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by PC Muñoz

18 Jan 2010

Over the past 20 years, dream-pop/spoken-word artist Ingrid Chavez has quietly and powerfully carved a unique path and place for herself in the world of music. Many music fans first encountered Chavez as the angelic character “Aura” in Prince’s 1990 film Graffiti Bridge. Pop and dance fans may remember her as the author of the words to Madonna’s erotic mega-hit “Justify My Love”, and R&B fans likely recall her groundbreaking 1991 Paisley Park release, May 19, 1992, which was packed with dancey grooves featuring both spoken poetry and spirited, sung vocals. Sonic adventurers of all stripes may also know her as a guest vocalist on recordings by composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and maverick recording artist David Sylvian. After taking some time off to raise her daughters and limiting her music output to a few sporadic guest spots, Chavez is now back with a highly anticipated new album, A Flutter and Some Words, which effectively coheres her diverse background and particular set of influences into an enchantingly fresh sound.

A Flutter and Some Words is a collaboration with a duo of super-talented Italian maestros, Lorenzo Scopelliti (co-writer, multi-instrumentalist) and Alessandro Mazzitelli (recording and mixing engineer). Recorded mostly in Italy (save for some production work on the title track by longtime friend/collaborator Richard Werbowenko) the 14-song collection is a treasure trove of sonic delights: an earthy mix of lovely organic textures, otherworldly soundscapes, found-sound percussion and traditional string and wind instruments, with Chavez’s exquisite voice and words holding it all together.

by Sarah Zupko

18 Jan 2010

The musical event of the week on TV had to be the Austin City Limits appearance of two of the world’s best rappers, the incomparable and adventurous Mos Def and the Somalian born K’naan. Both produced sterling albums last year that found their way into many top music of 2009 lists, including our Top 60 list, and both create the kind of thinking-person’s hip-hop that has expanded the boundaries of the genre.

K’Naan “Waving Flag”

by Bill Gibron

18 Jan 2010

Mo’Nique was there to pick up her statue. James Cameron was a far more gracious “king of the world” this time around. There were as many predictable turns as there were outright stunners. And Ricky Gervais was generally funny. All in all, the Hollywood Foreign Press and their annual Golden Globes argued for their continued obsolescence and/or cutting edge insight into the current state of cinema, rewarding some clear consensus picks while pulling a few jaw-droppers out of their swanky continental collective. For those who missed the ceremony, here is a recap of the major movie awards: 

Best Motion Picture - Drama

Nominees:
Avatar
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
Up in the Air

Perhaps the only real surprise here is that a film that’s made over $1 billion dollars internationally would NOT win the best picture award. Cameron’s epic has clearly touched a nerve overseas, and with this win (beating presumptive favorite Hurt Locker and Up in the Air) definitely positions itself as the new Oscar frontrunner…for now…until the inevitable backlash begins (if it hasn’t already). 

Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy

Nominees:
(500) Days of Summer
The Hangover
It’s Complicated
Julie & Julia
Nine

Considering its gross out, over the top, toilet bowl buffoonery, a Hangover win definitely stands as almost unbelievable. It would be easier to see any of the other films nominated picking up the little gold orb over this massive mainstream hit. While (500) Days of Summer would be preferable, it’s amazing that the Hollywood Foreign Press have decided to reward Todd Phillips film over what many might see as more “traditional” fare.

by Diepiriye Kuku

17 Jan 2010

I literally choked when Florida delivered the lines: “What do you mean ‘Our time of life’. You forget: You people don’t never know how old we are. That kills you, don’t it!” Ester Rolle delivers this line so gloatingly that I literally curled over ROFLMAO! Florida had shown up all in sorts of trouble and Maude made it her busy-ness to find out. Maude was constantly projecting her own menopause onto others, and wringing it in to explain what appeared inexplicable to her. Turns out, Florida’s husband had gotten a second job and was keen to keep to his wife at home, like white folks do.

That’s what makes Maude so interesting—the show took every ditch and vibe with its racial jokes as a means to challenge stereotypes. And like this episode, many of the jokes were delivered by whites and blacks, and in mixed company, quite unlike the show’s predecessor, All in the Family, and quite more poignantly than its sisters, the direct spin-off Good Times, as well as The Jeffersons. In so doing, the storylines of Maude really pressed our culture to face some of its darkest secrets around gender, age, and class. As it turns out, these three tropes of modernity are inseparable and must be examined together. Sure, its complicated. Often we talk about race, but what we really mean is class. Or then there’s the very real gender component to everything in modern life, so much so that the reality is that women on Earth are still poorer than men as a whole. Indeed, it’s complicated. Fortunately, shows like Maude made us laugh so hard we cried. We may have even shed a tear or two over our own hypocrisy. And then, well, then there’s Maude herself.

by Rob Horning

17 Jan 2010

Nicholas Negroponte’s Being Digital was written in 1995, but it seems much older. The detail with which he has to explain concepts we now take utterly for granted (the idea of broadband internet, the concept of cell phones with internet capabilities, even things like browsers and streaming video) reveals how drastically society has changed.and how much technology we have assimilated in the past 15 years to everyday life. Negroponte was prescient in some ways (about timeshifting and automated recommendation systems, for example), but he makes some predictions that seem foolish now—we’re all supposed to be interacting entirely with voice commands with our devices, and videoconferencing with miniature holograms, like when Darth Vader talks to the emperor in Empire Strikes Back.

The most notable thing he is wrong about is the future of the media, the economics of digitization; he simply couldn’t anticipate social media or peer-to-peer sharing. He thought that media companies would be able to monetize their archive by digitizing it; instead, digitization has promoted the concept of universal availability and the whole “information wants to be free” idea. It’s interesting to see how complete the big-media hegemony was, so that futurists like Negroponte (who were talking to corporations more than individuals, it seems) couldn’t see around it. Negroponte expects media to move to a lucrative pay-per-view model, with customers paying extra for more personalization and ad-supported media diminishing. Instead, search and advertising is the largest online business, and big media has found itself competing with noncommercial information providers and sorters, who have made editing and metainformation as much a free commodity as information itself. Big media has lost its leverage, not gained it. We can get personalized information only from peers, and it is personal in some senses precisely because we don’t pay for it. Personalization has proven to mean a growing acceptance of amateurism and the “good enough revolution”. Information becomes “free” but so does a great deal of intellectual labor. Intellectual property is no longer profitable, exploitation of free labor moves to replace it.

//Mixed media
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