That Latin tweak
ZZK Sound Vol. 3 (ZZK/Waxploitation)
The third compilation from this adventurous if narrowcast Buenos Aires label‑-which on its first comp five years ago (see below) classified its milieu as "cumbia digital"‑-has gotten some respect in the U.S. dance world, but zero comprehension near as I can tell, which may not matter much when you're dancing but ought to when you're verbalizing into the infosphere. For instance, the first thing this Anglophone in an office chair wants to know is whether it's dance music at all. The most detailed review I've found references "intoxicating electro-pulsating beats derived mainly from the Buenos Aires club scene" and promises it will render the listener "better aquainted [sic] with the dance and electronic underground of South America." And these electro-pulsations sound how, exactly? Find hints in the label squib: "there's a darker, last hour of the club feel to it, everybody sweaty and grooving to deep bassy cumbia infested tracks." To which promo poetry I add a few prosaic facts. Moderate-to-submoderate tempos that speed up gradually over 15 tracks. Low-end sonics not so much bassy as buzzy. Never ambient or chill-out, there's always a beat, but not floor-fillers either. Cumbia roots submerged. DJs mostly Argentinian but also from Paris, Barcelona, NYC, Mexico, Caracas, maybe Sweden. General ambience tends humorous‑-and friendly, as befits the cumbia tradition. Animators seeking soundtrack could do worse. A MINUS
ZZK Sound Vol. 1‑-Cumbia Digital (ZZK '08)
Spawned not so much by as in Buenos Aires's Zizek club, these teched-up variations on the pokier Colombian alternative to salsa divide into two conveniently block-programmed sub-variants. Tracks nine through 14 have their fun with the tidy tweedling of what I classify as early electro, and maybe you could throw track five in there too. The rest, through eight and 15 to 17, are lower, wilder, freakier, epitomized by but hardly limited to Fauna's seven-and-a-half-minute "Canibal," with its feral shouts, squelching bass, and funny sound effects. The tweedling gets annoying. But the rest makes a dandy playlist. B PLUS
Nothing like a back catalog specializing in vocal-group oldies and glam 'n' glitter bands. Now apparently a part of Sony (like almost everything). Would be cute if somebody finally did a reissue ...
"Hearing set for metal singer accused of hiring hit man to kill estranged wife"
Not-so-fun Fact: Didja know singer Tim Lambesis has a "humorous" solo project called Austrian Death Machine?
How do I know when I'm holding it at the right angle?
The Harper has moved up toward top ten for me, too. Like last year's sleeper Dylan Hicks Sings Bolling Green, the sometimes sordid verbal content is leavened by music that is frequently touched with grace.
Result? A Zen-like equanimity that speaks to my <ahem> worldview.
The Clay Harper makes my Top 10 of the year so far. I find the music as dense and mysterious as the availability of the record. Email Harper via FB asking for the CD and get it free? Of course, it's no mystery to me why this album is such an ear-grabber. Any album that starts out with nothing but the words Hey Motherfukcer for the first two minutes would definitely get my attention.
Edit: That was supposed to answer Cam's reply to Jeff below. Don't know how it got up here.
Shipp sheds some light on New York then and now, working as an art model and "going out with a bang", David S. Ware, William Parker, meeting Herny Rollins, opening for Sonic Youth, the open mindedness of the punk audience, and much more. Well worth a listen, if you have the time:
EDIT: looks like the link went missing. Try this: http://bit.ly/1gnNjV7
Isn't the reverse the newsworthy item?
about the blogger
Starting in 1967, Robert Christgau has covered popular music for The Village Voice, Esquire, Blender, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. He teaches in New York University's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, maintains a comprehensive website at robertchristgau.com, and has published five books based on his journalism. He has written for MSN Music since 2006.
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