I just spent a very enjoyable couple of hours listening to last week’s Charlie Gillett show
on BBC London, which featured Gotan Project talking about their music and playing records.
I was fascinated by Gotan Project
even before I actually got my hands on their record (which is finally officially coming out in the States next week—until now it’s only been available as an import). I’ve gone from blind worship to deep cynicism about their music, but I must admit the songs they played as part of “radio ping pong” with Gillett were interesting. I suppose “radio ping pong” is a cool version of Desert Island Discs
, a show I loved to listen to as a kid (mentally rehearsing for my turn on the show occupied as much space in my fantasies as practicing my Oscar acceptance speech). Basically, musicians come on and play some of their favorite records, songs that influenced them, or tracks that prove how cool they are.
With the three main GP members playing records, it was hard to identify a consistent thread running through the selections, but the combination of tango—conventional, “new,” and novelty—early electronica, and reggae/dub was interesting, if rather predictable.
Charlie Gillett is a fascinating guy. He’s worked in radio for decades and yet, especially in contrast with Clear Channel-overproduced U.S. radio, he’s awfully amateurish. Playing the wrong track, miscuing records, stumbling through the IDs, and giving very sincere-sounding thanks to listeners who called in praising the show. But what does that matter when he plays such excellent songs? He doesn’t come across as someone trying to impress listeners with the magnificence of his music collection (though I’m sure it is magnficent), but as someone who wants to share the cool records he’s found with the world.