Sunday, June 20, 2004

Turns Summers In My Mind

There has been an embarrassment of musical riches of late, not the least of which was my first MP3 CD, put together by my Akwaabian brother, Joe, and including an incredible batch of new and interesting musical biscuits, much of which happens to be crumbly and delicious. It includes the stunning track I’m currently listening to, Usman Achmad and Diswansoni’s Strambul Naturil from the compilation Indoesian Gutars (Music of Indonesia). Based on this track alone, Usman Achmad & Diswansoni are the Sea and Cake of Indonesia. More importantly for our dancing shoes, this song is practically begging for housification!

The mix also includes Johnny Dyani’s album, Afrika off of which I’m particularly enjoying the track, Grandmother’s Teaching Take 1. What immediately demands attention here is the marvelously assertive bass riff and earthenware groove that lay down a nice introductory groove for the first couple of minutes. Around the 2:10 mark things suddenly cool off. There’s a brief pause before the bass reasserts itself, even bolder and more opinioned this time. The groove really begins to sway now, with more swagger and discipline, but still loose. There are saxophones that come on like an angry Grandma Greek chorus. Steel drums keep popping up and doing nice Steve Reich like pirouettes and it’s eventually what piques my interest most. Around 10:39 everything else recedes except the steel drums and the bass. Perfect. The bass comes back ‘round again to its opening riff. The horns return for one more finger shaking and I figure they simply gotta be Grandma’s Teachings, whatever they be, if only due to the authority of their command and the discipline with which they oversee the closing proceedings. The whole thing ends with an obligatory cacophonous sigh.

In other news:

The new Harry Potter film is 10 times more fun then the first two combined. It’s the difference between Home Alone and Y Tu Mama Tambien, isn’t it? More grit in all the fairytale dust. More poetry, too. Chris Columbus took the first couple books and carefully, ploddingly replicated them on the big screen using the burger flipping franchise techniques he picked up crafting all those John Hughes scripts into proven systems of operation. There was so little that was wide-eyed in those films because every aspect, every detail was chipped and worn down into something numbingly safe and within the market tested boundaries of audiences expectations. Cuaron, however, dishes up both product and delight. He sidesteps plastic charm and revels in something far more mature and fulfilling. It goes down well with popcorn and Cherry Coke.

It is now Summer. We have our soundtrack.

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