The American musicologist Erik Davis composed an evening program about the history of black electronic music. His presentation was supported musically by DJs Croaking Lizard and Dr Bibber. Rotterdam-based artist Geert Mul was invited to create a visual environment based on dubbing techniques.
Erik Davis: I am interested in one particular zone of electro-acoustic cyberspace, a zone I'm calling the Black Electronic. I've dubbed the term from the British cultural theorist Paul Gilroy, who uses the phrase the "Black Atlantic" to denote the "webbed network" of the African diasporic culture that penetrates the United States, the Caribbean, and, by the end of the twentieth century, the UK. Gilroy considers the Black Atlantic a modernist countercultural space, a space that, for all the claims of black cultural nationalists, is not organized by African roots but by a "rhizomorphic, routed" set of vectors and exchanges: ships, migrations, creoles, phonographs, European miscegenations, expatriot flights, dreams of repatriation. The image of the criss-crossed Atlantic ocean is essential for Gilroy's purpose, which is to erode the monolithic notion of roots and tradition by emphasizing the "restless, recombinant" qualities of Afrodiasporic culture as it simultaneously explores, exploits, and resists the spaces of modernity.
Erik Davis' presentation started from the origin of polyrhythms on the African continent. He then described the diaspora (caused by slave trade) and further development of this musical genre. He elaborated on the influence of the West Indies, where, under the influence of American R&B, polyrhytmics evolved into two-tone, ska and reggae.
Davis introduced leading figures such as King Tubby, the Mad Professor and pioneer Lee 'Scratch' Perry, who invented dub in the 1970s in Jamaica: Dub -- tape saturation, distortion and feedback were all used to become part of the music, not just added to it -- was subsequently 'brought back' to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, where jungle and drum'n'bass were added to music history.
Roots and Wires: