Every year, an important part of East of Culture – Different sounds is the presentation of a record label that stands out in the worldwide music market.This year, we have picked Glitterbeat Records, one of the most important and dynamic labels specializing in vibrant African and Arabian sounds and contemporary music with deep cultural roots. This year, we are featuring Glitterbeat Records.
This label stands on solid foundations and has been built upon sounds and artists seeking and exploring local traditions and roots all the while transcending simple genre specificity. We will see bands that fit this description during the label’s presentation in Lublin. We will travel directly to Turkey, Tunisia and Mali with, respectively, Baba Zula, Ifriqiyya Electrique and Dirtmusic.
The presentation of Glitterbeat Records at East of Culture – Different Sounds 2018 will undoubtedly be one of the key events in our programme and aside from a number of label-relatet concerts, we will hold a panel with its directors – Peter Weber and Chris Eckman and present an exhibition showcasing the label’s history and achievements.
Glitterbeat Records – the story of this unique label begins with the famous “Glitterhouse” dating back to the 1980s. For many years, it was one of the leading and most important indie labels in Europe. Set up in Germany, the company developed its brand and international position, establishing cooperation with such labels as the cult Sub Pop. Their roster is very impressive as it includes such bands as The Melvins, Mudhoney, Pere Ubu, Green Rivers or Dirtmusic.
Chris Eckman, the curent programme director and the co-owner of Glitterbeat Records is a member of the last band. In 2012, Eckman, together with Peter Weber (the other owner), founded a special sublabel at Glitterhouse, focusing on independent and exploratory world music combining traditional sounds and the avant-garde. This is how the original Glitterbeat Records was established. The label is independent and operates on its own terms in two countries: Germany, where Peter is based and Slovenia where Chris operates. The label’s interesting story and its multiculturalism affect not only its profile and image but also the nature of their releases. These include ethnic African sounds, contemporary Arabic music, guitar rock and psychedelic music which refers to the genre’s classics and also independent electronic music. It’s worth noting that for years Glitterbeat Records has been topping many rankings and charts. For instance, last year marked the fourth time they won WOMEX award for the best label.
The performers we will see as part of Glitterbeat’s presentation at this year’s East of Culture – Different Sounds are:
Dirtmusic, blending rock’n’roll and blues as well as tales about borders and walls, cold fronts and cold hearts, yield truly ingenious and powerful results,
Ifriqiyya Electrique, a sensational band from Tunisia offering amazing rhythms and sounds enriched by French influences.
Baba Zula, one of the most prominent bands in Glitterbeat’s roster, who specialize in drawing on Turkish psychedelic music of the 1960s and 70s as well as roots folk and traditional music.
Ammar 808 - heavy electronic sounds combined with a big dose of powerful bass and fast, dynamic beats as well as vocal and instrumental traditions of North Africa.
Glitterbeat Records – exhibition and multimedia show presenting the label
Aside from music, the recolr label showcase will feature other attractions, such as an exhibition, multimedia show and a panel. The festival tent will feature around 60 covers of vinyl records from the label’s rosterm and for the multimedia show, we will see a specially selected video set straight from the directors of Glitterbeat Records
28 June–1 July 2018 | 12.00-1.00 | Festival Club, Błonia near the Castle
Differences that connect- a panel on Glitterbeat Records
A panel focused on Glitterbeat Records. Panelists: Peter Weber and Chris Eckman (the directors and founders of the label), moderators: Rafał Księżyk (music journalist), Martyna Markowska (music manager) (Festival Club, Lublin Castle Błonia).
28 June | 18:30-20:00 | Festival Club | Błonia near the Castle
Rafał Księżyk. Glitterbeat – differences that connect
Presentations of the most stimulating independent record labels rank among the strongest features of Different Sounds Festival. This module does not simply bring in first-rate music but it also emphasizes the culture-forming potential of the labels invited to Lublin. Therefore, this selection could not omit the German label Glitterbeat.
Glitterbeat is one of the most interesting and thriving contemporary labels involved in world music. This is perhaps how this text ought to begin, if not for the fact that Glitterbeat’s directors, Chris Eckman and Peter Weber persistently disclaim the term “world music”. They want to escape from the associations it brings and simply present contemporary music outside Anglo-Saxon mainstream, not exclusively folk or ethno, but also rock and experimental music. So, let us start over.
What does the term “world music” mean, here and now, if we go beyond the misleading surface of this marketing term? Glitterbeat’s roster provides the best answer. The voices of dying and marginalized cultures, new recordings of classics from the furthest corners of the world, bold fusions of distant genres and traditions, music in movement reflecting contemporary global migrations in which roots are respectfully placed against futuristic sounds and topical songs with political commentaries. This is the mix that defines this label, and its strength is evident in the fact that Glitterbeat has already won WOMEX Top Label Award three times in a row, in 2014, 2015 and 2016. The company’s exceptionality derives from the passion of its artistic director – the American Chris Eckman, himself a travelling musician.
Eckman comes from Seattle. He was active in its music scene which in the 1990s gained profile and focus as a prominent centre of rock. The Walkabouts, the band he formed at the time, released their first albums under the now legendary label Sub Pop. They started with a fusion of folk and rock and worked their way to atmospheric roots songs evoking the work of Nick Cave or Tindersticks. This period of the Walkabouts was connected with the move to Europe, where the band released albums with the German label Glitterhouse. Among them is the album “Devil’s Road”, recorded in 1996 together with the Warsaw Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra. Since 2000, Eckman has been living in Slovenia and, after the Walkabouts dissolved, continued to form more bands in which he played, among others, along with Greek folk performers or Balkan rock musicians. The most important of these projects has proven to be Dirtmusic, whose core Eckman established together with Hugo Race, an Australian songwriter known for his collaborations with Cave and his own original albums.
It is with Dirtmusic that Eckman made one of his most defining musical journeys. In 2008, they made their way to the legendary Festival Au Desert in the Saharan Mali – the festival which established one of the most interesting music phenomena of the new century – desert blues. It is played by the Tuareg people who fuse their nomadic musical traditions with electric guitars. Eckman and his German publisher, Glitterhouse’s owner Peter Weber became so fascinated with their fresh expressivity that it inspired them to found a new label dedicated to such music. This led them to co-found and co-run Glitterbeat, whose breakthrough records were heavily political recordings of artists from the turbulent region of the Sahara, namely Aziza Brahim and Tamikrest who gradually became the stars of desert blues.
The unprecedented success of these releases lay not simply in the fact that they made waves in the West, but that they inspired local artists. This was the case for TootArd from Golan Heights who in 2017 recorded the album “Laissez Passer” for Glitterbeat, bringing forward a unique voice from one of the most combustible regions of the modern world.
Glitterbeat released its first single in 2013 and since then they have released over 50 albums featuring music from Africa, the Middle East, Asia and both Americas. Among them, we find an impressive collection of African albums by such artists as Jupiter and Okwess, King Ayisoba, Lobi Traoré, Samba Touré, Ben Zabo. There is also a set of explosive, psychedelic fusions of Latino music ( Sonido Gallo Negro, Orkestra Mendoza, M.A.K.U Soundsystem’s) and fascinating albums presenting the art of peoples and regions cast aside by history. These include, most of all, the compilation “Why did we stop growing tall?” featuring the music of Abatawa pygmies from Rwanda, the album “At Least Wave Your Handkerchief At Me: The Joys and Sorrows of Southern Albanian Song” featuring Albanian songs recorded by the local supergroup Saz’iso under the watchful eye of Pink Floyd’s ex-producer Joe Boyd and a medley of Cambodian music “They Will Kill You, If You Cry” by Khmer Rouge Survivors.
Glitterbeat’s more recent explorations are marked by an interest in bold multicultural fusions of Turkish music and by recordings of new music from Northern Africa, best called Arabfuturism. These themes will manifest themselves during Different Sounds. Most of all, we will hear the label’s flagship project, Dirtmusic, who take us on different sonic journeys on every album. On their newest release, “Bu Bir Ruya”, Eckman & Race are joined by artists from Turkey led by Murat Ertel, the front man of Baba Zula, the legends of dub from the region. Thanks to this set-up, the music has gained oriental flavor and become even more trancey. Baba Zula will also perform their own set. This band of over 20 years of experience uses Jamaican alchemy of sounds to refer to the fascinating tradition of Turkish psychedelic rock of the 1960s and 70s and takes them towards the future.
Aside from the classics, in Lublin we will also see Glitterbeat’s young lions. First, a band whose expressive concerts have made them a sensation of many European festivals – Ifriqiyya Électrique, fronted by avant-rock veteran François’a Cambuzata.Their phenomenal last year’s release, “Rûwâhîne” draws from trance rhythms of Banga rituals which fuse sufism and spirit possession and are performed in Tunisia’s Djerid desert by the descendants of black slaves from Hausa people. Banga rhythms and songs put against post-industrial, predatory electronics result in ecstatic, mysterious and truly arresting music. From the wild regions of Tunisia, the Bargou valley located in the mountains bordering with Algeria comes another guest of Different Sounds, AMMAR 808. Ammar 808’s album “Maghreb United” is Glitterbeat’s latest release. Tunisian producer Sofyann Ben Youssef has invited vocalists from Algeria and Morocco, and together they draw on various traditions of the region – Targ, Gnawa, Rai, cementing everything with the cult sounds of TR-808 electro basses. Ben Youssef explains that the idea for such a meeting is not so much an expression of longing for old Maghreb, but an attempt at modern communication in a region which used to be a diversified whole but is now divided. “Our differences are also our connection”, says the artist. This could be the central motto of Different Sounds.
Co-author of the label’s presentation module at East of Culture – Different Sounds.
Rafał Księżyk (b.1970) – music journalist and critic. Since the early 1990s he co-created the character of the nascent music and popcultural press. The co-author of Tomasz Stańko’s autobiography “Desperado” (2010), Robert Brylewski’s “Kryzys w Babilonie” (2012), Tymon Tymański’s “ADHD” (2013) and Kazik Staszewski’s “Idę tam gdzie idę” (2015). The author of the essay “23 cięcia dla William S.Burroughsa” (2013). The editor-in-chief of Playboy magazine. He wrote about music for such magazines as “Brum”, “Machina”, “JazzForm”