Pablo's Eye, Stromae, billy woods, Imarhan, Branko Mataja, The Wicker Man inspired UDW playlist, a mixtape for Neco Cemal.
Well, hello hello.
I had prepared half of this edition in April, but thanks to a personal life & day job time squeeze I wasn’t able to finish it. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do it in the coming months as well, since for those who know me personally, we are on the brink of moving to Barcelona as a family, and you know changing cities takes a bit of time. Maybe I should write shorter and more frequent newsletters, but I’m not sure if anybody wants more content in a shorter period in the age of Tiktok’s.
However, the reason why this discussion of algorithmically-driven feeds is in a different section than social networking is because the ultimate example of their power isn’t a social network at all: it’s TikTok. TikTok, of course, is all user-generated content, but the crucial distinction from Facebook is that you aren’t limited to content from your network. [..] TikTok combines the zero cost nature of user-generated content with a purely algorithmic feed that is divorced from your network; there is a network effect, in that TikTok needs lots of content to choose from, but it doesn’t need your specific network.
IN HEAVY ROTATION
I’m quite happy to remind you that the Branko Mataja compilation we were waiting for has finally been released.
Recalling Ennio Morricone spaghetti westerns, the electrified belly dance music of Omar Khorshid, and ’90s bedroom psychedelia at once, the music of Branko Mataja is from its own epoch. Snatched from the streets of Belgrade as a teenager, Mataja spent World War 2 in a German work camp, escaping the insanity of post-war Europe to settle in North Hollywood to live out the American Dream to its fullest. Crafting handmade music on homemade guitars throughout the 1970s, Mataja taught himself to play in order to pay homage to his ancestral home of Yugoslavia, a place he would never return to except through these guitar meditations.
🎧 Pablo’s Eye - A mountain is an idea: A seamless trip-hop soundtrack composed of drone, ambient, jazz and psychedelia.
🎧 Stromae - Multitude: For some reason I have never listened to Stromae, thinking it was some kind of melodic Berlin techno / electronic music outfit. In for a pleasant surprise, this inspired me to learn French, the guy is indeed a Stromae.
🎧 billy woods - Aethiopes:
One who always finds a place in this newsletter, the prolific avant-rapper has a new cinematic hip-hop album. In depth review.
🎧 Imarhan - Aboogi:
Young Tuareg master Imarhan is back with another wonderful album on City Slang. Obviously for fans of Tinariwen.
UNDOMONDO DISCOVER WEEKLY
Sumer is icumen in! Inspired by the horror movie “The Wicker Man” & Easter, I made a playlist that revolves around traditional UK folk & prog, vintage ambient/new age with some contemporaries sandwiched in between.
📼 In other news after a year of radio silence, I did a new mix which was inspired by a loss we had last month. Expect it to be a 90 minutes meditation on death, loss and the afterlife. [Soundcloud]
A sad reminder that the good things in life are fickle.
I wonder what has happened to this old Cossack busker after the war in Ukraine..
.. and to Mr. Jiří Wehle after the pandemic.
ELSEWHERE AROUND THE NET
♩Ambient Music Isn’t a Backdrop. It’s an Invitation to Suspend Time. [Ny Times]
In a 2019 essay, Toop refers to it as a musical form “committed (implicitly or explicitly) to an engagement with interpretations and articulations of place, environment, listening, silence and time.” In his view, it is music that inspires “a state of mind attuned to inclusivity,” rather than “withdrawal.”
And yet, the dominant vision of ambient music today is a cartoonish inversion of these aspirations. In a multibillion-dollar wellness industry, streaming platforms and meditation apps frame ambient as background music — something for detached listening and consumption. It is spa and yoga music, or field recordings for undisturbed, restful sleep. Instead of embracing ambient’s potential — its capacity to soften barriers and loosen ideas of sound, politics, temporality and space — the music has become instrumentalized, diminished into sound-as-backdrop.
♩Music Maps [G. C. Stein]
Playlists can be listened in two ways: from start to finish and at random.
This seems insufficient. Why can’t we have “maps” instead of "lists”?
Guiding us through her musical explorations – Carmen Villain reflects on the development of her taste in freeform and spiritual Jazz.
That’s it for now, please subscribe & share with friends, and wish me luck!