I just came across this interesting tribute Brian Eno had written to trumpeter and experimental composer Jon Hassell, which gets at a few very deleuzian and immanentist notions: about music as “embodied philosophy”, and Hassell’s idea of a “coffee coloured music of the future” that reflects “a globalised world constantly integrating and hybridising, where differences [are] celebrated and dignified.” Hassell came up with the coffee/music metaphor well before the era of world music, Starbucks, and Putumayo, before Eno and David Byrne’s “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts” (which arguably launched the era of world music, if not Starbucks), and it certainly doesn’t work as well today as it might have then. If anything, coffee represents the homogenization of differences into a universal currency of caffeine-fueled global service-industrialism. (See Anahid Kassabian’s “Would you like some world music with your latte? Starbucks, Putumayo, and distributed tourism” for an interesting take on this.) But Hassell‘s music, to my mind, succeeded in integrating its source influences at a level that few hybrid musical forms had before then. “Earthquake Island,” “Aka-Darbari-Java,” and his two “Fourth World” collaborations with Eno were particularly good. At least on the level of content, Hassell’s musical caffeine might be considered “fair trade.” On the level of production, on the other hand, they still constitute something along the lines of cultural appropriation.
But, then, we live in an era of cultural appropriation run wild (or gone tame and mainstream)… Timothy Taylor’s “Global Pop,” “Strange Sounds,” and “Beyond Exoticism” do a good job chronicling some of this current within western musical culture.