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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Come So Far Yet Still So Far To Go

For once in my life I feel surrounded by more positives than negatives, more knowns than unknowns, more good than bad, and more effective action than hot air. This is what change feels like. Much of it is personal, so I don't expect everyone (or even anyone!) to feel the same way as I do. If there's one thing that's around right now that I can pick to demonstrate the strong shift I'm trying to capture in words it's a music video by No Bling Show.

In countries where the music industry is a recognizable contributor to the national GDP this sort of work has become ordinary, almost to the point of complacency. For Malta and Maltese artists, however, this type of work is a cut above everything else that came before. Aside from any artistic merit the work itself has, the very fact that this video has been produced to the level demonstrated here is an admirable achievement in itself.

Beyond everything else, No Bling Show have beautifully managed to find a way to capture the impact of cultural imperialism on Maltese quotidian culture. Just for this, I wholeheartedly call their work simply brilliant.

If I ever needed a boost of encouragement to continue producing my weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast, this is it. I firmly believe that within a generation or so Maltese popular music will be predominantly less mimetic than it has been in the last fifty odd years. This may not seem as obvious to most people as appears to be for me and some regular listeners of the MMI podcast. I could be wrong about the future, but I want to believe that I'm right...and see no harm in that.

The 179th Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast may not allude to the future I've just outlined, but it certainly captures the way things stand at this point in time. The opening song comes from a new CD album released by Colourblind called Spectre. I've already featured the title track and another called Miles on previous editions of the MMI podcast, so for today I've picked one called Masquerade.

Whenever any Maltese act releases a CD I'm reminded how far we've come. I'm also made to realize we still have a far road ahead. Things are getting better all the time and we truly have reason to believe they will keep getting better. Importantly, as I see it, we've finally (inevitably?) passed the tipping point, so there's no going back now.

Bring back a performer whose work I'd featured in an earlier edition of the MMI podcast is something I seek to do regularly. There are some acts for whom this is not easy. Tears of Revenge immediately come to mind in this category. Way back in the 6th MMI podcast, I played the music of Black Aura, the name under which Alfred Farrugia produces his electronic music. A few days ago, new music by Black Aura came to my attention through a couple of arty video clips produced by visual artist Brian Grech. Heavy Breathing is the track I've selected to include on my podcast, but you can hear several tracks from Black Aura on his official website as well as watch the videos on You Tube.

Maltese performers have been trying to make a name (and/or a career) for themselves oversees for decades. Carrie Haber is among the most recent names on this long list. She has managed to do something that very few, if any, have done before. For a limited time, Carrie has released a live recording of one of her songs recorded live at a London venue, where she's performed a number of times in recent months. The song is called I Need A Distraction, and I'm really looking forward to hearing more songs recorded live in London (or elsewhere) by Carrie, since she has promised to release a new one about once a month. Follow her on Facebook or MySpace if you'd like to be kept up-to-date on new releases in this vein.

Regular listeners of the MMI podcast know that I frequently include material from musicians who have Maltese blood running through their veins, even if they're not legally Maltese. Pete Molinari is one such artist; he qualifies through his mother's Maltese parentage. Earlier this year he recorded a new EP entitled Today, Tomorrow & Forever at the Playground Sound Studios in Nashville, Tenessee. While Maltese country singer Marty Rivers recorded in Nashville years before Molinari, the latter has done something others probably only dream of. This EP, released on 24 August 2009, features the legendary Jordanaires, best known as Elvis Presley's backing singers. You can hear the title track, one of Patsy Cline's classics, as the penultimate selection on this week's MMI podcast.

To remind us that taking good fun seriously is a worthy quest, Xtruppaw have returned with a live concert at the Buskett Roadhouse tonight. BNI and DJ Fre will be providing further entertainment before and after the band hits the stage. Xtruppaw have been working on their second album for some time and people who attend any of their (rare) live gigs these days will undoubtedly be treated to early versions of some of the new songs. If we're lucky 2010 will see the release of Xtruppaw's second album, but first they have to find the time to record it, of course. Ironically, the more live gigs they give, the less time they have to record their new album. Catch Xtuppaw's Nenannana as the closing pick on this week's podcast. I'm playing this today with a special dedication to my dear friend Immanuel Mifsud who celebrates his birthday today.

The RSS feed for the Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast is available here or you can simply click here to subscribe directly with iTunes. You can also follow each new episode through the MMI Podcast: Facebook Fan Page or on MySpace. If you have no idea what any of this means, just click here or listen to the podcast on the player right below this text.

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Anonymous Richard A. Muscat said...

Well said. I was just about to write something (re NBS) to the same effect... but this just expresses my sentiments so well that i'll just link to your post instead! 

3:41 PM, September 13, 2009

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