Yes, as we’ve long suspected, the US military is researching how to use sound to incapacitate, kill or manipulate them. Or just shoo away pesky birds, homeless people or pirates off the coast of Somalia (obviously, that’s not working so well).
Veeery nice! Participações do BNegão, Lucas Santtana, Tommy “King of Corn” Guerrero, Marku Ribas, Blackalicious e Lateef the Truth Speaker. Download it here.
On his travels to Ethiopia, the cradle of civilisation, Maga Bo delivers the verdict on the latest styles emering from this ancient kingdom and sheds some light on the music industry as the country enters a new millennium. For the full article, check the latest issue of SHOOK. Here’s a little extra we couldn’t squueze in.
Lined by a zinc fence on one side and busy thoroughfare on the other, the electronic recycling and repair market in the Merkato area of Addis Ababa commands the entire sidewalk for 2 blocks. Freelance, self-taught electronics repairmen salvage all manner of appliances from telephones and flashlights to cassette and DVD players. Squatting down in front of a sea of chopped up circuit boards, wires, random electronic components, and gads of dissected radios and televisions, a man presses a radio to one ear in a feeble attempt to block out the noise all around and makes an adjustment with a screwdriver. Next to him, a shelf unit comprised of a stack of skeletons of television sets bursts with excess electronic pieces. He even sells jewelry – several necklaces with cassette capstan cogs as beads are on display. His neighbor deals exclusively in speakers – mix and match to taste. Another strictly deals with video equipment. Chat leaves are scattered all over the pavement and amongst the electronics. I am offered tea. A man says hello and shakes my hand. “This side very cheap, not like over there.” He motions to the row of electronic appliance stores which line the opposite side of the road extending in both directions. “Very good workers here.” And resourceful, too. Rummaging through the electronic component scrap heap, he finds what he’s looking for, quickly unscrews the back of the radio, jacks into the pirate electrical lead that the whole row of workers share with his soldering iron and proceeds to bring the radio back to life.
October 5 Fiesta Soot at The Bowery Poetry Club, New York City, NY with DJ /rupture, Filastine, Matt Shadetek, Geko Jones and Reaganomics.
October 6 Pop Montreal at Coda Club, Montreal, Quebec with DJ /rupture, Filastine and Masala.
October 9 Bouncement at Sonotheque, Chicago, IL with DJ C, Murderbot, Zebo and Zulu on the mic.
October 11 Baltic Room, Seattle, WA with DJ Collage.
October 12 Madrone Lounge, San Francisco, CA with Janaka Selekta and The Worker.
October 13 Atlas at Holocene, Portland, OR with Anjali, The Incredible Kid and E3.
October 15 Beat Research at the Enormous Room, Boston, MA with Wayne&Wax and DJ Flack.
Originally released on cassette in Syria, this was re-released on CD on Sublime Frequencies. There is a pretty comprehensive bio on the youtube page. Apparently, he just relocated to Columbus, Ohio. His myspace page is classic – obviously, it’s the music that matters. Thanks to Ramesh for the tip!
For the following days, I commuted between Ouakam, where I was staying, and the studio in Mermoz, meeting with MCs and musicians and arranging to record tracks with them. Initially, I had about 8 or 9 bases (yeah, yeah, beats) to work on including a couple from friend producers. We arranged a total of 8 recording sessions and most of them came through, but 3 of the MCs didn’t make it. It’s a complicated venture working with rappers…….. There are 2 tracks with Xuman: and a track with Keyti, hip hop style, haha and well as a number of tracks with Edu on Kora and Moudou Mbaye on tama and sabar.Massive BIG UP! to Fatou and Etienne and Omar for all of your help!
Another unexpected event of my time in the casamance was the bukut, or circumcision ceremony which takes places once every 30 years in Baila, a village about 30 km from Ziguinchor. As it is a only a once or twice in a lifetime event for locals, it is a BIG deal! Jola people come from all over the world to participate. You can find infants to old men among the initiates. For any number of reasons, a person may miss the opportunity to participate and have to put it off for another 30 years. Those who do not go through the experience will always find them selves at the bottom of the social strata, having to speak last in gatherings or not regarded as “true” men amongst their peers.
The proceedings were remarkably open – everyone was welcome to participate AND take photos, film and record. The initiates filled their days by traversing around the village fulfilling certain tasks – visiting relatives, getting the hair on the back of their head cut into a particular design (we never did figure out what the significance of each different design was), then later having their head shaved except for a small patch which was then shaved on their way to the woods……Each day before going to the woods, the groups gathered in a large field around and enormous tree. The general flow of the participants was counter clockwise. Every one sort of trucking along with the music. A kind of slow/fast groove at 70/140 bpm. The men stomping and singing, the women banging bits of metal together and singing. You can hear a bit of that here. There was one small group which had men playing drums.
The crowd was composed of interested peoples from all over the place, a few toubab thrown in as well. The photos here show some of the dancers. These are men who are already circumsized or are initiates. This was a bit confusing for us, me being a toubab and the others being mostly from Dakar and not familiar with local customs. Anyway, these guys danced and danced and sang and showed their manhood and courage and protected state (they used gris-gris) by cutting their tongues, arms, necks, heads, stomaches with knives, swords, machetes. For the most part, they didn’t get hurt. I did see one guy who cut the back of his head, but just continued on as though he didn’t even notice that he was bleeding all over. One of the “caretakers” came over and applied a salve to the wound. The mood was very festive and carnavalesque, with people dressing up in funny hats, wigs and strange clothing. There were a lot of people flming, photographing and recording audio. At the presence of a camera, people jumped up and posed.There is an enormous tree where the special dance step was passed on to them earlier in the year at the center of the village. On the day of moving into the woods where the circumcision ceremony was to take place at night time, all of the different groups converged on the main roads forming bigger groups and then converged on the big tree forming an even bigger group. From here, women and foreigners (including non-Jola Senegalese) were forbidden to pass. Beyond there and into the woods was sacred territory. Upon reaching there, there was a general call to everyone to stop filming, but they still didn’t ask people to stop accompanying the initiates toward the woods. The singing and dancing continued and the women followed as well, and so did I. This continued for another hour or so, slowly making their way toward the actual forest, with men cutting their tongues and one guy every once in a while going a little crazy and running over to a coconut tree to try and climb up, but then being dissuaded by one of the caretakers that followed and looked out for them.Eventually, we reached a point where I was asked (very politely) not to continue. The Jola men were allowed to accompany them a bit farther, but at the forest (where the sacred space began), only initiates and mentors were allowed.One of my favorite parts about the whole thing were these different bomb squad crews. Each was from a different part of the village. They moved around in groups of 8 or so, with somebody to carry around a 5 gallon paint can filled with gun powder to re-fill their bombs. They would run ahead of the procession and set themselves up along the route and surprise everybody with their huge explosions. They were like super comandos or something….dressed up in matching outfits, with canibalized headphones as ear protectors, wigs as well as gris-gris for protection. They moved about with incredible purpose, as though in a trance.
I’ve just returned to Dakar from about 10 days in the Casamance, Senegal participating as an artist in residence at Lando la Casamance Qui Vous Colle a la Peau (The Identity of Casamance that Sticks to your Skin) in Ziguinchor. (Look for the link to Lando on the opening page) I was the sole sound/music oriented artist there, the others being photographers, directors and editors. Lots of unexpected stuff happened…..
One of the unexpected events was the visit of a traditional pulaar music group from Tambacounda called Allah Waly (another way of saying Inshallah or God Willing) that came to Ziguinchor to be filmed and recorded by resident artists. One afternoon was spent working with them recording the full ensemble (stereo recordings) as well as making recordings of the musicians individually with the idea that this material would be used in the future to construct bases (this is a brazilian portuguese word meaning instrumentals which are bases or foundations to be developed – before they become proper songs….I wish there was a suitable word in English for this) to record with rappers. Our makeshift studio was a semi-open garage on the grounds of a large compound which housed a sculpture studio, a woodworking shop, and a large house where all 15 or 20 of us were accomodated for several days on the outskirts of Bignona (about 20 km outside of Ziguinchor) during the bukut (more on this later) in Baila. Equipment-wise, I had to make due with a seriously basic setup – my laptop with audio interface (stereo input only), an sm58 and my m-track flash card recorder and stock microphone. In order to record 3 tracks, I recorded with the laptop and microtrack running wildly and hit some metal things in the garage to create a sync point. Separation was by distance (across the garage so sight lines were maintained) and mic positioning (basically amounted to the sm58 pointing away from the flutes). then I dumped the microtrack tracks into live and synced them up. pretty lo-fi, but it worked.
There are very few examples of hip hop (or other modern electronic based urban musics) in senegal being combined with traditional music or vice versa. It’s as though neither party knows how to collaborate. It seemed sort of preposterous to me that this might be the case before beginning the recordings. I figured it would be a relatively simple operation to get each musician separately, give them a click track at various tempos and have them play on top of it. Without exception, they began just playing as though the click weren’t even there (even though I had it at full volume their headphones). When I stopped and explained (for the second or third time) and it was translated to them (English to Wolof to Pulaar or Portuguese to Pulaar or English to French to Pulaar depending on who happened to be around at the particular moment), they understood the concept and played in time, but the soul of the music was just plain gone. Evaporated into a mechanical click.
So, it was only when I just gave up on the click and asked them to play freely with the idea that I could then warp it in Ableton Live. Guess you should always let the artist be free to do what they want…..;-)
Eventually, I just recorded the whole ensemble together – more for them to use as a demo or whatever than for me to sample or remix, but who knows? Listen to one of the tracks. They were pretty into the whole idea of working as a collective. No money changed hands. Our group was video taping and photographing the whole scene for future use. The whole idea being to generate art for collective use – everyone contributing something. In the process of working, ideas came up and were implemented, problems appeared and were resolved. Hopefully, this entire experience will contribute to more artistic expression and collaboration not only between urban, electronic musics, but between artists working in different mediums as well.
One of the other unexpected events was hooking up with Yaya Ba Konte, a griot from Zigunichor and a friend of a friend, along with his student Vieux. The idea in this encounter was to record kora on top of some beats that I’d been working on with the intention of returning to Dakar to record with rappers. A brilliant player while playing outside of the restricitons of the (facist) click, he had difficulty locking into my grooves (or my grooves latching onto his groove based on centuries of tradition is maybe more like it). My basslines didn’t seem to make any sense to him and he played with tonal disregard to them. As for the percussive side of things, after a bit of time and hand clapping on my part, he latched on to the basic idea, but it was clear that there wasn’t any kind of intimate connection between my 75 – 80 bpm tracks and his traditional sound. Anyway, he gave it a good go. Afterwards, I asked him to just play freely without my beats and he played beautifully. ha ha surprise, surprise! He is a griot, after all…..and who am I but some young guy with a computer?