lunes, enero 04, 2010

Through the wires

Schlachthofbronx trades in collisions of British rave, Caribbean party spirit and German volksmusik. Kevin Muenkel

Born and raised in internet chatrooms and DIY studios, world music 2.0 has colonised international playlists, writes Jace Clayton.

Recent years have seen the emergence of what is sometimes called “world music 2.0”, an organism native to the era of widespread internet access. Whereas world music tends to remain top-down – managers groom bands, publicists chaperone album reception, booking agents handle live appearances – world music 2.0 is a bottom-feeder, obsessed with microcultures breeding on YouTube, invite-only chat rooms and other obscure corners of the internet where the line between producer and consumer blurs, and most songs end up being given away for free.

The rise of cheap computers and music software piracy has led to an ever-increasing swarm of subgenres, from Berber R&B to West African hiplife. The songs make their way online to kids around the world for whom similarities in methodology – MP3 players on “shuffle”, shared software techniques, MySpace-optimised networking and self-presentation skills – trump genre as an organising principle. On their DJ mixes, in their remixes, and at their parties, Argentine electro rubs up against South African house music by way of Belgians evoking Detroit techno, plus or minus a Lady Gaga remix. It’s not intentionally “eclectic”, at least not for folks used to topic-hopping across the web. It’s just excited, in a way made possible by the internet’s sometimes anarchic approaches to context and intellectual property.

The past year saw the feedback loop between technology and emerging music hit a fever pitch. World music 2.0 in 2009 was, among other things, Mexican producers living on America’s East Coast remixing electronic cumbia tunes from their home country with trappings of Arab imaginary. Jersey City’s DJ Tenebroso and other Mexican Orientalists sample Bollywood soundtracks more frequently than anything Middle Eastern, but their songs nonetheless sport titles like “Arab Lament” or “Taliban Guitar”, and their YouTube mash-ups gravitate towards bellydance videos. The omnivorous logic of sampling doesn’t heed original context; the key question isn’t “where did this come from?” but “can it work for me?” Tenebroso also reminds us that world music 2.0’s waves of influence don’t move from the centre to peripheries. Instead, edges look to edges – and so we’ve got Ivorian singers referencing underground UK rap and Peruvian experimentalists crossbreeding Andean music with industrial noise.



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