Wednesday, October 25, 2006

quick recaps

I've been seeing a lot of good music in the Bay these past weeks. Problem is I get home too late and wiped out to mention it. No time now for much in the way of storytelling, but suffice to say a few words:

  • While Kid K was rocking Milwaukee and Chicago, I went to a coupla good parties. A Grime City / Subscience do that brought the ill-ustrious DJ Clever (old friendly face from Boston and then NY, running the totally quality Offshore recordings. The new drum&bass i find interesting these days. Clever played a d&b set offshore-style and then a storming dubstep set following the revitalized Juju who played a tight tight set. This was the day after my own gig with Havocsound, and I saw a few of the same peeps.. a couple of whom were kind enough to come up and say hi and they liked my set. nice1. Anyway the sound system was HUGE and not even turned up all the way most of the night. The place wasn't packed, but enough people there to make it bouncy.

  • the next night I went to another warehousey noisey event - actually a tribute to a member of the tribe who died recently. (j. Planetsize RIP). I was parking on Bayshore (where I saw some proper sideshow action on the way out!). This was truly great musical experience. and a sweetsadfunny vibe at times. My favorite dj of the 5lowershop crew has got to be Megabitch, throwing down a wicked funny combination of 130-140 bpm tunes with lots of nasty bmore, glitchy breaks, other stuff. Nice and eclectic, always changing, and lots of booty action. But everyone up at this gig was ILL. Eustachian utterly destroyed, well, nearly everyone. But the highlight was as usual Duran Duran Duran: the cat both the nicest to talk to, and frickin crazy producer. Actually there was another highlight. We were SOOOO lucky to have Baseck in town, and he played one of his Gameboy sets, which was awesome musically and hella fun to watch. Well, except for the part where he stripped to his boxers, then pulled out his little fireman and played the gameboy with it. erm. things about him I didn't need to know.

  • some weeks later, saw Deadbeat and Richard Devine at Recombinant Media Labs. Holy moly it was the closest thing to a religious experience, not in the mystical way (except in how music gets up in you before you think about it) but really in a social one. The super multi surround sound system, and deadbeats delicious brombips and chks. Everyone was really happy, actively loving the music and the whole experience --people danced because the music was in them, or stood and soaked it in, or wandered around happily checkingout the sound in every part of the space. RD was impressive to watch and unbelievably loud, but it was too nonlinear and yet samey for me, after a while. Loved watching the interface he used. Incomprehensible.

  • the next night saw Hatcha + Youngsta (big up! Hatcha especially is one of the earliest names I associated with that nice formerly a dubby 2step label Tempa) with JuaKali and the Grime City peeps at the upstairs space at Club Six. I was still out of it from the night before. The bad: the sound system up there is truly awful, and an insult to dubstep. the good: the vibe was irrepressible, everyone was excited, and the music i COULD hear was pretty great. Juakali kept up on the mic for 2 hours and it wasn't boring. I wish MC Child would stop bringing Bay Area slang into the grimey MCing, at least stop doing it all backwards. "Are you stupid?" "If you don't know this you're DUMB" is so far the opposite of "Go Stupid! Go Dumb!" Wrongfooting the vibe of the original slang. Also it bums me out when MCs (especially english-style party mcs whose job it is to big up the music and the crowd) start insulting the crowd or telling some they aren't cool enough. (Give me TC Islam's cheezy "you are all superstars" over boston-based MC someone or other "this is for those who KNOW")

  • some weeks later, this past weekend hit up a lovely renegade with Havocsound peeps, 5lowershoppers, and some friendly faces from new york who were in town! Out on the water.. late at night .. they trucked the little sound system out there again. Highlights were the live set with Nic Fit and SOUR, on the crazy sound-making-think with all the lights and cables. It looks like an oldstyle telephone switchboard.


    Usually they are more techno than I like, but this time they kept breaking it up- there were even some basslines! I was happy. Plus it was warm and the ravers' glowsticks made it easier to see. (there was also all this hightech glowing action that made me feel very lo-fi. When I was a raver, all we had were wood and rocks.

Monday, October 16, 2006

oh my gosh oh my gosh

All right. To further complicate the matter discussed below. I post a link to the band I loved the most of any band. Despite the presence of homophobia in one or two song lyrics. but my god what music. And what energy.

And hey, homo or no homo, if you liked boys, whoever you are, you'd like a lot of the hardcore scene. Not to forget: big up the ladies who held up the hardcore scene on all ends. That world was flawed but brilliant. like everyone we love.

there are a few mements I regret missing, through distance in time or location.

Not seeing Bad Brains Live at CBGB was one of them. Here's the ENTIRE show from 1982 online, or you can buy it here from amazon.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

lyrics a go murder dem?

I remember learning about Brian Williamson having been murdered. Some time later, I spoke with a couple good peeps about organizing "fine by me" t-shirts for djs in the electronic music scene, partcicularly for the peeps I know who play ragga samples to an audience that may or may not understand or support them, and some of whom have a pretty twisted concept of authenticity. I fell down on that for a few reasons, although it's in the back of my mind.

I read Direland pretty regularly for updates on the world outside the US, particularly in terms of gay rights. He doesn't write much about music, normally. But a few days ago he republished a piece he wrote about the new Head of J-FLAG (the Jamaica GLBT group) who received an awared from Human Rights Watch and the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network.

One section stood out to me, a description of the scene after Williamson's death by a Human Rights Watch observer - highlighting the power of music to express, reinforce, and validate certain behavior (even if the lyrics are also used metaphorically, at home and abroad, Brian Williamson is not a metaphor).

"Gareth Williams spoke to Gay City News from Montreal, where he had gone last week to receive the International Award for Action on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights given jointly every year by Human Rights Watch and the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. Rebecca Schleifer of Human Rights Watch’s HIV/AIDS program said that Williams was given the award because, “Against enormous odds and at great risk to his own physical safety, Williams has been a courageous campaigner against human rights violations targeting lesbians, gay men, and HIV-positive Jamaicans.”

“Williams” is the gay activist’s organizational pseudonym, necessitated by the fact that his predecessor as J-FLAG’s leader, Brian Williamson, was brutally murdered in his home at the age of 59 in June, 2004 by anti-gay thugs, who mutilated his body with multiple stab wounds. A Human Rights Watch researcher witnessed a joyous crowd that gathered outside Williamson‘s house to celebrate the murder. A smiling man called out, “Battyman he get killed!” (“Battyman” and “batty-bwoy” are Jamaican patois for “faggot”.) Many others celebrated Williamson’s murder, laughing and calling out, “let’s get them one at a time,” “that’s what you get for sin,” “let’s kill all of them.” Some sang “Boom bye bye" ... "

I know I know that it's not only in Jamaica (heck I read fricking Direland every week on Poland, Iran, USA, etc etc), I see all over the place things like this happen.
--standard disclaimer for those into reggae---
I also know that it's not only reggae or lower-class J'cans who validate this stuff, it permeates much of Jamaican society. Homosexuality is illegal there, and prosecuted, with penalties of up to 15 years in prison (and you can imagine how folks arrested for sodomy are protected from further violence in prison. that is, not). Also, both killing (a soudbwoy) and battyman (sometimes informer or just someone you don't like) do have metaphorical meanings broader than their use here. But that doesn't let the lyrics off the hook. Just ask: could you hear this at a celebration of another murder? I don't want to provide that kind of soundtrack.

also, if you want to help J-FLAG, e-mail the organization at Financial contributions may be mailed to: J-FLAG, P.O. Box 1152, Kingston 8, Jamaica, West Indies.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

I swear I don't get everything from boingboing

But today is DAY AGAINST DRM


DRM, of course, allows the owners of copyrights (who are often likely not to be the creators, mind you) to manage both their rights, and also your rights. If they don't want you to exercise your fair use rights, then you won't. Thanks for managing that for us! IF anyone thinks they have a right to remix, sample, mashup or copy - either because it was covered by fair use or because ofa larger claim to that right, well the law is often against you these days, but it used to be technology was on your side. Not with DRM, of course!

and I would like to big up DRM-Free a search engine for music unencumbered with DRM.

as well as a suggestion that you check this site for a list of fun activities

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Who speaks for which culture?

I don't even know what it would mean for the USA to have someone like this in government. (cross posted at the riddim method

Gilberto Gil, Brazilian Minister of Culture:
"It is clear to us that development will only be ensured if there is a balance between intellectual property rights and obligations and the public interest, as had been highlighted by the Ambassador of Argentina, on behalf of the Group of Friends of Development. If such balance is lost we will violate the nature of knowledge itself: we should never forget Thomas Jefferson's words, according to which there would not be any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property than ideas, whose sharing does not necessarily harm anyone..."

It's really exciting that musicians, and musicians with strong community and cultural connections at that, are participating at high levels of government somewhere, and are being represented -- and are representing the concerns of the less-powerful (who coinsidentally often have a different relation to property rights, being so often on the wrong side of them).

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), for those who don't know, is an international body that was initially formed by businesses concerned with protecting their IP worldwide. Its explicit mission was to strengthen IP laws so that they could better profit from them. Because of it claim to expertise, it became an advisor to the UN on issues of IP, despite the fact that it's not only businesses that have an interest in Intellectual Property, and it's not clear that strong IP rights help everyone equally, or don't hurt some that the UN mandate may be to help. In recent years there has been pushback, especially from developing nations, led especially by Brazil and Argentine, who have proposed a Development Agenda for WIPO that requires a lot of other considerations that IP law should take care of. Especially, what "the public interest" means in relation to affixing property rules to non-physical things.

This is hugely important for access to knowledge of all kinds, but the idea of cultural survival and cultural flourishing also should raise questions for everyone - does culture grow and spread because (or despite the fact that) artists have the option to collect royalties on their work when their contracts so allow it? what is necessary for a musical culture to be healthy - especially, in this case, what has been the relation to law and IP law in particular, that allows culture to flourish?

Maybe we need more free beer?