Dr. Delay - Psycrunk (Dr. Delay)
Mash-up. Yeah, it's a dirty word to some, and kind of has drawn some battle lines in some corners. You might remember years ago when Evolution Control Committee put out those Public Enemy/Herb Alpert and Dan Rather/ACDC hybrids, people were going crazy (especially in FMU's circle) but in the last few years apart from a few neat compilations and odd tracks found online, the whole scene got somewhat pointless and tedious to filter through when some people decided that, say, the Stone Roses and Suede needed to coexist in a song together. Without a doubt, there's something that tweaks the brain in a good way when two disparate, conceptually different things clash and make some kind of third element that tickles the lobes. Hell, that's the impetus of what freeform exists for in many ways. But I haven't really paid attention to many of these discs that have come in for a long time to be honest. But Dr. Delay! Psych-rock Crunk! Don't you want to hear it? Of course you do! First of all, everyone knows most of the best breaks and samples come from psych records, but to hear New Hope's floating Christian spiel on "God of All of Us" with Trick Daddy yammering over it all, well, you're opening a new box of dementia. Like those Evolution Control Committee singles you get plenty of buzz from the odd contrasts, though admittedly the concept is pretty locked into one mode. But there's some pretty creative juxtapositions that make for a great mix CD to jam out to driving. Li'l Scrappy vs. Paul Revere the Raiders, Trillville on top of the flowery sounds of 70's Turkish psych outfit 3HurEl (hear in Real Audio), Triple 6 Mafia vs. the Seeds. There's some filler for sure and the whole thing goes on a bit too long, but I think it's the party mix of the year by a long shot.
Salah Ragab and the Cairo Jazz Band Present Egyptian Jazz - Ramadan In Space Time (Art Yard)
Sandy Bull - Still Valentine's Day 1969 (Water)
My personal all-time hall of fame list of jazz records usually involves those with huge bands (Baden-Baden Free Jazz Orchestra, Sun Ra Arkestra, Brotherhood of Breath), or ensembles from disparate cultures adapting traditions of faraway lands and lending their own take on the music. This
amazing Salah Ragab reissue does both by a long shot: an Egyptian group who were the country's first big band jazz combo, firing it up in 1968 taking on both their Mideast traditions and the Afrocentric jazz elements somewhat filtered through the West. Ragab ran a military music sector for Egypt, and these recordings are the first proper presentation of this amazing group on its own to most Western ears. With five saxes, four trumpets, four trombones, piano, bass, percussion, this thing swings mightily, and if images of a North African Sun Ra Arkestra are conjured up, it wouldn't be too off-base, Ragab himself was scooped up in the early 1970's for a Mediterranean tour with the Arkestra where it's clear he learned a thing or two. If you're still not convinced, dig "Ramadan In Space Time" (!!) (Real Audio)
Meanwhile, Sandy Bull adapted his own personal take on both Middle Eastern and Indian styles into the world of stringed instruments, as he somehow lodged himselve as a square peg in the round hole of the mid-1960's American folk scene. Like Fahey (whom he shared a bill with on this Valentines Day 1969 live recording from San Francisco), Bull's idiosyncracies may have been somewhat of an annoyance to record companies and artists who tried to take him on tour to help him out, but in the long run by taking his own road Bull came out the master of all. While his four Vanguard records between 1968-72 certainly showcased the deeply meditative terrain he traversed, it was low-key live affairs like this one at the Matrix (now on CD thanks to Water Music) that gave whomever was in the room a deep glance into the light and abyss that drove Bull. Having just bought a new amp and electric guitar he hadn't even played through yet, Bull just fiddles himself into a deep, hazy buzz of tremolo (almost making you mistaking this for a Spacemen 3 boot) and lives inside it for the duration of the show; letting the chasm of reverberation dominate the space as he navigates his way through the most psychedelic Bach and Luiz Bonfa takes you'll ever hear> He also takes an interlude on a dry oud, then attacks the very foundation of Chuck Berry's "Memphis, TN" with spooky rhythmic accompaniment on tape to turn it into a minimalist masterpiece. Talk about your unusual Valentines Day dates. "No Deposit No Return Blues" (Real Audio).
Curse Ov Dialect - Wooden Tongues (Mush)
Two years in the making, the latest from Melbourne's Curse Ov Dialect shows once again how the Aussies (namely COD and Macromantics) are kicking hip-hop ass in the innovation department. With MC's Raceless, Atarungi, August 2 and Vulk Makedonski surrounding the generated sounds from DJ Paso Bionic, the multiculti aspect these guys put in the forefront on their last album gets kicked up a notch here; it's such a whirlwind tour of the world of sounds you almost throw up, but at no point do you sense a loss of focus or get the impression you're being tossed esoteric shapes for the sake of forced eclectism. Flowing rhymes and scratches complement Muslimgauze-ish beats, baroque horns, kid choruses and operatic flights, Bollywood cooing, Balkan horn blasts all presented in sharp precision appropriate to the assorted lyrics (which focus, needless to say, on worldly diversity/cultural unity). It's really admirable that all this can be presented with total energy and cohesiveness while *still* acknowledging all that is right about hip-hop history. The fact these guys have namedropped the Boredoms in interviews probably speaks volumes as well. "Word Up Forever" (Real Audio).