Sunday, April 19, 2009

How I spent my weekend

DJed at Web09 conference. Lotsa fun! Met some interesting folk, heard some pretty cool ideas. Free wifi helped too.
Mulatu interviewed
From the Fader: "Legendary Ethiopian musician Mulatu Astatke's collaboration with the Heliocentrics hits a lot of key points we're into, blending fuzzy psych guitars with heavy drums and complex piano runs. It's an album that successfully mixes old and new without coming across as a self-conscious throwback. Instead, it works as a meeting of minds with a genuine respect for the music that makes up their backgrounds.

Check out our Q+A with Astatke, covering everything from his soundtrack work on Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers to his ongoing update of traditional Ethiopian music. [Theres a Multau and Heliocentrics tune to download over here too]

What have you been up to?
I’ve been in Lisbon, Portugal doing a lecture for the Red Bull Music Academy, it was very interesting, I stayed about four or five days. And I’m here for rehearsal for the next tour.

You lecture a lot?
Well I do both, I teach and I play.

Do you teach Ethiopian music to students?
Sometimes. I am teaching in Poland about Ethiopian modes, how to voice them, but I can also teach jazz education. I’m versatile.

Do you like to teach?
I don’t really love teaching, but I love the experience of discussing music with other musicians in the world, because music is an endless profession, you can learn something everyday.

What was the last big thing that you learned about music?
Not something particular, but while I was at Harvard University—and now I’m a fellow of Harvard—I got a fellowship, but I was at Harvard and it was so beautiful and so very inspiring. Everyday I was working on a different subject, different materials. There were three or four other music composers with me as well. And that was one of the places I enjoyed most in my life. That was really great, what an experience, great intellectuals, it was so beautiful.

Can you talk about the five tone structure of Ethio-jazz a little bit?
I had experimented a bit with music in college at Berklee, but when I went to New York I formed a group called the Ethiopian Quintet, so that’s when I blended the five tone with the twelve tone music. Especially when you try to fuse both, it sounds like two cultures going at the same time. So you really have to be careful, blend the most beautifully without losing the character. That’s how I managed.

So your serious training in music allowed you to make that blend?
Yes, training is important for everything: experience, training—so important to put things together.

Can we talk a little bit about the album you did with the Heliocentrics? They are very interesting musicians, they have their whole way of approaching music, and I have my own way. Another blend. I was here last time to lecture for Red Bull, and we did a show at the Cargo, and people seemed to really love it and enjoy. I enjoyed it myself. So we said, Why don’t we do a CD together, blending jazz and stick with what I’ve been doing 45 years ago, so I said, ok let’s try it out. So I came back, and we did the recording. Heliocentrics have their own studio, we recorded there and that was it.

How long did that take?
I think it was about ten days. Very quick, when you do things with good communication, they were great, loved the Ethio-jazz music, we all have that feeling, so we just blended and played.

I know you are also working on a modern version of a traditional instrument…
I improve musical instruments. My last target for Ethio-jazz is to upgrade all Ethiopian musical instruments to be able to play twelve-tone music. I tried on an instrument called the krarr, I managed to play “Guantanamera” and “Summertime” by putting two more strings on the instrument. So by not changing the shape, just by upgrading the strings, you are able to play those things. The whole thing is young people in Ethiopia today love to learn the guitar, so perhaps they’d forget their own instruments, so I upgraded the krarr to be as good as a guitar and maybe they will stick with it. It’s still very Ethiopian, I’m not touching the shape of the instrument. I won a grant at MIT, so we’ve been working on the krarr and how it can be developed.

Can you tell me a little about how your music came to be in Jim Jarmusch’s movie Broken Flowers?
Jim is a guy who is a very creative person and he was just looking for music in his films. I met him in New York, we had a concert at the Financial Center—Winter Garden—a beautiful jazz place. His secretary called me one afternoon in New York and said Jim wants to come to a concert this evening. So I said, you’re welcome to come, but I didn’t know who he was. So they came, saw the show, the show was great, sold out, and then after the show he came backstage and we had a chance to speak, and he said Mulatu, I love your music, I want to use some of your music in the film. So I said, please you are welcome. That’s it, I left, and in two months they contacted me and it happened. I’ve written for a lot of plays in Ethiopia, for films in Ethiopia, like documentaries…

How did it feel to see your music in the context of that film?
It was beautiful. It turned out so nicely. My fans and people who follow me, they love my music, but I was able to get a lot of fans from film people. So it’s been great, both sides, the film people and the musicians, they love it, it’s been great for Ethio-jazz. If you work hard and aren’t discouraged and keep on working, the result is what it is. It’s beautiful.

Are there younger musicians that you hear that have that mentality?
There is one guitar player called Bibesha, he plays with me sometimes when I’m home, I think he’s one of the upcoming great musicians who loves Ethio-jazz. I wish him good luck.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Whats the haps?
International Record Store Day is this Saturday. Heres a list of some NZ stores involved.

Conch Records on Saturday 18th(115a Ponsonby Rd) are celebrating independent record store day with a special live performance by Gianmarco Liguori alongside, Kim Paterson, Murray McNabb and Miquel Fuentes (from 12.30pm).

As Simon Sweetman suggests, this isn't about saving a dying breed but "... the idea behind Record Store Day, to me, seems to be to go and enjoy music."

From International Record Store Day site: "The original idea for Record Store Day was conceived in 2007, as a celebration of the unique culture surrounding over 700 independently owned record stores in the USA, and hundreds of similar stores internationally.

This is the one-day that all of the independently owned record stores come together with artists to celebrate the art of music. Special vinyl and CD releases and various promotional products are made exclusively for the day and hundreds of artists in various countries across the globe make special appearances and performances..."

* Meanwhile across town, I'll be DJing at Web09, a two-day conference for web designers and developers.

* Conch Records have also just launched their blog, check it out here.

* 'Record Dealers' A Record Store gallery... Photography by B+... link "How many of these stores are gone now. I started this series in 1996, then it seemed like a way to record all the strange and wonderful characters that I came across in the search for records. Now it seems that this a view into a world that is disappearing fast. There’s many more in this series and I will put them up soon."

* Spotted via Twitter... musician @olafurarnalds is recording and releasing one song per day. check it out here Cool concept!

* Phenomenal Handclap Band interviewed. Their debut release is out soon on Truth and Soul Records.

How many of you are in the band?

Sean Marquand: There’s eight of us in the band… Daniel Coll├ís, Patrick Wood (drums, vocals), Nicholas Movshon (bass), Luke O’Malley (guitar, vocals), Quinn Luke (guitar, vocals), Laura Marin (vocals, percussion), and Joan Tick (vocals)

How do you all fit into one practice space and manage to make your schedules fit together?

SM: [It's] a headache managing everyone’s schedule. We practice at our guitarist/vocalist’s studio (Quinn Luke) down the street from the Handclap studio and it does get pretty tight there. The ceilings are really low, so some of us can’t even stand up straight.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Purple sign of the times
"Insane fans of Prince can worship the musical maestro by purchasing his limited-edition iPod Touch — for the price of $2,100.

Here's the best part: You don't gain access to a full library of Prince music. Rather, the purple Prince Opus iPod comes preloaded with a 40-minute concert video and 15 songs from a live soundtrack. Only 950 Prince iPods are available.

So why the hefty price? You're also paying for a high-end book of Prince photographs that comes bundled with the iPod. Kraken Opus, a British publisher, produced the photos." Link

Reggae legend Lloyd 'Wackies' Barnes interviewed...
In the New York Times... "Mr. Barnes created the 225th Street studio by hand in the compact space, opening it in December. “I love it here,” he said, his gaze proudly moving from the checkered maroon and white ceiling to the purple and brown floral carpet on the walls to the coffee maker and microwave in the recording booth. “I even built the couch, stayed here last night, yeah mon,” he said in his soft Jamaican patois.

Its predecessor was at the northern end of the No. 2 line and included a record store. That studio, a red storefront with a yellow lion heralding Wackie’s latest releases, soon became a magnet for Jamaican musicians from all over the city after it opened in the 1970s.

“It was like the reggae Motown in the Bronx,” said Ras Menelik DaCosta, 54, a percussionist with a white dreadlocked beard who jammed at the space. “People get wives just from being there; some people became fathers. It took on a life of its own.” Link.
New music from Chali 2na (ex Jurassic 5)
"Probably best known as front man for the groups Jurassic 5 & Ozomatli, Chali 2na presents his first solo effort in a 15+ year career – Fish Outta Water." Check out a tune off it over here...
Download "Lock Sh#t Down" ft. Talib Kweli here:

Album out mid-year on Decon Records. Check Chali 2na on Myspace.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mulatu Astatke and The Heliocentrics album podcast
The more I listen to this album, the more I like it. Another taster from it below...
"Mulatu Astatke and The Heliocentrics' Inspiration Information album is already making noise. From early rumblings on the Stonesthrow site, to a sold-out show in LA w/ openers Madlib, Cut Chemist & Quantic, to an extremely successful tour of Europe getting love from Gilles Peterson & more. Gaslamp Killer even dropped a track in his set @ WMC. But it should come as no surprise.

It's safe to say the music on this record is unlike anything else you'll hear all year. Check out the podcast above for some in-studio sound, and a discussion of the making of the album. Inspiration Information comes out April 14th on Strut."

Mulatu Astatke & The Heliocentrics- Album Podcast

...and if you missed them, grab the track "Masenqo," and check out the behind the scenes video.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

R.I.P. Murray Marbeck

"Back in 1960, this is what the original Marbecks Record shop in Queens Arcade looked like. That's Mr. Murray Marbeck (now retired) pictured on the left and his late brother, Haydn on the right."
He passed away at Auckland Hospital on 4 April 2009 Link

Monday, April 06, 2009

Gloria Jones (Tainted love) gets reissued.

Great interview with Ms Jones over at the Fader. Jones was "a storied Motown songwriter, Rolling Stones/Ike and Tina back-up singer (among others), and a member of UK glam rock outfit T.Rex, Jones was never a household name even though her legacy is essential to rock 'n roll."

Can you talk about how the re-issue came about?
I don’t know if you know but for the last 12 years I’ve been living in Africa. I came home just last year to vote, and be a part of the release of “Share My Love”, the CD. It really is very exciting, because in Sierra Leone we are planning to build the Marc Bolan School of Music and Film. Link.

The kicker? Marc Bolan played guitar on Nutbush City Limits. Sheesh.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, April 4
African head charge - Heading to glory
Barrington Levy - Many changes in life
King tubby - Money dub
Sabres of paradise - Wilmot II (Wilmots last skank)
Daemang and Red Dynasty -Wandering heroes
Aim - Just passin thru
Fairyspace Dub -Strictly roots
Overproof sound system -Kingstep (Unitone Hifi dub mix - unreleased)
Cheers to Stinky Jim for hooking me up with this killer tune.
Horace Andy and Ashley Beedle - What we (Pinch remix)
Manasseh - Western world version
Applejuice kid -Masco
Kokolo - Magnificent seven
Jimi Tenor and Kabu Kabu - Me I say yes
June 22 vs Nas - Get down, stand up
Lee Scratch Perry - International broadcaster
King midas sound - Cool out son
James Brown - Blind man can see it
Eddie Bo - Check your bucket
Roger and the gypsies - Pass the hatchet
Lonk Wray - Fatback
Dutch rhythm combo feat Joe Dukie - Venom (Dr Rubberfunk mix)
El Michels affair - Walk on by (off their new 'Tribute to Isaac Hayes' EP, more here)
King Everand - Kill ole pan
Sister Nancy - Aint no stopping Nancy
Lee Scratch Perry - God smiled (Moody boyz remix)
Blacknificent seven - U wot (Skitz remix)
Phenomenal handclap
"The The Phenomenal Handclap Band, a collective of NY-based musicians that melds disco, funk, tambourine shaking, electronic swirls, and soulful vocal harmonies into one merry pot of juicy retro beats – tipped us off about a killer disco party at Santo's this Saturday. First off, The Phenomenal Handclap Band promises to overflow the stage. Then, Afrika Bambaataa will play. Plus, Farley Jackmaster Funk will be spinning down below."

Click here and download a tasty tune from the Phenomenal Handclap Band. Their debut single is due out soon thru Truth and Soul Records. And grab their song "15 to 20" here, killer tune.

Friday, April 03, 2009

ALT TV collapse leave $3 million debt
NZ Herald's John Drinnan looks into the collapse of ALT TV here.
Excerpt... The Herald "reported problems on January 23, when the four shareholders Thane Kirby, Ricky Newby, Oliver Driver and David Kennedy passed shares to a company controlled by Easy Factors.
Easy Factors approached staff to try and turn the company around in one month, but without success.
Kirby - who moved the channel from a weak free-to-air Auckland frequency on to the Sky digital platform - insisted in January the channel was sound and there were no financial issues relating to the owners' exit..

...A secured creditor - the channel's financier Easy Factors - is owed $1.8 million. Liquidator Anthony Harris said prospects for a dividend being paid to unsecured creditors owed $1.36 million were "remote".
The liquidators' report listed 19 known creditors. Among them are Sky TV, state-owned Kordia, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, AC Nielsen, and the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand, believed to be related to unpaid music royalties."

I remember seeing all the amazing old videos ALT TV dug up when they started out on free-to-air tv, and thinking "wow, they must be paying a ton in royalties for all these rare videos." Looks like they weren't paying a dime.

Drinnan also notes that "Television New Zealand is understood to be interested in buying the Alt TV brand to start the channel anew on the Freeview digital platform. A youth music channel would make sense for TVNZ, helping them to pick up younger people who are boosting viewership for MediaWorks' C4."

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Horace Andy/Ashley Beedle Remixed by Pinch
There's a bunch of remixes about to drop from the recent collaboration between reggae legend Horace Andy and Ashley Beedle, here's a sneak preview, courtesy of Strut.

Horace Andy / Ashley Beedle- "Watch We" (Pinch Remix)
From: Inspiration Information - The Remixes (out April 27th on Strut)

Moody, dubbed out mix from Bristol's Pinch. Mighty nice.

download here:
Full tracklisting is...
1. When The Rain Falls (Cosmodelica mix)
2. Watch We (Souljazz Orchestra mix)
3. Rasta Don't (Toddla T mix)
4. Watch We (Pinch mix)

More info here.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Mint Chicks faked their move to Portland?
Early this morning I was checking out my RSS feeds to see what was happening round my favourite music blogs, and stumbled upon this rather odd story.

Remember how The Mint Chicks cleaned up at the NZ Music Awards in 2007? After winning their umpteenth award that night they jumped onstage and said thanks, then leaned into the mic and said 'fix'. And then they lost a member, and upped sticks and moved to Portland, Oregon in the USA.

Sure, they have a history of being wily pranksters, but this one is a doozy. Turns out they may have been hiding out up north for the past three years.

I spied this odd story on indie music blog this morning, suggesting that the Mint Chicks had mysteriously moved to the West Coast of the South Island in early 2008, and had relocated in December last year to the far North, and have been holed up in a beach property near Kaitaia - no link , as the story has disappeared form their website, will try Google cache and see if I can find it.

There's never been a gap of more than three months between NZ gigs for them since they claim to have moved 7,000 miles away. When they left NZ in December 2007 after final shows, they were back here a month later in January 2008 for the Big Day Out. Then back a few months later to play with Shihad. Then they did the same thing again for the following year's BDO, Vodafone Homegrown, and so on. And what band can afford repeated trans-Pacific airfares? And strangely, none of the shows they claim to have played in Portland show up on a Google search.

Anyone know what the Mint Chicks are up to?
ADDED: Can't find that on, maybe it was on Under The Radar...

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Purdie Shuffle
Right up there with the James Brown's Funky Drummer. Spotted via Crate Kings..

A must read article about legendary drummer Bernard Purdie, the most recorded drummer in history who appeared with over 2,500 artists on over 4,000 albums. Vinyl diggers will know the name… others will need to do some homework.

The New York Times highlights the birth of The Purdie Shuffle along with other great stories including his being incorrectly fined by James Brown and his desire to leave recording sessions as soon as he was done with his part.

“You’d do a first take, and he’d put on his overcoat as if he was about to leave,” said Donald Fagen, the Steely Dan keyboardist. “The problem was that some of the other musicians had just become comfortable with the chords. You had to cajole him to do some other takes so everyone else could polish up their parts a bit.”

"Also be sure to watch the Purdie interview video at the middle of the page… very insightful.

Read the full NY Times article."

ADDED "Uriel Jones, one of the original members of Motown band the Funk Brothers, has died after suffering complications from a heart attack. He was 74. The drummer, who lent his talents to the music of Marvin Gaye, the Temptations and numerous others, passed away in hospital in Dearborn, Michigan, on Tuesday." Passed Tuesday 24 March.

Link. Hat tip to Ms Jen for this.

Nas gets reggae makeover - Jah's Son
God's Son album by Nas done over reggae style by June 22. Check it out here (hat tip to Different Kitchen). A few nice joints on this one. Still digging the Jay-Z reggae one too.
In defence of Twitter for musicians...
Watch this great interview by Andrew Dubber with musician Steve Lawson, talking about how he uses Twitter, and why it works for musicians. Link. Also worth a read: Steve's rant "Twitter sucks, so change your friends".

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, March 28
Beat conductor - Caribbean path
20th century steel band - heaven and hell is on earth
El michels affair - Walk on by (off their new 'Tribute to Isaac Hayes' EP, more here)
Erykah Badu - Honey (Grant Phabao remix)
Joe Tex and U Black - Standardisation
Manasseh - Creation dub
Lee Scratch Perry - Everything start from scratch
JBs - Giving up food for funk
Lefties soul connection - 12 inch rims
Rufus Thomas - Memphis train
Staple singers - Blood pressure
Archie Bell and the drells -Tighten up (Bobby La Beat rework)
Phenomenal handclap band - 15 to 20
Bronx river parkway - Me toca
Onra - The anthem
Eric B and Rakim - Don't sweat the technique (UK flavor remix)
Scientist - Don't rush the dub
Amadou and mariam - Djama
Solomonic sound - Children of Israel
Kinny - Forgetting to remember
Kormac- Kormacs house
Specials - Ghost town (DJG bootleg)
Beat pharmacy - Strangers
Overproof sound system - King step (Unitone Hifi dub unreleased version)
El michels affair - Red rooster
Soul investigators w Myron and E - Cold game
Shingo Suzuki - 1000 nights
Phil Cohran - Frankiphone blues

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mulatu soon come!
I've been going on about this new collaboration between Ethiopian jazz legend Mulatu Astatke and the Heliocentrics. It's infectiously good, funky, jazzy bizznizz. Its set to drop April 14, but here's a sneak preview, thanks to the kind folks at Strut. Read more on Mulatu at Wikipedia.

Mulatu Astatke & The Heliocentrics- "Masenqo" [download]
From: Inspiration Information (April 14th, Strut)

Strut are also reissuing the wicked comp they did back in 2001, called Nigeria 70. Grab a tune off it here... Peter King- "Shango" [download]
From: Nigeria 70: The Definitive Story of 1970's Funky Lagos (March 31st, Strut)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

JRocc's easy six step guide to DJing
LA DJ and Stonesthow alumni JRocc was sharing his wisdom on Twitter yesterday, so I collected his thoughts on DJing... with a few cheeky comments from DJ Babu thrown in for good measure.

"Why is dj'ing the thing everyone wants to do when they're main hustle isn't working. Buying Serato does not make u a DJ.

If I meet one more celebrity DJ who doesn't have their own headphones or Serato vinyl......shazbot

U want names. Well,Macy Grey asked "Can I borrow your headphones?" No. To top of off she just downloaded Serato before the gig...

I'm sure she's a better DJ now.

Celebrities. I will teach you how to DJ. Holler at your boy. $400 an hour. Chuuuuch.

1st step of becoming a DJ. Only do it if you reaaaallllly want to be a DJ. You don't get cool points for becoming one.

Step 2. Practice before you start dj'ing at the clubs.

Step 3. Practice some more. You still suck.

Step 4. Do not play files that are 192 and lower.

Step 5. Bring some vinyl with you to the gig for the switch over. (ooops! You don't own any records)

Step 6. Remove your computer as SOON as your done with your set. The next DJ is not trying to wait for you to get your props.

A DJ that is not a DJ is not a DJ. You are a human iTunes.

djbabuforeal: step 7 make sure u steal the nice technics 45 adapters if they're not already taken

djbabuforeal: step 8 make sure to say the strippers name before And after each dance and encourage patrons to tip

djbabuforeal@jrocc sumthin I learned from @Rhettmatic: step 9 bring ur computer to the gig

jrocc: Babu added some funny steps but on the real....step 10. Please don't bite another DJ's mix.

Once had a famous dude tell me he liked my "Sex Machine Today" mix and he does a few of those mixes. --what part of the game is that?

Also. DJ's worldwide. if you come to the west coast to spin.....don't do the dr.dre/snoop dogg set....please.

djbabuforeal: step 11 when people make requests say "of course I'll play some t-pain!" then don't

djbabuforeal: step 12 see step 117 minutes ago from Tweetie in reply to jrocc

djbabuforeal: step 13 if u scratch with ur mouth please wipe of the mixer

djbabuforeal: step 14 when u play Simon says make sure there are 2 hot chicks standing next to u to rub on their titties2 minutes ago from Tweetie in reply to jrocc"

As you can see, this went on for a while - damn funny, tho.

If you're on Twitter, add em... @jrocc and @djbabuforeal.
U2 reinvent themselves again, says reviewer... again...
NBR's David Cohen has been looking at the previous reviews of U2s recorded output. He found some intriguing similarities.

According to the Herald’s review of the group’s latest album, No Line On The Horizon, U2 has finally broken with its “safe and predictable” sound. Best not to get “too comfy” with the new album, reviewer Scott Kara warned last Thursday, “because delve deeper and it reveals itself as the most radical U2 album in years - perhaps ever.”

Delve a little deeper into the Herald archives, though, and something else is revealed: a startlingly similar critical take on the group’s last big-ticket album, How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, which was also hailed as something that “goes from being just another think-big U2 album to something great.”

But wait. So, too, it appears — at least in the Herald’s view — did the band’s album before that, All That You Can Leave Behind (“the first proper U2 album in years”), which also apparently saw the group having “figured out how to write songs again, and how to grow old gracefully.”

...Rewinding again through the paper’s review archives, to 1991, and another, eerily similar critical verdict was passed on the band’s album of the time, Achtung Baby, with the review serving notice that “while U2 were in the studio working on this radically altered album the number one rule was no songs that sound like U2 songs, please. Well, they succeeded.”

But U2 also succeeded in shucking off the U2 sound with their earlier album, The Joshua Tree, as well, according to another Herald review published at the time of its release, in 1987, which declared Joshua Tree to be, first and foremost, an album that “doesn’t sound like U2."

Read it in full here
Vinyl record collectors fair on this Saturday March 28
The Auckland Vinyl Record Collectors Fair takes place Saturday March 28 at Polish House, Morningside. Stalls include New Zealand vinyl and New Vinyl Imports and foreign, 60s, rare, dance, reggae etc vinyl. Murray Cammick will be there too, selling more funk, soul vinyl, vintage music magazines etc. The event also has stalls selling turntables & accessories.

The venue is the Polish House Hall, 1 McDonald St, on the corner of Ethel Road, off Sandringham Road, opposite Eden Park. The fair runs from 10am to 3pm. There is a $3 entry fee. You need more records, right?

Monday, March 23, 2009

S92A - gone by lunchtime.
This controversial clause in the new Copyright Act will be scrapped and rewritten.

"... The legislation was put in place to combat unlawful file-sharing which facilitates copyright infringement on a large scale, but "...allowing section 92A to come into force in its current format would not be appropriate given the level of uncertainty around its operation," says Simon Power. The legislation needs to be re-examined and reworked to address concerns held by stakeholders and the government, he says. " Link.

"The Telecommunications Carriers Forum (TCF), representing all major ISPs, has being working on a draft code of practice, and discussing it with copyright holders, lead by Rianz (the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand)." Link.

They were given an extension by John Key last month, til March 27, but have failed to come up with a code of conduct that is acceptable to all parties involved, which suggests that S92a was hopelessly flawed and too vaguely worded to ever be effective in any meaningful form.