Sunday, September 29, 2013

Poe Ei San | Nan Taw Shay Yet Ganewin

Reupped in case you missed it the first time, here.

Originally posted in December 2012.

Listen to track 1

INTERVIEWER: What do you think of this first bit?

RESPONDENT: It's like this chick is smashing a car when she might be singing a song about "I love you, baby." Is she saying the car is evil and the music is in "the" background? It's like she's out there reading poetry with this little green and gold robe on while smashing an M.G. ...

Listen to track 7

INTERVIEWER: Have you heard this one before?

RESPONDENT: I've heard the beautiful lights but they don’t sound like they did before. This is nicer, a nice little cat in her own groove, all about flowers and people wearing golden underwear. I like that nobody is going to listen to it. It's really groovy, but her group ought to be a little less creative. These days everybody thinks everybody else has to have trips, and people are singing about trips.

Listen to track 8

INTERVIEWER: She's just making up words at this point.

RESPONDENT: Yeah, it's like we're all being filmed. As we listen to it, shivering, the night and the ice descend. The chill air maybe picks this one up. Like this was not part of the formal trip, so she could just rap, because this isn't where she is at all. And that--that's where we're going, man.

[Don't miss Bodega Pop's 10 Best Albums of 2012.]

Fama | Feng Sheng Shui Qi (Wind and Water Rising)

Totally fabulously fucked up first track from this super great CD

Reupped by popular demand, here.

[Originally posted in July 2010.] Found somewhere on the Bowery. Oh God I love Fama. And I especially love the first track on this CD, "温故知新." I mean, OMFG, how many time changes are there in this? How many things have they collage-crammed into it? It's just ... spectacular.

I could be wrong, but I think the title involves some sort of word-play involving "feng shui," which can be literally translated "wind and water" ... right? 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Mohamad Fawzi | Ah Men Esetat

Grab it here.

Found today in the Nile Deli on Steinway Street while out on a long walk in the neighborhood. 

A composer, singer and actor, Fawzi was born in 1918 in Tanta, the fifth most populous city in Egypt, about an hour and a half north by car from Cairo. By the age of 12 he was already making a name for himself as a wedding singer, but his father disapproved; he more or less ran away to Cairo to make it in the music industry. He landed a gig with Egyptian Radio and then launched his acting career in 1944. His most famous composition might be the Algerian national anthem (the lyrics were written by Mufdi Zakariah while imprisoned by the French). 

Friday, September 27, 2013

World of Gypsy

Listen to "Abe Kaku"

Listen to "Mondo"

Grab the whole shebang here.

Awesome gypsy music from a label in Istanbul. One of a series of similar albums I picked up at Uludag Video (1922 Avenue W) in Sheepshead Bay Brooklyn. If you like, let me know and I'll upload the others. (They're not all gypsy, fwiw.)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Mandalay Thein Zaw | Burmese Folk

Reupped in 320 glorious KBPS, here.

Listen to the fabulous fifth track

[Originally posted on March 15, 2012.] Why anyone would listen to 20th century western classical/avant garde music when Burma exists is beyond me. Well, okay; in all seriousness: There really isn't any music quite like Burmese, at least Burmese music toward the more folk end of the spectrum. (They do, like everyone else on planet Earth, have their own brand of western-influenced pop and rap.)

As regular readers of this blog may remember, last August, Peter Doolan, who curates the insanely great Monrakplengthai , invited me out to visit Thiri Video, a Burmese media store in Elmhurst, Queens, that he'd gotten wind of a few weeks prior to contacting me. (Get the CD I found that day here.)

It took us well over half an hour to find the place, and this was after we had already unwittingly passed it. It turns out there is no store front; it's actually in a garden-level apartment. After confirming that we were, finally, at the right place, we removed our shoes and went in.

There is nothing like Thiri Video anywhere else in New York--at least, not that I'm aware of. I'm guessing there's nothing like it in the rest of the U.S. as well. (Please correct me if wrong; and include an address, as I would love to visit it, if it exists.)

Rather than rely on my groggy descriptive capabilities (it is, after all, not quite 5:00 a.m. as I write this), let's take a look at Thiri Video's promotional video, shall we?

I love that video. If my exhortations thus far were not enough to get you to watch it, or if a lack of subtitles frightens and intimidates you, I'll explain: A young Burmese man and what I gather are his or his girlfriend/wife's parents check out the time and wonder where Dude's significant other could possibly be.

As often happens in this kind of situation, a woman bathed in eerie blue light, whose midsection has been replaced with a midriff-sized chunk of silver, drops by, telling the young man to forget his bride/bride-to-be, and regaling him and the rest of the family with tales of Thiri Video (including numerous shots of the shop). Obviously, he doesn't, at least at first, believe her. For how could such a Paradise on Earth exist, even in fabulous Elmhurst, Queens?

Well, I'm here to emphatically tell you that it does, indeed, exist, as I just visited it for the second time last Sunday. I'm also here to offer you one of the most insane, shit-eating-grin-fabulous CDs I've ever found anywhere.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

O.P. Nayyar | Mr & Mrs 55 + Aar Paar

Aar Paar

Reupped by reader request, here.

No idea where I got this. I have hundreds of Bollywood soundtracks, mostly from Jackson Heights, Queens, although I picked up a few on Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn and in Edison, New Jersey.

This, without question, is one of my favorites. O.P. Nayyar was the only successful Bollywood composer who never, ever worked with Lata Mangeshkar; it's said he was largely responsible for giving Geeta Dutt, Mohamad Rafi and, especially, Lata's sister, Asha Bhosle, their careers. Whatever the case, he wrote some of the hottest pop music, from any culture, throughout the 50s, 60s and early 70s.

"Mr. & Mrs. 55" is not my favorite Guru Dutt movie, but it's pretty great, and features, in addition to the fabulous Madhubala as a feminist, Dutt himself as a cartoonist. (In one of the most famous exchanges from the film, a new acquaintance asks: "Tum communist?" (("Are you a communist?")) "Ji nahin. Cartoonist." (("No. Cartoonist.")))

"Aar Paar," a far less interesting film, does however feature what I believe is the single most remixed song of all time, and this from the most remix happy culture on earth: Shamshad Begum singing "Kabhi Aar Kabhi Paar":

Arthur H | Arthur H

Repped, B-cuz it B so speshul, aqui. (Also, I was bragging about the circumstances under which I'd found it to some friends at dinner after the NY Art Book Fair this weekend.)

Listen to "Quai No. 3"

Listen to "Perfect Stranger"

[Originally posted August 5, 2012.] This album, Arthur H's first, is 23 years old. Imagine! We've been deprived of this unimpeachably sublime record for more than two decades. Why? We don't need to hear the damned Buena Vista Social Club every time we order an Americano, do we? I love Monk and Mingus as much as anyone, but, really, is that all you can play in your used bookstore, Mr. Used Bookstore Owner?

Please let's do everyone around us a favor and, instead of just grabbing this delicious CD and grooving to it at home while reading Natsuo Kirino's Out or whatever, let's all take the extra few minutes to transfer the thing to a flash drive and share it with the awesome people who run the cafes and bookstores in our neighborhoods. Yes?

Arthur H, born in Paris in 1966, spent much of the 1980s traveling around the West Indies and studying music in Boston before returning to France where he began to perform live in 1988. Clearly influenced by Serge Gainsbourg and Tom Waits, his style is instantly recognizable and, ultimately, all his own. 

It's unfathomable to me that he's little known outside of France. I'm guessing many of you will feel the same, as at least a couple of you asked to hear more of his music a few weeks ago when I posted this.

As is clear from the scan above, this copy was previously held by the library of the Alliance Francaise; I picked it up at Bastille Day on 60th Street for a mere 25 cents.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Khaled | Yal Malblia

Listen to the title song

Reupped, due to the supreme awesomeness that is this album, here.

[Originally posted on April 29, 2012.] A very rare CD of early cassette recordings of what technically should be Cheb Khaled songs from 1979, when he was 18-19 years old. If you only know Khaled's later, over-produced work of the late 80s and 90s, this is going to be a revelation.

Found in Bay Ridge at one of the now-defunct Arabic music shops that used to dot Fifth Avenue below 70th Street.

Pepe Caicedo | El Negrito de Oro

Listen to "Fatima"

Get the whole album aqui.

Hola mi compañeros. I know nothing about this man, other than the fact that he has a lovely voice, hails from Ecuador and sings in Spanish. I plucked this lovely musical offering from the same table where I found yesterday's psych/garage gem. It cost me $4. But, for you? I give to you for free, mi amiga. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Boddega | Lo Mejor De Boddega

Listen to "Dame Tu Amor"

Listen to "Seremos Dos" 

Get the whole album here.

A super-group formed in late 1971 in Guayaquil, Ecuador, Bodegga was made up of former members of sixties bands Los Hippies, Los Picapiedras, Los Vanders and Los Cardenales. They recorded two albums (1973, 1975) and an EP (1974), toured incessently while going through numerous personnel changes before disbanding for good in 1980. They came up with their name because their first practice space was a bodega--though I'm not sure from the Spanish-language Wikipedia page where I gleaned this fact whether the bodega in that instance was a wine cellar or a storage room. (Seriously.) The present collection, which draws its two dozen tracks from those three records and previously uncollected singles was published in 1983.

I found this gem literally on the street in east Jackson Heights; I bought it for from a woman who was selling all manner of Ecuadoran goods from a table she'd plopped down on the northwest corner of Roosevelt and 85th just outside of what I recall being a phone card store. As the 7 train rattled overhead, I managed to talk the woman into selling me 10 CDs for $4 a piece--no small feat, considering that I don't speak Spanish and she didn't speak English. I can't remember how much she was asking for them, but I know I wanted all ten I'd set aside, but that I couldn't really justify that many at her asking price.

I almost didn't post this record; as you can probably imagine, the gears in my brain were clicking when I picked it up: How awesome would it be to manipulate it in Photoshop (wouldn't be too hard to remove one of the "D"s in BODDEGGA) and use it as the cover of some comp or other--perhaps even a comp of Ecuadoran music? It's a tribute to the awesomeness of the actual CD that I finally broke down this evening and have posted it for you, instead. 

Yi Yi Thant & Win Win Aung | Mya Buddha, Akha To Nei Mya

Reupped, because it pains me to think of you without it, here.

[Originally posted March 2013.] Is innocence, as Graham Greene once quipped, a kind of insanity? I don't think so, but then why do I feel, whenever I listen to traditional Burmese music, like it's the most pure, but also the craziest, music I've ever heard? I mean, besides whatever Edward Said might have to say about that.

This album is so beautiful, beautiful in so many sometimes even conflicting ways, that it almost hurts me to listen to it. I feel like I'm simultaneously floating in a celestial pool of warm, dark-chocolate-and-mushroom-flavored saline AND having the insides of my bones scraped out by mallets made by stupid people preoccupied by stupid thoughts about how dumb mallets look.

Also, it makes me cry. I feel like McTeague, after hours weeping in his Polk Street Dental Office. Except there's this layer of consciousness where I can see clearly that innocence and insanity are not really bedfellows but rather hate each other just like humans. Which makes this music even more impossible, like "how can I get at this flypaper sticking in my head"?

Found a year or so ago at Thiri Video, Elmhurst, Queens, with Peter Doolan, who graciously transliterated the artists and title.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Brooklyn Bodega, Syrian Soul

Roads and Kingdoms commissioned me to write a piece for them. I focused on the Syrian bodega on 5th Avenue in Brooklyn where I first began to seriously collect this music, with tangents on Syrians in New York, a bodega-related conceptual art project, and more. (Read it here.) Bonus ten-track "Best of" playlist, here.

Friday, September 6, 2013

สุนทราภรณ์ แฟนคลับ รวมฮิตศิลปินหญิง | Ruam Hit Sin La Pin Ying

Listen to "Wang Nam Won"

Listen to "Cham Dai Mai"

Freshly reupped in 320KBPS because it's so ding-danged thrilling, here.

[Originally posted in late 2010.] Found in Manhattan's Chinatown, in a Thai book, music and knick-knack store just south of Canal. Mulberry, I think. I have no idea who these women are, or how old this music is, but it sounds like it could be 1940s-50s. Perhaps 1960s, given how good the sound quality is. It's sort of pop-y, sort of lounge-y, sort of jazz-y, with vocals that make my arm hairs stand on end. I've gotten teary-eyed and blubbery more than once listening to it.
What say you?