6 min read

Night Dark [Àbàlị̀]

A winter solstice show in Western Colorado, ending with DJ sets, more DJ action, mountain urchins + the usual lashings of new (& not so new) music.
Night Dark [Àbàlị̀]
Nkem & I just before opening the Dark Night show in Paonia, CO, in front of a display by Andrea Lecos.
The way the moon dangles in the midnight sky
And the stars dance around, a-yo, I think it's fly.
Intensity, most rappers don't see it
Spirit-wise, musically, you gotta be it.
Serenity and silence of the sounds and emotions
In the concrete jungle when the sun don't bungle.
I think it's hard to find the words on how I feel
I paid about a deuce-twenty for the Ampex steel,
But let me slow down, I think I ran my jibs enough.
Peace out to the Nation, stay rugged and rough.

The night is on my mind
The sun'll still shine, huh
The night is on my mind
The night is on my mind
The night is on my mind
Yeah, the sun'll still shine
But now the night is on my mind
Uh-huh the night is on my mind

—Q-Tip [A Tribe Called Quest] - Midnight

In the bleak mid-winter
    Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
    Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
    Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
    Long ago.

— Christina Rossetti - from A Christmas Carol

A merry Yule season of gathered lights for my northern hemisphere crew, and every drop of the dominant sun for those across the equator. No quick mix this time, as my DJ deck and gear are disassembled in part because I used them on a trip I'm about to mention, and also because the Yule tree went up in the spot for my usual setup. My wife decorated it with the Mountain Urchin handmade paper craft ornaments she sells. If those look like anything that might interest you, drop me a line and I'll pass it on.

Yule tree with Lori Ogbuji's Mountain Urchins

When Craig Childs invited me to participate in the 15th annual "Dark Night" solstice show in Paonia, Colorado, it was an easy "sure, I'm in!" I didn't really know what to expect, but I love my trips to the Western Slope, especially when I get to fully indulge my poetic and musical side among the San Juan mountains. Some nine months later, as I waited in the hallway out of the green room with my daughter dressed and prepped to MC the event (alongside Craig's son), as we listened to the raucous, excited energy coming from the 200 or so people in the sold-out auditorium, I finally realized what a special couple of nights it was going to be.

Nkem's selfie while MCing the Dark Night show Paonia Colorado's Paradise Theater

The theme of the show was Chaos, and Nkem had me down as a "Chaos Engineer" in her intro. I think that's a proper Loomiverse view of all the frenzied dot-to-dotting that takes me from tech to travel to poetry to music to soccer to snowboarding and across so many other constellations.

2023 Dark Night show Web page (Paradise Theater), based on the poster.

Oh one more semi-random cluster of dots, while I'm reaching. My brother has also always been interested in the connections from music and culture to maths, sciences and engineering; a recent article of his, The Basic Clapping Patterns of Capoeira, is an example.

However, for today, I just wanted to try to explain the clapping rhythms of Palma de dois (“two clap”), Palma de Bimba (“Bimba’s clap”), and Palma de terreiro and how they line up with the Atabaque rhythm with the right amount of musical formality (a very tiny amount) and some mathematical concepts that I think might help with the conceptual difficulty I often notice during conversations about these rhythms and what beats they fall on.

DJ Geeking

You can argue about whether it's advisable to meet your heroes, but I can definitely insist that you go watch them up-close in a cook-off any time you can. DJ Shortkut is not only a phenomenal DJ, but his commitment to educating other DJs is admirable. Cut Chemist is just a legend, for his work with Jurassic 5, but also with his constant innovation in the art. I got to see a set with both of them, spinning all 45s (which is in itself a massive flex) at Cervantes in Denver a couple of weeks ago. The set-up, with the DJs in a corral surrounded by the crowd, allowed me to get a front row perch while feeling the waves of energy surging through the place throughout the sets. It always floors me how well Denver heads of all ages know their old school Funk and Hip-Hop calculus. I lost my mind and shredded my voice at several points, but when Cut Chemist dropped babe Ruth's The Mexican, even he spotted my manic efforts 😂.

That show might have been useful inspiration for the after-show DJ sets I did a few weeks later after each night of the Dark Night show. An hour of mostly African music each time, which seemed to go down well, with a lively dance floor. The DJ's art is right up where with Eliot's

Glow more intense than blaze of branch, or brazier,
Stirs the dumb spirit: no wind, but pentecostal fire
In the dark time of the year.

Few things unite people of all faiths and non-faiths like the embrace of music as that fire taken from the season of regeneration, which keeps the blood from freezing in mortal limbs through the annual dark, dark night.


I'm usually recommending new music in these posts, but now and then something older is too good not to include. I don't know how I never heard Mujje by Ugandan-American duo Nsimbi, but their contrasting voices giving a uplifting message over lush string and talking drum arrangement makes for an instant vibe.

Nsimbi - Mujje (Official Video)

A more recent stumble-across is this excellent mix, by DJ Priyanka, of Indian music tracks in Amapiano blends and remixes. Once again, with any DJ set half the beauty of it is watching the enjoyment behind the decks while enjoying the music yourself, and here's all that, plus the melding of cultures, implemented by a dab hand.

India-mapiano | Indian-Inspired Amapiano Mix by DJ Priyanka

BTW if you, like half the world, these days, it seems, can't get enough of Amapiano, don't miss this BBC doc from last year on the genre.

'This Is Amapiano' (Documentary) : DIRECTOR'S CUT BBC Africa

Weirdly, PinkPantheress is now a massive star, and so not the usual sort of recommendation I offer, but that still blows my mind, and the best thing about it is how it connects my daughter and me. I was DJing on Reddit a couple of years ago when baby girl jumps out of of her room after I drop "Pain". SHe's like "Dad, you're playing this? I'm obsessed with this song!" I stumbled across it because I always have my ear out for new UK Garage flavored stuff, and what a beautiful tribute to Sweet Female Attitude, a Garage classic built around Satie's Gymnopédie #1, of all sources. I knew DJ Spoony had recently re-upped the tune—with Sugababes standing in for SFA—but I'd never heard of PinkPantheress before her take. Little did I know she was going viral among the Zoomer crew until my daughter jumped down to join me by the decks. Since then, we play each other whatever newness PinkPantheress conjures, a shared favorite. Last month she put out her first album, and tunes such as "Nice to meet you" and "Another Life" (Naija pop nod with the Rema feature) have been on heavy rotation chez we.

PinkPantheress - Nice to meet you (feat. Central Cee)

It's far from the only musical exchange thread across the generations, in our case, but it's always nice to have a nice new lining on the fabric.

A further holiday reflection comes from Killer Mike, or at least I'm making it one. “Hip Hop and Reggae are both People’s Music. People's Music speaks for the salt of the earth, the worker class that toils and constitutes the masses.” And he puts that sentiment to work with his new Jamaican-flavored remix and video featuring Distant Relatives royalty Jr. Gong.

Killer Mike - RUN ft. Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley (Official Music Video)

OK OK I know the supposedly fortnightly rhythm has been as peripatetic as a dyspeptic peregrine pelican, so I'll demur on the promises, but we'll see if the new year offers enough settle-down for a more regular Loomiverse excursion. Until then, enjoy your holidays in whatever dress they wear. Thanks for reading, and I'll thank you even more if you deign to share this newsletter with others, and subscribe, if you haven't (button in the lower right). As ever, new sounds for the listening, new plays on the prairie pitch of parole (words, ya know!), fresh takes for tech's sake, with the side sauce of odd juxtapositions. Dá àlụ́-nu!

❧ Égwú 🪘 Ókwú ✍🏿 Ígwè 📡 Ńdụ̀ ❣️