These are seven albums that I’ve been playing in my room pretty often in the week or two leading up to the end of August, 2007. I originally wrote this post by calling them the “top seven” (which had grown out of a “top five”), but I don’t know if that’s right. My reasons for listening to them at around the same time have little to do with some hierarchical ranking in a personal chart, even if I do like them a lot. A few are actually connected by a thread, a couple by another thread, all threads intertwined – which is just how I like my music and culture.
I may write more about some of these a little later. I have written a whole lot about one of them already. One is “brand” new, most are a little older. But they’re all getting some rotation in my room…
1. M.I.A. – Kala – Should I say anything more about this right now? Nah… [Note written later: For a thorough review of Kala, see the "Track by Track" post of September 9.]
2. Cheb i Sabbah – La Kahena – Should have bought this a while ago, but I finally got it earlier this week. Much of it is great to listen to; some of it is simply brilliant. “Toura Toura” is a song that I can’t get out of my head… Highly danceable electronic…Gnawa music?! I also particularly like the few songs near the end. Very long titles to these, so I’ll just call them what I called them. There is some beautiful music here, mostly Moroccan, some, so I hear, Algerian (though what I recognize is Moroccan). I think I like this even more than Cheb i’s Indian-raga-based discs that I bought some years ago.
3. Sidestepper – 3 am (in beats we trust) – Yeah, still listening to this Colombian electronica and/or traditional Colombian dance music with electronics…with a little reggae mixed in. This is great stuff. I’d buy other Sidestepper albums (I love a few songs that I’ve heard from them) but I can’t find them in any stores. Guess I’ll have to get them by the mail.
4. Cheb i Sabbah – La Ghriba: La Kahena Remixed – I just got this a little while ago today, so I don’t know if it’s fair to put it in my “top seven” list. But I know I’ll be playing it very frequently. This is probably the album that a lot of people who like Cheb i Sabbah are listening to right now. I think I still like the original more, but I’m sure this will grow on me. It is less wonderfully dreamlike than much of La Kahena, but overall, it is quite good. (Styles identified on the back: “bhangra…Moroccan street rap…trance…dub - yep…) Most familiar names among the remixers are probably DJ Sandeep Kumar (who does some bangin’ bhangra), Temple of Sound (can’t go wrong with those guys – they’re from Transglobal Underground) and the ubiquitous Bill Laswell – who did something else I’ll mention in a second here…
5. Sussan Deyhim – Shy Angels – Reconstruction and Mix Translation of “Madman of God” by Bill Laswell – I wrote this up briefly in my other blog a few months ago, when I found it in a used record store. The title on the cover is a little confusing – it’s Laswell who’s doing the “mix translation” of material done by Deyhim. I said before that I didn’t remember who Sussan Deyhim was. But I should have remembered. Of course… She sang for Loop Guru, did some great stuff on the first Loop Guru album, Duniya. She’s another one who mixes some very old styles (in this case, Persian) with advanced electronica. The electronic styles I hear in this range from Laswell-type ambient dub to jungle (definitely some jungle beats in this - though maybe some people would call it drum’n’bass)… Her singing often reminds me of Lisa Gerrard from Dead Can Dance - but that makes sense since Deyhim is doing interpretations of “divine love poems” by “Persian sufi masters” and Lisa Gerrard drew upon the same inspiration, once even doing a gorgeous number listed as an “ancient Persian love song.”
6. La grande Vedette Malienne Kandja Kouyaté et l’Ensemble Instrumental du Mali - All right, one album I’m not playing on my stereo. As I mentioned in my last post, I got this from Awesome Tapes from Africa. And I’ve listened to it on my compuer many times ths past week. Addictive and captivating.
7. Phat Global (Palm Pictures comp.) – Hard to believe this goes all the way back to 1999… I also bought it used several months ago. I’ve brought it out again because it contains Sidestepper’s “Logozo,” which was their breakthrough dance record. Other good stuff here includes something by Sly and Robbie and a Thievery Corporation remix of Baba Maal. This is a nice comp., despite the terrible title. And it is all over the map.
[P.S. Albums are one thing... But I've also been listening to some mixes a lot lately. Those have more dubstep and dancehall. I'll get back to those sometime later too.]