This blog was originally conceived of as a blog on “global music with synthesizers,” which was a spinoff from an ultra-left political (and personal) blog that I was working on, where I got quite preoccupied with writing about certain music, especially M.I.A. This (newer) blog grew out of my sense that I was straying a little too much from the main themes on the other blog, which blog I’d been doing, at a couple of different locations, for a few years. However, the music blog was also a reconnection to something further back in my past, as I used to be a published rock/pop/techno music critic, writing reviews for several not-so-big magazines in the 1980s and 1990s. Though my tastes have become a little more focused in certain areas in recent times… And, at this point, I’ve gotten to like the idea of focusing the music blog more on Desi and Arabic music, especially when that music is merged with contemporary global electronica.
Some people who look into the authorship of this blog, especially in its recent stages, might be a little surprised to learn that the author is ethnically Jewish. (Although I would not say that that would be an accurate description of my beliefs. I am an agnostic or an atheist – probably atheist by most people’s standards, but I’ll get back to these definitions another time.) That stuff never was an issue to me with regard to the aforementioned affinities, but people have become much more conscious of this sort of thing in recent years, judging by comments I’ve seen on YouTube, etc. I would guess that this is partly because of the awful, reactionary tendencies that have come to the forefront on the world political stage. But to me, those prejudices are irrelevant (except when I want to fight against the bigotry found within the government of “my own” country – which would be more the province of the political blog). I happen to love both Desi and Arabic music and culture in many ways, and I have certain human aesthetics that draw me to many of these clips as well.
I’ve been in contact with these cultures a lot over the years because I grew up in New York City, in completely integrated and global surroundings (beyond multicultural), and I’ve been interacting with them regularly over the past few months, since I moved to Woodside, Queens, right on the edge of “Little India” in Jackson Heights. (I’m not exactly the most social kind of neighbor – being a chronic introvert, I’m the keep-to-myself kind – but I like to absorb a lot of stuff around me just by walking around. And I love that walk from Woodside east, into Jackson Heights.)
I could go into other things in my past as well to explain this affinity… I did once have a Pakistani girlfriend, who was an influence on me culturally, though that was a relatively short relationship, not even lasting half a year. (And N., if you happen to stumble upon this blog, I hope you’re not bothered by my publicly discussing that. I’ve had flashbacks to that interesting experience ever since I moved to the present neighborhood.)
And of course, there are the people who’ve influenced me through their art and music over the years… M.I.A. has been a near-obsession for me for well over a year (though some people would say, “What do you mean by ‘near’?), and I have been for a much longer time a big fan of Natacha Atlas, Cheb i Sabbah and Transglobal Underground.
I’ve also gotten to enjoy a lot of Indian and Pakistani dance and film clips. I haven’t been that involved in watching films the past few years (to put it mildly), but I’ve more recently experienced a new/renewed appreciation of cinema while exploring films from all the ‘ollywoods in South Asia. Some people are critical of these ‘ollywood films because they are sometimes so fluffy and often have such bad plots. But I don’t think that anyone has the right to crtiicize such things if he/she ever goes to our Hollywood movies. And I do think that Bollywood and the other film industries in that part of the world produce the greatest music and dance…
As a final note, I’d like to add that I’m focusing more on the South Asian and Middle Eastern material right now because there aren’t many other blogs exploring global or “new world” music that go all that much into this stuff. There are some great blogs in this general area that focus more on reggaeton music, dancehall music, and African music. And, while I certainly greatly appreciate those other kinds of music (I still listen to dancehall and reggae a lot), I think the fact that these other areas are so well covered means that I have more of a reason to do…something else.
Anyway, just a few words and personal thoughts related to the direction here, if anybody’s been wondering. And now I’ll carry on with the regular blog…
P.S. Eight months later: Wow, people are still landing on this post. So, I need to revise something I said. I said something – or, rather, paraphrased some other people’s criticisms – about these Indian movies having bad plots or being “fluffy.” That was a mistake. I was quoting other people’s criticisms relatively uncritically without having seen enough full Indian films on my own. But I’ve really fallen for these movies now that I’ve seen more of them. I think that most Bollywood movies, and many Kollywood ones, are far better than American/Hollywood movies. They often have better plots, because they stretch farther and go deeper. And I love the dialogue too (at least as translated). Of course, the movies are always more enjoyable to me outside of all these qualities because of the musical numbers. Anyway, much later, the blog changed direction again… Not just an Indian/Arabic music blog, but an Indian movie blog now. (And mostly Indian music, when I do comment on music. The Arabic music is fine stuff too, but there are other blogs out there that do very nicely with that (see Hawgblawg, for instance), and my interests have become more focused, for whatever reason. Though I like to post a little music from around the globe now and then…)