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Listed: Mi Ami + Paavoharju

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Dusted Features

Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: San Francisco shamans Mi Ami and Finnish eccentrics Paavoharju.

Listed: Mi Ami + Paavoharju

Mi Ami

San Francisco trio Mi Ami consists of guitarist and vocalist Daniel Martin-McCormick, bassist Jacob Long and drummer Damon Palermo. Long and Martin-McCormick were key components of Washington, D.C.’s celebrated but all too short-lived band Black Eyes, but emphasizing that history risks painting the wrong picture. Mi Ami don’t concern themselves with 21st-century disenfranchisement or political unrest. They reduce unrest to its most basic ingredients: rhythm and noise. In fact, the band’s breakthrough hit was titled “African Rhythms,” ostensibly for the layers upon layers of polyrhythms and percussion. We liked it so much that we deemed them Destined worthy earlier this year. Since forming in 2007, Mi Ami have gobbled up tons of international flavors, many of which they lay out for us in this week’s Listed.

1. 51717 - Give Me Your Love
Barbara Mason’s psycho-sensual disco classic re-imagined as a submerging drum world cut with mournful chords. Friends have described this as Timbaland in the woods, which might make sense, but to me it sounds like Van Halen’s drums falling down the subway escalator in perfect time. Which is to say that they are huge and totally weird but incredibly effective. I think she played the pads on the drum machine live? Whatever’s happening is pretty intense. 51717’s music consistently hits me on a really deep level, weirdly lush and sad and profound. On her MySpace page, she’s got some older stuff with a lot of bells that succeeds in channeling Javanese gamelan by totally bypassing it; I don’t know how the track “Utrecht” works, and is so effective as a sad song when it’s just a slow motion flurry of screwed bells, but it totally slays and also annihilates any and all boring "perfect pop" bands that try to pull heartstrings with a glockenspiel. I know that’s a run-on sentence, but get real. This is truly deep, truly weird, incredibly personal music. I don’t know… what can you say when it feels like you are being enveloped in someone’s world? (Daniel)

2. Omar-S
What if minimal techno was made by sad thugs from Detroit who carry guns (at least in photos) and get deep with crazy synth work instead of by obsessive compulsive euros? Turns out there is hope for humanity after all. I mean, I like Villalobos for sure, and the midwest’s Drexciya and Underground Resistance and all that, but Omar is really the one for me. Who the fuck names their album Just Ask The Lonely? Man, that says it all. The track "Psychotic Photosynthesis" is one of the saddest things I have heard this year – shimmering and unrelentingly soft and unwilling to be pinned down. Free music for sure. (Daniel)

3. Ethiopiques 11 - Alemu Aga
Straight from the cradle of civilization comes Alemu Aga, master of the King David’s harp. If you heard this and thought you were listening to World of Echo, you would be forgiven, but in my book this surpasses even Arthur Russell’s cello masterpiece. As is the case with all great artists, Aga skips boring conceptual traps like variation and melodic development, instead recycling the same absolutely killer melody across the record, using it as a backdrop for his hushed extemporizations on the nature of existence. Not sure if the lyrics are his? God I hope so. The English translations in the jacket are pretty awkward, but his delivery is profound beyond words and I’m sure if I spoke the language it would only hit that much harder. Sometimes he leans in to the mic and delivers a line in the most reverent whisper I have ever heard caught on tape. Like the inverse of James Brown or something. I heard he taught this music out of the back of his corner store in secret for years because it was against the law to even play it. Damn. I can only imagine what the world would be like if we all could get some time in with these sounds. (Daniel)

4. DNA - live footage from Downtown 81
I love this band even though they are kinda unlistenable. Well, not exactly, but you know... seeing them play illuminates so much of what they were/are about. One of those No Wave books that just came out has a cool part where Arto Lindsay talks about wanting his band to sound like a drum and how he was totally focusing on the space between the attacks. Definitely a lot of that going on here, and it’s decidedly beyond. If you’ve never been able to get into No Wave, maybe this will help cure you of your shitty hang-up. (Daniel)

5. Arthur Russell - “Tell You Today”
Not his best song ("In the Light of the Miracle") and not his weirdest and not his funkiest, and the horns have a kids song feel, but fuck it. His stark, melancholy joy shines through in spades on this track. The fake-outs that comprise the bulk of the music are infinitely frustrating until you get to the end and they casually roll out the full chord progression and the lyrics. "Makes me come alive when I tell you..." You gotta be kidding me, dude. If music can be about anything, this is one approach to seriously consider: the radiance of existence casually disguised in mundane simplicity. Thanks, Arthur. (Daniel)

6. Shackleton - “Death is Not Final”
The A-side on his newest Skull Disco 12". Middle Eastern-inspired/sampled percussion clatter, deep sub bass, and dread filled singjaying about life, death and the beyond. "Dubstep" if you have to give it a genre, but Shackleton’s tracks to me suggest a lineage back to the early post-punk era, cross-genre/beyond genre UK musics of PiL’s Flowers of Romance, early On-U Sound groups, etc… (Jacob)

7. The Ex
Easily one of the most inspiring bands I have ever seen/heard. Live, they are a revelation of intensity and the ecstatic joy of playing music. On record, they are wildly swinging and fiercely exploratory. My recommendations for beginning would be Starters and Alternators and the recent record Moa Anbessa with Ethiopian sax legend Getatchew Mekuria, but its hard to go wrong anywhere in their catalog. (Jacob)

8. Mohammed "Jimmy" Mohammed - “Ayleedashem Lebe”
This is the first song on his studio record for Terp. It instantly drew me in with the off-kilter, bubbling groove, killer melody and that voice. It just keeps going and going…so undeniable. Pretty much all of the Terp Records I have heard are highly recommended, along with any/all of the volumes of Ethiopiques (of course). So much incredible music to be heard… (Jacob)

9. Pink Floyd- “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun”
My ideal "space-y" rock song. Chilled deep organ/bass floating around and loosely tied down to a rolling beat. Nothing gets too loud or heavy but the atmosphere keeps weighing you down…Lyrics about burning your mind out on a journey into the unknown. Sign me up… (Jacob)

10. Ras Michael - Love Thy Neighbor
A psychedelic reggae masterpiece from the Nyabinghi drummer/vocalist and crew, assisted in reaching such heights by the uncredited production/mix of Lee Perry. Nonstop bass grooves with organ peeking out around the corners and percussion and chanting coming from all directions. Not many other records could sound so SERIOUS while having an 11-minute version of "London Bridge is Falling Down" as the closer. (Jacob)

11. DJ Discotizer - "Disco Mix New York 1978"
Stumbled upon this mix scanning the Deep House Page Archives. Around 10:35, Discotizer train-wrecks into two drum breaks mixed together then smooths ‘em out with Patrick Cowley’s remix of Michele’s "Disco Dance," Cowley’s free-ist cosmic jam (followed by "Sea Hunt"). Starting to lose attention during Marsha Hunt’s "The Other Side of Midnight," but Discotizer brings me back with the funkiest jam unbeknownst to all! Imagine Funkadelic, Supermax, King Erikson & DJ High Time in one room! Around 37:00, the jam train-wrecks into my dream: doubled drum breaks with heavy cowbells cut off by the switch to side B! That follows with more cosmic jams & train-wrecked drum breaks! Who’s behind this? Freshest disco mix I’ve ever heard! (Damon)

12. Giorgio Farina - Discocross 12"
Members of Wanexa, ‘Lectric Workers & Goblin come together for this tripped-out disco psych! "Farina’s Suite" is nearly 15 minutes of screwed monster vocals repeating "disco disco" (or something like that), Animal & nature sounds, eerie female vocals, Claudio Simonetti on synths & some oh-so-serious bass lines from Fabio Pignatelli of Goblin. Followed by "Tawawa," which could be a Black Cock edit – only with Simonetti shining! Just realized they’re yanking the overused "Tighten Up" melody on "Suite Slide Return." I don’t care...This rules! (Damon)


Finland’s Paavoharju is a junkyard-pop collective from a Russian border town. Brothers Lauri and Olli Ainala are born-again Christians who dig field recordings, reverb and Casio demos. They often perform with friends like Jenni Koivistoinen, Toni Kähkönen, Joose Keskitalo, Johannes Pitkänen, Emmi Uimonen, Jussi Lahti, Lari Lätti, and Gabriel Ainala. Their second album Laulu Laakson Kukista (A Song About Flowers of the Valley) caused a modest stir this summer, thanks to its overflowing sense of nostalgia, similar to the artificial memories of Boards of Canada, but with a naïve, DIY appeal. And without any free-folk breakdowns, it dismissed Finnish stereotypes and forced critics to re-evaluate the country’s scene. Lauri took part in this week’s Listed.

1. Rauli Badding Somerjoki - Täss on Rauli, moi! (Johanna)
Finland’s greatest ever singer/songwriter. Almost all his best songs can be found on this compilation. My favorite songs are “Valot,” “Paratiisi,” “Öitten neidot,” “Aamuöiseen sateeseen,” “Laivat,” “Ensimmäisenä iltana” and “Tähdet tähdet.” You can find some of his songs on YouTube!

2. Joose Keskitalo ja Kolmas Maailmanpalo - s/t (Helmi Levyt)
Only because I’m on the cover of the album.

3. Kate Bush - The Kick Inside
My girlfriend forced me to listen to this and suddenly I realized that this is a pure genius album. I’ve been listening to this very much lately.

4. Burzum - Filosofem
The gloomy and sad mood of this black metal classic is very unique. I appreciate Varg’s musical insight very much. I’m waiting for Vikernes’ next move when he gets out from prison.

5. Cypress Hill - IV
It begun in densoböksä many years ago. Bocke and I started to listen and love this album when I stole the CD from my brother. Beats are simple, but great and the nasal vocals are beautifully nasal. I always listen to this when I’m driving in Savonlinna with Karri Tahvanainen. IV brings a lot of good memories from several once-abandoned-now-destroyed places. R.I.P. Savonlinna! Best tracks: “Lookin’ Through the Eye of a Pig,” “Checkmate,” “Audio X,” “Tequila Sunrise.”

6. Boards Of Canada - Music has the Right to Children (Skam)
A classic. I think that they are trying to say that children are stored black and white in Russian trend shit. That’s why they are not free! I listen to this album a lot.

7. Es - A Love Cycle
My first Fonal album. I guess it was 2001 or 2002 when I bought it. It will always be a huge source of influence for me. Soundscape is very simple and detailed at the same time. I don’t listen to this very much, but every time I listen, it awakens feelings and helps to remember why I make music. Great for rainy days and nights.

8. Portishead - Third
A real surprise! Best album from Portishead. Golden sounds and songs. It sounds more personal than their previous albums. Truly original arrangements! Too bad I forgot this CD when I moved.

9. Mayhem - Dawn of the Black Hearts
One of the greatest album covers ever. Also, the name of the bootleg is perfect! I love lyrics, sounds and atmosphere too.

10. Virsilevy - CD-R
Random Finnish hymn recordings from various places (self recorded). There are many similarities between these self recorded hymns and some ambient black metal / dark ambient stuff. Pure feeling and lyrics are shining like diamonds. I’ve always listened to hymns.

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