Saturday, 20 December 2008

Stock, Hausen & Walkman - Ventilating Deer (1997)


Fabulous dada audio collage and aberrant queasy listening cut-ups from these mysterious sonic pranksters. This is very odd, very entertaining and displays an unhealthy and irreverant sense of humour, which for an instrumental album is quite a feat.

Tracklist:

A1
Sleep
A2
Upset
A3
Ordeal
A4
Broccoli
A5
Spot
B1
Feather
B2
Gruel
B3
Würstsaft
B4
Skipper
B5
Flagging

Check it out HERE.

Friday, 19 December 2008

ElectroBoogieDiscoFunk

Now the party season is upon us, this is for your dancing feet. Just press play...

Tracklisting:
01 Was Not Was - Tell me that I'm dreaming
02 Aurra - Get In the Mood (To Groove)
03 Electrik Allstars - Groove the Box
04 Slave - Slide
05 Jimmy Bo Horne - Is It In?
06 Jimmy Castor - Don't Do That

If you like,the mix can be downloaded here.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

The Secret History of a Musick Yet To Be

In July, a bulletin on the myspace page of a group of Moroccan musicians sent my mind wandering down some strange paths, got me thinking about music as a technology, as something people use to perform certain actions. Indeed, music is possibly one of the oldest technologies available to humans, a means of communication, a playful way of strengthening communities, and a form of transport to carry us out of ourselves. It's also currently used to terrorise, dehumanise and narcotise individuals and populations around the globe, in ways that allow us to draw tentative lines connecting spaces that seem to be in different worlds, the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, the detention centres of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay or Diego Garcia, and the shining consumer wonderlands of the modern shopping mall or office space; spaces of chaos, control and of a particular, possibly perverse idea of freedom. We'll start our wanders around this strange territory in a place where the magical possibilities of sound are acknowledged and celebrated, a place where we might hear echoes of a future music of radical potential, a sonic weapon to counteract the narcotic spell cast over us, a musick yet to be, for as Plato said Musical innovation is full of danger to the State.


The village of Joujouka sits in the red hills of the Rif in Northern Morocco. It is a place somewhat removed from the modern world. There is no electricity, no running water, no pavements or roads, the village being accessible only on foot. Everything that's needed here must be carried by mules or the villagers themselves. While the Rif Mountains are known as a lawless and wild place in which some of the world's finest hashish is produced, Joujouka itself is known for only one thing. Its music.


The Master Musicians of Joujouka play a strange, hybrid trance music that draws influences and inspiration from the various peoples who have colonised or settled Morocco over the years, but which has its roots in the pre-Islamic religious ceremonies of the Berber people. The music of Joujouka has been passed down through generations, father to son, a string of pearls stretching back further than any recorded history. The maleems are exempt from farming and other types of manual labour, their sole responsibility is to provide the world with sound, and it is a sound that vacillates between a beatific serenity and a feral abandon as the men coax supple rhythms and circular melodies from their various hand drums, ancient guembris, flutes and rhaitas. This last instrument provides the Master Musicians with their signature sound, for these oboe like horns are played by groups who time the rhythms of their breathing to ensure the sound is endless, a hypnotic and infinitely complex wall of buzzing noise that colludes with the local hash to produce an awesome delirium.

Despite its often noisy and frenetic nature, this is not the sound of a warrior people. The music is used in service of a spirituality, it magically opens channels of communication with the spirit world, it opens spaces of healing and protection and is performed in celebration of the glory of nature. It is concerned with the evocation and control of spiritual forces and is always used for a purpose and to obtain some definite result. Now of course, with the growth of a global market for 'world' music, the sound of Joujouka has spread. It is no longer reserved for the villager's rituals and ceremonies, or for the local festivals and parades. Recordings of the musicians are available to listeners all over the world as products of the culture industry, these recordings though can often be as difficult and jarring as those of Adorno's beloved Schoenberg and their arrival on the market is the result of a particular history and a particular set of counter-cultural connections. In the early '50s Paul Bowles, the proto beat writer, heard the sound while travelling in the Rif, he introduced the music to Brion Gysin who helped to popularise the group in the Interzone of post-war Tangiers. Gysin later turned on William Burroughs to the magical sound of the 4000 year old rock n roll band. As Morocco became a point on the 'hippy trail', news of the noise slowly spread. In 1968, Brian Jones arrived in the village where he recorded the annual festival of Bou Jeloud1. The following year, Timothy Leary sampled the villager's hospitality while enjoying a short break from prison2. In the '70s, the musicians recorded with Ornette Coleman and the Rolling Stones, their music peppered Burroughs' Breakthrough in the Grey Room, serving as a counterpoint to his tape splicing experiments. Since then they have travelled and played concerts around the globe, making money that has helped sustain the whole community, for even here people need money and the inhabitants of this remote and rocky region have little else to exchange.


The press release posted on Joujouka's myspace page was written by a New York concert promoter and announced that the group were to cancel their summer tour of the US after encountering difficulties with their visa applications. A small thing, of interest to only a few people. Some members of the group have names that require extra scrutiny, suspicious names that are 'similar' to some known to the US Department of Justice. It's a small thing, the shadow cast by the War on Terror just falls in an unexpected place, making something that should be so simple frighteningly complex. The tightening of security that is occurring throughout the 'developed' world can often pass unnoticed, but beneath our noses walls and fences become ever higher, gates are locked more tightly and entry requirements become more difficult to meet. This bulletin reawakened me, forced me to think again about the reach of the current crusade. This is nothing short of total war, everybody is affected, no matter how remote our habitat, no matter how ancient our traditions or how peaceful our intentions.


I began to dream of musical reprisals, channeling my own anger and indignation through the Master Musicians themselves, imagining their ferocious, kaleidoscopic drum and rhaita jams being used to bring down the walls, not of Jericho, but of those institutions that seeks to measure and judge us all, that try to order and control human life and which increasingly, (here I'm thinking of Agamben and bare life, of orange jump suits, cages and de Menezes) have the ability to decide who has the right to life and who counts as human. Of course, I am not the first to imagine the use of music as a weapon of war, indeed the military-industrial complex is already way ahead in that game.


Music has long been a part of the sound of the battlefield, think of the Scots bagpipes or the trumpet blast of the cavalry and we can see that the military use of noise to frighten or disturb the opposition has a history. More recently, Coppola's cinematic image of helicopters flying low like dragonflies at sunrise, blasting Wagner from mounted speakers, is one of the most memorable in film history. Examination of the military use of music, of sonic warfare, ultimately slips away from what we normally think of as the theatre of war to expose some disturbing aspects of modern culture and reveal the possibility that the civilian populations of the developed world might regularly be subjected to techniques of psychological warfare.


Some knowledge of the American army's use of music in combat situations started to filter into the popular imagination in 1989, specifically during the US invasion of Panama, part of George Bush Sr.'s War on Drugs. The target of the invasion was Manuel Noriega, dictator of Panama, associate of the notorious cocaine baron Pablo Escobar and the Medellin Cartel, and long time ally of the CIA and US government in their clandestine operations against various Central and South American left wing guerilla groups3. During the invasion, 27,000 American troops landed in the country with the intention of deposing Noriega. The dictator went to ground in Panama's Vatican Embassy. US forces surrounded the building, but were unable to physically attack for fear of ruining relations with the Vatican. Instead, troops bombarded the embassy with constant loud heavy rock music in an effort to drive Noriega out. This effort lasted days before complaints from the Vatican forced the general in charge of the operation to pull the plug on the music4. Noriega's subsequent surrender had little to do with the military's sonic experiment, but this did not deter them from again attempting to use high volume rock 'n' roll as a 'non-lethal weapon'.


In 1993, the sound systems came out again for the siege of Mount Carmel in Waco, Texas. This operation, led by the FBI, targeted David Koresh and other followers of the Branch Davidian sect. The siege lasted 51 days and for parts of this time the Branch Davidians were treated to marathon sessions of loud music in order to disturb their sleeping patterns and break morale inside the camp. The music was just one element of the FBI's psychological operations to break the siege, operations that again proved unsuccessful as tensions escalated on both sides. As the siege wore on, the event turned into a global media circus that ended with the deaths of many Branch Davidians as Mount Carmel went up in televised flames5.


Music has also been used as a weapon during the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Before the brutal military attack on Fallujah in 2004, US troops engaged in psychological operations in an attempt to weaken resistance. These operations lasted for three weeks before the tanks and troops rolled into the desert city, and again involved the use of high powered speakers mounted on tanks and humvees. The army played AC/DC, Metallica, Led Zeppelin, Eminem and Barney the Purple Dinosaur at high volume for long stretches of time to disorientate and confuse the enemy, in the hope of flushing out insurgents or weakening their ability to fight6. That the attack on Fallujah resulted in so many casualties on both sides, with much heavier resistance to allied troops than was anticipated, perhaps points to the failure of such psychological tactics on the battlefield. Music has however, been used elsewhere in the War on Terror, and perhaps more fruitfully, for it has become common practice to subject 'enemy combatants' to loud music in detention centres and interrogation rooms in efforts to gain information about insurgent activity or terrorist organisation.


In April 2004, photographs from the Abu Ghraib detention centre hit the news. These disquieting images depicted naked and contorted Iraqi prisoners suffering humiliation at the hands of grinning US soldiers. The world let out a collective gasp of disgust when presented with such horrifying evidence of the dark face of modern warfare. Donald Rumsfeld blew gas about 'bad apples' and placed the responsibility with a handful of low ranking soldiers, rubbishing the idea that this could be part of any kind of policy, but by the time further evidence started to emerge the visceral impact of the original story had lost momentum. Since the Abu Ghraib pictures, it has become apparent that the techniques depicted in the photographs are being used in a number of detention centres and prisons associated with the War on Terror, including at Guantanamo Bay itself. These techniques include the use of stress positions, sleep deprivation, and alternating sensory deprivation and sensory overload. Considered as a constellation of practices, these techniques have been called 'no-touch torture', or torture-lite. This phrase makes it all sound like the low fat, vanilla version of what should presumably be thought of as heavy torture, which I suppose would include the use of pliers, thumb screws and electric shocks. Torture lite in contrast involves none of this medieval stuff, for its aim is not to physically degrade its subject, but to psychologically attack the victim's sense of self, to erode his or her subjectivity.

The term conceals the reality of these devastating practices, for it is only when we hear first hand reports of torture-lite that we can begin to estimate the distance between actual practice and official rhetoric. In 2003, a BBC report suggested that Iraqi enemy combatants were being locked in shipping containers in the desert heat, and subjected to songs such as Metallica's “Enter Sandman”, or Barney the Dinosaur's “I Love You” at high volume for extended periods7. Since then, first hand accounts collected by Human Rights Watch have described many other instances in detention centres and prisons across the region. Benyan Mohammed, a prisoner at Guantanamo, told human rights lawyers that high volume rap music was pumped into his cell for twenty solid days before it was replaced by twisted laughter and “Halloween sounds”8. If we try to imagine ourselves subjected to such treatment, and then think of how the music is often played while we are kept in complete darkness, or in rooms with strobe lighting in which the temperature fluctuates between extreme heat and extreme cold, then we can begin to come to a vague understanding of how such treatment may push a person to the brink of insanity.


The fact that such similar practices are being revealed in detention camps in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay destabilises Rumsfeld's insistence that the practices depicted in the Abu Ghraib photographs were the work of a few corrupt soldiers. Indeed, Alfred McCoy argues in his book A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror (2006)9 that these practices are the result of five or six decades worth of research conducted by the CIA and British and Canadian secret services. According to McCoy, the techniques of no-touch torture originate in the experiments conducted during the Cold War in programs such as MKUltra, the CIA's notorious mind control program that saw thousands of American soldiers and civilians used as guinea pigs in the search for truth drugs and mind control techniques10. In John Marks' 1979 book The Search for the Manchurian Candidate, we find descriptions of early experiments with some of the techniques in current use including ultrasonics, solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, fluctuating temperatures and strobe lighting, while other experiments involved all kinds of drugs, electroshock treatments, even neurosurgery. These programs all carried out by secretive state sanctioned institutions acting in contravention of international laws and treaties, have led to the modern system of torture lite that was tested in counter insurgency operations during the Vietnam War, and again by British secret services during its campaign against the IRA in the '70s and '80s, and by police units across South and Central America11. It may be comforting to imagine that such techniques are reserved for remote detention centres and interrogation cells, but music is also used to manipulate behaviour in more subtle and insidious ways that we may recognise from our own everyday experiences.


The use of music to manipulate workers and consumers for commercial ends has a long history that perhaps provided some inspiration to those CIA operatives who first decided to use sound as part of their repertoire of interrogation techniques. The Muzak Corporation was born in 1934, the brainchild of Major General George O. Squier. Over the course of the century, the Muzak Corporation came to define the piped music industry, tirelessly promoting their product until now, in the 21st Century world of consumer capitalism, this music is almost ubiquitous in public space. Squier recognised music's link to the emotions and looked for ways to capitalise. He developed systems to deliver music through telephone cable and proceeded to sell this piped music to businesses. While the styles of music available through the Muzak Corporation and other similar companies has changed radically over the years, the purpose of this music has however, always remained the same; to manipulate human behaviour.


Muzak's Stimulus Progression(R) system was designed to “...boost productivity, reduce errors and improve morale in businesses throughout the country”12. The system uses songs programmed in fifteen minute blocks, imprinting a kind of counterfeit bio-rhythm to provide workers or shoppers with a subconscious sense of 'forward movement'. The corporation claim their product helps to reduce the stress of shoppers and workers, leading to increased brand perception, loyalty, sales and productivity. If we “...employ the science of Muzak: in an office, workers tend to get more done, more efficiently, and feel happier. In an industrial plant, people feel better and, with less fatigue and tension, their jobs seem less monotonous. In a store, people seem to shop in a more relaxed and leisurely manner. In a bank, customers are generally more calm, tellers and other personnel are more efficient. In general, people feel better about where they are; whether it's during work or leisure time”13. Such statements made in Muzak's corporate literature place the company's invisible product squarely in the realms of the behavioural sciences.


Although the effects of piped music are seldom considered, there have been a growing number of complaints in recent years that help us to make the connection between muzak and Abu Ghraib. The negative psychological effects of muzak become most acute during the consumer frenzy of Christmas, when shop workers and harassed consumers, bullied from all sides into spending beyond their means or needs, are subjected to an endless stream of inane Christmas songs. Some have likened this bombardment to a kind of psychological torture. A spokesman for Pipedown, the anti-muzak pressure group said Christmas muzak is “...acoustic torture ...it's not loud but the repetitive nature causes psychological stress”14. Meanwhile, an Austrian shopworker's union has tried to limit the amount of time shops are allowed to play festive music each day, claiming it is a health and safety issue. A union representative told reporters that “...shop workers can't escape the Christmas muzak. They feel as if they are terrorised all day. Especially Jingle Bells. It arouses aggressive feelings”15.


And so, the soundtrack to so much of our experience of public space is revealed as a scientifically engineered instrument to pacify a potentially unruly workforce and to narcotise the consumer. Music's abilities to connect with the emotions and to alter our psychological state are being exploited and perverted in a number of ways in a variety of locations, from office or commercial spaces to clandestine interrogation cells. What we generally consider to be a harmless form of creative expression becomes a tool, coldly employed in the manipulation and control of populations, numb from the constant stimulus of programmed information.


I again imagine the musicians of Joujouka, dressed in dusty djellabas, pounding hand drums, fire music from broken saxophones. They are joined by drummers from Burundi and Kerala, Tibetan monks from remote mountaintops blow trumpets carved from the thighbones of dead saints, bleary eyed kids with whistles and pans, punks with electric guitars modified for maximum feedback. Sound systems mounted on trucks blast non repetitive beats unleashing crazed movement, fearsome wardancing. All are collaborators in a spontaneous sonic uprising that intends to awaken us from our collective dream. The streets fill with people, we congregate in the centres of power, in prisons and military installations, banks and marketplaces, we reclaim public space and fill it with an unpredictable and invigorating noise, a musick that embodies the creative power of humanity, harnessed and concentrated to banish the evil spirits that haunt the modern world.





1Jones released sections of these recordings as the infamous album Brian Jones Presents The Pipes of Pan at Joujouka. (1971) Rolling Stones Records.

2 Leary describes his stay in the village in a chapter entitled “The Four Thousand Year Old Rock 'n' Roll Band: A Memory Experienced” in Leary, T. (1970) Jail Notes London: New English Library.

3If this sounds like an unlikely alliance, check out White-Out: The CIA, Drugs & the Press, Cockburn, A. & St. Clair, J. (1998) London: Verso, for a comprehensive analysis of the CIA's involvement in the global drugs trade.

4Cusick, S. (2006) “Music as Torture/Music as a Weapon” in Trans: Transcultural Music Review #10, December 2006 available at http://www.sibetrans.com/trans/trans10/indice10.htm

5Stafford Smith, C. (2008) “Welcome to the Disco” The Guardian; Thursday, June 19th 2008

6 ibid

7“Sesame Street breaks Iraqi POWs”, 20 May 2003, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3042907.stm

9McCoy, A. W. (2006) A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror New York: Owl Books

10For extended discussion of this dark period in history, have a look at Lee, M. & Shlain, B. (1994) Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond New York: Grove Press, or John Marks' equally frightening The Search for the 'Manchurian Candidate': The CIA & Mind Control, the Secret History of the Behavioral Sciences (1991) New York: Norton

11Cusick, S. (2006) “Music as Torture/Music as a Weapon” in Trans: Transcultural Music Review #10, December 2006 available at http://www.sibetrans.com/trans/trans10/indice10.htm

12http://www.muzak.com/muzak.html

13http://media.hyperreal.org/zines/est/articles/muzak.html

14http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4531190.stm

15ibid

Bismillah Khan & Party - Music of India #9 (1969)


Ustad Bismillah Khan was a devout Shi'ite Muslim but also a devotee of the Hindu Goddess of art and wisdom. He often played at Hindu temples and festivals, his music a healing force to ease tensions between religious groups:

Tracklist:
01 Sarang
02 Dadra
03 Chandra Kauns
04 Kajaree

You'll find the zip here.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Khalifa Ould Eide & Dimi Mint Abba - Moorish Music from Mauritania (1990)

I've posted this amazing cd after a request from Botched Surgery.
Okay, this is what Afropop has to say about Dimi Mint Abba:
"Born to a musical family Dimi Mint Abba has enjoyed top billing in Mauritanian music since she won the International Oum Kalsoum Song Contest in Tunisia in 1977. Her winning song "Sawt Elfan" ("Art's Plume") argues that artists play a more important role than warriors in society. Dimi has one international release recorded in England in 1990 with husband Khalifa Ould Eide on guitar, vocals and tidinit, and his two daughters on percussion. Backed by tambourine, hand claps, and one deep, dry-sounding kettledrum (tabola), Dimi and Khalifa pluck and jangle their lutes and exchange vocal leads, telling stories as they shift among related musical modes. Catchy melodies and extended improvisation grace this severe, but beguiling music."

Here's what I have to say: If you only ever download one album from this blog, then make sure its this one. This is completely bewitching music from the deserts of Mauritania. The beauty of the singing and playing is breathtaking, and the depth of emotions expressed in these songs is sometimes almost too much to bear, and this is despite the fact that the language is completely alien to me.
Check out this youtube clip, this is not a track from the album but gives some idea of what to expect:


Here's the tracklist:

1. Waidalal Waidalal
2. Yar Allahoo
3. Hassaniya Song for Dancing
4. Hassaniya Love Poem
5. The Tortoise's Song
6. Independence
7. Art's Plume
8. Oh Lord Bring Apartheid Crashing Down!
9. Mauritania My Beloved Country
10. My Young People Do the Youth of Nations Invite
11. Autoot

The zip is here for your listening pleasure.

If you like this album, then check out this great youtube clip by another fantastic Mauritanian singer, Ouleya Mint Amartichitt:

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

King Sunny Ade & His African Beats - Conscience (Eri Okun) 1983

My next door neighbour found this great slice of '80s electro-juju in a second hand record shop in London. Being a very kind man, he's let me borrow the album to share with anyone with an interest and an internet connection:

Tracklist:

01 Eri Okan / Semi Lasepe
02
Odele Alaga / Igbehin Loju
03 Atiro Gbon Orin Da / Ojumo Oni Tunmo
04 Ebawa Jo / Prince 'Beyo Ade Goke

You can download the zip here.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Scratchy Old Records from the Iran & Egypt & possibly Lebanon

All the broken links from this previous post have now been fixed so you can listen to and download these fabulous Arabic and Persian pop records. Check them out, and I'd still be really grateful if anyone could identify the mystery music.
Thanks.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

The Fugs - Golden Filth (Live at the Fillmore East 1968)


The Fugs (like those other East Village outlaws, the amazing Holy Modal Rounders) played a big part in the birth of New York's '60s counterculture. Formed in 1965, they provided a riotous folk accompaniment to the anti-Vietnam movement, playing in the clubs and cafes. By the time this album was recorded, they'd developed a fried psychedelic punk sound to accompany the goofball humour. Here's what Ed Sanders has to say about this electric period in Fugs history:

Exorcising the Pentagon
October, 1967

All through the history of the Fugs in the '60s, the war in Vietnam throbbed like an ever-seething soul sore. However much we partied, shouted our poetry and strutted around like images of Bacchus, we could never quite get it out of our mind. It was like that Dada poetry reading that Tristan Tzara gave in 1922 in Paris, with an alarm clock constantly ringing during the reading. The war was THE alarm clock of the late '60s.
It seemed as if the war might become permanent, so there were big demonstrations planned for October of 1967 to surround the nerve center of the war-- the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Somebody came up with the idea of holding an Exorcism of this mystic pentagonal citadel of napalm and incineration.
I agreed to write and create the actual Exorcism. Tuli and I rented a flat bed truck and a sound system. The Fugs and a group of San Francisco Diggers climbed aboard and joined the protest march across the bridge from D.C. to the Pentagon. We positioned ourselves on the edge of a parking lot a few hundred feet from our target, while tens of thousands of marchers walked past, and I intoned a sing-song litany of exorcism after which we all began to chant "Out, Demons, Out!" over and over for about fifteen minutes. Filmmakers Barbara Rubin and Shirley Clarke filmed the chanting, while magician/ filmmaker Kenneth Anger positioned himself beneath the truck and performed his own ritual of exorcism. It was quite an afternoon.
When we had finished the exorcism, we walked onto the lawn in front of the Pentagon where lines of armed soldiers with rifles thrust forward stood guarding the entranceway. We were carrying dozens of yellow daisies. We paused in front of the young and obviously nervous soldiers and gently shoved some stems into some rifle barrels, then glanced back over our shoulders as we walked away, marveling at the vision of white petal jutting from dark metal.
It was a famous thing we did, and people praised us for our audacity, yet the Vietnam War went on for another seven years. So much for "Out, Demons, Out!" You can learn more about the big demonstration at the Pentagon in Norman Mailer's Armies of the Night.
After the exorcism, The Fugs began their final series of performances at The Players Theater in Greenwich Village. Personnel had changed. We had assembled a very talented musical line-up: Charles Larkey on bass, Ken Pine on guitar, Dan Kootch on guitar and violin, and Ken Weaver on Drums. Richard Alderson recorded some of these final shows of 1967, which closed on New Year's eve at the Players Theater.

1968
I took part in a panel discussion on the New Journalism at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire in late '67. On hand to discuss the new techniques of presenting information were Jack Newfield, Richard Goldstein, Ellen Willis, Robert Christgau and Paul Krassner. I told Newfield that the Fugs were going to give a concert in a few weeks in Appleton, Wisconsin, the hometown of Senator Joseph McCarthy, the famous right wing redbaiting politician who had wrecked careers through falsehoods. He was buried there. Jack Newfield suggested that we exorcise McCarthy's grave. We thought it was a great idea and made preparations. Our friend Allen Ginsberg was also going to perform in Appleton and he agreed to help in the Exorcism.
So, on February 19, 1968 we performed at the Cindarella (sic) Ballroom in Appleton, and the next morning the Fugs, Allen Ginsberg and about 75 friends gathered at McCarthy's headstone and performed a witty ceremony, which we have included for your listening pleasure.
We asked those present at the Exorcism to place a gift on Mr. McCarthy's stone. I looked back as we left and saw a very interesting visual gestalt atop the granite: a bottle of Midol, a ticket to the movie The War Game, a Spring Mobilization Against the War leaflet, a stick of English Leather cologne, one stuffed parrot, one candy bar, a chap stick, one dozen red roses, one dozen white geraniums, one dozen yellow geraniums, one "Get Fugged" button, some coins, sugar wafers, coat buttons and two seeds of marijuana. "So long, Joe," Tuli said as we walked down the hill.
This was the mode of defiance in which the Fugs began 1968. Yet, in some ways '68 was an American Nightmare. The My Lai massacre happened in February; President Johnson abdicated under strange circumstances in late March; Martin Luther King was assassinated a few days later, and the next likely president, Robert Kennedy, was killed next to an ice machine in a hotel in early June. August saw the Chicago riots at the Democratic Convention and November ushered in the years of Richard Nixon. Behind it all, the war wailed onward.
Ai-yi-yi. Nevertheless, the Fugs partied forth. There were dashes of hope-- most notably the student rebellions in Paris and the takeover of Columbia University in New York City. That spring, The Fugs toured Scandinavia with Peter Green and Fleetwood Mac and Ten Years After. One tune from this tour, "The Swedish Nada," from our concert in Lund, Sweden on May 13, is included on Fugs Live from the '60s.
In June, we performed with Moby Grape at the newly opened Fillmore West on Second Avenue in NYC. From that weekend of concerts, which we recorded live, came our album, Golden Filth.
Tuli and I took part in the demonstrations in Chicago in August. We were there with the thousands chanting "The Whole World is Watching" while the police bashed their clubs on undeserving heads. I was a supporter, at the time, of the notorious Yippies, and could not resist including the demo tape of "Yodeling Yippie" in this sequence of live takes.


And this is a Swedish Fugs TV special!





If you're still interested after all that :

Golden Filth Tracklist:

01 Slum Goddess
02 Coca Cola Douche
03 How Sweet I Roamed
04 I Couldn't Get High
05 Saran Wrap
06 I Want to Know
07 Homemade
08 Nothing
09 Supergirl

Its over here.




Monday, 1 December 2008

The Last Poets - Chastisment (1972)



A couple of weeks ago I was chatting with a friend and we got to complaining about the state of the current music scene, like a pair of old men or something. Maybe its just me, and maybe I'm not looking in the right places, but it seems that we're missing some radicalism in the contemporary music scene. Where is the revolutionary fire that has informed much of the best modern musics from the Fugs to Public Enemy, from Crass to Throbbing Gristle, Black Flag to The Minutemen. Are contemporary radicals just a bit more subtle with their messages, or does today's music reflect a wider apathy or confusion? I don't know. Like I said, I might be missing some hugely important and politically scandalous underground musical movement, one that purposefully shuns the attention of has beens like myself...

Todays album is from 1972, a radical message from a group of proto-rappers from the ravaged Harlem ghetto:
All Music Guide has this to say about this fantastic group:
...with their politically charged raps, taut rhythms and dedication to raising African American consciousness, The Last Poets almost single handedly laid the groundwork for the emergence of hip hop. The group arose out of the prison experiences of Jalal Mansur Nuriddin, a US Army paratrooper who chose jail as an alternative to fighting in Vietnam; while incarcerated he converted to Islam, learnt to 'spiel' (an early form of rapping), and befriended fellow inmates Omar Ben Hassan and Abiodun Oyewoie.

The group's uncompromising stance and hardcore black nationalism landed them under CIA counter intelligence surveillance. And for all of this, Chastisment still sounds hugely funky and is well worth hearing.

Tracklist:
  • 1.Tribute to Obabi (Ogun)
  • 2.Jazzoetry
  • 3.Black Soldier
  • 4.E Pluribus Unum
  • 5.Hands Off
  • 6.Before the White Man Came
  • 7.Bird's Word
The zip is available over here.




Friday, 28 November 2008

SOMETHING WEIRD: Perceptual Motor Rhythm Skills - Bananafish # 7

This compilation 7" came with issue 7 of the fabulous US 'zine Bananafish way back in 1992. I used to look forward to this arriving at my local vinyl pusher's, as it always provided a good dose of brain scrambling Dada-esque confusion. Occasionally there'd be stuff in there about music, but mostly I'd ignore that stuff in favour of the random ramblings of Seymour Glass and his unstable friends.
Like Lisa Suckdog's Rollerderby, what was interesting about this 'zine was the cut and paste artwork, and its skewed take on everyday life. Unfortunately, all my copies of this have long ago been sucked into a black hole, lost somewhere along my way. But I do have a few of these singles left. This stuff is bizarre, roughly cut audio collage, spoken word, noise, improv, prank call...strange messages from beneath the underground.

Press the play button to listen:

If you want you can download it here.

And here's the tracklisting:

A1 Reverend John Hawkins* Sermon Excerpt
A2 Hijo Kaidan* No Particular
A3 Tina Chopp vs. Bob Larson Excerpt
A4 Anne Eickelberg A Most Horrible Mistake
A5 Felipe X. Milstein Robert (Scare Stiff Of Penis)
B1 Crust Pumpchili
B2 Tina Chopp vs. Bob Larson Excerpt
B3 Royal Trux Theme Elementary School Psycho (Ax In Y Bad Boy BBM)


B4 Tina Chopp vs. Bob Larson Excerpt

Shameless self promotion - A Chapter in The Secret History of a Musick Yet To Be


I've just had an article what I did rite published in a real live magazine. Said magazine was put together by a motley crew of Cultural Studies students from that poncey hole, Goldsmiths College, London - its got some really good stuff in it, and is well worth a little look. Unfortunately, all the paper copies have sold out (already!) but you can read it here.

Anyhow, down to the important stuff...the article I wrote is called "A Chapter in the Secret History of a Muzick Yet To Be" (the title is borrowed from a line in Thomas Pynchon's fabulous novel Mason & Dixon) and its about all sorts of interesting stuff like the magical properties of music, the use of music as an instrument of torture or a means of control. Its about the War on Terror and the closing of borders in the post 9-11 world. Its also about the possibility of a mass musical exorcism of evil control systems. Maybe its a bit tongue in cheek, but maybe not. If you're remotely interested in any of that stuff (or in the work of Brion Gysin/William Burroughs/Throbbing Gristle/Genesis P.) then go and have a read over here. If you're not interested then maybe this opening paragraph will whet your appetite:

In July, a bulletin on the MySpace page of a group of Moroccan musicians sent my mind wandering down some strange paths, got me thinking about music as a technology, as something people use to perform certain actions. Indeed, music is possibly one of the oldest technologies available to humans, a means of communication, a playful way of strengthening communities, and a form of transport to carry us out of ourselves. It's also currently used to terrorise, dehumanise and narcotise individuals and populations around the globe, in ways that allow us to draw tentative lines connecting spaces that seem to be in different worlds, the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, the detention centres of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay or Diego Garcia, and the shining consumer wonderlands of the modern shopping mall or office space; spaces of chaos, control and of a particular, possibly perverse idea of freedom. We'll start our wanders around this strange territory in a place where the magical possibilities of sound are acknowledged and celebrated, a place where we might hear echoes of a future music of radical potentiality, a sonic weapon to counteract the narcotic spell cast over us, a musick yet to be.


Sunday, 23 November 2008

Conjunto Orquestal Puno - Peruvian sounds from the 1950s


I picked up this strange Peruvian album in a charity shop in Brighton a couple of weeks ago. I can't find anything on the internet about the orchestra, but some of the songs on the album are Huaynos which are :
the result of the meeting of traditional mountain music with its high-pitched vocals, insistent beat, and breathy flutes - and more commercial, urban sounds, including those of Colonial music from Spain. Like contemporary North American musical hybrids, moreover, the kinds and combinations of instruments are often surprising: harps and harmonicas, mandolins and saxophones, panpipes and accordions, as well as guitars, violins and charangas.
Mark Greenberg — Sing Out!
http://www.arhoolie.com/titles/320.shtml

To my ears, this is some strange stuff with its weird blend of Andean and western instruments and its melancholy sound.
Tracklisting:

1. ZAMPOÑA DE ORO: Sicuri
2. KQENCHA MOZA: Huayno
3. JOYITA PUNEÑA: Huayno - Pandillero
4. LA PARADITA: Marinera Puneña
5. FANTASIA PANDILLERA: Huayno
6. CARNAVAL DE ICHO: Danza Costumbrista
7. LINDA SERRANITA: Huayno Pandillero
8. LLAMERADA: Danza
9. IMILLlTA: Huayno
10 LA TRADICIONAL: Marinera Puneña
Director: Cástor Vera Solano

Get the zip over here.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Dr. Orlando Owoh & His Afrikan Kenneries Beats International - Money for Hand Back for Ground Volume 1



Earlier in November Comb & Razor posted the news that Dr. Orlando Owoh has died. Owoh was an important cultural figure in Nigeria, known for his soulful voice and philosophical lyrics, and for his hybrid of highlife and juju musics. Here's a little taste:



I picked up this cd bootleg of a late '70s album on a stall at East Street Market on my last trip to London. The man on the stall seemed to find it strange that I would be interested in this old Nigerian music, but he was selling some great bootleg cd's of some real classics, including albums by Sir Victor Uwaifo and Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe which I'll be posting at some point in the future.

Dr. Orlando Owoh & His Afrikan Kenneries Beats International - Money for Hand Back for Ground Volume 1

Tracklisting:

Money For Hand Back For Ground
His Highness Oba Oyekan Of Lagos
Eyo Omo Olode
Ailo Lore
Eriloye

Edun Jale Oforu-Lo
Ore Mi Ma Dale
Mori Sisi Kan L'Ode
Sisi Fola Shade
Salewaye Ye Salewa

The zip is over here.




Monday, 17 November 2008

El Maalem Mahmoud Gania - more Gnawa


Here's another fantastic cd of Gnawa trance music from Morocco. This Mahmoud Gania (or Guenya, or Guinia, or Ghania...it's confusing!) album seems to have more of an Arabic influence than other releases, and it includes some brainmelting electronic drums that might sound at home in Omar Souleyman's Syrian 'Jihadi Techno'. I don't know what the album's called, so any help with translation of the title would be much appreciated, but in the meantime enjoy this fantastic music.

Tracklisting:

01 - El Folani Baba Ya Sidi
02 - Allah Allah Ya Donia
03 - Adora Adora Ayieh
04 - Bolila Ya Bolila

The zip is here.

When I was at this year's Essaouirra festival, my camera ran out of charge almost as soon as I arrived. Towards the end of my stay I met a photographer from Luton who had been taking lots of pictures of the festival and of Morocco. His pictures are better than any I might have taken and you can see them here.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Franco et Josky Kiambukuta du T.P.O.K. Jazz - Missile

The Democratic Republic of Congo has been in the news quite a bit lately, short pieces in the broadsheet newspapers and on television telling of the current situation in the troubled nation. We get told about the displaced population, over a million people on the move around the land trying to avoid battles between government troops and rebel forces. We are told about tribal conflict...Hutu rebels, possibly supported by Rwanda. We get to see images of a people living in desperate poverty. Commentators have recently been telling us that this is the world's greatest humanitarian disaster, and all the while Western governments seem reluctant to get involved. Little is said about the region's vast mineral resources that continue to be mercilessly plundered by interests that are certainly not 'tribal'. The wealth created by those who mine the copper and coltan that are essential to the world electronics and communications industries, to the globalised 'network' society, seems to flow everywhere but back into the heart of Africa.

Seeing these images and hearing the news reports, it is easy to imagine that the African people have always lived this way, rolling from one disaster to the next, like children in constant need of parental supervision. Such views obscure Africa's bloody history and Europe's part in it. Brutal colonialism, the scramble for Africa, and years of ruthless economic exploitation have all played a fundamental role in the current desperate situation.

For me, music presents openings to other ways of thinking. The music of the Congo gives us a different view of the country and its people, so today I've posted another fantastic album by Franco et T.P. O.K. Jazz. Franco began recording in the early 1960s and soon became one of Africa's most popular musicians. The newly independent country was entering a period of political turmoil after the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, and Mobutu was consolidating his military power with the help of US and European governments who were worried about the spread of Communism in Africa. Mobutu came to power in 1965, and it is during this dictator's violent reign that Franco, and Congolese music more generally, enjoyed his most fertile period, leading a large orchestra and producing an unprecedented number of records that were hugely successful across the continent. It was during this time that Franco earned himself the title 'Sorcerer of the guitar'. His playing is indeed magical. In 1978 Franco spent time in prison after speaking out against Mobutu's regime. When he came out, the country's declining economic situation meant that the big bands he had been used to leading were no longer viable. The 1980s saw the decline of the Congo's previously vibrant music scene, musicians emigrated and nightspots closed as the country's money dried up.

Currently, 'Congotronics' groups such as Konono No 1 or the Kasai Allstars are enjoying some success with Western listeners:



This is fabulous music, but contrast the scene with this great '70s footage of Franco's band and we get some idea of the distance travelled, of the way the country seems to be sliding backwards, its poverty growing as global demand for its valuable resources increase:



Today's album is from 1982 or '83, and it features a smaller band than those on the other T.P.O.K. Jazz album we posted, its still a stellar listen though with those incredibly intricate duelling guitars snaking their way into the brain.


Tracklisting:

01 Missile
02 Chacun Pour Soi
03 Partage
04 Adieu Je M'en Vais
05 Tu Es Mechante
06 Laissez Passer
07 Ngai Te

You can get the zip over here.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Glenn Branca - Symphony Number 3 (Gloria) 1983


This is Glenn Branca's Symphony Number 3 (Gloria) Music for the First 127 Intervals of the Harmonic Series. Its an extract from a 1983 live performance by one of Branca's early guitar orchestras. This is a relatively small group compared to the ones he was composing for by the early '90s, some of which used up to a hundred guitarists. This particular performance featured a number of musicians who went on to become famous/notorious on the New York no wave/noise scene, including Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo (of Sonic Youth) and Michael Gira (of Swans/Skin). The first 20 minutes of this are pretty beautiful, kind of shimmering modern classical sounds, and quite slow moving and stately. Then the drums kick in and it all gets heavy heavy (but in a good way). If you like this then it might be worth checking out Kick to Kill's blog where you can find uploads of the Rhys Chatham box set (which is also very good).

I've posted this as one long mp3 rather cos it works better that way, and you can get it here.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Tyour Gnaoua Avec Abdessalam Allikane

This is a beautiful album of Gnawa trance music - a musical technology that transports the listener/dancer into a liminal realm from which they can perform magical operations and communicate with spirits and the djinn. Gorgeous stuff that just sends you off into a blissful reverie.

Here's a film I made that uses one of these songs as the soundtrack. The images are from Bill Morrison's fantastic film Decasia, which is well worth checking out. The film uses decayed stock footage to present us with a different view of the past, and I think there may be some parallels between this decayed footage and the crackly old sounds that emanate from the old vinyl that is posted by many bloggers, but particularly Excavated Shellac.

You can get the zip of the whole album here.