Saturday, October 04, 2003

SINGLES **ALL-GIRL SPECIAL!**// LADY FURY ‘MERK DEM’ (MUSKETEAR RECORDINGS) “Don’t think you’re way too real/I’ll eat your flow with pace and skill/And don’t think you’re way too ruff/I’ll snatch your heart and drink your blood/’Cos I’m I thug, and I show no love/I spit acid and I melt your dubs…" So goes the opening verse of Lady Fury’s ‘Merk Dem’ (gotta love the word ‘merk’, another of these newspeak terms like ‘bare’ that are making old cockney obsolete, keeping the American blingisms at bay and baffling the likes of me). The ‘Lady’ bit may be dubious but as for ‘Fury’, she’s got it piping out of her ears. With all this talk of vampirism and mutilation, she probably has little horns-buds concealed beneath her hair-do. When she rhymes, gruff and boyishly: “Merk ‘em quick and merk ‘em slow/watch their souls go straight below” it’s more or less a cert that she’s sold her soul to the darkside Lucifer for a mic demeanour to flay skin at fifty paces. Listen up boys: the girls are taking over, and they’re much scarier than you. Of course, all this could be a put-on: puffed-up bravado necessary in a scene where machismo is the prevailing force and if you don’t have a dick to grab it’s assumed you’re not fit to hold a microphone either. But when Fury issues threats like “I’ll put a plug in your arse… I’ll put your arm in a cast,” don’t think for a second that she won’t follow through with it. An ordinary sublow string’n’bleep bounce at the bottom of it, but Fury’s got sharp teeth and she’s not afraid to use ‘em. /// ELLEN ALLIEN ‘ALLES SEHEN (REMIXES)’ (BPITCH CONTROL) First up are Martini Bros, who stutter the vox, drop a regimental house beat and lay down a bassline as wriggly as Mr Fingers on laughing gas and as undulating as a motorcross course, making the old balls vibrate before a deluxe silky string breakdown makes the second half as smooth and satisfying as slightly-melting ice cream. Safety Scissors strip it down to a live bassline, twangy keyboard noises and toytown bleeps in a kind of Jolly Music style. But seeing as this is the all-girls’ special, we’d better get onto the B-Side where Ms Allien herself goes for cosy, snowstorm static-loops - slightly prickly in a good way – over beats that are as satisfying as thumping a well-stuffed sofa. And in a match that was always meant to be, Miss Kittin delivers a remix of soft brainwave calm and clouded icicle chords, introducing a deep, moody, resonant bassline that seems to want to build to a dancefloor climax but remains beatless, brooding like an Icelandic winter (or something). Fucking brilliant, it is. No longer is Caroline Herve simply ‘the voice of electroclash’, but a producer of refined, emotional clout. Preconceptions, be gone! /// DANI SICILIANO ‘WALK THE LINE’ (!K7) This has thrown me a little. I expected some faded, gracious ballroom number with a cobwebby Herbert-style backing. But no. No. It’s all mean and wobbly, comic and badass. Like Nancy Sinatra’s ‘These Boots…’, Sugarbabes ‘Train Comes…’ (or whatever it’s called) and possibly something by Peaches or Alison Goldfrapp. “You slipped your tongue out one too many times,” she begins over a drunken quarter-speed d&b rhythm, as a naughty sub-bassline shudders the floorboards. Sometime Plaid collaborator Mara Carlyle’s Ukulady mix delivers an 1930s-style weeping jazz vocal over a dusty doo-wop lament, dropping in a bit of ukulele (as the title suggests), totally making it her own. And if proof of Siciliano’s nerve is needed, on the B-side we get her cover of Nirvana’s ‘Come as You Are’, done in a whiskey-doused, after-hours jazz style where the band are struggling to remain consciousness and Dani’s slumped at a table simpering bitterly about “memories”. She swears that she “don’t have a gun” but you know it’s really tucked down the back of her skirt as she pouts at you with smudged lipstick with murder on her mind. /// PATRICIA MARX & 4 HERO ‘SUBMERSO/DONA MUSICA’ (NOVA VIDA) In slight contrast to the above, Marx’s voice is like a cool offshore breeze, lilting and undulating like currents of air; feminine and graceful but with that grain of Latin earthiness. Marc Mac and Dego (alongside keysman Kaidi Tatham) turn in separate mixes. Mac’s has an extended percussive build-up holding a tight, gyrating rhythm, subtle cowbells and congas bringing a sinew-stetching, capoeira feel before Rhodes and tremulous strings creep in. Normally such sophisticated fare will drift by these ears, but this is neither overdone nor overly coffee-table, with the kind of soulful efficiency that 4 Hero are masters of. Dego’s mix of ‘Dona Musica’ is more ‘grown up’; a duet with Wilson Simoninha that greying Straight No Chaser types will dig. The live mix of ‘Submerso’, though is wicked – it’s a total cliché but you can really feel the sunshine. But I don’t want to start turn into jazz bore just yet so I’ll move onto… /// GINA X ‘NO G.D.M. (REMIXES)’ (INTERNATIONAL DEEJAY GIGOLOS)… which is a really old electro-cabaret-no-wave classic from 1981. I know little of Gina X except that she was a dominatrix German type and Weatherall’s a big fan, so this is new to me. It’s come at the right time, trendyness-wise, sounding like a warmed-up Kraftwerk with a Bowie-style melodicism (and I’m not just saying that because Gigolo are now using his image on their promo labels), all fuzzy chords over a steady lapdance grind, going off on little synth and vocoder tangents. The lyrics, about ‘great dark men’, ‘red-haired queers’ and lesbians, are dripping with the dark degeneracy and sly, camp humour that you might expect. That it’s also on the new Nag Nag Nag compilation should come as no surprise. That - having already revived the memory of Lydia Lunch and Tuxedomoon – it’s taken so long for Hell to put this out should, it being one of the most apparent influences on the Gigolo aesthetic (which is much more about the subversive, marginalised dark-zones of pop as is the obvious Sex Pistols-80s synth-pop axis that journalists always mention). The Psychonauts and Headman both provide predictable and disappointing dubby-disco interpretations, whilst the 1992 Cat O’ Nine tails mix is a squall of nasty Goth-metal guitars throwing up images of club scenes from films like Terminator – all pseudo-bondage types in leather caps and Bauhaus clones flapping their frilly sleeves in the air. AMY WINEHOUSE ‘STRONGER THAN ME’ (UNIVERSAL) I’ve been sent about three copies of this for some reason so I suppose I oughta listen to it. Amy’s the British Nelly Furtado, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Good, ‘idiosyncratic’ voice - if increasingly annoying – and a bit of a nothing of a song, although it does include the intriguing line, “feel like a lady and you’re my lady boy”. There’s a pop-dancehall remix, too, which is somehow a bit sinister. Knocked out by Siciliano in the first round… ///
SINGLES// OXIA ‘A SPECIAL E.P.’ (GOODLIFE/PIAS) The Hacker’s lesser-known label partner, Olivier Raymond, makes techno tracks like meteors entering the atmosphere – gathering intensity, burning brilliant white before impact. What sets him apart is his fondness for massive fuck-off synth-lines: swathes of sound like beams of solid light that emerge from the dark heart of his grooves, smother it in glory then take off somewhere into the stars. ‘Return’ lives up to the reputation, resplendent in gilt-edged chords, luxurious and layered over a hard, adrenalised beat – like a midway-point between the slow-evolving melancholic symphonies of DJ Rolando and a highly-concentrated epic house. Actually, this is pretty much trance if you cut the crap… and, well, hooray for that! With an album on the way the current movement (if you could call it that) of high-drama, boredom-destroying,girl-friendly French techno can only get stronger. (Afterthought: What this man could do with a decent pop song…) /// JEHST ‘RUN HARD/HISTORY’ (LOW LIFE RECORDS) And from the galaxies, to the sewers… Jehst’s return in the shape of ‘Run Hard’ wades with a candle through the murk, skin-crawling noises like animals in the dark meeting the spatial edginess of ESG’s ‘UFO’. Surrounded on all sides by swampy bass, it sounds dirty an self-disgusted. Jehst’s flow is a pacy vagabond’s rant; the wisdom of a weather-worn bench-dweller, albeit one in baggy jeans. ‘History’ sinks deep into an opium haze; thick and fragrent, clashing eastern symbols and Indian drones: a dark Aladdin’s den of mahogany artifacts and oriental ephemera where the poet in the corner is mumbling alone and unheard. Who knows what it’s about? It’s maybe enough to assume that it’s something about despondancy and self-doubt and being lost in daydreams without having to take in all the words. Little wonder they call him the High Plains Drifter – he’s lost in his own little world. /// VENETIAN SNARES ‘EINSTEIN-ROSEN BRIDGE’ (PLANET MU) Three minutes and I’ve nearly gone stir-fucking-crazy with all this hectic insanity. Zombie toys with machetes go on a frenzied blade attack in a drum shop. On speed!! If a you’re of a cassical/musical bent, keeping 7/8 time probably isn’t much of a problem, but hearing Venetian Snares for the first time is an utter, utter headfuck. You have to work it out in your mind, finding the recurring points and assembling them together into a coherent pattern. Gradually it begins to make sense; you’ve got the groove. After that it all seems perfectly right and natural. Naturally insane. If the time signature weren’t enough you’ve got cartoon jungle-tekno raggamuffins brawling with a marching band of Duracel bunny-drummers and lunatic 1950s kids’ TV show voices chanting maniacally: “It’s about time/It’s about space/A lot of strange people in the strangest place”. So this is how feels to be demented! On the other side, the comic mind-melt is replaced by no-less schizoid beats that lunge into Miami bass terrain, low-riding subs and snatches of beat-boxing sprinkled with soft wind-chimey melodies like due on a spider’s web. Is it comforting to know that inside some people’s heads these sounds make perfect sense? As long as they’re not left unsupervised with powertools, yes. Will I ever listen to it again? Actually, I might. ///

Friday, October 03, 2003

On the right is a very unoriginal list of things (sometimes) worth looking at and people who's writing I respect, most of whom I've just recently discovered and put here in an attempt to bask in reflected glory/make this thing look 'proper'/look like I actually read The Wire (I just like the pics of old men with beards). In reality I've just nicked 'em off a bunch of other people. I don't know them (well, I know Dave - alright Dave). Have a look anyway and get crunk in the mental. Tuf///
ALBUMS&COMPS// LOTEK HI-FI ‘LOTEK HI-FI’ (BIG DADA) Like rastamen in snakeskin trousers, Lotek Hi-Fi slink and jive, pass skunk fumes by osmosis, make rootical coversation, soothsay and master vibes over barrelling bass that rolls and ripples low and slow. ‘Voodoo Boogaloo’ ducks its shoulders in time to a rum-soaked organ, dark-alley jazz keys flitting eyes left and right, all with a kind of low-key jiggy, an in-jokey joviality. They’ve got all the Big Dada trademarks: the reggaefied lilt, the gruff patois, the rootical/cosmic/street sensibility, scoping a Brixton-Kingston-Venus axis with red eyes and a full sack of superweed. Lotek bring a mellowed, slow-matured vibe: oaky, rootsy, dry and airy/dank and fusty in turns. ‘80s digi-skank keyboards squirt vibes on ‘Different Style’, with its talk of “smokey old blues filled with ganja fog”. For dancefloor thrills check ‘Percolator’ – a broken beat-styled bashment-wriggler of stuttering, highly-sprung beats and ‘Strings of Life’-style staccato stabs, pitched perfectly between Fallacy, Timbaland and Seiji. ‘Inner Storm’, meanwhile, watches sombrely from a window high up in the same towerblock as Massive Attack’s ‘Protection’; a dub pendulum swinging ominously back and forth like a razor-edged watch over the protagonist’s destiny, the image of “the rain falls down on my Rizla” tinged with pathos as a spartan piano makes icey rivulets down the grey glass. “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?/Who wrote this first, the critic or the dread?” asks ‘Under My Bed’, equally struck with deep-seated London ennui, rhyming: “I make beats on my PCs/Couldn’t give a shitbag, turd or faeces”. For an ‘upbeat’ track, ‘Hey Yeh Yeh’ has a sluggishness that suggests they’re being sarcastic – or maybe just a tad too stoned – although the fug is lifted for the closing ‘See It Coming’; all crystal pianos floating upward like balloons into the sad distance, looking back down on the scorched grey below. At nine tracks they call this a ‘mini’ album, which seems to diminish it as on over-long EP. To my ears it’s just about long enough – check it. /// **COMPILATION OF THE NOW** FABRICLIVE. 12: BUGZ IN THE ATTIC (FABRIC) The Ladbroke Grove broken beat mafia are apparently sore for not getting the attention they feel they warrant. In the main part they’re justified. But as yet, as a ‘movement’ they remain insular and forbidding to newcomers. Is broken beat really that inaccessible? Not on this evidence, with rhythmic shapes so loose it seems all the joints are double – yet, at the same time, controlled – everything grooving around a central pivot. The perception of broken beat being wildly freestyle and all over the place is misleading. Like early jungle, if your question is ‘How do I dance to it’, the answer’s ‘don’t’. But if you’re in need of help, this here CD should get you into the groove – the best yet in FabricLive’s series of mixes coming from of West London’s mob-handed, multi-hued collective of wired jazzers, ex-junglists and renegade soulboys. ‘Umod’’s ‘Tromboline’ leads us in with a sombre, jazzy stuck-loop slowly forming itself into a crisp, prickly beat; chopped loops and layered samples filling out the groove with oozing colour. One of bb’s critics biggest bones of contention is that the scene is low on ‘tunes’ – as few as two bona fide anthems by many people’s reckoning: the Bugz’ siren-happy remix of 4 Hero’s ‘Hold It Down’ (not here) and Seiji featuring Lyric L’s acidic, hyper-elastic tongue-twister ‘Loose Lips’. The latter is easily one of the most invigorating British dance cuts in years, sandwiched brilliantly here between the darkside garage of Artwork’s voodoo-touched ‘Red’ and Daluq’s ‘Oriental Express’ – both from the Ammunition promotions camp, both keeping it ruff, scuffed and undiluted. The fusion’s intoxicating; the sound of genres bleeding into one another, borrowing rhythmic tricks and basslines, creating something fresh, dark and deadly. For those of a dubstep persuasion there’s Zed Bias’ sinister ‘Time to Skyank’ as Nu Design – all humid rain-forest atmosphere, polished steel and brutish bass physicality. DKD’s bleep-wrigglin’ ‘Future Rage’, meanwhile, makes like electrified water under a Sun Ra/Funkadelic-style chorus/chant (becoming a recurrent theme with Dego and his 2000 Black label; it’s that afro-futurist malarkey). Afronaught (Orin Walters) is another who doesn't mess about with flimsy nu-jazz, sticking a raft of bass under Alison David’s ‘Dream Come True’ augmented by Afrobeat percussion and horns. The Neptunes even get a look in with their remix of Daft Punk’s ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger’: the title almost a battle-cry for the Bugz as they fulfil of the above and then some. This is ACID jazz that means it: 21st century jungle boogie and the guerillas are marching. /// VARIOUS ARTISTS: CHICKEN LIPS – DJ KICKS (!K7) Artist ‘inspiration’ compilations are getting overly abundant and unimaginatively tiresome when they should be surprising, exotic and revealing – like this. Chicken Lips really do seem to have a fantastically varied record collection with a noticeable amount of time and money spent on it. It’s also completely bonkers mad. With a few exceptions they focus in on an esoteric and concentrated time-span (post-punk, post-disco, pre-house early 80s electronic boogie), opening dusty record boxes and unleashing kaleidoscopic shards of dubby experimentalism, lysergic psychedelia and funked-up sensuality. Take Nina Hagen’s ‘African Reggae’ – a cosmic-roots-disco showdown teleported to the alps, where rastas in lederhosen chant “I want to go to Af-ree-kah” as she yodles like a drunk and horny Heidi. Larry Levan’s mix of Gwen Guthrie’s ‘Seventh Heaven’ is stripped down to just a bassline, a drum machine and the scantest of outer trappings; Colourbox’s ‘Shotgun’ fills a gap between 23 Skidoo’s post-punk dubby wasteland, Arthur Baker’s electro and the house scream-ups of the Hacienda; Carl Craig’s rarely heard mix of the Congos’ ‘Congo Man’ is a liquid-cool song to Jah, whilst Rhythm & Sound’s ‘Music A Fe Rule’ is given only 19 seconds before the camp Kraftwerk/Elvis oddness of Tik n Tok’s ‘Crisis’. If there’s method to this madness, Francois K is the teacher - so too Arthur Russell, Jellybean Benitez and Shep Pettibone. The Lips live in their own parallel world where early ‘80s NY megamixes are continually on the radio and glitterballs are mandatory fixtures in every living room. I want to go there and dance all weird. ///

Thursday, October 02, 2003

ALBUMS// LUKE VIBERT ’YosepH’ (WARP) Weirdy-beardy Cornwall bloke (as Mixmag would call him), Vibert, like his chums Aphex, Squarepusher and Paradinas has his head screwed on right. Because while they’d all probably get their collective freak on to Phillip Glass dropping cutlery, they simply never lost their ‘ardcore, being avid lovers of dance music’s purest, seemingly most inane yet vigorously thrusting genius moments – music ridiculed by those who don’t like to get their shoes dirty, embraced by those wot know the score. The mighty, all-embracing rave. All of which is fairly irrelevant here, because whilst Vibert's crazed hyper-abstractions of jungle are left to his Amen Andrews alias, under his own name and with (strangely) his first album for Warp he’s penned a thirteen-part ode to that little grey box, the Roland 303 Groovebox, bless it: not exactly unfashionable at the moment and a thing of subtle refinement compared to hoover bass and helium vox. Indulge me and imagine this: ‘YosepH’ (WhaT’s WitH ThE CapitaL ‘H’?) is like an archeologist sometime after the next Ice Age drilling into a block of permafrost. Within it he finds encased a perfectly-preserved acid-box, with it its once-owner cryogenically frozen with his fingers stuck to the quaint little machine’s knobs (It must have been one of those ‘flash’ ice ages, you see). Once they’ve thawed him, the guy is unable to do anything but tweak his knobs, making these fucked up, funky, squiggly noises that amaze the future people. Only, the time in the ice has sorta slowed his whole motion down a gear – it’s kinda fatigued and frosty yet sorta tender and loving. You still with me? To illustrate, the single and key track, ‘I Love Acid’, is Mr Frosty-luminous-lysergic bliss; mild brain-freeze soothed by a warm, fuzzy glow that rises up its middle. It’s not an acid house track, but a sub-110 bpm breakbeat shuffle, the resonant 303 line coiling around and smothering its brittle skeleton as plumped, feathered bass pads it out. ‘Acidisco’ is a venomous, lowdown crawl – all slow-rolling bass at the bottom and spirals of mid-Eastern synth-lines and sherbet-sour acid at the top: part sinister, part seductive, utterly groovy. ‘Synthax’, too, which I overlooked as the A-Side to ‘I Love Acid’’s AA, is a tune, something of a throwback to early Warp by way of a nod at the door on his way in; all distorted steel-drum noises and falling-down-stairs bass. ‘Freak Time Baby’ is pitched-down acid clashing with a slo-mo breakdance troupe performing in a fish tank, a hairdryer thrown in (literally) for a few sparky laffs. In all it’s like film footage of clubs slowed right down: light trails weaving slowly and magically, spaced-out strobe pulses highlighting the freeze-frame moments long enough for you to take a good hard look at the dancers rather than fleeting, impersonal hyper-snapshots. It’s bewitching… and probably best taken in small chunks, returning to one track at a time and soaking it up, otherwise it gets just a little samey ( just how many bags of pear drops can you get through in one sitting?) I Love it, nevertheless. /// DAVE CLARKE ‘DEVIL’S ADVOCATE’ (SKINT) Things have changed since you’ve been away, Dave. There was this whole electroclash business, which you really could’ve made a lot of money out of seeing as you were playing all those records ages before any fucker thought them fashionable. But you see, Dave, you just didn’t look the part. I mean, the leather trousers? The Monte Cristos? The Range Rover? The fucking bloodyminded opinions? You just didn’t fit, Dave. Were you are Trotskyite or a Tory, Dave? I forget, although I assume it’s the latter. You were the most yuppy techno DJ, ever, Dave. Techno? It’s still here. It’s fairly boring. But it’s good to have you back, Dave. I mean, it’s been seven years. You think you’re still The Baron? So here we go with ‘Way of Life’: way to kick off. Big drums. And the stabs. And DJ Rush chatting about ‘freaks in da club’. So everyone ripped off ‘Red One’ and you’ve decided to hit us back. It’s every techno cliché going, right there. What year is it again? Now, ‘She’s in Parties’… with Chicks on Speed…? That’s electroclash, Dave! And a vocal about how tragic these trend-chasin’ fash-drone-girls are? Get a different subject matter please girls, we already know how much you despise the people you hang out with. It’s a Bauhaus cover? It sounds like Adult.’s ‘Hand to Phone’. Now ‘Blue on Blue’ – this I like. Reminds me of Massive Attack and Mos Def’s ‘Eye Against Eye’: metal-plated tech-hip-hop. And about the war, too: with all those flying bullet noises it’s like being Keanu Reeves or summink… and the bit where Mr Lif pleads for his life, pure evil. ‘Deo Gratias’ – fuck me, bit Detroit, innit? Bit Kraftwerk. But it’s all amped-up and super-stereo like it was made by the people who do those Dolby noise tests for the cinema. Three minutes and still building… the strings, the Derrick May keys really stabbing… but it doesn’t kick in; something of an anti-climax. ‘Stay Out of the Light’: with a thick ol’ sweeping blacklight bassline like that you’ve been listening to GoodLife, haven’t you? Not Bad. ‘Just Ride’… hot damn. That little wibbly sample’s a real voodoo headfuck. And the booty chant – very nice, and without the whole overdone rude-ass ghettotech schtick. ‘Dirtbox’ – fuck me, punk-funk techno! ‘Disgraceland’ sounds like you’re ripping it out of all the trendies, Dave: “Johnny Rotten’s a nobody”? Get you. ‘The Wolf’ is great – a bit like Pigbag-meet-Jeff Mills in a funny way, Dave. And ‘Addendum’? Like a staggering electro thing Orbital might have done, only slightly more Germanic, more fucked up. “We are the adrenal people. We need action.” Too fucking right we do. It’s been a long time, Dave, you really shouldna left us. Just don’t keep us so long in the waiting next time you big ol’ bastard.///

The 'other bloke' with Karl Tuff Enuff is El-B. Cheers Deuce mag.
Bienvenue, wilkommen, welcome... I'm gonna put loads of reviews up here - albums and singles I buy or get sent. It'll all be fresh stuff due for imminent release or out in the shops now. You'll find my preferences tend to be in the electronic, but not exclusively... there is a place for guitars in tufluv's heart, too. The reasons for doing this vary. Partly because I was having a bit of a dry patch work-wise and have a load of good pomos lying around. Partly out of a disaffection with the music press and a pipe-dream that got stuck in the U-bend of late to start a fanzine... which may still happen, who knows. And also partly because I recently had brought to my attention this whole blog thing and as a die-hard johnny-come-lately decided to get in on the act. You probably won't find the kind of searingly on-point elucidations and generally clever mumblings you'll get elsewhere and I'll get things horribly wrong, but I will try and say what I think about records and maybe some other shit. From me to you, tufluv///

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

SINGLES// BASEMENT JAXX FEATURING DIZZEE RASCAL ‘LUCKY STAR’ (DILLINJA REMIX) (XL) What did hi-fi ever do to Dillinja? The man must have some enormous sulphur-belching reservoir of acidic loathing for stereo sound, speaker boxes, studios and anything remotely involved with the amplification of noise because anytime he goes near them he seems intent on obliterating noise itself: amping it up to that event horizon where sound ceases to be sound and turns itself inside out, imploding in a deafening white silence where it just goes * and screams like a newborn baby Big-Bang into the dimension on the other side of the sonic boom. This isn’t music, it’s a murder. The way the suspense builds up, the eventual ‘kill’ premeditated and preceded by a process of increasingly cranked-up aggressive rhythmic manoeuvres and tension-tweaked frequencies: a steady-stepping dancehall rhythm, a bare-teethed razor-riff, and as the attack becomes more frenzied, a flash of blades and blood as the bass just rips at the fabric of the sonic-time-space continuum. Innocent passers-by are either anihilated or become accomplices (dancing in an equally frenetic, re-misted mania). Dillinja rips sound a new arsehole every time. One day they will use his bass to collapse industrial cooling towers and send rockets into space. The remote hook-up with Dizzee (bypassing the Jaxx middle-men completely: it’s survival of the fittest and they’re merely plankton in this clash of Leviathons) was conceived by infernal genius… or a major label A&R hungry for urban/underground kudos. It’s devastating on pure, hyper idea-collision alone and will certainly rip up the club (the right ones anyway, the others will avoid it like the devil-deterrent it is). But is it a good tune? It might be, I haven’t got round to ‘listening’ to it yet, merely sheltering beneath the typhoon. I imagine it’s not a tune at all but an assault and battery. I might ‘review’ it later when my head’s appropriately protected by a plutonium-proof helmet. /// EL TUFF ‘4-EVER E.P.’ (2TUF-4U RECORDS) Listening to Tuff Jam after Akufen and all that stuff is a bit weird. It’s like listening to Germans making techno inspired by Detroit inspired by Germans; the inspiration ricocheting back on the original source who are thus re-inspired. Supposedly. Whether or not Karl ‘Tuff Enuff’ Brown and Matt ‘Jam’ Lamont know of Akufen, who knows? In any case, Marc Leclair merely took Todd Edwards’ model and swapped the sample sources: microscopic fragments of time-snatched radio for tiny bits of old disco and house records. Tuff Jam (actually just Tuff and some other bloke) aren’t doing anything new here – it’s exactly what they were doing seven years ago, yet it’s wicked stuff and somehow all the more timely. Compared to the inevitably blanched inter-continental clicks ‘n’ cuts lot the groove is just so much chunkier, the beats more satisfying, the bass more glutinous, wrapping round your waist like a liquid constrictor, the twitch-popping snares and claps wanting to make all your joints snap out in a freaky Meccano-man boogie, the samples laced in and out like soul-thread through the shrapnel of percussion. Listening to something so consciously ‘old school’ the idea of click-house as ‘new school’ seems ridiculous. This is so much more alive and so weird yet sexy you just can’t get your head around how they did it. /// MEDASYN FEATURING FROST P, ZUZ ROCK, LADY SOVEREIGN & SHYSTIE ‘THE BATTLE’ (CASUAL RECORDS) / SHYSTIE ‘STEP BAC’ (WHITE LABEL) Gabriel O’s got a nerve. With his second track for Ross Allen and Cargo’s Casual after the pseudo-grime splatter of Medasyn’s ‘We Spray’, he’s again sneaked his way into both style mag regard and heavy pirate radio rotation. That he’s an imposter, an apparent charlatan trading off underground ideas should be paid some heed – but not much – and then, finally, applauded. When he’s not being Medasyn he’s the core member of Spektrum, (who recently put out the creepy-crawling, low-end-tickling microhouse slink of ‘Speakerboxx’ on Germany’s cultish Playhouse label) and composes avant electronic/classical scores in his spare time. Like a Hoxtonite Fagin he’s rounded up this gaggle of urchin MCs: real, about-to-break-talent rather than amateur canon fodder lurking on his nearest estate. Not least the girls, Shystie and Lady Sovereign: the later a barely five-foot white girl with a gum-chomping patois-laced flow that pays zero notice to the whys and wherefores of cultural constraint (i.e. that white people shoudn’t ‘do’ Caribbean accents, which as a general rule they shouldn’t) and comes out the victor. ‘The Battle’ is billed as a head-on clash of the sexes – in true block party style fought on lyrical skill and posturing alone – and at nearly eight minutes it’s a rare epic for garage, which generally goes in for a rapid-delivery, build’n’drop dynamic. Here, though, the plucked chamber ensemble strings sound genuinely filmic as all parties introduce themselves curtly like ghetto automatons – or a gutter Liberty/Richard X - except that here they have talent and its not merely a matter of manipulating pop drones for subversive cred points. The bass is insidious, not in your face, it just hovers around there in the lower reaches like a low mist; the strings crawl like the backing track to some stealth sci-fi war-game and the verses are spat back and forth with coiled-cobra, spring-loaded agility, even hushed and taunting at times: a battle of wits, not verbal brawn. Shystie’s high syllable count and fluidity scores the winning points for the girls. As for her own ‘Step Bac’, it’s simply badass – the stomping Sie T rhythm a subverted 4x4 juiced up with bashment verve as the lady herself kills it with minimum effort. Watch these girls. /// T.RAUMSCHMIERE ‘RABAUKENDISKO (THE BUG REMIX)’ (NOVAMUTE) That ‘Rabaukendisko’ translates as ‘Hooligan Disco’ should come as little surprise… the ‘hooligan’ part more so than the ‘disco’. Taking a thick, brutish electronic punk riff (all badly-wired fuzz-static giving off shocks and sparking like a hacked-off Van Der Graf generator) in one hand and then mashing it together with flat, quasi-rock 808 beats in the other would be enough, but Raumschmiere then decides an overload of skreeeeing, skronking, abrasive, ear-splitting, metallic, razor-teethed, wiry, intertwining noise-eels are what’s lacking. The subsequent electro-scrawl is something for masochistic goth dancers or suckers for atonal electro-wank punishment alone and at the moment my annoyance threshold is rather low as far as atonal electro-wank punishment goes. The B-side is much more interesting – two mixes by The Bug (vocal and version) – The Bug being the ideal candidate to fuck this bitch up, especially after the nasty pleasure that was his job on Mike Skinner’s Grafiti 12”. Kevin Martin, it seems, doesn’t remix records, he cudgels them repeatedly with a noise-stick, pokes them with a ragga-cattleprod, runs them through with a white-hot bashment bayonet (a kindred spirit of Dillinja’s perhaps?). And if the mega-gnarled, acid-flayed, flame-throwered riddims weren’t enough, he had to unleash Ras Bogle on it, a pitbull inna de dance, tearing at the track’s carotid artery with teeth of ire and a Babylon-torching larynx of hellfire. Oh, and sirens! Gotta love ‘em. /// JIMMY EDGAR ‘ACCESS RHYTHM E.P.’ (WARP) Warp are keen to point out that their latest catch is young (19), prodigious (has DJed alongside the Detroit techno aristocracy) AND good-looking (6’1”… and tons of fun, presumably). Whether there are enough geeky girls (although girls into Warp are probably considered ‘arty’) and closet-case backpack types to make this work remains to be seen. If Edgar’s debut E.P. is anything to go on, his sound is pared-down binary hip-hop of sorts: all diamond-tipped synco-beats, low-down digi-bass and re-ordered Herbie Hancock keys like shattered crystal over ice. The wicked ‘No Static’ employs a familiar-sounding, grubby-mouthed rap hook (“Motherfuckin’ no concentration/It’s like rock the nation/You don’t know what you facin’/It’s like all you ho’-ass niggas is chasin’”) for understated effect while ‘Morris Nightingale Theme’ trips off on glassy, higgledy-piggledy jazz keys placed over precision-edited beats. The feeling of stylised restraint belies a punch that sound systems should enjoy. There’s promise there, but Edgar’s a tad too conservative to be rocking the firmament just yet. Let’s wait and see if he can bust out a few different moves. /// SEAN SMITH ‘THE OBSCENE E.P.’ (CLASSIC) … fuck it, I was just about to write how ‘Latin Love’ was a very-fucking-ordinary-indeed salsa house cut with no-brainer Buena Vista samples when the A2 (‘Insania’) comes on, which is pure acid-sex right up my murky alley of ‘88-eternal iniquity, with a subtle burble of analogue bass right deep in there, cock-hardening girl shrieks, head-whirring little inserts of fluoro-coloured synth‘n’sample here and there plus beats that jack you hard up against the wall with an insistent regularity. True, I was nine years old in 1988, but I have this strange fascination/affinity for acid house, possibly because the memories I have of it (police warehouse party busts on the 6 o’clock news, tapes made by much-older cousins, having weird images of an ‘Acid House’ where brainwashed teenagers are dunked by evil drug dealers in a vat of sulphuric acid) are twisted and scary, second-hand and ultimately vicarious – of a nightclub in my head that’s a mixture of real, live memories and complete fantasy. Which, when you think about it, is the same as people in 1983 being obsessed with 1968. OK, so this is nothing that special. But a bit of acid-dipped insania is the perfect tonic for a touch of deep house ennui, reminding me that while house is a dull idea on paper, it can be as intoxicating and otherworldly as a mad sex dream in realisation. It’s music that requires imagination. /// BEN MONO ‘PLASTIK PASSION (JOHN TEJADA REMIX)’ (COMPOST) I’m a sucker for John Tejada, who’s one of the very few producers that makes ‘tech-house’ that is anywhere near the trippy, sexy, tuff, liquid fusion that a mating of house and techno should be (rather than another word for dickless, soulless, chugging cokehead DJ fodder). Here his beats feel pneumatic and rubberised, or perhaps that’s the spongy, foam-rubber bass that gives them a spring. Plus there are a few weird atmospheric samples that you’d not notice on the dancefloor but sound like snatches of a second or less from an office environment or photocopy room, temporarily letting the thing breath with gasps of strange distilled reality. Perhaps I should say more about the Landslide mix which is also here. It’s fat as hell; round and gorgeous like seeing a rather overweight girl with a beautiful face and getting properly turned on. Or is that just me? Anyway, he’s still on that 2-step tip, which garage producers seem to have gone off recently, but all beefed up by masses of that lovely bottom-end. Perhaps I shouldn’t review this with headphones and the bass turned up? ///

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