The Wire


Wire Playlist: Black Minimalism

July 2018

In The Wire 414, David Toop contributes an essay on black minimalism as a thing in and of itself that takes in everything from West African folk forms to US Midwest footwork. David also considers the music’s status in relation to the early minimalist compositions of Richard Maxfield, Steve Reich and Terry Riley, all of whom used disembodied black voices as raw material. David appends the essay with a speculative mixtape of 87 tracks which further complicate the established narratives and received wisdoms that have accrued around our ideas of minimalist music. Here is a selection of those tracks.

Sonny Terry “Fox Chase” 0:02:33
Alice Coltrane “Battle At Armageddon” 0:07:20
James Brown “Ain't It Funky Now” 0:05:36
Bongo Joe “Transistor Radio” 0:05:53
Thelonious Monk “Epistrophy” 0:10:48
The Fearless Four “Rockin' It” 0:06:39
Baby Dodds “Spooky Drums No 1” 0:02:24
Sly & The Family Stone “In Time” 0:05:48
Bo Diddley “Bo’s Guitar” 0:02:34
Ed & Lonnie Young “Hen Duck” 0:03:07
Sun Ra “Rocket Number Nine” 0:02:54
Prince “Kiss” 0:03:46
Missy Elliot “Get Ur Freak On” 0:03:56
Fatback Band “Wicky Wacky” 0:03:19
Shabazz Palaces “Dèesse Du Sang” 0:03:30
Miles Davis “Mademoiselle Mabry” 0:16:32
Grace Jones “Private Life” 0:05:11
Napoleon Strickland “My Babe” 0:04:38
Al Green “Love Ritual” 0:04:22
One String Sam “I Need A Hundred Dollars” 0:03:03
Company Flow “Friend Vs Friend” 0:05:14
Phuture “Acid Trax” 0:12:26
De La Soul “Transmitting Live From Mars” 0:01:11
Donny Hathaway “Vegetable Wagon” 0:01:07
Dorothy Ashby “The Moving Finger” 0:05:39
The Meters “Look-Ka Py Py” 0:03:21
Duke Ellington/Coleman Hawkins “Mood Indigo” 0:05:56
Parliament “Flash Light” 0:04:34
Goodie Mob “Cell Therapy” 0:04:42
Herbie Hancock “Butterfly” 0:11:18
Barbara Mason “Another Man” 0:06:55
J Dilla “Time: The Donut Of The Heart” 0:01:38
JB Lenoir “I Sing Um The Way I Feel” 0:02:33
Maze “Twilight” 0:06:37
Timmy Thomas “Funky Me” 0:03:03
Bobby Hutcherson “Prints Tie” 0:07:25
Aux 88 “Direct Drive” 0:06:42
Syreeta “Tiki Tiki Donga” 0:05:05
Junior Walker & The Allstars “Shotgun” 0:03:07
Lyn Collins “Think” 0:03:22
Lee Perry “The Rightful Organiser” 0:04:13
The JB's “Same Beat” 0:03:19
John Coltrane “After The Rain” 0:04:13
King Tubby “Dub Fi Gwan” 0:04:01
Coleman Hawkins “Picasso” 0:03:14
Konono No 1 “Kule Kule” 0:04:30
Shirley Horn “Blue In Green” 0:05:59
ESG “Moody” 0:02:48
The Isley Brothers “Fight The Power” 0:05:21
Love Unlimited Orchestra “Strange Games And Things” 0:04:04
Method Man “PLO Style” 0:02:36
Model 500 “Night Drive” 0:03:09
Nitro Deluxe “Let's Get Brutal” 0:06:55
Mantronix “Bassline” 0:06:02
Reese “Just Want Another Chance” 0:05:03
African Headcharge “Primitive” 0:03:40
Baby Face Leroy “Rollin’ And Tumblin’” 0:02:50
Junior Kimbrough “Burn In Hell” 0:07:44
Kasai AllStars “Kabuangoyi” 0:09:35
Madlib “Pyramids (Change)” 0:01:55
Masanka Sankayi “Le Laboureur” 0:05:01
Robert Pete Williams “Grown So Ugly” 0:02:49
Shuggie Otis “XL-30” 0:02:08
Mandrill “Fencewalk” 0:05:32
Drexciya “Bubble Metropolis” 0:06:59

Read the full essay and entire playlist in The Wire 414. Subscribers can access it via the online archive.

Reader Martin Hossbach has also collated a version of the playlist on Spotify.


Some great stuff on this list. Just for the hell of it, here are 10 tracks I think would have gone well on it:

Blind Willie Johnson - Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground
Henry Thomas - Railroadin' Some
Count Ossie & The Mystic Revelation Of Rastafari - Wicked Babylon
George McRae - Rock Your Baby
The Junkyard Band - Sardines
The Last Poets - Wake Up N*gg*rs
Skip James - Devil Got My Woman
Odetta - All the Pretty Little Horses
The Congos - Children Crying
Pharoah Saunders - The Creator Has a Master Plan

Maybe some Albert Ayler too. Of course, this could go on forever, but it's a fun game to play.

This could go on forever...

Julius Eastman


Abner Jay

I would add anything by Julius Eastman, including "Stay On It".

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