ESR MONTHLY A music capsule delivered by ESR
A music capsule delivered by ESR
We hope you are all keeping safe and with a high morale throughout lockdown.
Around here the work on the new studio is what's still keeping us busy.
For this issue of ESR Monthly we invited Julia Baker, a Londoner with a life dedicated to music in various ways and different expressions.
About the Editor
Julia Baker is a London native where she started as a young music lover listening to John Peel and Gilles Peterson, taking piano lessons and then studying music technology — all of this making her the ethnomusicologist, radio producer and music programmer she is today.
Since the second half of the noughties, following her love for Afro-Latin music, she's been travelling to Brazil, Colombia, Cabo Verde and Cuba to study not only the music but also the related cultural practices which sometimes are molded by music and sometimes influence music itself. Julia's musical forays don't stop here though — her eclectic taste made her spend years researching styles like avant-garde electronic and the time living in South London coincided with the booming recent UK Jazz scene which has become another passion of hers.
Julia has been living in Lisbon since last summer, where she keeps setting the path of her constant journey of learning about music while working remotely for the music programming team at the Barbican Centre.
This is one of the O.G podcasts before they were even called podcasts and we got overwhelmed whenever we open Acast or iTunes.
It's a series I've been listening to for years - maybe around 15 - that's been going for longer (since 1988!) - and I know the name might seem a bit cliché, but this is a goldmine of countless musical explorations around music from Africa and it's diaspora - covering topics from South African Gqom to Puerto Rican protest music and from Black Greek music to Ethio-Jazz.
Even just scrolling through the different episodes you can't deny how valuable a resource is - you will definitely learn something new if you haven't listened to them already. The host, a legendary Cameroonian broadcaster, Georges Collinet, presents these sonic journeys in the most warm and welcoming way and co-hosts with leading ethnomusicologists to present insights into the music. This podcast series was a big inspiration for me to later study ethnomusicology and research music from and travel to places like Colombia, Brazil, Cuba and Cabo Verde.
I remember discovering this incredible film whilst studying documentary making as an undergrad, which used one of my all time favourite beatmakers' albums as its soundtrack - Endtroducing... by DJ Shadow.
This album encapsulated some of my early favourites in music from trip-hop with Massive Attack influences that you can hear on the track Midnight in a Perfect World, and with that J Dilla/Madlib-esque instrumental, nostalgic hip-hop vibe throughout. It's a sampling masterpiece in my opinion, where Shadow uses obscure materials to sample from, perhaps laying the groundwork for future artists like Burial who famously sources samples from random places and has also soundtracked dark documentaries like Adam Curtis's Bitter Lake.
Dark Days tells the real-life story of a homeless community living underground in a network of train tunnels under New York, which is a tough, but not patronising watch and together with the black and white visuals, the soundtrack really captures the literal darkness of this world.
Caroline Shaw's Partita for 8 Voices performed by Roomful of Teeth
I'm more of an instrumental kinda girl; I tend to listen to the overall sounds and structures of music rather than the lyrics - although I appreciate good songwriting / poetry when I hear it - it's just not what I immediately listen out for.
So although I've chosen an a capella vocal record and ensemble here, these compositions are all about exploring the textures of the voice as an instrument, where the sung and spoken words don't make much sense at all. It's playful and beautiful - I recommend listening on good headphones to get the full binaural experience - especially for the first part, 'Allemande' that turns dreamy and undulating half-way through - maybe my favorite part of all.
This 'Partitia' was also one of the first performances I worked on when I first joined the music team at the Barbican in London, so good memories all round.
That's all there is for now. We'll be back soon with another bunch of links for you.
Stay safe and enjoy the music,
East Side Radio