Sunday, February 21, 2010

Music of 2009

I’m just going to put some lists (NOT IN ORDER) out there, music I've been feelin over the past year.

These are things that are released or that I got my hands on in 2009. I play a lot of tracks that are older, and at some point I should shout ot those stalwarts in the collection, but I'm trying to stick to a theme here.

Folks whose music I love and rocked the dancefloor unstoppably, who I learned about or gained a new love for in 2009:
  1. Schlachthofbronx – Oh man, perfect party music
  2. Taal Mala – out of Canada, making some of my favorite dancefloor movers for the dubstep style
  3. Grievous Angel - some of my favorite takes on UK Funky come from him
  4. Ku Bo - continuing with that witchy minimal tropical shuffle sound
  5. Kush Arora - Surya Dub crew, forging his own sound in several directions at once
  6. Sully (hoorah for the return of the 2step!)
  7. Akira Kiteshi
  8. Bunji Garlin - one of the most fun vocalists out of the caribbean.
  9. Kill Frenzy - I think it's Belgium does Juke?
  10. Soundcloud discoveries: Flore, Gizmode, Ghost Hack, Sa’bat sound, Dmoefunk, blnd!

Tunes at the top of the playlist
  1. Sarantis feat. Honey Brown “Fall in Love”
  2. Murderbot feat Hawatha Hurd, “Roll another one”
  3. Babylon System “Get on up”
  4. Process Rebel vs. Sinead O’Connor “Vampire Booty Stepper”
  5. Robot Koch remixing Doshy
  6. Busy Signal “Up in her Belly” (Magalenha riddim)
  7. L-Vis 1990 remix of Untold’s “Anaconda”
  8. Boy 8-bit remix of South Rakkas Crew’s “Mad Again”
  9. Ale Fillman Skanker remix of Outrun “8 Bit Spliff”
  10. Reso’s Aguardiente remix of Buraka Som Sistema “Kalemba”
  11. Octa Push "Ai Nadia"
  12. Gizmode "Crackstep"

Stuff (Albums & mixes) I played at home and out and about
  1. Roots Uprising album – really solid fun UK Digital roots from the Reggae Roast ceew. Great vocals. Diverse styles. Super nice people throwing great parties in London, what’s not to love?
  2. King Midas Sound - the latest from The Bug/Kevin Martin with incredible mystery and dreamlike vocals
  3. Disrupt - jahtari continues to lay down 8bit roots
  4. Clive Hunt and the Dub Dancers - discovered in JA, published in France. Deep!
  5. Ras G - My favorite of this sort of psychedelic thing
  6. Filastine - nomad bass abounds in his mixes and albums
  7. Unsoundbwoy - australian stormer -check his lizardstyle mix!
  8. Foundation Stepper - Australian roots providers
  9. Dr. Auratheft's "Jamaican Soul Jazz Originals" mix. as on the label, lovely..
  10. Lowdjo - balkanotropical mixes galore!

festivals, scholars, djs, fun!

The CHAT Festival, Festival on the Hill and colloquium on the Art & Culture of the DJ were all a resounding success, as far as I’m concerned.

Big big ups go to Prof. Mark Katz for organizing the Hill/Symposium part (alongside Prof. Stephen Anderson, who I don't think I met). It was an impressive series of performances and talks!
I didn’t take the time to mention, before I left, what an amazing honor it was for me to be on a lineup alongside the people I think of as truly great scholars of modern music, Oliver Wang, Mark Butler (who wrote this fascinating book) and Rayvon Fouche – all of them seriously impressive scholars, sharp dressers, and great public speakers. I thought I did all right fashion-wise, but O-dub sure is a tough act to follow! I’m getting the hang of it now (after a pretty stiff start a few years ago), but it was a pleasure to watch them all present both because of their different but equally effective styles of research and presentation and because it was all so darn interesting.

I was impressed with the continuity and interplay between all of our talks. Even though they were informed by very different bodies of scholarship – Oliver was sociology and social history, I was law & society, Mark was musicology, and Rayvon was science & technology studies, we all managed to depict fascinating, dynamic moments of musical engagement through our chosen projects. Oliver’s talk, drawn from his forthcoming book, was about the Filipino-American mobile disco scene in the Bay Area (from which the impressive dominance of Filipino-American scratch djs arose). I talked about the participatory, dynamic, interactive practice of music as embodied in Jamaican soundsystems and street dances. Mark talked (from HIS forthcoming book about improvisation, technology and music) about how djs take supposedly fixed objects like musical recordings and render them fluid with improvisatory interactive techniques (illustrated by musical analysis and a close examination of a section from a truly mindblowing DVD of  Jeff Mills djing live…who’d a thunk one man and 3 turntables would be so mesmerizing to watch—and I don’t even follow techno!). Rayvon talked about how the words/concepts “digital” and “analog” when applied to recordings and technology are used as stand-ins for a set of positions around authenticity, paying your dues, nostalgia, and race.

And to top it all off –who showed up at dinner but the ill-ustrious Jeff Chang! Rounding out the lineup of great scholars of modern popular/dance music. (Well, for my dream dinner, Wayne shoulda been there, and a few others too..)

Anyway it was an amazing experience, very inspiring. The panel discussion on Wednesday was also great, especially because I got to meet Jennifer Jenkins, a former copyright litigator now of the Center of the Study of the Public Domain at Duke, and even more excitingly the co-author of a fun and useful comic book (yes, comic book) on copyright law and documentary film. Well worth reading even if you are not a film-maker (and they walk the walk - it's available for free online as well as being a delightful physical object for sale). I learned some great news from her after – that they are working on a comic book on music as well. So cool! The rest of the panel was quite interesting as well, and I was gratified to find that even the folks who might be expected to represent more established interests (folks representing publishers and artists with large back catalogs, for example), had their eyes firmly on the future, which didn’t seem to involve a focus on exclusive rights over recordings or a system that requires suing music fans for thousands of dollars. I hope the industry as a whole is as wise!

And then I was lucky enough to be able to DJ alongside two great djs and all-round great folk, One Duran and Yugen.. these stalwarts are responsible for for more good music and dancing in Chapel Hill than anyone, I think. And we had a little throwdown at a bar/restaurant that ended up going well past 2am with people refusing to leave the dancefloor until the last ounce of sound was squeezed out of the system and the owner put his foot down. It was a great crowd of dancing peeps, and big thanks to my hosts for making it happen!
But I still haven’t even gotten to the post I have been planning to make, which is about the music I have been feeling these days. Maybe even my favorite music of 2009. I know it’s almost the end of February, but it’s never too late, right? That's up next..

Monday, February 15, 2010

#musicblogocide 1

After writing this piece in 2008 about a previous wave of takedowns of music blogs by Blogger(google), things seemed to die down. Many bloggers moved their sites to other hosts, others did not. Music blogs continued being an amazing resource and site of musical engagement for thousands of people, but perhaps some were slightly chastened by the possibility of their work (collecting, juxtaposing, commenting, analyzing, reporting and transmitting), or maybe we should call it their sites for public engagement with music, vanishing, often without warning.

And then it seemed to all start up again last week. I noticed it because one of my favorite sites, Masalacism, vanished as I was reading it.

Masalacism is a perfect example of music-making, in that the blog is part of the conditions for my favorite music, it creates the possibility of audience for/creation of music variously rooted in geographically and socially distant scenes.

I'm talking about music as a social practice, not music as a recording or a particular moment frozen in time or on paper. Masalacism makes music involving actors from all over the world, it draws them together and opens lines of communication between people, places, scenes, who might not get to know of each other in any other way.  This is some of the best music-making there is, in my opinion. I love the specific &local, juxtaposed with other specific & local, to make a kind of conversation between localities and experiences, when music does this well, it also does this for the bodies &minds of people involved, bringing them into conversation or dance with each other, physically or mentally or both. Which is part of saving the world, kind of, or at least getting us there.

So anyway, Masalacism went down, alongside many other blogs, many of whom explicitly said they were attempting to follow the mostly-idiotic legal rules. And this in the face of record labels at least contradicting themselves and at most lying outright about whether they were giving with one hand and suing with the other. And now it is back up! With an apology from google, no less.

but even so, this isn't a sign that the system works. The problem here isn't google so much as it is the law, specifically the DMCA, which puts google at risk of huge lawsuits if it doesn't mess with music bloggers, basically, and puts the burden on bloggers to file counternotices when the law might not back them up.

Two things come to mind today:

1) not the ridiculousness of intellectual property, but in fact the importance of physical property. Yes, the law should be changed to allow broader public, artistic and literary engagement with intellectual property (and limiting IP's scope explicitly), but it also would help to have our own servers and ISPs, no? spread out the lines of defense some.

2) what most music bloggers I read favor over threats & counternotices, is real human interaction with artists. Many folk put up "if you have a problem with this song being up here, let me know and I'll take it down." What I like about this is that it puts the burden on copyright owners to engage with the very people they are supposedly trying to reach - the people who engage with the copyrighted stuff. That engagement is necessary for all kinds of reasons, but especially because it reinforces the social nature of music. We're not talking about an object in any meaningful sense, we are talking about recordings which are elements of a total musical experience which involves playing, listening, singing along and dancing, thinking about, remembering, talking about, repeating, etc etc etc. So conversations about what happens with recordings contribute to the meaningfulness of the musical experience.

Of course the problem is that most copyright holders aren't human, they are corporations. The Future of Music Coalition attempts to address this in its discussion of principles for compensation, in which they assume that there is something beyond copyright law that should give artists some rights with respect to some works they contribute to. I'm not sure what that something is, but there is also something out there that should give the public (including artists) some right to engage in an active way with the music they encounter (to say nothing of the music that is shoved down our throats by advertising, commercial radio, etc). Many music bloggers recognize both sides of this. The law should as well. But in the meantime, the law of physical property, or just flat out physical control, of servers might be a good option to look into...

>>edited to add, some other good discussion of this at
(with great quotes from Masalacism blogger himself!)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

peeking! Chapel Hill represent!

I've been up in the air for so many months, touching down for gigs & links with lovely peoples here and there, but sadly remiss on blogging. A full, "welcome-to-2010" post, with a lot of music in it will come by next weekend, I plan to write it on the road next week. Yes, still on the road.

Next week, Wednesday-Saturday I will be speaking at two events at the Collaborations: Humanities Arts and Technology festival at the University of North Carolina.

Wednesday, I'm on a panel entitled "Music and New Media" where I am alongside an interesting roster of people including the awesome Professor J. Jenkins, co-author of a fantastic comic book explaining (c) law for documentary filmmakers (and it's worth reading for anyone curious about the limits and idiocies of 21st century copyright law enforcement).

Friday, I'm part of a "Festival on the Hill" event on the Art And Culture of the DJ, alongside illustrious folks like O-dub and and the event features a lot of great musical workshops and performances. And to top it all off, I'm djing, courtesy of the fantastic One Duran and Yugen -  that night!

BUSTED! Presents a night of tropical bass, dubstep, glitch, UK funky house, and other low-end music.

Friday, Feb 19th
10pm til 2am
@ Fuse, Chapel Hill
No cover!

Meanwhile, big big BIIIIIIG thanks to the Slayers Club for throwing down another amazing party at Club 6... King Cannibal did the slaying, with Nastynasty and the Slayers Club Djs sharpshooting alongside and GhostBeard did the cleanup. I did my bit as best I could for the dancing peoples on the early side. Such a nice vibe in there, Club 6 has many happy memories as the home of Surya Dub for two years (the bouncers remembered me, and bigged up my djing, which coming from the captive audience who hear a LOTTA djs, made me feel pretty good). So good, people, good place, good sounds all around.. Slayers club brings quality, every time!

and on the latenight side, Monsters of Love blew up as always. Extra hollas to the folks providing coconut water at the bar. This should be a staple of all bars. But especially at after-hours latenight warehouse parties. And the music was stormin, just caught some killah sets by one of my favorites: Amandroid, the demonic Venkman, and a live PA by someone called... foxfire? fox something. She was great. I also was lucky enough to play a screaming breakcore-mashup-ragga-dubcore-sissybounce-jungle-dancehall-robocumbia-dubstep-glitch-bailefunk-booty set later in the morning.. thanks to everyone in it for the long haul..