Last week me and Atropolis played at the launch party for the new Dub Stuy record label and their home built reggae sound system. Playing on this system was really really fun. Physical sound vibrations, great bass and a great vibe. Big shoutout to the Dub Stuy team for having the vision to put this together. We need more people thinking big like this in our underground scene in Brooklyn.
Raz Mesinai is a longtime homie of the Dutty Artz crew and is one of those crazy, iconoclastic and stubbornly original musicians that defy easy classification. He’s been making spacy, sometimes terrifying, blunted bass music since before your mom ever started listening to Dubstep. He posted this piece on his Tumblr the other day and I got a real kick out of it and thought I’d share it here.
MY WORK by Raz Mesinai
My work cleans up after itself as well as after the messes I make.
My work doesn’t want to be ‘current’, because that would mean that eventually it wouldn’t be.
My work picks up chicks for me, and then forces me to break up with them.
My work is not casual, nor is it relaxed.
Ever wonder why our records sound good? It’s because of a guy called Shawn Hatfield out in the Bay Area. I first met Shawn years ago on the internet when I used to hang out on IRC in a chatroom with a bunch of other producers called #// (slash slash). He used to teach me crazy music science in MAX/MSP over a chat window just because he was a nice guy. We kept in touch and when he opened his mastering business we started working together. He’s mastered my albums Flowers and Solar Life Raft as well as most Dutty Artz stuff in the past few years. He does a great job and is just a generally cool guy. Recently he sent me an email with a link to an online fundraiser he is doing to help his father Jay Hatfield who is battling cancer. If you are like me and most of the people I know and don’t have a square nine to five or work for the government you know how fucked up the health care system in this country is and how expensive it can be. It’s not fair that someone should have to go through an incredibly draining battle fighting a disease and then have to go bankrupt afterwards to pay for their treatment.
Shawn has set up an online fundraising page to raise funds for his father’s treatment here. He’s also a badass mastering engineer who you can hire to make your music sound awesome here. In choosing to be musicians and work in this business we give up a lot of the stability and safety that people take for granted in normal life, things like health insurance. If you can relate maybe chip in a few bucks or hire Shawn to master some of your music.
[youtube width=”640″ height=”360″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eclyw_D154I[/youtube]
On a recent Brooklyn bound A-train ride, Geko and I were feverishly brainstorming places to host a New York performance for Titica, once we found out she wouldn’t be able to stay in town for Que Bajo next Thursday. Feeling like now is a crucial time for LGBTQ issues in Africa, we didn’t want to miss the opportunity for Titica to gain some visibility outside of her home context, and help open up the dialogue in regards to what is permissible in the realm of “African values.” While that will perhaps be a longer fight, the “Space” problem was quickly resolved when our traveling companion Thanu Yakupitiyage offered her iBomba party at Bembe on Monday night. Thanu’s work and focus made for quite the serendipitous pairing, perfect to host Titica in NY, thus initiating a kind of an informal inaugural collaboration between Thanu and Dutty Artz, the collective of cultural agitators with its spiritual heart in the county of Kings, New York.
On the eve of that event, it is my pleasure to introduce Thanu as the collective’s newest official member (something we’ve been planning before that fateful train ride)! While we’ve been bringing you blog posts, music, parties and merchandise of various sorts for a few years now, Dutty Artz has been steadily heading in a direction in which we’re trying to find ways to expand beyond music and the limitations of the Internet. It has always been our desire to facilitate ways to nurture a creative community across social and cultural borders. Adding Thanu to the lineup is a key part of us manifesting that intention in the real world!
Thanu traverses the lines between immigrant rights activist, media producer, researcher, and political/cultural organizer. Reppin’ Sri Lanka via Thailand and Massachusetts she’s now based in Brooklyn, and has been in New York since 2007 where she has worked for organizations highlighting youth media, racial justice, and immigrant rights. When Occupy Wall Street kicked into gear in the Fall of 2011, Thanu was part of a crew of organizers of color who started the People of Color Caucus in order to highlight and organize around issues faced by communities of color that were being ignored by the larger OWS movement. She also helped lead the Immigrant Worker Justice working group in the Fall, and put together the December 18th International Migrants’ Day march. She is on the editorial team and blogs for, In Front and Center: Critical Voices in the 99%, and is one of the new culture editors for Organizing Upgrade, which is re-launching this month.
While those experiences will definitely add a new dimension to the aims of Dutty Artz, it is her interests and passions in the role of global music and dance in the creation of transformative political and cultural spaces that dovetail nicely with the work we’ve already been doing. For her, politics, music, and dance are intricately linked. She is an aspiring DJ and late last year, joined forces with DJs Beto and Mios Dio to organize and bring new acts and guest DJs to iBomba. We think that Thanu is a perfect fit and welcome addition to the family.
Check out a sample of her bad gyal writing on politics and pop culture here:
And check her out this Monday as she hosts iBomba alongside DJ Beto and Mios Dio, with guests DJ Ripley and Angolan Kuduro star Titica! Look out for more from Thanu soon!
Activated by the Geko Jones-led call for a December 15th day of #YoutubeDivas, here’s a selection of incredibly talented vocalists who stretch & confuse the boundaries of voice, body, song.
If a “diva” is someone who uses the inherent performativity of gender to radiate brilliance, then here are some stars in my galaxy. These five women are particularly important to me for their brave, exquisitely articulated visions of what music itself can be.
And if this post has a reading list, it’s:
Pamela Zoline – The Heat Death of the Universe
Joanna Russ – The Female Man
James Tiptree Jr./Alice Sheldon – The Girl Who Was Plugged In
now for the #Youtubedivas:
MAJA RATKE — I have a Maja Ratke dublate, for real! Got it cut in Bristol. At some level, being a ‘good’ singer is easy — you play the game by external rules, you sing on-key, you behave the way good singers behave. Creating outside of the drab-but-heavy gravity of normalcy ain’t easy. Maja, like Meredith before her, makes the difficult look at once difficult and effortlessly elemental.
MEREDITH MONK — From 1979. A lot of people learned a lot of lessons from Meredith Monk… If her name is new then you have homework to do. Bonus: our favorite semi-forgotten NYC black queer pop minimalist Julius Eastman accompanying her on vocals!
CAROLINE BERGVALL — Caroline and I have worked together, she is one of the great poet/voices of our time! Brilliant, hypnotic, smart, visceral. The 1st video is Caroline reading — so rhythmic, her flow. If this video doesn’t have more than 75 plays by the end of today, something is very wrong. The 2nd is me in Knoxville. I was opening for the Dirty Projectors in this beautiful old theater and decided to begin my set with a piece-in-progress by Caroline.
CHRISTINE SEHNAOUI is my favorite saxophone player. Not into the jazz dudes. Love Christine sounding like anything but a horn. Have you ever heard brass speak like this? Three years back I profiled her for The National:
During the last few weeks, my friends and family have mistaken the work of Christine Abdelnour Sehnaoui for both a broken air conditioner and a car dying outside my window. I can’t say that I blame them. Her recordings call to mind unoiled hinges, deflating balloons, asthma attacks. This Parisian alto-saxophonist, born 31 years ago to Lebanese émigré parents, plays like music does not exist.
Lastly, here’s a diva in the traditional sense — Violinist/vocalist Daoudia, a massive chaabi star from Casablanca. If you’ve spent time in Morocco, then you’ve heard her. Friends in Casa who’ve dealt with Daoudia report that the chaabi matriarch is humble and down-to-earth, too.
Fellow native new yorker (Bronx stand up!) and expert cutter-through-of-smoke-mirrors Noam Chomsky gave this talk in April 2011 while the currently flourishing #occupy movements were just a gnawing sense of horrific injustice in the occupiers bellies.
In it he breaks down such popular topics as:
1) Why economic power = political power
2) How financial regulations were systematically demolished in this country to benefit the 1% ending a ‘golden era’ of egalitarian prosperity
3) How Obama was bought by Wall Street and how he repaid them
He forgot his notes at the hotel and so it’s light on statistics and heaaaavy on truthy goodness. Need to explain to your friends why the Occupy Wall St movement matters at your next cocktail party? Start here.
Big shout out to PDX Justice for filming and posting this on Vimeo, along with The Collins Distinguished Speaker Series and the Department of English of the University of Oregon at Eugene for holding the event. If I get a free hour I’d like to rip the audio for this and encode it as a podcast. If anyone else is motivated to do it first we’ll happily host and promote it here. The fact that this thing is so relevant to the current conversation and only had 636 views when I found it is terrible.
Not really a lot of commentary about this besides the fact that I just listened to it like 19 times in a row. This is, how you say, my shit. Sweet and low rnb en espanol by World Hood out of Sacramento with Peligrosa crew’s own Sonora coming in hard body on the remix. Big tune, and it’s downloadable via the soundcloud page, so get to it.
Here’s the video for the original, which is also very nice:
Last week, Portland, Oregon based musician Liz Harris, better known as Grouper released two separate incredible albums, Alien Observer & Dream Loss, wrapped together as A I A. Preview the striking Wurlitzer pulses and sweet drones title track from Alien Observer above. A I A is beautiful, strange, and unsettling; harsh, heavy drones & dark, delicate tones; songs about aliens and ghosts & loves lost and love yet to happen. Liz Harris also made a series of rare east coast live appearances, one of which was at Brklyn’s Glasslands last Saturday. Harris gave such a mesmerizing performance, the crowd was pin drop silent and so attentive you could hear the sound from the venue two doors down bleeding into Glasslands.
Harris describing her new albums: “Dream Loss is a collection of older songs, mostly written before a hard time. Alien Observer, for the most part, is made of songs recorded after that time. Each has a song that belongs thematically on the other, a seam stitching them together. Both albums… explore otherness. Being an other to one’s own self, to other humans; ghosts and aliens, both literal and metaphorical; and other worlds to escape to (beneath the water, in the sky). Thinking about people who have died…
The process of making these albums reacquainted me with what I want to explore in music: friction, exploration of something large and outside of me, describing and traveling to intangible objects and places, unseen movements and connections between people and spaces. Songs that move on their own, that have an autonomous monstrous quality, songs from another world.”
Let’s talk about letting the weird back out. Let’s talk about the Eternals.
[from their literally genre-defining album Rawar Style]
Their new album Approaching the Energy Field is very much an Album Experience of the sort which appeals to my ever-nostalgic cracker cerebellum (strangely, it is the same part of me that loves noise). Most reviews of their work highlight the genre-hyphening aspects of their sound, which is understandable; dub, arkestry, punk and various other styles resonate in harmony within their mix. What I hear, though, is a personality that is at once singular, communal and universal. You can stream a lot of the tracks off the album at the link above, but I feel like the deep listening that is best enjoyed far away from your computer is really the way to enjoy this stuff.
Don’t get me wrong, though. The music here isn’t really about nostalgia as much as it is about saudade, for after the sugar-rush when we’re each weirder for having met one another.
Shabazz Palaces “An Echo from the Hosts That Profess Infinitum” from the upcoming album Black Up on Sub Pop Records. Considering how heavy we’ve been listening to the first two EPs, and how hungry we are for new Shabazz, this is obviously some some great news! A glimpse of things to come “An Echo from the Hosts That Profess Infinitum,” densely textured poems and verses delivered with that signature measured cadence, swirling and chewed up synths and samples, ridiculous beats and more mbira solos! Looking forward to seeing Shabazz Palaces at SXSW this week. It will be very interesting, even if they’re only giving abbreviated performances!
Tendai , Dougie, and Ishmael
“My girl yuh no… boring / gwan wine bend over touch your toe ring” – Busy Signal
File this one under things that make me happy. Busy Signal is in top form and Washroom deliver a gorgeous reggae flavored dancehall riddim entitled Bad Suh. I’ve been starting my sets with this one recently and also playing a few other cuts on the riddim including the Tifa and Voicemail. People in my Prospect Heights neighborhood may have been confused to see a tall red bearded man gesticulating and shuffling his way through the black grimy snow on his way to the subway to the sound of hot dancehall in his headphones. Anti-winter music.
I never got around to posting “Everything Is Working,” the first track I heard from Games earlier this year/in late-Spring if I can clearly recall. If you were at a party where I played/”DJ” or listened to Rupture’s Mudd Up radio show on WFMU over the Summer – specifically episodes I guest-hosted/filled-in for Jace, you probably heard that track and me going on about how effortless, charming, and amazing it sounds. Needless to say, I was looking forward to hearing more. During the wait for their mini-album That We Can Play, which is out now on Hippos In Tanks, Games (Daniel Lopatin of Oneohtrix Point Never and Joel Ford of Tiger City – two producers currently based in Brooklyn – one of whom we’ve been listening to all year!) released a series of fantastic screwed-retro mixes/mix tapes, steeped in 80s synth-pop-mystic and nostalgia (taking forgotten, obscure songs from the 80s, slowing them down, and in that process transforming them into murky, cinematic, dreamscapes). You can grab those mix tapes over at their Tumblr WAY SLOWER. Some of the characteristics (dreamy, woozy, etc.) are found on those mix tapes bleed into the five tracks on That We Can Play, especially on the opening track “Strawberry Skies,” with excellent vocal contribution from Laurel Halo, whose “Something I Never Had” we’ve played out/and on Mudd Up too, .
CIAfrica is a heavy crew. They have their own thing going on in Babi, Cote d’ivoire and run the sort of international basss weight productions that we live for- along with spitfire lyrics that jump between local concerns and international awareness. Basically they are dope as fuck. It is a huge honor and pleasure to finally see their DA debut up at all the usual spots and getting love from some serious heavyweight DJs, producers and friends.
Various tracks are being loaded to blogs of varying readership- but if you want a little somethin’ somethin’ straight from the elephants mouth….
Head over to bandcamp to DL a copy of the perfectly titled “Epikstar Riddim” from Babylon Residence. This is our first shot with bandcamp- and once we have your email address we’ll hit you with more free music and the occasional update.
COP THE ALBUM HERE, physical CDs in stores soon
There was a meta-data error at itunes- but it should be up ASAP