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Donut of the Heart

Pakistan's Jaubi Release Debut EP And Hindustani Tribute To J Dilla

The concept of time is one of life's greatest enigmas, but equally fundamental, when it comes to the art of rhythm and beatmaking. Which brings us to one of the most prolific and celebrated beat champions of all [...]

The concept of time is one of life's greatest enigmas, but equally fundamental, when it comes to the art of rhythm and beatmaking. Which brings us to one of the most prolific and celebrated beat champions of all time, being Detroit's James "J Dilla" Yancey, master sampler and pioneering hiphop producer, who passed away in 2006 at the age of 32. Every February for the past 10 years and counting fans around the world have been coming together to celebrate his life and work.

One of last year's tributes rather unexpectedly came by ways of Lahore, Pakistan, as now brought to greater attention in a recent piece by Bandcamp writer Jordan Ferguson: "Jaubi, a collective of Indian classical musicians from Lahore, Pakistan, quietly uploaded a video on Youtube to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Dilla’s passing: a cover version of “Time: The Donut of the Heart” from Dilla’s final album Donuts. A sarangi plays the signature loop, tabla and vocals provide a surprising bounce and plaintive acoustic guitar chords add melodic cohesion. In 60 short seconds, the members of Jaubi take Dilla’s original and turn it into something wholly different, yet instantly recognizable."

Within days, the video generated thousands of views and ultimately led to the vinyl release of their debut EP "The Deconstructed Ego" on London's Astigmatic Records imprint. As revealed on the group's Bandcamp page, "Jaubi (جو بھی) is an Urdu word roughly translating to 'whatever'. Creating whatever sounds good and whatever feels good is the goal".

Incorporating elements of Hindustani (North Indian) classical music, Jaubi emphasize the free-flowing nature of their tracks: “It’d be very difficult to replicate what we record. If I was to play what was recorded I’d have to go back and learn it like a new song, because I can’t remember most of that stuff. The other guys would say the same thing, because it’s just that moment in time,” says Ali Riaz Baqar (Jaubi's founder/guitar/kalimba), the 'other guys' being Zohaib Hassan Khan (sarangi), Kashif Ali Dhani (tabla/vocals) and Qammar Vicky Abbas (cajon/vocals).

Read the full story here, find the full EP here  and watch the J Dilla tribute video below:

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Everything Has an End, But the 'Wursht' Has Two

Video Premiere: Joe Fleisch Teams Up With Ori Toledano & Guy Bolandi To Turn Stefan Remmler's '80s Hit Into A Yiddish Chart-Breaker
Greedy

Ever heard of Stephan Remmler and his band Trio? Maybe not. However, you may have crossed paths with his German new wave hit “Da Da Da”, released at the ultra-coolish, icy beginnings of the '80s; a monotonous, [...]

Ever heard of Stephan Remmler and his band Trio? Maybe not. However, you may have crossed paths with his German new wave hit “Da Da Da”, released at the ultra-coolish, icy beginnings of the '80s; a monotonous, semi-callous, numb, yet cynically funny anti-love song with that now iconic, recurring line, quasi spoken by a deep and seemingly indifferent male voice in the same repetitive groove as the Da Da Da bass: “Ich lieb Dich nicht, Du liebst mich nicht” (I don’t love you, you don’t love me). The strength, authenticity and honesty of this track propelled it to worldwide recognition, as an English version was in high demand.

One moment later in history, with the '80s in their finishing round, Michael Jackson, Madonna and Prince were very much alive and kicking, new wave and punk were past their peak, while former B-movie actor Ronny Reagan was in full swing, poised to crush Gorbachev’s Soviet Empire with his “Star Wars”-ish arms race; it was around that time in the year 1987 that Stephan Remmler’s band Trio released “Alles hat ein Ende (nur die Wurst hat zwei)” (Everything has an end, but the sausage has two), a comical and once again deeply cynical ‘Schlager’, which basically boils down to the grim insight that almost every relationship must come to an end, save for the sausage, which literally has two ends. The track to this day remains a hit, on the national level at least. It may have overdosed on that particular kind of humoresque German primitivism, that is less understood elsewhere, but the phrase and song, now staples of German pop culture, have since taken on a life of their own.

Which, almost 30 years later, brings us to a certain Joe Fleisch (pronounced ‘flysh', meaning meat or flesh in German) aka Jossi Reich, frontman and controversial crooner of the notorious Jewish Monkeys. 

Immodestly, Joe Fleisch, the self-proclaimed “neo-Yiddish singer”, claims his singing in the old language “is how Yiddish Pop would have sounded, had Hitler never been born”. A son of Jewish-Polish Holocaust survivors, who after the war found a new home in Germany of all places and who then emigrated to Israel in the late 90s, Joe had always been obsessed with an aspiration to transform the German hits of his youth into Yiddish tunes. Hence, the German sausage, alias “Wurst”, turned into the Yiddish “Wursht”. It just so happened, that Joe approached one of his closest buddies, the video clip director Guy J. Bolandi, who put him in touch with composer/producer Ori Toledano, both acclaimed artists on the Tel Aviv scene.

The latter outfitted Joe Fleisch’s tune with a contemporary, electro-oriental club sound, while Guy J. Bolandi, one of Israel’s most sought after commercial directors for all kinds of tasteless and less tasteless consumer products, always trigger-happy when it comes to doing something provocative, set up a dark, nightly forest scenery and filled it with a bunch of mind-bogglingly erotic female models, who in turn, having just escaped their teens, symbolize that lurking temptation facing millions of poor, horny, heterosexual men on a daily basis, once they have decided to stay true to their chosen one for the rest of their lives.

In order to make the depth of his Yiddish lyrics more comprehensible, Joe urged Bolandi to add some karaoke flair to his “Wursht”. This inspired Bolandi to not only body-paint his actresses with the English translation to Fleisch’s lyrics, but to even take things one step further and integrate a typographic visualization into this stunning lyrical metamorphosis from German to Yiddish. Bolandi combined visual elements usually found in works by contemporary graphic design artists with strong references to the works of Robert Brownjohn, one of the pioneering title-sequence-designers of his time (i.e. James Bond, “Goldfinger”). 

The result is an innovative pop music video, likely to become the very first international Yiddish chart-breaker of the past seven or more centuries (ever since Yiddish came into being, sometime in the dark, German, medieval ages). Yeah!

In closing we say, cursed be the one, who almost exterminated this language. His body may have been burned to ashes after he committed suicide, but his genocidal legacy lives on, be it in the killing fields of Cambodia, in former Yugoslavia, Ruanda, Darfur, Syria, etc. But this shall not be our concern. Instead, we care about fashion, love and ecstasy. So have no fear. Even though the end is near, Joe Fleisch’s “Wursht”, from the hands of Ori Toledano and Guy J. Bolandi, will be sure to console us and keep us afloat, as Global Warming and unfortunate wars threaten to melt and burn us very soon; to ashes. Enjoy!

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#ArtUnderThreat

Freemuse documents 1,028 violations of artistic freedom across 78 countries in 2016

In a recent mailout by Freemuse, an independent international organisation advocating and defending freedom of expression, we were saddened to learn about some concerning statistics. Entitled "Art Under Threat" the [...]

In a recent mailout by Freemuse, an independent international organisation advocating and defending freedom of expression, we were saddened to learn about some concerning statistics. Entitled "Art Under Threat" the report states that Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Nigeria, China and Russia lead the list of countries "systematically violating and failing to secure artistic freedom in 2016". In fact, these six countries account for 59% of the serious violations recorded last year.

This is not about pointing fingers, but rather about creating awareness for an issue that needs to be addressed on a global scale, be it the act of silencing, censoring or prosecuting artists or any other attempt to stifle artistic expression. As poignantly stated by Freemuse Executive Director Ole Reitov: “When populist and nationalist governments, as well as others in a position of power, forcefully try to secure a single dominant narrative, artists are at increased risk. Artistic expressions do not and should not fit into one frame. A healthy society needs alternative creative voices.”

In total Freemuse registered 1,028 cases of censorship and attacks on artistic freedom across 78 countries in 2016, doubling the number of cases registered in 2015, being 469. In addition Freemuse documented 188 total serious violations – killings, attacks, abductions, imprisonments and threats – and a staggering 840 acts of censorship. The full report on #ArtUnderThreat is available here.

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Fever

The Jewish Monkeys Unveil First Track Off Their Forthcoming Sophomore Album
Greedy
 

Not to say the Jewish Monkeys' latest outing for Berlin Sessions wasn't highly infectious, but this brand new track off the group's forthcoming sophomore album sure has temperatures running high. On "Fever", the [...]

Not to say the Jewish Monkeys' latest outing for Berlin Sessions wasn't highly infectious, but this brand new track off the group's forthcoming sophomore album sure has temperatures running high. On "Fever", the band is anything but bashful, eager to reclaim their rightful spot at the top of the neo-Yiddish palm tree:

We are Jewish Monkeys, we are bandits 
We are the Jewish Monkeys, we are shmendriks 
We are the Jewish Monkeys, we’re demented
We are the Jewish Monkeys, we’re fragmented, 
We are the Jewish Monkeys, we are anxious 
We are the Jewish Monkeys, we are pretentious  
We are Darwin’s final delusion
We are the Jewish missing link of evolution.

Listen to the track in full from the SoundCloud player above and witness the dawn of a newish, Jewish era. By the way, "High Words" (the group's second album) will be releasing on April 28th and it is hot, hot, hot! Lehaim!

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Les Jewish Monkeys

Interview: Quand Le Klezmer Revient A La Mode
Greedy

Here's a little something for all our francophone friends, followers and supporters out there. Recently recorded in Tel Aviv, Jewish Monkeys frontman Gael Zaidner joined television host Valérie Pérez and [...]

Here's a little something for all our francophone friends, followers and supporters out there. Recently recorded in Tel Aviv, Jewish Monkeys frontman Gael Zaidner joined television host Valérie Pérez and journalist Arielle Sibony at i24News to speak about the ongoing Klezmer revival, the role of the Jewish Monkeys in all of this and more.

When asked, where the band gets its inspiration from, be it politics, religion or current events, Gael answered: "I think it's all of above. We're not religious, but we do have feelings for or against religion, or for or against politics. We try to be critical, but the vessel for our criticism is always humour. People tend to defend themselves less against humour than they do against a more violent expression of criticism. [...] We never really discuss politics within the group, but we are well aware that all our actions are political."

Well said. So without further delay, here's the clip in French: Le voici! Also, if you happen to be in Tel Aviv this Tuesday (February 7th), the Jewish Monkeys will be playing a gig at Kuli Alma, including brand new songs from their upcoming album "High Words". Check the event!

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Berlin Sessions

VIDEO: The 'Newish' Jewish Monkeys Perform "Titina" + Announce Upcoming Tour Dates
Greedy

All hail the Jewish Monkeys, who return in living colour to celebrate the upcoming release of their sophomore album "High Words", releasing on April 28th! But for now, we return to one of the group's favourite [...]

All hail the Jewish Monkeys, who return in living colour to celebrate the upcoming release of their sophomore album "High Words", releasing on April 28th! But for now, we return to one of the group's favourite tracks "Titina", which you may remember from here. "Titina" is an infectiously upbeat tune that originally featured in Charlie Chaplin's "Modern Times", but was given a Yiddish makeover by the band, adding a touch of their very own funk and punk to the mix. The song is about a "Chussenbucher", a 50-year-old groom-to-be, who is still looking for his special someone. 

Meanwhile, Berlin film production company Bear Film sent a team to Tel Aviv, in search of famed underground acts to recruit for their Berlin Sessions live music format. There they met with the Jewish Monkeys crew and scheduled a shoot in a somewhat leftfield location, being a junkyard in the middle of nowhere. Needless to say, the band came dressed to impress and literally brought the house down with a energetic rendition of, you guessed it, "Titina", which you can watch below.

On another note, you may have noticed a slight change in lineup, as the charismatic Assaf Pariente steps into the Jewish Monkeys' frontman triptych in place of Ronni Boiko. Assaf will also be joining the band on their upcoming Germany tour this March. You will find all dates in our updated Shows section. And with that, we say thank you and daidaidaidaidaidaidaidaidaiii!

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Radio Garden

Exploring Global Frequencies, One Locality At A Time

Just a few decades ago, in certain regions of the world, radio was considered a window to the latter. Families spent hours, seated in front of their respective transmitters, scanning the airwaves, hoping to catch a [...]

Just a few decades ago, in certain regions of the world, radio was considered a window to the latter. Families spent hours, seated in front of their respective transmitters, scanning the airwaves, hoping to catch a moment of static-free reality from a far-away place or in some cases, from home. 

While radio today has seemingly taken a backseat to visual alternatives, online radio is still alive and kicking. As a matter of fact, besides our own humble venture to bring you a regular selection of extraordinary sounds from around the globe or great initiatives such as Radiooooo.com, here's another undertaking that has the potential to keep all you audiophiles out there glued to your devices for hours on end. 

As recently (dis)covered in a piece by Deepak Singh for NPR's Goats and Soda section, the newest kid on the block is Radio Garden, a platform launched in December, based in the Netherlands and funded by the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision with no immediate commercial aspirations. Radio Garden is instant fun for the curious at heart. Ring up the page and you will face a world map with a sheer endless amount of illuminated dots. Each dot highlights a certain locality in the world and offers users a choice of one or more 'local' radio stations to tune in to. 

"The main idea is to help radio makers and listeners connect with distant cultures and re-connect with people from home and thousands of miles away", says Jonathan Puckey, one of the project's founders. And the idea seems to have struck a worldwide chord. In an interview with Singh, Puckey confirmed that he is currently being inundated by calls from around the world, requesting to be added. 

In addition to the stations, Radio Garden offers a selection of other features, e.g. History, Jingles and Stories, definitely worth checking out. We've literally just spent our afternoon, browsing the world map, tuning into radio stations in Tehran, Addis Ababa or Tallinn and cannot believe our ears. Highly recommended! Right this way...

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22 Letters

Victoria Hanna Opens Conference Of Hebrew Language With 'Book Of Creation'

A few days ago, Israeli vocal artist Victoria Hanna, whom you may remember from her hiphop-tinged exploration of the Hebrew alphabet, opened a Conference for Hebrew Language with her acclaimed, kabbalistic "Book of [...]

A few days ago, Israeli vocal artist Victoria Hanna, whom you may remember from her hiphop-tinged exploration of the Hebrew alphabet, opened a Conference for Hebrew Language with her acclaimed, kabbalistic "Book of Creation" / "22 Letters" performance, which you absolutely need to watch. We actually have three videos to share with you. Here's the video she just posted of said opening and for those non-Hebrew speakers among us, here's her lecture / performance at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art from back in September of 2016 with English subtitles. And of course, last but not least, below you will find the official music video of "22 Letters" that will also feature on Victoria Hanna's eagerly awaited debut album. More to come... 

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Fantastic Man

A Documentary On The Late Nigerian Electronic Musician William Onyeabor

On Wednesday, NYC-based record label Luaka Bop shared the sad news of Nigerian electronic artist William Onyeabor's passing. In 2013 the imprint released a highly acclaimed compilation of Onyeabor's work entitled "[...]

On Wednesday, NYC-based record label Luaka Bop shared the sad news of Nigerian electronic artist William Onyeabor's passing. In 2013 the imprint released a highly acclaimed compilation of Onyeabor's work entitled "Who is William Onyeabor?" in reference to the "elusive mystery man of music" (Mike Rubin, New York Times, 2013). The release ranked among TIME Magazines best 10 albums of 2013. However, to this day, little is known about the man behind the music.

And so, leading up to the now notorious release, a team set out to find out more about a man, who "paved the way for a different kind of sound coming out of Africa in the 70s". The result is the 30-minute documentary "Fantastic Man" by Alldayeveryday director Jake Sumner, in association with Luaka Bop Records, featuring a host of prominent and less prominent contributors. 

But before we let you watch this invaluable piece of work, here are some introductory quotes from the film, to help set the mood and context. Enjoy!

"The Nigerian civil war lasted from 1967 to 1970. One thing that kept peoples' spirits up was music. You had a lot of young people forming rock'n'roll groups." –Uchenna Ikonne (music historian / DJ)

"They were into Western music, the sort of experimental, psychedelic rock and the blues and the soul. But they took it all and they just mashed it up with their own styles." –Damon Albarn (musician)

"Nothing sounds like William Onyeabor. It's like nothing that was being heard in Nigeria at that time. [...] 'Willy' took it to another dimension by using synths. To use them how he did, that's the extraordinary thing. [..] Even people who knew about he entire scene, knew very little about William Onyeabor. A lot of the other musicians had all played on the same circuit together [...] so they knew each other. But very few of them had ever come across Onyeabor." –Duncan Brooker (record collector)

"For years I guess I've been playing his song 'When the Going is Smooth and Good' in my DJ sets and people always respond, people always cheer like they know the song really well. The thing that sets his use of synthesizers in his later music apart is that he's using sequencers and drum machines to create this kind of perfectly robotic loop, using repetition as a primary element in making music, which was an idea that was definitely happening in the beginnings of dance music. He was developing the same kind of ideas that were developing at that time in the United States, but independently." –Dan Snaith/Caribou (musician / DJ)

"It was certainly groundbreaking. I had been a Kraftwerk fan and for me it was like, he was doing something similar to what Kraftwerk had been doing, but clearly in his own way and combining our own tradition/Nigerian context to an electronic format. No one as far as I knew was doing anything that avant-garde. It had constant airplay. The video was constantly being played. [...] There are people who had some knowledge of him, but then, no one really had anything to say about his personal nuances. It was more like, 'Oh yeah, I saw him drive past' or 'I went to his studio and we saw him in passing'. So he was practically all around us, but really nothing was know about him." –Ed Keazor (music historian) on William Onyeabor's "When the Going is Smooth and Good" (1985)

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Misirlou

The Jewish Monkeys And Despina Apostolou Unplugged In Frankfurt
Greedy

Misirlou, Miserlou, Miserilou? We've had our own share of discussions on how to spell it. Finally we decided it wasn't about the spelling, as much as it was about the music, the song to be exact. And yet, there [...]

Misirlou, Miserlou, Miserilou? We've had our own share of discussions on how to spell it. Finally we decided it wasn't about the spelling, as much as it was about the music, the song to be exact. And yet, there seems to be a distinct meaning encapsulated in this title, possibly stemming from the Turkish word for Egyptian, mısırlı

While the song itself was popularized by Dick Dale's 1962 American surf rock version and gained further international acclaim by prominently featuring on the soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino's cult movie "Pulp Fiction", the song's origins can be retraced to the Eastern Mediterranean region and an early 1927 Greek rembetiko composition. 

The inherent catchiness of the tune resulted in a variety of alternate, traditional interpretations of the song, including Arabic, Armenian, Persian or Turkish versions as well as Jewish klezmer. Which brings us to our very own Jewish Monkeys and their debut album "Mania Regressia", most notably track #6, aka Misirlou. It is a song sung in Yiddish, about a desert princess, about love, desire and longing: "My Misirilou, girl from the orient / Your eyes have burnt my heart / My hearts gets sicker / In my dreams I see you / Dance in front of me, my beautiful / Turn around even quicker (desert princess), I cannot forget you / Come heal my longing / Only you can heal me".

Now a few months ago, the Jewish Monkeys took their show to Frankfurt, to play their first ever unplugged gig at Salon 99. A regular to the venue as a soloist, acclaimed Greek pianist Despina Apostolou was also among the audience that evening and more than familiar with the song. As such, she kindly accepted to play her own interpretation as an intro to the Monkeys' performance.

You can watch and hear the magic happening below. So for now, we shall let the music take center stage and leave you with Despina Apostolou, the Jewish Monkeys and of course, "Misirlou".

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She's A Revolution

Kutiman Premiers Groovy New VHS-Style Video, 100% Analog

While we are still trying to come to terms with the brilliance of his critically acclaimed, 2015-released "Space Cassava" EP, Tel Aviv-based multi-instrumentalist Kutiman has moved on to new projects, including his [...]

While we are still trying to come to terms with the brilliance of his critically acclaimed, 2015-released "Space Cassava" EP, Tel Aviv-based multi-instrumentalist Kutiman has moved on to new projects, including his 2016 LP "6am", the first official release on his own label Siyal Music.

Tirelessly working to transcend musical and artistic boundaries (if you need further proof check out his "Mix The City" series) here's his most recent feat, the analog, VHS-style, official music video to his album track "She's a Revolution", featuring Adam Scheflan & Karolina, a hypnotic groove and, last but not least, some kaleidoscopic bellydancing. 

Pitchfork described Kutiman’s sound as “a psyched-up groove monster that can't decide between vintage and modern and instead just has it both ways”, while we can only nod are heads in agreement, awe and respect. Aaand action! 

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Bonfires & Stars

Documentary: Electronic Artist Moa Pillar Travels To The Caucasus In Search Of Traditional Circassian Music

What an intriguing project, was the first thought that passed our mind, when watching the trailer to "Bonfires & Stars", a documentary by the Moscow-based Stereotactic collective and director Sasha Voronov. The [...]

What an intriguing project, was the first thought that passed our mind, when watching the trailer to "Bonfires & Stars", a documentary by the Moscow-based Stereotactic collective and director Sasha Voronov. The film details the journey of equally Moscow-based, emerging electronic artist Fyodor Pereverzev, aka Moa Pillar, to the Caucasus, the Kabardino-Balkar Republic to be exact, in order to collaborate with Circassian folk musicians. There he meets his guide Bulat Khalilov, radio host and co-founder of Ored Recordings, an imprint specializing in traditional music from the Causasus, Russia and the world. Together they embark on an inspirational musical adventure, an experiment filled with new encounters, cultural discoveries and philosophical exchanges. 

"Bulat, constantly questions the value of this experience and the possibility of any dialogue between secular traditions and modern culture. For, too often, electronic music has been content to affix a mechanical rhythm onto samples of traditional music in order to make them ‘modern’. Moa Pillar’s project is driven by the ideal of dialogue and exchange, but the initial momentum of opening up to others can easily be transformed into mistrust, given how blurred the lines between appropriation and collaboration are."

Seeing as we haven't yet watched the movie, we cannot come to a proper conclusion, but feel free to watch the trailer below and check for a screening near you. The film will be showing this Friday, January 13th at the Norient Festival in Bern, Switzerland. We are definitely looking forward to the experience and the soundtrack!

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