Letter from Ian Nagoski

black-mirror-cover

Hi, folks.

It’s been a while. I’m lousy at being in touch.I try to put myself out there on the Social Nutworking, but it only goes so far. Sometimes you have to write a 1999-style mass email. Think of it as an Easter letter.

The big news is that I’m developing, along with two producers at WYPR, Lawrence Lanahan and Bruce Wallace, a radio show called Fonotopia.

http://www.fonotopiaradio.wordpress.com

The format is me talking and playing 78rpm-era records. Each show is themed—an era, a location or a general concept. We have four episodes finished (I think the fourth, titled “A Short Life of Trouble,” will be posted Friday April 2). We have serious hopes that it will be picked up by our local National Public Radio affiliate and by other radio stations. It’s new terrain.

My imprint, Canary Records (manufactured and distributed by Mississippi Records in Portland, OR) got two records out in the second half of last year, and they did as well as we hoped. There are three more releases currently being mastered and designed. They are:

Marika Papagika – The Further the Flame, The Worse It Burns Me: Greek
Folk Music in New York 1919-28
(that one will be out within the next eight weeks; as you may know, I’ve been working on it steadily for three years now. The notes will be a chapbook – some 4000 words.)

v/a – To What Strange Place: Armenians & Syrians in America, 1912-27

and its companion

v/a – The Luminous Interval: Greeks in America, 1916-32

which together with the Marika disc finally bring together my work on the Ottoman diaspora in the U.S.

And soon to follow, further LPs of rural Balkan performances, Javanese and Sundanese classical music and Indian classical vocal masterpieces are “in the works.” And there are negotiations on some ace Turkish stuff. Just you wait!

As all of this has been happening, I have been neglecting to leave the house for days on end and my social life is rapidly approaching nil. I hope to rectify this by doing some live shows. In that department, I’ll be giving at talk at a Sound Art festival here in Balto in mid-May on the cheery subject of “recordings of vocal music responses to grief.”

And then, in early July I’ll celebrate the release of the Ottoman-American LPs on Canary with a show at 2640.

And I’m hoping to make it out to the SF/Portland/Seattle area in the Summer. If you know anyone who wants to book an enthusiastic music nut at their venue or festival… I’ve already asked a lot, haven’t I?

More good news: Black Mirror is supposed to be coming out of vinyl later this year, says Lance at Dust-to-Digital, and it continues to get nice plugs including this one on BoingBoing.net last week (which resulted in the Papagika video being watched seven thousand times in 24 hours!):
http://www.boingboing.net/2010/03/24/-i-first-heard-this.html

be well.
keep on truckin,
Ian

Ian Nagoski on American labels and blogs who are finding and sharing good music from all over the world (from Arthur No. 32)

PEARL DIVING
Notes on a Few Americans Finding Musical Jewels in International Waters

by Ian Nagoski

from Arthur Magazine No. 32 (Dec 2008)

Record players are altars. The listener first goes through a repertoire of ritual gestures, removing the black spiral-inscribed disc from the sleeve, holding it by the edge and label and placing its center through the spindle before lifting the tone arm and placing it at the edge of the spinning disc. The air in the room begins to move, and the memory held by the disc of a performance by some living, breathing person is reiterated, separated from its image and corporeality in an angelically invisible space. Some part of the listener enters into that space and goes into communion with the unseen force of the sound.

It is magical and mysterious stuff, this impulse for sound-play that is universal among human beings through all times and places on earth.
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