Aquarium Drunkard: Sidecar/February 16, 2020
Welcome to Sidecar, Aquarium Drunkard's weekly dispatch of audio esoterica, interviews, mixtapes, and cultural ephemera. As always, we're presented by Gold Diggers boutique hotel, bar, and recording studios in East Hollywood, Calif. Want to support AD? Here's how: Patreon. Pledge, get cool stuff, and support independent media. Let's dig in.
Makaya McCraven on Gil Scott-Heron: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview
Makaya McCraven is a musician, composer and bandleader, but he is also highly regarded for his “chopping” or remixing and re-imagining production skills. We’re New Again, his reconfiguration of the late-career classic Gil Scott-Heron album I’m New Here, will be one of 2020’s top recordings, putting a fresh spin on moving meditations on family, personal history, and black identity. This week at AD, Makaya joined writer Jennifer Kelly to dive into the process of remixing and the way he and Heron find links between many different kinds of music: "...dealing with this record, it was so different that I wanted to bring a more organic approach to it. I feel like the family themes—Gil looking at his grandmother and his mother and talking about going back to Tennessee, 'New York Is Killing Me,' 'Born in Chicago'— really connected with me. It led me into a conversation with [XL Records' producer Richard Russell] about my parents’ music and their influence on me. I wanted to incorporate some of that into the project somehow. Which led me to sample some of the old records I had."
Three Californias, Infinite Futures: Kim Stanley Robinson on Science Fiction, Utopia, and the Reissue of His Three Californias Trilogy
On the occasion of publishing house Tor Essentials reissuing science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson's Three Californias Trilogy (The Wild Shore from 1984, The Gold Coast from 1988, and Pacific Edge from 1990), Robinson joined Isaac Butler of Slate to discuss how the standards for a utopian future have been lowered in the age of climate change: "Utopias are like blueprints and novels are like soap operas. What kind of art comes out of that? Sometimes I’ve experienced this as intensely stressful. In the domestic realist tradition of the English novel, what you value is, This is what real life is like. Like Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan quartet—in theory I would aspire to write a novel like that...[but the] bar has changed. Now 'utopia' would be we dodge the mass extinction event. If we manage to get through this century and stabilize with the biosphere, that is a very utopian future. Utopia has also gone from a minor literary genre to a kind of a survival strategy. We have to do things right, in order to get any balance [with] the biosphere and the support system that we’ve got here, the one and only planet."
Six Organs of Admittance: The 101
Elisa Ambrogio’s video for “The 101,” rides a rock ’n’ roll animism via the curves of California’s forests, where ferns are hardwired to unseen voltage and black cubes manifest as mysterious omens. Ambrogio’s video teases out the weirdness from the only state that could have given us Esalen, Heaven’s Gate, PKD, and the Integration. Cop it via Companion Rises, the new 6organs ripper available February 21 from Drag City.
Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview
On Names of North End Women the new collaborative lp by former Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo and Spanish producer/composer Raül Refree, the duo condense electronic pulses, shifting rhythms, tape loops, and far out (and frequently lusty) poetry into a beguiling collage. “I think the idea of going forward is to try to venture into more different places,” Ranaldo says, “rather than fall back into familiar sound-worlds from the past.”
Criterion Channel: February 2020
If you're on the teetering on the edge of subscribing to the Criterion Channel—yet another streaming service, you might demand upsettingly, but it is Criterion, your other half may respond—perhaps this will tip you over: this month's programming is particularly expansive, featuring: a survey of pioneering black directors like Oscar Micheaux, Spencer Williams, Zora Neale Hurston, and James and Eloyce Gist, two "DIY evangelist filmmakers whose fascinating morality tales were exhibited in black churches"; a collection of films by punk director Allison Anders, with a new introduction by Anders; films starring Anna Karina; and perfect zoned out selections of Saturday matinees like Jason and the Argonauts (1963) and Invention for Destruction (1958).
Phil Ranelin & Emanative: Vibes From The Tribe
Bandcamp just published a piece examining the continuing impact of the 1970s Detroit jazz co-op, Tribe…which reminded us of a draft we’ve had floating in the digital ether since last summer, re: UK spiritual jazzist Emanative‘s 2019 collaboration with co-op cornerstone Phil Ranelin. Covering the badassery of the trombonist’s own “Vibes From The Tribe” from 1975, the re-recording works (!) with Ranelin working in a lyric that rides just above the player’s funk.
The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
Twenty years ago, I happened upon the book Lies My Teacher Told Me, penned by sociologist and author James W. Loewen. In it, Loewen challenges and debunks a number of doctrines long presented in American high school textbooks. It's an entertaining read, and one that served as the beginning of an interest in seeking out alternate (read: non-western) purviews of history. Which brings us to The Silk Roads: A New History of the World, by author Peter Frankopan. In its 672 pages, Frankopan lays out the depth, breadth and intricacies of the Silk Road, and how the fabled trading route has shaped the world over several millennia. Fascinating stuff.
Catavento: Ansiedade na Cidade
Provenance: Caxias Do Sul, Brazil. Catavento’s Ansiedade na Cidade.
Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts (2019)
Assembling a wide cast of science fiction writers, comedians, producers, comic creators, social media mavens, filmmakers, and other avant-garde types, Captured Ghosts centers around Warren Ellis, a psychedelic author of comic books, novels, and screenplays. With work that explores transhumanist themes, celebrity, folklore, and counter culture-inspired humanism, Ellis was seemingly designed for the Internet Age. This documentary—which is admittedly aesthetically clumsy now and then, but always on point narratively—finds Ellis' admirers speaking of his empathy and wit, and, in character as ever, Ellis himself constantly to undermining their accusations of sweetness with over the top bile and attitude.
Ultra White Violet Light. The Aquarium Drunkard Show. SIRIUS/XM radio ~ Channel 35. Wednesdays / 7pm California time + on-demand.
SIRIUS 601: David Byrne – Under The Mountain (1981) ++ Wire – Single K.O. ++ Wire – Used To ++ Eno Moebius Roedelius – The Shade ++ Barry Walker – Accretion ++ David Darling – Cycle Two: Namaste ++ Charles Curtis – Ultra White Violet Light – Side B ++ Amedeo Tommasi – Alghe Romantiche ++ Sandro Perri – Everybody’s Paris Pt. III (feat. Dan Bejar) ++ Tomasz Stanko Quartet – Suspended Variations V ++ Mikael Tariverdiev – Summer Blues ++ Julee Cruise – Questions In A World Of Blue ++ Daniel Lanois – Low Sudden ++ Glenn Mercer – Twenty Nine Palms ++ Yasuaki Shimizu – 案山子 ++ Creation Rebel / New Age Steppers – Earthwire Line ++ El Guincho – Marimba (With Adrian De Alfonso) ++ Daisuke Kuroda – Meditation (In Tribute) ++ Tomasz Stańko Quintet – Boratka Flute’s Ballad ++ Kikagaku Moyo – Nazo Nazo ++ Sandro Perri – Changes ++ Elephant Micah – Fire A ++ African Head Charge – Stebeni’s Theme ++ Etuk Ubong – Black Debtors ++ Alice Coltrane – Jaya Jaya Rama ++ RAMP – Everybody Loves The Sunshine ++ Jean Claude Vannier – Les Garde Volent Au Secours Du Roi ++ Sandro Brugnolini – Globicefalo ++ Bernard Lavilliers – Les aventures extraordinaires ++ Juana Molina – Cosoco ++ Brian Eno & David Byrne – Regiment ++ Pierre Henry – Machine Danse
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