it happens for a reason

staying up late is easy.

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.


2 Comments:

Blogger Nick said...

So what's that MaW Kings of House mix like?

1:19 AM  
Blogger simon silverdollar aka Fassy Breed said...

it's really great. i'll write about it properly soon. it's a 2cd mix of old Trax records, with a bit of new beat thrown in for good measure. it leans slightly more towards the harder jack style rather than the really blissy chicago house stuff.

highly recommended.

2:19 AM  

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