Thursday, July 29, 2004

Bizzy B: science ep volume 3

i suppose that part of the reason that drum 'n' bass abandoned the sampled breakbeat was that the junglists themselves were too programmed to constant progression. like the model for a drum 'n' bass dj set (each track stepping up a gear from the last, each drop surpassing the previous in dancefloor potency) or the competitive energy of a 'scene' (each track produced trying to be the one that all the others copy; cliche= 'going to the next level'. how many times have we heard that phrase and been faced with complete crap?) the emphasis is always on pioneering and taking the rest with you. Many of the biggest players in drum 'n' bass had been rare groove and early house dj's (fabio, grooverider, dj hype) and then been through breakbeat hardcore into jungle, and so when faced with where to go next chose the strand of jungle that had most response on dancefloors at the time, which, handily, took in techniques and themes of technological progression. the two step bosh even sounds like forward momentum hence the oft-used chase-scene analogy, and it's full and sometimes fetishistic use of the late nineties studio advances must have sounded so futuristic and visionary compared to the dusty antique breaks in use since the beginning of drum sampling. Listening to something like johnny l's 'piper' the snare sounds more like air escaping from a compression chamber or a pod door opening or any other sound effect you care to mention from a tacky sci-fi/action blockbuster, anything apart from a drum (johnny l carried on his progression into making UK garage with truesteppers it should be remembered). Breakbeats were too weighted down by funk and the original player's sense of groove, and so could never be as controllable as separate hits. 

But once the forward momentum of this beat had been established it became hard to supplant. Two-step is too infectious for it's own good, a mediocre standard stifling the flights of fancy and inspiration possible with the cut-up breakbeat. But their now remains a disparate underground of producers and fans with no connection to what jungle has become, who unlike the big d'n'b hitters of today, cannot resolve the music of now with that of ten years ago. Bizzy B is probably one such person, abandoned by jungle as an anacronism despite his obvious skill as an engineer. He avoids the kid-in-a-sweet-shop attitude to engineering on an advanced set-up, preferring to use his craft to distill the perfect essence of rave. the amen-break on this ep sounds unbelievably heavy. where on some jungle it's the bass drum that puntuates, fitting in edgeways around snare acrobatics, while the hazily defined bass rumbles along in your chest with little high end to get in the way of the snare and cymbal assualt, here the bass is the detonating epi-centre with the snares thrown off in every direction. 'Afraid of the dark' uses the mentasm synth as devastating three-octave bludgeon riff, with a 4/4 bass drum and screeching tyre sounds. The psychotic compulsion of gabba with natural body moving effect of jungle. This shares it's bass heavyness with current d'n'b, but it's so much more precise and directed than huge bassline over two-step bosh combination, bass and drums working as one unit rather than across each other. 'darkside' has a huge sub-bass rumble but begins with a beautiful tingly melodic wash intro; think the shimmering flourishes of the beginning of 'dred bass', it gradually lets the hardness disintigrate into wistful keyboard voices. my favourite, though is 'bad boy sound', bouncing rubbery bass, snares tripping over each other, but just managing to stay grooving and upright. all these tracks are so well structured, each drop expertly timed, and the changes from light to heavy seem logical rather than jarring. these are obviously elements that I've heard before, but not in such a perfect balance, never outstaying their welcome, working so well together.

Maybe the most encouraging thing about this ep is that it's not an excercise in retro-ism, like soundmurderer or the remarc reissues (a recent remarc dj set was just a load of current d'n'b; why? what's the point? it won't bring you any current cred or please the old skool fans), or an IDM 'reimagining' of jungle like lots of other stuff on planet-mu (shitmat? venetian snares? please...), bizzy b sees this ep as the vanguard of a new jungle movement, a return to twisted, stretched, distorted drums deployed to move the massive rather than just be mad for madness' sake. He writes a manifesto on the back of this ep, saying how he spends '12 hours a day on the beats' and can see 'with today's technology we can rekindle the legendary sound of hardcore/jungle into a new wave of global beats'. this may sound far fetched, but with paradox, breakage and that recent offshore records compilation getting plaudits for their twisted beats there is some momentum growing. I for one would fucking love it if he was right. 


Tuesday, July 27, 2004

new dizzee video

here
grime's transition from pirate station to MTV base seems to be causing a few problems for the video makers. this video is obviously supposed to accentuate dizzee's britishness when bookended by two american hiphop videos, but none of the rest of the video would really raise any eyebrows.

i suppose there has to be some aesthetic crossover for the video to work, but as silverdollarcircle pointed out recently this dilution with american hip-hop r'n'b seems to be spreading to the music as well. i hope that videos don't replicate this trend (ie. other grime following suit after seeing local boy succeeding by being on american looking video, but i suppose having grime on mtv base at all will do that to a certain degree) as it would clearly be a regression. the songs pretty good though, I would have liked there to be 8 bars of distorted half-time like in the original musical mobbs 'pulse x' from which this takes it's 909 drums. dizzee's voice sounds a bit lost among the production, his usual emotive inflections flattened by synths popping up all over the place, although this is a party tune (see scratching) rather than ganja-paranoid-twitching-urban-desert-despair-aggression.

bowman's capsule

edith why? we barely know each other and you rush into this? come on i look just like a less talented version of him.

don't look at me like that, i'm serious. it's not too late, we've been down since RI:SE...

Monday, July 26, 2004

womad

crikey, it's a bit odd. birkenstocks, fungal toe-nail infections, half-interested dancing to yet another cack hybridisation of 'traditional  folk music' and modern flavas *boke*, using the word 'incorporating' to describe ripping off some small african trend, then shoe-horning it into your own inoffensive flat shite. i never ever ever again want to see another smug six-string bass session player, gently grooving around his massive amp stack. the atmosphere there is that of a village fete, which is precisely what i would want if i, like many, had brought the kids up from Guildford or Harpenden or somewhere like that. i know it's very easy to make fun of, and i will resist jibes about reading the guardian etcetc, but there is something completely colonial about womad, leafing through the programme to find something that 'sounds interesting', just like watching a member of the royal family clap along with some 'tribal drumming'. we did see some good stuff; a wedding orchestra from zanzibar playing first solemn and restrained and then frenzied; senor coconut doing kraftwerk and michael jackson songs in a cha-cha-cha/meringue style (nice touch: teutonic-looking man staring straight down at a powerbook in cream suit, looking like ralf hutter surrounded by loud shirts and maracas); a workshop by the dhol foundation which provided context and genuinely interesting paralells with more familiar music, by talking about the functions and methods of the music, instead of just looking on thinking "isn't it good that we're being exposed all these cultures" and going back to reading the latest angela carter (being given away free with the guardian at womad). 'world music' is truly a horrible term.

i suppose the music is hardly the point at womad, it's more about a general idea of doing something good, expanding your horizons, benevolence and suchlike like a museum and in that respect i can't really talk. i got drunk went on fair ground rides and danced to rock the casbah outside a wine stall three nights in a row.

reminds me that i must get round to actually reading Edward Said's Orientalism, rather than just thinking about it.    

this post is a mess, i know. not really as entertaining as a rant, just a load of things that irritated me. i wish there was something shocking and intense, like the bizzy b record i'm listening to now, for people to get rabidly behind, or boo off. i don't know, i'm a tired person. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

thanks to k-punk and crew for kind words. i am sorry if this all looks very small to you, it's fine for me. i don't know how to change it, so ner.   
 
you won't hear from me 'till monday now as i'm off to womad festival. yes, the one that gap year merchants go to in search of authenticity and funky beads. oh well, sure i'll have lots to talk about when i get back, bye for now.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Kanye West- College Dropout

iknowiknowiknow. the internet is saturated with praise for this album so i'll attempt to keep this brief, but i bought this today and it's so powerful and joyful and sumptuous i have to say something. it kind of reminds me of a musical, but so much more entertaining, touching, romantic, funny and all those other things that most musicals try so hard to be but can't because Kanye West isn't involved. the triumph through adversity, the central character you urge on even though you know he succeds in the end. The little cameos, funny caricatures in side-show sketches. The orchestration, steady through the album but versatile enough to enhance every moment. The sudden changes of scenery to preserve the pacing, the pauses for applause in between certain tracks. Obviously there are songs and moments that stand out, but it's the spectacle of the entire thing that is most impressive. The threads that tie these tracks together are more important than the differences that seperate them.
 
Where some mcs talk about about 'riding' the track, teetering on top of the beat like a surfer trying hard to not be overcome by the waves forward thrust, Kanye lets the sounds curl around him, swamping and then receding, falls into the wave. His hi-hats are perfect, they have a sort of woody quality, they sound dusty and aged like antique sideboards. The sheer luxury of the production is awesome. the neptunes sound too harsh and crass when attempting real instrument-soul, they can't give up up the hi-fidelity for a touch of classic finesse (the closest they come to Kanye's richness must be the drums in britney's 'boys' or the whole of NERDs 'bobby james'- a similar lushness/dereliction juxtaposition like'we don't care' here). However this isn't just beauty for the sake of itself, this is beauty that acts as a sonic metaphor; the drudge-work and hours of practice he describes in the lyrics were all so he could build this, his glittering musical palace. There's a clue on the front cover as well, the ornate framing containing the picture of the eponymous downcast bear. This is his picture surrounded by what he has now, to remind him of what he was then.    

compulsion

i am a slave to 'fieber' by superpitcher. i can't stop playing it, and when i play it i have to get up and send shockwaves through my body until i want to hear the beginning again. i am never satisfied with the volume, it has to be louder until it just sounds like a distorted mess through the crippled computer speakers. i want to be it, to move with the brutalism that it demands. tear off my humanity and become a piece of pulsing energy. anatomy is my only hindrance.

Monday, July 19, 2004

daytime radio 1 is going some way to lighten my mood while i'm hunched over the industrial dishwasher at work. kanye's 'all falls down' can't fail to make me smile, it's so effortless. i'll pick up the album tomorrow.
also try as i might i can't dislike spitting games by snow patrol. like if my bloody valentine had signed to a huge label, who had forced them into releasing an andy wallace mix of 'when you sleep', with a middle eight tacked on. hmm, that sounds awful. maybe hearing this just makes me pleased that never happened.     
 
silverdollarcirle on three of a kind 'babycakes'. read!
having heard it now the chorus really is amazing, it's seems made to sound like two people gently singing a song they heard on the radio to each other. only as they sing it, they realise the way it completely describes their situation and are kind of embarassed by the honesty, but can't hide the excitement of knowing they feel the same way towards one another.

i hate the way the singer from hoobastank jerks the microphone away from his mouth when he sings a louder note.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

also enjoying

ibi - 'macula' (pro-jex) 
on a pro-jex mix album that i bought mainly because it was called 'jack!' and had some odd cover art with frogs. it's a building minimal snappy techno track with kind of dubstepping snares, and a sample of a woman telling a chorus of her friends about last night. 'went home with the motherfucker/ i'm thinking i'm gonna goddamn get my ass tore up/ TORE UP!'. bird song in the background. the sample ends in a slightly weird place- i counted 20 bars before it started again and a new percussion element joined the track- and so the usual 16 bar structure is put out of joint. itchy, flaky funk.
 
being hungover
went to aforementioned house warming party and so missed weatherall/!!! but i probably wouldn't have had a better time. slept on a floor with my clothes on and no covers whatsoever, and woke up drunk, but i love the gallows humour (ed's description) and the pure sillyness of everyone feeling crap together. stupid jokes, hearing mogwai young team for first time in ages, playing I-spy in the car...the good stuff.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

rebel bass

gosh it was really good.
 
i feared the worst when at midnight marcus from rephlex was playing a pretty potent jungle set (capone 'massive', soundmurderer 'call da police', AND skeptic 'tear') to about fifteen people. I dread cavernous empty club nights, they are so pointless and depressing. it gradually filled up and by warlock there was an atmosphere, a sense that everyone was, in pirate radio parlance 'locked in', bodies mechanically controlled by every whipcrack snare. At times like this i find it hard to believe that the 'vibe' is actually intangible, just a shared perception by a load of people listening to the same music (no i wasn't on drugs, but about four different types of beer and an addlestones blatantly helped me do my bit for the vibe).
 
Plasticman was brilliant. such a suprise after the End events were slightly underwhelming, and the tunes he played stood out a mile from trudgy go nowhere dubstep tracks, boring ganja-addled murky bass where drum twitches eliminate the moving thrust of the tune. What made his tracks stand out was the splintering metal treble, laser guided precise hi hats, rather than complete emphasis on bass that sometimes overpower the pinball machine funk . 'pump up the jam' even sounded flat in comparison, just because the rest were so well structured and dynamic. honestly it seemed like what he was playing was miles further down the evolutionary timescale than some. the highlight was he dropped a 4/4 track (an emerging trend- warlock played lfo 'freak' at the end of his set, always welcome, and i think plasticman has a 4/4 track out) and then came straight out of that into a lethal rhythmic doosra. this sudden change was electric, so satisfyingly wrong-footing. I struggling a bit to write about this 'cos i don't have the music to listen to, but i can remember the sight of people not just bouncing around, but real improvised choreography; reflex head movements like avoiding punches, arms jerking out to bass hairpin corners, wrists flicking pointed fingers to respond to flash-cut snares, it was going offff. it's moments like that you suddenly see the point of re-winds, kind of 'what the fuck?!, did that actually happen?!' moments, so fleeting but powerful that they deserve to break up the flow in order to pay them their full respect.
 
anyway big up the massive. t'was a wicked night. i said congrats to warlock and plasticman in my slightly nervous 'you must get this all the time, and you know what i'm going to say so I'll keep it brief and awkward' way. also mistook new warp-geezer jimmy edgar for someone else. nice chap though.       

Friday, July 16, 2004

bought two compilation CDRs of various vocal grime from pirate stations, one of them is roll deep and pay as u go, other one has ruff sqwad, boyz in the hood and NASTY crew. its all from 2003 (i am way behind on this whole scene in general try  helsinki station or silverdollarcircle trust me they know things ), but aside from the wiley instrumentals, and some lyrics it's all new to me. really addictive listening because it seems able to infinitely replicate itself. different combinations of mcs on different riddems, seems like it could just go on for ever, and what I have is just a tiny random sampling of this massive body of music.  i like the wiley album very much, but it seems wrong for this music to exist in concrete songs, as definitive versions (one lyric over one beat), rather than to be produced as the manifestation of a moment. the right tune dropping, the right mc blazing the right lyric, you know when it's kicking off in these recordings, but to isolate these moments and set them in stone is nowhere near as exciting as hearing something absolutely firing in real time, something is lost when you know it's been thought about rather than a spontaneous flashpoint.

best thing (although this could well have been highly thought out) : wiley playing one of his devil mixes (igloo-ed) with a news report about the bombing beginning in baghdad over the top. but the fact he says nothing about this, provides no context, makes this not a political statement but a nervous 'it's scary out there' depiction of chaos. powerful stuff.
 
will see what plasticman, warlock and co can come up with in response tonight...

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

this weekend

as a celebration of/ middle finger to my new job (temping in kitchens; start now postponed till thursday) this weekend is going to be bbboshing. as previously advertised, i'll be at the rebel bass night on friday (really looking >>>forward to this; I like the star wars rebellion theme on the website and Plasticman being 'expelled from the galaxy of Gargagia for the trafficking of outlawed bass frequencies', that's jokes), and on saturday I have a choice between:

A> Ivan Smagghe in Nottingham
B> !!! and Andrew Weatherall at Fabric
C> a friend's housewarming mini-party in Cambridge

Realistically, I'm probably going to go to Cambridge housewarming do, and maybe head back late for !!!/weatherall, but it's an excruciating decision (although none of them are exactly rare catches at the moment). Smagghe's electro-house compilations (I've heard 'suck my deck' and 'death disco') this year have been killer. Was listening to death disco today and realised that even though I can recall the names or artists of ooh, maybe two or three tracks, I know the words to the vocal tracks off by heart*. On 'suck my deck' (I'd really like to be able to refer to this album by a different name) there are less vocals so the samples will have to do for identification purposes. So there's 'bounce check' which has a wheezy robot voice going 'bounce check bounce check bounce check bounce' and then...BASSLINE. 'lady in a red dress' (forgotten the original artist, but Tiefschwarz are the remixers) has Frank from Donnie Darko saying the title and ...seriously I can't describe it you have to hear it for yourself, it's as much fun as a bouncy castle, or a rocket powered pogo stick but mdma euphoric as well. Plus the funniest drum fill of all time. Death disco is more of a mixed bag with a funny slower tough as old boots italo-y section, and Kiki 'love sikk'; a kind of stately regal house track. Superpitcher's schaffel mix of Quarks 'I walk' is a sultry cabaret seduction. If I were to write an electroclash musical, which come to think of it would be completely appropriate, this would be sung in the club by the leading lady. Hmm I wonder what warren fischer's doing at the moment, this sounds like a project...

* therefore good compilation/dj set= when the track titles are superfluous and all of it alchemically merges into one.

I've only properly heard 'Me and Guliani Down by the schoolyard' from !!! and I didn't get it at first. Didn't like the way The Edge turns up to play guitar in the middle bit, vocals are silly, only memorable tune is that doodoodoodoo bit. But then I listened to it on headphones and walked in time with it and couldn't stop listening to it. It is still a bit of a structural mess, but the bits are so good. The sleaze grind bassline and cowbells made for a private eye to do his snooping around to; the erratic brass section, like James Brown if he loosened up a bit and didn't fine his band for getting things wrong. And the way at 3:30 it tenses up and vibrates until it explodes into well, a slightly misfiring chorus. Still, it gets better as the Edge is cut and the thin stringy guitars return. From what I've heard of the album the LCD soundsystem should have nothing to worry about in the NY dancefloor stakes, but I suppose they're different, LCD *has* house where !!! *has* Pfunk. Still I'd love to see them live, and Andrew Weatherall I can't get enough of at the moment.

I only heard andrew weatherall dj a few months ago, and he was great. Just loads of really good unfamiliar electro-house and soulo 'switch' (psuedonym of the usually pigshit Jameson, UK garage fact fans! I can't find that track anywhere, if anyone is listening can they sort me out?) which is kind of a jacking garage track if i remember correctly. But I really like him as well. I saw him flicking through dub cd's in rough trade, with his pock-marked yellow skin and ridiculous combed back haircut, greening tatoos, and his now regulation uniform of check lumberjack shirt and huge turned up jeans, heavy boots. He looked like someone you wouldn't mess with in the first place going to a fancy dress party as someone you wouldn't mess with. He dances to northern soul endearingly badly aswell with arms coming into his chest in a reverse breaststroke. face also a picture of trance-like boredness.

the choice, as they say, is mine.

look

i now have a links section. if you want to be involved in it, send me an email. it took me a while to work out, and i still don't know why those empty bullet-points are there.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

this is classic

take note the rapture.

so's this but tragically so. seriously i feel awful for finding it hilarious.

Monday, July 12, 2004

journey

the train journey from moreton-in-marsh to Paddington is fantastic. you see the kinds of things you forget exist living in suburbia; grazing sheep, deep cuttings through hills, fields until the horizon, reservoirs, sewage farms, tiny stations with one platform and no ticket office like honeybourne, pershore and kingham just saved from the Dr. Beeching cuts. The train had to wait at a signal for 20 minutes, but because it was such a beautiful evening no one seemed to mind. The japanese family opposite me started taking photos out of the window. As you get closer and closer to London you begin to notice the city encroaching on the countryside. Pylons become more frequent, a huge sci-fi industrial power station between oxford and slough, some new housing estates right next to the tracks.

Most of the way I was listening to Aphex Twin's Selected ambient works 85-92. Having recently got this back from a friend, I was worried that my current exposure to loads minimal house and techno, would render this album redundant, or kind of primitive. God, i was so wrong. Some of these tracks still had me on the edge of tears, so soft and gently they touch your brain cells. On 'Xtal' every sound is a caress. 'i' is like sunlight leaving imprints on your eyes. 'We are the music makers' groovy as anything, but not a dance track by any means, another warm sumptuous hug. Everything on this album seems soft and tactile, no hard callouses or matted fur.The darker tracks like 'Hedphelym' and 'Schottkey 7th Path' are simultaneously reflective and sinister, like an angry but loving parent. 'Ptolemy' and 'delphium' are detroit hits that never were, they sound so classic and fertile. 'Pulsewidth' is pure langorous contentment, a memory from a happy dancefloor. Some of these track trip some receptor in my brain telling me to dance, but when I try to my hips don't respond, all I can do is close my eyes and slowly move my arms, the rhythms are just out of reach. The brilliance of this album may be because of the surroundings I was in and memory buttons pressed by mixing of this album and environment; i used to alternate between this and Loveless as my soundtrack for cycling along the disused railway line from Hatfield to St Albans usually at the same time in the summer evening, past hidden lakes and huge orange fields. I know that I have to buy Selected ambient works 2 soon (i know, i know, what an oversight) but I find it hard to believe it will top this. Selected ambient works 85-92 is just too heavily imprinted on me to be dislodged. It's my property, my memories are built around it, and I cannot give higher praise than that.
I think on this train journey I managed to reactivate some strange happiness gland that switched off recently, just by looking at little details going by and listening to music.The first time I hadn't been slightly anxious or nervous of something for as long as I can be bothered to remember. It won't leave my discman for months.

ooohh excitement

REBEL BASS...

FRI JULY 16TH 2004
@ ELECTROWERKZ (BEHIND ANGEL TUBE)
10-3AM

DUBSTEP, ELECTRO, GRIME, BREAKBEAT

SONIC SELECTORS...

PLASTICMAN (REPHLEX, TERRORHYTHM, SOULJA)
SI BEGG (NOVAMUTE, TRIGGER, NOODLES)
YOUNGSTA (FWD, RINSE FM)
PROFESSOR J-S (HYPONIK, BREAKS FM)
WARLOCK (RAG N BONE)
DOWNSHIFTER (HYPONIK, BREAKS FM)
MORE TO BE ANNOUNCED...

BRINGING BASS VIOLATORS TO JUSTICE!!!

INFO@HYPONIK.COM
WWW.HYPONIK.COM
WWW.REBELBASS.ORG

this could be brilliant. warlock especially has released some huge bangers recently. I hope this becomes a regahla thing as it is starting to look like a 'scene'.

daniel vettori: the k records years

glad to see that new zealand won won the natwest triangular tournament thingy, they are truly my second fave cricket team. especially pleased to see daniel vettori succeed, not only as a boring, apparantly obsolete finger spinner, but he's such a complete indie rocker as well.



messy hair; nerd-rockin' glasses; cheap promo t-shirt; quaint favouring of unfashionable, minimum effort techniques; he's not even professional, probably works at Borders cafe to fund his tours to play in front of small but knowledgable crowds.



here he is rockin' out! the umpire's probably his bitch ex-girlfriend who dumped him for that smooth talking anil kumble. 'I THINK OUR LOVE IS COMING TO AN END!!!!' he opines as the batsman pads up to his arm ball.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

for god sake read Luka's heronbone blog. Seriously it's brilliant.

scenes and soundsystems

Simon Reynolds often talks about the democratic function of the dancefloor, that acts like an instant focus group to musicians. If a crowd goes wild for a particular track or element then the Darwinian selection process will mean that these traits are selected for (origin of species style)in future tracks to replicate the effects. As most DJs are producers also, the effect will be instant and direct.
Surely then a similar thing occurs with the types of soundsystems that music is being played on. For instance (and I'm really sorry to go on and on and on about it)Dubstep currently has it's home at >>>Forward held in Plastic People, a shoreditch club basically comprising a fantastically huge and crisp soundsystem in a basementwith no fancy lighting, no toilet attendants. Most times I've been there I've gone away thinking those molded earplugs now seem very attractive if not fucking essential. One such incident involved a large quantity of strongbow and The Bug, whose ragga and white noise attack turned into complete semi-circualar canal surgery on the plastic people soundsystem. I imagine the bassline grind of the music played at >>>Forward must be devastatingly huge on that system, so much so that it must be the the music adapting to the system, engineers trying eek out the furthest reaches of plastic peoples transistors on their tracks. Again this is a Darwinian effect, sounds which work on this system would be selected for and those which don't would be discarded,and as this is primarily where dubstep is being played (and plastic people has the capacity to handle vast sine wave bass)tracks are made with this in mind.
Similarly jungle (orrrriginal jungle before the bigger rave events)would not have been played on systems with huge capacity, and so the amen break with it's focus on the snare (surely the greatest snare ever recorded) would be perfect for cheaper systems with a big midrange and not much else. The current state of drum 'n' bass could be seen as a reaction to being played on soundsytems tweaked for trance and big-room techno; big hi-fi sweeps are now possible across the frequency spectrum and so producers are obviously eager to show off their epic filter effects, and the purer fidelity now available means tight engineering is favoured over quality of form and content and excitement.

Jak's spurious guide to types of music and the soundsystems that spawned them:
Punk: small venues, mate of band working the desk, everything as loud as possible
trip-hop:headphones, enclosed-ness and claustrophobia
stadium rock: erm, stadiums...but mainly Mutt Lange's hi-tech studio moniters and equipment, plus shitty techniques like recording every string of a guitar separately.
trance: love parade floats
whatever genre star wars sound effects are in: THX, baby


more dubsteppin'

was interested to find out that the term 'dubstep' derives from dub versions of garage single usually put on b-sides. In some ways this must be why it is currently appealing to the more techno orientated end of the dance music spectrum currently; the syncopation and off-time shuffled snares are new for this listener (although not the garage fan), and purged of vocals, cheese and suchlike for a dub version, the tracks are ready for consumption by the tracky tech-head. hell, they even have 909 handclaps. It treads on more familiar territory than east london grime for the techno fan. Mc's are generally a bit much for the Hawtin crew.
I suppose one weakness of dubstep is that it will always be tasteful, its minimalism cannot really evolve without turning into the bassline battering Ram (records) of snarly d'n'b. Hopefully more of the 'dub' psychedelia in the sound will be exaggerated, such as in SLT mob's 'zombie' with delays, disembodied vocal snatches, horror film brass crescendos and such other textbook dark motifs. Also hatcha's 'highland spring' where a sub-continental flute and vocal dance ritualistically over the hypnotic throb bass. A strangely, even embarassingly spiritual listen for those more used to machine worship. Obviously this would lead dubstep more and more towards just becoming dub, but at its best dubstep does well to both disjointedly funky and mesmirising (haha i wrote that as mesmirinsing! typo creativity! all the best music is mesmirinsing).

Listening Noyeahno 'brixton bells' (on rag & bone records; watch out for them) another touchstone for dubstep surely is nightmares on wax 'aftermath' and suchlike. the warp classics compilation. 'brixton bells' has cold one finger synths, bass that clearly has had some time spent on it to make it as low and intestine-disrupting as possible, those dull metallic sounds that make you think of crane hooks, girders and building site refuse. Also its not just the sounds, it's the arrangement and the patterns used. The percussion is in no way arranged as a drummer would play a drum kit, they are arranged like a minimalist piano piece, each sound equal in it's use rather than specific parts fulfilling traditional roles (hi-hats ticking along, snare providing pull to the bass drum's push). The mood also shares much with that post-electro-pop sheffield industrialism like coco steel and lovebomb 'feel it', this is music for sodium streetlighting, damp mossy concrete, and rusting oil drums.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

currently liking...

A mix John made starting with radioactive man, some electro, through the murky meandering roads of dub-step, and ending in full-on libido melt-down with a clutch booty/ghetto-tech.

At first listen this is not the kind of thing I usually like, I find some of the electro-breaks techno (drexciya and suchlike) too austere and dry, and without the compulsion that 4/4 kick drum lends to other techno. 16 clicky hi-hats per bar, no bounce or jacking feeling, shuffle done away with as too loose or feminine. But at night this can be powerful stuff; radioactive man 'uranium' is gothic but more in the way of the epic anti-hero than the grimness or sleaze or claustrophobia of other dancefloor darkness.

Plasticman 'pump up the jam' TUNE! screaming ghouls in the background acres of bass. markone 'raindance' TUNE! the dub of dub-step in this case must be some kind of misnomer, there's no space here at all, every last inch of sound is taken up by the bass. like driving a tank through rhythm and sound's sonic sepulchre. warlock and and markone rival for syncopated tension, sometimes you wonder whether the beat will finally fall on the first beat, given the dancer a reference point, and I imagine dub-step will become more and more arrhythmic, and maybe lose some of it's potency for it. The rephlex compilation may influence the scene towards a bias in favour of head over hips, but one thing that the croydon dub-step sound has over the east london 'grime' mc section is it's funkiness, and the twitchy half-familiarity that garage lends the 'step versus east london's unrecognisable alien-ness. And who wants some shoddy drill'n'bass rethink of this music anyway. In fact,with the ragga-jungle retrospection in full swing making drill n bass redundant, it wouldn't suprise me at all.

This mix is the first time I've really heard dub-step outside of the booming sloshing acoustics of the End, and it gets a far more favourable reaction here. at the End the subtleties were lost somewhere in the soundsystem, and the hyper-syncopation seemed to do little for the uninitiated dancefloor. Add to that the over-exuberance of the mcs declaring every single half-thought-out CDR test press idea to be worthy of a rewind, and the croydon sound didn't lend itself to it's central london surroundings. The second rephlex grime night was better, with oris jay's straighter breaks sound more popular and danceable but probably less exilerating, but there's plenty of time yet. More anthems to be written and more beats to be explored (without falling off the edge of the world in regard to accesibility, here be dub-step's monsters), and dubstep could run tings yet.

Energy like a dog pounding away at your leg. Booty bass is probably how all dance music would sound if made by anthropologists on a mission to find what makes people dance (probably a blend of excitement disorientation and sexual energy, but maybe one day i'll expand on this). The speed and simplicity and lewdness is just pure excitement,dj assault's one trick of re-using rap and r'n'b samples keeps it relevant and also takes the piss out of so-called sexy music. destiny's child 'say my name' refrain pops up followed by a man and a woman saying 'bitch say my name', 'nigga say my name', another goes 'let me see that pussy work' over and over again until you can't stop saying it and people take out court injunctions against you. In ghetto-tech sex is not romantic, just fucking. Huge basslines too you know, but hopefully Britain won't be too boring for booty to take off hugely. Anyway what would be more fitting than the nations classrooms resounding to endless refrains of 'ass n titties ass n titties ass n ass n titties titties'. It sure beats the rubbishness of current d'n'b for high speed excitement...