REBEL MU­SIC

Pasatiempo - - TERRELL’S TUNE-UP - Steve Ter­rell

I understand the words have got­ten Ti­nari­wen banned on the ra­dio in Mali and Al­ge­ria, so they must be sub­ver­sive.

Amer­ica: home of the brave, land of the fear­ful. And crown thy good with para­noid con­tra­dic­tions … Them for­eign­ers, if they aren’t bring­ing ter­ror­ism, they’re bring­ing Ebola. Their gun-tot­ing mass mur­der­ers are com­ing to take away the jobs of de­cent Amer­i­can gun­tot­ing mass mur­der­ers ...

Re­cent events in the news — along with some new albums from around the world I’ve been lis­ten­ing to lately — got me think­ing about a cer­tain punk-rock band I dis­cov­ered on­line ear­lier this year. It’s called Mazhott, and start­ing about 2007, the group rocked the cas­bah from Da­m­as­cus, Syria. Yes, that Syria. In a 2009 in­ter­view in Taqwa­core

Jour­nal, the band’s guitarist Rash­wan said, “We sing about stuff that mat­ters to young peo­ple, in gen­eral, and so­cial [is­sues]. [For ex­am­ple], the high school diploma, here, is un­be­liev­ably dif­fi­cult, so, we wrote about that. We wrote about fa­thers forc­ing their young daugh­ters to marry older men, about our gen­er­a­tion that is frus­trated and lost and don’t know [what] to do with their lives, about less sep­a­rat­ing of boys and girls, and about how we need more at­ten­tion and free­dom.”

Of course, I couldn’t understand any of the lyrics be­cause they’re in Ara­bic. But the mu­sic rocks, so I bought the dig­i­tal version of Mazhott’s EP from its Band­camp page (www.mazhott. band­camp.com). With my mod­est pay­ment, I wrote a note wish­ing the mu­si­cians well and hop­ing they were all safe from the trou­bles over there.

And I got a nice email back from Rash­wan, who said, “All of us at Mazhott are safe and sound, but un­for­tu­nately each in a dif­fer­ent coun­try.” I guess that would make them refugees, but if I’m not read­ing too much into it, “safe and sound” im­plies some level of sta­bil­ity. Also en­cour­ag­ing, Rash­wan wrote, “I am still work­ing on a few new songs which will hope­fully be fin­ished by sum­mer.” Sum­mer has come and gone, and I haven’t heard back from him. But hope­fully he’s still work­ing on those songs and he and the other Mazhotts are still safe and sound.

Did I say some­thing about some mu­sic from around the world? Damn the fear-mon­ger­ing! Let th­ese new albums cross your bor­ders and im­mi­grate into your ears! ▼ Bailazo by Rolando Bruno. Once upon a time, there was a Peru­vian garage-punk band called Los Pey­otes. (I’ve re­viewed their work in this col­umn and played their songs on my ra­dio shows and pod­cast.) Guitarist Bruno, who I be­lieve is Ar­gen­tine, was a mem­ber of this hopped-up, snot-rock combo. Now he’s been re­born as a cumbia king. Or as his new record com­pany Voodoo Rhythm de­scribes his new sound, “Full Blast Psy­che­delic Latino Cumbia Garage with a very Cheesy Touch of a ’70s Su­per­mar­ket!!!”

His cumbia ob­ses­sion started out as a side project while Los Pey­otes was still hap­pen­ing. He’d up­load old cumbia songs onto his com­puter and mu­tate them into rock­ing Latin dance num­bers fil­tered through his own punk-rock per­spec­tive. For Bailazo, he com­posed orig­i­nal songs and hired ac­tual mu­si­cians to cre­ate this crazy sound.

Bruno brings an in­ter­na­tional per­spec­tive to his al­ready wild mu­si­cal vi­sion. He throws in Mid­dleEastern sounds on “Falafel King.” Is that an oud, dude? And there’s also what sounds like a bag­pipe. This tune would make the Bri­tish world mu­sic band 3 Mustaphas 3 jeal­ous. And he’s turn­ing Si­amese on “Thai Cumbia,” which could al­most be a kung fu movie sound­track wait­ing to hap­pen. This track starts off and ends rel­a­tively slow. But the sped-up mid­dle sec­tion sounds like some fren­zied Car­los San­tana gui­tar at­tack. See www.voodoorhythm.com/121-artists/rolan­do­bruno/212-rolando-bruno-bailazo.html. ▼ Su­pay by Cˇankisˇou. This band from the Czech Repub­lic never ceases to amaze me. It’s a seven-piece group that mixes mu­si­cal in­flu­ences from who knows how many cul­tures into a unique blend of rock ’n’ roll. You’ll hear strands of Mid­dle-East­ern mu­sic; rhyth­mic Afro-beat sound­ing sounds; jazz ex­cur­sions and sonic al­lu­sions to Balkan mu­sic; and a touch of metal here and there. (And Break­ing Bad fans’ ears will perk up at the open­ing notes of the song “Koro­bori,” which sounds just like the sound­track to that late, great show’s open­ing se­quence. “Koro­bori” turns into what sounds like a salute to the band Mor­phine — ex­cept there’s a brief blue­grass sec­tion in there, too.)

I can’t write about Cˇ ankisˇou with­out quot­ing from its own ori­gin myth on its web­site: “Cˇankisˇou mu­sic is based on an old leg­end about one-legged Cˇanki peo­ple, and the band also learnt their lan­guage, which is un­der­stand­able all over the world.” For a one-legged peo­ple, th­ese guys sure kick butt. If you like Go­gol Bor­dello or 3 Mustaphas 3 (them again!) or, to get a lit­tle more ob­scure, Pol­ish rocker Kazik Staszewski and his band Kult, do your­self a fa­vor and lis­ten to some Cˇankisˇou. Learn more about this band and Cˇ anki cul­ture at www.cankisou.cz/en. ▼ Live in Paris, Oukis N’Asuf by Ti­nari­wen. This live al­bum is the lat­est by this mu­si­cal col­lec­tive made up of no­madic Tuareg tribes­men from north­west­ern Africa. They have played New Mex­ico sev­eral times in re­cent years. Many of the orig­i­nal mem­bers of the band were liv­ing in Libya when they were forced into mil­i­tary ser­vice by the late and notso-great dic­ta­tor Col. Muam­mar al-Qaddafi. Some of Ti­nari­wen also fought as Tuareg rebels against the gov­ern­ment of Mali. So truly, this mu­sic is what Joe Strum­mer would have called “rebel rock.” Ac­tu­ally it’s trancy gui­tar mu­sic with pow­er­ful Sa­ha­ran per­cus­sion pro­vided by a conga-like in­stru­ment called a

dar­buka. And no, I don’t understand the lyrics, sung in a Ber­ber lan­guage, Ta­masheq. But I understand the words have got­ten the group banned on the ra­dio in Mali and Al­ge­ria, so they must be sub­ver­sive.

Even cooler, Ti­nari­wen leader Ibrahim Ag Al­habib has said in in­ter­views that some of his ear­li­est in­flu­ences were the singing cow­boys of Amer­i­can West­erns. I don’t hear any Gene Autry in this al­bum, but I’ll keep lis­ten­ing. Check out www.ti­nari­wen.com.

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