Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Electivism, I mean Eclecticism

Alright, been listening to some radio again lately, been streaming/DLing some radio lately, that is. First off, Drew Pompa and Josh Dalberg have a new weekly radio show called Babes in Hi Def Wednesday nights on WDET. Here’s the link for their blog: Babes in Hi Def. Some enjoyable listening.

And what, did you say that show is on the same night as WhoDat’s Turning Point on Mama’s gonna get me! Wait, no Mrs. McQueen, I only listen to Turning Point…I listen to it every day until the next week’s show. Oh yeah right, you can download WhoDat’s shows from her blog: Win WhoDat Blogs. Good listening all around – lot’s of deep house, old R&B, great 80’s music, some techno and electro thrown in for jollies, and just all around mixed up goodness.

I have finally started tuning in to Beats In Space, Tim Sweeny’s weekly radio show. His most recent show pairs a nice Maurice Fulton hour with an hour of Sweeny. I’m going to be spending some time there in the coming weeks.

Then we’ve got the RBMA radio, which really rounds out my work week as I slave away trying to ignore as much of the office “liveliness” as possible and nourish myself with good tunes. Always enjoy a good Morgan Geist mix, there’s plenty to choose from on the RBMA site. Listened to a good Benga & Skream show last week, and a couple of good Dam Funk features. And, right after returning from the IASPM-US conference a few weeks ago, I discovered a lovely chat with composer, Steve Reich. According to the RBMA blurb, he prefers to call himself a post-minimalist composer. Labels are so fabulous! Well, this is interesting to me because my fellow ethnomusicologist friends with whom I presented at the conference brought up his name and his music several times over the course of the weekend. All three of my friends are way more musically trained than me and much more knowledgeable about Western Classical/Art music than I. I’m just the chick who likes that rave techno shit…Anyweedle, one such mention of Steve Reich was prompted by my playing of Theo Parrish’s “Synthetic Flemm” in the hotel room we were all sharing the night before our panel. Their comments? Wow, it really develops slowly. It unfolds like a Steve Reich piece. It was so much fun sharing all our musical knowledge and learning from one another. This leads to one reason I chose to play this track. When I’m speaking to or with people who are not very familiar with any kind of electronic dance music like house or techno, I find that their sonic assumptions about the music are based on mainstream representations that they might hear in commercials, the radio, MTV, etc. And that’s cool, that’s what they know, they’re not fans of the music, they’re into other sounds, fine. But I think the Theo Parrish track has the potential to get beyond those boxed notions of what Detroit electronic music might possibly sound like. Additionally, it abandons genre boundaries so profoundly that drawing comparisons to other seemingly distinct forms of music is almost automatic. And this is Detroit all the way, crossing genre boundaries, getting beyond categories while simultaneously embracing classification as a necessary part of the culture.

And then, when I went to the RBMA radio site yesterday, I saw a new Preset show, #32, up by Todd Osborn. I had to listen right away, you see. Roxanne Shante A.N.D. Drexciya in the first 5 songs! And then the last hour of the show is all Chicano/Latino/Brazilian sounds, some bossa nova, even Tom Zé! And I’m not even going to pretend I know all the genre labels to describe these songs, because I don’t. I do however enjoy the Brazilian love songs because my knowledge of Brazilian music is one of the few good things that came out of my major college relationship with a Brazilian capoeirista (okay, no, that’s not all he was), that, the courage to make momentous life-changing decisions, and momentary almost fluency in Portuguese.

So then from #32, I navigated to #25 and just you wait and see what I come up with using that playlist as a springboard to my own life story…well maybe not life story, but I’ll draw some connections and you can just read along with my inane, I mean brilliant, musings. So the first song is a little hard to listen to at work because of the yelling. I get a little embarrassed in front of the old ladies and turn down the yelling to almost silent during that song. But they’re all very polite and just tell me that I listen to some very interesting music! Next is a great, funky, deep track by DMX KREW, also known as EMDX, Ed DMX, and Ed Upton, who is featured on Osborne “Our Definition of a Breakdown.” Then you get to hear Q-Tip’s sweet voice and then A Tribe Called Quest’s “What,” which always makes me smile and think of my husband…because he likes the song a lot. Next up is Arthur Russell “Make 1, 2” which is a beautiful song that was new to my little kitten ears. Love the melodic, rhythmic vocals and keys – has a syncopated feel, although any good ethnomusicologist would probably shame me for using the term syncopated and force me to replace it with polyrhythmic with the threat of having to transcribe a lengthy field recording of Temiar music from Maylasia. Geez, as though you don’t think my levels of self-absorption and reflexivity were enough to maim a small flock of seagulls, now I lapse into such extreme navel-gazing and solipsism with a transcription reference that potentially 8 readers might catch, if that. Because, as newbie ethnomusicology graduate students at Indiana University, we were all required to take a rigorous transcription & analysis course steeped in historically significant methods of analyzing music. One of the first listening assignments we were given was a field recording by anthropologist and ethnomusicologist Marina Roseman of Temiar music performance that she recorded while conducting research in the Malaysian rainforest. And, we were not told what the recording was, we just had to figure out what all the different sounds were and how they were produced. I actually do prefer the term polyrhythmic to syncopated, it addresses a broader, more nuanced understanding of rhythm that syncopation does not. Apparently I thought it would be fun to tell you a story about historically significant methods of music research.

So here’s a segment of the tracklisting for Preset #25:

Squarepusher - The Coathanger - Warp
Pink Floyd - Wot's Uh The Deal - Harvest
Gandalf The Grey - The Grey Wizard Am I - Gwm
Morgen - Of Dreams - Probe
Stevie Wonder - It Ain't No Use - Unreleased
Frente - Bizarre Love Triangle - Mammoth
Arto Mwambe - Btwo - Brontosaurus
A-Ha - Take On Me (Instr.) - Unreleased
The KLF - Dream Time In Lake Jackson - Wax Trax
Nine Inch Nails - March Of The Pigs - Nothing
Bee Gees - How Deep Is Your Love - Polydor

And it sounds even better than it looks, so go listen. And not only that, but it’s freaking hysterical to hear all that classic rock after Squarepusher and then Stevie Wonder, A-Ha instrumental, then Nine Inch Nails, which is the culmination of the good sounding, funny youthful reminiscing in the middle of a set that ends with Osborne and Starski & Clutch. And Frente, Frente?? Wow! I have that tape, by accident, but I have that tape, still. It’s tucked away in a Deee-Lite case for Dewdrops in the Garden. You know, “Applejuice Kissing,” “When You Told Me You Loved Me,” etc, from 1994.

And who has, or had, that Deee-Lite tape that I would still listen to today if I had it? My good friend K-Rock totally stole it from me and forced me to spend my adult years with Frente peaking out at me from that cassette case that I refuse to get rid of. And no, her real name is not K-Rock, but we had a very healthy obsession with the Beastie Boys in the mid-90s in high school. Michael Diamond was my boyfriend, of course. Denise Dalphond converts easily to Denny D, you see. My friend K preferred Ad Rock, thus K-Rock. She was also quite a Rock Star. And our third friend, LN, accepted MCA, but I don’t think she was too enthusiastic about it. We were way cooler in real life than it seems on this screen.

After the Bee Gees, you get to listen to the Lyman Woodard Organization play “Belle Isle Daze.” Lyman Woodard, who recently passed in February, was a local jazz musician. Here’s an article about him from the Detroit Free Press. I love that George Benson sounding funky jazz with extensive use of the organ. And then some nice old and newer hip hop, again reminded of my husband by that Method Man track; and finishing with Osborne, R. Kelley (sounded great by the way), and Starski & Clutch.

So yeah, Detroit still has good radio, it’s just way more globally available and not really on the airwaves…

And don’t forget about Crush Collision on WCBN in Ann Arbor, Carlos Souffront’s weekly show. I’ve tried listening live several times to his show on Thursday nights, but the streaming doesn’t really work. It’s frustrating. And then CJAM in Windsor, Mike Huckaby has a weekly show and Adam Francesconi does as well. Mike Huckaby’s show is on Monday nights and Adam’s show is called The Rhythm Gallery on Wednesday nights. Jerry the Cat and Minx started the show years ago and now Adam Francesconi and Tom Desmond host it.

And now for my final story of the day prompted by current happenings in Detroit. Terry Mullan is playing a party this Friday at The Works with DJ Dara and DJ Bone. Now DJ Bone, I like as an adult. But as a newly turned 18 year old living in NYC and college freshman at NYU, a mix I had by Terry Mullan was my favorite tape ever. And I think I drove my two roommates a bit nutty listening to it so much. I was handed a flyer for the party a few weeks ago at the Red Bull Music Academy info session that I went to shortly before the festival. “Terry Mullan!?” Unfortunately, I think I’m going to stay home…for a while. After the festival and then San Diego, I really need to be at home with my family. I mean come on, they need me to carry the heavy star wars ship and continually put the light sabers and little guns back in Darth Vader’s, or Anakin’s, or the clone trooper’s hands! They need me to find all the tiny, very specific lego pieces in the construction of whatever is being built. And I need to shove my nose into their necks every so often and get a good whiff of their childhood loveliness. And I need to do all the daily wonderful things that a wife gets to do! But I’ll reserve the specifics for James…

This post exemplifies the eclecticism of Detroit that I love. And I know I keep writing about Detroit’s vibrant eclectic diverse culture, but it’s really true and it’s really happening here. People are creating and embracing new and different things here all the time and that’s one of the things that is keeping Detroit’s musical life thriving.

So Todd, and doubters that Todd actually reads this, but Todd, Christopher Cross in the next Preset, K!?


Andrew said...

thank you for the dee-lite memories, that made me want to "Build The Bridge". just the mention of the name Carlos Souffront...the skill on the 1200's is still ablaze in my mind. 1217 to voom global, i thank you...

Denise said...

Thanks for your kind comments, Andrew. I appreciate it.

Andrew said...

Its really really amazing to see the working of DJ's..

I like this blog..

Thanks for sharing...


Andrew said...

This is interesting to me because my fellow ethnomusicologist friends..

Email Marketing Solutions

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.