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Marcus Boon

Marcus Boon is the author of In Praise of Copying (Harvard, 2010) and The Road of Excess: A History of Writers on Drugs (Harvard, 2002). He writes about music for The Wire, blogs, and teaches contemporary literature and cultural theory at York University in Toronto. He is currently working on a book on the politics of vibration. Follow him on Twitter @mbb3001.

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Music Appreciation: Drone

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For many people, a drone wouldn't even be called music, just an irritating noise, like the buzzing of a refrigerator, the hum of traffic, the sound of bees in a hive. For others, it is OMMMM, the sound of the universe in Hindu cosmology, or, put in the language of modern physics, an expression of the fact that everything vibrates, everything is a wave. Yet a recent packaged-for-mainstream double CD compilation called Roots of Drone confirmed what I already suspected: that in the last decade or two, drone has become a musical genre. This may seem odd since after all, a drone is basically a tone, or set of tones that are sustained over time. And in a consumer marketplace driven by a craving for endless but often trivial kinds of novelty, making the same sound for a long time is a powerful gesture of refusal. Even so, there's now drone rock, drone metal, drone-based techno, drone within the classical tradition, drone-folk and so on. And now, the varieties of drone too are apparently inexhaustible. Here then is a sampling of drone's diversity...

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Music Appreciation: Global Bass

It's midnight, early August, Toronto, 2012 in a hall on the waterfront. On the stage behind large stacks of computers and gear, three large, serene dudes that go by the name A Tribe Called Red bounce up and down as they play a ferocious remix of their track "Indigenous Power" made by Monterrey, Mexico based producer Javier Estrada, along with a stream of rap, dancehall, cumbia and miscellaneous unknown vicious styles. The video projectors show a montage of cut ups of Hollywood Native cliches interspersed with traditional symbols and electric design. It's a hip-hop party, it's an "Electric Pow Wow", to use the name of the group's party night in Ottawa; it's 21st century cosmopolitanism in full effect: a perfect example of the bringing together of worlds that is Global Bass.

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