Sunday, October 22, 2006

Focused Daily

Al fresco

Miho Hatori - "Barracuda" (mp3)
(purchase here)

The 6ths - "Lindy Lou" (Feat. Miho Hatori) (mp3)
(purchase here)

Forro in the Dark - "Paraíba" (Feat. Miho Hatori) (mp3)
(purchase here)

Trio Matamoros - "El Que Siembra Su Maiz" (mp3)
(purchase here)

Ok, I never get tired singing the praises of Miho Hatori, but another quick note: her heretofore import-only solo jawn Ecdysis finally drops stateside and in the UK this week via Rykodisc. Trademark green jewel case, stand up! She even has a video for "Barracuda" making the rounds (good lookin' out to Shots Ring Out for digging up the pod-compatible .mov). End of PSA, onward forward.

Hatori's path to the present reminds me of why people either love or hate the new music of New York. On one hand, it exemplifies the magical melting pot that my generation, brought up on multicultural and pluralistic ideals, dreams about. On the other, it can come across as tame, generalized or too damn idealistic for its own good -- the bane of every "damn, what happened to the Zoo York of yore?" critic. I'll address that latter topic -- does NYC blow b/c you can't do blow al fresco anymore? -- in an upcoming post, because I'm interested in one thing right now: focused class.

Call it getting older, call it "Fuck the Joneses," call it what you will, but musicians are masters of a craft and the path to that mastery is often accompanied by selection, focus and deliberation. The buffet the world offers us is at first a fantastic candyland, but we soon learn process: which courses we prefer, in which order they should come and in what proportions.
Hatori has fascinated me on a superficial level because her path has mirrored mine, almost course for course. However, Fascination Street quickly intersected with Respek! Drive because she has consistently found common ground and connections between the seemingly disparate: say, punk flailings and hip-hop chic to her current moderation of pan-Afro delicacies. Cribbing her words, her music often points out the "common aesthetic principle innate in our collective humanity." I suppose this is hardly revelatory to anyone that's studied sampling or collage art, but that's the beauty of music: it can say all this goo goo muck without sounding like goo goo muck... and it can make you shake your ass.

I pulled the 6ths track because it presents Hatori midway to today in another seemingly asynchronous situation, yet making it work. I suggest that the collabo is potential peanut butter'n parsley because for all of Hatori's cognoscenti cred, Merritt's taste, well, comes off as more a blast from the past. Yet, there is a sensiblity to this pairing. "Lindy Lou" is hardly majestic or gorgeous or rolling fields of wheat; in fact, the harmonies are a tad off and the song meanders nowhere. But it's a humble statement of affection and aspires to be nothing more. Simply put: mature cuteness.

Today, her projects and collaborations seem easier to define ("the Brazilian joint;" "the solo jawn"), but are simply more focused. Her constant dig through the Brazilian crates came up with "Paraíba" (which bares a striking similarity to Trio Matamoros' "El Que Siembre Su Maiz"), a breezer that contrasts well with Forro in the Dark's beat heavy repertoire. The collabo also makes sense in that members of Forro in the Dark Mauro Refosco and Smokey Hormel have both worked extensively with Hatori. Old friends growing older together? A familiar tongue, no doubt.

By the way, Forro in the Dark's full length Bonfires of São João drops on November 7. Or roll through Nublu, where the group got their start.

...and Miho's on the road for the Hotel Cafe Tour. NYC heads, here're her gigs:

Fri, Oct 27 The Stone curated by Mike Patton
Tue, Oct 31 The Living Room w/Hotel Cafe Tour
Fri, Nov 3 Sine-E CMJ
Wed, Nov 8 Joe's Pub Guest appearance for Forro in the Dark
Sat, Dec 9 Japan Society


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