Damian Lazarus is an interesting chap. On one hand, you have the self-proclaimed ancient wizard who channels mysticism into his live rave mixes around the world, while on the other hand there is his well-regarded house music label, Crosstown Rebels, which recently celebrated its tenth birthday with a 3 CD/40 track compilation. You can find a ton from both sides of Damian online. [more inside]
Around the time Ravi Shankar passed in December of last year (previously) his daughters Anoushka Shankar and Norah Jones were working on collaborative tracks for a new album with producer Nitin Sawhney. While the project, which was half way finished at the time, was conceived and planned some time before Ravi Shankar's passing it comes as no surprise that many of the tracks became infused, shaped and sometimes entirely transformed by the immediacy of their experience of the loss of their father. Emotions of sadness, loss and reconciliation run deep within some of the recordings. The album's title track "Traces Of You" is a filigrane dew sprinkled spiderweb gently spun from interlacing threads of melody and texture. An incredibly tender expression of what happens when the raw pain of grief is transformed into the bittersweet melancholy of memories, forgiveness and reconciliation. [more inside]
"...it should be made clear that Tehran in the ’70s was not an equivalent to New Orleans, Chicago or Detroit. There was no funk haven per se, but within the Iranian pop world some tracks did appear, and those records are a rare treasure trove for funk aficionados." — Searching for Iran’s lost funk [more inside]
The Now Sound of the Sixties is what's groovy, baby! Even Big Bands and Canadians are getting warm, wild, wonderful with the crazy sounds of that love generation. Check out Ella Fitzgerald singing Sunshine of Your Love and Lord Sitar's I Can See for Miles. Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 do Wichita Lineman and Day Tripper, while lounge act Jackie & Roy do a rare cover version of the Beatles' The Word. The Alan Copeland Singers can't stop Goin' Out of My Head, but the Back Porch Majority looks like an outtake from A Mighty Wind with the hippie anthem, Get Together. But the hippest hep daddy of them all is Bing Crosby, who has both a Beatles medley and another medley of hit '60s tunes.
Being a huge fan of the late, great Mr Harrison, I was hunting around youtube and found this video of a sitar lesson... which led me to this stunning performance by Ravi Shankar on Dick Cavett's show. [Previously]
Introduced to Western culture by the Beatles in their single Norwegian Wood, the sitar has featured prominently in North Indian classical music for centuries. Princeton-based computer scientist Ajay Kapur updates the instrument with his ESitar, an audio and video controller that uses gesture input (PDF) and machine learning algorithms to facilitate joining the computer with Ajay in his sitar performance. Undergraduate engineering students at the University of Pennsylvania work from the other direction, building RAVI-bot, an award-winning, self-playing robotic sitar (YouTube) programmed to generate music from classical Raga scales and melodies all on its own. For those in the Philadelphia area, be sure to check out a live performance of RAVI-bot at the local Klein Art Gallery.