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Word the Cat

living in late eskimo

Posted by Chris on June 27, 2012 at 5:08 pm  

wiley influenced sound palette painted in abstract expression. hear guns being loaded and cameras popping off. new from logos.

Logos-Devils by Logos(Radial Productions)

meanwhile, the elusive one himself has been organising grime raves in dubai and prepping a new pop single for the summer. heatwave drops at the end of july and is actually not bad.

wiley’s being cautious as ever with record labels though:

meanwhile he’s just dropped a mixtape of 10 grime freestyles (get that here). and is already working on the next steppps.

present-nuclear futures

Posted by Chris on June 21, 2012 at 10:16 am  

Open string guitars driven by percussive vibration. Fuyuki Yamakawa’s recent installation at Tokyo Art Fair featured two guitars attached to pots of radioactive soil. Every time a geiger counter clicks, the sound is converted to movement via a transducer that shakes the guitar. For the Tokyo installation the soil was taken from the imperial palace gardens. Open string percussive sound with a strong attack. Through a double analogue metaphor of sound, first via the geiger counter, second via the guitar, the invisible/inaudible presence of the radiation is given body. This seems like a pretty useful way of understanding an invisible threat. In this article for the LRB, Nick Richardson writes:

‘Since the accident,’ Yamakawa told me, ‘Japanese people are living with numbers and abbreviations: Sv, Bq, Gy, CPM. They think that numbers are a scientific and concrete way to know about radioactivity. But numbers are abstract, we cannot perceive numbers.’ We can perceive guitars.

Compare this way of sonically dealing with radiation with Jacob Kirkegaard’s four rooms [archived post here]. Fukushima is a lot fresher than Chernobyl, the Tōhoku region isn’t a cleared, fallow space in the same way. When Kirkegaard does the old Alvin Lucier trick of playing room tone back into a space repeatedly (thus building up a layered drone through recording and re-recording the playback) he is engaging with ruined architecture, a space without people, historicising a dead and poisoned space.

Jacob Kirkegaard – Auditorium

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Despite the ruin porn of Chernobyl/Pripyat’s human structures, wildlife in the area is thriving. Radiation is far less of a threat to animals than the presence of humans. Just like in the Korean DMZ where one of the world’s largest colonies of amur tigers live, safe from hunters, dodging landmines. Peter Cusack has made some environmental recordings of Chernobyl wildlife which you can hear here.

Yamakawa’s work seems more human than post-human, a way of understanding radiation for people who are still dealing with the emotional and physical fallout. His previous work is also on a very human scale. One performance uses his heartbeat and a stethoscope as a vibrational trigger for the guitar. Tuvan throat singing also plays a part:

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Noda has taken the decision to restart two nuclear reactors in the face of the biggest protest movement in a generation. A major protest to surround the national diet (parliament) building is planned for 29th July.

grime numbers

Posted by Chris on June 15, 2012 at 11:38 am  

forthcoming on ResonanceFM GRIME NUMBERS edited by autodespair. it’s a great, dense edit of numbers being announced on pirate radio. most of the stations are playing grime. in case you don’t know, when a listener wants to give appreciation to a tune or a vocal they’ll send a missed call to the studio phone, the host then reads out the last three digits of their number. grime numbers has these, the various studio numbers, the station’s frequency and even lyrics which use numbers (wiley on the 38 bus).

Grime Numbers Station by autodespair

a few years ago, Kode9 did a similar piece which just concentrated on those last three digits of callers’ numbers. it came on a cd published with a great experimental radio book called ‘radio territories’. there’s a review of the book here.

Kode 9 – The Last 3 Digits (2006)

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here in full. less numbers, more MCing. a set for deja vu fm from 2003 with just about everyone in the scene (wiley, d double, a young dizzee, crazy titch, lady fury etc. etc… ). there’s an explication of the video by dan hancox here.

dubious prey visual devices

Posted by Chris on January 13, 2012 at 4:31 pm  


lamin fofana brings percussive chamber atmospheriks for the new year with a three track EP on sticks and stones records. vinyl forthcoming on 30th jan. digital on 27th feb.

(there’s a soundcloud link and a youtube link. which to post?) the head of audio at the bbc thinks radio should offer more visual content. this is kind of reactionary. phones and tablets have screens so radio should use screens. but what do we put on the screens? a dozen bbc executives dip their heads in simultaneous consternation. ask youtube, it could be good.

black is a country

Posted by Chris on at 4:30 pm  


Big up the BBC and Brook Lapping Productions. Erykah Badu presents two half hours of radio on the Black Power movement and the aesthetics and music that accompanied it. Great montage and interviews with Archie Shepp, Amiri Baraka, Ornette Coleman, Sonia Sanchez, Lloyd McNeil and Talib Kweli.

Kweli describes a situation from around 10 years ago where he booked a plane ticket over the phone. In the background he was listening to Stokely Carmichael speeches. When he turned up at the airport the authorities were waiting for him. The lesson he takes from this is that white power sees no problem with violence in the ghetto, but when anger turns righteous and directs its attention out to a broader context it becomes a serious threat. Even someone listening to a speech becomes a potential threat.

Here’s the write up. links below:

“Singer and songwriter Erykah Badu presents a two part series exploring the extraordinary underground music generated by the Black Power movement of the late Sixties and early Seventies: radical, beautiful and rare

Black Power – with its symbol of a fist clenched in anger and defiance – politicised African American music in ways the Civil Rights movement had not. The desire for integration gave way to a new, fighting impulse of cultural separatism and self-determination. Politics and music became explosively attuned. From 1968 The Black Arts Movement – ‘the cultural and spiritual sister of the Black Power concept’ – flourished, dedicated to the foundation of an authentic Black aesthetic in literature, poetry and music. ‘The Black Power and Black Arts concept both relate to the Afro-American’s desire for self-determination and nationhood’ wrote the African American philosopher Larry Neale in 1968,’…a main tenet of Black Power is the necessity for Black people to define the world in their own terms. The Black artist will make the same point in the context of aesthetics.’

The quest for freedom had both a musical and political resonance. Musicians opened up new and unexplored worlds of musical possibility. Players like Ornette Coleman and Archie Shepp pioneered the ‘New Thing’ – an avant-garde in jazz, pushing the limits of harmony and rhythm. Music was explicitly pressed into political service: The Black Panther Party even produced its own album of underground anthems ‘Seize the Time’ and Black music as a whole became far more vocal in its opposition to white mainstream society. Poet-musicians like Gill Scott Heron and the Last Poets delivered stinging attacks on the political failure of Civil Rights and the reality of the black experience in cities across America. Meanwhile Africa became as a powerful symbol for a younger generation of black American artists, a source of political identification, spiritual sustenance and often exotic, musical inspiration.

Black Power transformed the way musicians negotiated control and ownership of their own music. The club and bar circuit gave way to performances in galleries, lofts, community halls and public spaces. The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians was inaugurated in Chicago (and still thrives today) and other collectives followed. Radical independent labels flourished with very limited vinyl release. Many of these records, infused with the Black Power ethos, are extremely rare, and are featured throughout the series.”

Black is a Country pt1

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Black is a Country pt2

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There’s some more music from these times in this old post.

two eyes of wood

Posted by Chris on November 9, 2011 at 4:40 pm  

Anne Briggs, heavyweight vocalist of the 60s/70s English folk revival sings an acapella rendition of ‘young tambling’, a song about a woman who is ravaged by a mysterious man in the woods and left pregnant. Later, as she ventures out again to the woods to pick a herb which will abort the baby, the man reappears and reveals he has been trapped in the wood by the vicious and capricious queen of elves. However, tonight being Halloween the elfin horde will ride out across the countryside. If the lady can pass a test then she can win the mysterious man’s freedom.

Damp, mossy darkness in northwest Europe… The song shows a series of supernatural threats on the body. Whether it be Tambling (the man)’s sexual attack on Margaret (the lady), where “he never once asked her leave” or the queen’s imprisonment (and accompanying disembodiment) of Tambling and her final curse which concludes the song: “I should have torn out your eyes Tambling, and put in two eyes of wood”.

I gave the vocal a new body of signals in this remix, adding frequency and re-supporting it away from absence and air onto new shifting material. In other words, I took the vocal, reverbed it out and put a load of synth and bass elements underneath it.

Here are the original and remix:

Anne Briggs – Young Tambling (original)

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