Happy March my loves!
We’re back with another episode of your favourite autobiographical radio show. A typical mixed bag for you this time, half-inspired by Halim el-Dabh‘s birthday and half-inspired by a Nikola Tesla quote. El-Dabh was an Egyptian-American composer, musician, teacher and ethnomusicologist whom I recently discovered, and have been in awe of his work ever since. A pioneer of tape music and early musique concrete, he very correctly realized that life is vibration, and this powerful notion—whether pertaining to life or music—really struck a chord in me (vibration pun intended). When I saw we share a birthday (he would have been 97 this Sunday, March 4), I realized I just had to pay my respects on this show.
We also get introduced to the musical mind of Charles Cohen and his project with Jeff Cain, the Ghostwriters. Cohen passed away last year and I have found his (limited recorded) output to be very moving. He didn’t really believe in recording and his music was almost all improvisational, using the incredible, rare Buchla analog synthesizer – an instrument we’ve heard on this show before played by Suzanne Ciani, among others, and which we’ll be exploring further one day.
Also new on this show is Ghédalia Tazartès, a cult French artist whose music can be as difficult as it is beautiful, and Dorothy Carter, an American musician who experimented with a number of incredible instruments, such as the hammered dulcimer, zither, psaltery, and hurdy-gurdy. Do you know any of those instruments? No, me neither, that’s why I was so intrigued! We’ll be hosting an Unusual and Rare Instruments Special in the future, so stray tuned.
If you’ve heard this show before, you know I love the eastern sound and how it differs to the western scale of music, so we travel to Lebanon and Turkey in the ’70s and ’80s, with music from Elias Rahbani, Arif Sağ , and Hülya Süer. Both these countries had fascinating musical output, be it folk, pop, psych rock, jazz, experimental classical and everything in between.
We detour via Mali and hear the duet Amadou et Mariam and their endearing track “Je Pense a Toi,” which beautifully mixes traditional musical elements with the romanticism of the French language, and listen to a manifesto of sorts (“Against”) by poet Dinos Christianopoulos, put to music by Pleasure Constitution (Σύνταγμα της Ηδονής) from Greece. We stay in Turkey for a few final minutes, by way of Romanian duo Khidja and their track “Drums of Taksim.” I may have been wrong when I said the spoken word used on this track comes from a lecture. Irrelevant of the source, however, the words are so powerful and intense, I hope it will impact you the way it impacted me.
Until next week, I’ll be celebrating another year under the sun. “If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” —Nikola Tesla
With love from outer space
HALIM EL-DABH – My Life is Vibration
HALIM EL-DABH – Element, Being and Primeval
THE GHOSTWRITERS – Boticelli Rewind
DOROTHY CARTER – Autumn Song
ELIAS RAHBANI – I Think of You
ARIF SAG – Şu Samsunun Evleri
HÜLYA SÜER – Şeker Oğlan
GHÉDALIA TAZARTÈS – Yama Yama
AMADOU ET MARIAM – Je Pense a Toi
TO SYNDAGMA TIS IDONIS (PLEASURE CONSTITUTION) – Enandion (Against)
KHIDJA – Drums of Taksim
BURQUA BOYZ – Chunk Up the Duce (CC remix)