Lots of end of the year posts coming up soon. I don’t know about you but 2010 just kinda snuck up on me. I’m still surprised when people keep mentioning the “end of the decade.” Ooops, can we rewind a bit? I’m not quite ready for the new times, on the other hand, I’m so happy to say goodbye to the miserable decade behind us. My apologies to the youth who called the aughts their heyday. May you soon know a new world of pleasure and joy! Afterall, the new world is there in our hearts.
I’ll start the joy fest early with this little gem of a jam I’ve been listening to non-stop for the past few days. Another Secret Disco find. It’s the break that I love. The energy of the song slowly building up with the introduction of a earthy bassline, the tempo begins to gather steam, the falsetto gets more plaintive, the beat harder and finally releasing into a hands-in-the-air anthemic break punctuated with syncopated horns and a little bongo solo. It’s the kinda sound that inspired House music.
Here’s hoping your New Year’s Eve is filled with all kinds of boogie!
Abdulla Abdurehim is a singer who mixes traditional Uyghur music with pop melodies and electronic instruments, and who is probably the most well known musician from this region. He is also known as the “king of Uyghur Pop”. His song “Father” is a classical example of this type of music. His music was played during the opening ceremonies of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
If the Exuma song was dripping with magic, this Altai shaman song by Huun Hur Tu is drenched with it.
I’ve always had a fondness for throat singing but my curiosity never took me beyond the popular albums from Mongolia. In between disco, I’ve been listening to music from Central Asia songs made by Uyghurs, music from Xianjiang and Altai and few other Asian-Turkish influenced genres from the region. There is so much more to listen to but for now, I will leave you with these clips.
Huun Huur Tu-Dangyna
Nomads sharing music? I can hear lots of Romani style in this song.
Tengri is revered as the creator of the universe and the spirit the sky in many parts of Central Asia.
This photo is of my Grandmother Jessie’s cousin, Esthela. She sent her this photo from Sonora, with a sweet inscription on the reverse. There is something about her eyes, they look very much like my grandmother’s. They are knowing.
I think Sunday is a good day to post this song because if I believed in the sacred, this song would be it. This music is what religion should be: visceral, calling to a power outside and within oneself. It is dripping with magic.
A couple of months ago I traveled to Guanajuato, MX with friends and through one of these friends, met the drummer for the only punk rock band in the city. We spent the night chatting in this cave-like bar filled with hip youth from the nearby college. It was a warm, gothic-y place lined with red velvet wallpaper and playing the latest indie tunes from around the world. The energy of this punk rock guy, appropriately nicknamed Godzilla or Godzi for short, was intense and heavy. So looming was his presence that his entrance into the bar caused the students sitting around us to look nervously over their shoulders. He could make the rock walls of the building we were sitting in feel threatened, so formidable was his presence.
With a beer in hand he began to tell one story after another, breathlessly, continuously, hours passing quickly, each story revealing his wry sense of humor and unexpected wisdom. Finally, in a rare pause of the conversation, I asked him if heâ€™d ever been to Veracruz. His eyes glowed for a moment, remembering. He said in Spanish: Yes, that is a beautiful city, full of magic. Magic? I asked, Real magic? Not magical? Magic, he says. There is magic in the earth there, it is a special place. Different cities in Mexico contain all kinds magic, some places it is stronger. For instance, near Leon there is a town which is very dark, there is bad magic there. You donâ€™t want to visit this puebloâ€¦but I go occasionally. A small moment of silence passes and he grins, leaving me to wonder what he does in the bad magic pueblo. Then his words rumbled off into a subterranean place of slurred speech and I sank back against the crumbling rock walls wondering how long the night lasts in Guanajuato.
I immediately thought of this story when I heard first heard this song, there is magic here. It is up to you to decide what kind of magic it contains.
I got the voices of many in my throat
the feet of a frog and
the tail of a goat
According to book The Secret History of Disco and comments left on the Youtube page for this tune, this song was popular at early disco clubs in New York. It was part of a musical trend that included other African inspired music like Babatunde Olatunji.
This clip should have been grouped with the cheesy robot post but alas, I forgot. So here it is, in all it’s synthesized glory. The video is pretty swell, it looks a lot like the videos of current day electro producers.
I tried my best to resist the lure of this video which I was first introduced to through artist Porous Walker‘s Facebook page.
What is it exactly that I find so lovable about this song? Is it the synthy Hi-NRG beats, the hypnotic vocoder robot vocals, the infectious chord changes, the catchy chorus backed by samba shakers, the requisite hand claps, the unrelenting bass line, the melodic alarm clock beeps taken from a children’s cartoon all topped by a perfectly timed cowbell pop? Or is it the video itself with the Chrissy Snow dancers, so vapid and rhythmless (you can see them counting beats in their head) following a choreography that means absolutely nothing to them cause all they are smiling about is the cocaine they were promised after the video shoot? Did Cicciolina find her inspiration here? Xuxa? Continue reading →
The Secret History of Disco Book devotes a good amount time exploring the influence of electronic and synthesized sounds in the development of disco. Briefly mentioned are a list of French “cheesy robot” musical acts that might’ve influenced disco composers like Cerrone and Giorgio Moroder. Looking up these tunes, I was taken with the pop pre-new wave sound of the genre. I also finally realized where bands like Stereo Total got their influence. They always seemed derivative of something else but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
Elli et Jacno – Main dans la main 1980
Here’s some French pop reveling in all it’s cheese and fluffy bleepy quirkiness. It’s the stuff of my cotton candy dreams!
The sound cuts out halfway through, you can watch another version of the song here but I prefer this clip as it highlights Elli’s unique dancing style. Continue reading →
I came across this 8 1/2 x 11 photo of my mother while helping her clean the house the other day.
I hope she doesn’t mind me secretly spiriting it away for use on this blog. It’s such a lovely image, she reminds me of Anna Karina or I think Anna Karina has always reminded me of my mother. No one in my family reminds me of Serge Gainsbourg, that’s probably a good thing.
Perhaps it’s the size of the photo or the starlet affectation of her pose that inspired the joke note to my father (her boyfriend at the time) written on the reverse. Or maybe every young woman that grows up within sight of the Hollywood sign harbors a secret desire to be famous.
Patti Jo-[Moulton Mix] Make Me Believe in You ] (1975 Considered part of the post-Northern Soul genre that was popular in England but was remixed by by an early disco DJ (Moulton)
Due to the constant interference of jobs and the other mundane details that can consume one’s life, a backlog of posts have been piling up around this blog. They all need lots of editing and will eventually go up but for now, I’m going to start a small series of music posts based on an excellent book I’m currently reading: Turn the Beat Around, The Secret History of Disco by Peter Shapiro. I’m only halfway through because I’ve had to stop every few pages to look up many of the songs that make up this fascinating history. How can I not be intrigued by the music when Shapiro puts in passages like this?
Almost the entirety of the next thirty years of dance music comes from this single record: the cheery bonhomie, the cloying fantasy of the good life, the doe-eyed spirituality, the cushiony, enveloping bass sound, the string stabs, the adoration of jazzy chords and jazz as a sound rather than process, the keyboards like pools of liquid mercury, the mantra as lyric.
Shapiro takes the time to not only introduce the reader to the genre’s significant songs, DJs, performers and other musical producers but also frequently delves into the social and cultural context of the music. For instance, his take on one disco’s greats, Sylvester and his anthemic and timeless dance floor favorite You Make Me Feel:
“You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” interrogated the African-American musical tradition and asked what “realness” is supposed to mean to gay black men who, alienated from almost all of society, were forced to hide their true identities for most of their lives.
My understanding of this song was changed completely.