Give the Drummer Some's
Favorite Downloads from the MP3 Blogosphere
The details haven't unraveled yet. Maybe they won't for half a century. But I can sit here now and reasonably speculate that the vast, interconnected network of free-music blogs—the exploration of which is the point and pleasure of these weekly Motherlode posts—is nothing more than a CIA front.
Ever since I ditched my old dial-up for a high-speed Internet connection and started downloading MP3s, I have been gorging myself on the cornucopia of free music available across the relentlessly proliferating blogosphere. For three solid years now, I have been dashing headlong from one site to the next, Hoovering up external-hard-drive-bloating quantities of treasures, rarities and unheard wonders. But not once during this nonstop indulgence have I stopped to reflect on the old adage, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."
Well, I've just been chilled by that bracing splash of reality after reading an old article in the UK newspaper The Independent about the CIA's global propaganda campaign to nurture and promote Abstract Expressionist art in the 1950s and '60s. (That this 15-year-old article—by Frances Stonor Saunders, who later produced the book Who Paid the Piper: The CIA and the Cultural Cold War—has just gone viral is, one imagines, related to the new exhibition mounted at MoMA called "Abstract Expressionist New York.") In her article (and presumably her book, which I haven't read) Saunders's advances the notion that the CIA's support for abstract expressionism was a cold-war era attempt to win the hearts and minds of emerging and non-aligned nations over whom the U.S. was competing with the Soviet Union.
A more appealing theory, recently suggested to me by film scholar Marc Greene, is that the CIA was attempting to squelch the burgeoning popularity of left-leaning artists like Ben Shahn and Diego Rivera by promoting overtly apolitical artists. Extrapolating this more Marxist reading of CIA meddling in cultural affairs, it seems to me that the security apparatus of the United States has a vested interest in seducing creative and otherwise politically active segments of the populace into becoming insular shut-ins, immobilized by the siren call of free music on the Internet. If that is indeed the case, then Mining the Audio Motherlode ought to be receiving a weekly stipend from the suits in Langley, VA.
Is Big Brother you, downloading?
Johnny Dyani Quartet ~ "Angolian Cry"
(Blog: King Cake Crypt)
This last of a string of audacious releases for Steeplechase, 1985's "Angolian Cry" was the last recording bassist Johnny Mbizo Dyani made as a leader (he collapsed and died on stage in Sweden a year later). Twenty years earlier, Dyani, along with his Blues Notes band mates, ditched his native South Africa for the burgeoning free jazz scene in Europe. The piano-less quartet heard here also features Bahamian trumpeter Harry Beckett, with whom Dyani played in the many tentacled, London-based joy machine Brotherhood of Breath, Dutch-Congolese woodwind maestro John Tchicai, and dynamic American drummer Jabali Billy Hart.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe ~ "Blessed Assurance"
Sister Rosetta Tharpe release a number of highly popular singles for Decca in 1951, the same year she staged her own wedding during a concert at Washington D.C.'s Griffith Stadium. (It is said she signed a contract with her managers binding her to find someone to marry in time for the heavily promoted show.)
Various ~ "Funk Cargo"
One of the great funk comps out there, Funk Cargo sounds like the soundtrack to a particularly demented episode of Starsky and Hutch.
Blahpane Kaja ~ "Baleganjur Spesial"
(Blog: Brain Goreng)
Metal Machine Music
The most widely known baleganjur bands are the marching gamelan troupes that perform while on the move. (Way back when, this music accompanied armies into battle to terrify the opposition.) Other purveyors of baleganjur music perform in a more sedentary format, producing ideal music for cleansing temples of evil spirits and for cremation ceremonies (or, for discount both simultaneously?).
Afoxé Filhos De Gandhi ~ "Bloco Afro"
(Blog: Back Star Liners)
Mahatma in Hand
Originally formed in 1948 as a living tribute to the recently assassinated Mohandas K. Ghandi, this society of Candomblé drummers based in the Bahian city of Salvador has grown in recent years to involve an informal membership of more than 14,000 adherents. Rather incongruously, the gaudily attired carnivalistas of Filhos de Ghandy based the look of their outfits on the costume worn by the title character in the Cary Grant-Douglas Fairbanks Jr. film Gunga Din.
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