MESHELL NDEGEOCELLO / “Devil’s Halo+ Mixtape”
SPACE STATION 47: Kalamu. Over.
KALAMU: I’m here. What up?
SPACE STATION 47: Picking up some weird shit. Faint vibrations. They’re short. We think…
KALAMU: Downloading. What you think?
SPACE STATION 47: Sounds like it’s Meshell but then again… it’s darker than her nasty stuff usually is…
KALAMU: We got a positive. That’s Meshell.
SPACE STATION 47: What should we do with this?
KALAMU: Who said we got to do anything with it?
SPACE STATION 47: “Everyone thinks they’re so funking special.” L-O-L, man. She’s crazy.
KALAMU: Aren’t we all?
SPACE STATION 47: Hey, watch it now. I know we been out here over sixty years but we’re coming in soon.
KALAMU: We’ll be ready.
SPACE STATION 47: So, should we block transmission?
KALAMU: We don’t play for the Packers. Blocking ain’t our job. Our job is to listen. Dig what we do, leave alone what we don’t.
SPACE STATION 47: Remember those early vibrations: Plantation Lullabies? She had us hooked with that one.
KALAMU: Don’t be infantile.
SPACE STATION 47: Man, there wasn’t nothing baby about that. That was some grown up shit. You ain’t never seen no baby with dreadlocks.
KALAMU: No, I mean, she ain’t got to keep feeding us the same shit over and over just cause we like it. She’s not a juke box—put a quarter in and make her play whatever we like.
SPACE STATION 47: You starting to sound like you think everything is equal.
KALAMU: No. But is it up to us to judge the sun, the planets? Why judge anything we didn’t create and…
SPACE STATION 47: There you go getting philosophical again. We’re just filing a report about some strange vibrations. Twelve cuts, or at least we think it’s twelve. Some of this stuff sounds like snippets, not even complete transmissions. And what happened to that happening band she had.
KALAMU: Shit passes. All things go, sooner or later. Good, bad, whatever. Everything passes. If you dig it, enjoy it while it’s here but refrigerators don’t work past a week or so and preservatives ruin your system…
SPACE STATION 47: Download complete? Over.
KALAMU: Got it. Meshell. Sounds good to me. Dark. Dark in that groovy way of looking at the undersides. Best listen to it with the lights off and no where in particular to go. She’ll take you there. ‘Shell will take you there.
SPACE STATION 47: How’s the weather there?
KALAMU: Don’t matter. By the time you get here, it’ll be different.
KALAMU: Catalogued. Over.
SPACE STATION 47: Next transmission will be at appro…
KALAMU: We’re up. Scanners on 24/7. Holla whenever. Over.
SPACE STATION 47: Oh, sent some images and…
KALAMU: Scanned already. Anything else? Comeback.
SPACE STATION 47: No, that’s it. Oh, what did you think of that earlier transmission?
KALAMU: The Spanish techno-flamenco-funk?
SPACE STATION 47: Is that what that was? Man, we be picking up all kinds of vibrations out here, but we don’t be knowing what it is.
KALAMU: It’s vibrations. Life noise. We’ll get it up soon. Thanks for the Meshell.
SPACE STATION 47: No problem. That’s our job.
KALAMU: Keep passing the vibes down the line. Over.
SPACE STATION 47: Another vibration coming in, gotta go. Peace out.
I love the myth of the devil: the fallen angel who became jealous. So the symbolism of the Devil's Halo for me is that there are gray areas in music and life. I'm a songwriter, and I just go and write about the people in my life, and where I've come to at this point in my life—from making records at 22 to being 41. I've seen other things, met all kinds of people, and had all kinds of experiences.
The RZA is one of the greatest songwriters and programmers. I'm really into the Human League, and Trevor Horn is a genius in the way he constructs recordings. Sade is that $200 bottle of wine: You're not going to have that every night at dinner. She's a great song stylist; her writing and her voice are amazing. The older Yes records had these beautiful tapestries and guitars. That's what I tried to achieve in this particular recording: some sonic tapestries that people, even if they're not listening to the lyrics, could just feel or hear, or just have a deep, inner dialogue with.
I guess I've ended up believing in the gray area, the dichotomies and the unknowable. This record is all about contrast - then and now, raw and polished, beats and harmonies, Devil's Halo, good in evil in all things. I know some people want more of what they've heard and I know other people want the envelope pushed every time and I feel like this record makes peace with all of them". She adds, "I love heavy bass and dub and beats, but I also sit and play the piano and write a song inspired by a pub in Dublin. I'm not representing anymore - I'm a musician, that's all I can offer. Each record is just meant to say: here's where that's led me today.
Six cuts from Meshell’s new album, Devil’s Halo, which has twelve short tracks. It’s sonic moments transmitted from the emotionally complex spaces of human experiences. Meshell expresses the contradictions that most of us keep bottled inside. She’s dangerous. As we say in New Orleans, nothing nice. Deeply dangerous. The kind of fire that is both attractive and destructive. This is not a candle, rather a flamethrower. Stars up close are deadly burning. Meshell.
Plummeting the ups and downs of desire. What we will do to get what we want. What we will leave after we satiate our pleasures. What energies we suck from each other to fuel the obsessions we call heartfelt emotions. These tracks are black mirrors. Close your eyes and see what you can see. Is your darkness beautiful or simply another shade of desperation?
I’m digging how these tracks prod me to feel and think, digging what they suggest, invite, inspire. I’m checking that in it’s shortness, this collection makes you revisit what you thought you were done with.
To round out the Mixtape, I have included four or five fugitive tracks that I picked up here and there.
Or don’t. It’s ok.
—Kalamu ya Salaam
Devil’s Halo+ Mixtape Playlist
01 “Priorities” - In Bed with Nova (Premiere Nuit)
02 “Poison Ivy”
03 “Isolation” - The Hurricane Soundtrack
04 “Meshell Good Morning” - Live on KCRW
05 “Meshell morning track #1” - Live on KCRW
These six tracks are from Devil’s Halo
06 “Die Young”
07 “Tie One On”
09 “White Girl”
10 “Love You Down”
11 “Devil's Halo”
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