Friday, November 07, 2003

Big up the return of the Stealthfox, with some quality musings on the Asian/bhangra/desi thing - that shit really needs your attention, especially those Tigerstyle boys. Check Bobby & Nihal for some diverse flavours and see where Jay-Z et al nick all their ideas from.///

Thursday, November 06, 2003

I did promise there'd be some guitar-based reviews up here. Well, fuck that. What I will say is that Life Without Buildings' one and only LP, 'Any Other City', is a wonderful thing that I recently aquired and can't stop listening to. They were based in Scotland but made up of mostly English art students, including vocalist Sue Tompkins whose fragmented Ari Up-style vocals have a juicy, real-life sexiness I can't quite fathom and some quality I always like in girl-led post-punk-style groups. They were two/three years before their time - they'd be trendy now but to me they sound unpretentious and honest. I like finding albums like this, that make me feel good, that I'll listen to intently for a few days then completely forget, that I haven't bought cozza hype or the NME, that I'm a little bit late in coming to. 'The Leanover' is a wicked track (I first heard it on the Rough Trade Post Punk comp) that sounds like Tracy Chapman's 'Fast Car', only really good, like something you imagined some hip-hop group had sampled years ago but was actually made a couple of years ago. Oh, well - I guess this is my pathetic indie weakness - it doesn't happen often but when it does I just have to gush. It's fireworks night and they're still fizz-bangin' above my skylight and the air is cold and fresh in England. ///

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

A worrying development/sign o' the times from danceblogga...

'Some members of the East Coast dance industry elite have put their heads together and come up with the Dance Music Hall of Fame, which will induct three performers, three records, one producer, one remixer and one DJ in spring 2004. Artists are not eligible until 25 years after they have released their first record.

A nominating committee of the "board of advisors" (John “Jellybean” Benitez, Joey Carvello, Mel Cheren, Dimitri of Paris, Michael Ellis, Frankie Knuckles, Jurgen Korduletsch, Brad LeBeau, John Luongo, Guy Moot, Vince Pellegrino, Cory Robbins, Pete Tong, Cary Vance, Louie Vega, Pete Waterman and Judy Weinstein) will make nominations that will then be put to the vote of 1,000 "dance music experts." '

Laugh or cry? 25 frickin years...?

Just finished Reynolds' ace 'Energy Flash' (1998), which says...

"... we've a long, long way to go before this music is dead and burried, mummified as a museum culture like rock 'n' roll. The Rave Hall of Fame is a couple of decades away from being built."

Ok, it's more a disco than a 'rave' hall of fame, but still...
12”// QUALIFIDE & JASON H ‘ALL I NEED’ (QUALIFIDE) Was compelled to buy some of this new strain of ‘4x4’ garage recently, and what’s quite obvious (and probably why I liked it) is that it’s not new, but the ‘old’ sound of 1997, pre-2-step garage. It’s house music, basically – hence Timmee Magic’s ‘Urban House’ tag, which really smacks of retro/conservative thirty somethingness. Only records like this are much more interesting than most current house music. If you take the liquid, ball-grabber bassline and jarring snare and clap-happy rhythm as a given, then, what’s really nice is the tapestry of samples, from the opening strains of Willie Hutch’s ‘Brothers Gonna Work It Out’, with it “nobody’s pushing me out of my business” blaxploitation monologue (what can you read into that one?), liberal bits of Brandy’s ‘What About’ and Roy Ayers ‘Everybody Loves The Sunshine’ spattered here and there as it jigs along with a nervous-twitching frivolity. So far so brand-new/retro, but the killer is tucked away on the B2 with Jason H’s ‘Know One’ – a hard-hitting amalgam of Domu-style broken beat science and El-B/Horsepower-style 2-step – a pounding, techno-inflected rhythm, mournful, wafting Miles Davis trumpet, spooky “no one” soul chorus and windswept, tumbleweed FX creating an eery, edgy atmosphere. ///
EZ ‘THE NEXT CHAPTER’ EP (Z RECORDINGS) Another former UKG scene-leader retreating from grime to the sound of days of yore, then, but don’t discount ee-zed as a has-been. But rather than a bunch of Todd Edwards/MaW/Tuff Jam re-treads, EZ looks instead to hardcore/jungle circa ‘92-’94. The killa kut, ‘Hard 4 4 For You’ is part manifesto (saying “I’ll give you what you want… it’s this”), part nostalgia, part future-rave madness. Employing the thin, airy, Detroity chords that characterised so much of the more ‘serious’ pro-jungle hardcore, a chopped-up, hybridised vocal almost sounds like it’s saying “hardcore… for you”, before the gnarly sub-bass and hi-density drums tear it up. ‘Rockin’’ takes up a 2-step rhythm and works in a heavy, punctuated hip-hop sample, diamond-tipped hardcore terror-stabs and deadly subs, adding yet more old school riffage to the mix. On the other side are two more US house-oriented affairs, including the deep and languid ‘You Just Don’t Understand’. ///
12”// WILEY ‘GROUND ZERO’ (WHITE LABEL) Wiley’s new ones are becoming ever-more abstract that you wonder just how much he can strain his relationship with the dancefloor with dubs like this before it snaps violently, but while he keeps it at maximum tension the results are thrilling. The obvious thing would be to say that this (like much of 'Boy In Da Corner') isn't music for dancing, and we're only imposing constraints by asuming Wiley must adhere to the rules of motion and the 'floor and not spread his wings into 'listening' music and fuller expression - but then we're going down a dodgy path concerning notions of 'proper' music and artistry, so lets just looks at what it does. There’s more going on here than Wiley’s hyper-minimal percussive experiments of sparse mechanic whirrs and camera clicks, and its not quite the ‘sino-grime’ of eerie mandarin melodies and future-oriental exoticism. You may have guessed this is Wiley’s most ‘introspective’ riddim to date, but to call this a riddim doesn’t feel quite right. Not to diminish the term and its importance in the culture or assume this is a ‘composition’ or work of art in anyway superior to groove-based rhythm tracks, but this is more a distilled ‘feeling’ than something simply functional or dancefloor-geared. It’s not a nice feeling, either.

A creep-crawling, cello-like keyboard figure saws away, evoking the tip-toey moves of a super-stealth assassin approaching a victim in the pitch black, the ‘rhythm’ made up of a cymbal shuffle, a death-stomp of dulled kickdrums and flat, angry-yet-lazy snare hits – it sounds like the time-keeping rhythm for hard labour; tired yet relentless. The bassline, when it arrives, is like a metallic didgeridoo multiplied to the sound of rumbling vibrations through an industrial duct that fusses and frets on the spot, working up a rage. Inwardly directed, it doesn’t rail, it seethes. The dark, evil heat of the track, the back-and-forth inertia-buzz of the bassline is like a nagging thought needling away at the brain, of ‘why-why-why’s being worked over to the point of distraction – the sound of (self?) loathing or acute misanthropy.

Every now and then the synth-spectres that writhe and wriggle around it have a blood-freezing shiver-spasm, distorting with metallic, pitch-wriggling pangs of panic, like the sudden glint of steel as a knife is pulled. It sounds like music produced in a void – non-corporeal, non-‘body’ music – the distillation of pure malevolence; a mid-point between impermeable concrete ambivalence and sheer fury. Comparisons with tech-step/darkcore or any of the bleakest mutations of electronic dance music are only half appropriate. Ultimately, it seems to come from nowhere but its own environs and Wiley’s own head. The thought of the truly diabolical, beatless ‘devil mix’ (Wiley, possessed by superstition, now won’t use the term after it brought him and his friends a spate of bad luck) being played at a rave is scary, to say the least – it’s one huge bad vibe, perspiring frustration, liquefying depression. But its essentially toothless – there isn’t a final, violent climax or a punk-style lashing out – it’s contained within itself and only grows more potently impotent.

Wiley’s comments suggest ‘Ground Zero’ is something between personal venting/catharsis and a reaction to September 11 2001. The things that he picks up on from that day – dust-covered shock-ghosts staggering in abject confusion and incomprehension, the sheer power of human ill-will brought to bear in a physical and real way: a very real (yet unreal) taste of apocalypse. But its his more personal comments, however cloudy, that have more clout; the 9.11 spiel seems tagged on as an afterthought, or at least the one has only piled more grief on top of the other. In the end, it’s not a cold, vicious track but one of immense sensitivity to pain, plugging directly into that source deep, deep down to make this very pure electronic expression of something very human – even though you may not recognise it at first. ///

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?