May 12, 2006

Bounce: Weekly Music v1.n3

Week has been crazier than crazy. But the tracks have kept me bouncing.

1) Diplo’s Mad Decent World Wide Radio/Mixtapes: Check it: Diplo, the producer who blew M.I.A. up with his crazy beats has been releasing mixtapes that are about 20-30 minutes long, show off his dj skills and also constitute pretty interesting commentaries about the place where he’s at and places that he’s been (I guess he must be on tour/performing throughout Latin America, and his latest reflects a trip to New Orleans). The beats are infectious, and the cool thing is that he’s mixing in interviews with people that are relevant to the particular podcast. So the New Orleans segment (#5) actually gets some of the history of krunk originating from the Big Easy, as well as the storm aftermath. If anything, this particular podcast reaffirmed a personal euphoria that I feel when I hear New Orleans jazz (Diplo lets the last track of the mix just flow on for about 7 minutes, Rebirth Brass Band ft. Soulja Slim, singing You Don’t Want to Go to War). The horns, the groove just make me feel like if ever there were another city that we must preserve besides New York, and perhaps even more crucially than New York, it’s gotta be New Orleans. It’s been said so many times before by folks much more eloquent than I, but there really isn’t anywhere else in the U.S. like it, and for the rich history of music alone, Diplo’s non-political or didactic mix emphasizes the loss that much more.

Anyway, the description section of each podcast describes what the theme is + the track list. It’s a good listen all around. And the short intro written by Diplo is really fascinating, about culture and diaspora in unlikely places. Take this one, from Argentina (#3):

In buenos aires, theres a strong but small dominican and cuban immigrant community.... sometime they get some tapes and music sent to them from back home on the islands.... i was like huh.... what the f#*@ is this.. anyway... check out the underground santo domingo via argentina (next week we interview mc gringo, and got some special guest djs)

[To get the podcast directly, click here.]

2) The Real Thing - Redemption. I’ve been listening to the Redemption cover of the Faith no More epic, which is offered as a bonus track on their second album overseas, and is also currently available on their MySpace site. I’ll write a little more about this below, but Ray Alder is quickly becoming one of my favorite vocalists. He sounds different in each of the bands that he’s now leading, and his interpretation of this song, which I have loved for more than 15 years now, is both spot on and faithful to the original. Alder is the real thing.

3) A Love Supreme (live) - John Coltrane. I’m not as familiar with this version of Coltrane’s odyssey, but at 48:12, it’s mammoth, and just what I needed to get over the last hump.

New brief section of this weekly post in which I’ll just mention songs/bands who are on the do not play list.

A) “Sacrificed Sons” - Dream Theater. I’ve been digging deeply into the back-catalog and more recent releases by Fates Warning, as mentioned here and the week before. Inevitably, when folks mention Progressive Metal, the big three that come up are FW, Queensryche, and Dream Theater. I’ll admit, I’m not a big fan of Queensryche, though there are a few songs that I liked a lot from Empire, and Operation MIndcrime was pretty cool as a concept (the original one, not the time-made-it-irrelevant sequel, which I haven’t heard). And Dream Theater was a revelation when I heard the second album, Images and Words many years ago. But they have grown predictable in their long, long songs and instrumental wanderings. And Kevin Moore was an amazing keyboardist who really added a lot to the band when he was with them - and kept the long instrumental breaks interesting.

Anyway - while researching into something Fates Warning-related, I found out that Ray Alder, singer and person of color (though I’m trying to figure out exactly what color), is now the lead vocalist for a third band (after FW and his solo project/band, straightforward power band Engine), called Redemption. Reading about their last album, I found out that they have a song about September 11th, which a reviewer compared to a song off the last DT album, “Octavarium.” Anyway, so I dig out my copy of Octavarium, which I actually hadn’t even listened to fully, because I got tired of it after the first 2 tracks, and listened to the track.

Awful. Not only was it musically sub-par, but the lyrics rehashed the same fairly stupid faith-based rhetorical statements concerning the people responsible for the hijackings, etc. It blew me away that they start this thing with audio clips that are fairly incendiary to begin with proclaiming the response, news anchors trying to figure out what to say, and even a clip that said people were dancing in the streets in Palestine. Come on, DT, this shit was resolved at least 2 years ago - what’s with cutting a track so much later that doesn’t show any ability to process information beyond emotion? Bruce Springsteen did it in less than a year - you guys are 4 years out.

Then we get to the lyrics of the thing, which were fairly simplistic to begin with, were so blatantly wrong in their meandering (with a weird piano line underneath):

“Burning City
Smoke and fire
Planes we're certain
Faith inspired
Who would wish this on our people
And proclaim that His will be done
Scriptures they heed have misled them
All praise their Sacrificed Sons
All praise their Sacrificed Sons

Teach them
What to think and feel
Your ways
So enlightening

Words they preach
I can't relate
If God's true Love
Are acts of Hate”

Okay. Now you’ve lost me completely. Islamophobia runs deeply in this one, and I’ve heard much better work that looks at the human loss, or even damns the individuals and the group they were part of, but don’t assign blame to a faith for people who just claim the faith. Please - shouldn’t we blame the Church for all the KKK lynchings under the cross then? This is foolish, irresponsible, and lazy. And this isn’t about political correctness (a term that drives me crazy, but that’s a different post). This is about bringing some nuance to your game. Anyway, “progressive” metal does not mean Progressive politics, and hell, even Dubya is better at making some kind of distinction between adherents of a faith and political extremists who use religion as a cover, and a recruitment tool. So mega-mega thumbs down to this song, and though I haven’t really listened to DT much over the years, and I really enjoyed the one time I saw them live, I’m knocking them off my list of faves. Now, about that Redemption song...

Yeah. Listened to it a couple of times - “Parker’s Eyes” by Redemption (weird name for the band, by the way). Anyway, it was okay - at least the lyrics weren’t as blatantly hateful, and a little more open to interpretation. I definitely don’t rate this one as a favorite, but at least it doesn’t wholly suck like the DT song.

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