it happens for a reason

staying up late is easy.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


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

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).


Blogger kidrietz said...

don't worry, there were more than a few of us in sf with that same goofy smile during the GZ set!!

12:48 AM  
Blogger alex bkbk said...

new ruff sqwad is absoltely next level. seems like theyve got back into doing those epic melodies again, but as you say with propper drums and lovely bass. i also love all their covers, everybody's got to learn sometimes & died in yr arms tonight...
guns and roses 2 will have a vocal of the later. O SNAP

1:50 PM  

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