Chicago rapper Mick Jenkins is on a roll with the second single from his forthcoming album The Water[s]. Last single was title track The Water. This one features a nice alternating smooth/jagged flow that goes with the contrast of lazy guitar and rapid click and shot beat. Neat irony in the sampling of Billie Holiday's Strange Fruit, relating to the double meaning in the chorus. That's how you sample Strange Fruit, Kanye.
If you haven't listened to his mixtape Trees & Truths yet, do that.
"The treacherous pulse of savages"
The Only Thing is the closest Time of Orchids have come to a straight up rock anthem. But the falsetto vocals are too strained, the discordant slips of the guitar lines too jarring and the xylophone too reminiscent of the childlike hammering of a horror soundtrack for this to lie outside of their usual disconcertingly dissonant brand of avant-garde music. Founded in New York in 1999, Time of Orchids have produced five albums of experimental rock music that fall somewhere between the theatrical freakery of Mr Bungle and the jazz inflected June of 44; dense, complex and cinematic.
Check them out on bandcamp.
Band-leader of Planet Mu's eclectic South African group John Wizards, John Withers, goes through some of his favourite tracks of current South African music on Hyponik's Youtube Sessions.
I particularly liked Webaba by Culoe de Song, featuring Busi Mhlongo. An unusual house track with stirring strings and whirling vocal loops that run along a tight click-clack beat.
Here's a terrific track by Busi Mhlongo:
I'm adding a couple of tracks that I love from outside of South Africa. First, a song with the kind of killer poly-rhythmic beat and uplifting chorus that Benin does so well, Gnonnou by Don Metok:
A song that tells "of how war appeared on earth" in mythic style, from their album In Praise of Learning. It contains one of my favourite lyrics, "violence completes the partial mind", which has some kind of perfect rhythm to it and neatly summarises the idea of the track, that war is an inevitable conclusion of dumb humans being led by godlike, bloodthirsty forces beyond their control. "Boasting they are led by peace" is also a nifty turn of phrase that skewers the crusading, 'mission accomplished' attitude of war throughout the ages. Essentially, there is no better song about war - including every earnest Vietnam folk song and punk fuck-you anthem. When faced with the horrifying, go with the bizarrely allegorical every time. The Fall covered the song on their album Middle Class Revolt.
Henry Cow repeatedly deny that they named the band after forearm pianist Henry Cowell, claiming it meant nothing much of anything. Perhaps Fred Frith and Tom Hodgkinson once met a cow named Henry, a meeting they swore never to tell of again.
Around 60 countries are currently involved in wars around the world, so click here to support Responding To Conflict, a peacebuilding and non-confrontation consultancy organisation.
Scotland's Africa in Motion film festival has just finished so I thought I'd write about the African sci-fi and fantasy cinema that is of particular interest to me.
Afrofuturism is an aesthetic born of the African diaspora and found in afro-centric visual art, music and literature. The aesthetic unites science fiction, historical and alternate-history fiction, magic realism, fantasy, and African myths in the context of 20th-century technoculture. Originating in the music and persona of Sun Ra, but defined by Mark Dery in his 1995 essay Black to the Future, the Afrofuturist aesthetic foregrounds Black agency and creativity. Sandra Jackson and Julie Moody-Freeman, in The Black Imagination and the Genres, define the core principle of Afrofuturist fiction as:
“Imagined futures in which African descendant people as well as other people of color are neither conspicuously absent nor marginalized as background or expendable characters, but…instead not only present but rather active agents—protagonists and heroes—in events which take place here on the planet Earth or elsewhere in the universe, set in the past, alternative pasts, distant and near future times”.
Although conceived outside of Africa by Afro-Americans, Afrofuturism has a proven reflexive relationship with the old continent. The separation between the speculative fictions of the diaspora and native Africans is less distinct that in the 1950's, when Afrofuturism was born. Looking at African speculative fiction and fantasy cinema through the scope of Afrofuturism connects the geographical separation from heritage felt by the Afro-American artists to the dehistoricisation and cultural alienation inflicted on native Africans by colonial oppressors.
The artist and writer Tegan Bristow, in her article We want the funk: What is Afrofuturism to the situation of digital arts in Africa?, published in the journal Technoetic Arts, considered how the ideas developed through Afrofuturism are being explored in contemporary African arts. Often this development is discussed alongside the unique use of communications technology by Africans, such as the Kenyan phone banking system or BRCK. Although often dismissed as technologically backwards, and therefore unable to express the same speculative fascination with technology as the West, Africa defies simple stereotypes and is producing great science fiction and fantasy art, from an African perspective. Afrofuturism is now more than just an American aesthetic, being taken up by Africans and becoming a more global celebration of Black culture.
Still Prefer Paper
Getting from Barton Fink's blank page to Jack Torrance's minimalist masterpiece, one blog post at a time
Art & Design
All contributions by Kieran Gosney unless otherwise stated.
© Kieran Gosney and kierangosney.com, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kieran Gosney and kierangosney.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.