Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Things That Go Bang in the Night

I’m awash with new records l like a lot right now. I’ve always wanted to use “awash” more. It seems like an odd word which must relate back to sea-faring day past when brave European sailors trekked around the world and discovered peoples who obviously were unaware they existed before they were discovered.

Then they killed them as often as not.

I’ve just been reading about the fine Dutch explorers who took over an island in the Indonesian archipelago, on the prowl for spices and slaves and the like, in the 17th Century, and met a little resistance from the locals who didn’t really want to be discovered. The Dutch corralled the island’s population into a secure area and then dropped the Japanese executioners into it. They Japanese swordsmen travelled with the brave sailors for just such an occasion. In a few hours several thousand locals were reduced to a dozen or so compliant souls and the Dutch were up to their knees in bits and pieces on humanity…maybe that’s where “awash” comes from. The head explorer was punished by a promotion in Holland, a colonial governship or something. His heirs, of course, formed the National Party in South Africa, another fine bunch of tolerant folk who made racism a state policy in South Africa. Coincidently, a like minded political party in New Zealand shares the name.

An Australian here in Bali yesterday called Don Brash our Pauline Hanson…the difference of course being that Australians marginalised Pauline whereas Don seems to have captured a large part of the electorate who want their $40 a week. Whilst Hanson’s views were largely seen as loopy, Don’s not dissimilar views on race are seen as mainstream by many which is quite a condemnation of New Zealand in 2005.

Don has lots of support too from big business too, who are miffed that that, amongst other things, they are not getting their just recognition as big wheels and want Don to roll back the clock to the days of those Dutch explorers and re-institute feudal titles. Don is glad to do as ordered. You could say Don is grateful at being awash in support and cash from his friends in big business. The fact that he denies such an obvious kowtow to his masters would be humorous if the whole incident didn’t indicate the overwhelming influence that an unelected pressure group would exert over any National government.

I worry too about losing the progress the industry I’ve most been involved with across the years, has made under our standing government. For close to thirty years I’ve been an observer and a participant in the drive to get New Zealand made music on our airwaves. This has been achieved under a voluntary code over the past five years after decades of bashing our heads against the wall. However this voluntary code has only worked with the implicit threat of legislation if a voluntary code failed to achieve a quota. National’s traditional support for New Zealand music, and indeed the arts in general (there are the famous quotes from Muldoon about popular music not being culture followed by a decade of active dis-interest in the 90s) has been appalling and there is nothing to indicate that has improved. Without the threat of legislation to enforce a quota I seriously doubt it will last. And I really can’t see a Brash led government taking any stand against the large corporates that dominate our airwaves. In fact its position on TVNZ’s Charter indicates it would take quite the opposite position on quotas. National’s Arts and Culture policy says absolutely nothing about anything.

So, yeah, music…awash might not be the word to use but there are several that make me smile alot….

I like the I:Cube single Chicago Sur Seine, very early Knuckles with a slightly euro tinge, but I guess that’s what the name is meant to imply; Putsch 79’s own Living For The Arpeggios is very much part two of their Asian Girls from a couple of years back but I liked that so….their mix of The Juan Maclean’s Give Me Every Little Thing is just ok but the Cajmere one with Dajae on vox is a wicked bit of old 95-ish Cajual styled Chi-town noise. Just as good, actually even better, is Anders Trentemoller’s amazing electro hip house mix of Want 2 / Need 2 by Sharon Phillips. I’ve been a fan of this guy since I grabbed a single of his on the usually bland Naked Music a couple of years back. But, it’s the Carl Craig mix of Laurent Garnier’s Bariturik Blues from his Cloud Making Machine album which has absolutely floored me. Industrial soulful techno made for dark rooms late at night seems to sound reasonably perfect here under the afternoon Bali sun, especially when it drops down to this gap at about five minutes them comes back with an incredible post Detroit Experiment flurry before building up again.

I listened again today to his 69 EP from 1991 and, after 14 years it’s still hard to figure out if this Detroit Techno record was maybe better described as a hip-hop record with techno sensibilities. I guess many of the pioneering techno and house producers have firm roots in hip-hop and I think records like Flash on the Wheels of Steel or Al-Naayfish are as much a sign post towards techno as hip hop. The barriers that the practitioners of genres, in particular those of a hip-hop lean I’m afraid to say, put up against other styles of essentially the same music I see as unfortunate and a little sad. Purists scare me a little……

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Caring sort..... via Eschaton NEW YORK Accompanying her husband, former President George H.W.Bush, on a tour of hurricane relief centers in Houston, Barbara Bush said today, referring to the poor who had lost everything back home and evacuated, "This is working very well for them." ... In a segment at the top of the show on the surge of evacuees to the Texas city, Barbara Bush said: "Almost everyone I’ve talked to wants to move to Houston." Then she added: "What I’m hearing is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed with the hospitality. "And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway so this (she chuckled)--this is working very well for them."

Monday, September 05, 2005

Welcome to Camp America

My buddy, Bob Daktari (no, its probably not his real name) has a blog now. Bob has a keen mind and a wicked sense of humour so add it to your must-view list.

As I was in December / January, I’m completely devastated by the events in the Gulf states of the USA. Human suffering on this scale makes most of us feel helpless, fragile, and insignificant. Yes, we can give, we can sympathise but in reality, as with any immeasurable tragedies like this, there is little most of us can do. Sadly, those in a position to help here have, as we all know, dropped the ball well and truly. There is no excuse for what wasn’t done but I’m resigned to the fact that the US public will give Bush and his cronies a pass on this eventually. I guess, like much of the planet, I really don’t have much faith in the United States anymore, as a nation, to do the right thing or make a reasoned judgement based on the evidence available. I saw some idiot saying on CNN that things were gonna be ok because he’d seen the compassion in Bush’s eyes. Maybe he would think a little differently if he knew that the “compassion” was simply a photo op by a President more concerned with saving his political arse, any way you look at it, than thousands of poor people.

This is the same man who, a day earlier said:

"'The good news is - and it's hard for some to see it now - that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house - there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch"
I actually think CNN has performed pretty well on this and from where I’m sitting has somewhat redeemed its complicit performance over recent years with its blazing criticism of the obvious incompetence of the GOP appointees involved. Apart from the weather talking-head who said yesterday that the weather was good for a holiday weekend getaway…or Ralitsa Vassileva, or whatever her name is, on CNN International interviewing the head of the UN relief agency which performed with such distinction during the Asian disaster earlier this year, demanding to know how much cash the United Nations was going to give to the US. I would imagine that anyone hired for a news reader's job on a channel like CNN would, whether they liked the organisation or not, at least understand what it actually is. Best we surmise CNN couldn’t get anyone better for the job and make the obvious assumption that this woman is a moron and move on…

The Tsunami of course was a massive human disaster but the global ramifications of Katrina go far beyond that human tragedy, as it largely hurt the poor and, as far as the west is concerned, uncounted. The US economy has been teetering for so long now that this could push it, if not over the edge, towards it. But as New Orleans shows, the plight of the have-nots is not Bush’s concern, beyond their roles as fodder for his corporate sponsors and military, and never has been. The question concerning him more must be the relationship of this disaster to his family’s dynastic ambitions.

It must be an unwelcome and annoying hiccup….

And based on past performance, I wonder how much of the tens of billions of reconstruction and supply dollars are going to go Halliburton’s way… talking of which, the world is still asking “where is Dick Cheney”?

I’m not sure if it’s the right time to be saying things like this, but when is?