WXYC Blog

NEW MUSIC SHOW PLAYLIST: OCT. 3. 2007

After a several weeks of lonely hosting, the New Music Show finally featured two of two WXYC Music Directors on last week's show, sharing the mic, collaborating on the picks of the week, and geeking over the piano work of Michael Harrison. The mail bins have been quite full lately, so there was a lot to choose from. Those curious in what was featured on last week's NMS can find a playlist here.

In case you didn't know, the New Music Show happens every other Wednesday at 9pm on WXYC. Did you know you can listen live at wxyc.org?

This week's 9-10pm Wednesday slot is occupied by the Feedback Farm though, who are offering their salute to the working class! Tune in and detune...

New Music Show: More Playlists!!

So we had a good show last week. The WXYC Music Dept. had fun, and maybe you did too.

SEPTEMBER PLAYBOX HIGHLIGHTS













The playbox at WXYC is currently bursting with quality new stuff, making the slow descent into Fall just a bit more tolerable. Little Howlin' Wolf made it all the way to #1 on our charts last week, how about that? Here's some highlights from the latest batch of rotation cuts, complete with short DJ-friendly reviews I wrote for the station. Stay tuned, October is coming.

Artist: Little Howlin' Wolf
Album: Cool Truth
Label: Heresee
South-Chicago street musician and outsider blues deconstructionist Little Howlin' Wolf (aka James Pobiega) released quite a few 7" singles back in the '70s and '80s, leaving behind an obscure trail of records just waiting to be re-released by some hip label. Leave it to Nautical Almanac owned and operated Heresee records to do the deed, reissuing Cool Truth - his first full-length record originally put out in 1985 and available here for the first time on CD. Recorded solo between 1979 and 1983, the tracks here resemble something like ragtime ran through a blender, garbled into junkyard blues and bouncing down the street like an over-packed cargo truck. His gravelly voice conjures Beefheart broken in half, spilled on the floor amongst a multi-tracked mix of sax, drums, guitar and harmonica. Pobiega's pained growls and shambling free-blues style are a perfect fit for the Heresee catalog - distorted lullabies from the deranged uncle you never knew.

Artist: Voice of the Seven Woods
Album: s/t
Label: Twisted Nerve / B-Music
The ever-reliable Finders Keepers/B-Music label/collective keeps the timeless tunes coming with some newly recorded jams by British psych-folk enthusiast Rick Tomlinson and his solo project, Voice of the Seven Woods. Tomlinson has been touring around the European underground for several years, self-releasing an array of CD-Rs, 7"s and cassettes that have long been out of print. Since Finders Keepers get their kicks from re-releasing criminally unavailable gems from music's mystical underbelly, it seems fitting for them to issue Tomlinson's first widely-distributed full-length - a splendid amalgamation of acoustic psych and Middle Eastern funk. He exhibits some damn fine chops on his acoustic guitar, weaving riffs that revolve on rollicking themes, picking up the oud and sitar to give the tracks more depth. A couple tunes even showcase Turkish funk breakdowns, livening up the lilt with trembling guitar and booty-shaking grooves. Despite the obvious care that was put into the records, an ancient haze lingers throughout; it sounds like it could be right out of 1972, but delivered with a fresh new smell. One of the most compelling releases steeped in the acoustic guitar to come along in some time, and with the bevy of finger-picking revivalists and folks-drone aficionados that currently clutter the music underground, that's saying something.

Artist: Shape of Broad Minds
Album: Craft of the Lost Art
Label: Lex
In true Madlib style, emcee/prodcucer Jneiro Jarel unveils his Shape of Broad Minds project, boasting contributions from four alter egos that reflect the various cities he's called home over the past 15 years: Brooklyn, Georgia, and his current residence in Philly. Jarel emphasizes the jazz kick like the aformentioned producer, paying homage to his blue note faves with recontexualized rhythms and space-station liftoff. His abstract hooks, inventive production and forward-thinking bumps shine, collapsing Jarel's various side projects into an impressive meld of hip hop for the new millennium (be-bop of the future past?). The personalities incorporated in the SOBM ensemble include: Jawaad (raps), Roque Wun (singing), Panama Black (raps), and Dr. Who Dat (production). A few guest MC spots are sprinkled in, most notably MF Doom's contribution to the "Let's Go" single. The concept may not be particularly new to the hip hop formula, but Craft of the Lost Art has enough unique cool to pull off inventive, even if gets a little too nostalgic for its own good at times. Still, Jarel's style is intelligent, bizarre, and a breath of fresh air from most of today's hip hop underground.

Artist: V/A
Album: Box of Dub: Dubstep and Future Dub
Label: Soul Jazz
For a label that's made its name with a massive catalog of dub, reggae and a variety of other danceable musics, it makes sense for London-based Soul Jazz to dip their hands into the dubstep sound that's been brewing in the southern part of the city for several years. This compilation basically sums up the heavy hitters in the scene, showcasing its bassy brand of club-ready dub. All these tracks are freshly produced for this release, with cuts by all the big boys; Digital Mystikz, Burial, Skream, Kode9 - along with some stand-up tracks by other producers like Scuba, Sub Version and King Midas Sound. The artists here display several different variations on dubstep's framework, skulking though delay-drenched soul samples, wobbly kneed low-end, and the cold sweat of urbanized London wasteland. Some of the samples and effects treatment come off a bit cheezy, but these fellows know what they're doing - delivering a head-nodding blend of throbbing bass caked in digital warmth. Whether it be a steady, dance-ready thump or a sparse buildup with subsequent explosion, the tracks here can get addictive. Hopefully, this won't be the last dubstep effort from Soul Jazz - with any luck, they'll keep up with the scene as it continues to evolve.

Artist: People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz
Album: Perpetuum Mobile
Label: Soleilmoon
Through a self-proclaimed "schizophrenic open source compositional process," like-minded plunderphonic all-stars and UK residents People Like Us (aka Vicki Bennett) and Ergo Phizmiz team up in a vortex of zany audio snippets, looped jingle jangle and ridiculous recontextualizations. Over the course of a year, the two used a shared server to upload and download files to and from one another, editing and amalgamating the stolen sources with frequent regurgitation. The album isn't completely lifted however, as both Phizmiz and Bennett dubbed in vocal accompaniments here and there to augment their loony concoctions. Everything seems rosy on the surface, but the layering and sampling depth are quite disorienting and clinically deranged, as is most of their work. You can download the dubplates that they made for the record on PLU's site, so why not try your luck at a remix?

The Feedback Farm Travels Abroad



On a "normal" day it's hard to understand what those Feedback Farmers are saying and doing, but this past week they were definitely speaking a foreign language.

In celebration of the European Day of Languages--September 26th every year--the Farmers explored language, European Languages in particular. The goals of the European Day of Languages are three-fold:

1) Alert the public to the importance of language learning and diversify the range of languages learned in order to increase plurilingualism and intercultural understanding.
2) Promote the rich linguistic and cultural diversity of Europe.
3) Encourage lifelong language learning in and out of school.

It's debatable whether the Farmers furthered any of these lofty aims. You can decide for yourself by clicking here (25MB MP3).

Interview w/ DJ C

Boston's DJ C has been steady killin it for years now. As the head of the Mashit imprint, he's put out some of the most noteworthy ragga jungle tunes in recent memory, earning praises from the late great John Peel and countless others. As of late, DJ C has been busy developing a new club sound termed Boston Bounce, along with releasing two albums of forward thinking beats. The most recent of these lps - Sonic Weapons - is in heavy rotation right now, so should be coming through your stereo in the very near future. DJ C was good enough to chat it up with me from his new base camp in Chicago.

As part of the Toneburst Collective, you helped put together numerous events that fell outside the boundaries of rock, hip- hop or rave scenes of late '90s Boston. How did that come about?

I was attending the Massachusetts College of Art at the time and was producing music in the Studio for Interrelated Media (SIM) department. My professors there got me thinking about what context I'd like to see/hear my music in.

SIM is the department you go into if you feel too restricted by, or don't fit into the other departments at MassArt, so people are presenting works in many media; performance, film/video, sound, photography, sculpture etc. on any given week. We students were responsible for producing the studio class each week, where other students would present their work for critique. So event production was a big part of what we learned. Producing a class might involve setting up sound-systems, video projection, hanging art, stage management, lighting etc.

Meanwhile, the fact of the matter is that I wanted my music to be seen/heard at parties and in clubs. Unfortunately I didn't have connections in the clubs, and my music was kind of left-field-dub, jungle, instrumental-hip-hop-as opposed to the house and techno that was big in Boston clubs at the time.

The obvious decision: produce my own parties. I began producing small parties at MassArt for and with students, after-hours. I also got involved in some events that one of the SIM grad-students was doing at her loft in South Boston. She had been a student at Harvard and had a network of folks from there, some of whom became founding members of Toneburst with me.

DJ /rupture was doing a radio show at the MIT station at the time and I was introduced to him by some of these Harvard folks. Eventually I threw my first party in Glochester, MA with /rupture, Embryo(Splice and Raffi from Harvard), some video/instalation peeps from MassArt, and some DJs from the Boston College radio station. The party went well. /rupture, Splice and I decided we should try to do it monthly. The next month we did it again under the name Toneburst and that was the first of many Toneburst parties in locations that ranged from out-doors on the street, to the Boston Childrens Museum.

Your production seems to reflect a similar heedlessness for sticking to one genre of electronic music. How does this impact your approach to live performance? Put another way, are there restrictions to being "DJ" C?

Heedlessness is a great word! One of the nuns in the Montessori pre- school I went to told my mom I was heedless. So you can see it goes way back.

I don't have many restrictions. I just play what I like. I don't ignore the audience though. I work together with them to achieve the feedback loop that occurs when things work right. If I can craft a good mix, and the crowd is responsive then the mix gets better and the response gets better and so on.

One common thread through most of your tunes (regardless of tempo or genre) is polyrhythmic - and what I can only describe as 'dirty' - drumkits. What led you to develop that sort of sound?

That's very observant. I don't know that I would have put my finger on that myself. I just happen to like polyrhythms, or at least syncopation. There's a kind of tension that's created when rhythms stray outside a strict/simple frame. That's the tension that makes me move. Some people prefer the strict frame, I like my beats outside the lines. Same goes for the dirtyness. Music needs imperfection, and rawness for me to truly enjoy it. Not too much though. My favorite music stratals the line between formulaic pop and experimental, underground sound.

Jungle(and now to some degree dubstep) artists have developed a sort of canon for the way tracks are produced. This often influences the arrangement of the track in order to cater to DJs, and also narrows the range of samples used in otherwise instrumental tunes. As a producer, how do you view these sort of conventions?

I think you've touched on the reason why I always feel like an outsider from every scene. I'm never willing to conform to the rules that become established once the scene emerges. I think those frameworks can be valuable, and inspiring at times. I just can't stick to them. I also think they are the inevitable downfall of a scene. Unless rules are broken and changed movements become stale. All new and exciting genres come out of combining other genres.

You've recently produced a number of tracks with (vocalists) Zulu & Quality Diamond, some of which have seen numerous voicings over the same riddim. Can we expect more of this sort of collaboration? Do you foresee more American producers using what has traditionally been a Jamaican approach to releasing multiple vocalists on a track?

I do plan to do more of that. Now that I'm in Chicago, in close proximity to Zulu, he and I will certainly do more work together. I like the various vocalists on a riddim thing, and I'm also a fan of the mashup, so sometimes I just lay acapellas over beats I've made. I don't really understand why more american producers don't do the riddim thing. It's so jamaican.

What can we expect from Mashit and Beat Research in the future?

Beat Research continues as weekly party in Cambridge, MA with residents Wayne&Wax; and DJ Flack. Mashit.com recently launched a blog/podcast and will be launching a download store soon. Lots of good free downloads are already available: http://Mashit.com

When are we gonna hear more melodica?

Good point! I'll get on that.

Audio archive of DJ C's live performance at Local 506 in April 2006 is available here. In addition to Sonic Weapons being in the WXYC playbox right now, you can hear plenty of DJ C's tunes Sunday evenings 10-midnite(or anytime) on WXYC's New Science Experience mix show.

Shameless, Shameless, Self, Promotion

Another one of my pieces got published by Mr P and the fine folx at Tiny Mix Tapes. Thanks to the editor. Its an interview with Pterodactyl. ENJOY.

??????

In the interest of nothing in particular, I share with you readers a review I did for Tiny Mix Tapes of a Dark Meat show from the 506 that happened about a month ago. Help yourselves. It was published today.

Be good, y'all

Posters From Across The Iron Curtain

Admittedly, this owes a huge debt to the wonderful folks at BoingBoing, consistently my favorite website on a day to day basis. Anyway, they had a post today that reminded me of an older post, both, nominally on the same topic: retro posters from Eastern Europe.

Blows Or Blows Away?


At the height of Hurricane Season the Feedback Farmers hit an all-time low. Or did they? You be the judge. Download the hurricane party here (28 MB MP3).

Listen as the Farmers struggle to stay on topic, then blow off-course. Experience the stormy temperaments that could only be born of disorganization, a lack of communication, and surface water temperatures exceeding 27 degrees Celsius. Bring children and animals inside! Take shelter, the Feedback Farm is coming!

Oral Hygiene / Aural Hi-Jinks


In case you didn't hear the most recent Feedback Farm programme, you can download it here (32MB MP3). In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the first dentist, the topic was TEETH. Two out of four Feedback Farmers recommend that you listen to this show to put you on the path to excellent dental hygiene. The other two recommend against it. The choice is yours.

Be sure to tune in to the Feedback Farm this Wednesday (9/12) at 9pm EDT, and prepare to be blown away!

PS You can email the Feedback Farm! The email address is wxycfeedbackfarm at gmail dot com.