Tied by the Disaster Posts

It started without any pretense or clear definition on Friday, March 11th, with this post:

Chris Doran created the group

A week later, Friday, March 18th, 2 a.m., and the group now has 654 posts. It also has a name: "SENDAI EARTHQUAKE FRIENDS & FAMILY LINK

and a description:

Euan Millar THIS GROUP WAS SET UP TO LINK PEOPLE TO MISSING PEOPLE. It is run by English teachers who work, or used to work, in Sendai and Miyagi. ALL MEMBERS please check locations of missing and provide as much information as you can. First names, Last names, Location (address if possible), link to an image uploaded to your Facebook photos of the missing person. We will do our best with what we have, but the more info you offer, the better.


For the first few days, the posts generally adhered to the mission set out above: determining the whereabouts of English teachers, their loved ones, friends, host families, and Japanese colleagues throughout the afflicted areas: in Sendai city proper, but also along the coast--particularly Kesennuma, Ishinomaki, Matsushima, and Shiogama. As information came in, statuses were updated on this Google doc.

By yesterday, as night gave way to morning, one post captured the success of these efforts by summarizing the remaining uncertainties: five missing from Ishinomaki, three from Kesennuma, four from Minami Sendai, six from Matsushima, five from Shiogama, one from Izumi, two from Wakabayashi, five from Sendai, eight from "Elsewhere" and three designated as "location unknown".

Calls for assistance have come in the form of YouTube embeds:

as well as names and photographs:

Evidence of a community, seeking closure; hoping to locate every last name on the list; desperately hoping that all are well.


But the community is not only an exemplar of utility. It also is a study of spontaneous, engineered community under conditions of crisis. For technologists and sociologists, it is also a case of adaptation and perfectability on the fly. For instance, in early posts, the community struggled to work through the kinks. For instance, according to one post:

Joshua MS Yeah I've been having problems with this page too. Looks like Facebook group pages aren't designed to have this much activity. Getting a lot of "script errors" which feel like ajaxy server overload since there are so many of us updating at ...once.

In time, Joshua recommended starting a Wiki (and, in fact, this one was quickly created by someone in Seattle, and proved to be exceptionally helpful), as well as a Twitter project, which was quickly explained in a subsequent post by Iain Campbell:

The Twitter Project:

If you want to help us from abroad I have a task for you!

Twitter can be an effective way to get up-to-date information on this crisis, but in order to organize it we need to organize some key word hash tags.

As far as I understand it, if we organize key hash tags, people will be able to scour twitter more effectively for their loved ones and for updated information.

After this, Campbell identified a set of potential hashes and then asked people to create hashmarks after picking plots off a grid downloadable from a dropbox account that had been established.

Such efforts underscoring the degree to which social media and web-based tools could prove instrumental in facilitating group action on the ground.


Beyond the narrow mission of search and determine, the FB group has served to advance other forms of collective action. This includes:

  1. identifying contacts in an area:

    Chris Doran: Kesennuma Contacts: Paul Fales, Milt Moise, Joe Raveslot, Dan Ross. Who has LINKS in the area of Kesennuma. We need contacts to help locate Jessica Besecker and Edward Clemons...pass it on...

  2. offers to assist:

    Canon Purdy: Hi everyone! I am currently in Rifu with internet access and electricy and will probably be for a couple more days. If anyone hears about reports needed a translator in the Miyagi area, Im very happy to help! Ill do my best here to help find our friends. Thank you everyone for working so hard!

  3. calls for assistance:

    Megan Regard Walsh: No answer after 5 days from family friends Akazaki family of ichinoseki.Toshie lives w her daughters miori and Yuna and her elderly parents just north of Sendai: 6-3 minami-machi Ichinoseki-shi Iwate-ken Japan 021-0863 Phone 81-19123-9505
    Is this too far away for the bike crew? Can someone in country get through to that number? The Davidson/Dawson/Purdy family would like to confirm their status. Thank you!

  4. requests (and information on how) to make donations:

    Carlos Gonzales: There is an easy way to raise money for using your Cell phone's txt messaging. Just text REDCROSS to 90999 using your cell phone and $10 is debted/credited to your cell phone donated to the Red Cross. Please Donate, I've done only takes a few minutes of your time.

  5. passing along shopping information:

    Edward Robledo: SENDAI PEEPS: I saw on the news that from today till March 21 a market will be open on the Sun Mall from 1pm - 5pm. Also, if you have an UJIE Market nearby, there's a good chance they'll be selling some bare essentials. Get there quick. Anybody in the Nagamachi-minami area?

    Anyone with any other info on shops open?

    Angel F Kawcuniak: Ground Report: Donkihote Store in Bansui-dori St. in #Sendai planning to open at 12pm Wed 16th. Schedule may change.

    Edward Robledo: Daiei open. Just heard from Adam J. that Daiei has been open everyday. The Daiei on Aoba-dori

  6. and other kinds of constructive information:

    Toshiko Doi: @Ishinomaki, it seems the phone connection is gradually recovering, and some people started reporting that they got emails or phone calls from their family/friends in there.


As a unity, these posts suggest that, while far from normalized, with each passing hour a certain stability and order is settling in. That normalization is due, in no small part, to the multi-pronged efforts of this impromptu group.

The group members--generally foreigners, many who have only a tenuous understanding of the greater language community and larger events enveloping them--have effectively marshaled their energy, pooled their resources, and taken advantage of available tools to connect, communicate, cooperate and better their difficult, often dire, conditions.

If nothing else, this experience underscores one of the few truths I have learned about humans: character is measured and proven in response to crisis. And while the crisis is far from over; it is reassuring to know that the courageous, cooperative character of those afflicted shows no sign of abating.

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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The Best Dance Tracks of 2017

Photo: Murielle Victorine Scherre (Courtesy of Big Beat Press)

From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

In June of 2016, prolific producer Diplo lambasted the world of DJ's in an interview with Billboard, stating that EDM was dying. Coincidentally enough, the article's contents went viral and made their way into Vice Media's electronic music and culture channel Thump, which closed its doors after four years this summer amid company-wide layoffs. Months earlier, electronic music giant SFX Entertainment filed bankruptcy and reemerged as Lifestyle, Inc., shunning the term "EDM".

So here we are at the end of 2017, and the internet is still a flurry with articles declaring that Electronic Dance Music is rotting from the inside out and DJ culture is dying on the vine, devoured by corporate greed. That might all well be the case, but electronic music isn't disappearing into the night without a fight as witnessed by the endless parade of emerging artists on the scene, the rise of North America's first Electro Parade in Montréal, and the inaugural Electronic Music Awards in Los Angeles this past September.

For every insipid, automaton disc jockey-producer, there are innovative minds like Anna Lunoe, Four Tet, and the Black Madonna, whose eclectic, infectious sets display impeccable taste, a wealth of knowledge, and boundless creativity. Over the past few years, many underground artists have been thrust into the mainstream spotlight and lost the je ne sais quoi that made them unique. Regardless, there will always be new musicians, producers, singers, and visionaries to replace them, those who bring something novel to the table or tip a hat to their predecessors in a way that steps beyond homage and exhilarates as it did decades before.

As electronic music continues to evolve and its endless sub-genres continue to expand, so do fickle tastes, and preferences become more and more subjective with a seemingly endless list of artists to sift through. With so much music to digest, its no wonder that many artists remain under the radar. This list hopes to remedy that injustice and celebrate tracks both indie and mainstream. From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

10. Moullinex - “Work It Out (feat. Fritz Helder)”

Taken from Portuguese producer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist Luis Clara Gomes' third album Hypersex, "Work It Out" like all of its surrounding companions is a self-proclaimed, "collective love letter to club culture, and a celebration of love, inclusion and difference." Dance music has always seemingly been a safe haven for "misfits" standing on the edge of the mainstream, and while EDM manufactured sheen might have taken the piss out of the scene, Hypersex still revels in that defiant, yet warm and inviting attitude.

Like a cheeky homage to Rick James and the late, great High Priest of Pop, Prince, this delectably filthy, sexually charged track with its nasty, funk-drenched bass line, couldn't have found a more flawless messenger than former Azari & III member Fritz Helder. As the radiant, gender-fluid artist sings, "you better work your shit out", this album highlight becomes an anthem for all those who refuse to bow down to BS. Without any accompanying visuals, the track is electro-funk perfection, but the video, with its ruby-red, penile glitter canon, kicks the whole thing up a notch.

9. Touch Sensitive - “Veronica”

The neon-streaked days of roller rinks and turtlenecks, leg warmers and popped polo collars have come and gone, but you wouldn't think so listening to Michael "Touch Sensitive" Di Francesco's dazzling debut Visions. The Sydney-based DJ/producer's long-awaited LP and its lead single "Lay Down", which shot to the top of the Hype Machine charts, are as retro-gazing as they are distinctly modern, with nods to everything from nu disco to slo-mo house.

Featuring a sample lifted from 90s DJ and producer Paul Johnson's "So Much (So Much Mix)," the New Jack-kissed "Veronica" owns the dance floor. While the conversational interplay between the sexed-up couple is anything but profound, there is no denying its charms, however laughably awkward. While not everything on Visions is as instantly arresting, it is a testament to Di Francesco's talents that everything old sounds so damn fresh again.

8. Gourmet - “Delicious”

Neither Gourmet's defiantly eccentric, nine-track debut Cashmere, nor its subsequent singles, "There You Go" or "Yellow" gave any indication that the South African purveyor of "spaghetti pop" would drop one of the year's sassiest club tracks, but there you have it. The Cape Town-based artist, part of oil-slick, independent label 1991's diminutive roster, flagrantly disregards expectation on his latest outing, channeling the Scissor Sisters at their most gloriously bitchy best, Ratchet-era Shamir, and the shimmering dance-pop of UK singer-producer Joe Flory, aka Amateur Best.

With an amusingly detached delivery that rivals Ben Stein's droning roll call in Ferris Bueller's Day Off , he sings "I just want to dance, and fuck, and fly, and try, and fail, and try again…hold up," against a squelchy bass line and stabbing synths. When the percussive noise of what sounds like a triangle dinner bell appears within the mix, one can't help but think that Gourmet is simply winking at his audience, as if to say, "dinner is served."

7. Pouvoir Magique - “Chalawan”

Like a psychoactive ayahuasca brew, the intoxicating "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique's LP Disparition, is an exhilarating trip into unfamiliar territory. Formed in November of 2011, "Magic Power" is the musical project of Clément Vincent and Bertrand Cerruti, who over the years, have cleverly merged several millennia of songs from around the world with 21st-century beats and widescreen electro textures. Lest ye be worried, this is anything but Deep Forest.

In the spring of 2013, Pouvoir Magique co-founded the "Mawimbi" collective, a project designed to unite African musical heritage with contemporary soundscapes, and released two EPs. Within days of launching their label Musiques de Sphères, the duo's studio was burglarized and a hard drive with six years of painstakingly curated material had vanished. After tracking down demos they shared with friends before their final stages of completion, Clément and Bertrand reconstructed an album of 12 tracks.

Unfinished though they might be, each song is a marvelous thing to behold. Their stunning 2016 single "Eclipse," with its cinematic video, might have been one of the most immediate songs on the record, but it's the pulsing "Chalawan," with its guttural howls, fluttering flute-like passages, and driving, hypnotic beats that truly mesmerizes.

6. Purple Disco Machine - “Body Funk” & “Devil In Me” (TIE)

Whenever a bevy of guest artists appears on a debut record, it's often best to approach the project with caution. 85% of the time, the collaborative partners either overshadow the proceedings or detract from the vision of the musician whose name is emblazoned across the top of the LP. There are, however, pleasant exceptions to the rule and Tino Piontek's Soulmatic is one of the year's most delightfully cohesive offerings. The Dresden-born Deep Funk innovator, aka Purple Disco Machine, has risen to international status since 2009, releasing one spectacular track and remix after another. It should go without saying that this long-awaited collection, featuring everyone from Kool Keith to Faithless and Boris D'lugosch, is ripe with memorable highlights.

The saucy, soaring "Mistress" shines a spotlight on the stellar pipes of "UK soul hurricane" Hannah Williams. While it might be a crowning moment within the set, its the strutting discofied "Body Funk", and the album's first single, "Devil In Me", that linger long after the record has stopped spinning. The former track with its camptastic fusion of '80s Sylvester gone 1940s military march, and the latter anthem, a soulful stunner that samples the 1968 Stax hit "Private Number", and features the vocal talents of Duane Harden and Joe Killington, feels like an unearthed classic. Without a doubt, the German DJ's debut is one of the best dance records of the year.

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