Fictions/Selection/Dan Shea





The Monolith Cocktail has coaxed a number of guest spot contributions from the impassioned and adroit musician/writer Dan Shea during the year. Roped into his family’s lo fi cult music business, The Bordellos, from a young age, the candid but humble maverick has gone onto instigate the chthonian Vukovar (currently working through a trio of ‘greatest hits’ packages here) and, with one part of that ever-shambling post-punk troupe, musical foil Buddy Preston, the seedy bedsit synth romantics Beauty Stab (who’ve just this week released their second single ‘French Film Embrace’, here)

An exceptional talent (steady…this is becoming increasingly gushing) both in composing and songwriting, the multi-instrumentalist and singer is also a dab hand at writing. For his debut, Dan shared a grand personal ‘fangirl’ purview of major crush, the late Rowland S. Howard (which can be found here), on the eve of Mute Records appraisal style celebration reissue of his highly influential cult albums ‘Teenage Snuff Film’ and ‘Pop Crimes’. This was followed by an often difficult, unsettling, potted with dark comedy, read on Dan’s friend and foil Simon Morris (of the Ceramic Hobs infamy; the piece can be read here), who took his own life last year.

Now, from his lockdown quarantine, Dan has been providing us with a weekly series of ‘imaginary film screening jukebox’ selections come loose horror and increasingly unfathomable Lynchian, cloaked autobiographical, fictions.



PJ Harvey – To Bring You My Love

 

I often wish I was PJ Harvey. Less now than when I was a teenager but every time I play this album I find myself wondering what it must be like to exist as that androgynous thug femme fatale archetype. Could any man, woman or anyone else resist me if I could step into that role? This Southern Gothic fog clotted with lust that spills out of my speakers. 

 

I played it to Ronnie and she looked back at me blankly, a dog being taught a card trick. This was the first time she was alive. That mask of canine indifference infuriated me. This was the beginning of the cracks forming in our relationship.

 

I played it to Gretchen, sorry, Gersten. We danced in monochrome around the living room. Very slowly. I remembered just now. She’s not been in touch so I have to put matches out on myself. It’s not as satisfying a burn as cigarettes but I’m not buying cigarettes just to put out on myself. That’s a step too far.

 

“You know he’s gonna be here”

 

The voice cracks and strains. I close my eyes and imagine a mountain range. She atop it, undulating. She could cause an avalanche.

 

Selfish, Little folds her hands and the world disappears. She yawns in slow motion and lullaby chimes hang all around us. I bat away the weaponised nostalgia the monkey in my back clawing at my veins. 

 

Endless futile arguments, drunkenness on trains.

 

The holes in the sky and the holes in my arms bleed out imagined futures but our bodies always lie.

 

The world was growing too loud for us. We had to escape into our record collections and the books we swapped between each other like holy texts. On a rainy afternoon, March 7PM, the world was ours.

 

Bring you my love”

 

I dreamt of Simon last night. I was on my way to a fetish shoot in Brighton. I stopped in a pub in London and sat down with a pint of something dark and fruity (like me, hohoho) when he came over and nudged me, getting in my face in that way of his.

 

“Fancy seeing you here”

 

Tears pricked Dan’s eyes in the dream as he pointed out that Simon was dead. Simon offered a characteristically long winded and nonsensical explanation before bringing us over another drink. We had a few, chatting about the future of some band he’d been working with called Vukovar.

 

Oh yeah I know the singer too Simon

 

We also talked about Kate McCann’s book among other things. He gave one of his reading lists then said “I’ve got a short cut to where you’re going follow me!”. So we walked out the back of the pub down an alleyway and stepped into the back garden of the woman I’d intended to meet. I turned around to thank him and he was gone.

 

It’s another one of those dreams I prefer to my waking life. 

 

6

2

1



HTRK – Rent Boy

 

An overhead shot of us, a rotating ceiling fan pan. My hallway, you should see it.

 

She’s next to me, head slumped on my shoulder. She sees only static but I’m watching the movie I told you about it even with my eyes open. She encourages me to dream with my eyes open. Saviour. Supplanter. Your film noir heroine, cock sucking seraphim. 

 

Ellroy Steers was a good man. He’d worked for the Farrow corporation since school and had worked his way up in this Kafka-esque organisation to be head of pencil sharpening.

 

Pulaski told him about the incident. He’d found a cassette tape in a fridge in the alley behind his flat. He would transcribe the contents for Ellroy to feed back to Farrow.

 

A strange look of fear came over the older man’s face. He expressed an interest in having the contents delivered as soon as possible. He knew what was on the mixtape but he never let on. I couldn’t place the actor playing him but he looked an awful lot like Harry Dean Stanton. The same soulful crags in his hangdog face.

 

As soon as Pulaski left, Steers placed a pencil up each nostril and head butted the desk. It was to send a signal to Pulaski not to mess with forces he didn’t understand. The holes in the sky grew wider above a canine population and no one stirred at all.

 

Even though she couldn’t see the action onscreen G was enthralled. Damn, I’m a lucky man. I swear I REDACTED SUPPLANTER could give the whole thing up for her.

 

pause the film and kiss her, the blood rushing in my veins. Like our lips were molten. My hands in hers. I want there to be tenderness in this. Not like it is with our clients or when we have an audience. My lips and tongue trace a map of desire over her milk white skin. I whisper my name into the depths of her. This is golden, this is molten. I want to melt into her.

 

It’s always going to be a little sordid. Do I want to be her or do I want to fuck her? It’s both as it is, for me, with most women. I want to purge myself of some of my toxic masculinity, but I feel every time we collide I sap some of their beauty from them. Their minds contain many rooms and I paint as many of them as I can. As Ellroy’s blood spills out of my TV and pools on the carpet I am whole.

 

I was telling you about the ritual last week, wasn’t I? Well to be exact that I don’t remember it. Just the whole incident when I was walking walking walking naked through a nightmare. Well I awoke in an invisible pool outside the HACK DOOR. Muddy fingerprints on the handle and a peculiar ashen scent. I turned and stepped in and there she was, sat in the living room. The prized forsaken angelangel returns.



Brian Eno – Sparrowfall

 

R was sat peacefully gazing at the switched off TV with a blank expression I read as a smile. No definition I can find

 

“But you’re dead. I’d dreamed of this. Are my dreams becoming my life? Did I succeed when I last tried? There must be more to that than this.”

 

She looked back at me. That same blank look that used to drive me nuts. I missed it. I gathered her up in my arms and held her to my somehow still beating heart and begged her never to die again. At least not until I had. I cried and cried a whole ghost. I missed her more than I understood and now she was back. I didn’t see the sense in her leaving the first time around and for her to return was more than any mortal mind could bear. 

 

But then I looked at her and took in the dim light in her eyes like the light from distant ships. She smelled of ash, coagulant phlegm from eyes that may be my own, and stank of the second hand regret seeping from her pores. Towards the end how I’d resented her weakness.

 

She was my super hero. She had saved my life many times over. Held my hair when I was throwing up, soothed the knife point pain and helped remove the sting of the abuse I’d suffered. I hated her for needing help when she was the one I always turned to. I had nowhere else to turn.

 

“I can’t control these feelings if I tried”

 

My hand formed a fist in her hair. Her voice pure blurred sound. I think she said it yeah yeah yeah but how could you even tell the fucking difference? She just looked back at me not fully comprehending. But how I’d missed that body. No flesh but hers. No flesh but hers. Viva la muerte. 

 

She could never respond properly, the dumb pony soldier. When she was alive it was apathy. Now it was a mute acquiescence but I’d made a vow. When I said til death do us part I’d meant mine not hers. Why else after she went a second time do you think I went after another woman who looked exactly like her?

 

The lullaby chimes spill from my unvarnished marble heart, out of the holes ever widening. They pulsate convey fluid through the infant city. Blood will wash blood away. Gemma, baby, how did we fall so far? The lack revealed is what gets me going. The humiliation of the aggressor, splayed open, begetting the dull rhythmic thud of masturbation. 

 

“She would do something like this”

 

A colonialist simper. One finger in his mouth the other finger circling his nipple. Halting middle class closet case tones as he tells his beard wife all about the new breakthrough in the next quarter, that’s, like, rilly rilly good as I fantasise about garrotting him and sending a picture of his corpse to the idiot kids he spawned. I picture a piss stain spreading across his expensive beige slacks. Blood money. 

 

“She would do something like this”

 

Where being rich and white is a license to go and fuck kids overseas. In the evening you all bathed each other’s kids. Your letter was only the start of it. One letter and now you’re a part of it. To the pure all things are pure. Images scroll through your head of the perfect little paper stitch twat torn apart.

 

You would say that about your own daughter you pig you waste you whore yawning for your price.  

 

I hope come the revolution someone eats your stupid fucking useless eyes out of your “living” face while you’re still defending white supremacists and transphobes “valid concerns”. I hope your husband chokes on the dick of the next Grindr hookup behind your back and is deposited neatly on a dark street, just another hit and run. A punch in the face that smashed through to the other side, sculpting the play dough form into another vignette of my toxic masculinity. I’m ashamed of being ashamed. 

 

Sha la la la man. Why don’t you slip away?



Rosie & The Originals – Angel Baby

 

30 years old her first hangover. I introduce her to the concept of the hair of the dog over a fancy veggie breakfast in Manchester. For once she’s drinking and I’m not. I’m a bad influence on this girl as she is to me: but she only got me into different strands of BDSM and ambient music and I’ve got her into something that rots your liver. I feel like I don’t deserve her but I feel that way about women most of the time. Men on the other hand – scum. I’m such a homophobe that I have in the past subjected gay men to the torment of being in a relationship with me.

 

Note – bisexual erasure is not just a neat phrase to describe the way bi people are treated but to describe the band Erasure. 

 

Angel Baby is one of those solid gold pop records you can play on a loop and weep to with what is neither joy nor sorrow. It takes me to that diner on Ronnie’s 30th. The quiet booth in the corner where she’d tenderly take my hand and reassure me as the world kept growing louder. The concept of having fries with breakfast seeming impossibly decadent to my provincial Northern mind. The record wasn’t playing in the memory but as I write it it was. I dunno what was really playing I prefer to remember things my way.

 

There’s something romantic to me about impersonal concrete structures, the kind of rain you only really get in the North and the unpleasant humidity that subsides when you step into her bedroom and slide into her bed. You’ve earned the solace of her arms now. There’s no nobility in it but you can dream. You can even imagine yourself to be the Oscar Wilde of Fetlife.

 

When the vinyl warps and cracks through that ancient system I’m in Gonesville. The dreaminess of Rick singing Lonesome Town, Elvis singing Blue Moon or Barney singing Dream Attack. These are the songs that saved my life.



Kanye West – FML

 

First of all this is one of the biggest pop stars in the world sampling Section 25. That’s something.

 

Second of all, it’s one of the biggest popstars in the world discussing being bipolar. “You ain’t seen nothing crazier than this n***a when he off his LexaPro”.

 

This has nothing to do with Lynch just given my reference to him last episode I wanted to continue my support. Of this multi millionaire. Sickening. Nothing dates like sincerity.



Fad Gadget – Ideal World

 

Oh yeah. The blood spilling out of my TV wasn’t so much of a worry. Worse things happen. I mean I’ve seen the much resented woman of my dreams disappear down a plug hole. The first time she left I knew she must have hated me.

 

You know I just found her. She didn’t even leave a note. Used to be she left a note if she just was going to the shop. So I know at that late stage she despised me. I don’t blame her. I was a waste of skin and teeth. She was in a better place so why did she return just to SPIDERCRAWL leave me again?

 

Me and her second incarnation watched Blue by Derek Jarman and ripple echoes of the old her I felt them. She always loved Jarman. She identified a lot with gay men. She loved queers like me. Her gaze at the ceaseless blue became less spectral. I looked into her eyes and l saw my own reflected in hers. Eyes. It’s always about eyes.

 

Sat in a field before I resigned from that job. I was very handsome. A grinning dog disappeared into a summer haze. A yellow dog with huge, ostentatious teeth. I don’t believe I hallucinated that disappearance into undergrowth. The yellow dog trailing the black dog. I finished my veggie burger and went back to the call centre I worked in that resembled a prison complex. 

 

Back to the afternoon with the Mute book. Some very attractive Irish girls sat with me. I saw myself, handsome but childlike and non threatening, the way I did. Truth be told I envied the bench the blonde one was sat on. Then I went home and pissed Rotten sorry Ronett off.

 

I enjoy the hallways of buildings like that at night. The suicides they sweep under the rug echo back at me. I feel the whisper of the axe and the voices of dead I have loved. I smile at you, vacant. Ingratiating. Watch me jackknife the moon as I smile shaking into your breast. No one is unforgettable. But in a piss stinking basement in June 2018 we overturned the world. 



Mr Bungle – Pink Cigarette

 

I’m going to see this woman in Blackpool and I don’t know why. I’m sat next to a very pretty red haired twink and thinking “I’d rather be hooking up with him”. Looking across the carriage there’s a guy who looks like a low rent low res Francis Bacon Pope, and as he gets off at Poulton le Fylde all those connections are made and I realise why. 

 

I’m nodding off, day drunk on day dreams but he’s here. He’s the man behind the screen pulling the strings. If only he could offer me a shortcut out of my nightmares into someone else’s. Me and Dan the boyband singer met up again. I think he’s in love with me. How embarrassing for at least one of us. Handsome guy but he smells weird.

 

Imagine a version of Back To The Future where Marty McFly went back in time and molested himself as a teenager. Is that just masturbation? How do you punish the crime without blaming the victim?

 

If all Mike Patton’s back catalogue sounded like Pink Cigarette he’d be my favourite person. He does the Double R diner atmos really well. I slow danced with Gersten to this as well. Then a client showed up and my soul died a little more. I’m in negative equity as regards my soul at this point. 

 

So I can’t help but see the parallels: Pulaski discovered a cassette in a fridge behind his flat and I did as well. It’s almost as if someone is watching me. Man, I need to block the windows and cover the mirrors again clearly. Wrap up the knives as well. Nothing reflective can be trusted.

 

“She would do something like this”

 

I’m. Not. A. Misogynist. 

 

“Can you tell what it is yet?”

 

I’m just fashionably late. 

 

“Your letter was only the start of it”

 

5

4.48

0.52

 

It ends when three reduce to one. 

 

Pulaski and Sam walk off in the direction of a warehouse. Sam, prone to hand dance gestures and the chimes the chimes the chimes has no idea what’s in store for her. They walk past a disused Christian book shop. The continent is burning. The witnesses are burning. The world sighs, steeple red and blood dark.Precious Selfish Little yawns and me I’m in this dream place. 

 

Imagine her spider crawl along YOUR ceiling. Would you be happy? Or would you lose your mind as I have? 

 

Lingering in the Tragic Life Stories section of WH Smiths. The newspapers releasing artfully cropped photos of true depravity. They leave the rest to “their” imaginations. The sickest pornography you can buy in a petrol station or pick up for free on a bus. To the pure all things are pure. They are aware of the audience they garner, never forget these sick fucks run the country.

 

I‘m not tranquil. I am tranquilised. This rage will never cease. Let the animals tear themselves to death. 

 

Blood oozing softly with a sub-bass pulsated from the bullet hole in Pulaski’s head after the shooting in the school. The snow fell, covering the nightmare. His head lay in the beloved lap of the man who would one day go looking for him.

 

I’ll let her speak with my voice. I’ll let her see through my eyes. I’ll devote the remains of me to ensuring I prevent as much harm against the innocent as possible. I would give it all up for her. Even if I have to die for it. 

Previous Episodes


Part One

Part Two

Part Three


Words: Dominic Valvona






If the Glitterbeat Records label had a remit, ‘a raison d’etre’, it would be all about transcending borders, whether it’s the physical, geographical or subconscious kind, to bring the most ‘vibrant’ and ‘committed’ of artists to a global audience.  Finding existing and ‘possible musics’ (to borrow a term from the label’s own reissue of Jon Hassell and Brian Eno‘s iconic 1980 transformative soundscape experiment, Fourth World Volume One: Possible Musics) from across the world, the independent German-based sister label to Glitterhouse Records has in a short timeframe helped reshape and redefine what we know as ‘world music’ – a fatuous term in itself, still largely used to denote anything outside the comfort zone of Western commercial music.

Originally putting out a catalogue of sublime and obscure records from some of Malia’s most important, traversing desert blues and rock artists (from Ben Zabo to Tamikrest and the Songs For Desert Refugees compilation) on Glitterhouse, world traveler bluesman Chris Eckman of Dirtmusic fame (the labels unofficial in-house band) went on to co-found the Glitterbeat imprint with Peter Weber in 2013. The inaugural release on that label, now celebrating its fifth anniversary, was a 12″ remix of Ben Zabo’s Dana by Mark Ernestus (Rhythm & Sound, Basic Channel), released sometime around March 22nd, 2013.

From the already mentioned desert blues stars of Mali and ‘beyond’, Eckman’s ever growing roster of contemporary sonic adventurers hail from a number of other African countries, including Ghana, Mauritania and the Bargou Valley bordering Algeria. And has since gone on to expand its remit and reach out to include music from the Balkans, Southeast Asia, the Levant and South America.

As you can imagine, this global expansion encompasses a myriad of musical styles, many of which were in serious danger of disappearing into obscurity if not for the work of music ethnologists such as Paul Chandler and Grammy Award winning field-recordist/producer Ian Brennan (we were lucky enough to interview Ian a couple of years ago), who both recorded for posterity ‘lost voices’ and atavistic guardianship documented collections for the label under the Hidden Musics series.

So busy and bustling with potential releases, in the last couple of years they’ve set up a congruous imprint of their own, the tak:til scion: an extension and home for more transcendental, meditative and experimental material that doesn’t quite fit the main label. Featuring a mix of re-released and remastered iconic albums from the ambient, soundscape and devotional genres – including the already mentioned inaugural Jon Hassell and Brian Eno collaboration -, Tak:til has featured Širom‘s Slovenian odyssey I Can Be A Clay Snapper and 75 Dollar Bill‘s psychedelic desert rock and trance of the Maghreb, avant-garde, jazz and even swamp boogie delta blues transient W/M/P/P/R/R.

 

From handkerchief waving Albanian songs of sorrow to Istanbul dub; from hybrid collaborations such as Tony Allen‘s album with some of Haiti’s finest musicans, the Afro-Haitian Experimental Orchestra, to the electric griot psych of Noura Mint Seymali; from the Turkish pregriation and siren vocals of Gaye Su Akyol to the carnival funk of Bixiga 70; Glitterbeat Records has helped uncover a whole new musical world of discovery for people like me. It’s no surprise that they’ve won the WOMAX label of the year so many times, and attracted heaps of acclaim. I’ve more or less featured every single one of their forty plus releases, and seldom found a dud. And Glitterbeat Records have appeared more times than any other label in our end of year features.

To celebrate the label’s fifth anniversary, I’ve chosen both personal favourite releases and tracks from the back catalogue.


Lobi Traoré  ‘Bamako Nights: Live At Bar Bozo 1995’  2013

From the very beginning, one of Glitterbeat Records earliest releases, Bamako Nights captures the loose, almost extemporized sounding, drift of the late Malian legend Lobi Traoré (who died at the age of 49 in 2010); capturing one of his ‘packed-to-the-rafters’ live shows from the feted and iconic Bar Bozo.  The singer/songwriter takes the crowd with him as he meditatively affects an adroit passage through Mali’s social and political pains. Attenuate guitar lines bolstered by flanger; licks powered by enveloping sustain; and a band whose steady yet often expletory solo spotted, bubbling bass and rapid percussion bind the nuanced accents together, all prove rhythmically hypnotic.

To have been a-fly-on-the-wall at one of these intimate, intense, shows must have been a magical experience; especially as Traoré kept the anticipation building; the appreciative audience either enthralled by every descriptive note and earthy toiled vocal or adding their own backing chorus of spiritual hollering and hand clapping: You’ll be hard-pressed to find a greater live experience and encapsulation of the atavistic West African blues.



Samba Touré  ‘Albala’  2013

As Mali continues to exist in a fragile union after the recent Islamic hijacked insurgency (curtailed by former colonial masters France with additional support from the UK), a host of the country’s great and good (Bassekou KouyateFatoumata DiawaraBaba Salah, Tamikrest to name just a few), compelled to speak out, have added gravitas to their praised sweet tribal blues in defiance of the regimes that would have banned or at the very least censored their music. Known for his work with the late Malian legend, Ali Farka TouréSamba Touré is an amiable enough chap whose previous acclaimed albums, Songhaï Blues and Crocodile Blues, were more genial affairs, shows his disapproval with a grittier, riskier brand of protest on Albala.

Albala – translated from the Songhaï language as ‘danger’ or ‘risk’ – is a darker, albeit lamentably so, album. But so delicately melodious and nimble is the delivery that the cries of woe remain hymn-like and hypnotically diaphanous: the blues may have turned a deeper shade of forlorn yet still sways with meandrous buoyancy and restrained elegance.

A traditional accompaniment from Touré’s regular band mates Djimé Sissoko (on ngoni) and Madou Sanogo (tapping out a suitable candour on congas and djembe), with guest performances from celebrated ‘master’ of the one-stringed violin, the souk, Zoumana Tereta, and fellow Malian ‘neo-traditional’ singer Aminata Wassidje Touré is bolstered by effective guitar and keyboard layers from Hugo Race (The Bad SeedsDirtmusicFatalists). This subtle mix works wonders, giving the overall sound a mystical delta blues feel, resplendent with fuzz, wah-wah and wailing soul.



Aziza Brahim  ‘Soutak’   2014

Born in the hardened landscape of a Saharawi refugee camp on the border of Algeria and the Western Sahara, beguiled vocalist Aziza Brahim embodies the wandering spirit of her people; their settled, though often borderless and disputed lands, previously claimed by Spain, were invaded in 1975 by Morocco. Though made up of many tribes with many different goals the Saharawi people did mount a fight back. It was in this climate that Brahim was hewed.

Soutak, or ‘your voice’, is centered on just that. The backing is striped to a degree, so the poetic reverberated vocals can echo and warble soulfully without interruption. Though there is no mistaking that strong, robust and primal Saharan spirit, the congruous accompaniment is a mix of both Balearic and folk rock styles – especially the deep sleek bass guitar notes that slide and weave under Brahim’s distinctive voice.

Produced by Chris Eckman (of Dirtmusic fame), whose assiduous talents have done wonders with Malian blues rockers Tamikrest and Bamako Afrobeat artist Ben Zabo, Soutak was recorded live in Barcelona: the fluid lilting cosmopolitan sound of that city is unmistakable.

Serene and subtly sung, the choral, almost desert gospel hymns take time to unfurl their charms, so be patient. Once again Glitterbeat and Eckman have a classic world music crossover on their hands.



Dirtmusic  ‘Lion City’  2014

Connecting the ‘dirt music’ environment of an unforgiving Australian outback with the Cajun swamplands, desert and bustling African townships, Glitterbeat Records co-founder and producer of their awe-inspiring roster of world music greats, Chris Eckman, leads his nomad troupe across esoteric and meditative terrain soundscapes.

At times almost alien, their borderless approach to mixing rock, blues and (mostly) West African music in a seamless wash, creates something both mysterious and original. Recorded at the same time as their last album Troubles, in Bamako, Lion City couldn’t help but be guided politically and socially by the upheaval in Mali. A testament to the eerie developments and a lament that also offers hope, Dirtmusic and their guests (which include such luminaries as the Ben Zabo Band and Samba Touré) prove that you can work alongside African artists without succumbing to condensation.

Far more successful if not authentic than anything Albarn or indeed the ‘Radio’ polygenesis collectors The Clash could ever produce, these Westerners move serenely, blurring the cultural boundaries as they circumnavigate the psychogeography of the chaotic city and romanticized but often harsh sand dune landscapes of both West and North Africa. You could say it was a culmination of the entire Glitterbeat labels stock, condescend into one challenging soundtrack.



Noura Mint Seymali  ‘Tzenni’  2014

The technicalities, pentatonic melodies and the fundamental mechanics aside, nothing can quite prepare you for that opening atavistic, panoramic vocal and off-kilter kick-drum and snare; an ancestral lineage that reaches back a thousand odd years, given the most electric crisp production, magically restores your faith in finding new music that can resonate and move you in equal measure.

Hailing from the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, nestled in between Algeria, Senegal, Mali and the Western Sahara, with the Atlantic lapping its shoreline, Noura Mint Seymali keeps tradition alive in a modern, tumultuous, climate. Her homeland – run ever since a coup in 2008, by the former general Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, duly elected president in 2009 – was rocked by the immolation sparked Arab Spring and subsequent youth movement protests, all of which were violently suppressed by the authorities. Add the omnipresent problems of FGM, child labour and human trafficking to the equation and you have enough catalysts to last a lifetime. However, Noura’s veracious commanding voice responds with a dualistic spirit, the balance of light and shade putting a mostly positive, if not thumping backbeat, to forlorn and mourning.

Recorded in New York, Dakar and in the Mauritania capital of Nouakchott, Tzenni transverses a cosmopolitan map of influences and musical escapism. The original heritage still remains strong, yet the ancient order of griot finds solace with the psychedelic and beyond.



Jon Hassell/Brian Eno  ‘Fourth World Vol.1: Possible Musics’  2014

Already riding high on a crust of acclaimed production projects and numerous semi-successful collaborations and solo albums, when Brian Eno touched down in New York City in 1978 he would unintentionally help direct another important development in ambient and world music (and also end up staying for five-years). Absorbed in what the city had to offer him musically, Eno came across the stripped and atmospherically rich experiments of trumpeter/composer Jon Hassell, who’s own pathway from adroit pupil of Stockhausen to seminal work on Terry Riley’s harangued piano guided In C, encompassed an polygenesis of influences: a lineage that draws inspiration from avant-garde progenitors like La Monte Young, and travels far and wide, absorbing sounds from Java to Burundi.

Though a minor figure in the sense of worldwide recognition, and never one to brush with any sort of commercial popular appeal, Hassell irked out his own personal philosophy. With a handy masters degree in composition, he attempted a reification of what he would term the “fourth world”; a style that reimagined an amorphous hybrid of cultures; a merger between the traditions and spiritualism of the third world (conceived during the “cold war” to denote any country that fell outside the industrious wealthier west, and not under the control of the Soviet Empire) and the technology of the first.

Untethered to any particular landscape and age (though traversing for the most part the mysterious, veiled continent of a inter-dimensional Africa), geographical and environmental alluded titles act as points of reference; alluding both to such diverse subject matter as the traditional songs of the Central African pygmy tribes (Ba-Benzéle) and the latitudes and weather phenomenon of an undisclosed landscape or city (Rising Thermal 14° 16’ N; 32° 28’ E).

Moving at a similar pace throughout, the lingering vapours drift over and enclose the listener; hinting always at some mystical or miasma presence; steeping each composition in a sepia of low emitting foggy harbour like droning horns, plastic pipe sounding percussion, tape echo experimentation, panoramic glides over the savannahs and of course Hassell’s stripped bare, reedy and masked stirring trumpet.

An almost continuous set of transient movements, the mood varied from lightly administered rhythmically slow paced pieces to cerebral blankets of panoptic memory; a style coined as “future primitive”. Reissued by Glitterbeat Records under their visionary imprint Tak:til, this album can be read as a principle guiding light and inspiration for their roster and ambitions.



Various ‘Hanoi Masters: War Is A wound, Peace Is A Scar’ 2015

A side excursion, travelling due east to Asia and breathing in the evocative songs of Vietnam, Glitterbeat Records launched their new series of field recordings entitled Hidden Musics with the Hanoi Masters compilation. Finding a congruous musical link with their usual fare of West African releases, the label sent Grammy-award winning producer Ian Brennan (credits include, Tinariwen, Malawi Mouse Boys, The Good Ones) to Vietnam in the summer of 2014 to record some of the most lamentable and haunting resonating war-scarred music. Indelibly linked to what the indigenous population call ‘the American war’, the examples of both yearning and praise pay tribute to the fallen: delivered not in triumphant or propagandist bombast but in a gentle meditative manner, these survivors, forty years on from the end of the harrowing and catastrophic (the repercussion still reverberating in the psyche of the burned America and its allies) war, were still undergoing the healing process.

Tinged with an omnipresent lilting sadness these songs are imbued with battle scars (hence the albums subtitle War Is A wound, Peace Is A Scar), featured artisans and traditional music masters who had joined the cause, sometimes for the first time in years, allow their voices to be heard once again and recorded for posterity.

Considering the history and ill blood between cultures – though this has eroded as capitalism takes hold and the country opens up – it has in the past been difficult to investigate the serene and attentive beauty of the Vietnam music scene, but this earnest and adroit study into a world seldom covered proves enlightening and humbling.



Bixiga 70  ‘III’  2015

Speaking Fela fluently with marked respect and reverence, going as far as to borrow part of the late Nigerian bandleader and doyen of Afrobeat’s backing group moniker, Bixiga 70 may be inspired and informed by Kuti but they do so much more with his high energy polyrhythms and feverish hot-footed anthems. The eclectic Sao Paulo band, who joined the Glitterbeat family in 2015, add even more flavour to the Afrobeat template on this their third album. Energised by their performances in the hotbeds of fusion, from North Africa to Europe, and working with a decentralised method of producing new material, the III album reaches out and embraces an even richer array of world sounds.

Incorporating the rhythms and dances of their own continental home, Bixiga shake and shimmy to the local customs of cumbia and the sensual hip movements of the carimbo on a trio of slinky paeans to the indomitable spirit of joyous release. Congruously they go, flowing from one source to the next deftly, passionately and with a raw powered energy, our Brazilian friends relationship with Glitterbeat has proved to be a sound move; an ideal home for the group’s ever expanding fields of sound and exploration.



Afro-Haitian Experimental Orchestra  ‘A.H.E.O’  2016

Progenitor and embodiment of the Afrobeat drum sound, still in high demand four decades after his explosive partnership with Fela Kuti, the much-venerated Tony Allen extends his infectious percussion style beyond the African homeland. Sharing an obvious entwined history with Africa, the shared Hispaniola Island of Haiti proves both an esoterically mysterious and congruous collaborative foil to Allen’s distinct drumming patois.

Invited to perform in 2014 by the French Institute Of Haiti’s director Corinne Micaelli, Allen’s visit would end with a public broadcasted concert in the main square of the capital, Port-au-Prince. Collaborating with Allen would be a cross-section of local percussionists and singers recruited by vocalist, dancer, ‘voodoo priest’ and director of the Haitian National Bureau Of Ethnology, Erol Josué; Josué would himself lend his sweet yearning and reflective tones to two of the tracks on this album.

The call went out and the great and good of the Haitian music scene came. Racine Mapou de Azor, the Yisra’El Band, Lakou Mizik and RAM. Another Monolith regular and one-time Port-au-Prince resident, Mark Mulholland was drafted in as the experimental orchestra’s guitarist, and as it would turn out, eventual legacy overseer. With only five days of studio rehearsal time to gel and work out their performance, the sessions proved both, as Mulholland observed, ‘chaotic’ and overwhelming’.

Elevating beyond the borders it was created behind, the Afro-Haitian Experimental Orchestra root foundations shuffle and shake free of their stereotypes to move freely in an increasingly amorphous musical landscape. You’re just as likely to hear vibrations and traces of Dub, native Indian plaintive ghostly echoes, Sun Ra’s otherworldly jazz and funk as to hear the indigenous Haiti sounds and Afrobeat pulse. Tony Allen is once more at the heart of another bustling, dynamic explosion in rhythm.

Various Artists  ‘Hidden Musics Vol 2.  Every Song Has Its End: Sonic Dispatches From Traditional Mali’  2016



Though no less an achievement, the second volume in Glitterbeat Records “Hidden Musics” series offers the full gamut not just musically but visually too, and is a far more ambitious documentation of a troubled country’s lost tradition than the 2015 Hanoi Masters survey. Expanding to include 11 concatenate videos, Every Song Has Its End is the most complete purview of Mali’s musical roots yet. This is due to the project’s mastermind and architect Paul Chandler, who has documented Mali’s music scene for more than a decade.

Forgotten in some extreme cases, ignored or considered as Mali’s past by new generations, maestros of the 6-string Danh, such as Boukader Coulibaly, and the Balafon, Kassoun Bagayoko, are celebrated and interviewed for this collection. Whether it’s traversing the Gao region in the northwest to record the earthy desert pants of the female vocal ensemble, Group Ekanzam, or capturing a Sokou and N’goni love paean performance by Bina Koumaré & Madou Diabate in the heart of the country, this chronicle of the pains, virtues, trauma and spirit of the country’s musical heritage is an extraordinary love letter and testament to the country.


Bargou 08  ‘Targ’  2017

Ahh…the sounds of a dusky reedy gasba flute; the tactile patted and burnished bendir drum; the rustic, earthy strung loutar, and the flowing, soaring scale vocals of the Bargou 08 project’s chief instigator Nidhal Yahyaoui, set an impressive atmosphere in the first couple of minutes of the album’s opening track, Chechel Khater. And that’s all you’d need, except there’s another eight equally evocative and thrilling tracks to hear.

The source of this sound derives from a relatively uncharted region that lies obscured between the mountains of northwest Tunisia and the Algerian border, called the Bargou Valley, which despite its barren isolation, has cultured a unique musical fusion, stretching back hundreds of years. Captivating and magical enough in its ancestral unchanged form, the songs of the valley, sung in the local Targ dialect (a language that is one part Berber, the other Arabic), are given a contemporary jolt that transforms the atavistic paeans, odes and poetry of yore into an intoxicating swirling rapture of electronic North African funk.

Filled with a legacy of turmoil and tension that goes back an aeon the album’s many themes, from describing a lover’s vital attributes on Mamchout to laments of alienation, resonate strongly with the growing unease of events, initiated six years ago by the Arab Spring. Tunisia itself is facing a struggle and teetering on the edge, with no guarantee that certain cultures won’t just disappear or be fragmented in the ensuing melee. Originally setting out to document his Bargou Valley home’s musical heritage before it disappeared, Yahyaoui has successfully and thankfully, with his musical partner, producer and the album’s keyboard player Sofyann Ben Youssef captured this rich mesmeric culture for posterity. And in doing so, produced a masterpiece that will endure.



Širom  ‘I Can Be A Clay Snapper’  2017

With an unspecified, but as the name suggests, emphasis on the “tactile”, Glitterbeat Records new imprint label gives a welcome platform to entrancing experimental tonal performances and sonic polygenesis traverses alike. In the latter camp is this Slovenian peregrination suite from the landlocked, Alps nestling country’s visceral sonic conjurors, Širom.

Evoking memories and feelings, both real and imagined, with a soundtrack thick with atavistic connections, the trio of punk and post-rockers turn experimental folk and acoustic instrumental cartographers convey a personal relationship to their homeland, on their second album together under the Širom banner.

Yet whatever the backgrounds, traces of North Africa, the Adriatic and the Middle East, the performances sail scenically through a dreamy otherworldly representation of Slovenia: Oriental, alien and Balkan visions permeate the plucked, malleted, chimed and purposefully played compositions, which subtly and rather cleverly build up complicated layers and various overlapping time signatures during the course of their journey.

Theremin like siren voices drift in and out, enacting the myth and seraph, whilst on the watermill turning Everything I Sow Is Fatal Sun Ra travels with John Cale and Pharaoh Sanders on a pilgrimage to Samarkand. The most recurring sounds however pay testament to the Balkans ghosts. The folkloric stirrings, lulls and yearning of Slovenia’s past bordering both a pan-Europa of migration and grief – stretching back a millennia – are transduced into often haunted vistas and metaphysical passages.

A most impressive and expansive inaugural Balkans travail; different from the previous two releases on this burgeoning new imprint, yet keeping to the tactile, accentuate and imaginative remit, whilst conjuring up mystical new soundscapes.



Tamikrest  ‘Kidal’  2017

Still availed of a homeland, though now liberated from their draconian Islamist partners, the Tuareg are once again left as wanderers in their own land, the unofficial guardians and custodians of the Saharan wilderness. For now only a dream, best realized and protested through music, the rock’n’roll Bedouins Tamikrest emerge once more from the barren landscape with a message of “power and resistance” on their fourth, equally entrancing, album Kidal. Paying homage to the strategically and spiritually important cultural trading town of the title, the highly-acclaimed (and rightly so) Tamikrest exude both the sadness and suffering of the dispossessed people who cling to the southwestern Saharan hub that is Kidal: a town which has seen its fair share of fighting, fought over, conquered and reconquered over time, it remains a symbolic home to the Tuareg. This is after all the town that nurtured them and where it all began.

Assiduous, confident and articulate, the musicianship shows not so much a progression as a balance between the meditative and rock’n’roll spirit of the Tuareg musical resistance. Tamikrest are as brilliant as ever musically, and Kidal is, despite its plaintive and lamentable subject woes, a beacon of hope in an ever-darkening world of uncertainty.



Ifriqiyya Électrique  ‘Rûwâhîne’  2017

Capturing something quite unique, the collaborative industrial post-punk and avant-garde rock scenes of Europe clash head-on with the descendants of the Hausa slaves atavistic rituals styled group, Ifriqiyya Electrique, create an often unworldly chthonian conjuncture of Sufi trance, spirit possession performance and technology.

A film project and now immersive sonic experience, inspired by the important Banga music traditions and the accommodating, rather than exorcising, of spirits ceremonial wild dances and call and response chanted exaltations of the black communities – originally transported to the region from sub-Saharan Africa – in the oasis towns of southern Tunisia, this astounding meeting of cultures and history is anything but scenic.

Formed in the Djerid Desert, the idea forged by field-recordist and veteran guitarist of the politically-charged Mediterranean punk and “avant-rock” scenes, François Cambuzat, and bassist Gianna Greco – both of which occasionally join forces with that livewire icon of the N.Y. underground, Lydia Lunch, to form the Putan Club -, the Ifriqiyya Electrique spans both continents and time. For their part, Cambuzat and Greco provide the grind, industrial soundscape texturing, sonorous drones and flayed guitars, but mostly, the “electrique”, whilst, offering a dialogue with the spirits and the tradition, Banga musician Ali Chouchen – joined in the live theatre by an expanded cast of fellow voices, krabebs and Tunisian tabla players from the community, which includes Tarek Sultan, Yahia Chouchen and Youssef Ghazala – provides peripheral sounding evocative echoed and esoteric vocals and equally haunting nagharat.

Spiritual conversations transformed and realigned with the machine age turmoil of industrial noise, Arthur Baker style rock and hip-hop production, post-punk and even Teutonic techno, Rûwâhîne is a rambunctious unique force.



Park Jiha  ‘Communion’  2018

Circumnavigating the globe to bring much-needed exposure to new sounds, Glitterbeat Records imprint tak:til gives a second wind to a suite of acuity serialism from Southeast Asia. Released originally in South Korea in 2016, the neo-classical musician/composer Park Jiha’s debut solo album Communion is given an international release by the label of repute.

Inspiring what we’re told is a burgeoning Korean music scene (well, an alternative to the K-Pop craze), a chief progenitor of the movement Jiha alongside collaborative partner Jungmin Seo originally melded the country’s musical heritage with an eclectic range of contemporary sounds as the 숨[suːm] duo in 2007. Releasing the highly influential regional albums Rhythmic Space: A Pause For Breath (2010) and 2nd (2014), Park and Seo crossed the time zones to perform at both WOMAD and SXSW. Congruously putting the duo on hold to explore a more ‘personal’ and minimalistic ‘musical vocabulary’ as a solo artist, Jiha dexterously balances the air-y abstract breathes of the ‘piri’ double reed bamboo flute, the searing twang of the ‘saenghwang’ mouth organ and the softly paddled patter of the ‘yanggeum’ hammered dulcimer in what is a dialogue between a dulcet calm, the meditative and an entangled dissonance.

Transforming Korean traditions into a more experimental language that evokes the avant-garde, neo-classical and jazz yet something quite different, Park Jiha’s tranquil to entangled discourse evocations reach beyond their Southeast Asian borders both musically and metaphysically into something approaching the unique.


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