Monday, December 31, 2007
LCD SOUNDSYSTEM -- All My Friends
Music for thirty and forty somethings reflecting on dwindling glam encounters through the prism of Roxy modernist piano and Ziggy Alauddin insanity. A life measured in pop music and its rituals. I wonder if 45:33 would have fitted on to one side of a C-90 cassette for the old exercise walkman.
Posted by nabeel at 9:31 am
SHACKLETON -- Hamas Rule
Brooding orientalist dub disco more like. Will there be no end to sampling the drums of the other. Chopped and screwed. Headless in Gaza. The producer with the same name as a Brit colonial era explorer has made some precise cuts, dubplates and remixes this year.
Posted by nabeel at 2:21 am
GYPTIAN -- Guns And Guns
(Seed Weed Riddim)
Sixty thousand and 70. That is the price it takes to kill you and me. Brothers, sisters, cousins, friends and foes alike. Kingston counts the numbers. Wrapping the tongue around the figure in a supple singjay style and the concrete accounting of the market make this a great conscious ragga track. Plentee-ee--eee for sale.
Posted by nabeel at 1:50 am
AMY WINEHOUSE -- Love Is A Losing Game
(Truth & Soul Remix)
Remembering a love affair with a short-haired Godard extra from Wisconsin. Sixties retro back in faux black. Stax of Bacharach. Bond theme for the Shirley Bassey rehab centre. Black-water rafting through a tunnel darkly on this Manhattan Research Inc. soundalike version.
Posted by nabeel at 1:26 am
PANDA BEAR -- Bro's
got the 12" at the tail end of 2006, but its velvety beach trance lingered longer because of its presence on the top long player Person Pitch. It's like The Velvet Underground's White Light White Heat and the noisier bits of the eponymous third album fed through a sampler of Brian Wilson harmonies and ex-Spector-ated. I'm a sucker for reverb and echo. The Pasifikan sleeve (I could be misplaced with the ethno reading?) adds to the tribal shamanism of the groove.
Posted by nabeel at 12:11 am
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Thursday, December 27, 2007
M.I.A. -- Paper Planes (Remix featuring Bun B & Rich Boy)
Excerpts from kid-adult territory. Adapting Chuck D, it's safe to say that M.I.A. is CNN for kidz:
I fly like paper, get high like planes
If you catch me at the border I got visas in my name
No one on the corner has swag like us
Hit me on my burner prepaid wireless
We pack and deliver like UPS trucks
Already going hell just pumping that gas
Third world democracy
Yeah, I got more records than the K.G.B.
So, uh, no funny business
Some some some I some I murder
Some I some I let go
Posted by nabeel at 5:52 am
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
J DILLA -- People
We The People. Sunday was the second and final voting day in the state assembly elections. The results will come out in a week but it looks like high urban voter turnout for Modi in north and South Gujarat means a vote for the BJP incumbents and authoritarian populism. Führer Modi will have another five years of his state terror though the BJP majority will be reduced, particularly in central and western parts of the state. A BJP victory is likely to be the result despite the much vaunted 'economic development' of 'Vibrant Gujarat' being patchy to say the least. Gujarati Muslims are proverbially fucked. If an Islamist fundie creates havoc anywhere in India, it will provide a license to kill for militant Hindus here. Maybe they won't even need that to kick up another firestorm. The silent majority stands and watches as the represssion creeps on, or clap as a Gujarati NDTV audience recently did when a BJP representative said rapes and murders were OK in police actions: 'Wo hota hai/That just happens'. Modi and the state machinery planned and facilitated the pogrom in 2002 and he has supported extra-legal activity with 'fake encounters' between the police and Muslim militants/suspects. This vote will have been another popular mandate for fascism and terror. A lot of the middle class and upper-class Gujaratis I meet (all Hindus) are apologists because he's apparently brought good governance and economic development and, besides, the opposition Congress is corrupt and inept. This may be true but to my foreign ears, such defences of Modi sound like post-Kristallnacht Germans saying Hitler was good because 'outside the trains don't run on time' and the autobahns are a great innovation for the nation. Quietism or tacit approval of the government's policies are the norm here for the Hindu consuming classes in an increasingly communally divided urban space. School history books praise Hitler and macho Hinduism, and construct the Muslim presence in India only as foreign intervention. In the political discourse, call-and-response rabble rousing are par for the course. Congress campaigner Sonia Gandhi is pilloried as an Italian interloper who wants to Christianize the Hindu land of India. Modi has shown himself to be a vicious operator--Ashis Nandy met him early in his career and described him as a ruthless apparatchik. He's even pissed off many of his own hardline Hindutva gang in the BJP who worry about 'Moditva' superceding their own brand of Hindu nationalism. He's shown that he's willing to admit in public that he breaks the law depending on how it suits him. This election was very much about the cult of personality. He conflated himself with Gujarat, appealing to the ethnic chauvinism of the state. The photographically reproduced Modi masks many were wearing at rallies were really spooky. He's a master of political spectacle. Beyond the BJP, 'terror' and 'terrorism' are being chucked around as politically expedient terms by various parties, tarnishing all Muslims and dissident elements in Gujarat and elsewhere. The bourgeoisie in this metro is largely unconcerned about any of this as long as the cash keeps rolling in and it can speculate in the stock markets.
Posted by nabeel at 5:16 am
Sunday, December 16, 2007
ARCHITECTURE IN HELSINKI -- Heart It Races (DJ /Rupture Mix)
(AKA Adrenaline featuring Mr Lee G)
Spent most of Saturday at this event called 12 on 12, an annual session which began in Ahmedabad, March 12th 2005, as a day for architects from all over India to talk about whatever they wanted for 12 minutes each. Archi-types, landscape architects and interior designers powerpointed throughout the day. I think there were 38 in all. I don't know much about architecture but this was a great introduction to the breadth of practice, some academic issues, aesthetics and politics. There were some naff presentations featuring waffly new age bullshit dressed up as social conscience. There's a tendency for Indian intellectuals who want to sound more 'serious' and 'engaged' than the apparent mainstream of Indian culture to become really pretentious about their work. They do this in the English language. To this English foreigner, this overblown rhetoric sounds vacuous most of the time. It's the same for 'alternative' arthouse films here in which actors speak portentous lines in English that sound like nothing people actually say to each other in any language. In some of the power point presentations, I started to get annoyed with the spate of cryptic dot, dot, dots (... ) after sentences (Hallmark cards for aspiring brainiacs) and gee-whizz ideas such as Jonathan Livingston Seagull text panels for corporate IT interiors. But on the plus side some of the presentations that dealt with huge development projects in rural areas (Bhutan and Nagaland), urban wetlands (flood-prone Surat), heritage property renovation and large public buildings were fascinating. Their sensitivity to longstanding environmental and cultural ecologies was reassuring, given the untrammeled real estate boom in India's metropolises and its 'creative destruction'. The prominence of software and computer mapping in the field was another sign of the digital mediascape shaping so much work today. My other initial response to the wide range of presentations was the continuing dominance of high modernism as a paradigm. Le Corbusier, Mies Van der Rohe, Charles Correa, Louis Kahn and post-Bauhaus internationalism were very influential on the establishment of architecture as a professional practice and discipline in India. In fact, some of these major figures designed buildings in Ahmedabad. Hell, even Buckminster Fuller constructed a dome in the old city. The cult of the architect ('starchitect') rather like the cult of the auteur film director is very strong, even though architecture is a collaborative enterprise, circumscribed by many institutions and forces. Though vernacular postmodernism has had a life here, for the most part a modern minimalist aesthetic with minor elements of regional and ethnic traditions seems to be the norm. But I'm saying this as someone pretty ignorant of the field, based largely on a first impression from this show 'n' tell day.
Posted by nabeel at 7:42 pm
Friday, December 14, 2007
Mel Cheren launched West End Records, one of the great dance labels of the 1970s & 80s, home of Larry Levan and the source of a series of classic 12" disco tracks. I remember paying the hefty sum of £5.99 for some of these US imports in their pinky purple sleeves at Jumbo Records in the Merrion Centre in Leeds. Slices of the Paradise Garage were transported to Leeds clubs like The Warehouse almost every Friday and Saturday night from 1981-83. These were my early steps away from the orthodoxy of punk's (and some of post-punk's) hater attitude towards disco. It finally became OK to say that you liked records by Patrick Hernandez, Donna Summer and so on. West End took you into vast territories in long mixes by Levan, Francois Kervorkian, Todd Terry and others. This record by the Peech Boys with its machinic clap also opened up my listening to Kingston's Drummlie Avenue sounds and King Tubby, Jammy and Scientist at the controls of the dub engine.
New York Citi Peech Boys -- Don't make me wait (Larry Levan 12" mix)
Posted by nabeel at 8:37 pm
Huckster, talent spotter, domestic abuser, axe hero, and one of the first 'rock 'n' roll' (patent pending) recording artists with 'Rocket 88', Ike Turner was a rhythm 'n' blues man-machine. I've got a a couple of his albums with Tina, but A Black Man's Soul is my favourite. Two tracks at that last link and I'm sure many sites will feature Ike tracks in their informal obits. The following link doesn't specifically relate to Ike, but it was the first from the portable archive to strike me as in some way appropriate:
THE PERCEPTIONISTS -- Black Dialogue
Posted by nabeel at 5:57 pm
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Though I'm not a great fan of concert albums, I've been listening again and again to the endless subtleties on this CD of two great honky tonk sets. The Flying Burrito Brothers played support for the Grateful Dead at the Avalon Ballroom in April 1969. The double CD of two San Francisco nights features a couple of bonus home demos too, one of which is a drawing room solo of the second Gram Parsons' tune I took a shine to--'$1,000 Wedding'. The first was 'Grievous Angel' on an NME compilation tape. On the album Grievous Angel, I thought '$1,000 Wedding' was about a bride not showing up to a wedding because she's had second thoughts. Maybe it was an arranged marriage. The line goes 'the bride went away' which makes the funeral in the song more of a metaphor for the deserted groom's feelings. This reading seemed convincing probably because it prodded some of my own insecurities. In the earlier demo version, Parsons sings 'the bride passed away' which makes the funeral more literal. Interesting and clever, deeper little alteration made in those few years between the demo and the album version. I'm not a Gramologist, haven't researched this change in the words, but in any case the demo is as lovely as the later studio version.
THE FLYING BURRITO BROTHERS now packaged as GRAM PARSONS & THE FLYING BURRITO BROTHERS
$1,000 Wedding (home demo)
Posted by nabeel at 7:00 am
Thursday, December 06, 2007
ADVENTURE TIME -- This dome is our home
PHAROAHE MONCH -- Welcome to the terrordome
Today is the 15th anniversary of the Babri Masjid's demolition.
Vijay Prashad five years ago
Arvind Rajagopal on Hindutva, the media and the Birthplace of Ram movement
Aijaz Ahmed on Right-wing politics, and the cultures of cruelty
I'm stuck in my room in Hyderabad because there's a Red Alert to avoid crowded places today. I've got the 'Delhi belly' anyway. Fourth day in the city and have still barely seen anything.
Too much tension now.
Führer Narendra Modi admits to being a 'merchant of death'
Posted by nabeel at 7:11 pm
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
In the year and half since I was last here Ahmedabad has become cluttered with enormous buildings that look like alien spaceships have decided to colonize Gujarat. Triple-decker monstrosities, sometimes up to 450,000 square feet, with huge glass windows and bigger air-conditioning bills, provide a respite from the sun and heat. At the weekends traffic is high, but purchases remain thin. The same brands here as the next mall. I hope the street hawkers, main street stores and stalls don't disappear by the next time I'm here. Billboards and stories from the rebranded consumer-age Times of India proclaim 'Ahmedabad Next', hyping this growth and real estate looting/speculation. Is this what Führer Modi means by successful economic development?
Porter Wagoner gives the Gang of Four a run for its money with this classic about reification:
PORTER WAGONER -- Shopworn
And here's one for the Amdavadis hoping to get a piece of that international brand action. I just finished a rewrite of an essay on The Smiths so it seems doubly appropriate:
THE SMITHS -- Shoplifters of the world unite
Downstairs for stationery, haberdashery.... kerrching... I love the kerrching sound in pop tunes. Twas there in Three Times Dope's old skool classic 'Funky Dividends', in 'Ker-ching!' by Lady Sovereign, and alongside the clickback of the automatic pistol in M.I.A.'s 'Paper Planes'. But before all that was Grace Brothers:
RONNIE HAZELHURST -- Are you being served? (film version)
Posted by nabeel at 9:42 pm
Saturday, December 01, 2007
FLYING LOTUS -- Spicy Sammich
Anu and RK took us to Law Garden for dinner. Time to make the annual pilgrimage to the Amul Sandwich stall in the gully. We sat on the side of the road and talked animatedly for quite some time about Saawariya, the film for which Anu designed most of the women's costumes. The Amul guy recognized me from previous times as the sir with the perspiring head. The aloo double chutney sandwich did not disappoint. Go buy the superb Flying Lotus EP
Posted by nabeel at 6:19 pm
Tunes for your delectation. The Flying Lotus track is dedicated to Gareth who I've discovered is a bit of a teapothead.
PREFAB SPROUT -- Appetite (Acoustic Version)
BEAT KONDUCTA -- More Rice
FLYING LOTUS -- Tea Leaf Dancers
Here in Ahmedabad, went to Mirch Masala for lunch on Thursday and partook of the milhe julhe kebab platter for starters. Shared with Manish of course. The tikke and kebab melted on impact. Overdid it with the main course of dum pakht gosht biryani since this is a rarity in these vegetarian parts. Should have stuck to tarka daal with one tandoori roti. For even more gluttonous measure ate a kulfi for dessert. Felt guilty for a few hours but the kebabs were worth it. Rounded off the sumptuous afternoon with a Kalkatty paan from Krishna Pan Parlour. Really looking forward to my first trip to Hyderabad this Sunday where I will taste my first genu-wine Hyderabadi biryani. The one pictured here is a Karachi version of the classic.
Posted by nabeel at 3:08 am