ILM's 2005 collaborative mix project hoonja-doonja!

September 12, 2005

Our journey is complete.

September 07, 2005

Beaver Harris / Don Pullen 360 ° Experience - Gorée

From Brazil we make the transatlantic journey and land on the island of Gorée, the westernmost point of Africa and former center of the slave trade. This excerpt combines two separate segments from the full 17 minute piece.

September 05, 2005

Hilary Duff - The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room

There was a time in 20th century American history when the Polynesian Chinese restaurant was all the rage. In stark contrast to today's no-nonsense, decorless noodle shops, the Polynesian Chinese restaurant was high tack, all lipstick-red carpeting and brass statues of fire-breathing dragons. Some restaurants had aquariums with exotic fish; some had pebble-strewn fountains adorning the dining area. The food never strayed particularly far from your parents' American-Chinese favorites, but there might have been a pineapple ring on the plate, to satisfy the "Polynesian" requirement.

As I was growing up, these places were dying out. 1980s restaurantgoers found the caricaturishness offensive, and they wanted their experience to be guilt-free (if not completely unassimilated).

The same was happening with the Disney brand around this time. And although Disney took at least another decade to become synonymous with baptism-by-Noxema, its science project EPCOT Center was chipping away at the spirit that made the eponymous Anaheim park so iconic: its warped sense of adventure, its passion for surrealist children's-fiction, and its thirdhand knowledge of the far-flung.

Hilary Duff's Tiki room isn't one of rumbling, soundstagey Arthur Lyman- like war drums, or menacing monolith monsters with wide eyes frozen open in stone. Hers is a fake authenticity that builds on the premise of an older fake authenticity, while removing the scary edges. And since her very young demographic doesn't come equipped with reference-knowledge of Easter Island and mid-century cod-kitsch and so on, the multiple levels of removal are meaningless to them.

But in a way, their cognitive tabula rasa puts them at an advantage over me; they're free to come up with a whole new arsenal of ridiculous constructs.

September 01, 2005

Dry & Heavy - Dawn Is Breaking

A new obsession of mine is dub. I stumbled headlong into the music through my best friend's band and found the love crystallized when I befriended some DJs heavily into dub, dancehall, and roots reggae. I have plenty of not-so-fond memories of the music. Growing up, my neighbors were notorious for their Saturday night parties where they would treat the block to their basement soundsystems, pissing off most of the houses around them.

My pick is in Japan, one of the major homes of reggae music. It's such a giant market that there are special dub plates made there that never make it to other sections of the world. I stumbled across Dry & Heavy trying to find some dub remixes. The drum and bass duo of Shigemoto Nanao aka Dry and Takeshi Akimoto aka Heavy make experimental roots reggae with help from friends. This song features the vocal stylings of Likkie Mai and the gentle waves that lull you to a comfortable zone. Music to think or smoke to. Music to comfort the soul.

August 30, 2005

Huun Huur-Tu - Aa Shuu De Kei-oo (live)

Wiggling eastwards from Mumbai, and jiggling a little northwards, we now find ourselves nestling on the border between Mongolia and Siberia, deep in the heart of the Republic of Tuva (Тыва Республика). Maybe we're on the banks of one of the republic's 8000 rivers? Or maybe we're on horseback, thundering across the steppes? Since many Tuvan songs concern themselves directly with equestrian matters, then I guess it's probably the latter.

Think of Tuva, and naturally you'll think of Khoomei: the country's indigenous folk music, with its instantly recognisable brand of throat singing. Along with the altogether rockier Yat-Kha, Huun Huur-Tu - here recorded live, about three or four years ago - are the music's best known ambassadors. This track features Khoomei's most distinctive characteristic: that low, almost mechanical drone, with its multiple harmonics, as produced and sustained by a circular breathing technique which, notoriously, can shave several years off one's life expectancy.

August 29, 2005

Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar - "Disco '82"

I'm stranded in Russia, left for dead by a cackling Dan Perry and two well-known teen lesbians. (It is unclear if he is mocking my fate, or giggling due to being in the company of well-known teen lesbians.) It's freezing cold and all I have to get out of here is a magic iPod that will transport me to the country of origin of the song that I play. But the Leningrad Cowboys are actually Finnish or something, I know nothing of the music of the Middle-East, and the battery is too weak to carry me back the home turf that is Australia, the one place that I could offer any real insight. I thumb through the artists and find a familiar Sri Lankan name, but I waver. "Imagine if this was not the fantastic adventure it clearly is, but some kind of ...collaborative musical archiving project - do you really want to be the 82,495th person to post an M.I.A. song on an MP3 blog?" But the backlight is fading - time is running out! I chance upon a mysterious playlist entitled "Bollywood soundtrack disco" and press play. The landscape warps around me, then settles. I find myself now standing outside a nightclub in Mumbai. A DFA-ish disco rhythm is echoing from the door. Have I been cast into some sort of Indian hipster enclave?? Thankfully, the distinctive strings and Hindi-English singing comes in over the top, and it turns out that I am in fact on the set of 1982 Bollywood flick Khud-Daar. I eventually negotiate an uncredited walk-on role in the movie, exchange the appearance fee for a second-hand battery charger and zap home.

* thanks to Gaz Mullygrubber for the track - apparently there is much, much more where this came from!

August 25, 2005

t.A.T.u - All About Us

Ironic indie's favorite pop duo since Daphne & Celeste roar back with a vengeance with this juggernaut of a song. I didn't understand why t.A.T.u. was the pop group it was okay for everyone to like (okay, that's a lie; if they hadn't spent so much of their onstage career tonguing each other down and tweaking nipples, many people wouldn't have looked twice at them) until I heard "Show Me Love", a roaring, stomping banshee wail of malevolent desire awash in more production tricks than Britney Spears' voice. When these girls are on, they are a menacing beast; throughout the pop sheen and fragile girly-girl vocals lurks a palpable sense of rage. You can taste the fury zooming out of their best efforts, the feral snarl of a couple of girls sworn to rock the world that hates yet covets them.

Given that foundation, it shouldn't have come as a surprise that "All About Us" starts out like a serial killer stalking a half-naked coed drenched in sweat through a fun house and then proceeds to smack the listener in the face with a sock filled with awesomeness. Shame on me, I guess; I'd written them off as a flash-in-the-pan encapsulation-of-one-moment act who wouldn't be heard from again. I certainly didn't expect them to swan back onto the scene with the most stirring, emotionally-charged song of their career. Every time I play this song, I want to stomp and smash things; it amps me up in a way I haven't felt since the first time I heard Big Black. Somehow they do this by remaining completely faithful to their initial sound palette and overlaying it with the creepiest ascending vocal line ever recorded. I can't adequately explain it; it's almost like watching Alaskan fishermen club Seal.

"If. They. Hurt. You. THEY. HURT. ME. TOO."

Me hear you, ladies. Me hear you.

August 23, 2005

Jacob Hoffman with Kandel's Orchestra - Doina and Hora (Hebrew Dance)

We've slipped a tiny bit to the West with this one, but Ned forced my hand by posting Marc Almond brooding over melancholy Russian folk music.

More Klezmer music should feature blazing xylophone solos played over blurry violin drones. In fact, the mixture of drones plus mad soloing recalls Coltrane's "India", at least in my mind. Naturally, I've always felt that jazz should feature more solos played over drones as well.

In truth, the age (1923) and fidelity of the recording smears the line between droning and lo-fi fuzz, but no matter. After a tension-filled intro, the piano finally leads the tune into the proper "dance" portion, which sounds like mild elation after what preceded it even though it's not much more than a series of drunken lurches. But soloist Hoffman is the clear superstar here with his dextrous, delicate xylophone work. It kind of makes me wonder how he would have fared as a swordfighter ...

August 22, 2005

Dr Alban ft Leila K - "Hello Africa"

"Hello Africa, tell me how you're doing / Hello Motherland, tell me how you're doing." Born in Nigeria, living in Stockholm, qualified as a dentist, working as a pop star - this was Dr Alban's first hit and his style comes intact. The loping digital reggae rhythms, the gentle and polite flow, the slight, let's admit it, gaucheness. Alban is a long way from home, so is the music he plays: technically these beats and rhymes are a planet, not just a continent, distant from JA or NY, but that cut-off adds to the appeal. "Hello Africa" isn't unique among 90s Scandopop in its focus on the mother continent - the marvellous Stockholm Eritreans Midi, Maxi and Efti recorded a beautiful album later in the 1990s in which their heavy-handed Western teenpop styles are always in suspension with echoes of Africa, a translated, digitised, mediated Africa. I could have picked one of their songs but "Hello Africa" strikes as deep. Unlike many of the serious rock musicians who drew inspiration from Africa, Alban wants an answer to the conversation he's starting: he knows that transient pop hits are likelier to do well on the streets of Abuja and Lagos, his greetings are genuine.

August 18, 2005

T.P. Orchestre Poly-Rythmo De Contonou Dahomet - "Minsato Le, Mi Dayihome"

Go very slightly east, then south, then back in time. West Africa in the '70s: a musical polyglot, where the cultures of one country sashayed with another, resulting in some propitious musical strains. Fela's the prime example. The embodiment of flexible continental borders, French and English colonialism, intercontinental pollination from North America, Cuba, Jamaica, Europe; rock, funk, jazz, bossa nova, PSYCHEDELIC MUSIC, etc; places to play, people to make dance, the proliferation of cheapish recording studios and record pressing. Revolution!

The Republic of Benin's most outstanding '70s band (actually, the only band from Benin I've ever heard, but no mind), T.P. Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou Dahomey, kicks off this year's fantastic Luaka Bop comp, World Psychedelic Classics 3: Love's a Real Thing, with the track "Minsato Le, Mi Dayihome". The tune is all fading sun, mosquitoes and after school fights, buoyed by the inherently supple rhythms of coastal living (does Benin even have a coast?). Fela Kuti and James brown are criterions of this kind of merciless A-to-B funk, yet neither possesses the well-ventilated touch or polyrhthymic variations of Poly-Rythmo. Alert but never manic (authentic JB screams aside), the song builds its psych cache atop a raw "Psychotic Reactions" intro. Aside from fundamentals, a singular sound, though for reference, it seems to have developed in parallel and half a world away from Os Mutantes, and is one of my personal favorite musical unearthings of the year. More where this came from on Soundway's immaculate T.P. Orchestre Poly-Rythmo compilation The Kings of Benin Urban Groove, 1972-1980.

Ornette Coleman and Prime Time - "Unlabeled Track 3"

This is from a concert recording I um...found...on a in a folder labelled "London 1987." The sound quality is not so great, theres a lot of tape hiss, but the band is pretty clear and very audible. I don't recognize the song, although it may be off "Virgin Beauty" given the date, but Prime Time is playing like crazy. Ornette doesn't hit the mic until about halfway through, when he blows through first on trumpet, then alto sax.

To you, MCD

edit - DAR! Listening to this again I don't know where I came up with that stuff about Ornette not showing up til halfway through. He's all over this track, from around 40 seconds in, switching back and forth from sax to trumpet and back.

Around the World in Eighty Minutes!

Alright, here we go! The theme of the mix is "Around the World In Eighty Minutes" and so to imitate the classic tale, we're going to start and finish in London, heading east the whole way.

We'll try to keep this moving pretty fast, with everyone given a full workday to post, and going in the order they signed up, and if they can't finish in time, whoever's behind them gets 'cuts' and the one who dropped the ball goes afterwards. Since I proposed the resurrection of the mix, that means I'll be starting things off.

Coming up after me, MCD, then Tom from Freaky Trigger, then Tantrum the Cat.

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