cheap add on.

So many different ideas come up within the space of one song. Take the single "Tightrope" (have you seen the Letterman performance by now?). The lyrics are deep on many levels. First, there's the infectious wordplay with its rapping cadences to draw the listener into the song and dig in to the message. The message itself - whether you're high or low, you're always walking on a tightrope, because that's what 'the machine' wants from you - is something you might find in punk, metal or 'conscious' hip hop lyrics, but certainly not in most egregiously self-aggrandizing, status-seeking, product-placing, party-starting pop music (of which her parent label Bad Boy has released more than its fair share). Is she referring to the entertainment industry/society's expectations of women? Black Americans? Or just her character, the android 'Cindi Mayweather' in the four part Metropolis saga? Either way, the song is brilliant as music that moves the story along and on its own as a terrific JB-infused pop song. And that's before the ukulele break (don't think Fritz Lang ever had that in mind with the movie...) whose chord changes strongly suggest samba, one aspect of a great range of global musical influences on The ArchAndroid, along with a bit of Afrobeat, references to different eras of reggae, Eastern European prog, ye olde English folk and orchestral touches.

I keep thinking about comparing it to Purple Rain when listening to it; except Prince was several years into his career by the time he put it all together into a mass-market friendly style of individuality. The fact that this fully developed sci-fi concept is the debut album by a black woman on a very mainstream label is simply remarkable. If Lady Gaga is supposed to be the standard for boundary pushing dance music today, Monae whups her ass by being more eclectic, more ambitious, more accomplished, writing better lyrics and above all being a better singer by far. And she's got a kickass crown designed by the guy who built the Iron Man suit.


mra - brotherhood of breath (rca neon)
assunta - zane massey (delmark)
and when to come back - harris eisenstadt (clean feed)
fadeen to - bako dagnon (discograph)
dub for cascadia - locsil (kranky)
dub y guaguanco - flowering inferno (tru thoughts)
guiyome - konono no. 1 (crammed)
atou - youssou n'dour & super etoile de dakar (no label)
lotis - menwar (no label)
balkumbia - balkan beat box vs. sub swara (no label)
avante me fante - mahala rai banda (asphalt tango)
trouble - citizen sound (balanced)
dance or die - janelle monae feat. saul williams (wondaland arts/bad boy)
you - funkineven (eglo)
dance with me - twilight (luv n haight)
lucifer went to church - afrobutt (electric minds)
africa - dub all sense meets abassi all stars (universal egg)
peace and love - dubmatix feat linval thompson rmx by nate wize (7 arts)
the promised land - nas & damian marley (republic)
dub fire - aswad (mango)
heads of government - leroy sibbles (attic)
roots radics rockers reggae - bunny wailer (shanachie)
palo bonito - katunga (arcando)
cabo de vela - tatico hernandez (discolando)
el tembleque - panchitron/sonido mundial mix (no label)
boiling over - kush arora (no label)
sinian dub - tassilli players (universal egg)

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Abstract Index Playlist - May 13/10

Early 2010 has yielded some particularly great music, and I'm fortunate to have had the chance to interview the artists behind some of my favourite records thus far. This past week brought the interview with Flying Lotus, and recently posted at is my interview/review with Gonjasufi - a fellow traveler of West Coast bass-ways. FlyLo contributes a couple of productions to A Sufi And A Killer, but this album is a murderous showcase for the Gaslamp Killer's harsh re-edits. It's a trip through the recesses of the Finders Keepers and Normal/QDK style of global psychedelic curation. Gonjasufi's vocals are part tuned sandpaper and part wavering falsetto; always skirting the edge of coherence and focus. This blown-out, analog, and defiantly proggy music can stand next to the most energetic beats and keep the momentum going with the truly hallucinogenic effect it provokes.


children of today - burning spear (burning sounds)
at the klinik - daniel blomquist (sutemos)
nite after dub - clive hunt and the dub dancers (believe)
alza la manos - el remolon (zzk)
jumeirah riddim sequel - sticky (mixpak)
361 degrees - kenlo craqnuques (no label)
whores: the movie - el-p (def jux)
dust - gonjasufi (warp)
no contact... contact - clutchy hopkins (ubiquity)
sacatelo bailando - grupo fantasma (airesol)
cachubembe - fruko y sus tesos (vampisoul)
ochimini - francisco aguabella (cubop)
gossiping - shadow (caribbean music group)
keep the vibes pumping - jigsy king/south rakkas crew (no label)
fire singer - dennis brown (tuff gong)
mmmhmmm - flying lotus feat thundercat (warp)
coi technology pavillion - john baker (trunk)
new years yves - nomoreshapes (drip audio)
the bath - the rent (ambiances magnetiques)
il cielo una stanza - mike patton (ipecac)
sweet power your embrace - james mason (soul brother)
the love i lost - harold melvin and the blue notes re-edit by dimitri from paris (bbe)
techno rumba - chief boima rmx by uproot andy (dutty artz)
glitch feisty rub - bonjay vs emvee (no label)

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Friday, May 07, 2010

Abstract Index Playlist - May 5/10

How better than to mark my transition to a new timeslot than saying a few words about Flying Lotus?

Like many people, I'm utterly blown away by Cosmogramma, FlyLo's new album. It exemplifies the very best of what I enjoy about music, and doing the radio show: combining beats and freedom, smoothness with roughness, and an ebb and flow of tempo.

He talks like that too. On Thursday, I'm going to air a portion of the conversation I had with Mr. Stephen Ellison for my debut Thursday show. It was inspiring to speak with him; he's not doing a ton of press for this record, and he sounds awed by life right now. He can't believe his good luck, his situation in L.A. which sees him supported by a community of abstract beat-seekers, and most of all his state of mind is bubbling over with creativity and a need to express it. It's one of those conversations that renews one's faith in music; although I will say that the energy of this interview is better suited to 11PM than a 7PM broadcast.

This interview produced this article. That runs down the story, and my impressions of the album, but you should run out and get this for yourself. The many Hendrix comparisons he's engendered are absolutely valid in that it is so rare that a work of such abstraction to have such widespread appeal.


la chiquita esa - jorge lopez ruiz (chango)
multidimensional - the rent (ambiances magnetiques)
we find our way in - robin crutchfield (important)
recoiled - flying lotus (warp)
plastic memory - mr. beatnick (apple juice breaks)
baobab connect - chief boima (dutty artz)
can i be yours? - tanika charles (no label)
cruising down sunset - the 4th dimension (jazzman)
mulatu - mulatu astatke (strut)
klowds - gonjasufi (warp)
get down - minotaurs (saved by vinyl)
bowls - caribou (domino)
very big in america right now - voice of authority (on-u sound)

DJ Ripley

Power ends where resistance starts - disrupt (Jahtari)
Warning Warning max romeo (Black World)
Heads a go roll - Max Romeo (Black World)
Dance of the Vampires - Scientist (Greensleeves)
Baptized by dub rmx - fleck (Unreleased)

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