Tuesday, July 16, 2019

BLASST 100: The LASST BLASST

TRACKLIST
1. Miles Davis - “Great Expectations”
2. The Jesus Lizard - “Then Comes Dudley”
3. Sfinx - “Blaña De Urs”
4. The KVB - “Above Us”
5. Gusto Gusto - “Picket Fence”
6. Shame - “Concrete”
7. The Ex - “Ip Man”
8. black midi - “Speedway”
9. Idles - “Mercedes Marxist”
10. Sinead O' Brien - “Taking On Time”
11. Jane Weaver - “Did You See The Butterflies?”
12. Shirō Sagisu - “The Flow of Emptiness” (End of Evangelion OST)
13. Shirō Sagisu - “F-3 (Take 1)” (NGE OST)
14. Ana Roxanne - “It's A Rainy Day On The Cosmic Shore”
15. Stomu Yamashita - “Wind Words” (The Man Who Fell To Earth OST)
16. Dick Tracy - “Tokyo-Ga” (Tokyo-Ga OST)
17. Ben LaMar Gay - “Music For 18 Hairdressers: Braids & Fractals”
18. slowthai, Mura Masa - “Doorman”
19. Erika De Casier - “Space”
20. Eartheater - “Concealer”
21. Rakky Ripper - “Puertas del Hell”
22. Big Joanie - “Cut Your Hair”
23. HVAD, Pan Daijing - “Zhao Hua”
24. Chino Amobi - “Paradiso”
25. Los Beta 5 - “Sobre El Arco Iris”
26. Murderer - “Perfect II”
27: The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - “Ramona”


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NOTES
First things first, if you tell me that this week's BLASST image reminds you of McDonald's, you might be right. No, it was not intentional. I picked golden yellow for the number because it represents a goal I've reached with the show, and I'm proud of that. The red of the text is not hyper red and instead vaguely deep crimson because it reminds me of high-end red ink. I wanted to give off regal vibes for this design. I omitted the date because while this is the image for a single episode, it also represents every single other episode of the show. That being said, if you decide to stuff your face with Big Macs after listening to this episode, please tell me. That would be really interesting to learn. Anyway.

October 10, 2016 to July 16, 2019.
 

Almost three years. 

Sleep? Free time? These are simply currency, and I've exchanged them every week for the past year and a half to put BLASST together on a consistent basis. It's honestly been pretty difficult at times, and I've put out episodes I haven't been entirely happy with, but looking back over the past 100 episodes, I wouldn't trade the experiences I've had for anything. I believed in an idea, and worked toward that idea regardless of whether it was building momentum or making an impact. To everyone who believed in me and the program, to all the guests, all the bands, and all the listeners—most importantly, the listeners—thank you. You always deserve better than what you have, and you deserve the courage to make things happen for yourselves if no one else is doing it already. If I had more time, and perhaps made a living through doing this kind of work, I would probably not have pulled the plug so soon. I mean, 100 episodes is nothing! Imagine 1000 episodes! That's at least three years of commitment to the cause. Anyway, I didn't make this decision lightly. I started BLASST at a time in my life when I felt very lost and without purpose. I hadn't been making music, which is something I'd previously been quite active in and had been desperately trying to hold onto for fear of losing something that meant so much to me, so I followed the path I'd walked once before in my younger years. If I couldn't play, I'd contribute to the local scene somehow. I didn't want to monetize it, I didn't want to partner it with local businesses, I didn't want it to be listened to all over the world...I just wanted it to be listened to here. I wanted it to belong to this place and these people. Many of the younger people growing up in the Rio Grande Valley are raised on the concept of scarcity, and value their lives by what they lack. I wanted to change that by giving something back, something I would have deeply appreciated at a young age, something that would help expand my mind and show me things, and I came to truly bond with the show through that deep appreciation. BLASST means the world to me. I've put it before so many things in my life before, and suffered for it. I decided this year that if the moment struck where I felt that the time was right to change course and focus my energy elsewhere, I would follow that impulse. I have other pursuits now, work that I truly find fulfilling, and which could really use my full, well-rested attention. I don't plan to be away forever; BLASST may reappear in different ways that have not occurred to me yet, but for the time being I will be gleefully unconcerned. I put together this episode with love in mind, love of all the different kinds of music in the world, all the different kinds of music we've played on the show, and all the possibilities that lay ahead. I hope you enjoy it. If you'd like to personally express your condolences, you can do so at the following show:

Until we meet again,

-A

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

BLASST 99 - SPACE IV: Strange Sounds From The Past For The Future - TRACKLIST + NOTES

TRACKLIST1. Fuck U Pay Us - "Burn, Ye Old White Male Patriarchy, Burn"
2. NASA - t"Sun Sonification"
3. Meredith Monk - "Do You Be"
4. Body/Head - "Last Mistress"
5. Moor Mother - "This Week x Geng"
6. Noveller - "A Pink Sunset For No One"
7. Alice Shields - "Study For Voice and Tape"
8. Funkadelic - "I Wanna Know If It's Good To You"
9. Ikue Mori - "Birthdays"
10. Annea Lockwood - "Tiger Balm"
11. Aki Tsuyuko - "The Voice of the Night"



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NOTES:
Today's BLASST is our penultimate episode, #99. 

Seeing as we're coming to the end of our run as a music program, I figured we should take one more dive out into the universe to find music that uses space in interesting ways as a contrast to the oversaturation of stimuli in our world that has come to influence our mental processes and by proxy, our creative ones as well. I always wanted these episodes to spark thought of some kind, perhaps a deeper pondering about a particular selection: why was this instrument used? why does the vocal sound that way? why are they playing so little? ...is that what I think it is? —with that final question being perhaps the most important of them all. I'm not sure if I've achieved my goal, as only time will tell. After all, astronauts take note of where they leave their flags, but not necessarily what becomes of their footsteps after they've gone.
Photo by Simone Thompson

Our first selection is by a band that I've been wanting to play on the show for months now: Fuck U Pay Us, a noise punk band from Los Angeles, California. I first heard about them through Instagram when friends posted photos and videos of their set at a punk festival they were playing in Chicago. I thought the name was fantastic to begin with, their message was what I've been wanting to hear in music for so long, especially sung by voices who deserve to have the spotlight on them for a change. I've noticed more and more artists talking about politics and social justice in their music, and in many cases where these artists are men, they're praised for being on the right side of things, or whatever. But that energy should honestly not be wasted on those bands, instead directed toward bands like FUPU, queer people of color who are challenging not just the world of politics but the world of music as well. It's very easy to form a band and make music that has been researched and proven to make money, music that neither engages the world with criticism nor challenges the listener to think harder about the moral fabric of their decision-making is so widespread and commonplace that the extent of it's manufacture includes all of the ignorant, unsuspecting aspiring artists tricked into finding these products meaningful and worthy of replication of their own free will under the guise of "expression". In actuality, this expression is nothing more than the active sedation of a critical mind a.k.a. all part of the plan. I believe that FUPU have a plan of their own, and I think that's truly exciting.


 
Meredith Monk is a composer whose work is beautiful, jarring, thought-provoking, and at times, utterly bizarre. The musical context of her work often involves the use of the instrument everybody knows how to play one way or another, the human voice. Most of her compositions run so long, however, that I haven't had much of a chance to play her on the show without taking up nearly half the program's run-time. Perhaps if I had a 2-3 hour slot to play music every week (like a real radio program) I'd indulge a little deeper into her work. Until then, micro morsels will have to do. "Do You Be" is one such morsel, from Key, MM's debut LP from 1971.That's her in the photo on the left, presumably matching the pitch of the glass she is playing.

 Alice Shields had this to say about her composition "Study for Voice and Tape" from 1968:

“Study for Voice and Tape was composed in 1968, using my prerecorded singing voice synchronized with electronic sounds on tape. The sound sources for the tape part include phrases created on an analog Buchla synthesizer, my own singing voice, and a shaken bell-tree. Pitch and timbral modifications occur through Klangumwandler and elaborate feedback, resulting in spiraling patterns that rise and fall in pitch and speed.”

I personally love the combination of recorded voice and seemingly random (mechanically oragnic?) synthesizer sounds. Especially sounds made by a Buchla synthesizer. Ever since I watched the documentary I Dream of Wires, I've determined that Buchla synthesizers are the greatest in the world, no matter their imperfections nor their marketability (or lack thereof). If only I could afford one. :'(

If you're a regular listener of the program, you'll know of my love for the founding no-wave group, DNA. Ikue Mori, the drummer in the group, has come to be known the world over for her unique playing style (which she began developing on her own—on the fly—upon being asked to join DNA) and her approach to music, which is understandably abstract and free from convention and flowing as purely from her own intuition (and perhaps feelings) as possible. She's released 12 solo albums, several collaborative improvisational recordings with other artists, the most perhaps with NYC-based avant-garde-ist, John Zorn (20 releases in total). Today's selection, "Birthdays", closes her album One Hundred Aspects of the Moon and features a stirring collage of percussion sounds across the sonic spectrum.
Perhaps the most significant selection on today's episode (to me anyway) is Annea Lockwood's tonal and textural sound work, "Tiger Balm". It opens with a sound many will find familiar, though perhaps not one everyone of you can hear up close without falling into a sneezing fit and/or hives. It's the pur of a cat, and with this, the piece moves from one unique sound pattern to another, intertwined with found sound, or field recordings. Throughout a large portion of the piece, we can hear various panned recordings of what sounds at times like a woman moaning and breathing deeply, and at other times, much larger cats (tigers, maybe) growling and breathing on their own. Sometimes these recordings are playing over each other, in a juxtoposition that remains shrouded in mystery to me. This is all part of Professor Lockwood's (oh yeah, did I mention she used to teach music at Vassar College in NYC?) plan to evoke a sensory response in the listener by creating a sense of place through these performances. This is, of course, after she spent her time creating work as part of the Fluxus movement which involved the burning, drowning, and burying of pianos. What an artist. Here's a recreation she did in 2014, complete with an interview about the project. The interview starts at 3:00.
Piano Burning | Annea Lockwood from Pie I Have Eaten on Vimeo.
As stated on the episode, this is our second-to-last episode. Next week we will air our final BLASST for some time. I intend to make it a good one, and hope you, dear listener, enjoy it and perhaps take it upon yourself to learn a little bit more about any of the artists I've played on the show in the past three years. See y'all next week.

-A

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

BLASST 98 - TRACKLIST + NOTES

TRACKLIST
1. Bauhaus - "Severance"
2. Mexican Institute of Sound - "México"
3. Jean Deaux - "Wikipedia"
4. Mort Garson - "Where Do I Go"
5. Ursula K. Le Guin & Todd Barton - "Heron Dance"
6. Seigen Ono - "All Men Are Heels"
7. Shanghai Beach - "Did You Get Everything You Wanted?"
8. Harriet Brown - "Holy Place (Shinin')"
9. Youtube Influencers - "Port Toime Poinks"
10. Haruomi Hosono - "Sports Men"
11. Mariah - "Sokokara"
12. Thom Yorke - "Dawn Chorus"


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NOTES
Today's playlist is pretty eclectic and great for filling in the backgrounds of your work spaces and dinner tables, but considering that Fourth of July is also happening this week, I ask that you think long and hard about what exactly the United States of America represents. The fourth of July is supposed to be our Independence Day, but how have we put our independence to use? If you have even the slightest notion of what's happening in the world today, you'll know that the US government has been detaining thousands upon thousands of immigrant families fleeing violence and seeking asylum in our country, and forcing them to live in cages without proper access to sanitation, food, and water. When do these people get to claim their own independence from the United States' evil clutches? When will they be free? If you want to play around with roman candles, don't point them at your friends, point them at Border Patrol, point them at ICE agents, point them at this fucking system.

This is the third-to-last episode of BLASST. Thanks for sticking around if you have, if you're just joining us, congratulations on having almost 100 episodes to catch up on. Two weeks left. Space IV next week. Not sure what to do for BLASST 100 yet, but I'm sure I'll figure it out.

-A 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

BLASST 97: HARRIET BROWN - TRACKLIST + NOTES

TRACKLIST
1. Glenn Underground - “Madzone”
2. 702 - “Finally”
3. Harriet Brown - “Holy Place (Shinin’)”
4. Prince - “Strange But True”
 5. Janet Jackson - “Someone to Call My Lover”

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NOTES
Today's episode features my conversation with the endlessly talented Harriet Brown, a funky storm of a soul from Los Angeles, California who will be hitting the Rio Grande Valley next Wednesday, July 3rd. 

Harriet and I talk about his journey through music, his experiences growing up in the Bay area and finding a place for himself in the big, bad, mad City of Angels while also struggling to find a place for himself within himself, and of course, his music. 
His new album, Mall of Fortune, is a complex offering of rnb and soul inspired by some of the challenges Harriet experienced in the past year while navigating the music industry as a person of color as well as a desire to look deeper into himself and put those parts of him in his music. We chat for a bit about the technology behind his work as well, diving into some of his preferred pieces of equipment, as well as the myriad of influences and inspirations for his art. 

It was the first interview I've ever done with an artist that I did not know prior to recording, and I think it went really well. It's been some time since I've conducted interviews with touring artists, but I'm relieved to know that (even though it's happening on the home-stretch of BLASST's existence) I'm still capable of doing something like this. It was everything I've ever wanted out of an interview with a touring artist on this show. Since the beginning, I've envisioned being able to sit down with an artist and talk in-depth about their music, their lives, sharing and exchanging bits of information with them and making a true connection, perhaps leaving ourselves enriched afterward. Those are my favorite kinds of interviews—the ones where an artist isn't simply going over the usual talking points or parroting their pre-determined marketing messaging for the Nth time, and instead being themselves, revealing a bit of the personality behind the curtain, and (the way I see it) giving further context to the music we already appreciate. In fact, the track Harriet chose off of Mall of Fortune to play on the show is prefaced with a little bit of background that completely enhanced my perception of it. That was one of my favorite parts of this interview. That—and the chunk of time we dedicate to talking about Prince, where I learn a bit more about an era of his career that I had regrettably looked over.

This episode is a truly great achievement in BLASST history, and I hope y'all enjoy it. I'm pretty proud of it. 


Furthermore, I hope to see everyone throwing it down at HB's show on July 3rd at the Tropicana Lounge in Edinburg with Carmen Castillo and Gusto Gusto. It's not only got a perfect lineup, it's an early show, and most importantly, it's FREE. Bring your friends—hell, bring your grandma.

-A

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

BLASST 96 - TRACKLIST + NOTES

TRACKLIST
1. Les Reines Prochaines - "Opfer dieses Liedes"
2. Rockabye Baby - "Heroes"
3. Vivienne Styg - "Hellhound"
4. Kaleidoscope - "After The Futures"
5. Exercise - "Catastrophizer"
6. Nosferatu - "Under the Sun"
7. Institute - "Shangri-La"
8. Notekillers - "Ricochet"
9. Sleater-Kinney - "Start Together"
10. Jayne Cortez & The Firespitters - "If The Drum Is A Woman"
11. Einsturzende Neubauten - "Horen Mit Schmerzen"
12. Dump - "International Airport"
13. Temple of Angels - "Cerise Dream"
14. Taleen - "Baby Love"
15. 7FO - "Ten"
16. Harriet Brown - "Obsession"


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NOTES
What a week. Ever since getting back from my trip, it's been one thing after another. First, I'm sick the first week back. The worst kind of sick, too. I resembled more of a human mucous fountain than anything else. I certainly couldn't think like a human being for that week, that's for sure. Too much cold medicine. Why are so many of us plagued with allergies?

Anyway, after being sick, I lost my wallet, which threw a big wrench in a lot of my plans. I had to cancel my cards and order new ones, which put most of my services on pause, INCLUDING this show's hosting services. Eventually, it turned up, but the damage had been done. Getting settled has been a slow process, altogether. It's left me feeling very discombobulated and disorganized, despite the fact that I am continuing to organize things in my life. Namely, the 13th U-Punk show, which will feature Houston's yee haw post-punk outfit Vivienne Styg in the place of out-of-town band, supported by several great local groups that I'll be announcing later this week. Promo flyer below.
Along with this show, I've also begun practicing with Slow Attack for a show we'll be playing later this month, 6/29 at Sauce House, flyer for THAT below:

So those practices have been going very well. No matter how long a break we take from playing together, we always fall back in-line really quickly. I really like that about the band. It makes the collaborative relationship we share truly rich and worthwhile. In a final bit of band news, I'm also working on getting Super off the ground again. That poor band has suffered from a lack of momentum for years now. It sucks, because that's usually my main creative outlet. I also think that I've been having trouble wading through depressive episodes to get things done and find motivation to overcome those obstacles that the band's been facing. We could find a drum machine, or maybe pick up a fill-in drummer, but that takes a little work, and perhaps in the past it's been more daunting to me than usual.

I think moving out of my apartment has provided some sort of stress relief. I feel less weight on my shoulders, despite still feeling the pressure to have my shit together and things in order. Like, I still get the "what are you working on now" question from people when I run into them in public, and it's like I want to say "nothing. nothing at all. I've been stuck in depression loops since you last saw me, and sometimes can't tell if I'm doing things to appear as if I'm productive or because I genuinely want to do them. That kind of disillusionment is something that has left me with the move. I feel more comfortable than ever with dropping everything and disappearing off the face of the earth, but my current endeavors require otherwise. To compensate, I've tried to find more peaceful uses of my time that can help my brain breathe, despite the cramping sensation of time slipping away. It's truly helped. Okay, I'm rambling and haven't even talked about today's episode. I supposed that's because there isn't a big theme associated with this one. No one (that I admire) has died today or recently, so I've put together a collection of stuff I've heard over the past couple of weeks. A little trip through some sonic exploration, if you will. This week's cover photo features Jayne Cortez, an essential poet, writer, and performance artist of the Black Arts Movement, known for her distinct vocal range that is often associated with strong political discourse and critique. She released several albums in collaboration with various groups of musicians that she identified with politically. Today's selection is from There It Is. I hope you enjoy it and look her up afterward!

Next week's broadcast will be fun though. We'll be talking to LA's funk emissary Harriet Brown about their music, inspirations, and their new record, Mall of Fortune, while playing some tracks of their choosing. It'll be one of my last interviews on the show, so I'm thankful for the privilege of having this conversation.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading. Seeya next week.

-A

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

BLASST 95: STUFF I FOUND IN NEW YORK CITY RECORD STORES

TRACKLIST
1. Brian Eno - “Microsoft Windows 95 Theme”
2. Blu Anxxiety - “I Haunt Myself”
3. J.V.C.F.O.R.C.E.  - “Strong Island”
4. C. Memi & Neo Matisse - “No Chocolate”
5. Mikan Mukku - “Kan”
6. Kimio Eto - “Yuki No Genso (Snow Fantasy)”
7. Los Diablos Rojos - “El Guapo”
8. Los Babys - “Jinetes En El Cielo”
9. Babatunde Olatunji - “Akiwowo (Chant of the Trainman)”
10. Farmers - “House of Pancakes”
11. Really Red - “Youth Culture For Sale”
12. Wire -  “A Question of Degree”
13. Albert Ayler Trio - “The Wizard”
14. C. Memi & Neo Matisse - “ホロラヴァーズ ”
15. Juma - “化石になる日”

NOTES: On my recent trip to New York City, I made a point of visiting as many record stores as possible. I've been to the city twice before and on neither trip did I find the time to visit a record store. Granted, I had other stuff to do—the city is pretty big after all—and with my pick of things to do to pass the time, I found myself quite busy without spending all of my hard-earned on a handful of cherished records.

This time around, I swore things would be different. I was going to be in town for a week, so I knew I had to at least visit one shop in that time. There's gotta be at least 10 in the five boroughs, I figure. So, fast forward a week of bagels and more walking than I've ever done in my life, and I'm throwing away clothes to make room for my records in my carry-on bag. I packed clothes that I could part with in the event that this would need to happen, and lo and behold, I was right. I brought home 26 records from 7 different shops: Material World, Brooklyn Music Exchange, Academy Records, Record Grouch, The Thing, Rough Trade, and Alberto & Sons. The last place was a thrift shop that had a sizeable record collection, and considering I left with two Kraftwerk LPs and an Eno/Fripp collab, I deem it on the same level as my other record shopping experiences. 

The first shop I stopped at, Material World, was also the one at which I spent the most money. I struck up a long conversation with the guy at the counter, Adam Whites, who it turned out co-owned the shop and also used to run a label called Katorga Works that's released a particular wealth of the releases that have helped shape the punk and punk-related scene of the past few years. These days though, Adam told me he runs a reissue label called Bitter Lake Recordings that has specialized in releasing a constant stream of underground gems from Japan's avant-garde 80s, forgotten tape collections, groups that no longer exist and have no interest in reliving their musical past in their present lives, and I got to hear a lot of it while hanging out in the shop. In fact, when my buddy Steven Salazar (of Shanghai Beach) and I walked in, Adam had been reviewing some masters on the shop sound system, and I was so taken with them, I pre-ordered a copy of the release they were going to be put on, along with most of the upcoming BLR catalog. Some of that is what you hear on the show today, C. Memi & Neo Matisse, Juma, Mikan Mukku, that stuff is all Bitter Lake. Once those new tapes drop in, I'll be sure to play those on the show, that is if they arrive before we reach episode 100!

Also a bit of personal news, I've moved to Weslaco for a few months to save money/pay off some debt. It's been a strange transition, but then again, when is moving not a completely discombobulating experience? Anyway, this little jumble my head has been in has given me some new priorities. I'm still going to pull the curtain on BLASST at 100 episodes, but perhaps it will not be gone forever. I just need to better manage my time so that I can pursue other projects. I want to do more design, I want to produce some zines, I also want to make some new music. More to come in the next few weeks. As always, thanks for listening. I lost my wallet a few days ago and cancelled my cards as a result, so my podcast hosting is suspended until I can reconnect a card to my account. That being said, all episodes of the show will only be on Mixcloud for the time being.

-A

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

BLASST 94: ROKY FOREVER

TRACKLIST 
1. Curse of the Demon - “The Demon Arrives”
2. Dengue Fever - “Both Sides Now”
3. The 13th Floor Elevators - “You’re Gonna Miss Me”
5. Jonathan Winters - “Airline Pilots”
6. The Red Krayola - “Hurricane Fighter Plane”
7. Veronica Falls - “Starry Eyes”
8. Roky Erickson - “Bermuda”
9. Ghost - “If You’ve Got Ghosts”
10. Roky Erickson & The Aliens - “Sputnick”
11. Roky Erickson - “Colors”
12. Jonathan Winters - “Magical Tour”
13. Roky Erickson - “Don’t Slander Me”
14. Butthole Surfers - “Earthquake”
15. Roky Erickson - “Please Judge”
16. Roky Erickson - “Warning (Social and Political Injustices)”
16. The Red Krayola - “Free Form Freak-Out”
17. Southern Pacific - “It's A Cold Night For Alligators”
18. Roky Erickson - “Never Say Goodbye”
19. Roky Erickson - “Goodbye Sweet Dreams”


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NOTES
Roky Erickson passed away last Friday. This is a loss not just felt here in Texas, but in the entire world. The impact his music and his spirit have had on the worlds of music and art is without measure or equal. A singular figure in the world of Psychedelic Rock music and a symbol of how one can absolutely overcome the worst odds of all time and end up on top, and by that I don't mean rolling in money and stardom, but alive and able to do what you love, which he did til he took his last breath. 

It feels so surreal to think of how he's gone, but in these situations, where people we care about die, I think it's best to spend time thinking about them and helping cement the memory you wish to remember most about them for the foreseeable future. For me, that memory is seeing Roky walking around downtown Austin with a tote bag slung on his shoulder at one of my very first South by Southwests. At the time, I had a negative association of men wearing bags like that, but seeing Roky wear one meant that clearly I was mistaken. From that day forward, a tote bag has been my bag of choice when going out and about. It's proven itself to be an incredibly utilitarian and valuable decision in my life, and it's all thanks to Roky Erickson. I get really sad when I think about it now, and that's okay. I'm going to watch the documentary on him tonight. I suggest you do too, if you haven't. 

A

BLASST 100: The LASST BLASST

TRACKLIST 1. Miles Davis - “Great Expectations” 2. The Jesus Lizard - “Then Comes Dudley” 3. Sfinx - “Blaña De Urs” 4. The KVB - “Above U...