it happens for a reason

staying up late is easy.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

LISTENING SINCE THE PREVIOUS POST
PIER BUCCI- FAMILIA
DJ BOSSMAN RINSE FM SET (INC. NEW RAPID PRODUCTION, (CALLED 'LONELY PEOPLE'?))
GALOPPIERENDE ZUVERSICHT- LIVE RECORDING FROM KONTROL, 2004

first things first: the new Rapid production played on bossman's show last night. honestly, without any of the usual hyperbole, this is a new high for ruff sqwad. it's got that drifty dreaminess of 2004-era ruff sqwad, but without the tinniness and cheapness of those early tunes: this one is lush like a symphony. it starts off with all these overlapping vocal wails and sighs froma lady, jigsaw pieces shifting into place but never quite getting there. Bits and bobs of strings underlay all the vocal carry on and you have that nagging feeling of...i know this, i know this. the strings are so familiar but recast and reconfigured so that, really, i don't know this. then, finally, after a good while of playing around with all the interlocking drama, Rapid lets the secret out, as a distorted, digitally fractured voice groans, 'all the lonely people, where do they all come from...?', and Rapid drills into the track with an evil one-note bass line. and then you realise that the cut up vocals previously was actually someone singing the same line. and then, quickly, we're back to the busy melodies of the verse.

there's so much going on in this tune, and it's put together so neatly and elegantly. the one element which isn't neat and elegant, luckily, is the beats: 'luckily' because of one Rapid's best tricks has always been to make his beats fizz and crackle with distortion, and throw in liberal keith moon-style drum rolls wherever he can; both things help to make his productions sound more organic, even more human.

it's probably the first time since, oh i don't know, may be sharkey major's set for mac 10 last year, that i've got the feeling from listening to the grime pirates that i used to get routinely in 2002-2004. like woebot, i was beginning to worry that those particular synapses were burnt out, although i'll always love the music, and i'll always be interested to hear new developments in it. but hearing this Rapid production brought it right back to me: that thing of actually staring at the radio in shock and awe at the brilliance that's almost casually, nonchalently, broadcast from it.

------------------------------

there was a lot of nice words written about Galoppierende Zuversicht in various places last year after they played Mutek, and there was a sense that they were beginning to be properly hyped, but that seems to have died down a little bit now. perhaps because they don't really release many records. and they don't release many records cuz they think that you've got to see them live: you can download live sets of theirs from

http://www.bruchstuecke.com

G.Z (i can't be bothered typing out the whole name, sorry) are especially intringuing because, like Pan Sonic (and aphex, if you believe him), they make their own instruments- weird synths with loads of buttons and switches that look like unimaginable sounds are going to be expelled from them, in unimaginable ways. but listening to G.Z previously i've been a little disappointed by how conventional they can sound. i guess a lot of their stuff sounds to me like minimal, pared back electro, but with good blurting, rolling basslines. one thing they do that's nice, though, is that they let their home made, feral, drum machines break out of boom-chk-boom-chk 4/4 bosh and clatter away happy in a hundred different ways.

so, i'm on the tube after a longish day, listening to this live set from G.Z, getting steadily more frustrated with it. G.Z like to mutate their tracks constantly, but right then it just sounded like that was detracting from any momentum or dynamics- there's a kind of wandering, gently probing, feel to their shifts and changes that cuts off any possibility crescendos or any old fashioned break downs. it all sounded worryingly musicianly- was this techno musicians...jamming? ack. please no.

but then i'm nearing the top of the escalators out of the tube, and just as the early evening sunlight begins to blind me a sample of 'disco infern---' starts repeating, half-maddeningly, and it all makes sense, ridiculously suddenly. the set kicks into life, and from then on in the journey home is a joy, to the point that my smile probably had passers by thinking that i was One To Avoid. the rest of the set is pinging, bleeping, gurgling, mess of fun and now the constant mutations sound playful, rather than po-faced: The sounds they use, and they way they use them, are kind of naive- not in a nostalgic Plone-ish way- but in the way that early rave was: the excitement of musicians being like 'check-out-this-sound! and-this-one! and-this!' is everywhere.

i can't wait to listen to it again tonight: i feel like i used to when i was 15 and had bought an album that i really loved and often used to set the alarm early so that i could listen to itagain even sooner. i think i might be very happy at the moment, actually. happy summer every body (let's just say it's summer, ok? cut to the chase. Spring is long, in both senses).

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

LISTENING SINCE PREVIOUS POST:

LOGAN SAMA KISS FM SET FROM LAST NIGHT.
KODE 9- 'DUBSTEP ALLSTARS VOL. 3'

so it seems that i'm getting into dubstep. or, i'm trying to. the words written about dubstep are just too enticing to resist- gutterbreakz, automatic for the people, grievous angel, k-punk, and the dissensus dubstep crew make it all sound too tempting. and then blackdown comes with the Burial interview, and that's it, i've finally cracked and am on boomkat with my credit card out before i really know what i'm doing.
so, the end result is that i'm now the proud owner of kode 9's mix on Tempa (it was difficult choosing between this and the Benga CD after nick gutta's stunning rhapsody to the latter, but in the end the prospect of all those new skream dubs on the kode 9 cut clinched it...).

i've never really 'got' dubstep before. the closest i came was last summer, driving around in melting heat, with a youngsta rinse tape banging out as loud as i could manage. getting swamped by the bass in that little metal box kind of made the music make sense. but i could never really get that feeling of excitement back- the initial shock and joy of the dense, shuddering bass was a one time only thing.

or so i thought, until now, until the kode 9 mix. but it's actually the bass which grabs me least about this mix. i find all those sub frequencies difficult to grasp on to- i want them to be there, obviously, but i want much more. i've never been much a bass junkie- bass is more a backdrop to me, i guess. not the main event. i think this is why i find much dubstep alienating.

i don't know if kode 9's mix marks a big step forward in terms of the dubstep scene's sound, or if this kind of stuff has always been around and i just having been paying proper attention, but there is certainly much more than bass going on here. as on 'request line', many tracks foreground melodic drama that all sounds so spacious and lush. and the beats aren't the draggy halfstep lurches that i remember from previous attempts to check dubstep out, but flick between lovely dextrous pitter-patters and hyped up stabs that i could really see crowds dancing to, rather than just nodding heads. the deathly dark paranoid edge of much dubstep also seems to be toned down here- there's even a sensousness, a straight pleasure-centric easy liquidity to some of these tracks. people on dissensus have been chatting about the 'spirituality' of the contemporary dubstep sound, and now- finally- i can see where they're coming from.

sorry i was so late!

the one thing that i'm not too sure about here, though, is the MC:- Spaceape. much of dubstep is a subliminal, quasi-ambient sound, as are Spaceape's half-whispers. so it fits well i guess. but i'd like to hear the MC give an up front structure and rhythmic foundation to these tracks. just about all my favourite moments in grime are those bits where a really spacey, almost beatless track is playing, and then an MC comes on and makes his (or her) words the heart beat of the song, with the track weaving around them as atmospherics, as incidental music to the drama. it's those contrasts- between gentle, almost effete, music and MCing that never holds anything back- that can make grime the most exciting music on the planet. i think that's why i loved ruff sqwad so much when their productions were really swirley and light, but the MCing (then as now) were anything but.
so: Trim or Wiley for the next dubstep allstars mix, please!

Monday, April 24, 2006

LISTENING SINCE THE PREVIOUS POST:

LAMBCHOP- 'NIXON'
LAMBCHOP- 'HOW I QUIT SMOKING'
KODE 9- 'DUBSTEP ALLSTARS VOL. 3'
JOHN MAUS- 'SONGS'.
ERIC SATIE- 'TROIS GYMNOPEDIE'
THE FREE DESIGN.
APHRODITE'S CHILD- 'FOUR HORSEMEN'.
FLAMING LIPS- 'AT WAR WITH THE MYSTICS'.
JOSH WINK- 'HIGHER STATE OF CONSCIOUSNESS'.
RICHIE HAWTIN- SOME REMIX OF A SYSTEM 7 TRACK.
V/A- 'SUPERDISCOUNT 2'.
TALKING HEADS- 'STOP MAKING SENSE'.
SMOG- 'DONGS OF SEVOTION'.
SMOG- 'KNOCK KNOCK'.
LOVE- 'FOREVER CHANGES'
STEVE EARLE- VARIOUS TRACKS
JOHNNY CASH- 'LIVE AT SAN QUENTIN'
JOHNNY CASH- 'LIVE AT FOLSON PRISON'.
SEPULTURA- 'ROOTS'.
DJ ATA AND LUCIANO- LIVE RECORDING FROM LOFT, 2004.
GALOPPIERENDE ZUVERSICHT- LIVE RECORDING FROM KONTROL, 2004.
KID606- 'RESILIENCE'.
TWO HOME MADE R n B COMPS.
TWO HOME MADE ELECTROHOUSE COMPS.
BELLE AND SEBASTIAN- 'IF YOU'RE FEELING SINISTER'.
ROLL DEEP- 'IN AT THE DEEP END'.
DJ TARGET ETC. - 'AIM HIGH 2'
SCORCHER, GHETTO, SLICKS ETC. 'FUCK RADIO VOL.2'
UNKNOWN DANCEHALL PIRATE STATION (GENESIS FM, MAY BE?)
DANNY WEED- 'SALT BEEF'.
DJ SLIPMATT- 'RAVIN MAD'
TECHNIK- 'SWEDEN MIX'
LUCIANO- 'SCI FI HI FI VOL.2'
RICHIE HAWTIN- 'DE9-LITE MIXMAG MIX'
VARIOUS ROLL DEEP AND RUFF SQUAD RINSE FM SETS
SKEPTA, WILEY, TRIM ETC- 'DUPPY VOCAL'.
MASTERS AT WORK- 'KINGS OF HOUSE'.
UNDERGROUND RESISTANCE- 'TRANSITION'.
DAVE CLARKE- 'WORLD SERVICE 2'
LUOMO- 'VOCALCITY'.
MOUNTAIN GOATS LIVE RECORDING.
STEELEYE SPAN
FAIRPORT CONVENTION
JENNY LEWIS AND THE WATSON TWINS- 'RABBIT FUR COAT'
CAT POWER- 'THE GREATEST'.
EWAN PEARSON- 'SCI FI HI FI VOL. 1'
VILLALOBOS- 'FOR DISCO ONLY'
VILLALOBOS- 'ACH SO'.
DJ RUPERT- 'UNDERGROUND HOUSE MIX'
ED SEGAL- 'COLOGNE TECHNO MIX'
MARIAH CAREY- 'WE BELONG TOGETHER'.
CANDICE- 'MOVE UP TO MY BUMPER'.
THE SKATALITES.
CLOUDEAD- S/T.

that's all i can remember.

so, i'm back from holiday- holidays this year were in the wilds of the north. first the lake district, then the isle of mull, off the west coast of scotland. the latter is just about the only place that looks great in pissing grey sheets of rain. the water some how makes the colours of the landscape ultra vivid, and there's this stately riot of deep reds and sunset yellows all over the hills.

it's very difficult and boring (for all concerned) telling people how a holiday was, so i won't bother. too much and too little happens on holidays to make recounting them worthwhile.

but i did learn two things, while winding my way back to london on a train through the scottish highlands. the first is that listening to grime really doesn't work in such an environment. the second is that listening to country music REALLY worked. its magical. the landscape matches the open, romatically sad sounds. i think country music is actually really big in scotland, actually. and now, i may be know why.
----------------------------------
this evening, inspired by geeta's words on Satie and food, i decided to listen to 'trois gymnopedie' while having dinner, which just so happened to be all white food- bread, cheese, humous. satie would have approved. and, yeah, it was lovely. because i'm young, naive, and uncouth, it made me feel quite sophisticated, which i'm not used to (i'm used to pissing off my housemates by listening to grime or rave in the kiitchen).

i've liked satie for a while. i remember first hearing his music on radio 3, when they were broadcasting this insane piece of his, which is just 18 notes on piano, repeated continously in the same order for an absurd amount of time, like 9 hours or something. radio 3 broadcast the whole thing, after the witching hour and into dawn. there were interviews with the various pianists after each had finished his or her shift. all reported odd, trancelike states and disorientation. what was particularly unsettling about the whole thing is that the notes are in such an order, and in such a rhythm, that even after hearing them for over 3 hours, i still couldn't predict what was going to happen next- it's like the piece was constructed to evade memory. so you know that all this is the same, over and over, and you know it so well, but actually you're still lost- you can't hum it, couldn't sing it. yr always outside the music, and it's always leading you, even though it shouldn't be, not after 3 hours.

other bits of satie i've heard having been so affecting, nor as frustrating. but what i like most about satie is the banality of it. 'banal' doesn't have to be a derogatory term. there's this bit on david byrne's great film, 'true stories', where he points to a suburban housing estate and says to the camera, 'look at it. who can say it isn't beautiful? bricks, sky, ...'.
and it is beautiful. in the same way that motorway bridges are beautiful. and runways. and the striplights of petrol stations at night. and sinks. and urinals.

i like looking at all these things, because of their banal, formal blankness. there's a complete, whole, emptiness to them, and a corresponding lack of engagement from those who look at them, that's such that they often have a ghostly, ethereal beauty:- they're not of this world, they seem devoid of any humanity, and that means that they can be little pieces of the sublime surrounding us. like david byrne said, 'heaven is a place where nothing ever happens'.

perhaps staring out to sea on a grey day is the same thing. may be in all these things, there's just a longing for peace. and may be when we say peace, we mean- on some level- a kind of boredom. i don't know.

anyway, this is all just to say that that feeling of beautiful, inhumanly simple blankness is one of the reasons that i like to listen to satie. and why eating white food on a white plate might actually be very appropriate when listening to his music.


-----------------
i'll leave you today with an mp3 of a song that we spent much of the holiday singing along to drunkenly. it's from vangelis' old prog band. it's totally ridiculous. and as far as post-pub fun goes, it's perfect.

and the chorus. oh my word, the chorus. all together now:
'THE LEADING HORSE IS WHITE,
THE SECOND HORSE IS RED
THE THIRD ONE IS THE BLACK
THE LAST ONE IS A GREEEEEEEN'.

so rousing.

aprodite's child- 'the four horsemen'.

Monday, April 10, 2006

LISTENING SINCE THE PREVIOUS POST:

ROLL DEEP RINSE FM SET FROM LAST NIGHT
NEWHAM GENERALS RINSE FM SET FROM LAST NIGHT
LORNE 'KSR' BURDEN- '430 WEST PRESENTS BACK TO THE RHYTHM' MIX.

just a quick one cuz i'm off on my holidays in half an hour (i predict that we'll play sizzla's 'spring break' a LOT on these holidays).
roll deep last night: not as dubsteppy as last week's set, so that blows my theory of a massive shift over the the south london sound out of the water some what, but still loads of half-steppy riddims. the music's getting slower. some great new tracks by Target too:- he seems to have rediscovered his dark side. one of his in particular sounded like a big brother to wiley's 'colder'; deadly string stabs over reptilian beats. quite chilling. there was also a bonkers new roll deep track, with trim reciting his own version of that nursery rhyme about the cat and the fiddle. the beat is this evil mix of dark belgium-esque groaning, whooshing synths, and an occasional fairground-ish flurry that sounds like an old ardkore record that been left to decompose for 10 years. Huge tune. another one to look out for is wiley and riko's 'knives and guns', a conscious grime cut produced by geeneus. geeneus is one of my favourite grime producers (check out the head-fucking classic 'Detroit') but he's not all that prolific, sadly. on this track he comes like target on 'pick yr self up' or 'runway', with these lovely wistful melodies. i haven't heard riko for a while, so it's great to hear him on record again.
another conscious grime track to check out is ruff sqwad's 'breathe', which is about young people getting murdered, and it sounds really desperate and impassioned. it makes for uncomfortable listening, but it's well worth trying to hear: speaking their minds with no filters, ruff sqwad do what grime does best here.

anyway, roll deep last night. wiley was on form, to the say the least. loads of new lyrics, remixes of old lyrics, and this amazing urgency from him through out the set. discarda was funny as always. i'm not sure if he's intentionally funny though. but his ray winstone-ish blare always raises a smile; 'it loose, LOOSE, cannon, CANNON!!' etc. i love that. Trim was ultra-oblique, so that was great: lots of twisted, circling word play and he seems to be going back to his original rasp now. god's gift made a rare appearance, but his trad. lyrics about straps and macs sounded old-fashioned next to the fireworks from wiley, trim, and skepta.

so, a really good set: this one had the feel of those legendary roll deep sets from winter 2004-2005, where there was this overwhelming sense of purpose and authority to them: i get the feeling that roll deep are re-grouping for yet another big push forwards, just as they did over a year ago. with wiley's and skepta's albums soon to be released, i guess all the effort and intensity of last night's set makes sense.
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ok, so i'm off on holiday now, and i'll be back in 2 weeks: no post till then, sadly (or not, depending on yr view). have a good easter, everyone.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

LISTENING SINCE THE PREVIOUS POST.

THE EVENS- LIVE AT REGENT HALL, LONDON.
MASTERS AT WORK- 'KINGS OF HOUSE'.
RHYTHM AND SOUND- 'WITH THE ARTISTS'.
TINCHY STRYDER- 'I'M BACK YOU KNOW'.
ROLL DEEP- 'IN AT THE DEEP END'.
THREE OF A KIND- 'BABYCAKES'.
EINMUSIK- 'JITTERY HERITAGE'.
THEO PARRISH- 'FALLIN UP (CARL CRAIG REMIX)'.
PAUL SIMON- 'GRACELAND'.
RICH BOY + PITBULL- 'GET POPPIN'.
v/a- 'SUPERDISCOUNT VOL. 2'
DJ HECTOR AND OTHER MINIMAL TECHNO DJS- LIVE AT T-BAR, LONDON.
SON HOUSE -'THE COMPLETE DELTA BLUES'.
TIMBALAND- 'INDIAN FLUTE'.
LUCIEN N LUCIANO- 'BLIND BEHAVIOUR'.

apologies for the lack of recent updates: it's been a hectic weekend, for sure. friday night was given over to seeing The Evens at Regent Hall. the evens is the new band formed by ian mackaye of fugazi/minor threat and amy (don't know her last name, sorry) from the great Discord band, the Warmers. ian and amy are, i think, husband and wife. which is always lovely in a band (cf. mates of state). it being a Dischord gig, things were off kilter in many, many ways. most importantly, it was held in the huge salvation army church on Oxford street. there's no bar. there is, however, a cake stall selling rice krispie cakes for 50p. there's no support act. or rather, the support act is ian mackaye playing us his Three Stooges new orleans big-band CD- 'it's a great record', he says. it is. there's the tiniest PA i've ever seen at a gig, and ian and amy drink out of thermos flasks through out the night. it's a little like sitting in on a band practice, with ian taking generous amounts of time out to chat with the audience. and when he does chat, and tell jokes, and relate anecdotes, he's the nicest uncle you ever wished you had. of course, there's quite a bit of political oration going on too: the political subtext of almost every song is relayed beforehand. that can get a little wearing. we know george bush is a bad man: we wouldn't be at the gig if we didn't.

but, anyway, the music. now, the evens have been described by quite a few people as folk-pop. i don't hear this at all, going by how they sound live. to me, it's very similar, almost eerily so, to early fugazi- the fugazi when the minor threat lineage still bobbed up in cascades of fast and righteous power chords. even amy's wonderfully soulful backing vocals take up a similar role to Guy's in Fugazi: the high-pitched vulnerable counterpoint to that famous bark from ian mackaye.

i'd forgotten how much i love that sound, the sound of ian mackaye's voice. fugazi were a very important band to me, in my mid to late teens, for any number of reasons. firstly there was the political stuff, of course. and the DIY ethic. and the inspiring idea that people in music could actually just be really nice, normal people, not cuntish rockstars. but equally if not more important was the way fugazi opened me up to a whole range of new sounds. as a teen into mainly punk, metal and latter-day industrial, i had that traditional pathological hatred of 'indie' sounds (with the exception of Talking Heads, but that's another story). but fugazi broke through that- fugazi was acceptable to punks. how could anything featuring ian mackaye not be acceptable to punks? but after taking the time and effort to like fugazi, the anti-indie position was unsustainable. so sonic youth, and mogwai, and pavement, and slint, and papa-m, and bonnie prince billy, and all the usual ones were quickly added to my record collection (actually, i hate calling it that, a record 'collection'...). and then i started buying magazines like The Wire to read about these bands, and that meant reading about dance music from Simon Reynolds, and getting into jungle and techno, which led to getting into grime. and all this started, really, with fugazi.

but that is, perhaps, just boring personal history. the point, if there is one, is that fugazi was hugely important to me growing up, and me and my friends used to listen to them a great deal. i remember GCSE study leave was largely spent hanging round friends' houses, listening to 'red medicine' (and learning how to smoke). and because we listened to them so much, and so intensely (the kind of intensity which only comes with really trying to make yourself love something), and because they were our very first introduction to all these new weird sounds of the post-punk scenes, they moulded what i came to expect from music: what i thought, and think, music should sound like. this was something i'd forgotten, or taken for granted, until i saw The Evens on friday. from the first 10 seconds or so of music, it just sounded completely natural to me: when i hear ian mackaye play guitar, or sing, that's like the baseline for me: that's the given: what other bands, for various reasons, depart from.

so that was odd. because objectively, this is odd music. one thing that is very distinctive about both the evens and fugazi is that the constantly shifting dynamics. they never go quiet-loud-louder. rather, volume and intensity and emotions ripple up and down in every bar of music. everything sounds unsettled. which, somehow, means that everything sounds very sure, solid and real. i guess they play music like life is lived. up and down, all the time. (i don't mean up and down as in happy and sad here, although that's part of it, i guess).

And yeah, i love ian mackaye's voice. i like the way it's so stern and disciplined, but around the edges there's a kind of slurred sloppiness to it as well. i could listen to it all day, although it would slowly drive me crazy at the same time. so, the evens was a great gig, 'though any gig with ian mackaye singing and playing guitar would be a great gig for me. but The Evens went above and beyond, because they had singalongs, and almost an villalobian (sorry) hypnotic pitter-patter to the drums, and yearning cut-glass vocals from amy. seeing this band would be a good idea, you know.

-------------------------
talking of villalobos (when i am not?), i'm starting to think that luciano's not getting the props he should compared to Ricky V. we went to a (little bit rubbish) minimal techno night yesterday, and so consequently i'm recovering today- and 'blind behaviour' by luciano turns out to be perfect for that. it's infinitely gentle 4/4 for those days when yr heart's still beating at 128bpm from the night before but you want to be coddled back into the normal, non-bosh, world once again.

i remember talking to dave stelfox ages ago and he was saying that he rated luciano above just about anyone else, cuz of what he could do with percussion. and i never really appreciated that until today. jesus christ, there is some insanely good music on 'blind behaviour'. here's a florid simile: the beats are like chandeliers or something- there's such a delicate depth to them, and an elegant complexity. todd edwards aside, this is perhaps the most tingly, glittery, pleasurecentric music out there. perhaps luciano's poppy accessibility is one reason why it's generally villalobos who gets all the mentions whenever there's reference to techno's crazily inventive vanguard. but luciano is pushing things forward just as much as villalobos. and he's making you smile while he's doing it.

another thing i love about luciano is the way you never really get a complete melody from him- instead you get these little glimmers of a tune, fragments and clusters of just a few notes that are left hanging. that's a lovely, understated way of going about things.


Thursday, April 06, 2006

LISTENING SINCE THE PREVIOUS POST:
WOEBOT- 'BHANGRA 2005 SELECTION'.
LOADS OF R N B, MOSTLY YUMMY BINGHAM AND VARIOUS TIMBALAND PRODUCTIONS.
LIGHTNING, GRIMINAL, DARK BOI, DDARK, VORTEX ETC- 'UP AND COMING VOL. 1'
SLICKS- 'NO BASS RIDDIM'.


i think the yummy bingham thing might be getting towards the obsessive stage. but she's got my favourite voice in the world at the moment. and the jagged, kind of minimal, nursery-rhyme style melodies that she specialises in is a MASSIVE look (like 50 cent but not, y'know, a dickhead).

i'm still reeling, psychologically, from seeing 'tropical malady' last night. crikey.... what a, uh, humid, film. it's very sticky, and close, uncomfortably so at times. there's lots of shots of fizzing neon lights and skies even fizzier with masses of insects, and both are very appropriate. and after seeing it you can almost pretend that its summer over here and not the slow crawl out of winter. with that in mind, i want music that makes me think its summer right now, and that's where this Bhangra compilation that matt woebot did for me a few months ago comes in. we cooked to this tonight, and it was great, as the sunlight streamed in, weirdly smoky and fuzzy (actually i think its just the dust round here...). the more i listen to this bhangra selection, the closer the parallels to ruff sqwad seem. which is good, cuz i love writing about ruff sqwad. but there are genuine affinities in the sounds, i think: the collapsing, weaving, beats that work almost more as texture than rhythm in many places; the love of stirring, strident, brass and strings; the use of rapidly repeated 'heys!' and shouts as the building block of many of the beats; the spidery and florid guitars that are way removed from any rock tradition.

my two favourite tracks from this compilation are posted below as mp3s. the first of them, by dr zeus, is my favourite piece of production on the whole CD; love, love, LOVE the 'fill in the gaps' construction of it. all little feints and parries. YES. and that guitar is so delightful! a shy smile of a melody, the whole way through. i think the vocalist on this track is pretty amazing too. i find it hard appreciating just how good these guys are sometimes, as they're singing in a way and in a language i'm not used to, so sometimes its easy to get distracted and disoriented by the novelty of it all. but yeah, the vocalist on the dr zeus track is huge. the way he keeps tight to the beat and then occasionally just breaks out to one side, almost dragging the beat along with him, bringing the song to (even more) life is a big wow. it reminds me of wiley on 'gangsterz' on those moments where he spills out of the one line flow, and crams the words in.

the second track, by northern lights, is my favourite song on the compilation overall. it's also, predictably, the raviest and most maximalist (is that a word? no?). i've had this song in my head in the hours since i heard it today and its not even maddening yet. its got perhaps the most elegant beat on the CD, and there's something fantastic, and fantastically hard to grasp, going on in the bass of the rhythm- these waves of whumps, gulps, and wobbles. and densely strummed acoustic guitars generally sound great in dance music: basement jaxx know this. i dunno how you dance to this stuff, but it must be great fun. the best bit is the end, in which the synth takes over the melody till the fade. i wish that bit went for, oh i don't know, 10 minutes or so. but that might be cuz i've been listening to too much villalobos recently...

-------------------------------

dr zeus- 'das ki sohniyeh'.

northern lights- aasiq dig dig

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i'm starting to think that slick's 'no bass riddim' might be the best ruff sqwad production ever. what way for slick's to start a career on the buttons! 'no bass' has pretty much everything i love about ruff sqwad: it sounds blissy and hopeless at the same time. the lack of bass is clever, cuz ruff sqwad are at the best when they sound light and dreamy. and they haven't sounded like that consistently for a good year and a half; 'anna' and 'underground' marked a shift to a harder, darker sound that they're only just coming out of now. and with its delicate, hauntological melodies, and smeary bits of vocal samples, 'no bass' feels like (if not sounds like) ruff sqwad's most ardkore, most acen-ish moment yet. which is a good thing, obviously.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

LISTENING SINCE THE PREVIOUS POST.

BEANIE SEGAL-THE B.COMING
ANDREA PARKER- 'NOBODY'S PERFECT' MIX
JAMES HOLDEN- 'BALANCE 005 MIX'

hey here's how pathetic i am. when my girlfriend goes out at night, leaving me at home, as she did last night, i often feel this weird urge to do something to assert my uh 'masculinity' in some way. its stupid. last night i was tempted to get drunk and watch the football, but i couldn't be bothered. so i decided to get drunk while listening to ghettotech really loudly instead. andrea parker's brand of ghettotech, showcased on the 'nobody's perfect' compilation of singles she has released on her label, touchin' bass, is odd, and engagingly so. there's no sex in this music, not even dirty, unsensual sex. instead, its a dead-eyed faceless BOOOOOM and that's pretty much it, bar fantastically rickety 808 snaps and the odd, half-hearted mutterings about 'freaky bitches' and the like. unlike the haunted bass meditations of dubstep, the 'touchin bass' bass is a sleek, gun-metal grey mechanical hum, like the wiley-bass pitched down into the fathoms. there's not much soul here, not much at all: the emphasis is firmly on the 'tech'. but my word, its strangely addictive, listening to this steady robot grind.

for some reason this music reminds me of hospitals. albeit very dark, echoey hospitals. more surgical than Surgeon.

and, yeah, its good to get drunk to.

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perhaps because of the stupid drunkeness, however, i was kept up most of the night with excruciating stomach cramps. fire in my belly, and not in a good way. as a result, i was feeling delicate today, and whenever i feel truly delicate, some fluffy prog-house from James Holden is about all i can stomach. yeah prog-house is a dirty word, but some times only shamelessly epic warm-bath synth washes and mammoth break downs will do. everything in its right place. when things are obvious, they are also comforting. james holden does this kind of stuff well, because in most places he's just close enough to the cologne neo-trance style for you to forget that, well, yr really listening to prog-house, and to pretend that yr listening to some trendy hipster music instead. but stupid hipsterish concerns aside, 'Balance 005' is a genuinely great record. so yeah, seamless mixing and sequencing, yada yada yada, but that stuff's not so important. what's good about this record is that is sounds like, to quote nathan fake, the sky is pink (big up nathan fake for the best, most perfectly accurate track title ever!). and, to take this a bit further, pretty much all the tracks here sound like coming up, under a pink sky, on stereotypically amazing drugs. which helped, today, to calm my fragile body and my bruised synapses.


























Tuesday, April 04, 2006

LISTENING SINCE THE PREVIOUS POST:

LUOMO- VOCALCITY.
YUMMY BINGHAM- 'COME AND GET IT'.
SOME RUBBISH LOUNGE-JAZZ RADIOHEAD COVER (WHAT IS IT WITH RADIOHEAD COVERS THEY'RE EVERYWHERE AT THE MOMENT!)
GHETTO, SLICKS, SCORCHER, MERKSON- FUCK RADIO VOL. 2
ROLL DEEP RINSE SET FROM LAST SUNDAY
FEB. 2006 RUFF SQWAD SET COURTESY OF JEZMI @ DISSENSUS.

apologies for the tha lack of posting yesterday. 2 days in and it's already gone to pot ha ha. the reason for my absence was that i was seeing 'who's afraid of virgina wolff', which turns out to be a long and gruelling play. so it was straight to bed for me afterwards, instead of writing here. (you should see this play btw. kathleen turner is excellent in it and the actor who plays her husband in it is like an older david byrne).



anyway, enough excuses. who heard roll deep last sunday? oh my diddy it was a weird one. there seems to be a massive conversion to dubstep going on in their ranks if this set is anything to go by: there was a full 20-25 minute section consisting solely of dubstep selections from dj maximum. and, what's more, proper dubstep, rather than 'grimm' : heavy on the reggae samples,- i think i even heard the ghost of horace andy wailing away in there some where (i know he's not dead, but still)- and with a liquid ease of movement about it, quite removed from the lurch of, i dunno, youngsta's sets or something. and even when they moved away from the dubstep, almost all the grime tracks they played were really heavy, bassy cuts: more akin to what dj tubby plays on the newham generals shows than the typical eski sound.

if this is more than a one-off, then it could have pretty huge implications for grime: where roll deep go, other's follow. and roll deep, on this evidence, seem to be becoming interested in leaving the very physical mid-range melodic brutalism behind, and moving in to more heady, gloopy bass meditations (wiley has already been MCing on kode 9's rinse show of course). i imagine jammer and lewi white would be well up for going down this route as well. so, perhaps things are going to get a little less dirty south and a bit more south london from now on in grime. i guess it could be a natural progression. these guys aren't getting any younger, and there is perhaps a natural age limit at which you no longer want to go on radio and shout yrself hoarse over dystopian computer game madness sounds.

and the roll deep MCs sound good over this kind of stuff. Trim's at his skewed, alien best when he has a lolloping bass heavy track underneath him- Request Line is a perfect compliment to his MCing. Flow-dan's got dub deejaying in the dna of his MCing, and slots in perfectly to dubstep tunes- the added edge that comes from also having a grime background helps to lift and energise the tracks as well. and wiley can often sound a little uncomfortable on the really full-on grime cuts; he lacks the quick silver dexterity of some one like ghetto or manga to keep up with the twists and turns. whereas on the tightly controlled and non-exuberant dubstep tracks his rigid, stern flow sounds very natural, and gives structure to the spacier tracks. and he comes from a reggae sound system back ground: i guess he was always going to make his way back to the sub bass frequencies eventually.

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walking through london at sunset while listening to Luomo is pretty great: that time of evening when there's a very soft, dreamy light goes well with the half-submerged vocal whispers of 'vocalcity'. things going down, down, down, into the night...

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god i love Yummy Bingham. partly because of her name, obviously. if and when i get another cat, this name is the number one contender for it. but i also love her voice; there's this kind of teenage freedom and rawness to it that i haven't heard in much R n B. 'come and get it' is my favourite song of her's that i've heard. if this was made 40 years ago, it'd be a soul classic. as it is, she our generation's aretha franklin, and i'm glad we've got our own aretha franklin. i love the horns on 'come and get it', because i love walls of sound. and i love her singing on the tune, because she sings in the joyous high register that sounds likes she just singing in the shower for herself.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

LISTENING TODAY:
VILLALOBOS- 'ACH SO'.
PAAVOHARJU- 'YHA HAMARAA'.
EWAN PEARSON- 'SCI FI HI-FI VOL. 1'
GENUWINE- 'PONY'.
THE STREETS- 'WHEN YOU WEREN'T FAMOUS' AND THAT RADIOHEAD COVER WITH THE SAXOPHONES THAT'S PLAYING EVERYWHERE NOW (BOTH HEARD IN TOPSHOP WHILE SHOPPING WITH MY GIRLFRIEND).
CALIFORNIA RAMBLERS- '1920'S FLAPPER PARTY'.
TONY VIBE FREEZE FM TAPE FROM LAST WEEK.


Morning all. i'm back you know. this blog will last for 365 days. the aim is to post every day about the music that i have heard that day. even if i don't manage to post every day, each post will record all the music that i have heard since the last post. each post will begin as this one does, with a list of the music that i heard that day. so, without further ado...

before today i used to listen to villalobos' new EP/album/whatever you want to call it 'ach so' in the depths of night. seemed appropriate. late night = time for convoluted techno. or so i thought. however, the best way to listen to 'ach so', i found today, is outside, in early morning sunshine. immediately, the music sounds...happy. simple, uncomplicated happiness. may be ricky V isn't some kind of alien at all. may be he's just a normal guy you wants some pretty sounds to listen to while he pops down the road for his sunday papers. the first track in particular, with those loping oriental strings, and the skittering skimming-stone beats, is the sound of an early sun-lit morning. the sound of things that are bracing but gentle. and the third track, with old modem sounds twisted into the shape of bird song is a techno dawn chorus.

rising out of the usual murky villalobos sound, which is generally like a mad scientist's laboratory sinking into mud, this is a gorgeous release, aiming for the clouds above: everything sounds much lighter, fleeter, more brittle than usual. i guess it's really like 'easy lee' extended out into into 40 minutes*, although there's nothing quite as poppy as 'easy lee' on 'ach so'...i can't imagine these tracks turning up on too many mixes. but taken together, each of the four tracks taking up a whole side of vinyl to itself, a structure of moods is gradually built up, and villalobos finally achieves what he seems to always have been aiming at: a self-contained, totally immersive world of sound. my favourite track is the final one, where he revisits the kind of aching beauty of 'dexter' and has fun with making this aphex-ish foggy melody flit around the track, rising and falling in pitch, dropping out and then drifting back in. listening to villalobos is sometimes, or rather often, a bit of a hard slog, but it's worth it just for moments like these, where all that time you've spent trying to get into where his head is currently at pays off, and, yeah, it is a lovely view.

today was a blustery day. apparently the 'perfect storm' is hitting the east coast of the UK as i write (the meteorological feature, that is, not that rubbish film with Marky Mark in...). i highly recommend listening to 'ach so' on head phones outside on such a day, when the music mixes with the linen-y sound of the wind hitting yr face: its very dramatic, and it sounds totally right, what with villalobos' music sounding all wind-eroded anyway.
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today i went in to Harold Moore's Records, which i originally found out about on a heads-up from Woebot. it's just down from Liberty in london: i think the street is called Marlborough Street, but i might have made that up. anyway, if you want to be tempted to spend a huge amount of money, you must visit this shop, and go down in to the basement, where Harold presides over the vintage records, wearing a cravat and a velvet jacket. he's awesome, and a lovely guy. it's maddeningly difficult not to come away with loads of records on a trip to Harold Moore's; today we were tempted by all sorts, from 13th century chants, to a boxset of recorder music, to a vera Lynn double pack...on and on it went. we settled on an album in the sale, by the California Ramblers: it's a compilation of 1920's dance music, the kind that played a 'flapper parties', apparently. obviously i know nothing about this kind of music, and so am not really qualified to comment on it, but to these ears it's quite delightful stuff. i like the way the guitars sound thick and scratchy at the same time, and i like the decorum of the melodies.
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oh, that new Streets songs is gash isn't it. he really, really, shouldn't try to write tunes.


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* do you know the story of 'easy lee' by the way? it's a lovely one. apparently it was composed after one of those infamous 'Perlon Parties' in Berlin, the ones that last an absurd amount of time, like 3 days or something. at the end of it, villalobos and luciano (i think) took refuge in a relative's old country house on the edge of town, and it was the height of summer, everything insanely green and lush. as their minds and bodies were gradually cleaned out in the summer garden, villalobos started singing into a vocoder and recorded the results on his laptop ( i imagine these techno guys take their laptops everywhere...). and that's the vocal on 'easy lee'. next time you listen to it, imagine villolobos and his pals, tired and happy, waiting for their strength to return in this shimmery, buzzing verdent garden. it'll make things make sense.

to make things more poignant, the house was being sold at the time, and so villalobos realised that it was the last time he's ever see this garden. joy, drugs, and a tinge of melancholia = rave classic. obviously.