putting these flyers up after the events lol… just did not have time
(I will tentatively begin to include not directly music related content in this blog. Because these are topics important to every human, maybe especially lovers of music from the Global South)
Around the globe today, sparked by recent incidents of police murder and brutality in the US, with immigration and refugee issues intensifying along many borders, race and racism is again making headlines, a central topic of discussion across all sections of society, and new spaces have opened up for supplying ourselves with the knowledge and tools to treat this plague of the mind. But before we can alleviate symptoms, undergo operations, toward healing and restoration, we must first examine its roots, study its nature, and identify precisely what it is not, and what it is.
WHAT IT IS NOT
Antonio Damasio, neurologist and director of the Brain and Creativity Institute, pointed out the former usefulness of associating difference with threat. “Probably, the detection of differences is something that has an old biological history,” he said. “There possibly was a time when it was advantageous to recognize difference very rapidly, because difference might indicate a possibly unfriendly group.” — Wayne Lewis, Journalist
This has sometimes been called “biological racism”, but there is a serious problem with this label: this instinctual distrust is related to, but needs to be conceived separately from racism as we know it. Similarly, both xenophobia, the fear of difference, and ethnocentrism, the feeling that one’s own culture is superior, have existed since different groups of humans first came in contact with each other. Yet while both of these concepts are also related to racism, they are not exactly racism either.
What we understand as race is the belief that the myriad of biological and cultural differences between ethnicities and groups can be summed up in sweeping generalizations, in large categories indicated by superficial physical traits. What we know as racism is a particular way of classifying humanity on a hierarchical scale from “primitive” to “advanced”, “inferior” to “superior”, according to skin color.
Genetic differences between ethnic groups are biological facts; but there are much more genetic differences between different groups of Africans, than between Africans and Europeans. What this means is that the way we have recently chosen to define the groups, “the methods with which we subdivide the differences we construe as “racial” characteristics, are subjective, historically and culturally contingent, and arbitrary. In biology there are many different ways to break down “race”, none really more empirical or correct than any other” (Phillip Leckman, Anthropologist). Thus race as we understand it is like organizing the books in a library not according to subject, language, publishing date, or any other characteristics, but according to the color of the covers, and then declaring that books with blue covers use more refined language than books with red covers, green books are easier to read, purple books contain questionable information, and so on.
The above mentioned three pre-existing social dynamics, instinctual distrust of difference, ethnocentrism, and xenophobia, are commonly confused and conflated with racism; and this common confusion/conflation is one of the best ways to validate racism. Saying “racism has always existed” is perhaps the best way to normalize and accept this modern disease of the mind, to justify its continued existence, to excuse the pandemic violence, cruelty, and injustice caused by it in today’s world.
Inequality and prejudice did of course exist prior to the modern era, but were primarily distributed along lines of class and culture, and not “race” the way we do. Skin color was rarely much of a factor at all, but even when skin color was mentioned in ancient history as characteristic of foreigners, it was one sign of difference among many other signs, such as dress or language, and never was a determining basis for the judgement of another.
“Historically it is pretty well proved now that the ancient Greeks and Romans knew nothing about race. They had another standard—civilised and barbarian—and you could have white skin and be a barbarian and be black and civilised.” — CLR James
There were examples of practices such as banning of marriage to foreigners in some cultures, but these policies were caused by a great number of reasons, including the afore mentioned xenophobia or ethno-centricity, and not because the foreigners were viewed as belonging to an inferior or less-than-human “race” of people.
“The Ancients did not fall into the error of biological racism; dark skin was never a sign of inferiority; Greeks and Romans did not establish color as an obstacle to integration in society; and ancient society was one that ‘for all its faults and failures never made skin color the basis for judging a man’ — Roderick Douglas Bush, sociologist and author
The Roman emperor Septimius Severus from modern day Libya was almost certainly black
“(Prior to 16th C.) African and Asian peoples constitued notions of distinction based not on skin color but on cultural exchange. (There was) ignorant ethnocentrism and xenophobia… (but) to feel (culturally) superior to someone is not necessarily to hate that person, and it certainly does not ordain that one can then capture, treat as fundamentally inhuman, and utilize that person principllay for labor.” — Vijay Prashad, historian and author
Another common held false belief is that “slavery is as old as empires”. But this is not entirely true, because the various kinds of slavery practiced in ancient times were very different from the Trans-Atlantic Chattel slavery of the modern age in many ways, including ethnicity not being at all a factor. Again from Vijay Prashad:
“Despite evidence of enslavement in ancient times, it is clear, however, that the premodern mode of production was not based on slave labor (as was the Atlantic economy of the colonial era), nor was the sort of slavery practiced based upon the dehumanization of particular groups of people […] The Chinese enslaved mostly other Chinese, Arabs other Arabs, etc. Premodern slavery was sometimes brutal, (but besides war-captives) but just as common was a form of apprenticeship in which slaves learnt a trade and then later earned their freedom. […] The practice of slavery was often in the form of debt bondage; and slaves became free once again after the debt was paid. In fact ‘Slavery was often used as a means of creating fictive ties of kinship” (like marriage).”
WHAT IT IS
The aspect of racism in our times which distinguishes it from injustice of the past is the idea that there are distinct physical and behavioral traits arising from genetic difference between 3 or 4 major “races”, and that is grounds for systematic discrimination. This doctrine enables dehumanization along artificially manufactured racial lines, in which entire ethnicities are viewed as “inferior” and “less than human” based on skin-color, and thus justified to use and treat like farm animals. (the absurdity of “white”, “black”, “yellow” as distinct categories is highlighted by the following image: even people from the same geographic location are of an infinite number of shades)
‘humanae’ — Pantone skin color spectrum chart by Angelica Dass
“Slavery was not born of racism—rather, racism was the consequence of slavery.” — Eric Williams, historian
This pseudo-scientific system of categorization based on skin color was created less than 500 years ago, during the process of European colonization, with the specific purpose of dehumanizing entire populations which happened to have less effective weapons at the time. The method with which racism typecasts difference is a phenomenon entirely unique to the modern era, beginning in late 17th Century North America. The idea that people of European descent were of the “white race”, and that they were genetically superior to the “black race” of African descendants, who were not really human, was invented specifically to create disunity among the underclasses (who previously stood together against the elites), and facilitate their economic exploitation. The poor white indentured servants whose existence was not very different from that of slaves now felt an affinity with their white masters because of supposed “racial alliance”, and class antagonism was diverted: since the beginning racism has been used not only as a rationale for oppression, but also as a theater of distraction from class inequality.
The next thing the politicians did sealed the deal: they paid poor whites a bounty for runaway slaves, and often made them overseers for slaves, turning every poor white in America into a prison guard against the people who had once been their neighbors and allies.” – Quinn Norton, Journalist (from How White People Got Made)
“The hostility between the whites and blacks of the [US] South is easily explained. It has its root and sap in the relation of slavery, and was incited on both sides by the poor whites and blacks by putting enmity between them. They divided both to conquer each.” — Frederick Douglass, anti-slavery campaigner
European colonists of the 1600s explained the difference in technological development on the various continents not as the consequence of varied fundamental material conditions over time, but rather as expression of “racial difference”. Early 20th Century capitalists explained poverty, unemployment, and crime as not the result of societal dysfunction, but rather as genetic deficiency within the individuals, which led to the annual sterilization of hundreds of thousands of poor women in NYC until the 1930s (the Nazis would later learn much from these practices of Eugenics). Similarly, contemporary race theories and racist pseudo-science comprise of distortions of the theory of natural selection and the false attribution of cultural and economic differences to biological ones. To the racial “scientists” of today black people are poor not because of systematic marginalization from a series of discriminatory and oppressive policies since abolition such as Black Codes, Redlining, convict leasing, voter suppression, racially charged predatory bank loans, and the school-to-prison-pipeline, but because “African descendants are inherently lazy and less intelligent” (see the 1994 best seller and hugely influential The Bell Curve, which argues that “human intelligence is […] a better predictor of […] financial income, job performance, birth out of wedlock, and involvement in crime than are an individual’s parental socioeconomic status, or education level.” They also basically say that the elites should rule over all because they are more intelligent than the average population.)
Yes, there is just as much popular racist pseudo-science today as ever — another good example being this 2014 article by Nicholas Wade, the former science editor of the New York Times, published by Time Magazine. Wade’s basic ideas here are that human evolution continued during the past 30,000 years, after various large groups settled in different climates and conditions, and thus indeed took different evolutionary paths, both culturally and biologically. In his premise Wade has set up enormous straw-men, such as the proponents of “race-doesn’t-exist” claiming that genetic differences do not exist, or that evolution of humans ever stopped. In fact no legitimate social scientists today believe either of these clearly absurd notions, if any ever have. The “take downs” of these straw-men which follow are extremely hollow, but surely sounds great to advocates of race (and racism). As if this wasn’t enough, Mr. Wade is mired in all kinds of ahistorical falsity and racist distortion, such as the cause of conflict in the Middle East (they have not evolved out of tribalism!), and what made the wonderful wonders of the Industrial Revolution possible (Europeans evolved to a higher level of organization!) It is chilling, to say the least, to realize that these ideas are apparently taken seriously today, even in some so-called “scientific” circles, and considering who presented them, and endorsed by which publication. (another, more in depth take-down of Wade’s work here)
Certainly inequality and oppression is as old as civilization itself, but what we have seen in the last few hundred years is the dynamics and processes of injustice mechanized, streamlined, systematized, and more efficiently administered on an exponentially expanded scale, enabled by the invention of race and racism. In fact a very solid case can be made for racism being the central ideological engine behind the building of the modern world, based on analysis of the central role of chattel slavery in the establishment of industrial capitalism. The root disease of power, hierarchy, and subjugation has existed for 10,000 years, but racism is thus far the most powerful and deadly strain.
Dj Zhao, December 2014
The climate in Nairobi is cool and perfect all year round, despite being on the equator, due to its high altitude. The East African Rumba sound is also often cooler, sans the fiery horn sections of Congolese Soukous. The focus here is on a reduced palette of rhythmic guitar and vocal refrains over driving, insistent 4 on the floor kicks. The motorik, hypnotic motifs and modular progression of this original minimalist dance music here is mostly from 1950s to 1970s, and i play it in the seamless style of techno.
There is a lot more going on here than the predominantly Luo popular style known as Benga: also golden classics from the Kikuyu, Kamba, Luhya, and other tribes of Kenya. Grooves so sweet they ache the heart as they move the feet… Sounds difficult if not impossible to find outside of East Africa.
“I started playing music in school, and I had a cousin, Aoka Meja, who had a guitar. We copied the style of Adero Onani, who played traditional music on the guitar. In 1958, I got my first acoustic guitar and played Rumba. In 1965, I started to play Benga.
Benga was influenced by the beat of the nyatiti, and we interpreted that on the guitar. We also borrowed from the orutu, which followed the voice of the singer … I formed Sega Sega, and we … did a huge amount of studio work. And as Benga became popular, the three of us played on a lot of other people’s songs. This meant that our Luo sound was getting on a lot of records. The early ‘60’s was mostly about studio work, but by ’70 to ’71, when Benga was really at its peak, the Sega Sega band was very big. We were always performing at events and functions. We did okay, and I made enough to buy my farm and build the house in which I still live . . .”
and the following is from the liner notes of “D.O. MISIANI and SHIRATI JAZZ, THE KING OF HISTORY, CLASSIC 1970S BENGA BEATS FROM KENYA” (Sterns Music):
“Guitars had started gaining popularity in Kenya in the 1950s and it wasn’t long before Benga started taking form in the Luo speaking areas surrounding Lake Victoria in the early 60s. Misiani (commonly known as the “King of HIstory” and father of Benga, whose band is also on the cover of this mix – Zhao) was actually born across Kenya’s southern border in Tanganyika in 1940 in the Luo community of Shirati. His earliest years as a musician brought him numerous clashes with uthority and several escapes to safer ground to avoid punishment. It seems he and his music were very popular with schoolgirls and young women, but the parents weren’t too keen on his seductive love songs and the authorities didn’t appreciate the fights among the young men over the girls. Misiani recounted several times that his guitars were seized and smashed, and that he had to leave the village quickly. He would disappear for a while, wait for things to settle down and then return.
The songs of the early 70s have a lighter percussion with the beat kept by tapping on the rim of a snare drum. They also mastered a rhythmic clicking sound using the electric guitar pick-up that is heard in a number of pieces. From about 1976 this sound changes with the use of a full drum kit and the deeper sound of the kick drum, with now the high hat receiving most of the attention from the drummer’s sticks. The saxophone heard in some of the earlier songs is gone. By the late 70s, we’re into the mature benga sound exemplified by ‘Wang Ni To Iringo’ that propelled benga through the 80s and into the 90s.
Misiani was a composer without fear in an environment that threatened free speech and critical thought. In his early years, it was his love songs in his home village that had got him in trouble, and in the Shirati Jazz years (essentially the rest of his life after leaving the village), he was known for biting commentary on Kenya’s political, social, and economic institutions. However such criticism was never direct. His songs convey meaning at a deeper level. He would use a theme such as a verse or parable in the Bible, a piece of African history, a prophecy, or an animal fable that would allow listeners to draw a meaning relevant to the current events of the day. Periodically, when one of his songs could be interpreted as presenting the government or a politician in an unflattering way, the authorities would pick up Misiani and take him off to jail. At one point he was deported to Tanzania. Another time he was arrested – though not convicted – of being an illegal Tanzanian immigrant. Nairobi’s Nation newspaper quotes him in 2006 as saying: “Tell me, is there anything wrong with singing about what’s going wrong in our society? I just sing about what is happening and if some people are not happy, I can do little about it.” It is in this arena, I think, where Misiani really merits his King of History title. With its multiple layers of meaning, it accurately portrays both the status and the mechanism by which he achieved that status: keep it sweet, keep it entertaining but, at all times, keep it relevant.”
These tracks came from many different sources, sorry for lack of artist and title for some:
01 Kakai Kilonzo & Les Kilmambogo – Kilinga Munguti
02 Kakai Kilonzo & Les Kilmambogo – Ngungu Na Muol
03 Les Kilmambogo – Serah Ngungembeti
04 Kakai Kilonzo & Les Kilmambogo – Mutwawa Niwatwawa
05 Ken Wa Maria – Unknown
06 Ken Wa Maria – Unknown
07 Unknown Kamba Song
08 Ken Wa Maria – Syaamba Kala
09 Ken Wa Maria – Kuu Ni Ilovi
10 Unknown Kikuyu Song 1
11 Unknown Kikuyu Song 2
12 Unknown Kikuyu Song 3
13 Osito – Jehova Kings
14 George Ramogi – Unknown
15 Owino Misiani & Shirati Jazz – Piny Ose Mer
16 (Luo) Emily Makaya – Fagilia To Ipar Odi
17 Elisha Nyarugenya – Mazadijo
18 Princess Julie – Dunia Mbaya
19 Princess Julie – Unknown
20 (Luhya) Misiko – Come We Stay
21 Misiko – Khubekha Mukhali
22 Unknown – Unknown
23 Unknown (Mukunguni) – Pepo Mlume
24 Kapere Jazz Band – Lando Nyajomere
25 Jacob Omolo – Ogwang Lelo Okoth
26 Owiny Sigoma Band – Nyiduonge Drums
27 Kalambia Sisters – Katilina
Jack is building a new council estate House in East London.
01 Kowton – Stasis
02 Boddika & Joy Orbison – Tricky’s Team
03 Daphni & Owen Pallett – Julia
04 Fish – Merk U
05 Joonipah – Gut Feeling
06 Boddika – Soul What (Rmx)
07 Artifact – Exist
08 X5 Dubz – Shapes
09 Boodika & Joy Orbison – Swims
10 Indigo – Aradia
11 Nativ – Breathe
12 Wen – Swingin’ (LDN mix)
13 Detboi – Focus
14 Charlux – Unmarked Patrol
15 Volac – My Crew
16 Volac – Hips Don’t Lie (Sammy W & Alex E Rmx)
17 Emeskay – Searchin (Zoltan Kontes Rmx)
18 2ndcity – I’ll Tell You
19 Ko Kane – Rockin’ With The Best
20 Ill Phil & Lorenzo – Jump Around
21 Ill Phil & Lorenzo feat. MC Sim – It’s Getting Hectic
22 Majestic – Lets Go Back (Cause N Affect Mix)
23 Lockhart – Get Down (Busta)
24 Flava D – In The Dance
25 Formula – Hoods & Bass
26 Jook 10 – Strike
27 Icicle – Final Master
28 Dj Deeon – Titties And Ass
29 Sky Cell – Foam Feathers
From Luanda to New Jersey, from Johannesburg to London, from Kingston to Berlin: indigenous drums and high tech sound fuse in the club. Ancestral beats and diasporic voices thrive on inner city streets. Meta-rhythms and mega-bass erasing borders, connecting dots, and making your booty work overtime.
NGOMA SOUND SYSTEM (Ngoma Sound // Berlin)
A hybrid musical entity made of dj and live instrumentation consisting of 2, 3, 4, or 5 members, fusing ancestral rhythms, acoustic textures, and urban bass pressure. Drawing from both the wealth of African sonic traditions as well as up-to-the-minute street sounds worldwide, NGOMA Soundsystem exists in the tension between electronic composition and live improvisation.
To warm up the night, we have a very special light/dance/music live performance by a very cool artist, starting at 10pm sharp: SILVER
INFINITE LIVEZ (Ninja Tune / Exotic Pylon // London / Berlin)
Is a former FKO Raw freestyle battle champ. Released his first album (Bushmeat) in 2004 on Big Dada records, second album in 2007 as a collaborative project with the Swiss electro jazz outfit Stade (Art Brut Fe De Yoot). Has worked with producers such as Blufoot, M3 and Part 2. Puts out his own improvised noise CDs. Has reoccurring dreams of the end of the world.
MARCEL (TropicFusion // Berlin)
Diligently studying the art of percussion in many African and Afro-diasporic traditions such as Brazillian, Latin, and Middle Eastern since an early age, Germany born Marcel has over the years combined various bodies of knowledge into a dexterous and multi-faceted live drumming style rich with invention and nuance. Guided by a passion for and knowledge of both Afro-Caribbean and Electronic music history, Marcel is the resident percussionist of NGOMA Soundsystem.
DJ ZHAO (Ngoma // Beijing / Los Angeles)
An amateur musicologist and professional booty shaker, Dj Zhao brings a poly-cultural understanding of rhythm to his deeply percussive sets. Wildly disparate timess, place, and styles are often connected by an artful sense of composition and mixing technique. Revealing the ancient rhythm roots of the latest and sickest electronic and bass sounds, as well as showcasing the sweetest and heaviest dance music from all over the globe, Dj Zhao creates unique and exhilarating dance floor experiences at once mind expanding and dance-floor exploding.
FUTURISMO (Futurisms / Cheap Acid // Berlin)
A dimension-hopping traveler, circumventing cosmic turbunlances, collecting audio frequencies and rhythms funky on an intergalactic scale. Futurismo is a DJ, in every sense of the word, bringing things along the mutant techno, juke-jungle, UK Bass and acid lines, scornfully jumping across genre borders.
The Guardian fails to pin-point the unique significance of Funky: it was the very first time that explicitly African rhythm patterns had been prominently used in, and defined, an entire style of “Western” dance music. This failure is part of a larger pattern. In the following sentence, the journalist clearly denigrates African-ness as the least significant aspect of Funky, in typically Euro-centric fashion: “…’a make-do sound’, patched together by and for an uneasy alliance of shiny-shoes “real house music”-lovers, grime kids craving something less macho, hipsters looking for a new buzz after dubstep, and those raised on the riotous party sounds of dancehall, soca and west African music.” ——— the influence of African music is a less important factor than “real house”, than grime, than hipsters (!); and also less important than Dancehall and Soca. And in this sentence, African-ness is completely omitted: “All were united by a pumping house undercurrent, clattering grime and dancehall rhythms, and car-window-rattling bass” ——– Since Funky started to get coverage, journalists have referred to the style as mostly or entirely Caribbean derived — But if you know music, you know the beats in UK-Funky is much, MUCH more derived from African music than from Dancehall or Soca.
“Transcendence and beauty is possible during both the renaissance and golden-age of a culture, as it is during the decline of empire.” — Anonymous
The music here strongly emphasize abrupt cuts, stop-and-switch dynamics, which to me seems to reflect social fragmentation in urban life, and the often talked about compartmentalization of our experience of it into work/leisure boxes. This is literally represented in the first 5 minutes: cold steely bass and beats adorned by a sample “work. work. work. work.” all of a sudden gives way, for only a few bars, to a relaxed synth and a rapper boasting about his money, and then immediately returns to grinding and oppressive beats/work. The music here makes intensive use of manic repetition, often in a more radically rigid way than in traditional House or Techno, mirroring the experience of large sections of the working under classes, in whose culture this music is rooted, being locked into monotonous schedules of menial labor. So it is no surprise that *work* becomes a metaphor for the dance in Afro-American music, which is shaped by both the historical legacy (No Drums Allowed) and present day reality of (wage) slavery. The music here is often tense, undoubtedly related to the pervasive class antagonism on the streets of New Jersey or London, and economic disparity which implements segregation. Violence is a constant theme, gun sounds introduce the mix, and is always present through out: All of these new-ish bass music styles stem from, and comprise the aesthetic of Gangsta Rap as much as Ghetto Tech and Booty Bass: pure sublimated aggression and commodified anger.
Club Deconstruction presents the digital underground of mainly North America, the freshest musical ideas in the “first world”, the former colonial centers, informed by recent internet enabled exposure to far away cultures (surely the only good effect of globalization). *Facta – Tungsten*, for instance, is one track among many which takes unmistakable rhythmic cues from South Africa, and others, such as “Black Vanilla – Throw It Down”, repurpose Angolan beats. Modern dance music in the West is of course built on a foundation of African rhythms stripped of its drums, but this is somewhat of a new phenomenon in musical history: young producers in N.America DIRECTLY drawing from the rhythms of Africa.
Africa is not only the future, it is the only future, as far as dance music is concerned: because the science of designing sound patterns for the proportions and speeds of the human body has reached heights of sophistication and advancement in the mother continent that electronic dance music is only beginning to realize, and reach for. Club Deconstruction is evidence of today’s most forward thinking bass music reinventing itself along Afrocentric lines. This is 21st Century expressions of ancient rhythm heritage, heir of colonial history, shaped by hyperspace pollination, and mirroring the everyday realities of life in the context of violent global capitalism.
01 Teeth – Black Thigh Shakes
02 Millie & Andrea – GIF RIFF
03 Wiz Khalifa – Work (Myth Syzer Remix)
04 Facta feat. Hodge – Tungsten
05 Alex Coulton – Tension
06 Last Japan – Storm Trooper
07 Paleman – Beezeldub
08 Imaabs – Cautiverio
09 Paleman – Newun
10 TRC – Skipping Rope
11 VIsionist – M
12 PE – On Top
13 Missy Elliot – Work It (King Kong Goes Duro Remix)
14 Tessela – Let Up
15 NguzuNguzu – Break In
16 Distal – Green Lantern (Mike Q Remix)
17 SX – Woooo (Instrumental)
18 Mela Dee – CTRL X Goldfinch – Funky Steppa (Trusta Remix)
19 xxx¢ – Wooder
20 Wiley – Wot Do U Call It
21 Wiley – Donuts (Diamond Bass Remix)
22 Akkord – Typeface
23 Rushmore – Low Slung
24 Blame – Fall Down
25 Bleszt – Rock Yo Body 2k14 (Uniqu3 feat. Mike Grip Remix)
26 Nunu ft. City Fitness – Tangerine (Mamboussa Rmx)
27 Fraxinus – All Ends
28 Sylvere – The Swain
29 Fraxinus – Off Ends
30 Sylvere – No Drumstick Please
31 Black Vanilla – Throw It Down (Mike Q X Dj Fade Remix)
32 Samir Debonair – Samir Theme (Uniiqu3 Rmx)
33 Spurz – Horizon Drip
34 Hunt For the Breeze – Tension
35 Somepoe – Woodstate (Tony Goods Rmx)
36 Sylvere – Dutty Birds
37 FOBA – Laga Luvin
38 Sudanim – Pleasure Flood (Drippin Rmx)
39 Rabit – Thug Rotorvator
40 Plastician – The Search (Kahn & Neek Rmx)
41 Fatima Al Qadiri – Knight Fare (Post War Dub)
42 Rabit – Vizier (Vocal Mix)
43 Noms & Strooly – Richie Rich
30/AUG Urban Spree, Berlin
03/SEP Tausend, Berlin
04/SEP Tausend, Berlin
12/SEP Heimathafen, Neukölln
19/SEP Panke, Berlin
27/SEP Schleuse 5, DE
02/OCT Bar Eleven, Nottingham
04/OCT Africa Centre, Glasgow
07/OCT Rich Mix, London
10/OCT Take Five, Bristol
11/OCT Magic Gardens, London
STILL OPEN: Glasgow: Sun 05 / London: Wed 08, Thu 09
18/OCT Sondeka, Nairobi
19/OCT Sondeka, Nairobi
25/OCT Urban Spree, Berlin
31/OCT Panke, Berlin
01/NOV Pankgraefin, Berlin
and this photo… just because :)
Industrial nightmares and Shamanic visions collide in the club. Ancestral voices bleed through grids of the city. Diasporic sounds and mutant rhythms transformed by migrant movement, shaped by history. Fragmented Psychotropic Bass pulsating through the deepest valleys and highest crests of your mind, in the kaleidoscopic center of the omni-verse. RSVP on fb
22 – 00: MUTANT CONFERENCE
Like the panel last time with Dj Ripley and dj zhao, this time we are excited to bring you Stef Meaow, an anthropologist who has done extensive field work in Angola and Portugal, on the music we love to death called Kuduro. Also, Roi Rocky the Tropikal Camel will be addresing many strands of middle eastern music and culture and their socio-political meaning, from Israel to Palestine to Turkey to Kurdistan to Morrocco. Dj Zhao will be moderating and give some additional fun facts about the central cultural heritage of our species, rhythm, and how they can make the world a better place.
00 – END: MUSIC
INTI CHE LIVE (Konn Recordings / Buenos Aires)
Intiche is well known by his Electro-Nativo music style, a fusion of electronic sounds: Tribal, Trance, Electro, Nu-Cumbia, Dub, and Native, taking you into the jungles, mountains and seas of sounds from south, central and north america.
TROPIKAL KAMEL LIVE (Future Roots / Jeruselem)
Middle Eastern and North African roots fused with 21st century Basstronics, creating a mixture between hypnotic rhythms, Arabic samples, and deep tribal atmosphere.
Mutoid mysticism, psychedelic ambiant, and anxious landscapes. Heat wave, half coma, intensity, and distant roots. Dusty landscape on the Terminal beach, shadows of dancers on the wall, snake charming computers, the Fata morgana become oil wells on fire.
DJ ZHAO (Ngoma / Beijing)
Born in Beijing and based in Berlin with a background in Sound Art and Avant Techno, Dj Zhao is an amateur musicologist and professional booty shaker, bringing the best contemporary and classic dance music together from wildly different times and places, focusing on Africa.
some girl met tonight was rolling her eyes and was like “it’s just a name ffs” and i had to dish out the “WE don’t get to decide what is hurtful, the victims of oppression do” line of reasoning… not sure if it got through at all…
Warming up for MUTANT 2, Ngoma Soundsystem featuring Pharoah Chromium will take you on an intimate mystical journey through the kaleidoscopic valleys and crests of your mind in the center of the omni-verse, joined by special guest musicians later in the evening. Expect psychotropic flavors and ancestral-futurist rhythms from every corner of the earth.
Kiki Sol — Lindower Straße 12, Wedding, Berlin
(this article originally appeared on This Is Africa, republishing here since it is not on their new site)
The embellishment of African derived rhythm/melody with European harmonics gave birth to Jazz, arguably the worlds most significant musical explosion of the millennium. In the 100 years since, African American music, which became largely synonymous with American music, has been exerting a tremendous amount of global influence. The spread of this influence accelerated even more after WW2, as the US became a global economic and military super power, aggressively pursuing a program of cultural imperialism, which increasingly saturated the world with its ideas, stories, images, and sounds.
But there is one peculiar thing which nearly all American music has in common – and the more one considers it, the more peculiar it becomes – an extensive emphasis on a unique rhythm, a rhythm very different from that which is found almost anywhere else in the world. It goes like this: Boom – Bap – Boom – Bap, with a kick drum on the 1 and 3 or all 4, a snare drum precisely on the 2 and 4, with nearly nothing in between except maybe a high hat, and no major hits ever landing off the grid. This rhythm is called the “Duple” in music theory, and you can find variations of it driving all modern popular American music styles: Blues, Motown, Soul, Funk, Rock, Disco, Hiphop, House, Pop, and beyond.
Duple Rhythm (beginning of video):
The pervasive dominance of this simplified, rigid, and mechanical mono-rhythm, minimizing poly-rhythmic elements in the music to the role of embellishment, sometimes to the point of non-existence, is very different from the focus on complex polyrhythms in various forms of modern South American and Caribbean music. Cuban Son and Rumba, Brazillian Bossa Nova, Haitian Gwo Ka and Compas, Trinidadian Calypso; none of them rely so extensively on the Duple (besides sub-genres which were directly influenced by US exports, such as Ska Reggae, which heavily borrows from the Rhythm’n’Blues of the 50s).
And if we zoom out to look at great traditions of music of the world: Asia, Middle East, and of course, Africa, with zero exceptions, the Duple beat is never a central element, and hardly even exist at all in the major bodies of music produced by these ancient cultures. All of them are based on intricately interlocking polyrhythms arranged in hypnotic, complex mathematical patterns. (the much younger European classical tradition, which developed as entertainment for royalty and the rich, has always regarded rhythm as an element of the under classes and “primitives”, and has “long discarded African music as an oddity of the animal kingdom” – Piero Scaruffi. With very few exceptions, these attitudes and a refusal to accept African music and its offspring continued all the way through the 20th century until today, which explains the increasing gap between it and the rest of the world.) (01)
Siamou Music in Burkina Faso:
Slapping Juba (the teacher in this video actually recounts a version of the actual incident which result in the first banning of the drums: the murder of a slaver by a slave named Juba, his execution, the subsequent large scale revolt organized with talking drums, and its brutal suppression. From that point on, any slave caught with a drum would have his hands cut off, or hung):
The most widely used substitute for drums, partly because of its ready availability, was the human voice. Field Hollers, Call and Response, Work Songs, Prison Songs, and all kinds of Vocality were developed, with the voice often replicating drum patterns and to create counterpoints, using standard singing, chanting, as well as extended techniques such as guttural effects, interpolated vocality, falsetto, melisma, etc. Sounds of the work itself such as chopping wood or marching, as well as foot stomping or hand clapping during off hours, provided a basic, skeletal time signature, over which the polyrhythmic vocal sounds could improvise (the roots of Scat Singing). Sometimes imitating the beats of many drums in one line, these vocal elements filled the incremental temporal spaces between each clap of the hand or fall of the hammer, and played an important role in the preservation of African rhythmic heritage.
Thus Afro rhythm traditions survived through mutation and adaptation, and formed the drum-less foundation of American music. The descendants of these earlier styles later became wildly popular beginning in the 19th Century: Ragtime, Minstrelsy, Spirituals, Salon Music, Jubilee, Blues, and Gospel (which has been called “percussion music without drums” by historians). The appropriation of Black slave music by White mainstream society started at this time, with the phenomenon of Blackface Minstrelsy. One of the first and most enduring artist/thieves was Stephen Foster, who took African derived rhythms played on the African derived instrument the Banjo, and incorporated them into songs such as “Oh Susana” (which became one of the most popular American songs ever). This, and the mixing of African slave traditions with European folk music were the origins of Country Music: “One of the reasons country music was created by African Americans, as well as European Americans, is because blacks and whites in rural communities in the south often worked and played together” – DeFord Bailey (03)
And because the drums were taken away, the forms of West African music which either were purely vocal or featured the voice prominently, traditionally played without drums, using simple instruments, such as many kinds of narrative song cycles in the Griot traditions of Mali and Senegal, took root in a big way and gained wide popularity in the deep South. No specific African musical form can be identified as the single direct ancestor of the blues, but many elements of the Blues, such as the call-and-response format and the use of blue notes, can be traced back to the music of Africa. (04)
Historians have also speculated that the Spanish slavers, who first set up colonies in the Americas in South America, at that time had not long expelled the North African Moors after 800 years of Islamic rule back home, preferred not to import Afro-Muslims. Thus a higher concentration of people from the Sahel/Mali/Senegal regions, many of whom were Muslim, ended up in North America, bringing with them their more vocal and string based traditions. While more people from the Congo/Ghana/Nigeria regions arrived in South America and the Caribbean, with their more extensive drumming traditions.
A classic sound collage (Alan Lomax) comparing traditional vocal music from Africa and vocal music from the Delta, alternating, line by line, between American and Senegalese singing:
the direct ancestor of the banjo was the Malian/Senegalese instrument Xalam or Ngoni, widely used by Griots:
There was one exception to this drum-lessness: due to the Catholic laws in Luisiana being different from the protestant ones in Georgia and the Carolinas, drums were not banned in New Orleans, the center of the American slave trade, until much later, the second half of the 19th Century. This and other crucial social conditions were the ingredients of a series of cultural/musical explosions that would change the course of the entire world.
Prior to new waves of repression that would come, this port city directly connected to Cuba and the Caribbean, run by the French and Spanish, included a substantial Creole of colour land-owning middle class, so that “black” was not automatically equated with slavery – an anomaly in the South at the time, to say the least. Before the 1890s when this mixed race group suddenly lost their privilege and equality, they participated in every level of society including politics, making a huge difference in terms of racial tolerance, inclusiveness, cultural exchange with Cuba, and the development of both local music as well as music in Cuba.
An economy based on trade meant less regimented attitudes and more respect for difference: “Untouched by the industrial revolution and less socially stressed than other plantation-oriented economies, New Orleans was able to retain the traditions of the various ethnic groups while they were rapidly being annihilated in the rest of the USA.” – Piero Scaruffi (01) Also, Southern Europeans had somewhat different ideas from the Northern Europeans in their treatment of slaves, due to their countries of origin being closer to Africa, and already heavily influenced by African culture. New Orleans brothels allowed sex across the colour line (not just unheard of but completely INSANE in the 1800s) all the way until 1918, when the US government forced the mayor of New Orleans to segregate.
In this atmosphere of relative tolerance and less repressive laws, for much of the 19th century this opulent melting pot city was host to a vibrant nightlife, exotic rituals, tribal dances, pagan festivals, funeral marches and all kinds of parties which never seemed to stop. Further, there was one place, indeed the only place on the entire continent, the “Congo Square”, in the Tremé neighborhood, where slaves had for a long time been allowed to make music: “In Louisiana during the 18th century, slaves were commonly allowed Sundays off from their work. They were allowed to gather in the “Place de Negres”, informally “Place Congo”, where the slaves would set up a market, sing, dance, and play music.” – Peter Kolchin (05)
“It is probably safe to say that by and large the simpler African rhythmic patterns survived in jazz … because they could be adapted more readily to European rhythmic conceptions. Some survived, others were discarded as the Europeanization progressed. It may also account for the fact that patterns such as [tresillo have] … remained one of the most useful and common syncopated patterns in jazz.” – Gunther Schuller (08)
A few decades later a new hybrid style with even more reduced, simplistic, and obvious drum beats was born in the same city, in fact the exact same neighborhood: the first Rock ‘n’ Roll records were made in the Tremé district. “Without New Orlean’s rich musical contribution there would have been no Elvis Presley or Beatles. Because both acts were heavily influenced by the songs recorded by Fats Domino and Little Richards at Cosimo Matassa’s Studios (close to Congo Square).” – Fabian Jolivet.
So there you have it: Jazz and Rock’n’Roll, probably the 2 most significant American cultural exports ever, both born in the only place in America where for a few decades slaves were allowed to play drums and dance.
Though New Orleans Jazz did sometimes use rhythm patterns more subtle and complex than the Duple (but still much less intricate and nuanced than its influences: Afro-Latin and African music), the much wider and older history of drum-lessness had a deeply profound effect on American music in general, and the Duple fundamentally shaped all popular music to come in the 20th Century.
There were of course other sources and reasons, both historical and modern: Native American music and Irish, Italian, German folk music such as the Oompah or Polka all used simple mono-rhythms; as well as modern environmental factors such as the rigid and repetitive sound of machines, factories, automobiles and trains in the industrialized landscape.
Native American Ritual Music:
Irish Folk Music:
German Volkstümliche Musik:
All of these cultures contributed to the complex hybrid which is American music, but from where i’m standing, as a person from East Asia, an outsider to American music, to European music, and to African music alike, the origins of Jazz, Rock, Hiphop, etc. are clearly located much more in the blues and slave music from both at home and Latin America than traditions represented by the above 3 videos. If one accepts the seminal, foundational influence exerted by transplanted African culture, this legacy of drum-less evolution might just be the most important piece of the puzzle, the main answer to the question of how the Duple came to dominate American modern music.
But unlike African Americans who RE-invented their African musical heritage through memory and forgetfulness in a completely new context, Africans in Latin America and the Caribbean large preserved homeland drumming traditions, which survive nearly intact until today. (09)
Trinidadian Steel Drums:
Drums were also banned in the Caribbean, in places like Trinidad, but much later in the 19th Century. So the slaves had a stronger connection to African rhythm culture, which was apparent when they started using frying pans, dustbin lids and oil drums after the ban (as oil was an important national product), forming the Trinidadian tradition of Steel Pan and Steel Drum music (10). Similarly, drums were taken away from slaves in Cuba at a later time, and the roots of Rumba lies in Afro-Cubans playing African music with “household items: the side of a cabinet functioned in the role of the present-day tumba or salidor (the primary supportive drum), while an overturned drawer served as the quinto (the lead drum) and a pair of spoons played the cáscara part on whatever was available.” – David Peñalosa (11) The handmade percussion instrument Claves, which came from hitting wooden pegs together in shipyards to accompany slave work songs, is now a ubiquitous in all Cuban music and its derivatives from Son to Mambo to Salsa to Timba, playing the Clavérhythm pattern of African origin.
Other reasons for the stronger ties with African culture in the Caribbean and South America include the much greater number of slaves (North America: 0.5 million, Caribbean: 5 million, South America: 5 million); as well as slavery lasting much longer: Brazil until the 1880s, and Cuba until the 1890s. Also important were certain practices in slavery: in places like Cuba, unlike in North America, slaves were literally worked to death to increase the profit of the sugar trade. Since they were not bred to be sold (like in North America), fresh supplies had to be imported directly from Africa, a practice that continued in Havana until 1873. Thus Africans continued to arrive in South America constantly and much more frequently during the later period of the slave trade, maintaining their folkloric traditions through secret societies (particularly Yoruba and Kikongo) (12), producing amazing cultural hybrids such as Capoeira and music like in the videos above.
As we have seen, rhythm in America took on a very much unique and drastically different character, as result of a particular historical process, a specific evolutionary path. This can be acutely felt today: consider Hip Hop: the simple, skeletal “BOOM – BAP” beat is the modern version of foot-stomping and hand-clapping, performing the same function of time-keeping, and just as 500 years ago, complex vocal delivery (rap) fills in all the fractions of time between, imitating and substituting for drum patterns – a mutated continuation of African musical heritage.
Chicago Street Percussion:
Now we come to the grand finale, rainbow-in-the-sky, lighters-in-the-air, closing message of this long and dense story which spans half a millennium: African rhythm heritage not only survives, but THRIVES, in any hostile environment, despite every hardship, against every repressive measure, in defiance of all forces that tries to destroy it.
(01) Scaruffi, Piero. A History of Popular Music before Rock Music.
(02) Palmer, Robert. Deep Blues.
(03) Kingsbury Paul. The encyclopedia of country music: the ultimate guide to the music.
(04) Barbara Vierwo. Andy Trudeau. The Curious Listener’s Guide to the Blues.
(05) Kolchin, Peter. American Slavery,
(06) Sublette, Ned. The World that made New Orleans: from Spanish silver to Congo Square.
(07) Peñalosa, David. The Clave Matrix; Afro-Cuban Rhythm: Its Principles and African Origins.
(08) Schuller, Gunther. Early Jazz; Its Roots and Musical Development.
(11) Peñalosa, David. Rumba Quinto.
Evil twin of the last MUTANT mix of brightly hued, sun-kissed club music for endless summer nights, Meta House is heavy, narcotic. Including lots of deep techy tracks, some jacking, bassline, healthy dose of ghetto, a touch of shuffling, and material which may be in the category of “House Not House” — but as abstract or bassy as any part of it may be, i made sure that all selections are primarily, unmistakably House – all steady kicks and offbeat hi-hats.
01 Kowton – EFX01 X R.I.P AJ
02 Altered Natives – Die 4 U
03 Boddika – Steam
04 Rommek – Puffin Original
05 Thomas Meinecke & Move D – Work Me (That’s Fierce)
06 Altered Natives – Shake That feat. E.S.P.
07 Gage – Burnin
08 Boddika & Joy Orbison – Tricky’s Team
09 Rushmore – Jumpshot
10 Matrixxman – Stop It (Original Mix)
11 Randee Jean – You Got It (Dexter & Awanto 3 Mix 2)
12 Altered Natives – Friends & Lovers
13 Tom Flynn – Mr. Hedgehog
14 Kill Frenzy – Booty Clap
15 Joy Orbison, Boddika & Pearson Sound – Nil (Reece)
16 Kris Wadsworth – Mainline
17 PulseCode – Get Large
18 INdigo – Aradia
19 Dark Sky – Ruk
20 Effy – The Look
21 Boddika – Warehouse
22 Braiden – The Alps
23 Omar S – Kosmos 1402 X Nina Kraviz – I’m Gonna Get You
24 Omar S – Income Tax Refund Dance
From 4 corners of the world come 4 mutants that have evolved in different ways but on the same path of poly-rhythmic bass, meeting on this night in Berlin to examine various MUTANT sonics, and create oceans deep, tornados strong vibes without borders that will rearrange the DNA of human kind for ever.
Why do various modern beats sound the way they do? How are they still unmistakably connected to ancient rhythmic roots? How did we get from slave songs to “untz untz” club music? In what ways have identities and cultures been forever changed with various waves of globalization? These are a few of the many questions surrounding MUTANT musical culture the first part of the evening will address.
From Tribal Guarachero to Techno, from Juke/Footwork to Kuduro, from Dancehall to Jungle — during the second part of the night 4 MUTANT Djs will sonically demonstrate deep genetic axis of rhythm which connects various bodies of music, while rocking the dance floor with some of the most advanced and innovative dance music in 2014.
21h – 00h talks by Dj Ripley and Dj Zhao
Dj Ripley – “From Jamaica to di World! Musical Identity in a Globally Networked Context”
Dj Zhao – “Rhythmic Mutation and the Evolution of Contemporary Dance and Pop Music”
Panel Discussion / conversations.
00h – MUSIC
Dj Ripley (Dutty Arts / NYC)
mixes music to highlight difference rather than seamlessness. Pulling out familiar songs and sounds from people’s childhood or community, layering them with foreign, distant sounds to make the familiar strange and the strange familiar. Music exists because it crosses borders, literally and figuratively. Physical borders: eardrums, walls, and legal borders: nations, zones. Her main goal is challenge the assumption that difference breeds division and distrust – instead, difference, rupture, foreign-ness is a site of conscious, open-eyed and physical pleasure.
Rafael Aragon (Latino Resiste/Paris)
Rafael Aragón is a latin/arabic rooted musician / dj / composer / producer making mainly club oriented, heavy bass music, yet delicate, maximalist and highly psychedelic. Sweaty dancefloor killers and soulful, enlightened anthems to cheer up and enjoy the beauty of life. With a very special, magic touch inspired by the ancient traditions of shamanism from all around the world. Mystic chimes, ritual drums and witchcraft incantations meet club kicks, filthy basslines and electronic batucada to provide a rich, dancy and psychedelic music for hips and ears!
!! NEW ALBUM dropping on Latino Resiste on july 2nd!! feat. Zee Reach, Ckrono & Slesh, El Malito, Kosta Kostov & many more…
dj zhao (Ngoma Sound / Beijing / Berlin)
brings the best contemporary and classic dance music together from wildly different times and places. Informed of up-to-the-minute global styles from Angolan House to Chicago Juke, and with a deep sense of musical history, Dj Zhao infuses his sets with a deep sense of polyrhythms, whether playing techno at Berghain or Afro-Bass at a tropical event. Fusing ancestral rhythms and urban electronics, Dj Zhao is a poly-cultural ambassador of boom connecting “East” and “West”, acoustic and electronic, traditional and modern.
Futurismo (Futurisms / Jerusalem / Berlin)
is a dreamer. Born and raised in the city of god (Jerusalem) he moved to the city of godlessness (Berlin) while floating on weird sound frequencies. He fuses together electronic sounds – Acid / Bass / Techno / DnB / UK Garage being just a few of the genres he drops into meshes of rhythms and basslines. He’s been running the Futurisms and Cheap Acid nights in the heart of Berlin’s Neukölln district. Futurismo has no soul, but he can dance. Ask him nicely and he will show you how.
From Chicago to Berlin, from Luanda to London, JUJUJUKE 3 brings you up to the minute meta rhythms and mega bass.
DJ and producer Nangdo is channeling the soul of South Side Chicago and making some of the most true-school juke and footwork in Berlin. A true music addict: he has been dj’ing and collecting hundreds and hundreds of records for over ten years now. Also, he created tons of beats in the past eight years. For Nangdo, his productions are all about chopping up sounds of seventies soul, break beats, hip hop ‘or whatever stuff.’
Luc Masera (Antibling/Kick Snare)
With versatile sets Luc has played in nearly every Club of Berlin. His first London Trip inspired him so much, that he changed from Minimal-Techno to all kinds of UK Bass. In 2011 he and four other guys from Berlin Massive started the monthly Antibling : Promassive Party which is today Berlins Filthiest Dubstep Party. Antibling brought Luc Masera to Paris, Switzerland, Bombay, Sao Paulo and to a lot of German Citys and everwhere he plays, he is looking for new inspirations for his DJ Sets.
This time, for the first hour of the night, from 12 – 1am, there will be a very special program of improvised and live sound and video art collaboration between artists in Buenos Aires and Berlin. Dj Zhao will be in a duo with Hidhawk, weaving a strange and transporting tapestry of tape loops, voices from the ether, and ghosts in machines, in real time: