The Capital: Swamp Fever

Bending Martin Luther King's Arc of History

Still bending Martin Luther King’s “Arc of History” in 2012

Counter-clockwise, it’s 3 and we’re seeing history haunted by the ghosts of Lincoln’s war… Feel 9:

Download: Feel 9 – The Capitol: Swamp Fever, at 160 kbps

 

“‘Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ is still a dream. Gross inequality remains a stubborn fact of life, made worse by the Great Recession. The promise of the United States and the Constitution that consecrates it is that all people are created equal with equal rights. Techno may invite humanity to behave like machines. But it may also be the purest expression of the human spirit, a wild thing that goes in waves, that pulses to the rising sun and the falling night, that sleeps and dreams. Few things get at this better than the dub tides of Deep Dish or the storming drums of Leftfield. Someday, EDM will play in the White House. All night long.”

At the end of the Reflecting Pool on the Washington Mall, is the Lincoln Memorial. Nearby is the White House, were the “Leader of the Free World” lives and governs a nation through troubled times. Further up the Mall is the Washington Monument and the Capitol, where Congress carries on the rambling chaotic music of democracy. Washington, D.C. is not widely seen as a hub of American popular music but it has a proud history despite, including Duke Ellington, the alternative punk of Fugazi, and more recently the progressive EDM of Deep Dish.

Leftfield

Leftfield

There is also Thievery Corporation, but their latte-fueled trip hop is more muzak than gutsy innovation. By contrast, Deep Dish ran their own label Yoshi Toshi for many years, putting out some the world’s top dance tracks as well as edgy experiments in sound. The Iranian-Americans Ali “Dubfire” Shirazinia and Sharam Tayebi, the duo that makes up Deep Dish, are a unique thread in America’s cultural fabric. Their remixes are especially respected as well as their solo work with artists like Kid Cudi and Everything But The Girl. Their remix of Stevie Nick’s “Dreams” was a club smash in 2006. They may be the most significant and influential Persian music act in the world.

These days, D.C. is filled with fear and loathing. Ever since President Barack Obama pushed for universal healthcare and Republican Rep. Joe Wilson shouted “You lie!” during an address to Congress, the country has plopped into a  social swamp. Parliament’s “Chocolate City” imagined an African American as president of the United States in a 1975 song. But its lyrics tilted into sarcasm. A Mitt Romney win in Election 2012 would cut short the Obama legacy. Obama staved off a second Great Depression, passed equal pay for women, boosted student loans, killed Osama bin Laden, saved the auto industry and put the country on a path to universal healthcare.

And yet the people have been told by the media that he is a disappointment and that America has lost faith not only in the president but itself. But have we? As Underworld’s Karl Hyde sings and Obama seems to practice when it comes to love, “There is one bird in my house.” What many Americans seem to want to forget is the unique moral role the federal government has played in times of crisis in the country, indeed the world. Whether it was winning the Civil War, aiding starving masses during the Great Depression, defeating the Nazis in World War II, or helping end racial segregation in the South, the U.S. capital can be a force for proactive good. As Leftfield’s classic “Not Forgotten” reminds us when it uses the Mississippi Burning sample of Willem Dafoe asking indignantly,  “What’s wrong with these people!?” the world can be a nasty place. There are some things that take collective action backed by our noblest ideals.

 

Download: Feel 9 – The Capitol: Swamp Fever, at 160 kbps

 

Ali ‘Dubfire’ Shirazinia

Ali ‘Dubfire’ Shirazinia mixes it up