Monday, March 08, 2010
C.G. Jung, Psychology and Alchemy, CW 12 para 439
Dreams, those mysterious visitors in the night… Are they simply residues of daytime experience, anomalies as the brain de-frags itself? Or are they, as humans have held for millennia, something more substantial, crucial perhaps? Dream work plays a major part of my own psychotherapy practice, in resonance with my Jungian orientation, yet it has cross-cultural roots that go farther back than Freud or Jung...
In Greek mythology, Nyx – the Goddess of night – gave birth to the twin brothers Hypnos (sleep) and Thanatos (death), as well as to the Oneiroi, the dreams… In Indian Vedic tradition, in the Atharva Veda, dreams come from Yama’s world, from the world of death. As Jungian Analyst James Hillman expresses, “each dream is a child of the night, afflicted with sleep and death…” Every transformation involves a symbolic death as well as birth, the alchemical nigredo and coagulatio…
Charon, another child of Nyx, is the ferryman of departed souls as they enter Hades through the underworld river Acheron… Hades, through his symbolic connection with the Eagle, has a shadowy affiliation with his brother Zeus, also connected with the Eagle. As Hillman expresses, this suggests an awareness of the Upperworld and Underworld as similar but with different perspectives. Returning to Indian tradition, now post-Vedic – in the Mandukya Upanishad, Visva (waking) and Taijasa (sleeping) are also felt to be similar, different sides of the same phenomena, with one looking out towards external objects and the other towards inner objects… In our own lives, synchronistic phenomenon hint at the dreamlike nature of waking life (something the Aboriginal peoples seem well-attuned to, with their sense of Dream-time) and premonitory dreams make us wonder about the distinctions between inner and outer, as well as the nature of time and space…
It’s easy to think of Hades as an entirely nefarious entity, especially when we’ve split off the dark from the light. Yet, through his connection with Pluto, he is also associated with wealth and riches, and through his connection with Trophonios, Hades is connected with nourishment. Hence he becomes the wealthy one, the giver of nourishment to the soul – if we have the courage to listen…
The Greeks would make pilgrimages from across the lands, to Asclepian temples, where they would consult their dreams for healing from somatic and psychological maladies. After a process of ritual purification, there was a descent through chambers of snakes – associated with the creative and transformative potential of the underworld – and into the abaton, where one would sleep and wait for the gods to deliver answers. With regards to the snake imagery, this also forms another underworld-overworld connection, as established between Hades and Zeus – in Greek art and sculpture, Zeus was also imaged as a bearded snake…
The image of modern medicine, the Caduceus, also contains an image of interwoven snakes that harkens back to this tradition of Asclepius. Unfortunately, outside of the Jungian world and some psychoanalytic practitioners, clinical work with dreams exists in the margins of contemporary healing traditions. Despite this, many of us still do use our dream and fantasy life to creatively enrich our waking life in one way or another…
So, in the spirit of dreaming and the dream world, of Imagination and Creativity, please join us on March 20, 2010 for “Dreamplay” – 7-10PM @ Workspace (2150 Folsom Street @ 17th in the Mission). It will be a playful evening of interactive performance, art installation and soundscapes… There will be a remix of the abaton (Heather King Singh, Khenu Singh) - for this, come bearing dreams you are willing to share, allowing the psychopomp to guide you into the inner chamber, to be recorded and mixed into the event, with an attitude of respect, reverence and creative play... There will also be a sin eater café (Delfina Piretti), dream potions (Heather King), performance art (Raphael Noz), video art (Khenu Singh), spoken word and performance (Eric Subido), shadow dance and art installation (Andrea Bass), as well as paintings and art that explore the mythopoetic realms of Psyche…
The night will be a benefit for Haitian Children, with all proceeds going towards this. Please come out and represent!
An evening of performance art, interactive
art installations and soundscapes.
March 20, 2010
7 to 10 PM
W O R K S P A C E
2150 Folsom Street (at 17th )
Mission District, San Francisco
Come celebrate Spring Equinox!
Requested Donation: $10.00
All proceeds go to Haitian Children.
Heather King Singh
Sunday, March 07, 2010
In a dark warehouse space, a roots tune comes to close and a siren unit bleep is triggered and dubbed through an analogue delay, a rhythmic drift into thick, humid and pregnant space – peppered by a few anticipatory hoots and screams… a few syncopated beats deepen the tension… then we’re released and dropped into the fierce wobble of a heavy dubstep bassline, one that seems to drive straight into our hearts and souls… First we simply experience and perhaps later we wonder – why are we affected as we are by these dark, shimmering low-end tones?
The scene shifts to the Balinese countryside, the lush, breathtaking emerald-green of the Ayung River Gorge fades to night... In the dark, the images are sonic ones (1), the growling sound of our motorcycle and the syncopated barking of stray dogs slowly crossfade into the songs of frogs and crickets that sing alongside a Gamelan ensemble playing a village ceremony… Quivering interference beats (2) arise in the space between two metallophones tuned just slightly apart – with a pulsating quality reminiscent of the sub-bass wobble… What is this connection in the perception and experience of these sounds from such different cultures and traditions?
At the back of our mind, somewhere in our being, we feel the archetypal pulsation that the Kashmiri Tantrikas referred to as Spanda, the pulsation and dynamic creativity at the heart of everything. Back of the mind – what does “back” or for that matter, “depth” (as in depth psychotherapy) or any other signifier of linear, temporal-spatial dimension really mean in the realm where Kronos (3) is intoxicated by honey as Nyx (4) sings her songs, and the entire Universe moves in ecstatic dance to the beat of Adrasteia’s cymbals and drum…
We will circle around these questions as we explore Spanda and view this in relation to Carl Jung’s seminal exploration of the Self, in Aion: Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self (5)… Though he drew from Vedanta and the Upanishads (6), which also explore the nature of Atman and the Self, Jung had a complicated and ambivalent relationship to (the spectrum of) the East, and what it had to offer the so-called Westerner. Though he had explored Eastern texts more than most other psychologists of his time, he didn’t always seem to understand that it is in fact such a spectrum. He did have the humility to acknowledge this at some points (though this isn’t as clear at other points) – it was simply too much for him to take on as a more comprehensive study.
India alone has so much diversity, with some consistent threads and themes that weave in and out with many substantial points of divergence. Jung sometimes criticized the Indian as being otherworldly. There certainly are influential movements in Indian philosophy – such as Shankara’s Advaita Vedanta – that look at the phenomenal world as illusory, therefore supporting Jung’s critical position. Tantra, itself with a diverse and complex cast of characters and groups, took a quite different take on the matter. Here, the world wasn’t seen illusory, but rather, the play of a creative consciousness that seeks to manifest and thereby see itself…
This forms another thread that weaves through Balinese culture, which is in part is a fascinating syncretism between indigenous shamanic and animistic traditions and Hinduism (7). In this culture, creative process is prayer, as it mirrors the creative nature of the larger Consciousness (8). Likewise, in Indian creative and aesthetic traditions, riyaz – a term that normally refers to practice of one’s instrument – is felt by some to come from a Sanskrit term for prayer, riyazat.
Spanda is a significant concept in the Shaivite Tantric tradition. It was first introduced by Gaudapada in his Mandukya-Karika – a commentary on the Mandukya Upanishad (where we find reference to various stages of consciousness as well as the idea of Aum). Spanda refers to the vibration, pulsation, or shimmering that is at the core of the Divine in these systems. This helps shed some light on why the Balinese claim to experience more pure contact with God in the shimmering interference beats I spoke of earlier in this essay, the pulsation between tones. Perhaps this gives us another lens with which to look at certain forms of vibration and shimmer in more contemporary musical traditions, from roots reggae to dubstep…
In Aion, Jung attempts to expand our understanding of the Self to not only be something creative and of the light, but also with a dark and potentially destructive side. Jung was critical of the god-image in much of Christianity, feeling that the darkness had been split off and been carried by the Devil… He proposed that we need a more encompassing image that reflected both the creative and destructive aspects of the Divine. Indians are fond of establishing parallels between the macrocosm and microcosm; in this spirit, we do see this creative and destructive process mirrored in the phenomenon of interference beats – when in phase there is a creative, additive effect and when out of phase, there is a destructive, negating effect…
The cross-fader cuts back and forth between Gamelan field recordings from a recent trip, and Vex’d, with his own metallic cacophony of beats, and distorted pulsations of sine waves modulated by oscillators, sound emerging from electronics rather than traditional instruments – acoustic or digital, just different forms and transformations of creative libido (in the broader Jungian, and Tantric sense) really, a reminder of the spirit and soul that has often been a companion to physics and physicists (9)…
There is something about the pulsation itself that draws us in – from the perspective of Tantric Shaivism, it could be seen as a form of bhakti, a devotional worship of the creative Consciousness. Yet, there is something in particular about certain tonalities, both the minor keys that are used, as well as the dirty and gritty textures of the bass sounds themselves that stand out in dubstep. Maybe it’s not entirely different from distorted, Punk Rock sounds that draw some of us in as well, that speak to our angst and our knowing of pain, suffering and oppression that exists in life. I argue that one root of our draw into a dark dubstep wobble is a desire to step towards wholeness (10).
We tire of images of spirituality that are too bright in one way or another. One shadow of various New Age perspectives and voices is the exclusion of the shadow, the darker aspect of life, including that of the numinous. We need to have the darker experience of life mirrored back to us in sound, or it’s a deadening – any extreme constellates something of the other pole – which (when untended) can be thrown into the unconscious, from where it’s either projected externally or haunts us through some form of neurosis. An extreme focus on the light is no exception – though perhaps harder to see in its blinding brightness…
Many of us yearn to have a psychoacoustic experience of the darker aspect of the numinous – one we can face squarely in the eye, try to relate to, and maybe even howl while doing it (and then, to have this in a collective setting, it feeds our need to have shared ritual with one another). When we do find it, it grips us like any deep and complementing archetypal experience can... This is one aspect of what drives our interest in horror movies – to have a sense of control in relation to what evokes fear and dread…
This dances with and completes itself by being in dynamic relation with brighter tones and melodies that bring in some light. Unless this happens – which unfortunately has more often been the case than not in my experience of many a dubstep night, which can be too heavy with the dark (or without other forms of creative diversity) – it becomes equally lopsided, and thereby monotonous and deadening in other ways. What wonders when a roots track kicks in, or a bubbling lover’s rock tune drops us into a different sort of soulful space. Or for that matter, when the melody of a sarod drops in, along the curves of the dark, pulsating, low-end terrain… So many forms and transformations of Spanda, a shimmering echo that dubs through these various rhythmical contours…
(1) Jung and post-Jungians often have a particular focus on the image. Jung alluded to this, but later post-Jungians have expanded the “image” beyond the visual, encompassing auditory, somatic and other forms of “imagery.” That these aspects of image, or modalities of perception are linked becomes clear in synasthetic phenomenon, including dreams that my tabla teacher has shared with me, in which tabla compositions were experienced as colors…
(2) Two sounds tuned to slightly different frequencies will produce a phenomenon called beating, where the volume alternates as the sounds interfere constructively and destructively, as they move in and out of phase with one another
(3) The Greek god associated with time
(4) The Greek goddess of night, mother to Hypnos (sleep), Thanatos (death) and the Oneroi (dreams) amongst others
(5) Collected Works, Volume 9, Part 2
(6) Jung may have been inspired to read the Upanishads by another of his intellectual influences – the German philosopher Schopenhaur, who was said to read from the Upanishads on a regular basis and who had named his cat Atman! In his lecture on Aion, Jungian Analyst Edward Edinger acknowledges that Jung did take the idea of the Self from the Upanishads
(7) Bali, with its Hindu majority, is in contrast to the other islands in the South Pacific which are mainly Islamic.
(8) Consciousness used here is a larger term then the Conscious aspect of Psyche which is contrasted against the Unconscious – it is a term that encompasses what the Jungians would call the Unconscious, and has a teleological aspect
(9) Jung had a long exchange with physicist Wolfgang Pauli – see for instance “On the Nature of the Psyche,” in Collected Works, Volume 8: Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche
(10) I choose “step towards” intentionally as this is a lifelong process, rather than some discrete state or final endpoint
Sunday, July 05, 2009
World of Reggae music live and grow. This time around Andy G of Roots and Wires Sound Dimensional along side Lionheart Sounds, Low Tones, and many more singers and players of the slowly emerging SF-Oakland Bay Area Roots Underground come together for a unity dance in commemoration of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I's 117th Earth Day Celebration.
The aim herein is to forward a collective effort and build a community around the word, sound, and power of dub reggae music. Heartical, Rootical, and deeper than deep we strive in this time to go.
Come one, Come all.
All Roads lead to Triple 2 Seven Gallery, 2227 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94606 on Friday 24 July 2009!
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Time often seems to coalesce around clusters of memories or experiences. Periods in life ebb and flow with the seasons not unlike recurring themes in the universal human story – fog rolls in, Sun shines up, the end of something, the start of a next thing. Blink your eyes and a season has past or one memory has flickered away to the next. But still, the grooves on the record must rewind from time to time…So rewind and come again my selector…
One such brief cluster of time in the 10 year story of the Roots and Wires Sound Dimensional was lived some five months ago on the Indian Subcontinent. After having been invited to play at the Indian Electronic Music Festival in late November of last year, we found ourselves barreling forward on an outernational adventure to the land of many a bustling metropolis, thousands of temples, and oceans of humanity so thick as to be beyond comprehension at times. The full story of that adventure is indeed a story for another time.
For now, I am going to step back to one moment in that journey - A moment that I had been anticipating for years before I ever set foot in India. Some years ago Khenu described to me what sounded like some mythological chamber within a chamber within a chamber lined with an endless union of priceless gold and gems all kingly in character. The temple and gems of which Khenu spoke had nothing to do with the Taj Mahal in
The multi-chambered temple of which I speak is lodged in bustling neighborhood only a short rickshaw ride from the
Records, as Sociologist Paul Gilroy has said, are complex cultural artifacts. Gilroy writes in his book Small Acts,
The music encoded onto the surface of the discs may be the primary inducement to acquire a record, but the sleeve with its combination of text and images comprises an important…element…
The pictures of Hindi album covers sprinkled throughout this article point to the multifarious purposes that album sleeves serve. Gilroy reminds us that album covers have, first and foremost, served as a way of defining an artist to an audience. Album jackets also function as a way of conveying symbolic “sub-culturally” distinctive ways of dress, fashion, and such. Album sleeves open a dialogue on how a cultural group, a sub-culture, or, as may the case, a nation views itself. The album sleeve and the music found therein “facilitates the circulation of styles and symbols, creating an aura of pleasure and desire around them which is an important political phenomenon. … They also help to solicit…audiences into specific modes of cultural and political identifications.”
This article is meant to serve as a brief opening and meditation on the lost art of the album sleeve and the multifarious meanings they carry. Each one of these images captures in one way or another, the essence of a particular historical moment in a way that the music cannot do alone.
Lakhi Uncle carries this history with him. Who feels it knows. Lakhi Uncle feels it. Lakhi Uncle knows it.
Should you be interested in exploring the depths of his musical ark you can contact Lakhwant Singh at firstname.lastname@example.org. Likewise, Lakhi Uncle is open to sales should you be looking for anything in the way of vintage and rare turntables and sound equipment.
Text by Andy G of Roots and Wires Sound Dimensional
Photos by Heather King Singh
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Greetings Musical Fans, Friends, and Extended Family, Recent events in the World of Roots and Wire Sound Dimensional have unfolded in ways synchronistic and magical. A few weeks ago we were asked to perform at the Indian Electronic Music Festival in New Dehli on 21 December 2007. The opportunity to dig into our dub basket and play a set of our original productions alongside some exclusive tracks sent our way is an honor indeed.
Recent events in the World of Roots and Wire Sound Dimensional have unfolded in ways synchronistic and magical. A few weeks ago we were asked to perform at the Indian Electronic Music Festival in New Dehli on 21 December 2007. The opportunity to dig into our dub basket and play a set of our original productions alongside some exclusive tracks sent our way is an honor indeed.
A big thanks to Qasim, the festival organizer, for offering us the opportunity to play this gig.
So if you are going to be in New Delhi during the holidays make it a point to swing by and check Roots and Wires in action. The outernational audiovisual vibes of Roots and Wires Sound Dimensional will be present in full force. The festival venue details are as follows:
Venue: The 2007 Indian Electronica Festival: Delhi will be held at Kuki - a new spot located in Greater Kailash II.
E 7, Greater Kailash II,
Masjid Moth Commercial Complex
Kuki's website: http://www.kuki.in/
Tickets at the gate! Come early! Stay late! Roots and Wires will be hitting the stage at 11 PM so Don't be late.
While in Delhi we will be entering the studio to record with a number of Indian classical musicians including members of the Roots and Wires extended family, Kishu and Vishal Nagar. In typical Roots and Wires fashion we will also be documenting our journey with camera and video cameras in tow. Nuff magnificent audiovisual magic must rise! So fret not if you can’t bounce to India!!! 2008 should bring some more audio inventions, deep dubs, and visual trickery from the RWSD set and sound. Stay tuned and in touch whether you may hail from east, west, north, or south!
Andy G and Special Agent K
Roots and Wires Sound Dimensional
Sunday, August 12, 2007
I was recently invited to perform at a New Global Citizens fundraiser, sponsored by Alarm Magazine. The visual and aural artists were asked to give individual expression to a fantastical story of a coffin that was said to have floated through Kingston with three crows perched on top… Though there are several versions of this tale in reggae music, the most known is Bob Marley’s – “Who is Mr. Brown?” It’s been referred to as one of his “most memorable songs.” Perhaps we can understand some of it's popularity through a consideration of socioeconomic forces, but upon reading the 1970 news report from the “Jamaica Daily Gleaner,” it seemed to me that there was something deeper at work in the capacity of this story to fascinate. Let’s take the first few paragraphs of this news report as a launching point for our own depth psychological exploration:
Hundreds of curious persons chased through the streets of downtown Kingston yesterday. For the
Majority the object of their chase was both elusive and invisible.
With pedal cyclists setting a hot pace, hagglers, office clerks, and school children rampaged along
King Street, Orange Street, Beckford Street, invaded Tivoli Gardens, and then doubled back on
their route; all the while searching for a glimpse of the object. The chase was provided with added
fuel by the spate of fanciful and weird rumors.
The whole narrative has a feeling of the mysterious and the fantastical, a numinosity that makes it clear that there are deeper elements of psyche at work... It can be looked at as a dream in which all the elements are aspects of an individual psyche, or also at the level of the group or collective psyche. Viewed from a Jungian perspective, in either case there is something from within or beyond (chose your preferred metaphor here) seeking relation or emergence. How will we respond to the calling? The frenzied quality of chasing after this strange and mysterious object, seems to reflect an ambivalent curiousity and an existential yearning for the numinous and spiritual – a hunger for the otherworldly. The collective nature of the frenzy reminds me of a good soundsystem dance - being connected in individual and yet collective ways to something (and some process) that we often term spiritual...
Of course, this type of contact can also evoke dread (which is why I say "ambivalent curiousity"), as obvious in the next quote:
A policeman shot at it in Spanish Town, a rumor stated. He was immediately stricken and taken
to the Spanish Town Hospital in an unconscious condition. The Spanish Town Police denied that
any member of the Force in that town was so incapacitated.
It’s fascinating to see this arise in the narrative. This fearful shooting at the otherworldly is associated with a state of unconsciousness. If looked at as a dream, the shooting can be equated with attempts to repress - in part, because of the intense anxieties associated with the unknown. Rudolph Otto, in his "The Idea of the Holy," defines the numinosum as Mysterium Tremendum et Fascinans - the mystery that not only fascinates, but also evokes dread and fear. As we know, we often try to destroy what we don't understand and what we fear. Yet, if we can't step up to it and into it, if the communication is repressed or ignored, consequences can follow, leading to or sustaining states of unconsciousness… If we look at Jung's recently published Red Book, we see the devastating consequences across Europe (during the World Wars) when the material in the personal and collective shadow was ignored. And we only have to open a newspaper or get online to see how the devastation emerging from unconsciousness continues across the globe through to the present...
The details of the elusive, mysterious object are also intriguing – it was reported as a coffin that either floated through town in mid-air, or rolled on three wheels. On top were perched three crows – in some versions, they were dressed in coats! This seems to accentuate the archetypal, trickster aspect often associated with crows. As well, from shamanic and Native American traditions, the crow is seen as the mediator between worlds (e.g. consciousness and the unconscious). Synchronistically, as I was preparing for the show – just the morning of the performance – I heard cawing and looked out over my laptop and midi controllers to see two large, black crows sitting on my fire escape. It was as if they had escaped from Mr. Marley's track and this blog piece into the world, flowing as ravens and crows do between worlds! The world as having qualities of dream is an interesting topic but for another time. I will say that the archetypal has a tendency to externalize at times, with the related phenomenon of synchronicity blurring the boundaries between internal and external, between dream/myth and so-called consensual reality… It's uncanny to see this unfold or emerge when I get into deeper processes with the patients in my psychotherapeutic practice. And back to the "dream" - the coffin image is also relevant. In alchemical treatises, where the goal was most deeply a process of transformation of cultivation of the lapis (philospher's stone) or the Alchemical gold (i.e. a living relation with our core nature - what Jung and vendantics call the "Self" or Atman), one important stage along the way was the nigredo which involved the dying off of older and relatively limited ways of being, perceiving and so on, in order to pave the way for a new and more whole or authentic relationship with oneself, others and the world...
Rewinding the story a bit, as I sat with this news report in Andy G’s echo chamber, the whole account seemed to come together as a contemporary fairy tale or myth. Starting with the mundane, ordinary state of consciousness. Then, the encounter with the Mystery – or psychologically, the encounter of the ego with the Self, or consciousness and the Unconscious. Next, an initial fear in relation to the encounter, as it shakes things up and breaks things down in a sort of symbolic dismemberment. Sometimes we don't have the ego-strength or right attitude to pass the initiatory trial (e.g. the policeman who shoots and is rendered unconscious) - leaving us with a failed initiation. And sometimes we do - see Jung's essay "Spirit Mercurius" - Alchemical Studies CW 13 - for another version of this myth and this theme. There’s an ensuing struggle and the process of potentially transformational contact between consciousness and soul, as the ego seeks to reconstitute itself in new relationship with the depths. In our composition for the event, we tried to capture some feeling of these dismembering-fragmenting processes by transitioning from slower, darker dub (Little Tempo’s “Boogie Man Walk”) to subsequent, more frenetic junglist riddims. Finally, when all goes well, there’s the reconstitution of a more integrated person/group/culture. When it doesn't go well, there's some form of psychosis - either literally or metaphorically...
The collective unconscious emerges in images. The most vivid images are found in popular culture. There is a compensatory aspect to this emergence from the shadows, with the goal being movement into a relatively more whole and integrated state of being - again at both personal and collective levels. Of course, this is always an ongoing process, rather than some final end state. Along these lines, there is the history of Jamaica as a former colony, largely composed of the descendents of former slaves. In the 1930’s, Marcus Garvey started the “Back to Africa” movement, echoed throughout roots reggae and reggae-influenced songs. This is another expression of yearning for the (breakdown and then re-) creation of a new, more empowered and authentic identity - here, one with more capacity for self-determination and with connection into a larger framework of roots and culture… We attempt to convey this sort of movement in the Aswad track “Back to Africa,” as well as a version by the Japanese band “Tokyo Reggae Clash.” This theme also continues with the classic Earl Sixteen track, “Going to Africa,” and concludes with the wicked Smith and Mighty version of Mudala Kunene's “Ubombo” that evokes a sense of trembling and quivering connection with one's deeper nature and power...
So enough of these meandering and words for now! Get cozy in your space, and click on the link below to hear the performance as played at 111 Minna on August 10, 2007 by the Special Agent K…
Link to 111 Minna Performance Audio Stream
Thursday, May 24, 2007
BASS IS MATERNAL: Rob Smith in the Sound Arena
BY ANDY G, Roots and Wires Sound Dimensional
Music on my sound system in the here and now:
Smith & Mighty’s first full-length album, BASS IS MATERNAL.
With each pulse, each hi-hat rewound and rerubbed, each sliver of keyboard omitted and reintroduced in between the constant heartbeat of a dubwise bassline, the boundary between me and the sub-frequencies entering my ears and body is diminished. I have entered an all-encompassing womb of sound…BASS IS MATERNAL. WHEN IT IS LOUD I FEEL SAFER…Believe…
In the realm of sounds and blues, Rob Smith, founding member of Bristol beat makers Smith & Mighty, Blue & Red, and More Rockers reigns supreme. Born out of the rich musical firmament of the early 1980s Bristol U.K. scene, Rob Smith cultivated his now distinctive sound through endless experimentation with old reel-to-reel tape recorders. Slowly but surely, Rob began making loops and playing sounds through echo pedals.
Given the dub reggae foundation on which his sound has been forged it is no surprise that Rob also cultivated his skills by playing rhythm guitar for early Bristol reggae band, Restriction. During this time his band shared the stage in support of many a roots reggae stalwart. He did the Rasta Serenade along side Aswad. He did the Herbsman Hustle on the same bill as Sugar Minott. He recorded for the mighty Mad Professor at Ariwa Studios.
All the while Rob soaked in the vibes of roots reggae sound systems: Jah Shaka, Jah Tubbys, too many to mention. Dub like dirt. Musical dispensation. Heartical revelation.
Around 1985 he met up with Ray Mighty. On discovering that they had a similar interest in synchronizing beat machines, synths and sound effects, the untrained pair began producing their own sound based on hip hop beats, dub reggae treatments and sixties melodies. Smith & Mighty was born.
In late 1987, on their own Three Stripe Records label, Smith & Mighty produced and released ‘Anyone,’ a bass driven cover version of Burt Bacharachs ‘Anyone Who Had a Heart.’ After their follow up underground hit ‘Walk On By,’ the pair took on a string of productions including Massive Attack’s debut single ’Any Love’, and top ten hit ’Wishing on a Star’ for The Fresh Four who’s members included the young DJ’s Krust and Suv. Since those heady days Smith & Mighty have released three albums, the aforementioned "Bass is Maternal," "Big World, Small World," and "Life is..." as well as contributing to K!7 record's longstanding "DJ Kicks" series.
I was first exposed to the revelatory sounds of Rob Smith’s productions via the foundational drum & bass junglist “Dubplate Selection: Volume 1.” Released on Smith and company’s very own MRR (More Rockers Records) imprint, “Dubplate Selection: Volume 1” represents one of the finest mixes of wicked ragga junglist basslines, atmospheric and soulful lyrics, and tough-like-lead dubwise reggae samples. When a tune like “Selector,” with its Jah Tubby’s sample hits one’s ears the debate need not continue. “Selector him good. Selector him Wise.” More Rockers runs proper junglist vibes. Unsurprisingly, Smith has carried the More Rockers sound far and wide with Volume 2 of the series coming on Select Cuts Records out of Germany and Volume 3 featured on Japanese imprint Rush Productions. Also not to be missed is the compilation "Select Cuts From More Rockers 12 Inch Selection," a set of dub, drum & bass cuts originally released as singles on the MRR label.
The next brick that the builders of pop culture refused but that caught my curious ear, the mid-1990s underground and shamelessly overlooked digital roots masterpiece from Rob Smith collaborators Henry & Louis entitled “Rudiments,” brought me deeper into Smith’s sonic fold. Whereas Smith & Mighty’s soul inflected, dub inspired breakbeats and More Rockers dubwise jungle meet somewhere between a Jah Shaka session at Digwall’s and a Soul II Soul dance at the Africa Centre, Henry & Louis is pure roots dub tailored for those that champion the next generation UK digital roots reggae sounds such as Manasseh, Iration Steppas, and Aba Shanti I. Seek this one out at all costs. One for the steppers crew.
Born out of the same collaboration, Rob Smith/Blue & Red and Henry & Louis released “Time Will Tell” on the now sadly defunct Portland based BSI records in the early 2000s. Once again, roots reggae was the sonic glue. Recorded in both Jamaica and the U.K., “Time Will Tell” was another digital roots scorcher replete with guest vocalists such as Johnny Clarke, Tony Tuff, Willi Williams, and Tippa Irie. Keeping up his strong connection to the Japanese dub/reggae/breakbeat scene Smith released the dub companion to “Time Will Tell” on the Japanese Rush Productions imprint.
More recently, Rob’s passion for bass and dub treatments has been evident on his solo album projects ’Up On The Downs’ and ’In One Way Or Another.’ Continuing in the same vein as Smith & Mighty, these two full-length sets represent a mix of breakbeat, dub, soul, and hip-hop.
Year 2007 has seen Rob unsurprisingly moving from strength to strength. So far this year Rob has released two breakbeat dub twelve inch singles on the Functional label entitled ‘Give Love’ and ‘Loveage.’ Likewise, he has entered the dubstep realm via the new Bristol dubstep label Punch Drunk. This time, working under the nom de beat, RSD, the tunes ‘Dub Corner’ and ‘Pretty Bright Light’ are serious entries into the “Best of 2007” category. Never one to rest long, Rob will also be releasing a new heavyweight dub track named ’Kingfisher’ on Earwax along with ‘Firewall’ on the Dub Related imprint. Rob is also busy making remixes for UK digital roots crew Zion Train, UB40, and Japanese outfits Antennasia and Rub-A-Dub Market.
Currently deejaying all over the globe from London’s ‘Fabric’ to Tokyo’s ’Club Yellow’, Rob drops a combination of reggae, breaks, dub step and drum and bass. He will also be playing guitar with Bristol ten-piece band Dub From Atlantis at this year's Glastonbury Festival. The long standing UK festival will also see him once again join with Ray Mighty as one-half of Smith & Mighty.
…But hold tight… Before you start booking your flights for Europe’s premiere summer music fest you can see the mighty Rob Smith live in his first San Francisco appearance in over five years.
The STATELESS crew (Michael K, Andy G, and Special Agent K) are proud to present Rob Smith at the Rickshaw Stop on June 8th. Featured along side Rob Smith will be The Worker and Roots and Wires Sound Dimensional dropping the very best in outernational beats. Check this link for more info. Reach early. Stay late. Miss it at your own peril.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Men and Women, Young and Old…All of them are ready for Chapter Two of the Stateless crew’s run at the mighty Rickshaw Stop coming this Saturday, March 10th.
Hot off the heals of our successful party featuring Stateless stalwarts Roots and Wires Sound Dimensional and the Worker along side SF favorites, Lemonade, and Rio’s Magabo, Chapter two only increases the heat as we move into the spring months.
This time around we have very special guests and Soot Records recording artists DJ Rupture and Filastine.
Filastine, in his second performance at a Stateless event, will be dropping his politically charged sounds siphoned through a laptop and stitched together with hip-hop backbone and live percussion. Postworld sonic grit aimed straight at the World Bank’s head!
…And just in case you thought it ended there, Roots and Wires will be playing their trademark blend of original productions and outernational beats from dubstep to
Rounding off the bill will be the Worker with his always tight and tip-top minimal house, ragga breaks, and international hip-hop vibes.
As always reach early and stay late for this musical dispensation meant to rock the nations!For more information check these links:
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Thank you for the massive attendance at our inaugural Rickshaw Stop event. Maga Bo (from Brazil) and Ustaad Vishal Nagar (from New Delhi, India), alongside the Worker and resident soundsystem Roots and Wires Sound Dimensional, dropped some serious sounds that night... It was a truly outernational event. There were 500+ people and such warm, sweaty and beautiful vibes that night. People were even moved to tears at certain sonic moments and quite a few told us it was one of the best events they had been to in some time - I kid you not!
You can see some video footage of our set, with Tabla Virtuoso Ustaad Vishal Nagar dropping vicious tabla bhols over original Indian Classical Dubstep, at our myspace site:
This Friday night all roads lead to Madrone Lounge (500 Divisadero at Fell).
Six Degrees records presents Casa De Degrees: A Night of International Music featuring Roots and Wires Sound Dimensional dropping tunes hotter than lava and heavier than lead. Your auditory nerve will be blessed with original digital dubplates produced in the firmament of the Roots and Wires studio as well as a serious selection of roots reggae, dub, dubstep, junglist rhythms, and beyond.
Roots and Wires….Serious Dubwise Pressure….Seen?
Featured along side Roots and Wires will be The Worker (Stateless, Six Degrees) serving up International hip-hop, hard-hitting Brazilian beats, and global techno sounds.
Reach Early! Stay Late!
And, just in case you haven’t been taking your recommended daily dose of sonic vitamins you can mark your calendars early for the next chapter of STATELESS at the RICKSHAW STOP. Coming up March 10th the STATELESS crew will once again be bringing in a unique blend of sonic sculptors and knob twisters for an outernational sound conference.
This time around, DJ Rupture and Filastine, two premier beat blenders from the SOOT record label, will be blessing SF with their transnational mash ups and jarring effects.
As usual, Roots and Wires Sound Dimensional and the Worker will be holding down the foundation and turning the tastemakers’ heads with a unique set of sounds unlike any other club night in San Francisco. Believe.
andy g & the special agent k
Friday, December 29, 2006
Our first event of the new year will be 1.12.07 at the Rickshaw Stop. Topping the bill is Rio's rising underground star Maga Bo (Soot Records). Maga will be mashing it up with borderless beats - from Capoiera to Drum & Bass and beyond.
The Roots and Wires Sound Dimensional will be dubbing tabla virtuoso (from New Delhi, India) Ustaad Vishal Nagar over fierce original dubstep productions and ragga jungle riddims inna raw session style!
San Francisco band, Lemonade, will be playing their own brand of experimental punk sounds that sit somewhere between the sounds of CAN and Tropicalia.
Rounding it out will be the mighty Worker with a dancefloor ready set of tasty selections.
It will be massive no doubt.
Finally, in case you have not peeped it yet make sure you check the new Roots and Wires website:
More content soon come.
On the Blog sides, Special Agent K will soon be breaking down the origins and archetypal significance of the labyrinth and the squared mandala which have been incorporated into our new logo:
So sit tight, listen, and look keenly as Roots and Wires Sound Dimensional high steps it into the future 2007 style!
Monday, October 02, 2006
The Sun was just dipping under the tree line of
And progress it did. This particular evening of sonics went down in serious fashion. Marking his first appearance at “Stateless” was DJ Vanka. The Belgian born Vanka dropped some serious Afro-Beat-Brazil-Poly-Rhythmic-future funk that reached a boiling point by the end of his two hour set. Having never reached his legendary “Misturada” sessions at Club Six, his aura preceded him in my eyes. I, along with the bubbling Amnesia masses, no doubt were fully engaged by Vanka’s set. Big. If you ever see that he is playing in your neighborhood, check him out! You won’t be disappointed.
By the time Vanka was done, the warm glow of Amnesia was burning just right. Next up was the “Stateless” foundation, the man that holds it all down, the Worker. The big beat pieces of plastic selected by the Worker bounced from rough ragga-tinged breakbeats to full force techno. The Worker rode the energy Vanka laid out early on and pushed it up a notch even so.
In keeping with the “Stateless” mission, the night switched it up to a live vibe. The Wailing Junktet, a Brazilian influenced drum ensemble pounded some serious poly-rhythms that landed somewhere between
Check an audio clip here:
Closing out the night was Roots and Wire Hi-Fi. Our set ran the gamut from vintage dubwise evergreens from the Tubby’s, Bullwackies, and Yabby You stables on through uptempo ragga jungle tunes and two blazing Roots and Wires exclusive dubplates with production by Special Agent K.
You can check our set here:
A big thanks goes out to Amnesia and especially Ben who did double duty as sound man and bartender. No easy task given that the club was corked with dancing bodies working up a healthy thirst.
So hold tight until the next “Stateless” storm comes your way. If you missed this time, make sure you reach next time.
Roots and Wires Hi-Fi
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Monday, August 14, 2006
As Khenu a.k.a. the doctor, and many others, well know there are very few conversations about music in which I do not utter the words “Roots,” “Steppers,” “Shaka,” or some such dubwise variation. So keeping with form, I have to give my 100% Roots and Wires sound-dimensional props to the basic channel crew for their hotly anticipated recent reissue of four purely wicked 7” singles.
All serious selectors take note: These singles from the mid-eighties Jamaican singer White Mice are pure worries. The Basic Channel site tells the story so:
“Born in 1970, in
The four singles that make up this particular brace of White Mice tunes are “It’s A Shame,” “Try a Thing,” “Youths of Today,” and “Tallawah.” Each one is a slice of serious mid-80s computer riddimized roots. Like Little Kirk’s “Ghetto People Broke” from the same era, these singles retrospectively bridge the gap between the anachronistic roots-steppers vibe of the 70s and the nascent
I first heard White Mice’s minor-key digital classic “Youths of Today” on a Jah Shaka sound tape from around 1986. With Shaka chanting over the dub I was hooked. Since that time, the mythology around these White Mice singles only increased as my luck in finding them hopelessly decreased. Soon come…
About a month ago, I received the four singles in a printed white paper bag. Crisp, solid pressings ready made for pushing bass bins in a dance. They have been rotating on and off my turntable ever since.
“It’s Shame” starts with a wicked digital drum roll before White Mice wails “Oh it’s a
shame, oh it’s a shame to see my brother’s blood running down the drain….” From there White Mice licks lyrical shots at world leaders that build nuclear weapons to ghetto youths that kill one another. Sub-bass lines rumble under the propulsive digital riddim. The version accentuates the snapping snare in counterpoint to the rolling bass line. “Oh it’s a shaaaa…..mmeeee” echoes out, guitar and keyboard licks bounce around the echo chamber in fine fashion.
“Try a Thing” is a 4/4 mid-paced marching stepper with the Mice once again singing lyrics dedicated to all those sufferahs trying get by in the ghetto – “Just try a thing… Brother and Sister try a thing…” The guitar evokes Black Uhuru circa “Red.” The version on the flip, is proficient if a bit unadventurous. The kick drum and staccato guitar dominate with snare shots echoing in and out alongside shards of White Mice vocals.
“Youths of Today” is the tune that brought me to White Mice in the first place. It is, to my mind, the centerpiece in this serious brace of reissue 45s. “So the youths of today will be the man of tomorrow, but when your old and getting grey…and we are the youths gonna lead the way… and try and try youth to get a bly…” The riddim on this one hits harder than hot iron to anvil. The drums move back and forth from full-fledged digital roots riddim to pared down kick-kick-snare dancehall roughness. The dub version begins with an unorthodox skipping echoed shard of White Mice vocals before the strident riddim kicks in. From there out it is dubwise marching time.
“Talawah” in Jamaican parlance means sturdy and strong. On “Talawah,” White Mice comes in a strong fashion. Over top of yet another blistering minor-key steppers, the Mice warns all upstarts not to judge a book by its cover. By this point, they should know White Mice a come in “Talawah.” The version is a rudimentary dub unhindered by major studio trickery. The marching riddim is given space to breath. Time to clear out the living room and start stepping.
So once again the reissue folks at basic channel/basic replay come with pure sound quality. For all folks interested in a few 7" singles of serious minor-key mid-80s digital roots reggae these White Mice tunes are for you. Check them and support the labels that tread the lonely waters of diminishing record sales to uncover beautiful music such as this.In coming installments of the Roots and Wires blog I am going to highlight more of my favorite recent roots-dubwise reissues. Likewise, in the coming months make sure to stay tuned to these pages as Roots and Wires Hi-Fi spreads the word in the San Francisco-Bay Area and beyond.
Andy G, Roots and Wires Hi-Fi