There was no January selection from Lapkat as I was busy on the beach and in the bush, toe-gazing I guess … so in February, it’s harvest time. A rich haul of multilingual spoken word and music tracks and videos, sound collage, cultural and activist arts, newly harvested or revisited in the past two months.
To begin with “Happy New Year (For The Very First Time!)…” !
This track from Copenhagen digital cumbia crew Copia Doble Systema and Colonel has been on semi-hi-rotation in the courtyard of Pure Pope Records, in Melbourne bayside ‘town’ St Kilda. Over the past month I’ve been playing at Senor BBQ’s weekly music/feast, along with vibrant local combo Los De Las Calle. Each week, plumbing the joy of musical creations from the latin world, as well as poetry and hip hop from Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Brazil, Cuba, and the wider Spanish diaspora. Playing for chorizo and rum, stumbling over my español …
¡Pero! No Spanish today. Today, I’ve been listening en italiano….
New tracks from Matteo “Burro” Buratti’s S-Trip Poetry project out of Italy. I first discovered “Burro” a while ago via tracks in Soundcloud, lost my links to him, and now he’s refound, with some good new tracks, samplers of a collaborative release due out late February. S-Trip Poetry is a project bringing together rap/hip hop artists and poets in Italy. “Poesie in musica che parlano con un registro alto mixato con il gergo di strada per arrivare a formare un linguaggio nuovo e assolutamente originale.” Music, the language of the street, mixing genres and styles. Artists on the project include Marracash, Shablo, Co’Sang, Gue’ Pequeño, Rischio, Caneda, Aban+Kique’, Ricardo Phillips, Royal Mehdi, Nicola Bavaro, Vida Mala, Sofia Buconi, Kalafi, Nico Royale, Mary Jane, Reda Haze e Kd1 …
Vuoi di più? Pagina all Facebook: (keep track of the release, here:) https://www.facebook.com/pages/Matteo-Buratti-aka-Burro-S-Trip-Poetry/293682397339188
Matteo cites Italian maestro Edoardo Sanguineti – l’intraducibile. Member of the Gruppo 63 movement, master of the non-significanza, the nonsense poem, art as a playful thing. To follow that connection back, here is something beautiful – a video featuring Sanguineti by Venetian artist Marco Nereo Rotelli, who almost personifies my ‘definition’ of poetry as something audio, visual, textual, textural. I’d like to write more about his work, hope to come back to him in a future post. For now, watch, listen, this lovely video:
To stay Romantic (as in, the language, not the cliché?) - en français…
Yas and the Lightmotiv, from Montreuil, France. Spoken word, hip hop, electronica. With a bit of a Ursula Rucker jazz vibe, sometimes, a bit more ‘punk’, others. Great work. There is, I think, an album coming soon – looking forward to it.
Another French artist I stumbled across in January, gilxp from Chateaubriant. The music is more of an unorganic electronic sound, but I like the voice effects on these tracks. Close mic’d and with a pleasing roughness.
I wrote late last year about the occitan language and culture, from a chat I had with Canalh for Dialectic. After that I came (late) across Dupain. Living and working in the ancient Roman city of Arles, in the Occitan region of southern France, the trio draws on songs of the 19th century local working class revolt. The language of Occitan, or Provencal lyrics, is “a symbol of their fraternity with those everywhere who refuse to submit—people without land and those who are fighting the dictates of consumerism … words as hard as stones, language steeped in sunlight, a lyric of beauty and revolt, a realism tempered by dreams.”
A video – for the track ‘Feniant’, 2009. So powerful. Accroître le volume!Tu a besoin d’une voiture pour aller travailler… et tu dois travailler pour te payer la voiture…
In English, from Iran, A Y D A:
And then there is maestro Brian Routh, veteran sound manipulator, who delivered this intriguing new track to Soundcloud this week. I was actually more engrossed in the pillowy electronic sounds than in the story when I first listened to it. But the story is an interesting viewpoint of a funeral – from the subject! So this one needs more than one listen, I think:
Head to Brian’s Soundcloud page for a wealth of works, both instrumental, experimental, and spoken, incorporating ”vocal soundbites of world leaders, politicians, madmen, poets, rebels, murderers and others” (it’s sometimes hard to tell which is which, aye).
As we are in English, and as we are also moving with relative ease from ancient to modern this month, making those connections: Ursula Rucker collaborating with Shubha Mudgal and Business Class Refugees. ‘No Stranger Here‘ (you can get it at this link) was actually released a little while ago, but I haven’t mentioned it yet. I’ve been listening to these tracks on sultry summer nights, when all passion seems possible. The album is inspired by the poetry of the 16th century Indian poet Kabir from the Bhakti Movement (500-1700 AD) that swept across India as a rebellion against religious orthodoxy, and caste distinctions, propagating peace, harmony and love – an ancient movement as relevant now as it was then….”
Stories are told in so many ways.
Collage, mix, ‘mashup’:
This month I’ve been immersed in the intense soundscapes of 2/5BZ, aka BerBat Zöksal, working out of Istanbul since 1986. As a constantly evolving multimedia project, the output is in disparate formats: tapes, video collages, CD-ROMs, audio CDs, photocopied zines, vinyls, posters, stickers and live performances. Exuberant cut-up montages of traditional music, experimental electronic sounds, TV and B-movie images, brought together in a “dadaistic confrontation of pop, orientalism, kitsch, comic and folklore.” The album ‘No Touristik No Egzotik Istanbul Cut Up ‘ 2002 can be found at http://www.discogs.com/25-BZ-No-Turistik-No-Egzotik/release/1116303 Heavy and complex:
If we are talking about “masters” of the soundscape - Checkpoint 303 (Tunisia/Palestine/France) In January they dropped this amazing live work onto YouTube:
“Sound collage by Checkpoint 303 (Tun/Pal/Fr) – the audio in this video was taken from a live recording of the opening of Checkpoint 303′s live performance in Santiago de Chile (February 5th, 2011) several weeks after the fall of the Tunisian dictator. The video kicks off with audio excerpts from a propaganda video produced in the Ben Ali era (source: nawaat.org).” Maybe I use this phrase too much – but Checkpoint 303 really do blow my mind. Game over.
“Activist sound art.” Resistance through art and culture. CP-303 seem to me to be the new ‘journalists’, the new witnesses. And so much more relevant to the way we receive stories now, than what ‘media’ has become. Through music, art, culture, expressions of passion, artists have always been the agitators always at the ‘coalface’. The simple act of creating art is an agitation, a challenge to the world.
February is really for the maestros. The teachers, the masters, the maîtres… Who came before, how they influenced us, how we carry it forward into our own stories. It matters to me, it always has, honouring connections to the origins of culture or story – our own, and the wider global cultures that we are all a part of, in some way. All humans tell stories, whichever language we tell them in, whatever they mean to us. The tracks and videos I’m looking at this month all make those connections. As well, it’s really enjoyable for me to make the connections from hearing new works by new artists, back to their own inspirations. It is a shame that many poets in my own country do not often make those connections, whether back to the recent past, or even to beyond our culture’s arrival here. Maybe it’s not too surprising, given this young country has already forgotten who we owe our land to, that we would forget our own culture too.
There were hundreds of languages here alone before the English invasion, a tiny percentage of which are still spoken now. There are efforts to keep those cultures alive. This is another journey of mine to take, I will write about another time. In the meantime, I’m inspired by the journey of one of my own teachers.
In terms of spoken word, slam poetry, my original maestro, inspiration for broadcasting and producing slams and poetry recordings was arguably Bob Holman. The man behind “The United States of Poetry” way back in the early ’90s – an inspiration to me then – now, the downtown NYC poet “of the hip hop and slam persuasion” goes “On the Road” in search of the roots of spoken word. Of course, these roots span thousands of years, all of human history – we spoke before we wrote. We told stories before we read them. How many times have I had to explain this to modern journalists intent on dubbing spoken word a “new” form? Bob is making these connections and, as with all great journeys and all great stories, he’s making unexpected new discoveries along the way, and, as with all great storytellers, he’s embracing the unexpected and following them.
The spoken word / lit magazine/ production powerhouse Ram Devineni of Rattapallax has co-produced a series following Bob around the world in search of the origins of spoken word. “Along the way, he gets passionately immersed in the Endangered Language crisis – over half the world’s 6500 languages will disappear before the end of this century. Holman guides us to the bottom-line question of survival of these systems of consciousness with respect, joy, and dedication to diversity.” Bob’s style is his own, curious, flamboyant, jovial style. The subject matter is serious, the loss of language, but also joyful, the passion to preserve it. So far this is a great series, and as with USOP, he’s inspiring me again quite a lot of years later, to be passionate on my own journeys. You can watch all the series’ as they go up live (we are up to episode 3 as I write) on LinkTV.
I will let Bob have the last word this month – Episode 1 – the griots of West Africa: