on the record
(now that simon's called me on it, i'll have to add my 2 bits to the MIAsma, but frankly i'm still looking for an angle at this point, the conversation having effectively exhausted itself. still, i try to be a man of my word. so soon come.)
meantime, a couple record-related jawns:
pacey foster has finally made public his library of vinyl experience. in current form, it's an audioblog/wiki that hopes to bring interesting, old, public domain records into digital form, surround them with trenchant, expert discourse, and let the music and ideas flow. the first installation features some obscure recordings of music from the south pacific, south asia, and west africa. (i don't think these are actually public domain, but it's a test run, so we'll assume mp3-blog rules apply. [in other words, get 'em afore they crossed out.]) there's a long-term plan, too, but i'll let pace explain that. i think the project has a lot of potential, and i'm looking forward to experiencing and helping out as it grows in scope and shape.
also, i was happy to see my old music guru, warren senders, post to the society of ethnomusicology list a couple times last week. back when i was in college, warren taught me about singing and listening and tapping out 3:2 crossrhythms as i rode the bus. i might have learned more about music and musicianship from warren than from any other single person. he's a truly amazing musician and a polymath to boot. my favorite of his projects is the antigravity band--a collection of musicians from pune, india, with warren playing the mingus role (composer, bandleader, bassist). honestly, i've never heard anything like it: the melodies are angular and catchy, the rhythms churn along (often in odd meters that feel less odd than you'd think), the textures are enchanting, combining instruments and styles that too rarely combine, and the players are all virtuosos with a sense of restraint (too rare a quality in the average virtuoso). check out the clips of boogie for hanuman (my favorite) and the band's version of abdullah ibrahim's ishmael for some sublime sounds, and pick up the album--you won't be disappointed.
if you're into more trad indian styles, you'd probably dig warren's khyal performances. the man has dedicated the last couple decades to this vocal form (and still considers himself, in the tradition of humility in the indian arts [especially for 'outsiders'], more or less, a beginner). but he still knows his jazz, rock, avant-garde, you-name-it. actually, he names it, or doesn't, in an article that he wrote recently for an online org called interstitial arts, aka 'artists without borders.' it's a piece reflecting on our perception of music and categories as mediated by record collections. in the course of the piece, warren may uphold as many categories as he dismantles, but it's an entertaining read, raising some good questions and bringing together quite a diversity of artists and albums. it's not surprising (to me anyway) that the music of jamaica makes an early and exemplary appearance.