In my two posts on hauntology, and probably elsewhere, I mentioned that I know next to nothing about dub. I've wanted to redress this, but the discography is so vast and confused, and I have very little money available anymore for just randomly trying records out. So this lacuna in my musical education has remained unfilled. Then the other day, I clicked over to Border Music from the fine folks at Destination: OUT! Both blogs had posts on The Sonny Clark Memorial Quartet, which featured John Zorn and Wayne Horvitz (and which I'd long had on my list of jazz albums to try to find, but never seen anywhere). Once at Border Music, I noticed that they'd posted some Lee 'Scratch' Perry albums, along with a lot of other cool music. I downloaded them, and as I write this, I am listening to some dub. I'm digging it. (Incidentally, I notice today that Border Music has been pulled down by WordPress for violating its terms of service. It doesn't say which term, though I suppose it could be for copyright issues. I hope it isn't permanent. For the record, I buy music and I believe in supporting artists. The little free music I've downloaded has been exploratory. I want to know what I like! Update: Good news! As Lucky from Border Music commented here today, the blog is back up. Apparently it was indeed about copyright, but he explained to them that he largely posts only out-of-print records, so.)
At his excellent blog I Hear a New World, the Sad Billionaire has a wonderful post up about the Wu-Tang Clan. Here's an excerpt:
The record [Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)] opens up with a kung-fu movie sample-- a hyper-caucasian voiceover artist reading Shaw Brothers boilerplate doggerel-- that sounds like it was recorded with a handheld cassette player held up to a television: “Shaolin shadowboxing and a wu-tang sword style.” Soon it will become clear to me that martial arts cinema mythology, cosa nostra trivia, comic book superheroes, Staten Island drug trade lore, five percent nation holy writ are all elements of an occult and inscrutable language in which the Wu-Tang Clan encode their messages to the world. Like Lee “Scratch” Perry and Sun Ra, the Wu-Tang Clan speak in a language meant to confuse and mislead outsiders like me; nonetheless, it seems all the more pleasurable the more it leaves me scratching my head and feeling like an idiot. The young Dominican-American novelist Junot Diaz once said that the reason he leaves so much untranslated Spanish in his fiction is to give Anglo readers the sensation of what it’s like to be an outsider to a dominant culture. Unlike the bourgeois MCs of recent years, the Wu-Tang Clan do not speak the lingua franca of luxury goods and imported automobiles… there is no opportunity for the false solidarity of product loyalty… but rather an invitation to estrangement, the first step towards critical consciousness…And, in the new edition of The High Hat, Nate Patrin has a nice appreciation of 1970s-era Pink Floyd, which he links to his love of the soul, funk, and disco of Isaac Hayes, Booker T. & the M.G.'s, P-Funk, and Chic. In my recent post listing my favorite rock albums from 1967, one album conspicuous by its absence was Floyd's The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, which I only really like about half of. I know it's somehow not cool these days, but I much prefer the 70s Roger Waters-led Pink Floyd over the Syd Barrett stuff. I listened to Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, and The Wall constantly when I was in high school, and I even love the last album with Waters, The Final Cut (though the best known track, "Not Now John", is completely awful in every way).