cross-posted at Mudd Up!

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[M’hamed Tijdity at Le Comptoir Marocain de Distribution de Disques, photo by John Francis Peters for The Fader]

Head over to The Fader to check out the first of my weekly Morocco updates for the month of June, accompanied by photos from John Francis Peters and, of course, music.

excerpt 1:

Forget Bogart. Casablanca is an utterly modern city, North Africa’s largest, with traffic-choked roadways and upscale neighborhoods and swaths of shantytowns whose residents have satellite dishes but no running water. While most tourists skip Casa to spend their dirhams in more scenic towns, the gritty magnet metropolis pulls in folks from all over the country looking for work, and powers Morocco’s music and art scenes. I’m here for a month with FADER photo editor John Francis Peters and an international crew of six others. Music brought us. . .

excerpt 2:

This next tune is a song halfway between traditional Berber songs from rural Morocco—popularized in the 1970s by Le Comptoir’s main artist, Mohammed Rouicha—and our Auto-Tuned, pixelated tomorrow. It’s by Adil El Miloudi. Adil performs across Europe and tells me that this summer he’ll be making appearances in to Florida and Boston, for the first time. His breakthrough song, “Nothing Nothing”, has well over a million YouTube views. Adil lives in Kenitra and performs regularly at a Tangier nightclub called the Morocco Palace (free entrance but they gouge you on shisha and drink prices).

The Palace has a light-up disco dance floor and really good subwoofers. Everything else is covered in intricate Islamic pattern woodcarvings, except the enormous flatscreen TV right above the stage, which is set to a music video channel and is never, ever turned off, even when live bands are performing underneath it. Adil rolls around town with a phalanx of young guys whose primary duty seems to be handing him various cellphones at the appropriate moment. I know this because, after calling several of those phones, I found myself, along with Maga Bo, at Adil’s house at four in the morning a month ago. “This is Tom,” he said, pointing at his manager. “And this is Jerry,” he said, pointing at his cat.

Adil El Miloudi, “Track 2” by The FADER

I’ve been traveling to Colombia at regular intervals to present a new sound fusing folkloric Afro-Colombian rhythms with modern day electronic music production techniques that harmonize into a synthetic club sound rooted in tradition. Via the internet, the birthplace of Cumbia has become a source of inspiration to a number producers worldwide. Recently, we invited some of the top names in the scene to a bandcamp in Colombia and a filmmaker to document it.  We want to provide an insider view of the impact this music is having on the local scene and how a small network of globally minded producers are defying conventional standards of Latin club music.

We have a couple weeks to get this production costs for completing this project funded. To hear more about how you can help please visit http://www.indiegogo.com/Pico-de-Gallos

The idea is simple: every six weeks or so we gather somewhere for informal talk centered around a good muddy book, then go eat delicious food. We’ll have a live Ustream feed so Cousin Internet and Miss Larry Antitroll can participate.

The inaugural edition will convene on a Casablanca rooftop, around late afternoon/sunset, about six weeks from now. Tea will be served; pastilla بسطيلة afterward — all you need to do is read the book.

Our selection: Maureen F. McHugh’s Nekropolis, a science fiction novel set in 22nd century Morocco involving biochemical slavery, immigration, genetic chimeras, and — last but not least — a new mode of sexuality. Keep reading this post…

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My Beyond Digital crew is currently looking to hire a web designer to help us construct the Beyond Digital: Morocco site. Experience with multi-lingual sites and WP-installs that can switch between languages is a plus. We need someone available immediately.

Interested parties, please send your portfolio/resume and an email of introduction to: activate at beyond-digital.org.

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This week is Design Week/International Furniture Fair in Milan, and I’ll be eating delicious #food then giving a special performance as part of Domus magazine’s week-long event series Urban Futures.

On Wednesday April, 13th, starting at 9pm, you can catch musician Giuseppe Ielasi (whose work may be familiar to listeners of my radio show), followed by DJ N-Ron and myself, bringing the party with video-projection accompaniment across a 28-meter long wall courtesy of dotdotdot‘s ‘architectural video mapping’. At the Salone 2011 (Opificio 31, Via Tortona 31).

big 336470 3776 dett2 LOW[dotdotdot’s rendering of their wild video wall]

Domus’s week of events looks fascinating. Includes talks on the Post-Oil City and The Open-Source City, bringing in heavyweights from OMA, MoMA, Fritz Haeg, and more. For the Twitter-view: @DomusWeb.

The Harlem Is Nowhere mix that I did with Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts early this year is part of Domus’s City Mixtape series. After Milan I return to Casablanca, where we’ll base the Beyond Digital project (instead of Marrakesh) this summer.

Casablanca is north Africa’s largest city. It’s big and gritty, center to Morocco’s music industry and art scenes… As well as an incredible vinyl spot, Le Comptoir Marocain de Distribution de Disques (26 ave. Lalla Yacout). Here’s a nice writeup on CMDD: pt 1|pt2 and some photos. One of the world’s great record shops!

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[Le Comptoir Marocain de Distribution de Disques, photo from Tales from Bradistan blog]

[originally posted at Mudd Up!]

I’m a week into this preliminary research trip for Beyond Digital – Rabat, Marrakesh, and tomorrow, Casablanca.

A huge thanks goes out to Marjana, her helpfulness and generosity have made this excursion far more efficient and amazing than would have otherwise been imaginable. Here’s a photo she took of me peering into the distance at Rabat’s Tour Hassan. The Atlantic meets the land in Rabat with a specific kind of rough poetry. I always enjoy seeing how cities deal with the bodies of water that touch them.

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The last time I was in Morocco was twelve years ago. And then only briefly. I feel like I’ve changed more than the country has, which may be true of most places + people with a dozen years between visits.

Musically, this has been a rich trip. Learning a lot! One of today’s discoveries: Izenzaren إزنزرن, a kind of golden era Amazigh Nass el Ghiwane, spiritual godfathers to Oudaden, if that means anything to you… For reasons I have yet to discover, unlike Casa and Rabat, there are no MP3 CDs for sale in Marrakesh. It is all audio CDs! A surprise in today’s increasingly compressed times.

I’ve been recording some late-night radio as well as purchasing CDs — also sharing some music I have with those who want it here. Unfortunately I can’t rip or upload audio right now. For a muddy fix, tune in to my radio show tonight – Monday 7-8pm EST WFMU 91.1fm NYC, and check back here very soon for Maghrebi sounds. In the meantime, Youtube. Here’s Izenzaren: They sing in Amazigh and say YES to vocals through generous delay. Especially around 2:45, when someone sets it to a trippy half-second setting. So many ways to negotiate the relationship between body and voice. The last person I saw to sing through delay like that was Lizzie from Gang Gang.

After some meetings in Rabat, we drove to Marrakesh, where I’ve spent most of the week. Late night radio there (90.5 and 97.1 FM) sounds a bit like this, or at least it did yesterday. Abdelhadi Belkhiate عبد الهادي بالخياط. His ‘oriental’ style is a welcome reminder that the best Arab singers of the 60s and 70s got the best backing bands.

That’s all for now…

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Taliesin isn’t quite this angular and shadowed in real life, but how awesome it is to see him all up in the Huffington Gas?! Underneath the headline of his piece are eight gray boxes, labeled, respectively: Amazing, Inspiring, Funny, Scary, Hot, Crazy, Important, and Weird. The website is horrible.

But if you can ignore the screaming FB-friendly/SEO-desperate/clicktrail-slutty/headache-inducing clutter around Tally’s words, they’re nice. An excerpt:

So, you graduate from a small liberal arts school with five-figure debt and want to work in the arts? Start drafting those coffee-shop and restaurant resumes to keep you afloat while you put in long thankless, underutilized hours as an unpaid intern.

I graduated from Bard College last May and the only people I know from my graduating class with full-time paid jobs in the arts are the wealthy few whose parents bankrolled summers of full time unpaid work for them while we were still in school. Let’s not even get into the fact that most internships are technically illegal. The point is that the largess of the late ’90s that gave my generation our fantasies of success and airs of entitlement is long gone, and we are collectively struggling to face the reality of down-scaling our dreams in the midst of a sour economy.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. . . [read more]

Over on Alt1040, Geraldine Juárez asks me smart questions about the ideas behind Beyond Digital: Morocco. I do my best to answer. En espanol para que los güeros aprendan!

Auto-tune más allá de lo digital – excerpt:

ALT1040 – ¿Es el espacio post-digital el extremo físico del internet? ¿Como defines post-digital?

DJ Rupture: Es importante pensar en tiempo post-digital o post-internet. Y para mi este tiempo es lento lento… todo lo opuesto a un meme (#sheen, #egypt etc… ) El tiempo y/o la velocidad del internet, creo que es una velocidad/tiempo muy rápida, muy capitalista; no solamente es hoy sino ahora mismo, fast-food al máximo. Y yo estoy bien metido en el matrix, ya sabes…

Los espacios post-digitales ¡tienen que ver con la lentitud!, con dar espacio a una idea (o “meme” LOL) , para darle más atención a mucho tiempo. Los contextos son super importantes… no solamente para entender mejor cómo funciona una canción o un género. Los espacios post-digitales tienen que examinar metodos de distribución (on y offline). para poder formar un ejemplo que sea actual.

Todos esos apagones del internet en Egipto y Libia sirven para recordarnos que ese ciberespacio no es un ideal flotando ahí arriba con los angelitos, cubriéndo nuestro planeta con lindas ideas e información… es también cables, túneles y nodos de control concentrado que se puede apagar, o filtrar. Como tú dices, ¡el internet siempre ha sido material!

Quizás lo post-digital tiene que ver con mirar al internet y el mundo digital desde una perspectiva de escasez y precariedad, donde no tienes el lujo de no pensar en su infraestructura.

[originally posted at Mudd Up!]

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I’m going into the wormhole. At least 120 of you are coming with me.

On Monday night at around 3AM, I received an email from our Barcelona point-man Carlos: I finally found out exactly who the guy is that sings that awesome Amazigh song that you played on Mudd Up! last night and is also on the Beyond Digital trailer thingy. It’s Cheb Adil El Miloudi (he says his name/big ups himself at the beginning of the song). I like his Dad-sweater!

Excited, I went over to the video, as nearly 1.5 million people had done before me:

Beyond Digital yielded its first fruits — my friend IDed an unknown singer on a semi-legit CD I purchased in Paris (containing no tracklist), and our favorite jam turned out to be that of a massively popular Amazigh vocalist – عادل الميلودي – with millions of Youtube pageviews and zero English-language biographical info online. CONTEXT! NAMING NAMES!

Even better: as I listened to his song, I learned that our Kickstarter project had just reached its funding goal! Which is a wonderful affirmation of not only Beyond Digital but the collaborative aspect of it that “crowdsourcing” (but we’re not a crowd, it’s more of an open community; the distinction is key) brings to the forefront. More generally, I feel like we’re all exploring this stuff together…via discussions on blogs and face-to-face recording sessions, via giving musicians props and excavating useful info, by being careful listeners and enthusiastic newcomers (like me) and in countless others ways — supporting this particular project among them.

As of this evening, more than a hundred people have contributed, ranging from $1 donations to some wise kids near Philly who pitched in $1500, a sum that secures them a DJ Rupture party there next month…

And it’s not too late to help out.

We’ve got 6 days left on the Kickstarter, so act fast if you would like to get mailed 3 extra-awesome CDs from Marrakesh ($25) or want Maga Bo and I to make a mixtape whose theme/topic/angle you pick ($750), or desire any of the other rewards — from an original photographic print by John Francis Peters to the have-Rupture-play-yr-party #swag #afrosheen option.

As we mention, the Kickstarter goal covers just a portion of our budget. We’re being super-efficient & frugal with our expenses, gearing up to do the maximum on a shoestring budget. Grant applications and other fundraising options are in process, as is the move to become a proper non-profit organization so we can continue Beyond Digital well beyond our June time in Marrakesh.

What I’m saying is: we can still use your support, we’ll put it to good use, and we would like to offer a huge thanks to everyone who has donated or helped spread the word thus far.

To close, here’s another Abil El Miloudi video. This one is more like the song from our Kickstarter video: Abil El Miloudi’s auto-tune vocals shimmer above bird songs (Amazigh pop loves rural signifiers and so do I) and the lovely, root-like (in appearance) acoustic guitar-type instrument called an ‘utar’ (my extremely limited Arabic/Tamazigh vocabulary gets transliterated into Spanish phonetic spelling, that’s how I learned from Abdel and Khalid in Barcelona, sorry!).