Friday 27 January 2012


Vj Ultra and Dan Harper Colaboration

More about Dan here

Invisible System--Street Clan--Not your Parent's Global-Au-Go-Go

You know, sometimes when I hear new hits pumping out on the airwaves, I wonder whether there has been some confluence between musical technology and torture. If you have read Naomi Klein's rather scary book The Shock Doctrine, I think you know what I'm getting at. The number of beats per minute, the effects of sound on the human constitution--sometimes it all seems a little bit formulaic. But the sonic force beats me down, vocals sampled and oversampled atop themselves, nuclear beats. It seems a lot of studio trickery more than musical performances. Maybe its just the new American Idol reality.

But you know, technology doesn't have to be used in the pursuit of evil. Sometimes technological advances can be used to create amazing things. I have albums where people paste together disparate music, using different genres, styles and musical instruments from all over the globe. A lot of times its been hit or miss. I don't know precisely what it is about Invisible Clan, the musical collective overseen by Dan Harper, whether it is just great talent or the next generation of studio innovations. I have to believe it is a potent combination of both factors. In any event, I have to say I am pretty bowled over by this ambitious recording, which I heard about in the NY Times, of all places. The album strikes me as visionary.

A very simplistic thumbnail description of Street Clan (their 2nd album after Punt) would be a collaborative synthesis of Ethiopian music, Jamaican music & fiery post punk. And the music is aggressive sounding. But there are even more things going on here than that, including psychedelia, funk, dance, electronic, Sub-Saharan African music and even some Sonny Sharrock styled fusion guitar. It's not easy to play in a variety of styles well. But when you mix these styles together, seamlessly weaving back and forth you are simply on a level of greatness. On top of this you have some great vocalists performing like Jamaican singer Dennis Wint and the unbelievable Zewditu Tadesse. Hearing him sing is simply revelatory. I think if Joe Strummer were alive today, he would be praising this music to the high heavens.

Anyone who loves interesting music will definitely find a lot to love here. For me it does not get any better than the amazing Bone Flaps. For that song alone the album is worth purchase. A remarkable vocal by Tadesse, and its like he's being backed by New Zealand noise monsters Bailter Space. You have to hear this to believe it.

The crazy thing about this album is that I almost find it too long. I can't sit and listen to all 1.3 hrs on this disc at one time. There is too much going on here. But too much interesting music is of course not any sort of valid criticism. Every time I listen, I hear new things, new instrumentations and subtleties. And righteous echoey dub. Songs like Bone Flaps and Mutant Miners are realizations of fusion music that were in my head. Fusion Music in the dynamic way I always wished it could be.

Highest praise here. Check this out and be amazed. And I just checked out the website for Harper Diabete records. They actually manufacture their own high quality microphones in addition to making recordings.

Harper Diabate Valve Mics on special offer this month

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