New Release

Excavation Series 13 – Engelika and Others: Music from Films of Music

Opening:
Enter flutes in hovering polyphony, a perfectly noted interlude, restrained and playing with time, breath accenting tremolo-like fluctuation, like choppy waters or ridged gateways miming the Sepik River, eventually turning to calm, what was sent out to the spirit-world is returned in kind – the meaning in seconds now replaced by the understanding of the natural world seen clearer for the days ahead, the illusory boats regain composure and settle down.

Cut to Ensemble:
Group interactivity catered to song and pulse, percussion by hand as melody to voice as person to persons, another level of communication – instruments mining emotional overlay, things of the past catching up to the future, guessing at what can take place, letting go and coming to, in living figure, in moving picture.

Jake Webster, who records as Tuluum Shimmering (and is a giant favourite of Phong’s and mine), has presented us with a mesmerizing collection of music sourced from documentary film and video. And in a brilliant turn, we can now share this wonderful music not easily available, as Excavation Series 13, and spotlight these gorgeous sounds and beautiful pieces that segue and spiral around each other in a perfect way. Cameras shapeshift into loudspeakers, frequencies converted into proper documentary listening, we can close our eyes to double the imagery.

Tuluum Shimmering has a plethora of albums on a ton of formats, he’s a prolific musician and artist, and we’re very happy to get a chance to work together outside his more natural working forces. His mix here knocked us back: we’re quite into repurposing sounds from one format to another or taking things out of an original context and presenting it with a renewed vigor, here some of the pieces recorded many years ago shine in a proper encored legacy, and we not only get a better understanding of Webster’s own unique musical listening and influential habits, we get a tremendous compilation of field recordings from dedicated sociocultural anthropologists who have done extremely vital work.

Do please check the tracklist notes for details pertaining to the films in use here, we recommend tracking them down as we scramble to do the same.

Engelika and Others: Music from Films of Music

One name that you will see returning throughout the recordings is French filmmaker Yves Billon. His Les Villages du Film and Zaradoc production companies have circled the globe framing genuine documentary film with essential field research. I first came across Billon’s work with the biography on Ali Farka Touré years ago now (co-directed with Henri Lecomte whose work is included here as well), Ali Farka Touré: Springing from the Roots, and was enraptured. It was a beautiful portrait of one of my favourite guitarists. I definitely didn’t register Billon’s name at the time, if I knew he had such a growing treasure chest of ethnographic wonders I would have sprinted back to the library and started a new hunt right then and there.

To go along with pieces from Billon’s films on religious Sufi music in Pakistan and folk music within Balochistan, there are selections from three films that he co-directs as well: the film on the music from Guinea with Robert Minangoy, the film on Mongolian music with Henri Lecomte, and the film on the music from India, Rajasthan specifically, with Agnes Nordmann.

If those breathtaking musical landscapes weren’t enough, Webster’s gifted us with incredible selections from documentary films on the music found in Papa New Guinea, specifically the indigenous peoples of Lake Chambri; music from Morocco, specifically the Berber people of the Atlas Mountains; music in Bali, specifically a group from Peliatan performing Kecak- the trance dance chorus ritual found near the end of the second side; and two fingerstyle guitar pieces from the documentary African Guitar by Gerhard Kubik: one recorded and filmed in Divundu, Namibia and the final piece of Malawi guitar folk that ends the second side recorded and filmed outside of Vienna, Austria.

The spirit behind the films and research is a sensitive and empathetic undertaking, there’s a commitment to truth and reality over everything else, the anthropological reality of these beaming worlds is in view honestly and respectfully, and openly.

Spirituality and ritual, morality and humanity perfectly woven together, every passing musicality is the same distance away from the heart as day to day principality, like blood moving down snaking passageways, flowing away from and back to, the music equally tied to the gathering of the community and the path it will take, there are times for joy and unfiltered happiness and times for sorrow and tragedy, flowing to and flowing back from, surrounding that all-important center.

Traditions live in the now as much as in history – time moves indistiguishably between different parts of the day, there is no need to compartmentalize, there’s no need to separate community from the individual, and no need to separate out today from the events of the past. Social participation’s a given, built into that legacy, nothing is obscured or in opppostion to, decades pass and the same candles remain lit, gifting us with light that is regenerating, we do our best to respect it fully.

I think the music shared here and their attaching feature films are more than passing momentary documents. The performances and events are highlighted edits pulled from that interactive experience and immersive real-life research that goes well beyond superficial artifice. These are gifts being offered and accepted from one group of people to another and then returned in kind. And the music and cinematic realism speaks for itself. It is a respectful poetic footage and it can change your life. The selections here represent that great work, artists and thinkers and scholars skipping past their own realities to learn about culture and other parts of the world in sociological study and musical excitement with a very real social interaction and intent that is the unlocking standard.

We hope you enjoy the album as much as we do, and thanks for sticking with us as we continue to move the boulder up the mountain with our Excavation Series of mixtapes. We can’t thank Jake enough for this collection. This tape was professionally duplicated in an edition of 75 copies. This album is also bundled with Excavation Series 12 & 14, so head to Bandcamp for the full three-part package if that is of interest to you, and we hope it is.

Peace,
Kev

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New Release

Excavation Series 12 – Underground Violin Pan-African Fiddle Mix

Guest post by Adam Cadell, his words below on his new mix for our Excavation Series of tapes and ephemera:

Pan-African Violin Mix

While I have my own physical experiences of violin playing in the African context, the Excavation Series playlist I’ve put together that this rambling story forms the backdrop to, is largely derived from a more artificial journey through the various byways and highways of YouTube. Guided by a basic understanding of the true diversity of the violin’s place on the African continent, I’ve dug deep into African violining with a focus on Sub-Sahara, bearing in mind the well-known presence of the violin in North African music, thus only featuring that region most prominently at the end of the mix here, with perhaps the most impressive piece, a fifteen minute delay-soaked Libyan masterpiece.

Anyway, the mix starts with basically the coolest, most bad-arsed fiddle player you’ll ever see, and that’s Cape Verdean morna legend Antoninho Travadinha. His playing, style, and compositions just exude a strange tropical gothic melancholia, like you’re sitting, slumped in a chair, chilled rum in hand, staring out at the sea and just wishing you could walk out in it and be swallowed whole. It kicks you in the guts that hard, and the only way is up from there. And up the mix goes with some high-energy burgher highlife straight from Ghana and Amakye Dede. Dede is a pop star of epic proportions in Ghana and among the Ghanaian diaspora, and his distinctive sound is made all the more distinctive by the presence of the violin. To discuss this we need a new paragraph.

Back in 2012 I moved to Accra where I ended up working in the National Symphony Orchestra of Ghana and the Accra String Quartet as a violinist. I quickly befriended everyone, because you just quickly befriend everyone in Ghana, and especially lead violist George Ackersen (the greatest violist in Africa hands down) and former-German-now-as-Ghanaian-as-a-bowl-of-palmwine concertmaster Thomas “Kwame” Woernle. Thomas is very well-known in Ghana, not just as the orchestra’s leader, but also as the violinist in Amakye Dede’s band, the Apollo High Kings. He’s an incredible musician and truly singular character if ever there was one, from his swinging bow, to his impenetrable mix of thick German accent and Ghanaian patois and his penchant for driving really terrifyingly fast motorbikes through Accra’s desperately congested streets. Anyway, the uplifting, wild and yes somewhat cheesy Amakye Dede track in this mix features Thomas’ violin playing in its subtle lilt, sometimes a little too buried in the “orchestral hit” set electric keyboard so enamoured by the stuck-in-the-80s “burgher” highlife crowd. Indeed this brand of electro highlife is heavily linked to Germany as it emerged out of the Ghanaian diaspora that popped up, particularly in Hamburg during Jerry John Rawlings bullshit military dictatorship from 1979 ‘til the early 90s. I have many more tales to tell from the world of Ghanaian strings, but I’ll leave that for another time, or never.

Next up we do take a dose of North Africa, travelling up from the palm-laden shores of Accra, up through the dense forested Akan heartland that nurtures the deep musical roots of Highlife in Ghana up through the Savannah, through the Sahel and across the Sahara to Tunisia. I know absolutely nothing about Ridha Kalaï, but I like what I hear, read and see on the internet. He appears to have been somewhat of a king of Tunisian violin playing, and I can see why, his beautiful tone, and that aching Arabic microtonal, melismatic expression is just too much. Take the time to type his name into the YouTube search engine and check out a whole heap of old TV clips, mixes and so on. Obviously a serious character in Tunisian music, and we clearly all need to know more about him.

The next piece jumps all the way down to the south of this most inspiring of continents, to South Africa, and the famous Soweto neighbourhood where the brilliance of Zulu jive music started busting up dance floors in the 50s and 60s and beyond. The internet is absolutely soaked in 78 uploads of instrumental jive, and somehow, I don’t recall how, but it came to my attention that the violin has often been used as a lead instrument in this stuff. The most famous exponent is Noise Khanyile, and it may have been Awesome Tapes that hipped me to him, or maybe sheer accident, but he has absolutely nothing to do with the piece that appears here. Instead we have Henry Gabela & His Violin, shredding things down with the sawing, almost hectically violent sound tearing away before that quintessential jive band beat kicks in and all hell breaks loose. I ripped Gabela’s piece off an interesting YouTube channel called Wahyi Tapes, which is well worth wasting several hours on, especially with all the jive 78s, but also all the other rare shit on there. Violin jive really takes the violin to rhythmic and timbrel areas second to none, driving, harsh, ecstatic, amazing stuff.

In a perhaps superficially similar sonic vein – although considering the geographic area, the similarities may well be more deep than superficial – I’ve followed the jive greatness up with some junkyard fiddle from Botswana which I know very little about other than I dig the sound. And after that once more another piece I know very little about, other than that the musician playing it – Asim Gorashi – was living in Brisbane for a period of time, and working/studying at the same university as me. Asim came to Australia from Sudan, and he quickly came to notoriety as a cabbie who will give you a seriously musical trip with his virtuosic whistling. Turns out he’s a world champion whistler, but he also shreds on the violin, seemingly taking a preference for reverb and delay-soaked electric violin sounds as is popular with North African musicians as well. I don’t know where Asim is now, but I did try to drop him a line on Facebook when compiling this.

To connect from a Sudanese refugee in Brisbane who loves delay to me (I also love delay), I take the listener next to Senegal. Why me? Well, I’ve had the good fortune of spending a decent chunk of time in Senegal (thank you Australian tax payer), and it is a country that holds a special place in my heart and soul. Some of the best musicians I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing with are in Senegal, and the cities of Dakar and especially St Louis (Ndar) in the north where I’ve spent the most time there, are extraordinary. Adding to that is the incredible landscape and natural beauty found in more southerly climes, like the Sine Saloum Delta, a stunning region that’s very special. While I was last in Senegal, on a 4 month artist’s residency mostly in St Louis, I connected with many musicians including the extremely talented Sahad Saar and his band in Dakar (playing with them one night at the Insitut Francaise de Dakar, their high energy “Afro Sufi Jazz” music is something to experience), and most strongly with Khadim Tall, on whose latest record my violin proudly features. It doesn’t feature in the mix though, nor does Khadim or Sahad for that matter, just thought I’d tell the story. Khadim, myself and his band played and recorded a fair bit in St Louis during my stay, mostly late in the evenings at a seedy riverside bar called La Flamingo, where I also got to jam with various other legendary musicians. Khadim’s music hasn’t been captured as well on CD as it has in the live setting, where a truly spiritual experience is had, audience members calling out the names of Mouride saints, throwing money at the band, and Khadim’s voice reaching melismatic heights that stick with me still, not to mention the complex and dense mbalax rhythmic interplay of his band. Anyway, what features in the mix, is a recording by L’Orchestre National de Senegal which I didn’t even know existed when I was over there. I discovered them while YouTube-surfing for this compilation, and even discovered that they have a violinist William Badji in the picture. Why no one ever mentioned him to me during my stay I’ll never know. Perhaps he’s moved to France like so many, or perhaps my French is just so bad I did have several conversations about him but never realised it. All that aside, there are various random performances up on YT of these guys, and the mix features one of them, the dry, straight into the board, electric fiddle sound identical to the preferred sound of the violin on Khadim’s album which I have just harped on about for a large paragraph that should be about the aforementioned.

After Senegal, I take the listener back over to East Africa, and some live-captured Taarab from Zanzibar. I love Taarab music, and so should you. Just google it. I don’t know much about it, other than that it is a beautiful mix of rusty Arabic violin sounds, with powerful Swahili singing. After Zanzibar we hit the North Africa bracket, starting in Morocco with another artist I know next to nothing about, other than that he plays distorted as fuck electrified fiddle with his teeth like a tranced-up Berber Jimi Hendrix. It just sounds amazing to me, so wild and intense. Everyone should play like this. After Morocco we finish the mix with the most epic of all the pieces here, from Libya, and I’ve found no more info, nor any contact details for these guys. The sound is ripped from phone video in someone’s house, a party unfolding, the visually most amusing bit being this dude who just smokes and drinks tea amongst the band (moral support?), and about three guys seemingly charged solely with control of the delay, which is beyond the beyond on this one. The violin playing is soul-smashing, and the vocals of heartbreaking beauty. While I’m imposing my own Western lens on this I know, it sounds so psychedelic and deep it actually makes me think of Taj Mahal Travellers or something. Just full-on in the best possible way.

Well that wraps it up for this mix. I hope all who read and listen are enlightened. My aforementioned mates in the National Symphony Orchestra of Ghana, and in particular viola legend George Ackersen can be reached here. George is trying to set up a music school in his region in Accra where he can (and currently has begun to) offer lessons to kids who struggle to get by in his community. I’d recommend hitting him up if you want to help out.

Bye bye.
(Adam Cadell)

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The cassette was professionally duplicated in an edition of 50 copies. This tape is bundled with Excavation Series 13 & 14 on Bandcamp too, so head there for the full three-part package.

From all of us, we hope you enjoy the mix and can share it along, and we thank Adam for helping us with the series. His mix and the accompanying writing is top notch, and we’re psyched to get the chance to work together.

Peace,
Kev

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New Release

Excavation Series 8 – A Day of Sun is Like a Radio to Me

A new release is available and live: Excavation Series 8 – A Day of Sun is Like a Radio to Me, a psychedelic, layered, all-over-the-place trippy travel through Cambodia and Thailand put together by John Thayer of the Drunken Sufis act (no strangers themselves to the wild and heavy and mind-melting thing we call rebellious/evolutionary cosmic music).

This mixtape isn’t just a fuck-around though, it’s inspired and brought about by the personal travels and recordings that were being collected in the field and on boats, and the encounters with strange and gorgeous folk and rock music found on the street and in cd and tape stalls, and catching those street musicians playing their ancient oral traditional pieces passed down like infinite dialogue, and trying to record the radio and varying styles of transportation, collecting what you can, be it audio or video or both, trying to be present and recording and listening and open to new sounds and more digging, infinite digging, it’s good for the mind-body thing, I hear, open to the sounds to help pass them on in new ways, and to hear new things, is good for the mind-body thing, and for seeing the different ways we can express ourselves and find our home in the beautiful moments we want to live inside, I hear.

Climbing atop the terrain and sending a quiet little intimate prayer back to the spot you came from.

This is a radical collage and we’re super happy to work with John on this and to share it here now.

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Tapes were professionally duplicated and I printed the artwork and stamped the envelopes at home. This is another small edition of 40 tapes and we hope you want to grab a copy. The mix repeats on both sides of the tape for extra (deeper) listening.

UK/EURO distro is set up yet again with our main mate Andy over at Crow Versus Crow, and if you want cheaper post and a chance to chat with a great dude, hit him up at crow_versus_crow@hotmail.co.uk, he’ll have the tapes shortly and he’ll get you settled in rightly. If he is sold out, not trying to get ahead of ourselves here, but do come back around to these parts as there still may be a few available and we can negotiate a better post price.

Thanks for the support so far and for being into what Phong and I are up to. Things are going to change a little bit into the future, we’re kicking around larger edition sizes as we have some really special and rare things coming soon and we’re trying to test the waters on that interest, but more about that later when we lock it all up. For now, we hope you enjoy and can pass it on!

The free download is available on Power Moves Library and the stand-alone Excavation Series bandcamp pages, do check it out, please.

Peace and take care,
Kev

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New Release

Excavation Series 7 – You/In/Be/Arc

New mixtape is live and available, You/In/Be/Arc is a weirdo collage split in two sides sourced from Youtube, Vimeo and Internet Archive.

I dug through micro-rabbit holes while pinpoints moved too fast for proper capture, instead:  I taped and cut-up what made sense psychogeographically as I wandered aiming but aimless. A dada poem, or a nonsensical abstraction. One thing erases the older thing, or the two or three things erase…

Tapes were professionally duplicated in an edition of 40 copies and I printed the artwork and stamped the envelopes myself at home again. Tapes incude short liner notes and tracklisting, and a black-and-white print.

End of June will see another mixtape, ES8, a wild psychedelic-tinged layered ride by John Thayer (he of Drunken Sufis), sourced and brought about by personal field recordings and music encountered along his travels in Thailand and Cambodia. A superb mix that we’re super proud to be helping put out.

Peace and more to come!
Kev

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New Release

Excavation Series 6 – Maghreb Sharit Mix No 4 – Gimbri Special

Next up in our steadily growing Excavation Series of mixtapes is a killer mix of Gimbri-focused Moroccan music sourced and compiled by Natalia Beylis and Willie Stewart (of the excellent Irish psych-improv group Woven Skull) from their private stash.

The two often travel to Morocco and when visiting it’s expert digging and we’re lucky enough to reap the rewards here. This isn’t the first Moroccan mix that they have put together either, this is number four in a series they’ve been uploading on Mixcloud under the Maghreb Sharit name, and we encourage you to dive into those as well, each one is phenomenal and worthy of yr attention. We can’t thank them enough for wanting to help us out with our thing here, and having the chance to put these pieces back on tape under a compilation-like new light is a total pleasure.

Sometimes rough, sometimes crackly, all of the time with that radical tape vibe, the pieces included in this mix are incredible. The languid and snaky flow of the gimbri and the wild rhythms present, the group chanting and singing, the pacing and repetitions too, this is heavy folk music, deep and intense and despite the sorrow-filled haunting blues in a few of the numbers, it’s joyful and full of life and overflowing with passion. A truly beautiful music.

Tapes were professionally duplicated while the printing and packaging were done here at home again. Available here.

There are a small amount of tapes with our UK/Euro distro again too, Crow Versus Crow, so reach out to him if yr in that geography, he can be reached at crow_versus_crow@hotmail.co.uk and he already has the tapes in his mitts, now ready for yrs. Andy’ll get you sorted.

More to come! June will have two new mixtapes, one continuing down our digging ethnographic/geographic on-location folk music w/ radio and layered oddities to boot, and a brand new mixtape first going in a totally different direction, hopefully opening up new terrain that we’d like to continue with again. News on these soon. There are other tapes coming together as well, but it’s early days, further details forthcoming when we start getting the masters, but we’re beyond excited to share everything and make real what we’re discussing/compiling behind the scenes and an early thanks to everyone helping us along.

And thank you for the support so far for being into the tapes and the free digital downloads.

Thanks for reading and listening!

Peace,
Kev

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