Shivers Inside
Georgia Anne Muldrow Olesi: Fragments of an Earth

Once upon a time I was accused of disappearing into my world of books and films where darkness came too soon.  Total nonsense of course.  There was music too.  But the suggestion was that I was missing out.  Total nonsense too.  Products have so much to teach us.  So many stories to tell …

I realise you won’t have a clue who I am but I thought it might be worth giving you a call out of the blue to explain what I can offer.  You’ve released the best records of the year.  You know that already.  But I want to do something to help spread the word.  We can’t let records like Olesi disappear into the ether.

So, what’s my deal?  Well, I think I can get people to listen to this record.  And I mean people who may not normally listen to your records.  I have contacts.  I’ve got enthusiasm.  I’ve got ideas.  Give me a chance.  I’m not asking for anything in return.  But it would help me in a way if we were to succeed.  I could get myself re-established.  I’ve been out of the industry for a while.  But when I look at some of the idiots around, well, all this niche marketing and targeted publicity, just where does it lead?

Like you have what’s by far the best record of the year and what does young Georgia get?  A front page for Straight No Chaser.  I mean, come on, I didn’t even know Straight No Chaser was still going.  I could be wrong but somehow I doubt if that’s going to make everybody sit up.  I’m not knocking it.  It’s a lovely little article.  It’s a brave move sticking a relatively unknown artist on the front cover.  But it feels like a bit of a dead end to me. 

Now personally I bought Olesi on account of its cover.  It is just so right.  The shadowy silhouette.  Absolutely spot on.  Actually I thought it was a rerelease of some long lost funk set.  But I took a chance, and it totally blew me away.  People have to hear that first track.  It scares the hell out of me everytime I hear it.  Wow protest lives.  That’s mad, dramatic stuff.  Brilliant.  The devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the Bush administration, everything encapsulated there, the tragedy of lives lost in flood waters, the stories still to be told.  It could have been so trite, but it is astonishing stuff. 

And the thing is that my immediate response that this connects to the type of stuff I grew up with like the Slits, Raincoats, Au Pairs, Lizzy Mercier Descloux.  The crazy shapeless rulebreaking pop that seemed so normal to me but clearly was way out of the way, and I think Georgia taps into some of that, in the way I’m sure those women would have been absorbing hip hop and r’n’b in amongst all the other rhythm madness they soaked up. 

I think there is a danger in making too much out of Georgia’s parents and their links to free jazz and afrocentric roots, the associations with Pharoah Sanders and all that.  It’s a lovely story, and kind of explains a lot about Georgia’s outlook, but there’s a danger that it could overshadow and even explain away her own uniqueness.  And while the fire music may be an important part of the thing, we don’t want to cast her as a new Neneh Cherry.  I mean, I’m not knocking Neneh – she’s done some amazing things – but I’m not sure there’s anyone out there who would argue that what came after Buffalo Stance was in anyway better than what she did with Gareth Sager and so on in Rip Rig and Panic and Float Up CP or whatever. 

But we’re talking about this visionary young woman who’s come up with this amazing record.  Where do you pitch her?  Where do you take her next?  I think the important thing in here is all to do with the resurrection of the hip hop experimentation, the r’n’b edginess, the sort of things that a whole load of dreaming of, a new abstract spiritualism.  That’s the sort of thing that can be built on.  I think there’s been a real crying out for a new underground uprising, something with substance, so all the peoples getting misty eyed about A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul can get their teeth into something substantial.  Something as argumentative as The Coup.  Something as uplifting as we always wanted Erykah Badu to be.  What we needed Lauryn Hill to turn into. 

So yeah there’s a definite danger in portraying Georgia as some cookie cosmic chick.  She’s better than that.  I want to get all the music monthlies to stick their necks out and back something new.  I think it could be done.  Stones Throw is well loved.  There’s been a groundswell of support for Madlib and J Dilla.  There’s plenty of people that still love you for stuff like The Funky 16 Corners.  That was a fantastic phase, when all the old funk 45 files were being dusted of.  Egon, you, Dante Carfagna, Shadow and all that.  I still play a tape Big Daddy put out of old forgotten funk 45s, where one side was put together by Egon for you.

Seriously that punk thing, the Slits, the Raincoats’ Odyshape, and all that.  That’s a real angle.  Olesi is really related to those sounds.  I know there is a tendency to dismiss some of that as wacky West London bohemianism now, something that indirectly led to Lily Allen, but that’s way off, and maybe putting Georgia with Ari may be worthwhile.  After all thinking back to the Y label which was at the centre of that Ladbroke Grove/Notting Hill thing they were at least the ones putting out Sun Ra alongside the local luminaries like the Vincent Units and Tesco Bombers.  There’s a definite link between Georgia and Sun Ra’s Nuclear War, and I don’t just mean June Tyson’s vocals. 

I think again in my mind there’s a link between stuff from that punk era and the performances of people like Mark Stewart and the soul jazz poetry of Wanda Robinson from the early ‘70s.  I know when I heard the records she’d made for Perception, the hard hitting words, and it was a rea direct spiritual connection to the soul baring of Mark singing Jerusalem or High Ideals and Crazy Dreams. 

And I just don’t want Georgia to be filed away as some novelty leftfield act.  This is a record to celebrate.  Aww, I ‘m sorry you don’t even know who I am, and I bet you don’t even get a chance to listen to this message, but if it makes any sense at all, then call.


© 2007 John Carney