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Aqua Boogie - Parliament
Many listeners thought that this song was about having a party or dancing under water. It isn't. The water imagery is a metaphor for how people had to bend and jump through hoops to deal with life in America at the time. In the Motor Booty Affair era, swimming is equivalent to dancing. Designed by Overton Loyd, the album cover depicts a giant yellow bird threatening to scoop Sir Nose up and drop him into Parliament’s underwater city—a sexy, funky Atlantis. Loyd created a vision for the aquatic paradise through a pop-up illustration inside the gatefold album cover.
Closing out the first—and strongest—half of the album is “Aqua Boogie,” a singular dance track with smart arrangements and flourishes, including a signature bird noise, ascending chromatic line, Sir Nose’s sped-up voice-over and the energizing impact of the chorus and groove dropping in and out. “I get chills thinking about it,” Hampton says. “It’s timeless.”'
This was written by Parliament frontman George Clinton, along with bassist Bootsy Collins and keyboardist Bernie Worrell. The "psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadoloop" chant that makes up most of the chorus was Clinton's attempt to create his own "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," as heard in Mary Poppins.
Reaching gold certification, Motor Booty Affair came out during a period of mainstream success for P-Funk. Several months before its release, “Flash Light” had become the collective’s first No. 1 R&B single. “One Nation Under a Groove” also reached the top spot on the chart that year.
The arrival of music director and multi-instrumentalist Walter “Junie” Morrison (who's credited under the pseudonym J.S. Theracon on Motor Booty) also contributed to P-Funk’s achievements. And the album added to the legacy of Clinton’s art as commentary on the black experience in the U.S.
“The bold Afrofuturist blending of blackness and science-fiction that is presented in George Clinton’s albums, art, and even live concerts…represent and attempt to destabilize fixed concepts of black identity and historical origin and re-frame them both as transcendent,” scholar Adilifu Nama writes in his book Black Space: Imagining Race in Science Fiction Film. “The mythology of Atlantis as a lost city located below the surface of public visibility is an appropriate and ingenious metaphor for characterizing the state of the urban black ghetto in America. The statement ‘We got ta raise Atlantis to the top’, on the album’s “Deep”, signifies a desire for black upward social mobility.”
For Hampton, the Motor Booty era was another opportunity to sharpen his skills as a musician. “I was more concerned with trying to stay in tune and be ready for whenever I had to play, that I kind of shut everything else out,” he says. “Everything seemed to be muffled, like we were underwater for real.”
'78's Motor-Booty Affair draws the listener down into an Atlantis which Parliament's hydronauts want to 'raise to the top'. Raising Atlantis to the top means amplifying the low end until it becomes a liquid environment. Bringing the deep-sea island into dry shore demands an amphibian mixadelics.
Atlantis demands the artificial evolution of an nth-generation aquafunk, easing psychosensory tension in a new flowmotion. The Motor-Booty Affair's seaswaying synths and horn descent lulls you into an Atlantean aquatopia, 'a mystical meeting ground' where 'we can swim through life without a care.' In You're a Fish and I'm a Water Sign, Clinton's frail falsetto longs to be 'on the same side of love as you.' Chorus becomes a buoyant choral reef with vowels and consonants now different pitches of bubbles. Voices don't sing; instead they gargle, through aqualungs, burble through snorkels in bubbliciouS baritones. Dancing the aquaboogie in liquid air turns you into an aquanaut on Bimini Row.
Spacebass pulls spaces and times out from between people. The floor slips from under your feet, flips over above your head. Assquake in outerspace. Aquabass draws you down into an aquaboogie in zero G, sucking your booty up into a low end above your head. Worrell's synth fluctuates from spongiform timbres to inorganic soulclaps, from abrupt trebles to waning strobes of an emergency signal.
You're cradled by Walter 'Junie' Morrison's aqualunged croon: 'With the rhythm it takes to dance through what we have to live through, you can dance underwater and not get wet.' Aqua Boogie is a nu-groove, an impossible navigation through the audiosocial. Motor-Booty Affair announces an outer thought of the body in which the brain is a motor function and the booty is a brain. As Pedro Bell explains, 'Technology automatically causes the language to expand,' putting pressure on language, kneading it into new processes, new sensory lifeforms: suckulate, bootyful, throbbasonic thumpasaurus. Neologic, 'the primal act of pop poetics' in William Gibson's sense, occurs at an extreme rate. Parliament are neologists, lexical synaesthetes extrapolating universes from a grain of sound. Cosmogenesis at 33-3.
- Kodwo Eshun. “Hydronauts in Aquatopia,” More Brilliant Than The Sun
Hydro Theory - Drexciya
A lot of people talk about how the electronic rawness was born in Chicago, due to limited funds by artists like Phuture and Ron Hardy who had to use scrappy mixers and a cheap karaoke machine called TB-303, but a lot of people do not discuss about how Drexciya took that rawness into a different completely imaginative direction.
The Drex crew hit the jackpot with this EP, it fits like fingers to glove to the "freakiness" and the "weirdness" Warp records presented in those current times. "Darthouven Fish Men" is a dirty melody which sounds like a computer malfunction repeatedly hitting an error, it is jumpy and crunchy with scattered envelopes all around.
"Black Sea" is a deep journey into Detroit's famous Packard Automotive Plant rave scene which was flourishing in the 90's, it is trance before trance was gentrified. The thing so unique about Drexciya is that they used distortion but it never sounded bad quality distortion, it was a matter of science for James & Gerald—how can we make heavily distorted and compressed sounds without making them sound bad?
"Hydro Theory" is the treasure here, that breathing heavily sound in the background is probably timed frame to the recognizable Drexciya, anybody who bootlegs that aquarium deep sea sound will get his ass whooped instantly thinking he is playing a Drex track.
After remaining silent over the years and doing just 2 or 3 rare interviews, Drexciya came out of the shadows to talk about Neptune's Lair with the German and UK Press. Here in North America, Andrew Duke was given an exclusive opportunity to speak with Drexciya and spread the word on these shores.
Interview with Andrew Duke (Cognition Audioworks 1999):
Andrew Duke: How does water relate to your music and Drexciya?
Drexciya: "Well, water is the most powerful element on this planet. Water has many different properties. It comes in many different forms and many different shapes and different weights. And that's the way we see our music, we can come in any different size or shape that we want depending on the rhythm of the song, how aggressive the song is, how transparent or how big it is, how clear, how diluted, how fast, how slow, it all depends-the same properties as water. Water runs fast, water runs slow, and the best way to put a visual picture in your mind of Drexciya and what we're all about is that we (Drexciya and water) go hand in hand. You have to have all the dimensions, you have to have the visual, the sonic side of things, and you have to have a purpose—a concept—to make it real. So once you bring in the world of Drexciya and the people and how they're living their lives in Drexciya, you know, you put the element of water, which is the basic element of life for anyone-period. Once you factor in all your different things, this is how it is with Drexciya and how the basic principles are."
Andrew Duke: How does the water itself affect the music? Music under water as opposed to music above water.
Drexciya: "It's the difference in degree. Sometimes you might be going through some rough rapids, or there's a strong undertow or whatnot. Or, better yet, maybe it's just still, very calm, a very gentle flow. So when you're making music it all depends entirely on which water you're in."
Andrew Duke: Why is it so important that you don't make it easy for people to understand Drexciya? You could lay it all out on the line, but you don't do that, you hold back.
Drexciya: "Basically, we want people to tap into their minds and their creativity. It's like 'I'll put this out here for you and I need your help' to where it's like 'damn!' But there's a little more to it, so once you really look at it, and really listen to it, there's more going on inside the music than what you think you're really hearing. It's like going to the record store and dropping the needle [on a record from Drexciya] and listening to it for two seconds. [laughs] You haven't heard all of a Drexciya record until you listen to the whole entire track because there are a lot of things that are going on in there. So basically, you know, we kind of do that intentionally to stimulate their minds and take them deeper into the world of Drexciya. Instead of just laying it out there and making it dull and boring; once you have something that is a mystery, people enjoy that more. For example, picture what you think when you look at a couch and how you might look at things differently, feel things differently, you know. So it's like instead of 'hmmm, that's very simple, it's just a couch sitting over there in the corner', what if things were changed? What if you have some weird transparent liquid chair over there that's moving, then you're gonna want to take a closer look at it and go like 'what the hell is that? Damn! What's over there, a couch?' Then you go and sit down on it and it wraps itself around you and caresses you and it makes you go 'ooooh' and puts little chills down your back, makes the hair raise up on the back of your neck. That's the kind of effect that we're putting into the music, to where it's a 50/50 thing with a little bit of a mystery to it."
Interview with Derek Beere (Future BPM 2002):
FUTUREBPM: Understandable. Water is the most important and powerful element on Earth. When I look deeper, I find it brilliant how water is tied in with your music. The water is feeding the music, making it so powerful and water seems to central to Drexciyan philosophy. There’s some deep stuff there.
Drexciya: “Right. But you got to think, there’s more than just power there. There’s a lot of elegance, creativity and innovation that comes with water. Don’t they say we came from out of the ocean, or something like that? There’s a lot of things that go on in the ocean now. There’s a lot of undiscovered territories, uncharted areas and stuff like that. I adopted the same way that you view the waters, with the depths, creatures, and undiscovered territories, it’s the same way I see the music. That’s the way I like to approach it, because I want it to be endless. I want it to be as innovative as it can possibly be. I want it to be the most creative. I want it to be that spark of life for whatever I do, so that’s the reason I adopted the whole background and whole theme of water, for it’s longevity. Water was here at the beginning before we existed and water will be here when we go away. It’s beautiful. Think about this. Do you know of anyone who can create water? What is this stuff? How can you make water, if it doesn’t already exist? Sure you have molecules and all that stuff, but outside this planet, how can you make more water than that’s already here? If you have Lake Michigan, how can you produce the equivalent of Lake Michigan water, without taking it from some other place on the planet, how can you create that in a lab? Because if they can do that, don’t you think we’d all be drinking fresh water instead of contaminated water? They would have dumped all this water on this planet and made fresh water in areas that are needed? Don’t you think if they can actually do that they would do it? What I’m saying is water is a very interesting, very marvelous element that people take for granted. Once it goes, you’re done. Air is very important too, but water…you’re done. Your body is like 80% composed of water. Without it, you’re done.”
FUTUREBPM: Any last thoughts or comments that you’d like to tell the people out there?
Drexciya: “Yeah…just stay deep. Keep drinking from the pond. Keep drinking from the pond. Look in the mirror, do you see you or do you see me?”
Every Drexciya EP navigates the depths of the Black Atlantic, the submerged worlds populated by Drexciyans, Lardossans, Darthouven Fish Men and Mutant Gillmen. In the Sleevenotes to The Quest, their '97 concept double CD, the Drexciyans are revealed to be a marine species descended from 'pregnant America-bound African slaves' thrown overboard 'by the thousands during labour for being sick and disruptive cargo. Could it be possible for humans to breathe underwater? A fetus in its mother's womb is certainly alive in an aquatic environment. Is it possible that they could have given birth at sea to babies that never needed air? Recent experiments have shown mice able to breathe liquid oxygen, a premature human infant saved from certain death by breathing liquid oxygen through its underdeveloped lungs. These facts combined with reported sightings of Gillmen and Swamp Monsters in the coastal swamps of the Southeastern United States make the slave trade theory startlingly feasible.'
Drexciyans are 'water breathing, aquatically mutated descendants,' webbed mutants of the Black Atlantic, amphibians adapted for the ocean's abyssal plains, a phylum disconnected from the aliens who adapted to land. As Mark Sinker argued in '92, 'The ships landed long ago: they already laid waste whole societies, abducted and genetically altered whole swathes of citizenry. Africa and America—and so by extension Europe and Asia—are already in their various ways Alien Nation.' Drexciya use electronics to replay the alien abduction of slavery with a fictional outcome: 'Did they migrate from the Gulf of Mexico to the Mississippi River Basin and to the Great Lakes of Michigan? Do they walk among us? Are they more advanced than us?'
Sinker's breakthrough is to bring alien abduction back to earth, to transfer the trauma from out there to yesternow. The border between social reality and science fiction, social fiction and science reality is an optical illusion, as Donna Haraway has pointed out. They have been here all along and they are you. You are the alien you are looking for.
Dolphin Tune - Aquarius
"I'd heard this back in the day but didn't realize it was called Dolphin Tune. Is it really? Is this where the term Dolphin Jungle comes from? Is that even a term or do I just think it is? Or did it already exist so he was just taking the piss out of himself. I was a sucker for this stuff back then, the good tunes anyway, still am i suppose. This is a bewdy, I reckon. Perfect for my current headspace. It just seemed an unlikely hybrid that juxtaposition of ambient/new age and jungle beatz/choppage. Did someone say ambient jungle? The flip is fucking wicked too probably even better, especially if you get a couple of versions going at once like 40 seconds apart. When I first heard jungle I guess some time in 92 on RRR or PBS in Melbourne on a show called Roots, Ragga & Dub where they started having like monthly jungle specials, which I used to tape but those tapes are long gone, dammit! Anyway that's what I reckon they were doing playing the same track out of sync with at least two records possibly even more or other tunes entirely. It was like music being beamed into my crappy East Brunswick bedroom from a planet inhabited some super hyper spazzoid aliens. Don't let the fact that this is a Photek alias put you off. This isn't as methodical or detached as some his other material."
Forever grateful to the Professor of 'The Hardcore Continuum' Simon Reynolds who adds another contribution to my blog in the comments box:
"Probably does come from that tune, but also Bukem was doing things like "Atlantis" and the whole sound of Good Looking / Looking Good is just aqueous isn't it? there was 93 track by Nebula II on Reinforced called "Eye Memory' that actually has dolphin noises on it! The title is based on that idea that if a dolphin looks you in the eye, it'll never forget you."
Drip Music (Drip Event)
George Brecht’s Drip Music is a seminal work of performance art that was born at the crossroads of visual art and experimental music. At the time of its writings, Brecht was a professional chemist who was taking classes in music composition with John Cage at The New School in New York City. Through the work, Brecht was seeking a way forward in art from Jackson Pollock’s paintings and John Cage’s radical inclusion of everyday sounds as music. Even Andy Warhol remarked to a friend in 1960 that “you’re an artist if you drip.” Brecht proposes we drip water and not paint, thus resulting in action alone: music rather than a painting.
When discovered by George Maciunas, Drip Music was immediately incorporated into the repertoire of Fluxus concerts. It appeared in the premiere Fluxus concert in Wiesbaden, Germany in September 1962 and remained on the festival program as it traveled to Copenhagen, Paris, Düsseldorf, and Amsterdam. Drip Music became a natural emblem for Fluxus as the word “flux” not only means movement and change but also fluidity, flowing, or more specifically a fluid’s rate of flow.
The score calls the viewer to recreate it again and again, to flesh out a landscape of inextinguishable possibility. In this way the multitude of performances unleashed by Drip Music resembles the repetitious image of dripping, as if they might be thought of together as one extended performance—a rhythmic dripping, irritating yet compelling, that will never end.
In the early 1960s George Brecht began mailing his event scores to his friends and collaborators. This was partly a practical means of circulating his work, but he also began to define the mailing process as part of an event-based artwork, establishing a kind of 'press' as a vehicle for sending out his works in order to formalize the process. Like his friend Ray Johnson, and Conceptual Artists such as On Kawara, Brecht was helping to establish the parameters of Mail Art.