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POREST•••••Sunday April 1 (2-4 PM)
*****ALL TIMES ARE Pacific Daylight Time*****
blending a mix of live performance, field recordings/travel documents/hobologues, and acquired musiques from around the world broadcast from within the West Oakland BART line and pointing towards you as THE FOOL. mark gergis is one of the leading buccaneers of the Sublime Frequencies crew, a member of Neung Phak, Mono Pause, and many other aural-theatrical projects requiring special lenses. this set is bound to be a trip down memory lane to which you have no map, with roadsigns giving th
Saturday, March 31, 2007
Friday, March 30, 2007
Thursday, March 01, 2007
Porest Interviewed by Iraqi Freedom Fighter via Internet
Porest was minding his own business one evening in mid-2006, when out of nowhere came an intrusive demand for an interview via i-chat from someone named >IRAQ1< who claimed to be a freedom fighter from the tattered country. Porest obliged. Here is that interview:
IRAQ1: hello porest. As you may know i am not one of your fans I am an iraqi freedom fighter messaging you from somewhere -can't tell you where-in baghdad. i was given your music and was told you are iraqi origin. Why are you called this meaningless name? why don't you use your real name? who are you afraid of?
POREST: I use the name Porest because it's a meaningless name that has no connotations unless one is misled enough to think it has something to do with poor people, struggling "artists" or a sleep disorder. My real identity is always only a web search away for inquisitive folk. Now, how am I to believe that you are actually an Iraqi freedom fighter? Anyone can do a web search and see that I'm part Iraqi.
IRAQ1: what were you doing before 9/11, before you become interested in terrorism, and how did your interest shift to this kind of politics?
POREST: Well, I assume that someone has given you a copy of "Tourrorists!". Perhaps you are Mossad....or something worse. But it doesn't matter. If you are indeed a freedom fighter, I send you greetings and much luck.
To answer your question from an artistic point of view, before 9/11, I was waiting for a hundred such 9/11s to occur. Nothing could have prepared me for the 15 or so years I had anticipated such an event taking place in my own country. I knew it was coming, but I "artistically" hoped it would be in the form of payback from a country or collective that had been double-crossed by the US, because THAT list is long. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case...and now we will have to make clear-cut distinctions between those two forms of terrorism this country must face in the future. Before 9/11, I was already making music and film.
My interest in politics has to do with living on this Earth– not 9/11. Everyone is political, whether they know it or not. The apolitical beer drinking, bologna-eating Americans that only work, reproduce and watch Seinfeld are political because they represent a demographic of loser that is responsible for what this country does or doesn't do. They are more political than those who consider themselves political. The same goes for fun-loving, artistic, educated Americans that are witty, hip, cunning, creative, so-called subversive and "liberal" because they represent a subculture, recycle and vote for the right party. If they remain ignorant, uninterested and unfazed by the bullshit their country commits internationally–as they are engineered to do – they are political, harmful and in my way. These people are bred in greater numbers in each generation. It's just that when they decided to "tune in and drop out", they did it in the most literal and comfortable of fashions. I'm sure that NOT thinking is the easiest and most convenient way to be an American. Stupidity is a commodity here. Dumb is the new smart. People are engineered to be stupid here...and it's cool! Getting cooler all the time!
IRAQ1: are you trying to be just radical for the sake of being out there? what's the story? are you trying to shock people?
POREST: People should already be shocked!! They don't need my insignificant little album to do that for them. I released two or three records before "Tourrorists!" but for this release, I issued a collection of material that dealt either directly or indirectly with terror, tourism or both. It's filled with hidden meanings and cloaked in sheets of pseudo-ambiguity. It seems no one else wants to deal with politics in their work in the way I'd like to see it. I don't really listen to overtly politicized music anyway. It's largely uninteresting to me. Most so-called political "art" is presented on a pedestal–either preaching down to the feeble-minded self-proclaimed liberals that comprise their audience or decorated in some genre's BLING with a weak message so it's easily sold and agreed with. Political art usually acts like it has answers. Let's face it, there aren't any answers. Anyone can come down on George Bush. Even right-wingers do that. Hating on the president's not a statement. It's tired. He's in the fuckin way like they all are. He's there to block the sun. He's there so you think you know where your frustrations lie. No president will ever change that. Fuck Clinton as well...and whoever's next. It won't matter. YOU'RE who's for dinner on their golden platter.
IRAQ1: are you a real terrorist? : do you feel like you are close to one?
POREST: Am I a real terrorist? Are you? Anyone can be inspired to be. You have all the divine inspiration you need out there to become one. I don't operate on the same level as you. I have my present way of dealing with my ideas. When that expires, I'll move onto another form. You and I probably have similar drives and grievances, but I can't possibly see what you've seen. You're on the receiving end of my tax dollars. Ultimately, I'm killing you and your comrades off indirectly as long as I choose to live here, where I am from. I'm no better than an Israeli in Palestine as long as I'm here. But I have unfinished business to tend to on these grounds. When it's time, I'll leave.
IRAQ1: what do you have in common with the likes of me, or worse with the likes of those cia agents who flew the airplanes into the twin towers?
POREST: I have nothing in common with the entities responsible for flying the planes into the towers. Don't be so sure they were CIA agents. Is that what you think in Iraq? There are infinite possibilities ranging from human to remote control. The bottom line is, the 9/11 story is soaked in sugary falsehoods that no one is allowed to question, lest they get dubbed conspiracy theorists. Well, 9/11 was a conspiracy, was it not? Why is it that we were sold an official story anywhere between 25 minutes to two weeks after the production that we are not supposed to question? They took people for fools as they knew they could. There was no underestimating the general public here. They duped em all carte blanche. Even the ones with brains. Especially the ones with brains it seems. Brains that won't die.
IRAQ1: hmn... there emerges three different categories of terrorists, one is us, the freedom fighters who are fighting the imperial army in OUR land, the second being you faggots over there inside the empire who think they are doing something effective in challenging the empire but have no influence whatsoever over the hearts and minds of either imperial or colonial population, and third the real terrorists who are waging a campaign of fear (either from the ground or inside the jetplanes) in the mind of imperial subjects. between the three you seem to be the most useless one, making a fool of yourself. what do you really think your achieving with your movies and music?
POREST: Well, see, already this has degenerated into typical chatroom accusations. I'll answer your question because you used the word "faggot". Are you one? Are you part of the homosexual division in your martyr's brigade? I like that idea. I think that you've put terrorists into 3 neat categories. That is wrong. Terrorists are people too...as complex as the next person. Let me be the first to agree with you on the futility of art. It's almost as useless as attending a local protest. My work will hardly be heard. It will be hated by some and loved by others. It's a fart in the air. It's a loud fart, but all farts make a smell, then dissipate into the ether without changing anything. My work will only serve to challenge those who want to be challenged, or are open to seeing things differently than they already are. For a rare few, it will be an affirmation. For others, an inspiration to take it even further. I know that in my youth there were certain albums and films and books and conversations and experiences that were not only affirmations, but challenges to my experience at that time. Those were the things that helped bring me to the point I am now. I'd only be fooling myself if I thought I could challenge this government on any level that would make a difference. That's why I am allowed to exist at the present and create the way I do. I represent the "freedom" these assholes want to sell to you and yours. As soon as I were to cross some line and start influencing or changing certain things, they would put an end to it...or me. I can tell you that much from this side.
IRAQ1: have you always operated in the western paradigm? you make work in english for the english speaking world. you seem to be appropriating the arab culture just like any white orientalist has done. why do you like to substantiate the anglosaxon culture? do you see yourself as adding to the "rich legacy of the western culture" or you see your work concerned with something else? you are half iraqi and half ameriican. how and when you are going to do something for the culture of your other half?
POREST: I operate from my birthplace. My work is mostly in English or made for an English speaking audience. The humor and criticisms are probably culturally bound most of the time. I make this work for me first. It's the same way I approach performance. I make what I wish I could see or hear. I use the Arab part of my culture without hesitation. Appropriation also knows no bounds. You're probably wearing some western bullshit on your body right now. You're using technology invented and improved upon in the West or in Israel. You're using it because it serves your purpose. It changed your life when you were introduced to it, and now you use it for your own agenda. That's how I see it and that's what I am doing. Does it really bother you to hear aggressively produced music with overt Arab references? I hate the way your pop music is produced these days. Few in the Arab world have shown me a well produced record that's come out recently. That's my opinion. The composition can be great, but you're happy enough to get rid of your orchestras and use a workstation keyboard and sing love songs. That's fine, but where is the music of the insurgency? I know that creating art is borne of privilege and that it's ----NOT ----the kind of thing you do when your parents aren't being murdered in front of you and you can't feed yourself or your kids or whatever, but I think you see where I'm coming from.
I'm inspired by what I listen to...be it the music of the Arab world, Asia, or the sounds made by the mentally retarded while they climb rocks. I only appropriate according to my tastes. I don't respect world music attempts by peers and elders that sing a slicker song than I...that overproduce and worship the drum circle. They purchase an ethnic instrument and sit around trying to properly emulate something they can't be a part of. They think they are part of some global exchange, but they're just another part of a bigger problem. Another schism here wishes "culture" and cultural differences and traditions would just disappear or assimilate because they feel inferior and void of real culture themselves. Actually, they are the intellectual lobbyists for globalization without even realizing it.
IRAQ1: funny you dis the "world music your mp3s i downloaded were mostly labeled as world music, maybe that category help you sell more?
POREST: Actually, I was just in Syria and saw that Iraq is still producing a LOT of music. I was surprised, because I figured it would be the opposite like you say. My question is, why now do all the Choubi party tapes that DID forgo orchestration have blond chicks in bikinis all over the front cover? On the flip side, I know that the war –and the killer sanctions that was sandwiched between both wars– have killed off or forced artists and musicians to move away. If the Americans and Zionists have their way, you certainly won't be making anymore music in the years to come. You won't even be baking bread!
IRAQ1: do you know how hard it is to make music under the ccupation of YOUR fucking military. we didnt forgo of real orchestration. YOUR shock and awe campgain made evryone of those musicians to escape to eqgpt syria or iran. you;re lucky we make any music at all. how come its cool if kanye west uses a workstation and make a billion, but we cant even start learning how to do that? youre acting like a fucking race traitor. im surprised from a faggot with your caliber no pun intended.
POREST: Now, I think you're not the sort of guy that wants to separate people from politics. You have decided that I am part of the problem–and that you are fighting MY army. FUCK the United States military. You think I'm affiliated with that shit? It's cool that Kanye West makes all that money with a synthesizer. He's got investors backing him. He's got an enormous promotional campaign that ensure that people like you know who he is. He's another artist that's allowed to exist. He came out and criticized Bush. He should do a lot more than that in his position. Is he? Will he? Probably not, because he won't be able to operate on that level anymore if he does. I don't even know what a race traitor is anymore. I can't change who I am genetically. Remember...I'm half yankee too. I got a war going on in my gene-pool. .... So, when you downloaded my album, someone had labeled it world music? That's probably because they either didn't listen to the whole thing or they only had 10 or 20 choices of genres to choose from in their fucking preset and that's the only one they thought was appropriate. Let them think it's world music.
IRAQ1: we make a lot of music because its easy to make music and its the smallest thing to do compare to all the big things we cannot do, like kicking the yankee army our in one big push. i'm being mean to you a bit. we like your type here. you are with us. we consider you our hardworking fifth column in USA. we understand why your government hates you or try to put you in jail one day. excuse me if my frustrations have to come out this way. now tell me, have you ever been to baghdad? from what you know remember or have seen on tv, what would you be doing if an impossible new technology transposes you to baghdad overnight?
POREST: I've never been to Iraq. I've been to the border on the Syrian side, before 2003 but decided not to come in because I could have been conscripted into Saddam's army. I wish I'd gone anyway. I don't have the desire to go anytime soon. The climate isn't right and admittedly, it's just too dangerous. I'll bet you wish Saddam was still in power. Seems like it was a much better scenario than this brand of Imperialist ordered chaos that actually benefits those who would like to see you go down. I may be coming out to visit you someday, but not till you kick the Americans and their pathetic allies out first. I'm not the fighter you are. I won't be putting my life on the line for your cause. I've got too much to do in my world aside from stepping directly into the war-theater that is your country. It's possible that a sizable portion of the rest of my life will be spent dealing with war firsthand. I understand that and accept it. Why expedite it? My life's already on the line living in the USA. This is now the biggest bullseye ground-zero target in the world. If I die in a terror attack here, it's cause I was too stupid to leave when I should have.
POREST: By the way, I'm only still on the line with you because of who you claim you are. I'm still not convinced you aren't Mossad.
IRAQ1: who are your favourite musicians from the western world right now and you have to be easy on me. my internet connection is not very reliable and have to access to what white kids over there call the underground, also what are your favourite arabic acts ?
POREST: I listen to a lot of different types of music and I try to keep my ears open. There are very many groups I've listened to and many more to hear. I enjoy anything that is dynamic and creative that has a soul to it. I could send you a long list of references of musical acts that I like. It would get tedious here. The American underground hardly delivers these days. There are many facets and divisions. Improv, new music, film music, noise bands, indie rock, fake punk, minimal ad maximized electronic, free jazz, expensive jazz, retro-kitch, new folk, etc etc. There's probably one or two artists worth mentioning in any of these genres. The rest ride the train, make their albums, get laid and then quit and raise a family. There's a lot of tough guy experimental music out there that you'd think would be backed up with some kind of thought, but it's just not there. So many of the creators are apolitical by nature and very easily seduced by the trappings of industry and/or the trappings of trying really hard to be anti-industry in ways that are self-sabotaging and defeatist.
But, there's always the Sun City Girls and their associates out of Seattle–who are always one-step ahead of the game and continuously transcend anything a so-called underground could possibly produce in two or three decades. 2/3 of them are also half-Arab types (2007 note: Much respect to the late Charles Gocher. He has since departed this shithole and we are all worse off for it). These days, I'm more attracted by the recordings I collect from South East Asia and the Arab world. They do more for me. As far as the Arab world goes, I listen to a lot of Choubi music from Iraq and of course, the classics like Oum Kalthoum and Omar Khorshid, Farid Al Atarache, ETC and the many lesser-knowns that produced albums in the 60s-80s. Omar Souleyman has a lot of raw power in his delivery. He's a little-known Syrian singer. Basically, I listen to what inspires me at the moment, whether it's old Butthole Surfers cassettes, France Gall or more anomalous schmaltz pop from Germany or a fucking Brittney Spears bootleg I found in Thailand for a dollar, I listen and enjoy. Sun Ra? sure. J Dilla? Bring it all on.
IRAQ1: i hate RAO for white kids. danger mouse my ass. give me paul wall and mike jones any day over the over-hyped gnarles barkley. its like that clown guy ander benjamin 2000 is it 2000 0r 3000? we still listen to a lot pink floyd here as far as western music is concerned. respect to j dilla he was part of ummah right?
POREST: I think that Pink Floyd will give you more mileage than anything else you just mentioned
IRAQ1: any question you have for me? after all i'm in a very dangerous and curious place...
POREST: Man, I want to wish you the best of luck out there. If there's anything I can do, within reason, let me know. A question for you: How would you like the new Iraq that will emerge to end up? And how long do you think it will take to eliminate the colonizers? Don't believe ANYTHING they tell you about their democracy. Democracy is a farce. You already know that, I suppose. At least you still have a sense of humor.
IRAQ1: we dont want democracy. theocracy is better than democracy but we dont want that either. right now what we need is a way to not only throw out the us uk army but to unite the country again. those israelis have worked hard to drive a wedge between us and kurds in the north. we need a strong federal government that can use the oil money in this high price world and bring good stuff for all the people. then let the people decide in a referendum if they want to be iraqi or they want to be a separate kurdish country. a separate kurdistan in north of iraq is gonna have to deal with isolation from all sides, especially iran and turkey. they have to weigh everything in before deciding to go their way, and it cant happen just because israel want so.
POREST: Thanks for talking with me. You owe me 14 bucks for the download...but I'll let it slide if you can tell me the truth about the Iraqi suicide bombings...
IRAQ1: about the suicide bombings, guess what, most of them are not suicide bombings at all, some paid asshole leaves a bunch of explosives in a parked car and it goes off. the zionist operated media in the west loves to expand upon that palestinian invention and call these all suicide bombings, do you think anyone would just kill themselves just for a mention on cnn? there must be a prized target for it to be worth killing yourself. my last word: tell all those stupid selfish white people over there that we are fighting this not just for us, but for the real freedom of everybody else in the world. USA needs to be defeated in this war otherwise there would be no limit to her arrogance and evil. we will defeat them not just for us, but for the entire humanity. got to run i have to make a lot of roadsides for tomorrow. cheers.
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Described by some in the west as “Jihadi Techno”, this is Omar Souleyman’s first release outside the middle east! Compiled, assembled, and edited by Mark Gergis,“Highway to Hassake” is an overview of Omar’s entire career. This is the true folk/pop
sound of modern Syria. Instrumentation includes Saz, Oud, vocals and amazing keyboard electronics which play out as forbidden morse code at breakneck speeds…intense and mesmerizing.
Omar Souleyman is a Syrian musical legend. Since 1994, he and his musicians have emerged as a staple of folk-pop throughout Syria, but until now they have remained little known outside of the country. To date, they have issued more than five-hundred studio and live-recorded cassette albums which are easily spotted in the shops of any Syrian city.
Born in rural Northeastern Syria, he began his musical career in 1994 with a small group of local collaborators that remain with him today. The myriad musical traditions of the region are evident in their music. Here, classical Arabic mawal-style vocalization gives way to high-octane Syrian Dabke (the regional folkloric dance and party music), Iraqi Choubi and a host of Arabic, Kurdish and Turkish styles, among others. This amalgamation is truly the sound of Syria. The music often has an overdriven sound consisting of phase-shifted Arabic keyboard solos and frantic rhythms. At breakneck speeds, these
shrill Syrian electronics play out like forbidden morse-code, but the moods swing from coarse and urgent to dirgy and contemplative in the rugged anthems that comprise Souleyman's repertoire. Oud, reeds, baglama saz, accompanying vocals and percussion fill out the sound from track to track.
Mahmoud Harbi is a long-time collaborator and the man responsible for much of the poetry sung by Souleyman. Together, they commonly perform the Ataba, a traditional form of folk poetry used in Dabke. On stage, Harbi chain smokes cigarettes while standing shoulder to shoulder with Souleyman, periodically leaning over to whisper the material into his ear. Acting as a conduit, Souleyman struts into the audience with urgency, vocalizing the prose in song before returning for the next verse.
Souleyman’s first hit in Syria was "Jani" (1996) which gained cassette-kiosk infamy and brought him recognition
throughout the country. Over the years, his popularity has risen steadily and the group tirelessly performs concerts throughout Syria and has accepted invitations to perform abroad in Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Lebanon. Omar Souleyman is a man of hospitality and striking integrity who describes his style as his own and prides himself on not being an imitator or a sellout.
Sublime Frequencies is honored to present the Western debut of Omar Souleyman with this retrospective disc of studio and live recordings spanning 12 years of his career, culled from cassettes recorded between 1994 and 2006. This collection offers a rare glimpse into Syrian street-level folk-pop and Dabke– a phenomena seldom heard in the West, not previously deemed serious enough for export by the Syrians and rarely, if ever, included on the import agenda of worldwide academic musical committees.
Buy it at www.sublimefrequencies.com
or your record store.