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8 12 2009

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Alternative China in New York

2 11 2009

For MORE than just this week Columbia’s Arts Initiative, with minimal help from ARC, brings the latest Beijing music scene to your very doorstep.  Organized by the Chinese record label Maybe Mars and the rock club D-22, it’s THE CHINESE UNDERGROUND INVASION TOUR, featuring Carsick Cars, PK-14, White and Xiao He.

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Anti-Cantopop, this group of performers work outside government-controlled media channels, with a sound building off of New York’s No Wave of the late 70s and EU Industrial.  Add to this the PR blub; “The Beijing musicians have nonetheless reconfigured this urban western vocabulary to fit with Beijing opera’s traditional delight with textural experimentation and China’s centuries-long history of infatuation with shimmering melodic structures.  With the sound of broken-down machines cranking out lovely pop songs, the unique sound emerging from China’s music underground illuminates the new social void, aggressively questioning the moral and social basis of the fragile modernity on which it subsists.”  What more could you want?

This series of shows feature the best and brightest:
Carsick Cars is China’s premier underground band.  They’ve played with Sonic Youth on tour, and their 2nd CD was produced by Wharton Tiers.  Their song “Zhong nan hai” has become an anthem for this new Chinese counterculture.  Talk about diverse appeal, Kanye West posted one of the band’s videos to his blog while the Wall Street Journal offered praise!

White is the leading experimental band in China, minimal and mechanical, the latest CD produced by Blixa Bargeld of Einsturzende Neubaten.

Xiao He is described as a surreal folkie, drawing critical acclaim from recent shows in Europe, with a “progressively eclectic sound that draws upon traditional instrumentation and vocal arrangements looped within his live performances.”

P.K. 14 was called by Time Magazine one of five top bands in Asia and one of the most influential bands on the burgeoning Beijing scene.soundkapital_event

Accompanying the live shows is a not-to-be-missed gallery exhibition and book release for Sound Kapital, a remarkable photographic overview of the bands and fans by photographer Matt Neiderhauser.  It’s at the Powerhouse Arena, 37 Main St. @ Water, Brooklyn, 718-666-3049, running from Oct 28 – Nov 29.  Opening reception Thursday, Nov 5, from 7-9, with a pile of music afterward.  I’ll be there, so come by and say hello…

Here’s the short list of Confirmed local shows:
Weds 11/4 – Manhattan  – VON  – Xiao He & Shouwang (from Carsick Cars)
Thurs 11/5  – Brooklyn, NYC  – powerHouse Arena  – Xiao He, Carsick Cars & P.K. 14
Fri  11/6  – Brooklyn, NYC  @  Glasslands  – These Are Powers, Soft Circle, Carsick Cars, P.K.14 & Xiao He
Sat  11/7  – Manhattan  @  SANTOS Party House  – P.K.14 , Carsick Cars, Antimagic, BJ Rubin, Knyfe Hyts
Sun  11/8  – Manhattan  @  Columbia University  – Xiao He
Fri  11/20  – Manhattan  @  Ding Dong Lounge  – Octagon, Carsick Cars, P.K.14 & Xiao He
Sat  11/21  – Williamsburg  @  Secret Project Robot  – Carsick Cars, P.K.14, Xiao He,  Aa, Knyfe Hyts 81 & others…
Sun  11/22  – Manhattan  @  PERFORMA’s Grande Finale  – Shouwang, Xiao He, and many others…

Get the whole schedule and any changes here.

And as music could never happen without devotion AND finance Columbia’s Alumni Arts League will present a Sunday brunch with alumni Michael Pettis and Charles Saliba to discuss current events in China, from financial markets to rock and roll, over a private brunch with an intimate group of fellow Columbians and Asian Cultural Council guests.

Charles and Michael are the force behind the D-22 club and the Maybe Mars record label, the folks behind this current tour.  It’s Sunday afternoon on Sun, Nov. 8, and alums can get details by calling 212.851.1879.





Our Times has come…

8 05 2009

Today ARC was featured in the NY Times, in the NY/Regional section, with a nice story by David Gonzales.  There were two electronic versions, and these featured cover art and sound files – you can go to  here 2 hear.

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I was asked to dig through the ARChive for some unusual things I liked, and ignored new things that the Times might have reviewed.  But they didn’t publish my comments or the discography to the story,  so here goes…

Anna Domino
“Land Of My Dreams” on East and West (Les Disques Du Crepuscule, Belgium, TWI 187, 12″, vinyl disc Ep, 1984)    This is an early effort.  Equally swell is Anna’s take on the American folksong via her latest band, Snakefarm.

Big Miller
“Did You Ever Hear the Blues?”  on Did You Ever Hear the Blues?”, (United Artists, USA, YAS 6047, 12″, 33.3, LP, 1959)  Big = Clarence Horatio, a Kansas City Blues shouter, doing a pile of songs penned by Langston Hughes.

Twilight Zoners
“Twister” on  Zerø Zerø Øne  (ZIP (Zoners In Plastic) Records, UK, 7” 45 rpm, Ep, 1979).
We have 12 different handmade Xerox covers of this DIY crackly UK single out of the 45 different ones crafted, the whole run was 1000 copies.  Vocals in the background by my pal, Tilly Tilson.  Gordon/Glen is still rockin’ here.

Admiral Dele Abiodun And His Top Hitters
(Olumo, Nigeria, Orps 79, 12″, vinyl disc Lp, 1978)
Out on a limb here, but this is the greatest side of Juju music ever recorded. And it is the only one I know of that about ¾ through shifts into a Fela-esque Afrobeat layered in psychedelic guitar ecstasy.  Here’s that bit of this 19 min. masterpiece.

Avengers
“The American in Me” on the Avengers EP (White Noise, USA, WNR 002, 12″, 45 rpm vinyl disc, Ep, 1979)  Raw SF punk + vocalist Penelope Houston.    Only a snippet here as we had no rights.

Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, Rosemary Clooney and the Hi-Lo’s
“Music to Shave By”   (Auravision/Columbia, USA, 6” paper/flexidisk, 33rpm,  196?)
Back of the disc says “ This is the first Hi-Fi recording ever to be included in a national magazine,” probably Life.   This is cloying music at the service of industry, and Bing, by the way, once started a paper ad record business.   There’s a great webthing on paper + flexies, hosted by WFMU, @  http://www.wfmu.org/MACrec/

The Buddah Box
I found this in a religious store, between a Buddhist and Hindu temple in the Little India section of Singapore.  Chips deliver a lively series of religious chants and songs, in a variety of languages, in endless repetition –  change partners by slapping a top button.  Works on batteries too, as you never know when your chant challenged.

Los York’s
“No Puedo Amar” on El Viaje: 1966-1974  (Munster, Spain, MR 285, 12″, vinyl disc-2Lp, 2008)
Out of Lima Peru, this quintet personified the organ loving Latino rock, when you could actually hear the electronic click triggering the sound.  Wonderful stuff, called garage now, part of the lovingly resurrected South and Central American obscurities by Spain based Munster Records.





Pop and Lock

18 09 2007

The ARChive is a deep and wonderful place. As I was sorting through the children’s section for the records I wrote about yesterday, I came across these two gems, both from 1984 and I just had to share. First, we have Break Dancin’ For Fun and Fitness (Atlantic 80187-1)

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It’s a gatefold talk-over instructional album that “teaches” people how to break dance, and it has photos of all the moves to back it up. There’s even a primer about learning how to speak the lingo. It features members of the Big Apple Breakers, the Furious Rockers and there to “explain it all” is Rodanne “Rosey Rose” Hoare, “Superstar Choreographer of New York’s famed Roxy Disco.” It’s not exactly the most thrilling record I’ve ever heard – maybe best described as “of its time.” I can only imagine what one of Rosey’s classes in 1984 might have looked like. (Headbands and leg warmers, anyone?)

Second, we have Breakdance (K-Tel NU3360) which promised the “Best Music for Breakdancing,” and invited any and all to “Learn to Moonwalk, Electric Boogie, Footwork, Headspin & Top-Rock.” It is a far hipper album. Side one has some great music on it (incl. “Rockit,” and “Wheels of Steel”) while the B-side – the one with all the instruction – is artfully done and listenable on its own. There’s even a warning to parents and the physically infirm, as well as contact information for the New York City Breakers Fan Club (send c/o Hip Hop International, Inc).

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1984 was when kids like me growing up outside of New York City would have first become more aware of break dancing, and records like these were part of that early promotional wave. It’s kind of great to come across them again.

BTW, click on the images and you’ll get bigger, better versions. Ones you can actually read!

dtn

ps. if you like the records that teach you how to dance, click here for an instructional LP from K-Tel on how to do the Hot Chocolate!








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