...Drexciya drains the claps, cowbells and the tom toms , siphons off the salsa from Electro. With the vocoder ID deleted, 90's Electro becomes even more enthralling, even more inhibiting. Such tracks as 93's Danger Bay and Positron Island are monsters from the low end which submerge you in a liquid dystopia. Acrid frequencies clench the nerves like tazers, oscillations wince across the body in wave motion, abrasive tones remove cotton wool from your ears and vigorously scour inside your brainpan. jagged snare velocities pinch the nerves until you're locked uptight. Sea Snake's scorching deathray sweeps the seacraters with it's acoustic searchlight of astringent 303...
From the jagged city views of the 313, arose the idea of a subterranean society, of Drexciyans, Lardossans, Darthouvan Fish-Men and Mutant Gillmen alike - an underwater society, where the Drexicyan race where the ancestors of pregnant black slaves bound to the Americas from Africa and thrown into the sea, for being either disruptive cargo or for being sick, into the Black Atlantic. The idea of the Drexciyan race coming into fruitation - a underwater society that developed the ability to breathe underwater and to create a more advanced civilization than us, through the white slave masters ability of "mixing genetics and the widespread destruction of whole societies" by dumping and trading so called cargo in the Black Atlantic but this isn't certainly the case on the Black Atlantic as in the case of trading to Europe and the Asias, population displacement , pillaging and cross culture mix-ups where felt everywhere, though these theories are actually much older than they can suggest, the idea of ancient mariners seeing humanoid sea creatures like mermaids or other sea-based humanoids or creatures, 'lagoon people' are still folklore in many parts of the world. Could the case be that underwater society is the mirror image of our society today, though the beauty and ugly images of our society can reflect this though Drexciyan sociological thinking would not base itself on the idea that brutalistic land-beings, bastardising mans thinking into the idea of isolationism, tribalism, media wars on population thinking and war. These concepts where taken about by the late James Stinson and Greald Donald, who remained anonymous till after Stinsons death, they created a Atlantean bass concept, the sound of the deep, of advanced technological societies and sounds, where one brother co-operated with another brother in such harsh environments - could the sound of deep get any deeper?
Though they never played live and they released a populous amount of material which is coming out time after time as Stinson said in one interview before his death in 2002 where see and feel more of there concept to our ears, none more so than with the current Turner Prize 2010 nominees the Otolith Group who have taken the Drexciyan idea of the 'Atlantean' sea and made a series of videos depicting the sea at the dawn hours where it looks like it's giving birth and opening up as Otolith Group member Kodwo Eshun once described it on The Wire mag. You can see on those videos that sheer beauty and violence brew up even in the sea.
Drexciya collaborated a lot with the Underground Resistance, another influential group or movement within the Detroit structure, in which my opinion released some of the most important works (even to the point where famed Detroit artist Abdul Haqq did the illustrations both for UR and Drexciya in which it may have depicted the modern tech-footsoldier in UR's world of the modern waste to Drexciyas underwater beings)of Stinson and Donald though this would be an understatement considering that fact that most of there work is flawless, rich in textures and deep with sounds that make you feel like an Aquanaut (ironically a UR release too!), and considering that each song was recorded live they where not possible to play live, which is my huge draw to Drexciya.
Drexciya - Neptunes Lair (Tresor 1999) 2x12"LP
Drexciya - Grava 4 (Clone 2002) 2x12"LP
Drexciya - The Quest (Submerge Recording 1997) 2x12"LP
Beyond The Abyss
Singles and EP's:-
Drexciya - Deep Sea Dweller (Shockwave Records - 1992) 12"
Drexciya - Bubble Metropolis (Underground Resistence - 1993)12" EP
Aqua Worm Hole
Drexciya - The Return of Drexciya EP (Underground Resistance - 1996)12" EP
"...I made my opportunities, but I never got the breaks I should have gotten. I was a jack-of-all-trades. More soul than Marvin, more funk than James. If I’d gone pop, you’d be talkin’ about me, not them. I rate right at the top, though I’ve been underrated all my life..."
...Syl Johnson is that person. a true legend beyond reckoning, but always there is that downside that he can't have attributed that status in popular circles since he didn't get big in any way and was surfed away with the likes of James Brown, Al Green, Otis, Curtis et al, all getting that recognition, all the No.1 - hits all the accolades, Hall of Fame inductions and the tributes that many amateurs will go on and create and forge on the general circuit. The thing with Syl was that he was there - but never grasped the opportunity to get that extra mile, for whatever reason that was what was fated to be. Syl was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi in 1936 as Sylvester Thompson. to the sounds of the blues around the area, to the sounds of Robert Johnson laments of the devils of life, he began singing with the likes of Magic Sam, Billy Boy Arnold, Junior Wells, Howlin' Wolf his style was definitely inspired from where his stamping ground would be. Syl recorded his first single on the King Records imprint Federal, home of luminaries like Johnny 'Guitar' Watson, hell even James Brown had a stint with The Flames on Federal. He was later signed to the legendary Twinights record label based in Chicago where he became a successful singer songwriter/producer until the demise of the label which was caused by his departure to Hi Records with the chance to work with the legendary Willie Mitchell he then started producing hits with We Did It(Hi-1972), Back for a Taste of Your Love(Hi-1973 ) and Take Me to the River(Hi-1975) which reached No.7 in the R,n'B Charts - The highest position that Syl would ever get to in the charts. Soon the all the hype of being on Hi turned very sour, seemed that having the opportunity for more success would evade him when artists like Al Green would have more importance on the label than him demeaning him commercially and artistically ,and the fact that Willie Mitchell used in-house material at Hi instead of getting want Syl wanted was another factor in his end. Syl started his own label after he left Hi called Shama where he released Ms.Fine Brown Frame in 1982 (which was also a hit single for Syl on the Shama/Boardwalk imprint). Syl left music for good and went into business creating fast food fish restaurants and only performing in clubs part-time. His time unexpectedly came when in 1992 he found out that one of his songs on Twinight - Different Strokes was used by various rappers and sampled by the likes of MC Hammer, Wu-Tang Clan, Geto Boys, Kool G Rap amongest others...it just seemed that more and more of the songs that Syl had in his back catalogue where getting sampled all the time, countless number. because of this Syl returned to the music industry in 1994 and recorded an album on Delmark records called Back In The Game. with permission a year later Syl used the Twinights label to put out a album with his daughter Syleena Johnson called This Time Together by Father and Daughter, and then a few more records followed thus. Syl seemed to have got near and near in his career but like they would say in lay mans terms he was 'fucked over', the waste and the the detritus upon him by what where very blood thirsty people in the industry put him down, he had the talent and the voice and was well versed in the art of song and production getting a number of Twinights artists to the charts is a great example The Notations and the great falsetto Renato Domino. What Syl did give the world is the great bluesy gut busting soul/funk that many of today's hip-hop could use and sample and easily lay there own breaks on to and the fact that millions of people can enjoy what he did with re-issues and great examples unknown works like this awesome Numero compilation available which lays down the law on the mans best years as a accomplished singer/songwriter and producer. so much for the self proclaimed "most sampled artists in R'n'B history".
My Syl Johnson Top 5
Syl Johnson - Different Strokes (Twilight-1967)
Undeniably one of the most used and sampled songs during the 90's hip-hop scene going from De La Soul using it on Magic Number all the way to Comptons Most Wanted and this goes long, including Wu-Tang, Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, Michael Jackson, jeez you can pick 'em up with both hands and there will still be a few more artists sampling this...It's an absolute classic.
Syl Johnson - Is It Because I'm Black(Twinight-1969)
A classic gut wrenching and emotional tune that just send shivers to the spine, a deep heart felt message that can be interpreted as it is all in other forms which also reflects modern society. This again was a popular song to be sampled by the likes of Wu-Tang on Hollow Bones and Cypress Hill on Lock Down(Interlude). My favorite of Syl's by a long shot!
Syl Johnson - Come On Sock It To Me(Twilight-1967)
This is the one that started it off for Syl at Twinight!, an absolutely high, good feel soul tune that would later become a northern soul classic and a collectors item in many circles and fetches for a lot of money nowadays on the original Twinights label.
Syl Johnson - Do You Know What Love Is (Special Agent-1967)
Well Syls stuff on Hi is popular and the fact that people are finding out about the Twinights label back catalog is great but he also a released a tune the same year that he joined the Twinight label but on Special Agent and this can easily be one of my favorites as well.
Syl Johnson - We Did It (Hi-1972)
After he left Twinight and joined the Memphis outfit at Hi Records he produced some brilliant stuff for them including this great track produced by the legendary Willie Mitchell in 1972. again a great uplifting tune with the legendary in-house Hi records backing band putting in some power and soul into this. This track was later also sang by Loleatta Holloway.
And for some live stuff, i just thought i dig this one up of Syl performing the Little Junior Parker hit which got him a hit!
Well OK! Summer's here in spots here and there but let's not forget to chill and shit. The sport hasn't been great, maybe things haven't gone your way here and thee but all I can say is chill to this shit and then dig deeper. It can only get better...
...It's true things can only get better but in my case what happens is I get in the zone and then I leave the zone and all the bad shit starts to happen all over again...I want the zone!
Raï originates from the Oran region of Algeria from Bedouin shepherds, mixed with Spanish, French, African and Arabic musical forms, which dates back to the 1930s and has been primarily evolved by women in the culture. Raï basically means - 'opinion' but is colloquially used as an interjection along the lines of "oh, yeah!.." simply put...a great form of protest music with "yeahs" and shouts and psychedelic brass instruments emulating the elements of nature and social awareness within song.
Bellemou Messaoud - Le Roi de la Trompette Raï w/ Gana el Maghnaoui
Bellemou Messaoud is known as the King of the Raï movement or maybe the father of the Raï movement. Either way Bellemou, Sghir and others introduced 'pop-raï' to the consciousness of the population but Belloemou coined the term. It was never known whether he was ever called a 'cheb' since he has been around for such a long time. Just before and after the post independence of Algeria, the French Yé-yé craze was just happening and along with Bellemou young instrumentalists like Cheb Zergui, Cheb Fadela and Cheb Khaled will bring along a new range of instruments most particularly like guitar effects pedals - most notably fuzz and wah-wah and drum machines. Though the had grown seeing the chebs and chebas singing the raï he also moved with the times! Below is a tune Bellemou sang with another great Raï singer Cheikh Benfissa.
Acid drenched fuzz trip into the night desert - Groupe El-Azhar (translated as the Flowers Group) stuff is really hard to find which why I haven't got any of there records, which i wish i did but don't despair, the awesome people at Sublime Frequencies have a vital compilation with the essential start to Raï. The group was founded by the soon to be famous Cheb Mami during the 1980's!, they started singing about what there previous masters would sing about - Love affairs, alcohol, owning a car and other possessions! Probably one of my favorite groups during this period.
Bellemou may have been the King of the Raï movement, but Sghir is the Godfather! One of the precursors of the modern Raï movement coming out of the traditional chant roots and griot style and many a influence to the 'cheb' and 'chebas'. He was most definitely one of Bellemous influencesand a precursor of the old styles of Raï which consisted of the styles of al-andalus (Spanish guitar influence) and many other derivatives and could have accidently found out that psych fuzz by accident. Oh Well!
And along with the Raï - a few notable mentions to the amazing shit that I have picked up along the way from the great music of that region including...
Groupe Azenzar - (Nekwini) s iyennaten agi...
Group Azenzar were an Algerian Raï-Psych Pop band with styles that range the spectrum of influences from the Muzik Komische period to the American Go-Go and French Yé-yé styles.They were mainly hot groovy Arabian folk written tracks with heavy percussion, Middle Eastern guitar, electric bass, organ and great voices, lyrics sung in Berber. They were exactly like the Turkish psych equivalent of Mogoller. The clip is taken from a French independent film 'Les Taxicomane' - about a Alegrian youth who struggles to work by day in a restaurant and evening as a cab driver. the following tune is called Smaïl Chenoun by Groupe Azenzar.
Les Abranis - Self-Titled
For a more western outlook but more of the french psych influence of people like J.P Massiera and Jean-Claude Vannier you have Les Abranis - a young group of psych kids into fuzz cheesy pop and go-go style videos. I like this one...There's something cool about it but everything else just seemed to be quite bland to me...
This week and the last...millions of people are pissed off with the volcano...it's pee'd on everyones holiday plans, its pretty much annoyed me because i'm playing a show with Chain & The Gang without the awesome Sticks! (stuck in Portugal, I hope the guys get home soon, so I'm pretty nervous today), but in other news, recommeded 12"s!!! shit i have been hooked on for weeks which I will be using soon!
Hipnotic - Are You Lonely?
Canadian only of this classic from 1983! Definatly one that crosses the streams for the hip-hop/soul/disco guys and gals! re-issues from Downtown so don't go hunting for the real thing (but if you can afford, go for it!)
The Whole Darn Family - Seven Minutes Of Funk
What can I say, it's pretty much a classic and break on this used from EPMD to Alkaholiks to Jay-Z, full of the awesome vibes and flavours! The original would be taken, mixed by the original b-boys of the 70's and the 80's and rapped all over! some of the meanest bass-lines of all time!
Marley Marl - Marley Marl Scratch feat. MC Shan
Ultra-Fucking Rare!!! featuring MC Shan, This classic is a great party record! but unfortunatly, not very known...could be an advantage for some! But again a hard one to pull in a party, so warning...
Force M.D's - Let me Love You (Remastered)
80's Rare groove killer, One of them really rare Tommy Boy releases which I kind of got into pretty late and then later on started to appreciate! on the flip it's Tears and i have no idea if this one is highly available! but again it's a classic, used by tonnes of people! One to check!
Lil Louis & The World - I Called U / Conversation / Why'd U Fall
Well I could have put some Virgo stuff on that Chicago house feel but Lil' Louis is so underrated and this 12" has the great cuts of I Called U / Conversation / Why'd U Fall. Jesus this get's all the girls on the floor! Nice One!!!
Check this shit!
Well the next post might be something on Moondymann, or Theo Parrish or maybe i might think of putting up one of them rare hardcore 7"s and 12"s....Shit son! I dont know...Well now off to play with Ian Svenonius and shit!...