Listening to Arjuna Neuman’s Multi-Cultural Dread you might find yourself nodding your head in rhythm with the Reggae and Jungle songs. That is, after all, a response that mixtapes intend to provoke. This, however, is no typical mixtape. Neuman wields the music to establish a dichotomy, fusing the uptempo dance beats with grainy imagery and an essay that transforms the piece into what he calls a mixtape essay; a dizzying and engrossing visual and aural representation of the Jamaican musical diaspora, especially as it has reconfigured and coalesced in the UK’s Jungle music scene, “equipping,” as Neuman writes, “the disenfranchised, inner-city youth with an anti-venom to fight a rising neoliberalism and its obliteration of social welfare.”
Multi-Cultural Dread is an early example of Neuman's ongoing work with the mixtape-essay form. A format he devised that is somewhere between a dj set, a radio-broadcast, a lyrical essay and a music video. He has forthcoming works in this vein such as the For Lula, Mississippi as published by Sonic Acts, Amsterdam; Soot Breath // Corpus Infinitum with Denise Ferreira da Silva as commissioned by CCA Glasgow; and forthcoming book Tangle Eye as published by Archive Books. Much as Multi-Cultural Dread calls on syncopation to abreact colonial trauma, these recent works all take up and continue his interest in the anti-colonial potential of music.
The text in the video work was written during the artist's residency at NTU:CCA Singapore.