Word The Cat

Word the Cat

kartel on kartel

Posted by Chris on July 23, 2012 at 12:09 pm  


vybz kartel carries many different faces: skin bleacher, tattoo wearer, sex tune don, mavado feuder, conscious songwriter, skinny freaky looking man, biggest dancehall entertainer of recent times, world boss, teacher, reality tv star… he wears different cloaks for different occasions. meaning doesn’t stick to him easily, he’s always switching up his presence. since last autumn he’s been in jail, initially on ganja charges. those charges have been dropped, but he’s now facing two murder charges. he’s a magnet for messy, contested meanings and controversy. he’s also a master lyricist and storyteller. the symbolism is always deep. his crew is called gaza. notorious across the carribean for ‘obscene’ lyrics (banned on numerous radio stations) and for his use of skin bleaching cake soap, a few months before his arrest in May 2011, he issued the statement below [full version]…

See Jamaica, Vybz Kartel has been carrying a secret for a very long time and I think it is time that I reveal it before persons try to derail the projects that I have put together by continuing to make false reports about me in their attempt to have me muzzled.two years ago, I had an epiphany whilst on stage. I saw thousands of people screaming for Kartel, jumping up and down, listening to ever word that I uttered on stage, it was like the people were eating out of the palm of my hands. At that moment, something strange came over me, as I heard the people screaming for more, I suddenly realized that my calling was to be more than a Deejay.

I realized that the people were not eating out my hands but they wanted to hear Kartel speak because finally somebody was telling their story in a profound no holds barred manner. Whether I was addressing sexuality,poverty, police brutality, injustice,the trials and tribulations of the ghetto I was finally giving ghetto people a voice – a big voice like society never heard before.

I know I am not the first that has ever attempted to do this. Because when I researched I saw that Marcus, Sam Sharpe, Paul Bogle all spoke directly to the powers that be on behalf of the people but were ostracized and in some cases killed. Later, Marley, Tosh, Jacob Miller did the same thing and all died young under unique somewhat mysterious circumstances. I have seen what they have done to ancient Rastamen, People’s Telecom, the Marcus Garvey Political Party and other entities that attacked Babylon head on.

I did not want the same fate to reach me at the time, I did not want them to muzzle me also, so I took a decision that I felt I had to, I had to trick Babylon. I realized if I kept doing outrageous and outlandish stuff, they would write me off as just an attention seeking artiste and not realize that since July 26, 2009 behind closed doors I have been writing my book and setting up my GEL (Gaza Education and Literacy) program. So they put the spotlight on me, not knowing that they were actually putting the spotlight on themselves because Vybz Kartel is not about braces, bleaching and hairstyles but I am about elevating the cause of Ghetto people.

Please understand Jamaica sometimes you have to trick Babylon with confusion. If I revealed my intentions two years ago, do you think the people that control the media would report everything I do? Babylon, you have been tricked. For 500 years, the system has been using reverse psychology to trick my people,I have now used reverse psychology to trick them Let’s see societal hypocrisy for what it is. Now that my book is going to be released, now that most of my songs will have a more cultural overtone as i have already taken the decision to stop deejaying gun lyrics, now that I am going to be providing educational opportunities for young people,will you be giving me the same attention?


for me, to ask whether he’s for real or not kind of misses the point, he’s blowing smokescreens any which way, moving undercover and channeling something deep and chaotic. i’ve been working on an experimental radio/sound art piece called ‘kartel on kartel’. culled from the digital deritus of youtube videos, road DVDs and pirated mp3s, this piece is cut with news reports of his arrest last year and heavily processed re-interpretations of his songs. much of the work was done on audiosculpt which allows you to map visual images and text onto the parameters which effect sound manipulation. this piece was made for Human Fiction Tartini presents Sonic Hologram (an hour of listening) at Apiary Studios, London in July 2012. the embed is below:


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.

Akio Suzuki … 鈴木昭男

Posted by Chris on May 23, 2011 at 3:18 pm  

Akio Suzuki is a Japanese composer, artist and inventor of instruments. he’s interested in the sounds of nature, stripped down pieces of noise and their resonances in a given landscape. David Toop fetes him as “a kind of magician”. In the sleeve notes to the ‘Odds and Ends‘ double CD, Yamantaka EYƎ of the Boredoms, writes “Hearing this music I remember many things, including playing in a puddle as a tiny kid. Play makes all things one. Those who are able to play in the true sense of the word are able to live in eternity. You don’t have to pay no rent to live in the home of eternity. And how cool is that?”

These are really amazing noises. I want to say they’re unearthly, but that’s wrong. The noises are earthly, just maybe not from what many of us think of as the earth. Simple, but richly layered resonances, delays, echos and overtones give such a strong sense of place. Here are three pieces and notes from the Odds and Ends CD featuring his invented instruments. He’s installed and performed with the instruments in galleries, sound art events etc. around the world. some info on that here.

Voice “Analapos – ’70″

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“During the sixties I made nature my teacher. I visited different natural landmarks all over Japan, where I carried out a series of self-study events I called Searching for Echo Point. I would “throw” sounds out into nature and play with the resulting echoes. One day i came up with the idea of a machine that would create echos in a room.

According to a Japanese proverb, parents can learn much from their children. In the same way, the echo instrument I invented and named Analapos still continues to guide me.

In 1988 I held an event called Space in the Sun, the aim of which was to spend an entire day listening to the sounds of nature. I created a special space for this event in the mountains of Aminocho near Kyoto. The space consists of two parallel walls of sundried bricks which produce a unique echo similar to the famous “roaring dragon” walls at Toshogu Shrine in Nikko. I sometimes revisit this space, located right on the meridian, and am touched by how time and weathering is gradually causing it to fade into its surroundings.”

Aeolian Harp

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“At the beginning of the eighties a magazine rang me up, saying that they would like to do an article about my invented instruments. I took them to the sand dunes at Hamaoka to take some picture for the article, and it was there that I discovered that Analapos played a weird melody when the wind blew across it.

These sounds depended on the direction of the wind and on the angle at which the instrument was suspended. I was also suprised to observe that rain and sand particles acted on the coil-springs to stop the sounds.”

Ancient Hill

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“After the Space in the Sun event, I began to think about the links between hearing, living and purification. Thirteen years have now passed since I first moved here to Tango. On three occasions during that period the hill behind my house has played host to a sound festival I promote called Festivity on the Ancient Hill.

The sounds here were originally recorded as ambient music for the Ancient Village local history museum in Tango, and feature me playing some of the instruments I invented during the seventies.”

skimming needles ruined records

Posted by Chris on January 11, 2011 at 2:24 pm  

I just finished reading Pink Noises by Tara Rodgers, a collection of interviews with women who perform/improvise/produce/code electronic music and sound art. The book is out via a university press (Duke) and features amongst others… Kaffe Matthews, AGF, Mutamassik, Ikue Mori, Elaine Radigue and turntablist Maria Chavez

“Records can be ruined intentionally; I’ve had some people ruin records for me, but I really don’t use them very often. I have a couple that I ruined myself that I use maybe once every few months. But the records that I actually use the most are the ones that have been naturally ruined on their own. Because I keep them all in my backpack without the sleeves, so they’re in and out, they move around, they touch each other. So there’s always new scratches. Sometimes I’ll leave them outside or leave them in the car, just so they can kind of mold into each other. Some will stay put, some will warp around it. And I prefer it that way, because it’s organic. Because my needles break during the performance, they break in their own ways. I would hate to have my records have to be manipulated in order for me to play them. I would much rather it be something that happened naturally, so that when I play them, I have a better understanding of what sound is going to happen when this broken needle touches this record warped this way.” (p. 98)

Maria Chavez was born in Lima and raised in Houston. She now lives in Brooklyn. There’s an interview with her here

Needles are dropped and skimmed across spinning vinyl, broken and replaced they do their best to grip splinters of records. At the time of above interview (2006) the setup was one turntable and a mixer with a 3 band EQ…

“I knew [improvised music] was there, and I’d listened to it, but I always felt that there was some kind of inside story going on that I wasn’t understanding. But when I went to that show [Joe McPhee and Trio X], I understood that there wasn’t – it was just what it was. And I really appreciated it for that.” (p. 95)

cornstructure & indus trial

Posted by Chris on November 12, 2010 at 4:05 pm  

AGF and Gudrun Gut combine as Greie Gut Fraktion. in case you don’t know about AGF try the search bar or even, better, go to her website and get free things, like her cover of disturbia. Gudrun Gut has had a lot of records out over the years and runs monkia records/enterprises. the lead track on their album is a version of deutsch new wave band Palais Schaumburg’s “wir bauen eine neue stadt” (we build a new town). there’s a few different mixes floating about, but this alva noto one is my favourite. there’s a level of high-end digital clarity here that would probably have surprised Palais Schaumburg in 1980. we built a new town that sometimes hurts our eyes.

Greie Gut Fraktion – Wir Bauen Eine Neue Stadt Alva Noto Remodel

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