Sat. April 30
(Le Grand Mix, Tourcoing)

Sun. May 1
(The Pit's, Kortrijk)

Thu. May 5
Awesome Tapes From Africa dj set
(Treehou5e Open Air, Ghent)

Fri. May 6
Invisible Hands / Neil Michael Hagerty & The Howling Hex / DSR Lines
(Vooruit, Ghent)

Sat. May 7
(De Ruimte, Ghent)

Tue. May 10
(De Pit's, Kortrijk)

Thu. May 12
(DOK, Ghent)

Fri. May 13
(Het Bos, Antwerp)

Sun. May 15
THRONEFEST (Taake, Inquisition, Mgla, Batushka, Inferno, Dysangellium, Wiegedood & The Commitee)
(Kubox, Kuurne)

Thu. May 26
(Den Trap, Kortrijk)

Fri. May 27
(Trix, Antwerp)

Wed. June 1
(Botanique, Brussels)

Wed. June 8
(Vooruit, Ghent)

Wed. June 22
(Het Bos, Antwerp)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sublime Frequencies label night (Hasselt - June 6th 2009)

I recently went to the SUBLIME FREQUENCIES label night at Kunstencentrum België in Hasselt. Sublime Frequencies is a world music record label based in Seattle and headed by Alan Bishop from THE SUN CITY GIRLS and Hisham Mayet. I was never impressed by THE SUN CITY GIRLS’ music although I had their 2 so-called masterpieces in my record collection at the time: ‘Torch of the Mystics’ from 1990 and ‘330,003 Cross dressers From Beyond the Big Veda’ from 1996. I found the music vague and pretentious, made by a bunch of charlatans who make weird music just for the sake of being weird. A few years ago, I sold both out-of-press albums at a great price on eBay and bought me another bunch of Nonesuch Explorer CD’s with the money.

As a world music aficionado, I really felt I had to check out the SUBLIME FREQUENCIES releases though and although I like some of the labels output, I also found some real stinkers in the catalogue. ’I Remember Syria’ and ‘Radio India’ for example feature a mish-mash of random music culled from Syrian/Indian radio, with the radio being fine-tuned all the time and endless audio distortion throughout the songs. To make things worse, many songs are brutally shortcut in the middle and the lack of any licensing info really reeks of exotica exploitation.

But as I just mentioned, there are also a bunch of worthwhile collections in the SF catalogue: the ‘Cambodian Cassette Archives: Khmer Folk & Pop Music Vol.1’, ‘Molam: Thai Country Groove From Isan’, ‘Choubi Choubi! Folk and Pop Sounds from Iraq’ and ‘Ethnic Minority Music of North Vietnam’ are all good to great compilations of genuine modern or traditional music from out there.

Last year, I bought the OMAR SOULEYMAN compilation ‘Highway to Hassake’ and I was immediately intoxicated by the 2 slow & mesmerizing laments on the compilation. I also like some of the GROUP DOUEH recordings so when I read about an upcoming Sublime Frequencies label night with OMAR SOULEYMAN and GROUP DOUEH, I absolutely didn’t want to miss the opportunity to witness myself what Sublime Frequencies is all about.

The evening took off with the screening of ‘Palace of the Winds’, a 52 minutes documentary by Hisham Mayet focusing on the music of the Saharawis from Southern Morocco and Mauritania. The film consisted mainly of raw & intense live performances by Group Doueh, Group Marwani, Sadoum Oueld Aida and Group Bab Sahara and these home-recordings were interwoven with lo-fi images of desert villages and its inhabitants. Unfortunately and in real Sublime Frequencies style, Mayet doesn’t give the viewer any information which I found rather frustrating as I was wondering at times in what country the images were taken (Morocco or Mauritania?) and on what kind of occasions the bands were playing. Again, it looked like the Sublime Frequencies people are more interested in weird & outsider culture than in the awareness and appreciation of the cultural heritage of others (dixit Smithsonian Folkways). Still, I bought myself a copy of the DVD because I still liked the film and think it’s an interesting addition to my Saharawis 3CD box set on Nubenegra.

As soon as ‘Palace of the Winds’ was over, GROUP DOUEH took the stage and treat us to some great desert music. Although the keyboard sounded very cheesy, both the guitar playing and the male and female lead singers were excellent. The music reminded me of Dimi Mint Abba with its hypnotic and trance-like feeling. Great!

Next was a documentary shot on the Jemnaa El Fna square in Marrakesh ('Musical Brotherhoods of the Trans-Saharan Highway'). Last year, I visited the square myself but in the documentary, it looked like the images were shot somewhere else. Firstly, you didn’t see any tourists in the film (and there are a lot) and the musicians were much more interesting in the film than those I had witnessed myself on the square. Still, a nice way to feel some of the square’s vibrancy!

In the middle of the documentary, I had to rush away because OMAR SOULEYMAN had taken the stage. Although the audience loved every note, I wasn’t really impressed by Souleyman’s Syrian disco with techno beats. I found the virtuosi electric saz player of more interest than Souleyman himself who reminded me sometimes of the Syrian equivalent of Eddie Wally. After three quarter of an hour, the band suddenly switched to a slow hypnotic song but as the audience had come to party, the song was abandoned after a mere 2 minutes and the band continued with their ruthless party beats.

At the end of the night, Bishop and Mayet did some DJ-ing (no vinyl, just cd’s and cd-roms) and screened some amusing film footage from all over the world. As I was looking at the screen above the stage, I saw a photographer asking Bishop and Mayet if he could take their picture while DJ-ing. They agreed but all of a sudden, when the picture was taken, Bishop and Mayet raised their right arm to give the Hitler-salutation. I know the swastika has been known in India for over 5,000 years but I don’t think the Nazi-salutation has an ancient tradition. Oh well, charlatans - right?

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