Easy Listening: Still Way by Satoshi Ashikawa

Standard

 

When the world is spinning out of control, Still Way by Satoshi Ashikawa can bring us back to zero lickety-split. This timeless masterpiece that I consider Japanese ambient was released in 1982 and has not aged a day since. It is the second album in a series of 3 recordings called Wave Notation and is considered a rarity, judging from the outrageous price on Discogs. Like cherry blossoms unfolding petal by petal, each gorgeous track transports you into a lush landscape of cascading water drops and falling leaves, created by repetitive arrangements of piano chords layered with harp, woodwind instruments and vibraphone. In “Still Park Ensemble” the haunting flute lilts like a fox padding softly through a verdant forest.

Satoshi Ashikawa wove an elegant tapestry of sounds with minimal arrangements that repeat like endless fractals of pristine beauty. This was key to how he interpreted these elements to create strong yet gentle associations with nature in the listener’s mind. Tracks with names like “Still Sky” and “Image Under the Tree” are undoubtedly tributes to the redeeming qualities of the natural world. Though this talented musician died soon after the release of this record, it continues to resonate like a ripple in the galactic pond.

Copyright © 2018 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 

 

Advertisements

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill 20 Years On

Standard

lauryn hill

Today, August 25, 2018 marks the 20th anniversary of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, a groundbreaking album that redefined feminine expression in hip-hop and influenced artists across many genres. Of course, everyone into popular music knows about the incomparable Lauryn Hill, former member of The Fugees who scorched airwaves with their infectious blend of reggae, hip-hop and RnB. But it was Lauryn who stood out with her seductive soulful crooning and natural beauty.

Summer of 1998: I was a full-blown raver, heavily into house and techno. There was always a room dedicated to hip-hop/DnB at raves; heck, even Run DMC made a guest appearance! At the time, I was dating a Chinese Canadian fellow raver, who was a bigger fan of hip-hop than I was. One day, while hanging out at his house, he turned to me and said, “Have you heard The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill?” I hadn’t, and I was too hyped up about the rave happening later on that night to really think about anything else. He gave me this look that veered somewhere between exasperation and annoyance, tempered with a sort of steely determination.“You have to listen to this.” Before I could escape, he clamped his headphones onto my ears and pressed Play.

After Intro, “Lost Ones” dropped like a feathered suckerpunch of sweetness. Lauryn Hill’s voice sounded like rich dark chocolate wrapped in gold tin foil, oozing all over my consciousness as she spat out a scathing rebuke to a wayward lover with elegant precision, backed by booming polyrhythmics. I was speechless, practically glued to Jeff’s bed, not from the usual excitement but from genuine shock. I had never heard music like this, ever! Sure, I had heard “Doo Wop” and seen the video but this album…this was something fresh, authentic and utterly compelling. “See?” Jeff said as he registered my reaction, and smiled, satisfied that he’d spread the gospel. For the next hour, I was wrapped up in Lauryn’s world, her stories of motherhood, relationships, heartbreak and triumphant awareness. As I read the liner notes, seeing Lauryn’s involvement in practically every aspect of the album, I realized Ms. Hill had arrived. She was exceptional, smart, gorgeous and she sure as hell did not need The Fugees. Here was a woman who knew exactly who she was and blowing minds with her artistry.

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill set the music industry ablaze. The press just couldn’t seem to get enough of her! She was showered with praise, accolades, awards, money. Here on out, the world was Lauryn’s oyster. She could have done absolutely anything she wanted to but she seemed to reject fame and the whole world. Apparently, she gazed into the shell, inspected the pearl and found it rather lackluster. Shortly after, reports began to emerge of erratic behavior, she stopped making albums and got busy making babies. Lots of them! I was somewhat puzzled, but realized she had her battles.

There was even the lawsuit that seemed to indicate that The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was not properly credited to others working on the album. At the same time, I wondered if somehow she was not hurting her own success. It was hard to tell. Lauryn’s tunes were still getting airplay years later. Songs like X-Factor, To Zion, Everything is Everything were still dance club and radio staples. Life went on but people were still eagerly awaiting the next Lauryn Hill album, if it ever came. I learned not to hold my breath for that. Here was a woman, happy in her own skin, owning her decisions and certainly living life by her own defiant standards. Lauryn Hill did not ever have to make another album if she didn’t want to, but if The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was the only one we would get out of her, we had to consider ourselves damn lucky!

lauryn hill 2

20 years later, we are still feeling the ripple effect of this seminal album. Now that women’s rights are trending, especially in arts and entertainment, I can appreciate even more fully Lauryn’s underappreciated genius at that time. Sure she’s not perfect, but she stood up against an industry that wanted to misappropriate her success. She chose to have a baby when others were telling her to have an abortion because it would damage her blossoming career. That shows integrity and strength of character that few possess in that particular world. Lauryn Hill understood that there’s more to life than fame and money, and she chose Life. She is alive and it seems she is happy with the choices she made and what she had to sacrifice in order to create a safe, healthy space for herself and what matters most to her.

As a woman, I think The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was a clever backlash against the expectations Lauryn had of life and relationships, versus the steep learning curve of reality. She crafted her story so skillfully that heads are still bopping decades later and people still pay to see her. Younger generations speak of her with admiration, judging from the countless reproductions of the iconic album cover in contemporary art. Let’s be happy we have such a gifted artist and fine example of Afrocentric womanhood in our midst. The world is a much better place for it!

Copyright © 2018 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 

Cool Music Videos I Somehow Missed

Standard

Hey y’all, I’m back! Somehow I continue to surprise myself by still having something to say on this blog. That being said, if ya haven’t noticed, time goes by really, really fast! So fast, sometimes you miss a lotta good stuff! Here’s my pick of amazing vintage videos that I’ve seen for the first time very recently. One of them, “Spacer,” is a song that I never heard either until now. Life is full of surprises and that’s why Frankenrӓver is still here.

“Spacer” by Sheila and B. Devotion (1979) is a disco classic produced by legendary hitmakers Chic (Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards). French singer Annie Chancel sings about her intergalactic love affair with an extraterrestrial while Black Devotion dancers Freddy Stracham, Arthur Wilkins and Dany MacFarlane cavort seductively in the background. This is a well-choreographed video steeped in futurism, judging from the stellar props, costume design and slick dance routine. Check out the cyborg at 1:15 which may have inspired that of iconic sci-fi film, Terminator. In our galaxy you can’t trust everyone you meet but one thing for sure is you can trust on-point production values to create a video that stands the test of time.

 

Seems teenaged boys from da hood of Roxbury, Boston got secret fantasies that ain’t so hard to figure out: girls and NBA stardom. The question in this video is which one? Enter New Edition’s “My Secret” (Didja Getit Yet?) Released in 1985 during the giddy years of pop, this has to be one of the cutest videos that escaped my radar back in tha day! Ralph Tresvant is obviously the star of this video, working his bike with wild enthusiasm for the opening sequence. Why, everyone on the corner just loves these talented Black boys who aren’t causing any trouble…just busting moves, getting cute girls of different ethnicities all worked up! Of course, Ralph gets the girl of his dreams and takes her to see an NBA game with the fellas. It’s Lakers vs Blazers and Magic Johnson’s centre court with coach Pat Riley on the sidelines. With the game tied at 124 with 12 seconds on the clock, it seems Magic needs some extra mojo to pull off a victory. So he calls Ralph down to save the day! This entire scene is surrounded by a halo, making it clear that this is a daydream. At the end, Ralph’s dream kinda comes true in a rather endearing, if unlikely way. I’m sure it was the record label’s idea and it actually works here. Though the song is clearly about a guy falling in love with a girl, the video leaves you guessing as it shows Ralph riding off at the end, ecstatic after meeting NBA superstar Magic Johnson. It’s a bromance yo!

 

Classic summer anthem “Vamos a la Playa” by Righeira (1983) has a very interesting background. Although it contains Spanish lyrics, the singers Stefano Rota and Stefano Righi are Italian. Both languages are pretty similar to begin with, so it was a no-brainer to pick Spanish since more peeps speak it globally than Italian. This video is a perfect primer on 80’s fashions for men: high-waisted baggy pants, short sleeved stripey shirts clashing with patterned ties. Fun! The polarized neon tint symbolizes a nuclear explosion that has just gone off in the ocean. But not to worry: now the water is clean because the fish are gone, plus baskers are wearing sombreros to keep radioactive wind out of their hair. That’s a pretty deep sociological statement about our messed up world but damn, what a cool video!

 

Last week, I plugged these words I remembered from a song in my childhood  into a search engine: “On the double, think I’m in trouble.” And googlemonster responded with “Trouble” by Lindsey Buckhingham. Astonishing. Who else could compose an alt-pop song of such transcendent quality? Lindsey Buckingham, that’s who! The mercurial frontman of Fleetwood Mac dropped this timeless bomb from solo album Law and Order in 1981. Like a time-travelling cyborg, it found me in the future and detonated a delightful blast in me brain. I love the playful contrast implied between good and bad, seduction and restraint symbolized by guitar gods on one side, demon drummers on another. Bandmate Mick Fleetwood makes a wonderful guest appearance with his tall, funny self. And Lindsey’s guitarpicking is superb. This dreamy number is now a permanent staple on my playlist.

 

“Gotta Go Home” (1979) by Boney M. is one of the most gorgeous videos I’ve ever seen. Extravagant colourful costumes, sparkly special effects plus steelband players in space-themed outfits equal mindblowing visuals. Makes you long for sandy beaches and island breeze, miles away from big city bustle. This song was produced by the notorious Frank Farian, who ruthlessly exploited people of African descent to front his musical numbers. Although Boney M. was a wildly successful act, only 2 of the band members, Marcia Barrett and and Liz Mitchell actually sang on the early records; the male vocals were recorded by Farian in the studio. So Bobby Farrell, the Black male dancer was simply there to do what Frank Farian could not: look super.

80’s pop sensation Milli Vanilli was another infamous casualty of Farian’s controversial shell group practice. It’s entirely possible Milli Vanilli was inspired to run in one place for their “Girl You Know It’s True” video like Bobby Farrell does here at 4:22. We know they didn’t get very far. But I digress. No matter how it came together, “Gotta Go Home” is a great song and this is an awesome video. Rock on!

Copyright © 2018 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

Vive Johnny Hallyday, French Icon

Standard
ib559331 N

Source: media.jukebox.fr

For the past week, France has been mourning the death of Johnny Hallyday, its biggest and most beloved rock star. I’d never heard of him until 8 days ago, when I saw a piercing set of blue eyes staring at me from the cover of Nice-Matin. Something about the expression of those eyes was intriguing so I picked up the daily to find out more. “Johnny Hallyday est mort,” announced the headlines. I was surprised to discover half the newspaper was wholly devoted to the deceased. Obviously this Johnny Hallyday was a big deal! With my rudimentary French, I deciphered some tributes splashed generously over the first few pages. Numerous artistes and French nationals professed their undying love for Johnny, with one person claiming she felt like she had lost her father. It rapidly became clear that Mr. Hallyday was an extremely important personality and revered music legend. So why didn’t I know anything about him? Furthermore, I was puzzled by the outpouring of affection and genuine sense of loss expressed by the public and music establishment.

From what I could gather, Johnny was the ultimate rock star and wild man. Those eyes told a thousand tales of a life fully lived. That well-coiffed head of strawberry blonde hair defied his 74 years. “I’ve seen everything and done it all,” was the message I read in his bold expression. Later, I overhead some French discussing someone who had died of cancer and Oh la la! – what a loss. “Are you talking about Johnny Hallyday?”  Yes they were. I asked a Frenchman in his 60’s why Johnny was so important. “I don’t know how to explain,” he replied, measuring his words carefully. “He’s a symbol of France, he was strong and when he performed, the people went crazy. I know Johnny all my life, I grow up with him and…it’s not so easy to explain,” he concluded, visibly touched. “He was like Michael Jackson to us.”

Jean-Philippe Léo Smet aka Johnny Hallyday was born on June 15th 1943 in Paris. He died on December 5th 2017 of lung cancer. His career lasted an astonishing 57 years, with 79 albums and 80 million albums sold worldwide. He had legions of loyal fans, yet he remained virtually unrecognized outside the French speaking world. How was it possible that I knew about Vanessa Paradis but not Johnny Hallyday?

After watching this performance of “Let’s Twist Again” in 1963, I had an epiphany. His obscurity in the English speaking mainstream music industry had less to do with French language. And more to do with the possible threat this handsome, charismatic European performer posed to outshining his hallowed American counterpart, Elvis Presley.

Excellent voice with nuanced English pronunciation. Professional hip swiveling. Fabulous in fitted suits? Two kings were not allowed in America’s rock n roll kingdom. It didn’t matter. Johnny Hallyday was king of rock in France and proud to sing in French! He gave France a larger than life persona, capable of living up to rock n roll’s colourful criteria in every category. This was a man who partied with the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Mick Jagger, while avoiding the pitfall of premature death that afflicted so many of his peers. Mr. Hallyday had a powerful voice and towering presence that touched 4 generations. Very few singers have accomplished that.

You don’t have to understand French to see the unifying message Johnny was promoting in this performance of “Qu’est-ce que tu croyais?”(What Did You Think?) at the Eiffel Tower in 2000.

 

I got goosebumps listening to his soaring vocals on “Vivre Pour Le Meilleur” (Live For The Best). Here is an artiste that sings with conviction!

 

 

Over the weekend, I gleaned more insight about what Johnny Hallyday means to millenials. Nass, a 27 year old Frenchman and his best friend Romain spoke earnestly about what the beloved star means to them:

“Johnny Hallyday is like a legend for us. A real legend. Everyone knows him since my parents (generation) and maybe more. And this guy died. I didn’t think it was possible, honestly. That guy was one of the best French singers. I don’t even know how to describe it…I didn’t really like his songs but honestly I gotta say, this guy was unifying all the French people during the concerts; you can feel an emotion, something that you never felt before.”

Romain: “Johnny for us is like a monument.”

Voilà! Johnny Hallyday is like a monument, who will forever live on in millions of  L’Hexagone hearts. It’s a French thing. The rest of the world does not have to understand.

Copyright © 2017 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nebula Starway’s Parang Experiment

Standard

Once upon a time, I was part of a musical experiment known as Nebula Starway. In 2010 along with my partner Emil Z. I co-produced this house-inspired cover of parang classic, “Rio Manzanares” originally recorded by Trinidadian group, Paramininos.  This is by no means a pristine production. Nebula Starway had very little money so we recorded this track in a bedroom studio with a homemade soundbooth and software including Sony ACID and Traktor. In hindsight, I would reduce the lengthy intro and add more background vocs, among other things. The meatiest part of the song comes at 4:26 with a jubilant percussion jam arranged primarily by Frankie Diamond. Pandeiro, shekere, cowbell, handclaps, whistles…I cut loose and had a blast!!!! It was my idea to cover “Rio Manzanares” as a tribute to parang and also to experiment combining it with house music. It’s not a perfect endeavour but Nebula Starway learned a lot. Plus it’s fun to sing in Spanish!

Here we have a Venezuelan duo playing bandola, a close relative of the cuatro which is a four-stringed guitar utilized in parang. This video demonstrates the Latin-American roots of this folkloric artform that is now popular in Trinidad and Tobago. The close proximity of Venezuela to these twin Caribbean islands birthed a cultural crossover, despite the fact that TnT is an English speaking nation. Moral of the story is great music transcends language barriers. And of course, Trinbagonians took it and ran with it all the way to…

THE CURRYSHOP!

Indian singing sensation Sharlene Boodram mashed up the airwaves with salacious hit, “Mamacita” (1991). A classic example of chutney parang, this song blends South Asian themes with soca-infused parang. Santa gets a Curry Christmas, courtesy of Mamacita who gets caught cooking paratha (Indian flatbread) for her celebrity midnight guest. Say wha!!! This tune boils over with culinary references to spicy South Asian staples like roti and dhal, all set against cheeky humour. Which leaves one with the impression that there’s something hotter than curry cooking between Santa and Mamacita! Delicious, delightful and daring, “Mamacita” is an appetizing number that still sizzles 26 years after release.

Copyright © 2017 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

Parang: A Christmas Tradition

Standard

A charismatic form of Christmas folk music from Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago, Parang was invented some centuries ago. The word parang is a derivative of the Spanish word “parranda” which refers to merrymaking. Parang are songs in Spanish, usually about Mary (Maria) and the Natividad (birth of Jesus), though there are various types covering different contexts. Instruments consist mainly of violin, cuatro, maracas, mandolin, bandolin, clave, box bass and flute. In more recent times, the electric bass and steelpan have been sometimes incorporated. Parang is traditionally performed by parranderos, a group of musicians who go from house to house, singing and playing in exchange for food and drink. Some pastel, sweetbread, ponche a crème or a shot of rum is greatly appreciated. Laughter and conversation with the occupants of the home ensue before the parranderos move onto the next home and repeat the process. So you can imagine how these musicians must feel after 4 hours of serenading. Pretty merry and belly full to buss!

Parang is a beautiful tradition, rooted in the spirit of altruism and kinship. Parranderos are often very poor, yet refuse to accept money for their serenades. Parang comes from the heart, for love of music, having a good time and religious deference for the spiritual tradition of Christmas. Fortunately, this folk music has grown in popularity, especially in the latter portion of the 20th century, fuelled by the advent of independent record labels plus performances broadcast by the now defunct TTT; Trinidad and Tobago Television. Spicy subgenres that have sprung up include soca parang and chutney parang, often about humorous topics in typical Trinidadian vernacular.

Due to the increasing crime rate in Trinidad and Tobago, I’ve heard that parranderos have drastically decreased their serenading. In the rural villages of Lopinot, Paramin and Arima, parang serenading is still practiced in the relative safety of tightknit communities. For parang lovers at large, there are local Parang festivals, competitions and concerts that are well-attended by the general public. Even expats living abroad in North America can enjoy the occasional concert by touring parranderos during the holiday season.

Parang has a complex history, fusing elements of West African and Latin American musicality to create an enduring artform  that has widespread, multigenerational appeal. Frankenrӓver presents a small selection of recorded classics for your enjoyment. Take time off from your hectic holiday schedule to appreciate parang while remembering to enjoy the simple pleasures  – good times, love, laughter, – embodied by this dynamic artform.

Beloved classic “Alegría Alegría” by Trinidad’s Queen of Parang, Daisy Voisin holds a place of affection in many people’s hearts. One of the most recognizable voices in parang, Daisy Voisin was known for her sweet intonation, inspired whoops “Aiee aiee!”and her bouquet, which she held in one hand as she sang, danced and twirled her extravagant skirts. A staunch traditionalist who focused on the religious aspect of parang, Daisy Voisin performed parang entirely in Spanish backed by her band, La Divina Pastora Serenaders. I was fortunate to have seen her in concert and was touched by her humility, passion and devotion to her craft, though her financial difficulties were evident. Daisy Voisin has one of the most moving voices I have ever heard and is a stellar example of a beautiful human being. She paved the way for other musicians to have successful careers recording parang in subsequent generations and deserves far more recognition for her cultural and social contributions.

Recorded by calypsonian Crazy (Edwin Ayoung) and released in 1980, “Muchacha” was an instant hit, gaining heavy rotation on local airwaves. This upbeat number fuses soca with salsa, parang, and some pop elements via synths. The result is a bright, sparkly song filled with the trademark humour Crazy is known for. “Muchacha” is a prime example of contemporary parang featuring English lyrics. Crazy holds the distinction for pioneering new forms of soca, including soca parang and Trini-style reggae. He was a very energetic performer whose distinctively long, voluminous hair  and colourful stage presence mesmerized audiences back in the day and he’s still active now in his 70’s.

“Latin Parang” by Colleen Grant is a most unusual composition. It’s what I’d call disco parang. The looped, salsa-style arrangement of congas, claps, synths and vocals against a mid-tempo backdrop make Latin Parang a very progressive song, coming as it did on the tail-end of the disco era (1980). Essentially, it is dance music with an ambitious arrangement, performed by an obscure singer from Trinidad. Colleen Grant’s quirky Spanish pronunciation of ¡Que me gusta cantar! in the chorus is delightfully haunting, ensuring this hidden musical gem continues to fascinate rare groove aficionados decades on.

Copyright © 2017 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 

Frankenrӓver Turns 6!

Standard
551xNx6th-birthday-wishes3B.jpg.pagespeed.ic.2GqQiwXuT0

Source: birthdaywishes.net

My Dear Ecstaticans,

After 6 years, I can’t believe y’all still be reading my blog! In this age of mass distraction, it is no small feat to still have an audience. To be honest, I have thought about annexing the blog. It is now more than 20 years since the rave era began in Toronto. And that’s a sobering reality. I am an adult with real-world responsibilities, yet I still remain a raver at heart!

Evidently my blog needs to evolve in a different direction. Less focus on parties and more attention on quality music that gets lost in the mad shuffle of commercialization. There are so many under-appreciated artists and classic songs that more people should be aware of. To that end, stay tuned for more savoury treats from the bubbling cauldron that is my brain 😉

Speaking of savoury, enjoy this Boiler Room set by Chicago house legend, Roy Davis Jr. Peace out x

Copyright © 2017 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

Roni Size / Reprazent New Forms Turns 20

Standard

roni-size-reprazent-new-forms

20 years ago on this day, June 23rd 1997, seminal album New Forms was released by U.K. drum and bass producer Roni Size and Reprazent, a collective of artistes including Onallee, DJ Krust, Suv, Die and Dynamite MC. The successful mashup of spaced out jazz with hip-hop infused drum and bass earned Size/Reprazent the Mercury Prize in 1997 and heavy hitter status during the 90’s rave era.

I happened upon this album sometime in 1998. “Brown Paper Bag” happened to be playing on a T.V. where I worked and I was hooked. To top it off, the video was shot in Toronto! An extended intro featuring a double bass doing a seductive number with a flirty guitar, like a conversation leading back to bass place…that conversation par excellence helped that song become a bonafide hit. At first I got the single C.D. but later acquired the double disc. And that, in and of itself, was a revelation.

From the head-bopping infectious rhyming of Dynamite MC on “Railing” to the digital staccato burst of “Morse Code”  this mind-blowing album took me on a joyride through superlatively rich soundscapes. “Share The Fall” featuring Onallee’s éclair whipped vocals became a classic DnB anthem. American MC Bahamadia’s hypnotic heist on “Feeling So High” left heads speechless. Clearly, this maverick collaboration was a critical and commercial success. Roni Size graced the cover of several music magazines, somewhat overshadowing the Reprazent crew. Heck, I even saw Size spin at a rave in Toronto (he’d shorn the locks, I was disappointed! His set satisfied me though :).

reprazent

Roni Size / Reprazent

It’s fair to say that if you have not heard Disc 2 of New Forms, you are truly missing out. If you listen carefully, it becomes evident that water plays a predominant part in the production. Which is hardly surprising when you consider that Roni Size is Scorpio, a water sign. Moody and playfully mellow, “Down” is anything but. I felt like a leaf, meandering down a burbling brook on an overcast day as the water swirled around me. Skillful breakbeats layered with jazzy instrumentals, strategic looping and clever phasing give this double album an atmospheric feel that is unparalleled. It is full of textures, ranging from mysteriously edgy to effervescent. I love playing it on a rainy day as it amplifies that warm cozy feeling that makes me glad to be indoors with a hot cuppa tea, getting a proper rinsing!

20 years later, I still listen to New Forms. It sounds every bit as fresh as it did back then. Sure, I have bigger concerns than getting a fresh pair of cargos for the next rave but you know what? It just makes me all the more thankful that I had this amazing experience. Oh, and “Hot Stuff” is going off in the background, which brings to mind supers and laying down in bed, admiring my silver tone bubble chair and my Liquid Adrenaline poster which I will never forgive my mother for accidentally throwing out.

I could go on and on about the cool sound effects on each track like the windchimes on “Ballet Dance” but I suggest you discover this brilliant gem of an album yourself. Or revisit it from a mature perspective. There is much to love and appreciate about New Forms as we evolve over time.

Copyright © 2017 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 

82 Year Old DJ Sumirock’s Solid

Standard

exy

 

Let’s face it: at 82, society thinks you’re washed up. Why, you’d be considered lucky if you could knit a scarf and walk to the corner store without falling down. You are old and for the most part invisible, a useless relic of a vibrantly youthful past. Or so they would have us believe.

ENTER DJ SUMIROCK

This senior, seriously funky Japanese citizen is making jaws drop around the world. At an age where most people want the music turned down, she’s turning it up! Sumiko Iwamuro started spinning in her 70’s after her husband passed away and now has a monthly club residency in Tokyo’s infamous red light district. On top of that, she still works as a full-time cook at a Chinese resto which she has been doing for 60 years. I bet she makes a mean teriyaki!

According to CGTN, Iwamuro said, “My setlist is based on music that I feel like dancing to. I’m physically very strong. I stand all day in the kitchen, ride my bicycle home, walk my dog for half an hour so I don’t have a lot of free time. I can deejay at this age because I’m very healthy and I’m very lucky to have a place to work.”

Does this sound like an “old person?” Definitely not! An elderly lady with a taste for techno and dark glasses – most defo!

Kudos to DJ Sumirock for showing us that as long as you have health, you’re never too old to pursue your dream. In a world intent on discarding the elderly and invalidating women especially as we approach middle age, Sumiko Iwamuro defies the narrow minded stupidity of youth obsessed society. As I observe her on the decks, I admire her relaxed approach, calm focus and pure enjoyment, not to mention her sexy outfit!

DJ Sumirock, I hope you get to play in New York someday. You are a brave soul, a true inspiration and I know you will do a fantastic job. Domo arigato!

Copyright © 2017 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 

All Gender Bathrooms At Raves

Standard

gender-neutral-symbol-bathroom-sign-16

Gender neutral bathrooms are a hot topic. In recent times they have been popping up in public and private facilities and their popularity is increasing. Laws were recently passed in America allowing school children and people to use the washroom that corresponds to their gender as opposed to their sex. These tentative steps toward gender parity are now in danger of being overturned by a regressive administration intent on fostering division and discord instead of peace and unity.

In the midst of all this chaos, it’s refreshing to know that in the 90’s rave era, washrooms (women’s in particular) became gender neutral during peak periods. For argument’s sake, let’s call this spontaneous occurrence AGBAR – this blogpost title in acronym form. When there are thousands of people rushing all at once and they need to pee (sometimes ALL at once), it truly doesn’t matter which friggin bathroom you decide to use. It was not unusual to see guys and trannies traipsing into the girl’s washroom and vice versa. Men actually preferred ours because they said it was cleaner. “Girls are so lucky! You don’t know what we have to put up with!”, a male raver once CONfessed as he washed his hands next to yours truly. Let me emphasize that at no time did I ever feel unsafe when men and transgendered folks needed to use the ladies’ washroom at a rave. Security was well aware of the situation but I never saw them intervene. AGBAR was in full effect, and although there may have been unpleasant incidents, neither myself nor anyone I knew ever heard of or witnessed them. Ecstasy is reputed to have a neutralizing effect on baser instincts that lead to violence. With everyone feeling all loved up and rushy-rushy, I’m sure the number 1 concern for ravers of all genders using the toilet was to make sure their pants or skirt was really down so as not to piss or crap all over it. Lord knows I’ve had a couple of close calls – can you say ECSTAPEE OH YEAHHHH!!!!

World renowned dance club Fabric London had gender neutral toilets that were conspicuously monitored by security personnel. Hilarious conversations would transpire around the circular sink fountain as guys and girls washed their hands together in peace, all gung ho for AGBAR and the great spirit of togetherness fostered by that overwhelming need to relieve that plagues all genders, all sexes, all nations! And we behaved like civilized beings.

For a dance culture movement that has been much maligned by politicians and mainstream media, it’s funny that ravers helped pioneer a successful social experiment in gender inclusivity, well ahead of the curve. Outside of that peace loving party atmosphere, the reality of rape culture society sets in, making the scenario outlined in the previous paragraph unthinkable in everyday circumstance. Despite the fact that ravers in the 90’s were often perceived as dirty, drug addled degenerates, I was never sexually assaulted at a rave. Not even when I wandered for hours in a sea of Ecstaticans after being separated from my friends. People were so kind, respectful, and they looked out for you. Hopefully one day, stone cold sober society will catch up to where we were. And remember to wash up on the way out.

Copyright © 2017 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.