Are We Free?

I posted a new set to the BeatConscious show on Mixcloud and edeejay.com on 7/2: the annual July 4th / Independence Day reggae show.  (Followers of the BeatConscious station will know that in most years, I drop three or four reggae shows — one for 4/20, one harvest time, generally September, sometimes one for New Year’s Eve / New Year’s Day, but always one for Independence Day.)

Beyond my fondness for the musical style itself, my attachment to reggae is based on the lyrical content, specifically the call-out of oppression of the poor and the hypocrisy of a system that permits EVERYTHING to those with money while levying the cruelest punishments on those whose worst crime is that they have no money.  As Mr. Natural was fond of saying: ‘Twas ever thus.  But he didn’t suggest we should ignore it.

In 1995, Ziggy Marley sang “Are we free like we want to be?” Nearly 25 yrs later, it seems we are still wondering the same thing … And in your heart you know: if you feel you have to ask, the answer is probably in doubt.

To accompany your thoughts on the matter, spend some time in roots reggae contemplation, as we so often do around Independence Day. All our old friends are here — Bob & Ziggy Marley, Thievery Corporation, Dubmatix, Sly & Robbie — along with new voices Zap Pow, Vibronics, Jim the Boss & Richie Phoe.

Catch it here:

 

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Jazz Month @ BeatConscious

June 2018, which I’ve dubbed “Jazz month” here on BeatConscious, is really the culmination of an effort that began in early 2016, when I started to shuffle through the jazz end of the crate and finally commit to creating some all-jazz shows, rather than just dippin’ in and including a jazzy track or two on what is primarily a lounge or downtempo set.

My appreciation of jazz has always been bounded by the fact that I don’t play an instrument myself, despite a year or two of piano lessons when I was young — too young, in my opinion, and easily discouraged as a result. At the very least, it left me with an idea that proper appreciation for the complex artistry on display in great music is more meaningful among those who’ve attempted to master an instrument themselves.

In early 2016, my effort ramped up with the release of the gorgeous “In Movement” from the trio of Jack DeJohnette, Matt Garrison & Ravi Coltrane.  My interest “re-sparked”, I was reminded that the prior year had been the Billie Holiday anniversary, with various artists releasing covers of her songs. In addition, I focused on the shelves of CDs that I’d never yet ripped; clearly, I would not be lacking in material.

If you access this page of my Mixcloud presence, Jazz – NuJazz Playlist you’ll see what’s been created over time … the taste on display is pretty eclectic, although you won’t find any Dixieland or much Latin jazz. I favor bluesy, “slow and low” or what we call “smoky” jazz over high-energy, frantic-tempo wailing (I have the same leanings in rock or other musical styles as well … )

I spent years learning the ropes of online radio and posting mostly dance or ambient or reggae or downtempo music before I felt ready to get my arms around my jazz collection and display my favorites.  Here’s hoping you enjoy the results as much as I enjoyed the effort!

 

Our Getaway

In the USA, where I’m located, this is Memorial Day weekend — generally a holiday, although for the East Coast this year it’s a wet and windy time, with a tropical depression bringing rain up from the Gulf to the Great Lakes before the week is over. That may mean that lots of folks like me will spend their holiday inside … but that won’t stop us thinking about the good time we could be having at our getaway.

Although most Americans like to crank up the boombox and the barbecue when it’s time to party outside, I tend to think about a quieter, lazy time, fingers trailing thru the grass-tops as the hammock I’m in swings gently back and forth. This new BeatConscious ambient-lounge set would be the perfect background for that afternoon or evening….

NP: Shadow Time

The newest BeatConscious show is “Shadow Time” and it features music from Cosmetiq artists Wilhaeven, Ando Sanderez and Waveline Extras  — you can catch up with their activity via the Cosmetiq FB page:
https://www.facebook.com/CosmetiqRecordings/

To hear Shadow Time, check out the streams on eDeejay.com: https://www.edeejay.com/video/4818838/shadow-time/

or on Mixcloud: https://www.mixcloud.com/beatconscious/shadow-time/

And don’t forget, if the spirit moves you, to favorite the set or leave a comment to let me know what you think …

 

Back to Basics

I’m getting back to basics after taking a three-week vacation to host an old friend who’s been visiting after a ten-year absence from the USA.  To say that he was glad to be headed back home after observing the situation here would be putting it mildly … and who could blame him?  Although he was goggle-eyed at the plenty available in American stores compared to what’s on offer where he currently lives in Central America, all that bounty could not outweigh the impact of experiencing the political chaos here … and I found it instructive to get the impressions of an American considering the state of the nation after 10 years of receiving very little news from his homeland (no cable TV where he lives).

But of course, life goes on and so does the show … look for upcoming sets featuring music from Cosmetiq artists and Volume IV of the Eveningtime jazz series, among others.  It’s good to be back!

 

Eveningtime for Earth Day

Just in time for Earthday and 4/20 relaxation activities, I bring you Volume III of Eveningtime … enjoy!

 

History Update: The Manifesto

As I belatedly updated my Mixcloud profile to steer folks here instead of the currently-hostless BeatConscious.org site, I was reminded of part of that original site content — the “Mix Manifesto” from back in the early 2000s.  I’m reproducing it here since I think that, taken together with The Making of a Curator, it lays out most of what drives this music fascination of mine …

The Mix Manifesto

Well, initially, the idea for this page grew out of an online conversation I was having with a friend in Amsterdam … we share a lot of the same musical impulses and were talking about how we craft mixes … especially those intended to be heard on internet radio, not in a club or at a party.

So, I’m thinking back to a time … before TV and before recorded popular music started to be presented as albums of discrete songs … back to a time when concerts or programs of musical entertainment were attended and, by those who were well-disposed to the experience, were as closely attended (that is to say, focused upon) as a film might be for those of us in modern audiences.

It’s not done that way, now, of course — and even if it were, an audience likely to attend closely to such a program is no longer much in evidence … the listening habits of the audience have fundamentally changed … you may want to thank the TV’s remote control for a lot of that change [or, by now, it may be that brains molded by the speed of online life have evolved away from that capacity].

Nonetheless, the mixes I do are intended as programs … certainly, they aren’t meant to mimic a dance floor experience … they are distinctly radio programs which have a narrative flow and an emotional arc … some are a bit more light-hearted than others, but they are essentially programs which hope to merit your attention.

(Actually, there are groups of people who have the opportunity to listen to a program all the way through and give it their attention … long-distance drivers, people who work at a desk for long stretches without telephone interruptions, such as coders and graphic artists; people who work in kitchens or darkroom lab technicians … I relate to this type of worker, because I have actually done all these sorts of jobs, and music was always great company for me.)

I believe you don’t need to know this to enjoy the selecting you will hear on BeatConscious … I believe in the tracks I choose, that they are worth hearing, that they (or many of them) will move you and please you, regardless of what you think about my conceptual approach to mixing … regardless of whether you even know about it.

Associated Topic: Your musical preferences

As I’ve pointed out from time to time, for most everybody in the world, music appreciation more or less hangs at the playlist you had between the ages of 13 and 20 … puberty, y’know: Your first big romance and all the other high-intensity social stuff that makes you the adult you come to be. Your soundtrack is the soundtrack of the most emotionally-important years of your life and once it’s locked in place, and you go on to earning a living and raising a family, there’s really not much new that gets added to that playlist … things in the culture drift in and out of focus, but when you listen to music on the office computer while you work or in the den at home while you’re relaxing, it’s probably a CD from back in the day, or the ‘greatest hits’ playlist you made for your iPod.

But if you’re in the music game — an artist, a producer, a DJ or a club owner — music means something different to you, something you never stop discovering … and your playlist keeps expanding in a way that seems to defy personal metaphysics (how can there be a list of 1,000 Top Ten Tunes?) and yet is deeply satisfying … the way moving water is far more intriguing than a still pond.

I’m one of those for whom the world of music offers the opportunity for constant discovery … and this activity shares time and energy with the BeatConscious mission to keep all the most excellent songs in circulation … please me and I will work to ensure your immortality — it’s one way I can show my gratitude.

SXSW Bonanza

A mega-post (and perhaps one more jazz set) before I take a little time off for ‘home repairs’ … as the individual write-ups indicate, I liked the 2018 SXSW collection enough to go back looking for prior years, and was lucky enough to find them …

After I was reminded of this year’s SXSW get-together and listened to the 100 songs posted online by NPR to celebrate it, I looked for prior years’ collections and found 2014-2017 were still available, which was all the encouragement I needed to add a few more sets focused on this annual event as companions to the original “Years of Cool” set. Selections from this huge amount of material fell into three loosely-themed sets, based around the vibes of longing, love and liberty.

So yesterday, to bid March farewell, I posted those three sets, and here are your links, along with the brief comments that accompany each set:

This is the LONGING set.  “Loneliness” was the original concept, but that’s really just about other human/animal companionship, whereas you could be LONGING for so many things, including company, but also money, culture, respect, political stability, an economy that finds a niche for every willing participant…. You get me.

Great work here from Adam Torres and Christopher Paul Stelling in particular, but this is just 14 out of 400 tracks, which I encourage you to check out for yourselves.

This is the LOVE set.  Just like longing, LOVE has some range also: happy, sad, dubious, looking forward, looking back … So much poetry, so many songs are about love in some way, right?

Great tunes here which cover just about all that range, but this is just 15 out of 400 tracks….

This is the LIBERTY set.  Liberty in this context is about your right to grapple with your own life and wrestle it into whatever shape you are strong enough to produce: thus the prevalence of get-a-grip lyrics in this session (also some NSFW hip-hop taking us to the edge.)

Fine work here, full of tough love and optimism — but this is just 16 out of 400 tracks…

Enjoy the variety, feel free to leave comments, make favs or repost, as the spirit moves you…..

Reposted!

I’ve reposted the Soul Cool Records guest set, Saving My Soul, to my Mixcloud … but (sadly) not because I figured out a way for US listeners to hear it … although, if there’s anyone out there with a VPN set to anywhere in Europe, Africa, Australia, etc., and you have a minute to experiment and let me know the results … I’d be interested to know if that’s a viable work-around.

In the meantime, mama didn’t lie, the listenership for Soul Cool Records is robust, and I’m delighted to be part of the show.

 

The Creation of a Curator

To go along with my guest-set for Soul Cool Records (Saving My Soul, which folks in the USA won’t be able to stream due to copyright rules) I ginned up a little background essay on my evolution as a curator … and since the BeatConscious site is off-line now, this will have to stand-in for all the history that site used to make available:

When I was about 9 or 10, my dad brought home a stack of 45s for me, and I started down the road to music appreciation, separate from my parents’ musical activities (He had produced a record, she had briefly been a singer.)  By the time I was 17 or 18, I’d accumulated quite a collection of 45s and a few albums; then, in the midst of a typical teenage life crisis, I traded that entire collection for someone’s assistance in moving.  One of those indelible mental snapshots from the past is the scene of me handing over those record-carrier boxes to that girl…. I feel gut-shot every time it drifts across my inner vision.

From that point on, I collected with the idea of keeping and (since collecting itself didn’t guarantee possession forever, as I’d learned) I also started making mixtapes as soon as I had access to the technology, via my participation in running a small, independent record label.  Restoring what I could of the original lost archive, and trying in a limited way to keep up with what I valued in the new music, I built a new collection; in the process, I became a curator.  Eventually, I had a cabinet custom-built to hold my mixtapes; my first interest in a computer was merely as a way to archive and index the mixes.

And then the internet caught on and the world caught up, and there was Soundcloud and Mixcloud, This is My Jam and so many others, celebrating the curator in everyone.  Technology caught up too, and precious sounds that existed just on fragile cassette tapes could be digitized and perhaps remain available for another generation….

“Saving My Soul” is one of the sessions that memorializes those transitions — from the original single release heard on radio to possession of the disc to inclusion in a mixtape and back out again, digitally, to the world.

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