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Monthly Archives: July 2004

WOMAD 2004 Stream

The BBC, which has so much music on its website that one could get lost for a month in its holdings, only to find them replenished anew the month following, has posted a massive catalog of the WOMAD 2004 festival. Now, much of this is “world music,” albeit with the occasional electronic touch, residue of founder Peter Gabriel’s work in that arena. But there is some more discernibly “electronic” work to be heard, notably a percussive, hour-long set by DJ Dolores, of Brazil, listenable to in streaming form here.

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MP3 Night Shyamalan

Is there such a thing as a musical spoiler? Spoilers, of course, are details from movies, books and so forth that one learns in advance of experiencing the source first hand. Movie spoilers are perhaps the most notorious. On one side of the aisle, you have rabid fans foaming at the mouth for a mere glimpse of future visions of Darth Vader (yes, the title of the next Star Wars film was revealed last week, here) or Batman (yes, the Batman Begins trailer is now up on the web, here — as with Star Wars, a year in advance of theatrical release). On the other, you have self-cloistering theatergoers who’d rather not know the ins and outs of the plot of a film for which they’re destined to pay the equivalent of minimum wage. If you savor the identity of Rosebud, you’re in the latter camp.

And if there’s a pop filmmaker whose films purposefully teeter on the fulcrum of surprise, it’s M. Night Shyamalan, whose Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, in particular, were probably most enjoyed by the least informed members of their audiences — in fact, his Hitchcock-like sensibility has turned many a foaming-mouth fan into a self-cloistered one, at least in regard to his films.

Thus, the arrival tomorrow, July 30, of a new Shyamalan film, The Village, means another game of hide and seek with the major media. The first preview was characteristically vague: images of a remote, rural town, with echoes of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and of Shyamalan’s previous film, Signs; foreboding dictums (“Never enter the woods,” “Let the bad color not be seen”), hinting at a story, but divulging next to nothing (and peculiarly reminiscent of the high-minded laws that dictated another 2004 summer would-be blockbuster, I, Robot).

If the tease is the thing, then one particular promotion of The Village makes perfect sense: a remix of a track from its score has been made available for free download online. The score is by James Newton Howard, who has composed for the majority of Shyamalan’s movies, and the remix is by Synchronic, whose brief bio credits the “network of skilled composer/producers” with gigs on various movie-promotion campaigns, and other scoring and music-supervision roles. The remix is four-plus minutes of sedate orchestral bed, some understated but virtuoso solo violin, and an overlay of downtempo beats, with a young girl’s voice occasionally chirping those darn dictums. The combination is thoroughly enjoyable, a neo-romantic take on Enigma’s quasi-Gregorian recipe: the high-culture source material, the clubby mix, the self-consciously mysterious vocal. The only sour note is that spoken vocal, which kinda makes the whole thing sound like a commercial (though, in all fairness, that’s exactly what it is). Overall, the promotion is inspired: since we’re experiencing the Synchronic remix before we experience the original Howard score, we don’t know what is the message, and what is the filter. (It’s also worth noting that The Village debuts in theaters on the same day as another remix of sorts, director Jonathan Demme’s update of The Manchurian Candidate.)

Then again, if you’re a diehard Shyamalan fan, you may hesitate before downloading this free song. Perhaps you don’t want to hear the village bell toll (D’oh! — was that a spoiler?) until the theater darkens. If you dare, you can access the MP3 file here.

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Scanner Gristle MP3

Last month, Scanner posted a mix he’d prepared for the ill-fated Throbbing Gristle tribute concert. Described as “a compressed funky collage,” it’s listed under the June 2004 archive of his scannerdot.com website.

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Post-Rave Pop MP3s

The music made by Chance’s End (aka Ryan Avery) is not standard Disquiet Downstream material. It isn’t remotely fragile, abstract or attenuated, and even though it eschews all but the most mechanically tortured of singing — words generally vocoded to the point of incomprehensibility, with the exception of some catch phrases — it follows standard song structure without fail. The songs are more Orb than Aphex, more Jan Hammer than Margaret Leng Tan, more Crystal Method and BT than anything else, pop tunes built from the stuff of rave music. But they’re also absolutely stuffed with surprises, like the abrasive riff running through “Totem Redux” (imagine a turntablist forced to make do with a set of rusty brakes on a junkyard car), or the X-Files-style submarine radar that opens “Platinum Prawn,” or the piercing electric-violin solo that erupts midway through the song. Avery’s violin is used to particularly strong effect on “Going On,” building with warehouse-party gusto, high on the enticingly vacuous drama. Cheesy? Perhaps, but at the height of popularity for the Polyphonic Spree and Flaming Lips, we’re long since past such concerns. Check out these free downloads, and others, off his recent Set Me Free album, at chancesend.com (click on the “media” tab — oh, and if there’s no evident link for the “Totem Redux” track, you can find the MP3 file here). These are theme songs for cop shows yet to be pitched.

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DJ Jazzy Jeff MP3s

Who can take a Grateful Dead raga, sprinkle it with a Steely Dan jam, cover it with a Snoop Dogg soundbite, and a miracle or two? DJ Jazzy Jeff can — yes, he of Fresh Prince fame. And he does just that — and much more — on two free hour-long MP3 files of live sets available on the website of Club Six, a loungey nightspot on one of San Francisco’s historically least desirable blocks (visit clubsix1.com and click on the “music” tab). Certainly on their own, each of the elements in Jazzy Jeff’s stream-of-consciousness DJing is hardly electronic-oriented — with the exception of the occasional snag of instrumental hip-hop, or the bit of Suzanne Vega a capella from “Tom’s Diner” whose unintended adoption once upon a time by a host of remixers served, in retrospect, as a prototype for DJ Danger Mouse’s copyright-eschewing Grey Album. But sewn together, into a running commentary on unlikely parallel riffs, they’re evidence of a man wholly able to play with the raw source material provided by pop culture, one who takes FM staples and turns them into something enchanting, humorous, continuously surprising — jumpcuts between decades and genres, subtle swaths of light scratching, and endless choice hooks. Jazzy Jeff mixes it with love, and makes the world taste good.

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