Charlemagne Palestine

BAR 021 CD

‘Jamaica Heinekens in Brooklyn’ is a major studio recording of Charlemagne Palestine. Based on Palestine’s use of electronic drones the piece points into a new direction. Palestine made recordings of the Jamaica Day Parade in New York City where people from Jamaica, Guyana, Cuba, Haiti and other places come to dance, sing, eat and drink. These field recordings of shouting people, passing parade floats and helicopters hovering overhead are interwoven with the electronic sonorities. Together they give a completely new dimension to Charlemagne’s work: ‘Jamaica Heinekens in Brooklyn’ is colourful, exciting, trance enducing and it slowly unfolds into a magic experience.

‘Jamaica Heinekens in Brooklyn’ was commissioned by the NPS, Hilversum. Begun in the spring of 1997 this work came out of the idea of traveling with an electronic drone on a ghetto blaster and re-recording it in different situations in many countries.

After several months of unsuccessful experiments, I decided to record different situations or soundscapes first and then to superimpose a drone later. I made recordings in about 20 different environments including  Los Angeles, Paris, Nice,  Berlin, New York City, Rotterdam and Lisbon, but far and away the most impressive, expansive and sonically interesting was the recording I made on the 5th of September 1997 on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn during the Jamaica Day Parade; the yearly tradition where more than 2 million Island people who live in and and around the New York City area meet to dance, sing, eat and drink for the entire afternoon. People from Jamaica, Guyana, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haïti, Martinique, Curacao, the Bahamas and other surrounding islands who have immigrated to the NYC metropolitan area all participate together. Normally there are very few people of other ethnic cultures who attend, though anyone can participate.

People set up tables full of traditional food and drink and sell them to passersby throughout the day, while along the tree- lined Eastern Parkway known as the Champs Elysee of Brooklyn, hundreds of colorful parade floats pass with people dressed in Carnival style costumes, singing and dancing to live and recorded island musics. As so many people of color are clustered together over a few blocks, helicopters hover overhead to monitor the event. Some are from television stations covering the parade for the nightly news programs, and some are from the NYC police that watch to see that no dangerous disturbances occur.

With a small Sony DAT player in my pocket and a small stereo microphone in my hand, I walked throughout the festival very slowly for several hours to let the ambiant sounds of each block naturally change in real time. The 60+ minute segment on this record is played without any editing, but super imposed upon this extract I have composed three series of drone textures for Yamaha organs, 16 Serge & Rubery oscillators with bandpass filtering, and a thick Arp Synthesizer texture using oscillators, filters and other sound modulation devices. All together this work creates a dialogue between pure and mixed electronics of my long continuum tradition and the real-time ambient sounds of a traditional urban ethnographic popular festival.

The results have no extra-musical philosophies behind them, >>just what you hear is what you get  JAMAICA HEINEKENS IN BROOKLYN<<

Charlemagne Palestine

06/99 Bruxelles