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    Femme Magazine UCLA's feminist newsmag since '73 — Album Review: Vanessa Daou’s “Zipless” and the Decentering of Men

    Femme Magazine UCLA’s feminist newsmag since ’73 — Album Review: Vanessa Daou’s “Zipless” and the Decentering of Men

    Vanessa Daou, “Zipless” (1995, MCA Records/Krasnow Entertainment) By Randy James Feb 23, 2017 “The act of decentering men involves a stronger attachment to selfhood, found in relationship and solitude.” – Tabitha Prado-Richardson When I read Tabitha Prado-Richardson’s Coalition Zine essay on decentering men from one’s own narrative, Vanessa Daou’s seminal 1994 album “Zipless” immediately sprung […]

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    UCLA Arts & Healing

    UCLA Arts & Healing

    An incredible and intense day of learning with Dr Mimi Savage as part of the 8 week curriculum at UCLA Arts & Healing. Honored to be part of this incredible and important program. As some of you know, I’ve been long fascinated by the field of Art Therapy and the uses of the Expressive Arts […]

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    aRUDE — The Argument is Made: A New Radical Economy — Iké Udé’s Nollywood Portraits

    aRUDE — The Argument is Made: A New Radical Economy — Iké Udé’s Nollywood Portraits

    Every exchange is in some way and unprincipled negotiation. The success or failure of any negotiation is measured as set up against how much one party gets compared to how much the other party does not get. While the details are variable, the one constant is the idea of ‘economy’, the currency of negotiation, by […]

    Continue Reading

    aRUDE — The Art of Experience — Vincent Williams, Honey’s Kettle, and the Curious History of Fried Chicken

    aRUDE — The Art of Experience — Vincent Williams, Honey’s Kettle, and the Curious History of Fried Chicken

    Authenticity is a tricky thing. Like love, like art, it has no real definition other than *you know it when you feel it*. And while individual experience is subjective, a communal experience is something shared. When something is shared by many, it is no longer ‘an’ experience, it becomes ‘the’ experience *of*: it shifts from […]

    Continue Reading

    Props from NPR — Heavy Rotation: The 10 Songs Public Radio Can't Stop Playing

    Props from NPR — Heavy Rotation: The 10 Songs Public Radio Can’t Stop Playing

    Deep, jazzy house is one of the more eclectic and evolving subsets of electronica, and Jaidene Veda continues to have the genre’s pulse. After receiving critical acclaim for her 2015 album Wanderlust, Veda has returned with Heart Of Gold, a release that sees her building on that momentum while expanding her sound and voice. This […]

    Continue Reading

    Beyond the Black Forest: In praise of Vanessa Daou | By Collin Kelley

    Beyond the Black Forest: In praise of Vanessa Daou | By Collin Kelley

    Link to original post here Paris. Summer 1995. A tiny hotel room in the 11th arrondissement near Place de la République. I have fallen madly in love with a blonde-haired boy, and we lounge on the bed as afternoon turns to evening. The tiny television is tuned to a music video channel, the sound at […]

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    NEWS

    Femme Magazine UCLA’s feminist newsmag since ’73 — Album Review: Vanessa Daou’s “Zipless” and the Decentering of Men

    Vanessa Daou, “Zipless” (1995, MCA Records/Krasnow Entertainment)

    By Randy James

    Feb 23, 2017

    “The act of decentering men involves a stronger attachment to selfhood, found in relationship and solitude.” – Tabitha Prado-Richardson

    When I read Tabitha Prado-Richardson’s Coalition Zine essay on decentering men from one’s own narrative, Vanessa Daou’s seminal 1994 album “Zipless” immediately sprung to mind. An LP-long interpretation of Erica Jong’s poetry, “Zipless” decenters men from Daou’s pleasure through an unabashed embrace of feminine sexuality and womanhood. Through “Zipless,” Daou bridges the concerns of second-wave feminism with those of then-burgeoning third-wave feminism.

    From the opening moments of “The Long Tunnel of Wanting You,” the listener is plunged headlong into Daou’s sexually intimate space. In referring to her sex as a long tunnel, Daou suggests the pleasure received from its engagement transcends temporality. There is no door at the end of this tunnel. Daou and her partner can explore this tunnel for however long they can last. A further celebration of female sexuality continues on “Sunday Afternoons,” in which Daou pleasures herself to the memories of trysts with her unfaithful, transient male lover. Daou “[sits] at home / at her desk alone” as an act of ritual, space and time aligning to activate a specific and imperfect pleasure. “Near the Black Forest”, blends self-pleasure, partnered pleasure, and the external gaze into a laidback, late-night groove.

    On the other end of the spectrum, “Becoming a Nun” turns abstinence into ecstasy. The narrator steels herself against “sex with it’s messy hungers” and “men with their peacock struts” by “[buttoning her] mouth against kisses” and “[dusting her] breasts with talcum.”  She acknowledges “love with its pumping blood,” but the act of preserving herself becomes a pleasure in and of itself, a mirror of the pleasure achieved from the physical act of sex.

    Daou associates female pleasure derived from the vagina with something beyond structured time. In addition to calling her vagina a long tunnel, she likens her pubic hair to a forest, natural and apart from the artificiality of patriarchal society. She, or rather the personae she inhabits, are at once metaphysical and material.

    “Zipless” is unquestionably heteronormative. The pleasure she shares is with a male partner. However, these partners are rarely the subject. When speak-singing explicitly about sex, Daou forefronts women’s sexuality.

    She investigates the internalization of patriarchy through “Alcestis on the Poetry Circuit,” where, imagining herself as a modern day Alcestis, Daou links the dismissive voice of the male gaze through literary irony and a mocking sense of self-awareness. In a further act of liberation, she confronts patriarchal negation outright in “My Love Is Too Much.” In it Daou coolly articulates the pleasure narratives of the men in their life, while alluding to the complexities of women that go unnoticed.

    “Oh my love,
    those simple girls
    with simple needs
    read my books too.
    They tell me they feel
    the same as I do.
    They tell me I transcribe
    the language of their hearts.
    They tell me I translate
    their mute, unspoken pain
    into the white light
    of language.
    Oh love,
    no love
    is ever wholly undemanding.”

    In the push to decenter men from their narrative, Daou intones:

    “The love you seek
    cannot be found
    except in the white pages
    of recipe books.
    It is cooking you seek,
    not love,
    cooking with sex coming after,
    cool sex
    that speaks to the penis alone,
    & not the howling chaos
    of the heart.”

    With “Zipless”, Daou uses Jong’s poetry to point to the fact that love and loving is rarely done with cleanliness. It is messy–loving someone else and loving one’s self. It will not be perfect, but as Prado-Richardson explains, “some particularly painful aspects of living cannot be redrawn under a simplistic narrative. . . but in my mind, self-romance . . . is wanting things to work out for yourself. It is getting in touch with hope and admitting that you do want the things that you want. It is feeling your desires, whether they be stagnant, anxious, or invigorating.” Through Daou’s album, we bear witness to the vicissitudes that come with placing oneself inside and outside the realm of sexual pleasure by decentering patriarchy, and the potential for liberation derived from its undertaking.

    Femme Magazine

    aRUDE — The Argument is Made: A New Radical Economy — Iké Udé’s Nollywood Portraits

    Iké Udé, “The School of Nollywood, 2014-2016”, Nollywood Portraits: A Radical Beauty, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago


    Every exchange is in some way and unprincipled negotiation. The success or failure of any negotiation is measured as set up against how much one party gets compared to how much the other party does not get. While the details are variable, the one constant is the idea of ‘economy’, the currency of negotiation, by which each participant is attempting to get the most, while preserving as much of their asset as possible. Some assets are tangible, material – money, property – while others are ephemeral, immeasurable – a theory or idea.

    Beverly Naya, Iké Udé, 2014-2016

    “[T]his is … a grand, historical project that is designed for timelessness. We are just now, in the nascent stage of its reception.” — From “Life Master portraitist, Iké Udé, explores Nollywood’s radical beauty with 64 portraits of personalities in the industry”, Ventures Africa

    With every exchange, there is a sharing, giving and taking, a kind of quantum entanglement in which people and/or entities are connected by invisible forces which pull them together and propel them apart, in varying degrees. Every exchange is unique, situational, limited in space and time, the outcome of which is only known over time. The space in which any negotiation takes place can be thought of as a framework, the place in which the actual and imagined shaping of ideas takes place, and every framework is limited in space and time.

    Every work of art is a kind of exchange, a proposition; a framework in which an idea is set forth, and an argument is made. The viewer becomes participant once the artwork is observed. The mind immediately sets out to understand the artwork, and so doing, the observer sets new interpretations into motion, gives birth to new meanings, which then transmute into new ideas. Although the artwork remains fixed in the act of its being, its *selfhood*, through the process – of creation, display, observation, interpretation – new ideas are born and set into motion. This exchange between artwork and observer, of transmission (of message) and interpretation (of meaning), is at its essence, a negotiation. In this scenario, the concept, idea or message is the currency.

    Tunde Kelani, Iké Udé, 2014-2016

    As with any good argument, the more concise (whether image, language, line or music) the more successful the argument. The creator sets forth an idea, one that first exists inside the maker’s mind, which is released on the canvas, on the paper, page, stage. That idea is activated only by and through the observer’s thought of it. Much like the observer effect in Quantum Physics, the object under observation will undergo a different interpretation depending on the observer’s perspective, and changed each time it is considered.

    Photography is the art that makes the most effective argument for and/or against the *idea* of time, the notion of it, as it is the art which most effectively *stops* time. The lens records a slice of time, a sliver of history, and that image is *captured*, (af)fixed on a surface. Whether on paper or a computer screen, a photograph is both metaphor and memento, an object which represents something ‘occurred’ as well as something ‘obtained’, both the thought of the thing, and the thing itself. Every photograph sets the notion of  *reality* and *materiality* into question, making the argument that they are fleeting notions, that *knowledge* is but an illusion, and that *time* is as mutable as it is measurable.

    Alexx Ekubo, Iké Udé, 2014-2016, “The evolution of Nollywood in pictures”, CNN African Voices

    The power of a great photograph lies not in its *reflection* of reality, but the *subversion* of it: in its active grappling with the slippery concepts of Reality, History, Identity, Perception, and Time. Its greatness can be measured up against the strength of its *argument*, in how boldly and brazenly it dares to challenge the notions that we cling to. The *radical* picture holds all that we (think we) know suspended – like an insect trapped in amber – in perpetual intellectual limbo. What makes it *radical* is the degree to which it serves as both document (i.e. “proof” of) and metaphor (a “stand -in”) for existence itself, limited by our interpretation, but, like Time, open to an infinite future of continuous unfolding.

     

     

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    aRUDE — The Art of Experience — Vincent Williams, Honey’s Kettle, and the Curious History of Fried Chicken

    Authenticity is a tricky thing. Like love, like art, it has no real definition other than *you know it when you feel it*. And while individual experience is subjective, a communal experience is something shared. When something is shared by many, it is no longer ‘an’ experience, it becomes ‘the’ experience *of*: it shifts from *me* to *us*, from *micro* to *meta*.

    Nothing exists in a vacuum, and everything has a beginning, goes back, has its roots. Although fried chicken is traditionally associated with the American south, its origins can be traced to African and Scotland. There were a variety of west African peoples who were frying chicken through the ages, with added seasonings. The Scotts have been frying chicken since the middle ages, but they did so without seasoning. These techniques were combined during the slave trade. Notably, before World War II, fried chicken was expensive to make and only enjoyed on special occasions. That fried chicken became a food synonymous with affordable, fast food, is an irony not lost on history; fried chicken is more than simply a type of food, it is a metaphor for the victory and ascendancy of the subjugated. 

    Like Blues and Jazz, fried chicken, has its roots in the forced hybridization of the colonial and slave trade experiences, making it a testimony to the endurance of ideas. Borne of pleasure or pain, all ideas are free for the taking; all ideas are created equal. With Honey‘s Kettle, Vincent Williams
    has carved out a singular niche: traditional southern food which is equal parts cooking and cuisine, commerce and art, grit and glam. Here, fried chicken is not simply served to customers, but served up as a expression of the manifold layers of history: fried chicken, sweet yams, lemonade and blueberry hotcakes, all manifested as products of the creative process. 

    But you need not have had to experience southern fare to realize this is not just ‘cooking’, but cuisine of the highest order. One bite down through the crispy, impeccably seasoned crust, into the moist tender meat….. this — layered with the minimally portioned, impeccably nuanced sweet-meets-sour sliced pickles (just HOW is this pairing so PERfectly POSSible?!) — and you know this quietly bursting-with-flavor combination has not arrived by accident, but by many years of exquisitely crafted design. Not just fried chicken, but a metaphor for the hybridity and delicate complexity of our nuanced, multi-dimensional, shared, American experience. 

    — Vanessa Daou, 9.28.17

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    Props from NPR — Heavy Rotation: The 10 Songs Public Radio Can’t Stop Playing

    Deep, jazzy house is one of the more eclectic and evolving subsets of electronica, and Jaidene Veda continues to have the genre’s pulse. After receiving critical acclaim for her 2015 album Wanderlust, Veda has returned with Heart Of Gold, a release that sees her building on that momentum while expanding her sound and voice. This is evident in “Believe,” which channels stylistic forebears like Vanessa Daou and Santessa with breathy vocals set atop expansive, atmospheric melodies. The track, which features cameo appearances from Kafele Bandele and Master Mello, is haunting, blissful and sultry — making for a refined listening experience whether you’re dancing or just sitting back and nodding your head to the groove.

    Chris Campbell, WDET’s The Progressive Underground

    Beyond the Black Forest: In praise of Vanessa Daou | By Collin Kelley

    Link to original post here

    Paris. Summer 1995. A tiny hotel room in the 11th arrondissement near Place de la République. I have fallen madly in love with a blonde-haired boy, and we lounge on the bed as afternoon turns to evening. The tiny television is tuned to a music video channel, the sound at mood-enhancing volume. Over the indistinct cacophony of the city seeping in from the open window, I hear a familiar voice. I prop on one elbow, focus on the screen and there is a lithe woman with a pixie haircut cooing seductively over a languid, piano-driven trip-hop beat as dancers gyrate around her. It is Vanessa Daou singing “Near the Black Forest” from her iconic debut album Zipless based on the work of Erica Jong. If there was ever a more perfect song for seduction, I couldn’t think of one. We hear it again later at a disco in the Marais, grinding against each other, Vanessa’s song our aural talisman. The love affair, sadly, ends after Paris, but my love of Vanessa Daou remains. In some bit of surreal synchronicity, Vanessa is now my friend and collaborator. Love lost, love gained.

    Fast-forward to the summer of 2015. I am finishing the final book in The Venus Trilogy inspired by that trip to Paris so many years ago. Vanessa calls me and says she is wild about a piece of instrumental music used in the teaser trailer for the third book called Leaving Paris. She wants to write a song based on my trilogy and build on a sample of the trailer music. I put her in touch with brokenkites, the Atlanta-based electronic artist who has also become a frequent collaborator, and a few months later, Vanessa sends the demo called “Leaving Paris.” It is a haunting, melancholy love letter to the City of Light and perfectly encapsulates the trilogy. I cry for half an hour after hearing the song. Vanessa Daou’s hybrid of jazz, pop, trip-hop, house and spoken word has been the soundtrack to my life for the past 20 years. Now I am part of the soundtrack. A truly full-circle moment. How did this wondrous thing happen?

    (more…)

    Alicia Keys Kills It With Her New Single

    Alicia-Keys-single-770x770

    Alicia Keys’ new single is FIRE! She has come a long way from the screeching hot mess of yesteryear. It’s been a long time coming!

    By Negra With Tumbao
    June 7 2016

    “In Common” is the new single by Alicia Keys. I have to admit that I’ve not really been a fan of Mrs. Beatz. Her voice irritates me on the level of cats screeching outside to nails on the chalkboard. I’m not sure which is worse. I can name three other songs that I like by her. The rest- straight dookie. Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 11.44.27 AM

    Not this single though. I’m getting straight “808 and Heartbreak”, afropunk meets tribal house, and b-girl sexy. This shit is not a game. Vocally, she is giving me Vanessa Daou. That breathy, sexy and melodic whisper works for her. It’s waaaay better than her “being on fire”. The video is aesthetically and visually stunning with various shades of black people dancing and carrying on. It’s quite sensual.

    The Urban Twist

     

     

    A History of the Laser in Dance Music | Thump feature

    How dance musicians find their identities by losing themselves.

    By Michaelangelo Matos

    In the mid-80s, instead of elaborate headpieces, DJs hid their identities in a different way—by using a variety of anonymized aliases. In Detroit, Juan Atkins pioneered the practice of adopting a slew of pseudonyms like Model 500, Infiniti, and Channel One to reflect different aspects of his musical personality, while still cloaking his true identity. Prior to going solo, he had been in the foundational duo Cybotron with Rik Davies; the latter prefers to be known as 3070, like a robot or machine. Multiple recording aliases were also commonplace in early Chicago house: Jesse Saunders, whose “On and On,” from 1984 was the first house record, also released records as Fresh, the Browns, the Force, and Le’ Noiz.

    Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 11.53.57 AM

    Those artists’ many monikers became the model for much early 90s techno. For example, From Our Minds to Yours, Plus 8 Records’ first anthology CD from 1991, features eight credited artists, but only two (Kenny Larkin and Speedy J) weren’t aliases of Plus 8 founder Richie Hawtin, working alone or with others as F.U.S.E., Chrome, and States of Mind, Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 11.52.51 AMamong others. Another 1991 collection, Instinct Dance, on the New York label Instinct Records, features four artists, including Barracuda, Brainstorm, and Voodoo Child—but they’re all the work of one producer, Moby, who also gets two tracks under that name.

    Such obfuscation distinguished electronic music performers from their counterparts in genres like hip-hop and alternative rock, where artists were treated like rock stars. Speaking in 2014, Vanessa Daou—whose “Surrender Yourself,” with the group the Daou, hit number one on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart for eleven weeks in 1992—told me: “In rave culture oftentimes you didn’t know who the artist was: It was just a moniker. And that feeling of anonymity was important. You didn’t want to know who that person was. You just wanted to feel it.”

    Thump

    Eli Escobar’s ‘Phreeky’ collab Tracksource #1

    Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 11.31.14 AM

    Eli Escobar – Phreeky | Air London review

    Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 11.16.55 AM

    June 2016

    Eli Escobar’s new release for Classic Music Company is out now!

    “Eli Escobar and Classic are the perfect fit, with his unique style and timelessly fresh sound making this the most natural progression for Eli’s next outing. We welcome the New Yorker to the label with this two-track EP, featuring vocal talents of the legendary Vanessa Daou and ever-amazing Nomi Ruiz.

    Title track ‘Phreeky’ is an uplifting disco-house jam, with the repetitively chopped vocals making this a record that will be stuck in your head for days after hearing it on the dancefloor. ‘Can’t Stop Dancing’ takes the more jazzy route, with high-pitched keys working in perfect harmony with deep synths, providing a warm and summer-ready sound”.

    Air London

    A History of the Laser in Dance Music

    images

    From disco parties in the 70s to Daft Punk’s carnival-of-lights show at Coachella 2006, here’s how lasers became a big part of what defines a rave.

    Lasers were a visual analogue to the air-raid sirens festooning early house tracks like Todd Terry’s “Can You Party.” In fact, British police busting early raves were hesitant to use their squad cars’ sirens because “the dayglo freaks started jumping up and down and shouting, ‘Can you feel it?’,” Matthew Collin reported in Altered State.

    Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 11.36.48 AMWhen raves went stateside, Laserium naturally got involved: On September 7, 1990, seventeen years after its Observatory debut, the venerable company would erect an installation at Stranger Than Fiction at Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium, which featured New Yorkers Frankie Bones and Vandal (AKA Peter and Vanessa Daou) and Londoners Baby Ford and Trevor Fung. In an era when most raves were dubbed “undergrounds,” the show was heavily advertised instead of relying on word-of-mouth, and took place in an above-board venue rather than a janky warehouse—making it one of Los Angeles’ most visible parties at the time.

    Thump