Wednesday, August 30, 2006

TUNETOURIST podcast 05

It had to happen. All that barely repressed aesthetic rivalry has come to a head and, like Lee Van Cleef and Clint Eastwood in the closing scenes of The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, your Tunetourist hosts have a showdown in almost audible extreme close-up this week. People, take sides, this is war.

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Friday, August 25, 2006

What's Your Poison?

In the course of a month's business here on Tunetourist - or, at least, on the job that makes this blog possible - we get through about 800 tracks from at least 40 record shops around the world. Its not all stuff that we're hogwild about. In fact, some of it can be little short of a chore. The pop output of South Africa has some way to go until kwaito becomes more appealing than removing your eyeballs with a teaspoon.

But, from Thai pop to country music, we usually find something to enjoy, which begs the question of why so many people clamber into their genre boxes and stay there. Surely popular music has peaks and troughs, periods when a scene is fertile and others when it just runs short on ideas. What lover of fresh, inspiring electronic music would have preferred to have spent last summer listening to drum'n'bass when they could have been feasting on the increasingly imaginative dispatches of the Berlin electronic scene?

The obvious answer, of course, is one craving the swing and space of breakbeats over the cerebral click and groove of techno. But why can't we love both and just recognise when one of them is operating on a higher plane. Didn't many prog rock fans eventually grow to love the two minute blasts of punk? Didn't most of us grow up with a dirty metal habit that was eventually shaken off?

The Tunetourist podcast's hapless presenters take sides on the fifth show and play up to the stereotype of indie vs. b-boy, all for the benefit of a good scrap. It's music's archetypal showdown innit... melody vs. rhythm. The West vs. The Rest, even...

Look out for it next week.

Friday, August 18, 2006

TUNETOURIST podcast 04

It's jazz this week with selections from Jazz Record Mart in Chicago, Cue Records in Philadelphia, Fat Beats in New York and music from Brad Mehldau, Thom Yorke, Aceyalone, Ammoncontact and others. You see where we're going with this 'jazz' thing? Purists take cover.

Much more importantly, check out the new logo! We're going professional with this isht. Here are the links:

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Rhyming and Stealing

If you thought Diplo was taking the piss ripping off Baile Funk records like a Jive Bunny for the international club set, check out the latest from Robbie Williams. Built around a direct lift of the Sly & Robbie electro hit, "Boops (Here To Go)", he insists on revisiting the ill-fated rap territory last flirted with to tongue-chewingly shocking effect on "Rock DJ".

I've never really got him to be honest, but this baffles me more than most of his supposedly ironic, charming pop output. It's neither funny nor sufficiently knowing to pass as the tongue-in-cheek career left turn that its supposed to be. In fact, it looks and sounds like an episode of I Love 1989 fronted by a chubby Northern compere in a shiny tracksuit. A bad look for a corporate megastar with a shelf price of £80 million you'd think. To boot, it plunders a music culture without anything other than sense of mild condescension for what it represents. Is this the stuff on which the RW brand is built?

Was the plan to present Robbie as a kind of 'TK Max'-referencing Lilly Allen for 30 something check out assistants? Does Robbie think that he's democratising urban culture by selling it back to his demographic through a bad Miners's Welfare comedy filter? Or is this really a loving homage to the Now Music school of black culture?

Whatever, if the song doesn't sink him, that shiny Adidas tracksuit surely will.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

TUNETOURIST podcast 03

Get your listening gear around some tunetourist favourites from the past 10 months. Music from AZ, Vetiver, Sunny Day Sets Fire. Edan, Copy and more...

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Trilok Gurtu & The Frikyiwa Family

I know little of Indian percussionist Trilok Gurtu's career to date and suspect, with names like David Gilmore, John McLaughlin, even Robert Miles, cropping up in his biography, his talents have been co-opted by the rather dull, virtuosic global music scene too often. But his recent album, "Farakala" produced by Frederic Galliano and featuring the Frikyiwa Family, is one of the most interesting world crossover records to arrive this year. Given that we only seem to cope with one world music hit each summer - the ubiquitous Manu Chao-produced Amadou & Mariam record was last year's surely - this will probably prove too unmediated to fill that role. But, it deserves a wider audience than the usual late night BBC Radio crowd.

Working with musicians from the southern Malian village of Farakala, Gurtu looks for the junctures between his native Indian style and the circulatory rhythms of Mali. Like Damon Albarn's attempts to merge dub with the local style on the surprisingly successful "Mali Music" project, for the most part the location exerts the strongest influence through the easy fluency of the local musicians and the unique timbre of the instruments. Where Gurtu's rhythms take over - the scat vocals and tabla rhythms that emerge halfway through "Doukhontou" - its hardly seamless. But he brings a jazz-literate experimentation to proceedings and Galliano's unfussy production encourages the beatific grace of the music to shine. (On the latter note, fans of Detroit techno might even find similarities between the weightless groove of tracks like "Mil-jul" and "Swapan" and the music of labels from Red Planet to Delsin).

Finally its a great introduction to the gentle and hypnotic timbres of Malian instruments, most of which owe their sound to the dried and hollowed gourd fruit, used as a resonator in everything from keyboard instruments to drums. Gurtu plays balafon (a xylophone with 18-21 keys cut from redwood and suspended in a bamboo frame with gourd resonators - in the picture), water calabash (an overturned floating drum, i think), gourd drums and shekere (a gourd surrounded by a net of beads).

Unsurprisingly, it was the French shops, Crocodiscs in Paris and Paris Jazz Corner that alerted us to this one - a great find.