FOR SPACE DOCTORS
Space Doctors was lucky enough to play host to pioneering musical explorer, creator and curator, Pete Buckenham who came down to expand our minds and ears to the diversity, inspiration and sensorial possibility of music. As we continue to probe the fringes of sensory and experiential semiotic inquiry here at Space Doctors, Pete was the perfect companion to lead us on his journey and through his story, to reflect on the power of music, sound and rhythm, and the effect it has on all of our lives.
A first for Space Doctors, Pete describes his tale through a combination of words and his exclusive mix of nineteen tracks to examine the meaning that they each have for him.
Space Drs by Pete On The Corner on Mixcloud
“Being invited to the Space Doctors’ Lunch and Learn series meant I was able to reflect on how my fledgling record label, On the Corner, editorials for eclectic magazine, and my passion for music, travel, the Sahara, culture, rights and history are somewhere, all connected in my head.
This mix brings together recordings from personal journeys and into various musical obsessions. I’ve annotated these influential tracks and artists in an attempt to contextualise and shed light on the reasons for their inclusion.
As the title suggests, it is a biographical mix, plotting a few moments along my ambling path into music. To start listing caveats for the things I’ve omitted could take forever so I’ll get into the tracks. Though, allowing a caveat of a caveat, there’s no jazz from the height of the civil rights movement in the US. That’s a whole other world – ‘Freedom, Rhythm and Sound’ is a proper starting point for those inclined to start on that journey.
Fela Kuti, S.T.B (Larry Levan Edit) – Fifteen years ago I would make trips to London, A-Z in hand, pick up a ‘Straight No Chaser’ and hone in on London’s plethora of record shops. I picked up this bootleg Larry Levan edit of S.T.B. with no concept of how this would affect everything else. I knew nothing of it at the time and both Fela’s music and Larry’s attitude never left.
Collocutor , Archaic Morning – Collocutor’s sound was introduced to me by Nick Emanative, as Tamar (Collocutor) is a member of his emanative collective. A couple of years back we would haul my gear on Monday nights to a central London café for the On the Corner sessions; it was the perfect setting (one man and his dog) for a Theo Parrish, Miles Davis, Fela, Sun Ra and all points in between, soundclash. Miles and Gil Scott-Heron were only omitted from the mix due to a lack of space. When listening back to the recordings of those sets I found I’d accidentally recorded the room noise as well as the mixer. As coincidence would have it, I captured the moment when Nick dropped a rough mix of Tamar’s material and I was having kittens. Three months later I’d set up the label, met with Tamar, walked over to Sounds of the Universe together where OtC’s first 12” 9 Emantive’s ‘Over” EP)had just arrived, and that was that. Archaic Morning was the first single off of the album. All our digital releases can be found here on Bandcamp.
Emanative, Om Supreme – I began hanging around with Nick Emanative in early 2013 having come across him via a killer edit he’d done of Burial and his first productions with the Steve Reid Foundation. After sharing some ideas it was dope to follow him around and take snaps as he recorded versions from the vanguard of spiritual jazz for the foundation. Some of my snaps even ended up on the sleeve. This is the first track on that album and features the empress of the ivories, Jessica Lauren. Om Supreme is a sublime version of one of Alice Coltrane’s epics. At the recent Step-Out! (the On the Corner night) Jessica premiered some of her new material, footage of which I’m honoured to be putting up on-line soon.
Serge Gainsbourg , Marabout – All the elements fit on this track, Serge’s sophistication and attitude strutting all over a ubiquitous West African rhythm.
Babatunde Olatunji, Jin-go-la-ba – love playing this Olatunji version next to Gainsbourg, a subtle clash of stylings from the same root.
Auntie Flo Esa/Highlife World Series Santuri Safari – Africa Ni Leo – I spent a decent amount of time jiving through the rich musical scenes of East Africa and this international collaboration is really pushing things forward. Influences and inspirational personnel from Glasgow, Dar es Salaam, Cape Town, and Nairobi are all merged here The work these guys are producing is setting standards. They are making the now.
Barney Willen, Tindi Abalessa – A new discovery; I was waxing lyrical about the Sahara to Jean-Claude (a man in the know) from the esteemed If Music and he pointed me to Barney Willen’s Moshi works. The whole album is great , however, this track sums up so much of the sound trapped in my head and it’s from forty odd years ago.
Theo Parrish, Sawala Sayale – Straight from Moshi to another producer that ‘knows’. Detroit House don Theo Parrish put this out a few years ago and sounds so connected to the spirit conveyed on ‘Tindi’ and it is an essentially hypnotic rhythm. Moshi is all about a spirit inducing trance states from sound, that both Barney Willen and Theo get close to; spell bound from drum technologies stirring emotional experiences.
Steve Reid, Daxaar – Gilles Peterson played this on his early morning Radio 1 show and I think it probably changed my life. As Sun Ra said “you can be travelling the right road but going the wrong direction”. I’d been over the border in Mauritania, on route to my first desert marathon, at the same time Steve Reid was over the border repeating part of his pioneering journey and recording this. His journey, music and life is an inspiration. This track sounds as fresh now as it did back in 2007 and doesn’t leave my record bag. Check him here and his work with Kieran Hebden (four tet).
Collocutor, Gozo (The Expansions Remix) – shameless plug – Out now on On the Corner, vinyl coming later this year and is giving a dose of beats from South London’s glorious jazz funk destroyer’s, The Expansions.
Bi Kidude, Pakistan – I thought I’d throw something in from another revolutionary artist, Bi Kidude, a real force for change in Zanzibar. There was a rumour that she was as old as the sea when she died two years ago.
Ali Farka Toure, Koko – My first trips to the Sahara ten years ago were full of Ali. He’s never far away. Have a root through his back-catalogue and you won’t be disappointed.
Group Doueh, Zayna Jumma – After traversing a lot of Africa and making a home on the verge of the Sahara it was in the record shop Sounds of the Universe in Soho that my ears ascended to the sands where my heart lay. That shop is the best library and source of credit card bills there ever could be. And of course the staff ‘know’. I got to spend a few days with Doueh and here’s a little snippet of me waxing lyrical about them on 6music.
iZem, Sadeo – I met iZem when helping Dom Servini out on his superlative radio show. iZem is blessed with a nomadism and pulls inspiration from diverse sources. This is from his debut album, also available now.
Dele Sosimi, You No Fit Touch Am – Through helping out on Dom’s Radio show, Wah Wah 45s invited me to interview Dele for eclectic as he signed for the label, an absolute legend.
Owiny Sigoma Band, Jah Mic – I was living on Zanzibar when I first heard their music. At the beach festival organised by Coral Rock in Mfumbwi, now in it’s 5th year, Sauti Za Busara Director Yusuf Mohammed dropped this and I came running. I have hotelier, DJ and general mentalist Neil Cave to thank for pushing me to spin some MP3s and masquerade as a DJ. I was back in Zanzibar two years later when OSB played both the Friday and Saturday of Busara. I recently had the last minute joy of convening a Q & A at the ICA when the documentary of their forthcoming album, Nyanza, was screened. This track really captures their vibe and killer sound-systems. That masquerading is, thankfully, now encouraged by international party starters Unwanted Family and DJ J-Buck.
Romare, The Blues (It Began In Africa) – I featured this in one my first radio shows for the Backyard Project in Australia and have just had the pleasure of interviewing Romare for the forthcoming print edition of eclectic. So watch this space and in the mean time check out his debut album Roots.
Les Amazone des Guineas, Samba – a dancefloor essential that my favourite journeying, tastemaker-DJ and scene-machine friend, Dom Servini played. I cam running again. I got on Discogs and waited and waited and waited. It’s now just been reissued on the excellent Brighton label, Mr Bongo.
Mulatu Astaqe, Yègellé Tezeta – There are so many scenes, past and present, across the whole continent that I couldn’t possibly capture anything representative without thousands of tracks and artists so I kept this specific to my journey and the stories and rhythms that continue to move me. Having said that, I have to mention Mulatu; such a dude.
Madlib, Beat Konducta in Africa – last things first. This was flowing through my headphones as my heart was racing on the back of many a Kampala Boda Boda (motorbike taxis) and I started this mix with a couple of his tasty snippets.