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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Fresh Air: Reggae Pioneer Desmond Dekker

Fresh air did a really good spot on Desmond today:

Reggae Pioneer Desmond Dekker
Rock historian Ed Ward remembers Jamaican singer Desmond Dekker, who died last week at the age of 64. His 1969 hit "Israelites" was for many Americans the first reggae they'd ever heard.

Friday, May 26, 2006

RIP: Desmond Dekker 1941-2006

Desmond Dekker, the first Jamaican pop act to score a major hit in the UK, has died.

Distinctly Jamaican Sounds has more info, and some mp3s of Desmond's to listen too.

Rudie got soul.

Jacob Z. says:

It's a sad day for Jamaican music. Desmond Dekker was responsible for some of the most musical compositions in all of ska/rocksteady/reggae, compositions which transcend their genre by sheer force of Dekker's melodic genius. He also had the best (and possibly highest) tenor in all of Jamaica, making it hard for me to sing along but endowing his songs with irresistible soul. When I was a teenager and my interest in ska extended no further back than The Specials, The English Beat, The Selecter, and Madness, it was Desmond Dekker's music that first made me think I should dig a little deeper, see how they did things back in Jamaica. I'm pretty sure his will be among the Jamaican music that ends up having timeless appeal - that in 100 years, '007 (Shanty Town)' will still be capable of making the even most reticent wallflower get up and skank. So drink a toast tonight to the King of Ska, he will be missed.

Mr. T Says: "Treat Your Mother Right"

Since we are writing about Hip Hop today:

Mr. T - Treat Your Mother Right (Video)

Mr. T Raps about his (and your) Mom. and his vocal skillz are about as you'd expect: AWESOME! I love his phrasing style, which seems to be "mumble slowly through my lines and make sure to leave lots of odd gaps in between the words".

Sucka MCz take note.


Bay Area Rap Roster

Been meaning to post this one for some time now. With the hyphy explosion showing no sign of slowing down, it's a good moment to get acquainted with some of the major players in the Bay Area scene. Check out this article in XXL Magazine that rattles off quick bios (with audio) of some of the hottest rappers in the yay, even checking a couple of djs and producers at the end of their list. It's by no means exhaustive, but a good place to start if you're curious who's who. Up above is a photo of Keak Da Sneak, and if you're going to talk about hyphy, you've got to know Keak because after all, that's his word (and check out his song Super Hyphy using XXL Magazine's built-in Flash player).

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Gary Numan & Tubeway Army's Replicas

Haven't posted in a while, mainly because my musical universe seems to have narrowed to a single album which has matched my mood perfectly for a couple of weeks now. I didn't want to post "I only listen to Gary Numan's 'Replicas'," because that seems like a silly thing to admit. But here goes: I only listen to Gary Numan's 1979 album Replicas. Someday soon I hope to move on, but for now, something about Numan's dreary, paranoid vision of a dystopian future where machines have taken over and there remains no trace of human tenderness really speaks to me.

It's pretty well accepted that 'Replicas' is Numan's best album (though I'm also quite fond of his self-titled 1978 debut Tubeway Army). The album opens with a pair Numan classics, Me! I Disconnect From You and Are 'Friends' Electric?, both extremely catchy for songs about alienation and loneliness. Then there is the oft-covered masterpiece Down In The Park, a bleak picture of a future where humans are kept down in the park while the machines play "kill-by-numbers". The whole album oozes with grim, Philip K. Dick-style imagery, suggesting an all-too-human broken heart lurking at the center of a world composed of circuits, gears, metal, and violence.

'Replicas' also stands at the beginning of a decade of synthpop (and at the end of another decade of proto-synthpop). To my ear, Numan's work here provides a good bridge between the likes of 70s synthesizer masters like Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder, and the flood of synthesizer bands that came in the 80s. Numan infused his songs with a hooky, almost postpunk sensibility that give these cold songs about machines a surprisingly rock n' roll feel. Even moreso than bands like The Human League or The The, he made the synthesizer work in a rock band setting, not as some kind of "wow" effect (like certain prog rock bands from the 70s, perhaps) but as an integral, natural part of the band.

But without Numan's unique singing voice and deliberate phrasing, that band would never have taken off. His voice sounds so alien, as if there were two or three of him singing at once, slightly detuned. He also has a gift for sculpting a sticky, deceptively simple melodic phrase in his singing, based around the hook of the song but complimenting it by adding exactly the right amount of tension through dissonance and mirroring.

Numan's career has fallen off some in the intervening decades, but he is still an amazing presence on stage. I saw him perform several years ago and he blew me away, which renewed my interest in the guy. Now I will hear him in a different way anew, having had this one record on such heavy rotation for weeks.

Didn't have much luck finding Numan clips online, but you can hear a handful of his songs at Myspace, and there is a ton of concert footage over at YouTube.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Acoustic Location and Sound Mirrors

MusicThing pointed me to this awsome webpage about pre-radar methods of tracking ships and warplanes. The super high tech solution was essentially to just plug giant tubas into soldiers ears.

Acoustic Location and Sound Mirrors

Acoustic location was originally applied to determining the presence and position of ships in fog.

Acoustic location was used from mid-WW1 to the early years of WW2 for the passive detection of aircraft by picking up the noise of the engines. It was rendered obsolete before and during WW2 by the introduction of radar, which was far more effective.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Link Roundup

It looks like a bad case of "insanely busy in meatspace" has hit the whole PTR staff at the same time, apologies for the crazy lag in postings around here. We do have a couple good articles and reviews in the works, though, so stay tuned. In the meantime, check these rad links:

Stevie Wonder and Eighties electronics

Frank Zappa's anti-censorship letter

last night a dubplate saved my life

Free MP3: folk cover of Public Enemy's "Bring the Noise" - all kinds of whiteys covering hip hop tunes there...

Barenaked Ladies frontman on copyright reform

Free music: 1961 synthesized speech audio, remixed.

Sony screwing artists out of iTunes royalties, customers out of first-sale


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Remix a Maxx Klaxon Track

The best thing about this remix contest, unlike so many others these days, is that the samples are being released under a Creative Commons license. Meaning that you will retain some rights to your song. Have at it folks!


Remixers of the world, unite! Maxx Klaxon has released the submixes for his song "Internationale 2000" (based on the classic workers' anthem "The Internationale") under a Creative Commons license.

Download the tracks, create your own remix, and submit it by July 31, and you could win a spot on the next Maxx Klaxon release!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Link Roundup

Studio One Love

How The THX Noise Was Created -- It wasn't as simple as you would have thought.

version a version wayne catalogs the journey of sample from bollywood to dub.

Intro Looper Make an audio looper for under $20

new source for samples (sample the the IRS Tax Code podcast)

Jamaica: The Most Homophobic Place on Earth? (from wayne&wax)

Archaeoacoustics - pipe dream or possibility?