Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Natural Way To Dro (Part II)

Verily, those soulfulifically jaded swashbucklers of agitpropitic burnbabydom --FUNKADELIC-- have descended from the Original Galaxy Ghetto to cleanse thy wayward souls THROUH MUSIC worthy of the immortals themselves. --Pedro Bell, Cosmic Slop liner notes.

Pedro "Dro" Bell isn't down with the Kindle. "It ain't there yet," he said. "It's like those first Macs that came out. I call it a Pimpscreen Mac because it talks a lot of shit, but it's not ready. It's going to be necessary because we can't keep killing all of these trees, but it won't replace the book in this generation."

Bell has a personal appreciation for computer-assisted reading because in recent years this visionary has lost most of his sight and can only read by using an electronic magnification device or audiobook.

Despite his disability, the self-confessed "techno-head" is wary of the move to "convert" an analog world into digital.

"For stuff like newspapers, that's not such a big deal because they are not as important to keep," he said. However, Bell said people underestimate the importance of preserving artificats of their culture, in multiple formats. "You better beware of that cryptogenic bomb. Everything you have will be wiped out."

The other day I posted about Ray Kurzweil's The Singularity is Near, which posits that technology and biology will become indistinguishable in the near future. "The Singularity" is the moment where the machines basically "take over". Looking at Dro's liner notes from Funkadelic's Cosmic Slop album, I'm struck at its prophetic tone. The first lines are both a warning and a call to arms for all of the world's Funkateers:
For virtual decades of alembic time parsecs, I have gazed upon the so-called highest life form on this planet with unbridled disgust! For the very source of life energies of Earth have become the castrated target of anile bamboozlery from homosapiens' rabid attempts to manipulate the omnipotent Forces of Nature!
Their directionless efforts to achieve the metaphysical state of godliness, eons premature to evolutionary destiny have, indeed, become an invitation to species extinction.
Don't say he didn't warn you. These are not merely liner notes, but testimony. The appeal is delivered with an urgency and precision that make them more than just compelling addendum to the excellent album inside, but an integral element in the art of this record.

The brilliance of the writing in the liner notes is matched by the beautiful and trippy art that accompanies it. Illustrations accompany each of the song titles listed on the inside. There are all manner of alien and familiar creatures represented, from flag waving eyeball handmonsters to Sammy Davis Jr., Richard Nixon, King Kong, and Bert from Sesame street. The funny part about it is that it all makes sense. It captures a world in the midst of great transformation (mutation?) where the techno and the bio are a funky mishmash.

Although the warnings are dire, there is a playfulness and irony to both the language and the imagery that hint at optimism. It seems to say that even if our future is uncertain, funk, in all of its forms, cannot be destroyed.

Here's a sample of the title cut, which tells a tripped out story about a wayward mother, a funkdified "Dear Mama" if you will.

By the way, I would recommend buying the Cosmic Slop album, even if you don't have a record player, for the amazing art and testimony that encases it.



hannah faith said...

I can't believe you got to meet Pedro Bell. I mean, I can. I'm really enjoying these posts - looking forward to the next installment.

Jackson Brown said...

^ yeah, seriously.

plus there's so much knowledge being dropped in these posts, I feel like I need to read them a few times to grasp everything.

good stuff.