Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Sway Machinery featuring Khaira Arby on Electric Cowbell/Jdub/Fatbeats Records

Electric Cowbell is at it again with another classy as hell release, this one from The Sway Machinery who include an incredible pedigree of musicians a truly esoteric and talented bunch of influences, styles, and resumes. The band majored in cantorial music but seems to combine that centuries old tradition with modern rock and jazz. Recently they traveled to Mali (of course) and ended up recording with various musicians there including Khaira Arby who says:
When Sway Machinery arrived, they came to me and said, “Khaira, we're going to play something and we want you to join in.” When they started playing at the festival, and everyone was there, I thought, “What am I going to sing what this music?" But when I sang, everyone was... "Wow!” So then they came to see me in Bamako and they invited me to come and record on their album. Everything went well. I'm not sure if you've heard their album. It's really good. One could say that they are musicians of the north now.

The A-Side "Gawad Teriamou" (can't seem to translate that via google) is, well how am I going to describe me Khaira vocally has some what I think of as Arabic sounding, the quick shifts in an entirely new scale, almost a vibrato operatic waver, and I can pick out the repeated title of the track. The scale rises and at points she's really belting this out, her vocal just near cracking and based on her quote of the experience I'd like to think this was just a jam that happened out of a few scratch track takes. So here's this jewish traditional structure of a track with an african, muslim vocal essentially? I'm getting into some dangerous territory probably if I'm wrong, I'll admit I'm in deep waters here, but that's a noble idea.
Musicially, you have that almost reggae muted strum, with long blasts from the horn section. I love the way Khaira is just resting her right hand on that giant saxophone. That must be easy to check on the plane.

The B-Side, "Youba" kicks in with a distinct break beat and gets a lot dirtier and funkier, that bass sax hitting incredibly rumbling low bass notes against a great high bleeting of trumpet, vinyl has to be the way to reproduce this range of sound. Khaira is singing all over her amazing range, following the bass melody for a moment and branching off into her distinct intonation. A funky as hell blues gritty guitar solo slowly works it's way into the mix, somehow sounding completely at home in the middle of this horn call and response. I have no idea of the content of these lyrics, but they're coming across like some kind of blues funk hybrid, which can transcend the cultural barrier.

I think someone told me once the whole point of Jim Jarmusch's films were in a way to promote the very idea of multiculturalism and the blurring of cultural experience. The cross pollination of ideas and in this case, sounds. I think that's what The Sway Machinery, and Electric Cowbell or JDub or Fatbeats are essentially doing as well. Exploring this type or truly fringe music that doesn't seem to directly have a place in history yet. Go forth audio pioneers. I will study the strange sounds on your single and one day understand their influence.
Get this one from Electric Cowbell Records.

For those sad souls out there who don't have access to a turntable, but still read this blog, or feel they are missing a few key Electric Cowbell releases that are out of print, EC has conveniently released a huge selection of their 7inch releases on the dead "CD" format. Have you heard of these things?
Go check out samples of all the Electric Cowbells music here and if you want to listen to them, say, in your car...well you're in luck.
Pick up a copy of 101 things to do in bongolia. for that Compact Disc player.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3:37 PM

    a very good 7 inch i've got it