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time capsule to space: queequeg guarachero

April 17, 2011

pm_jawn, “queequeg guarachero” ゲット [DL]

tracklist:
acordeon prehispanico – javier estrada
buju tribal – dj makency
macumba (sheeqo beat short remix) – hinojosa & zambrano ft. david quijada
indie buda 2.5 (flute mix) – dj icon
he scratcha-wacha-racha – dj fraga
stikin (guarachera refix) – sonic c

on friday, i participated in time capsules to space, a three day series of sonic and visual performances designed to be received by extraterrestrial life. vj lady firefly aka zarah cabañas of firefly lab asked me to participate as an astronaut and create a mix designed to accompany a 20 minute demonstration of filipino stickfighting, or modern arnis, by the village martial arts institute. the three-day event was broken into celebrating the past, present, and future achievements of mankind–friday night representing the past. i was honored and intimidated to be a part of something so visionary:

Inspired by the launch of the Voyager Golden Record in 1977, Time Capsules to Space hopes to transmit interplanetary/interdimensional understanding and to inspire a deeper human appreciation of Earth’s relationship to the greater cosmic landscape.

in addition to my personal fascination with the extraterrestrial, the cosmological, and the paranormal, one of the things that drew me to the project was the diy aspect. space exploration in the 20th and 21st centuries has been mostly mediated by nation-states, corporations, scientists and scholars who presume to have the best ideas for how to represent civilization in case of “contact”.  wayne provides a really good critique of the original voyager project and its approach to framing world music here. i didn’t presume to have a more nuanced or sophisticated way of communicating human achievement to aliens, but i became excited about offering an alternative representation.  rather than draw from filipino culture and heritage, i decided to draw from the warrior spirit of the fighting style and pair it with sounds that would play off the style’s speed and intensity.

tribal guarachero from mexico was a natural fit.  one of my favorite aspects of 3bal is its obsession and fascination with mythology.  instead of having a strict, anthropological approach to mexican native american history, the myths and legends channeled through the music are largely imagined.  guerrero azteca is a good embodiment of the apsirational rootedness of 3bal music, but also its facination with the galactic. i ❤ the comments on dj javier estrada’s soundcloud. among my favorites are:

BOOOOOOM!!! Que fuerza ancestral hermano!

LET THE SPIRITS IN

Te quedo shingona mi guarura galactico aztecoso!!! 😉

Que chingóna rola !!!!! y yo la bautizo como AzTechno ó Technoztitlosa !!!!

many 3bal songs incorporate highly questionable layers of “traditional” instrumentation and nature noises, inadvertently throwing eggs in the face of authenticity.  my friend judd recently linked me to naturesoundsfor.me which is website that allows users to create composites of “nature” sounds creating completely unnatural, but compellingly cheesy soundscapes.  there is even a hilariously vague preset called “tribal”. it reminded me of the way that guarachero djs select and play with tribal/pre-hispanic/aztec/african elements to craft composites of a proud, martial, native heritage.  the beginning and end of “queequeg guarachero” are buffered by my own creations in naturesoundsfor.me. i also added a few cougar growls, airhorns, and supplementary 3bal samples and loops for good measure.

on a baser (based?) level, the music also just sounds like mortal kombat music sometimes. i was really struck how much dj orion’s guarachero-inspired animus ep could fit in alongside some of my favorite video game productions.

my novice-level mixing skills were a natural limitation to how complex/good i could get for this project. luckily i was asked to not to make the transitions super seamless, have the songs to stand pretty much on their own, and cues for the different sections of the demonstration. in lieu of not having an actual recording of the performance, i want to give a little taste of the actual fighting style. here is a short clip of sifu doug pierre, head instructor of the villiage martial arts institute and one of the foremost experts on modern arnis/kali/escrima:

in one of the funnier moments in the really enjoyable episode of street science last wednesday, ray asked me if i had really thought deeply about potentially provoking, confusing, or misinforming the extraterrestrials. and yes, i did think about that.  i hope that i didn’t piss them or the atzec gods off.  at the same time, i hope they recognize that this has been a sincere and enthusiastic project for me.  that i hope to gain a greater dj/music skill set and deeper understanding of global music production before the world ends next year.  daps to the masala blog, dave quam, wayne, and jess jubilee for keeping me informed about 3bal and generally being inspiring.

as for the name “queequeg guarachero”, queequeg refers to the character in moby dick–a “primitive” from a south pacific tribe that practiced cannibalism. sike! i mean, that’s actually true, but its also an inside joke, because it also happens to be the name of scully’s pomeranian on the x-files (RIP).

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