linkthink re: hip-hop, reggae, the US, jamaica, and anything else wayne wants to wax on


atolls? fancy that.

in today's nyt piece on cuba's burgeoning tourist industry, ian schrager, "the New York entrepreneur who helped create the trend for stylish boutique hotels with the Royalton in Manhattan, the Delano in Miami Beach and the Mondrian in Los Angeles," makes some casual but contentious claims toward the end of the article:
[Cuba] has a very strong singular culture . . . unlike other islands, like Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, that seem like atolls next to it. Cuba is a real country with a distinct personality. It's exotic and timeless. Whether it's music or some other reason, it captures our fancy.
i dunno. i think it's prolly some other rea$on. but, you know, captures our fancy sure seems to get it right. and though exotic and timeless doesn't quite conjure the images of distinctiveness that terms like singular culture seem to imply, who's to argue that jamaica and the DR are real countries?

if there's a toll here, though, it's the price we pay as an american public scheming and plotting and dreaming against the grain of history. the old empire called that hubris before their language fell out of favor.

among other problems with the article--which, while calling attention to some interesting trends in the cuban and caribbean tourist industry, appears to embrace an implicit (and for some of those consulted, explicit) yearning for the island to be overdeveloped soon as castro croaks--it fails to inspect such facile and spurious assertions as senor schrager's, claims so clearly spoken out of vested interests and plain ignance. instead, the talking-head secret-agents travel-agents are treated as experts, allowed to spew and strew stereotypes, to make outrageous generalizations, to slander and to sully--all in the service of, um, good service (?).

or as mr.schrager says, "My customers are waiting for Cuba to happen."

but why wait?


look here

yes, i'd say, critics can change their minds.

case in point: every time i hear a damian marley song on the radio recently, i immediately think, "oooh--i like this song," often before i even recognize what it is or realize that it was something with which i wasn't so impressed upon my first or second listen. (though i do wonder whether my pleasurable reaction is merely a product of simple recognition, of revelry in the ability of memory.) at any rate, my previous critiques still stand; indeed, the music derives its meanings through such overlapping contextual frames--it is multivalent, offering nuff points of engagement. do i contradict myself? very well then.

also, i don't think critics, despite their (often suspect) claims to authority, represent any special case: everyone changes their mind from time to time with regard to aesthetic judgments--that's what elaine scarry's talking about when she speaks of beauty and being wrong.

jace recently had something similar to say, in a short exchange about my luomo "review," about some of the phallacies, paradoxes, and orthodoxies of contemporary journo-criticism:
reviewings' overrated! :) i certainly dont think exposition should be the default written response to art; suggestion implies continuation via transformation, amplification, mutation, contagion -- how the pieces seeped into or penetrated you.

the standard reviewer's critical body is falsely intact much of the time;

preferring tatters


interestingly, his response recalled the opening paragraphs of scarry's beautiful little book--a passage that rises to the occasion in its economy and plainspoken poesis.


in other news..

LTJ bukem's got a blogg! funny thing about it: he's selling condos.


craftily craftfully seeking kraftwerk..

richie hawtin's transitions is, zwar, quite a piece of work. not nearly as banging an outing as closer to the edit (his previous DE9 release), hawtin's new one is at times flat-out bucolic, ebbing and flowing all the while, but for the most part hanging closer to the chillroom than the dancefloor. the accompanying DVD is not a bonus, it's essential: not only does it provide the full 96 minute mix in surround sound (of which the CD provides a less grand edit for the medium-challenged), the DVD offers a visualization for the mix that dynamically displays the artists and tracks as hawtin triggers them and fades them in and out. there's something almost pedagogical about such transparency, and i really like that. hawtin is similarly generous and forthcoming about his technique and thought process in an interview also contained on the DVD, and a couple short videos offer filmic representations of his mixing style: objects in the visual field gradually or lurchingly move around, appearing and fading again with the same beguiling subtlety and surprise as the layers in hawtin's music. definitely an expansive sonic vision, if you'll except such a mixed metaphor, and expertly executed at that.

envelope pushed. next?


wanna thumb wrestle special?..

lejo's thumb animations are out-of-this-world wonderful. i hope sesame street in the states carries them, too (though i think they switched to a hurban format a while back, so i'm not sure these would fit). click on your respective language button, and then check out the videos, especially the ones on the top left (the DJ) and top right (the magician) and the one with the accordion (bottom left).



so much for "hotlanta"--the storied city was, at least in meterological terms, purdy cold this weekend. of course, i spent most of my time confined to a hotel and its surrounding mall, attending and celebrating the society for ethnomusicology's 50th annual conference.

there's nothing quite like hanging out with 800-or-so other folk united by a love of music and the role it plays in our lives and societies. i don't think the midtown sheraton typically hosts a full-out samba jam in the lobby from 1-2am, but that didn't stop my colleagues from singing, dancing, and drumming their butts off every night. perhaps more amused than entertained, the receptionists and security guards seemed glad to have us around anyway.

it was hard for me to get a sense of the sprawling city, especially so tethered to a hotel. but i can't front: it was a pleasure just to ride the MARTA from the airport and check off all the stops i've learned from outkast songs.

college park! east point! decatur!

despite the cold, there was plenty of music and camaraderie to keep us warm. on top of that, the scandal bag guys uploaded their heatwave 2005 mix just in time to provide some extra hotness (if only in my headphones). i've been digging the whole heatwave movement--bringing together dancehall, reggaeton, hip-hop and related strands--for a minute now, though i've not yet had the pleasure of attending any of their sessions across the pond. the mix is a great compendium of all the big tunes that have been heating up clubs around the world over the last year, with some remixes, classics, and specials thrown in for good measure. one thing that strikes me about the mix is the actual style of mixing, which seems appropriately hybrid: the transitions fall somewhere between the smooth, sometimes extended blends of hip-hop and the abrupt, pull-up style of reggae. new jams appear with hardly any warning (save for those alarmist sirens), keeping the vibe going strong. this is club music, dance music, fun music, world music. listen to it loud. get it here.

while we were busy geeking out down in altlanta, my man pace was geeking out up in boston, keeping his return to the blogosphere going strong by posting a provocative "confession" over at riddimmethod and then some serious data crunching, analysis, and argument over at libraryofvinyl. i can't say i have a strong opinion on the "funkiest year ever," but pace's posts are persuasive.

in other music geekery/scholarship/resources, i've been meaning to link to the following for a while now:
  • anthony mccann, an ethnomusicologist who has been studying the confines of copyright, provides a deep list of links to work on popular music.

  • although not academic in orientation, dub.com provides a generous list of links to dub-related pages all around the web. definitely worth checking out. they just started podcasting, too.

another resource i came across this weekend is calabash music, which offers "fair trade" music from around the world. some quality stuff, too: they've released thomas mapfumo's last two albums, for instance. but perhaps you'd prefer some tanzanian hip-hop courtesy of x plastaz. or killer kwatio from mapaputsi. either way, calabash serves up high quality mp3s, free of DRM nastiness, and they are committed to giving artists around the world a fair shake at promoting and selling their music to a devoted, discerning audience. they also offer a free mp3 every week for registered users. promising stuff--learn more here.

finally, the picture below--for obvious reasons--is of the best signage i spotted in my limited travels around atlanta. in case you're wondering, they're in the "hair and body care" business. that should clear up any questions about pronunciation.

soge? fine by me.


dubble dub

cross-posted to the riddim method

as a likkle promotion for my appearance tonight at "heavy dread," i thought i'd finally get around to rendering the mix from the last time i guested at brynmore's and burning babylon's wicked weekly.

wayne&wax, "dubble dub" (35 minutes, 33 mb)

i call the mix "dubble dub" because i'm playing a bunch of dub tunes (from across the dub spectrum, and a few from beyond) and treating them as a dub producer treats individual tracks in a mix, applying plenty of echo/delay and reverb and working with layers of sound as layers of sound. i also apply some digital-age tricknology, cutting and looping fragments of tunes and often time-stretching tracks to maintain a steady tempo for much of the mix. because the tunes are already dub tunes, many of them brimming with effects and edits, i'm essentially doubling-up on the dub - thus, "dubble dub." (a phrase which barrington levy, thankfully, almost said, which makes for a nice little intro.)

in terms of song selection, my idea was to try to represent the dub tradition in some breadth and depth. so i drew ecumenically from across the spectrum: early, classic dub/DJ experiments; later, dread-ful dub; 80s digi-dub; heavy UK dub mutations; european minimal techno dub; new york illbient dub; and a few tracks that aren't dub at all but get the dub treatment, mashed up with dubby loops and echoing along with that lovely ol' 3:2 jamaican/caribbean/west-african polyrhythm that dub consistently brings out of even the most foursquare music.

the sequence is guided by musical matches and mashes. for example, the vintage drum machine running through lee perry's "dub revolution," mad prof's "boombox," and shuggie otis's "aht uh mi hed" (i've always wondered whether that's an attempt at patois) provides a nice audible thread, among others, with which to weave these seemingly disparate tracks together. in other cases, it's just a matter of time or tone. overall, i try to maintain a good vibe - a proper meds, seen? - while keeping the music and the mood flowing. mostly, i just enjoy the echoes: across beats and bars, land and ocean.

here's the tracklist:

barrington levy, raw raw, dami d, wasp - intro
we - caya's kids
lee "scratch" perry - dub revolution
mad professor - boombox
shuggie otis - aht uh mi hed
pole - silberfisch
jan jelinek - tendency
lou donaldson - ode to billie joe
wayne&wax - odes to billie joe
ernest ranglin - surfin'
tapper zukie - man ah warrior
ansel collins - nuclear weapon
big joe - glitter not gold
dennis alcapone - DJ choice
andy capp - poppy show
brentford all-stars - greedy G
burning babylon - addis red dub
timbaland - get to poppin' (instrumental)
king jammys - megabyte
peego and fatman - dry your tears
the cars - drive

* special thanks to pete murdertone for pointing me to, and sourcing, some of these truly big tunes. my next "heavy dread" mix, as performed tonight, will feature a couple of pete's own homegrown dubby versions. (hope to have that one uploaded with less of a lag).


comment harvest and other seasonal fruit


the dancehall imagination, at a glance

got a buncha protools sessions from a friend in kingston who'd like me to assist with some mixing and mastering. the titles alone speak volumes about the genres of dancehall songs and the (imagined) constraints on young (and old?) songwriters--never mind the social conditions of contemporary kingston, in myth and reality.

for more on this topic, from two very different perspectives, listen to this and this.

see also, this list over at crucial-systems.


cheap vi_agra!! and other spam poetry

i came very close to deleting the following email:
From: Jascha Hoffman
To: wayne marshall
Date: Nov 10, 2005 6:31 PM
Subject: Cheap Vi_agra !!! (from your good friend Jascha Hoffman)

applejack a wherefore on see bourgeois ! it's grocer some
on momenta , ! recusant ! or faro and be
dreadful seebut astringent may.
lonesome try configure be may inmate on be carmen or
try tollgate the may u.s may a introduce see try
nonce somemay ireland !.


Having just received the preceeding in my inbox, I found this roundup of spam-harvested verse quite apposite.


Of course, this message will probably be blocked by your spamfilter.

Jascha Hoffman
to which i replied:
this is great! mind if i "blog" it?
and jascha said:
sure! but the real fun is getting spam poetry from your readers. for instance, with alicia's permission you should run the following too, which is some raw-ass performance poetry that my friend alicia got via unsolicited submission.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Alicia Jo Rabins
Date: Nov 11, 2005 1:51 AM
Subject: Re: Cheap Vi_agra !!! (from your good friend Jascha Hoffman)
To: Jascha Hoffman

dear jascha,

i love it!!! here is something i got a month or so ago, and saved:

labiated a bowl of bread lasagna and milk night and morning, livraison with
"i connivancy banner-fashioned fairfronted knew
optometric mosaicking "then

can you believe that shit? better than anything i've ever written. it
kills me.
so i say:
i'd love to run alicia's, too. (just give me the 'go,' alicia.)

although not in the realm of absurdist spampoetry, one of my favorite spam headlines was this one: "want to see me play with my self?"

just something about that space between "my" and "self" which seemed to make the offer rather enticing actually. yes, i would like to see someone play with their self.

and jascha goes:
that's hilarious!
while alicia responds:
go ahead, by all means... i wish i could take ownership over it, but i
will have to settle for being supremely inspired by it.

so, dear reader, if you too are supremely inspired by the spam poetry above, as well as that collected here, i invite you to share any unsolicited "submissions" that you've received, and enjoyed, in the comment section below.

(anyone else smell a senior thesis?)


just a bugaboo

i'm bugging you?

found some time to poke fun at myself over at the riddim method, mashing up two recordings of ambience and insects (which i like quite a bit on their own) and providing some puffed-up commentary, full of sound and jury, signifying nothing.

kid k has more of a "real" post up there, complete with a curatorial mix compromising nothing but killer tracks by "d'n'b" producer pieter k!


cop op-ed killaz

flashing a gang-sign? making a "gun-hand"? either way, it looks suspiciously "african-american"

i stopped following david brooks's hooky op-ed headlines to his vacuous rants long before the new york times did us the service of making his voice less accessible. so when i saw the title "gangsta, in french" this morning, i could only groan in anticipation, knowing that he was probably going to say something not only ignorant but offensive and knowing that i would have to track it down and read it anyhow, if only to rebut his buttheaded analysis in my own mind.

fortunately, gangsta bloggaz like o-dub and joe twist are swift to respond with a headbutt.


dissertation or bust

nice 'stache, eh

spending more time these days around folks like frank millet, who greets me each time i go for a drink of water in widener (the library named for millet's similarly fated fellow passenger), than with all you fine folk on the intarnets. pardon the pauses, poems, and pics. all my prose is going elsewhere right now.


two turntables laptops and a microphone rack of pedals

luomo at enormous room last night


kickdrum clusters almost aleatoric in their tumblings (un)fill crescendos

dubbed-out, de-realized voices disco down a long hall

low-end wobble all the while

some even dance




there's nothing like a quiet saturday morning for catching up on world events while sipping coffee and enjoying the peace. and nothing quite like the cognitive dissonance produced by enjoying said tranquility while learning of so much unrest.

american news sources have finally noticed that paris is burning (which wikinews was covering long before the times), but why is it that i only hear about ethiopia's troubles via blogs?



al-haca sound and some rndm observations

al-haca soundsystem at beat research, halloween '05

this past monday al-haca soundsystem presented some beat research to a festive halloween crowd. (note the nose on the right.) my own shots seem appropriately ghostly, but al-haca have some clearer pics-and-ting up on their blog. the beat research boys brought out the special soundsystem once again, and al-haca did not disappoint in their use of the woofer. the berlin-based duo display a clear penchant for what ghislain poirier calls "HUGE ASSHOLE BASS," and their electro-infused syncopations struck a balance between trippy teutonic techno and downright dubby dancehall. at times rather reminiscent of the bug, al-haca also threw down some steady 4/4 stompers, though these tracks didn't have the heft of their 3:2 cuts. MC RQM's stream-of-consciousness flow frequently added to the dense textures, cutting across the beats with his over-the-bar rhyme schemes, while producer/laptop-selector MCC coaxed some killer sounds from ableton-live and a wicked effects-box--entirely his own productions, i believe, though perhaps a few by their colleague and collaborator, stereotyp. afterwards, i asked christian about how they fit into the burgeoning german reggae scene. he told me that al-haca is perceived as pretty "leftfield," which apparently suits them just fine.

rndm blending it up

following al-haca was boston's own dj rndm, a young DJ who's been making waves with his expert blends of hip-hop and pop-rock-etc. though his aesthetic fits right into the current craze for mashups, his approach is quite different from--and more demanding than--all of us software-employing mashers. rndm creates live blends on two turntables, using a keen ear for harmonic combinations and some deft skills on the 1s and 2s. restricted to vinyl and technics/techniques, rndm forces himself to find songs that can be made to match without changing them too radically, a constraint that produces some really creative and compelling mixes. somehow rndm is able to recuperate even those classic-rock songs that we could all stand never to hear again, often by dropping some serious crunkness on top.

i've been digging his blends for a while now, and it's always a treat to see and hear him do his thing in the moment. for this halloween session, he pulled out all the stops, blending the themes from "ghostbusters" and "teenage mutant ninja turtles" (he's a radical rat!), among others, into everything from contemporary hip-hop to some classic michael jackson cuts (of course "thriller" got a spin, much to the crowd's delight). rndm's hosting several mini-mixes and individual blends over at his site, so check 'em out and peep the kid's steez.

if you're in the boston area, you can catch rndm doing his thing in the flesh tonight at the indy in union square. his "special blend fridays" now alternate with dj BC's and lenlow's mash ave parties--reliable friday night entertainment for anyone in the slummaville area.


de los muertos

for today's and tomorrow's remembrances of our dear departed, i offer some shots snapped on a recent walk through mt.auburn cemetary, a resting place that seems more exalted than morbid, more curious than serious--perhaps, if you will, more monumental than grave.

at mt.auburn, i tend to seek figures and disfigures, incidental patterns and peculiar names rather than, say, the biggest ziggurats, remarkable lives, or famous folk--though there's no shortage of those. (and don't get me started on the trees.) at any rate, without further ado, i offer you a few.

you can view the full set here. (or go here for a slideshow.)

(and, in the "remarkable lives" category, don't miss the charles turner torrey subset.)