Prince Waly & Myth Syzer – ‘Junior’

Damn, if you venture on the French side of rap, rare are the occasions where something is as powerful as its American counterpart. Lo and behold, Prince Waly, brings the NYC conversational 90’s flow to the forefront, full of internal rhymes, offbeat pauses, and deadpan wisdom, usually the servings of a young Nas, Rakim, or early Jay-Z.

Myth Syzer, usually on the electronic side of hip-hop production, tones down the blips and J Dilla bass booms, to deliver a beat that sounds like Premier meets Pete Rock in the summer of 1992. A scratched sample from slain Harlem rapper Big L crowns the chorus while Prince Waly spits cryptic reflections on street smarts, moral implications of crime, and hopeful yearning. Soul music for soulless times.

World Press Photo 2016

Photojournalism exhibition sponsored by the Illuminati. An amount of dead bodies that rival a Tarantino film. This year, a special focus on abused and exploited children. Refugees star without compensation. Liberal white guilt on display. Images are printed on foam cardboard giving no texture or sense of reality. Two personal projects about pregnancy feel like student works (probably related to members of the jury). Nothing memorable. Same as the junk on any newsfeed online. Avoid at all costs, unless you want to count dead bodies or abused children.

Most poignant picture would be the Lybian refugees on a boat in the Mediterranean Sea. The diversity of expressions in the black faces resonate deeply with the convoluted emotions of being in the world today: as a fleeing fugitive of disastrous conditions brought upon by destructive rich white men! Photo by Francesco Zizola.

An overcrowded rubber dinghy sailed from the Libyan coast is apprached by the MSF Bourbon Argos search and rescue ship. 26 August 2015.
An overcrowded rubber dinghy sailed from the Libyan coast is apprached by the MSF Bourbon Argos search and rescue ship. 26 August 2015.

Nots – Cosmetic LP (2016)

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Second LP from Memphis underground rock/punk quartet, Nots. Just their name illicits questioning and encrypted mystery. These four individuals deliver the pummeling, bass-heavy, distorted psych guitar twang I’ve expected, but this time ‘turnt up’ the psych a notch. Lyrically, they still tread the same waters of Watergate, emerging paranoia, science-fiction forms, whether on the metaphysical bouncy anthem ‘Blank Reflection‘, or directly through their negation of mainstream culture on ‘Entertain Me‘. Nine numbers of bent distorted heat. My personal favorite, title-track ‘Cosmetic’ slows down their usual tempo by half, and delivers a classic drawn-out glorious hardcore stomping number that would fit quite nicely in a George A. Romero zombie flick. Quite serious, and untouchable, like electroshock therapy. Wouldn’t be surprised if FBI, CIA, MI-6 already have a file open on these guys.

LP comes with limited edition cream-pink vinyl, glossy insert sleeve also comes with lyrics.

The Case of The Tree Sided Dream – Rahsaan Roland Kirk Documentary

2016-04-20-1461186856-1872842-threesideddreamhiresfilmposterjfv2-e1471829017822Wearing sunglasses in the dark is a staple of the impossibly cool. But when sunglasses are just a natural part of your outfit because you’re blind, you are naturally cool, born and raised in cool.

Rahsaan Roland Kirk, the blind jazz multi-instrumentalist had an extreme vision for music. In the 70’s he formed an activist group with the purpose to give jazz wider exposure on television. Their strategy consisted of carefully planned disruptive acts on mainstream media to initiate a dialog (literally hours-long conversations) about black classical music aka jazz

Picture this: a musical guerrilla group, whose members included bassist Charles Mingus, saxophonist Archie Shepp, drummer Roy Haynes, and whose leader was blind! This blind leader, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, had a vision for music which he claimed he saw in a dream.

Outspoken, melodic, layered, relentless, unabated. Rahsaan changed his name to Rahsaan because of something he heard in a dream. Rah-saan, raw-sound, roaming sound. He did things, harmonically, melodically, and physically, that not even Coltrane or Davis attempted.

RRK was essentially a conscientious Dadaist. His musical experimentations communicated an inventiveness rooted in analysis and assemblage. He would always go further. He didn’t see an end.

Here’s a man who touched the heavens frequently, and telegraphed the transmission. His compositions are sculptural, occupying negative space, suggesting 3-D contemplation.

Architectural music.

Nots – Memphis Flyer Interview (2016)

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Interview with the Memphis Flyer newspaper

Whoa!!! The GENESIS of Memphis punk band, NOTS. The real story, starting from their pre-Nots days as Bake Sale, a 60’s girl garage band who covered The Shangri-La’s, to the development of their hardcore lo-fi punk sound through controlled experimentation and some lineup changes. Their infamous show at The Lucero, a now-defunct punk house on Overton Park where they first captured John Hoppe’s attention leading to their deal with Goner. To the addition of Eastburn to the group with an instrument given to her by Winston Eggleston (the son of renowned art world photographer William Eggleston).

Politics, economics, happenstance, creativity, record labels, lies, illusions, property, and the mistaken sense of physical ownership felt by record execs and media journalists (a theme that director/actor Don Cheadle explored in his recent Miles Davis biopic).

Nots are on the attack, make no concessions, and produce the kind of substantial discourse of protest that America hasn’t heard in decades—placing Memphis, once again, at the center of ideological tensions on the commercialization and exploitation of music and creativity.

Nots – “Inherently Low” (2016)

The Heavenly Records (UK) payola kicking in. Tom Scharpling of The Best Show Podcast will be hosting Gonerfest in Memphis this year. Nots will open the festival with the ceremonies outside the Goner Records shop. Be there or square.

“Inherently Low” was difficult for her to write about, Hoffmann explains, “it deals very much with depression and loss. The chorus describes a feeling of being trapped in your current state of mind, so much so that it begins to feed upon itself and falsely make you believe that you always were and always will be that way. I believe that in many ways this feeling is created and perpetrated by a society that is set up to purposefully keep many people low – undereducated, unable to be healthy, and just generally depressed at the current state of affairs in the world – in order to benefit a select group who hold the strings, and who will do anything to keep control.”

Jose James Sings ‘Chet Baker Sings’ (2016)

Blue Note recording artist, Jose James, performs a tribute concert to Chet Baker for the 2016 Montreal Jazz Festival.

Chet Baker is lame. Jose James knows that, and states it repeatedly throughout the performance. However, the selection of standards on ‘Chet Baker Sings’ made it possible for James to share his own interpretation of various classics of the jazz songbook.

After calling Baker ‘an amazing addict’, James launched into various modal interpretations of standard jazz classics like ‘But Not For Me’, ‘That Old Feeling’ and ‘My Funny Valentine’.

On ‘That Old Feeling’, he effictively removes the fantasist sweetness of the original by using staccato phrasing throughout. Then, his incredibly swinging band begin to fill the air with long cerebral solos that widen the range of sensations felt in the original.

Nate Smith’s drum solo steals the show abstracting rhythm to a cubist painting.

Jose James makes this material his own, rarely stopping to acknowledge its source. Even the man’s classic Funny Valentine undergoes a metamorphosis with James’ band to become a smokey lounge groove. Baker’s original ‘torch song’ was dramatic. This James is empathic, and emphatic.