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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Beyond Here Lies Nothin’

Twitter has taken over as my social networking utility of choice. Facebook has been reduced to an alternative email/messaging system and a must-visit for playing Knighthood. MySpace is still alive and essential source for new music. This blog has now entered its 6th year of existence. And that's the current state of things with me and Web 2.0, as we used to call it.

The weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast is part of this personal mediascape I've carved out for myself. This week I've even attempted to do something that I don't remember ever doing before: I've somehow managed to squeeze 6 tracks by 6 different acts in the 159th MMI podcast without making it longer than the usual approximate time of 20 minutes.

As I was preparing the music for the podcast I received an email announcing the release of an album called Manwel T Meets Mind's Eye Dub at the Temple of Dub from the newly establish net-label Dubkey Records. The whole album is available as a free download from Dubkey's website, which was established to spread free roots reggae & dub music. Manwel Tabone and David Magro have appeared in several previous editions of the MMI podcast with some of the tracks that appear on this first Dubkey album, but I've selected Back To My Dub (MANWEL T mix two) because it's a very pleasant way to open up the show.

Dolls for Idols is a new band surfacing from the Maltese islands. Their debut tracks are well produced and augur for a stellar rise on the local scene. They gigging too, of course, but apparently not extensively enough. Any club owners or event organizers reading this should really check out this band because they sound as good as any other I've heard within their genre in Malta in recent years. The track I've picked for my podcast is called Through the City at Night.

Another new album comes from one of Malta's best underground electronica producers. Melchior Sultana's latest release published by the Cold Busted label is called Recognize the Real. He doesn't keep his personal website updated but at least there are several recent updates on his MySpace page. From the 18 tracks on this new CD I've selected Mel's collaboration with guitarist Jonathan Ellul entitled Man Flight Passion. Sultana's music is quite broad-ranging and I look forward to his releases. So you can be sure I'll be playing something else from this Maltese musician in an upcoming edition of the MMI podcast. I'll probably also play another track by Jonathan, from his own unrelated (i.e. without Melchior) tracks on MySpace.

A couple of podcasts ago I introduced you to a Maltese guitarist who seems to split his time between Sydney and Oslo. Mark Axiak is also involved in a duo called Lappalie with singer Milena. I promised I'd come back to this material, so I've picked a haunting song called Sydneymoon to keep my promise. The wealth of Malta-related material of MySpace is simply staggering.

Brussels-based Kurt Buttigieg is a well known name in the Maltese blogosphere. In fact, he was one of its pioneers under the pseudonym Gybexi. I met him in person when I visited Brussels a couple of years ago and never expected to come across the work he sonic work he has recently published under the name Skullcakes. I must admit that I love the sort of aural explorations that Skullcakes presents through the related MySpace page. You can also hear the track called Neon Wolf Amongst Them as the fifth selection on this week's podcast.

The last song that I managed to include in this week's podcast comes from Laura Zarb Cousin. This teenage singer told me in an email she wrote me a few days ago that she has just collaborated with composer-producer Toby on a song called You Bruise Me. Laura has a good voice for the type of genre she has picked and it appears that Toby has managed to play up her best qualities too. Laura has a personal page on Facebook but no MySpace presence I could find. Toby hasn't included this song on his own MySpace page, so I feel safe in saying that htis may very well be either a preview of a soon-to-be-released single or just another one of those best kept secrets the Maltese music scene coughs up from time to time. I guess only time can really tell.

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. If you have no idea what any of this means, just click here.

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Never Before

Ever since I started this blog way back in April 2004 I made it a point to post something at least once a week. I had never broken that promise, until last week. As you may have gathered from my previous two posts, I was on a two week visit to Malta. Unlike all other visits since April 2004, I didn't feel compelled to blog much about anything. I did post two entries while in Malta, both announcing podcasts, of course, but perhaps because I also took a break from producing new podcasts over the last couple of weeks I also ended up taking longer to blog than I had ever done before.

I have a feeling that the fact that I'm quite active on Facebook and Twitter had something to do with this brief blogging hiatus too. As satisfying as social networking and microblogging can be, I don't think I can easily give up blogging and podcasting any time soon, as long as I can find the few hours per week required to maintain my blog and podcasts.

So, the Mużika Mod Ieħor series returns this week with the 158th podcast. New material keeps flooding in, so it's inevitable that all the tracks I've selected for this week's podcast come from the steady flow of new releases. The first of these is a demo by The Does who follow-up last year's first single with a follow-up (demo) called My Better Side.

As much as I appreciate bands who produce well made music, I'm rarely as impressed as I am whenever someone decides to give their music a particularly Maltese twist in one way or another. The upcoming album Stejjer Tal-Bandli by No Bling Show is an excellent example of this. While others have already (successfully) attempted rap and hop-hop in Maltese, Jon Mallia and his collaborators have elevated the form to a new level. Rather than play tracks of the actual album, which is set to be released on the 3rd of May, I've decided to share a related YouTube video featuring Jon with guitarist Phil Zammit and percussionist Michael Galea jamming on one of the tunes from the album called Lucija u Samuel (l-ewwel parti). More on all this once the album has been released.

If you follow this podcast and/or blog regularly, you may recall that I introduced the work of Karl Baldacchino, who records as Synthact. Pinkpube have now released Synthact's debut EP entitled Aer as a free download. I like the minimalist arrangement on a track called Oligarchy, and you can hear it half way through this week's podcast.

During my recent visit to Malta I had the great pleasure of meeting Malcolm Galea, who has managed to make a name for himself on the local entertainment scene over the last decade or so. When we met up he told me all about the interesting work that has gone into the creation of Porn: The Musical and the current plans to develop the work further beyond the confines of the Maltese islands. As musical theatre goes, this work seems to me to be on par with many other works I've come across in recent years, so I'll be surprised if Malcolm and his company (including musicians Kris Spiteri and Boris Cezek) don't manage to get Porn noticed beyond the rock. You can get a sense of the quality of this musical by listening to the song Naked on a Sunday featuring the voices of Max Dingli and David Ellul.

To close of this week's podcast I've picked Thea Saliba's new single, entitled On The Dancefloor. This former Eurovision startlet has done relatively well for herself over the last couple of years and I'm quite impressed by the fact that she has chosen to move on from the Eurovision scene without actually completely turning her back on it. While her song choices aren't always to my personal taste, I have a feeling we'll be hearing much more from her in the coming years.

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. If you have no idea what any of this means, just click here.

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Sunday, April 05, 2009

You Know I'm No Good

I'm still in Malta. I don't feeling like blogging much but, as promised, I have re-released a podcast from the Mużika Mod Ieħor archives. I selected the 58th podcast in the series, which was originally released on Saturday, March 10, 2007. I pick this particular podcast since it takes us back exactly 100 episodes in the series from where we left things last week.

Meanwhile, I've also managed to enjoy all sorts of music during my stay in Malta, so far. Most notable are the Charles Camilleri memorial evening at the Manoel Theatre, the Ġensna Concert at the Mediterranean Conference Centre, Grimaud and Chasing Pandora at Chiaroscuro, and Simon Vella's CD launch at St James Cavalier. Surprisingly all these events took place in Valletta, confirming that cultural life in the city is enjoying a resurgence after many attempts to rehabilitate it. It is indeed a beautiful city.

Another podcast from the Mużika Mod Ieħor archives next week.

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