JUST OUT (SEP 2000)

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THE U.S. PAPERBACK

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What's new in iJamming!...
Mon, Dec 18, 2000
THE DECEMBER
DAILY ALBUM REVIEW
(Hybrid, Submarine, Free Activation, Joe Rogan, The Birdwatcher, Paul Horn, The Dum Dums, 45 Dip, Echoboy, Longwave, Kreidler, Terry Lee Brown Jr)
The iJAMMING! interview:
BOY GEORGE.
"Once you've had your go, what-ever it may be, they want you to piss off, and they can't bear it if you come back, they can't bear it."
From the JAMMING! archives: The Story that spawned Creation
DAVE EDMUNDS
remembers Keith Moon.
COMING AND GOING
Chapter 2:
I remember ALICE
A MUSICAL THANKSGIVING
Marilyn Manson, Basement Jaxx, State of Bengal & Bebel Gilberto
TRAVIS.
Fran Healy explains why "you cannot own a song." (And why Liam Gallagher "is going to turn into a really great songwriter.")
Featured wine region:
CÔTES DU RHÔNE
A treasure trove of inexpensive excellence
Featured wine web site:
LES VIGNERONS BRUNIER
Featured wine:
COTES D'OAKLEY
The perfect party wine at the perfect party price.
Featured vine:
VIOGNIER:
Finally, a worthy rival to Chardonnay.
MUSIC ON THE WEB
Why it's hard to sympathize with the music industry
The JAMMING! Gallery part 2: the covers from issues 13-24.
WINE AND MUSIC:
What wine fans and music devotees have in common.
The full iJamming! Contents
A Musical Thanksgiving
Sometimes a whole week goes by without a show piquing my interest enough to attend. Sometimes the nights out pile up on top of each other. Thanksgiving Week was one of the latter occasions, provoking enough reactions along the way to warrant a rare essay/diary. I'm the very last person to insist on guitars and drums as a pre-requisite for the concert experience, but at the end of it all the ongoing issue of how best to present DJ culture in a live format was no more clearly resolved in my mind than it ever has been.
The three acts I saw over Monday and Tuesday (November 20/21) were all, coincidentally or not, on the same record label. Six Degrees is a non-denominational San Francisco based company which primarily serves to unite otherwise disparate international musicians through their love of the dance floor. This has allowed for compilations like Cuba Without Borders, Frikyiwa (African music remixed by contemporary producers) and Asian Travels. It has also made for a number of group and solo productions that perfectly capture the thriving electronic-infused sound of the international musical diaspora. The recently-deceased Suba, for example, was born in Yugoslavia but came to prominence after he moved to the Brazilian melting pot of Sao Paolo. Zuco 103, on the other hand, is fronted by Brazilian-born Lilian Vieira, who formed the trio after moving to Holland to study at the Rotterdam Conservatory.

Completing the label's Brazilian connection, Bebel Gilberto did not need to move anywhere to establish herself. The daughter of bossa nova pioneer Jaoa Gilberto and domestically famous Brazilian singer Miucha, Bebel was guaranteed an audience the moment she set foot on stage (at the age of seven). Yet she too felt the call of wanderlust, living for a decade in New York (her actual birthplace) before moving to her current home of London. In the process of traveling, she has gone from blandly trading off the family name - singing 'The Girl From Ipanema' on a Kenny G album - to working with the likes of David Byrne and Arto Lindsay, and onto recruiting Amon Tobin, Thievery Corpoartion and Smoke City for her own extremely long-awaited debut Tanto Tempo. This musical move leftwards has paid dividends: Tanto Tempo has sales of 150,000 in the States, and much has been made of its unusual appeal both to the Triple A (adult alternative albums) audience and the multi-culti underground.
"Bebel Gilberto's line-up was more traditional than the electronica tinge of her Suba-produced album and some of its remixes suggested. But that's fine too: a hip young audience gets a healthy dose of world-traveled Brazilicana, and Gilberto in return gets the endorsement of the electronica set as well as the loyalty of her father's generation."

It was the latter crowd who won bragging rights at her Irving Plaza sell-out, no surprise given that it was promoted by those ominpresent cross-culturalists Giant Step. A rainbow coalition such as Gap advertisers dream of filled the downstairs dance floor; older types drawn by New York Times coverage and FM radio retreated to the balconies. I found myself behind a stern-faced fifty-something teacher type who frequently "shushed" the dancing and drinking Brazilians around us (who, as evident friends or family of the band had a stronger claim than her to the VIP balcony area we were occupying), at one point complaining most loudly that the noise between songs was "outrageous." Fearing that she'd set me detention, I didn't dare remind her that this was a club show, that the hubbub of constant networking and the shrill of mobile phones sufficient to drown out the ballads is the accepted price of attending concerts downtown. (Those ballads, by the way, either showed how far ahead of their time early 80s Everything but The Girl were, how indebted to Brazilian rhythms they were, or possibly both.)

But when Gilberto and co upped the ante, as they did for the album's more swinging moments, especially the finale 'Close Your Eyes', decorum was irrelevant. The crowd whooped and clapped, Bebel shimmied (a little less gracefully than I'd expected), and her musicians - hailing from Argentina and Japan as well as Brazil - threw themselves merrily into the groove. With live drums, acoustic guitar, flute, sax, and keyboards, Bebel's line-up was more traditional than the electronica tinge of her Suba-produced album and some of its remixes suggested. But that's fine too: a hip young audience gets a healthy dose of world-traveled Brazilicana, and Gilberto in return gets the endorsement of the electronica set as well as the loyalty of her father's generation. It's a win-win situation and certainly nobody left Irving Plaza looking like they'd lost out.

Tuesday saw two of Six Degrees' more overtly beat-friendly acts appear in their DJing guise. From the perspective of Banco de Gaia's main man Toby Marks, I understand why this would be preferable to presenting a live show. The last time I saw Banco the band, in support of 1998's excellent, upbeat, approachable and yet widely ignored album The Magical Sounds of... it was one of the most farcical shows I have ever attended, so bad that I came home longing for an outlet like this web site just to document the occasion. The fact that the venue that night (the Cooler) opened late, put the first act on later and left Banco to take the stage at two in the morning was no more Marks' fault than my guest list woes, the fact I caught the flu while waiting for him to take the stage, or possibly, the absolutely horrendous sound, but his refusal to try and rise above the dreadful situation certainly didn't help remedy any of it. Pressing sequencer and sampler buttons while live bass and drums cascaded around him, he looked frustrated, bored and fed up, to the point of actually leaving the stage for one whole song after pressing the 'start' button. Perhaps he just needed time backstage to ponder how his career had sunk so low, given that earlier in the 90s he'd been touted as one of the rave scene's live pioneers, headlining New York's Palladium and releasing a live album from a Glastonbury appearance. I felt sorry for Toby that night at the Cooler, but when I woke up next morning with the flu, I felt even more sorry for myself.
"I don't know Toby well enough to surmise whether Groove Armada and Fatboy Slim genuinely represent his tastes right now or whether he was making some statement about the pointlessness of a musician 'appearing' as a DJ. Either way, it was odd to hear such a leftfield artist playing such mainstream dance music in such a conventional live music venue."

Banco's new album Igizeh is a return to the eastern-influenced slow-tempo trance with which he initially made his name, less overtly commercial than his last outing but perhaps more likely to cement his following. When I entered the Knitting Factory on Tuesday night, that following was happily trance dancing to Toby's DJing. Which made sense, but for the fact that Toby was wearing that that same bored look on his face, and the record he was spinning was an uptempo mix of Groove Armada's 'To The River,' which he followed with Fatboy Slim's funky new parental-advisory cut 'Star 69.' I don't know Toby well enough to surmise whether Groove Armada and Fatboy Slim genuinely represent his tastes right now or whether he was making some statement about the pointlessness of a musician 'appearing' as a DJ. Either way, it was odd to hear such a leftfield artist playing such mainstream dance music in such a conventional live music venue. Without the necessary lights, effects, or ongoing reputation for promoting club music, the Knitting Factory is an incongrous place to hear any DJ, but especially so when he plays cuts you can probably hear at the school disco.

The venue resumed its cutting-edge (if not live music) reputation once State of Bengal's Sam Zeman followed Toby on the decks for a dazzling DJ set of mostly Asian-influenced techno, trance and breakbeats. An East Londoner who was inspired to marry traditional Asian sounds with modern English dance beats after a trip to his family's home country of Bangladesh, Zeman has long been at the forefront of the whole 'Asian underground'/'Anoshka' scene as led by Talvin Singh. Unlike Singh's aptly titled OK album, however, State of Bengal's debut 'Visual Audio' is a triumph, galloping through time tempos and genres while always maintaining the southern Asian influence that separates him from any other number of bedroom producers.

"Just when you think you've heard all the musical styles that exist, along comes someone to prove how many more possibilities lie in the wings. On Zeman's turntables, tablas served as kick drums, Indian vocal samples as keyboard notes, and (Bollywood soundtrack?) strings swooped like dive-bombers."

During the hour-plus that I hung out listening to him spin, I was again reminded that, just when you think you've heard all the musical styles that exist, along comes someone to prove how many more possibilities lie in the wings. On Zeman's turntables, tablas served as kick drums, Indian vocal samples as keyboard notes, and (Bollywood soundtrack?) strings swooped like dive-bombers. The effect was absolutely inspiring. It should be said that hearing Sam spin was not nearly such an eye- or ear-opener as the time Posie and I attended a private Indian youth disco in a rented hall somewhere in midtown when the DJ was bhangra pioneer Bally Sagoo, who entered the hall escorted by bodyguards and ssurrounded by admirers, like a boxer making for the ring. As soon as Bally took to the decks that night,Êimmaculately besuited young Indians in turbans started breakdancing to impress equally well-turned out girls, and all the white record executives retreated against the walls as if they were unwelcome (which they weren't, they were just ignored); it was a wonderful experience. Yet though State of Bengal at Knitting Factory couldn't compare, it was still a pleasant enough experience all round - an easily accessible venue, an early enough showtime, a high-quality DJ set, a reasonable bedtime. And a reason to keep searching out new music.

PART 2
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