it happens for a reason

staying up late is easy.

Friday, June 30, 2006

LISTENING SINCE THE PREVIOUS POST:

ROLL DEEP RINSE SET FROM LAST SUNDAY
NOZE- 'HOW TO DANCE'
V/A- 'SUPERLONGEVITY 4'

wow, i can't stop listening to that roll deep set. the entourage is on fire at the moment. a few months ago they were flirting with dubstep as a (very heavy) counterweight to the liveliness of the eski sound. but now they seem settled in a unique half way house, bobbing around between the kinetics of grime and wobbly lurch of dubstep. karnage and maxi-priest going back to back, playing god knows what by god knows who. they've actually being playing bits and bobs of this dark and dense grime-dubstep hybid stuff for a while- it's not all that new- but sunday night's set really brought it home for me that a new sound has emerged. a sound big on the squealchily aquatic- one track even feautured layers of gurgling 303s. it's all a far cry from the brittle snap of the grime sound of only 2 years ago. things move on, bit by bit, and without noticing it yr in another place entirely...
biggest track of the set for me is that re-fix they do of daniel bedingfield's 'gotta get through this'. i only realised they nicked the bassline of him the other day, despite it being caned on the pirates for many months. it shouldn't work but it does, mightily, with the bassline pitched down and fuzzed up, and with its skip reduced to a stagger. huge track.

skepta's MCing was also a big revelation in a set that pretty much banished much of my pessimism about grime. As i said the other day, he really is up there with sharkey major and d double now. he's always had the lyrics, but now he's got this nervy urgency as well. flicking between his best known lines, quoting himself and others, skepta's so quick and dextrous that i might even prefer listening to him than D double at the moment. flow-dan was also on the set, and was typically great. it's a horrible turn of phrase, perhaps, but he really is a true professional. he knows what he's doing and it's never a let down.

unlike slew dem, who turned up towards the end of roll deep's set (well, chronik and tempa did anyway), and showed what a huge gulf separates them from the likes of roll deep, ruff sqwad, newham generals and may be south agents too. neither tempa nor chronik can MC, they ruin every set they're on, and they're on radio perhaps more than any other crew. not good for grime. i don't understand why they don't get a really rough time of it in the press and on messageboards, but there we go.
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on a different note, i went to the best indian restaurant last night. it's called kastoori and it's in tooting. you really should go there. it's really cheap, and does really great, and very unusual (for a UK indian) food. i went to the waterside inn the other day and i'd say that the food at kastoori was actually better than at that 3 micheline starred place.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

LISTENING SINCE THE PREVIOUS POST:

DIGITAL MYSTIKZ- 'MISTY WINTER/CONFERENCE'
VARIOUS ANALORDS
VARIOUS PRODUCTION ALBUM
LILY ALLEN- 'SMILE'.
HOLY SHIT- 'STRANDED AT TWO HARBORS'
THE STROKES LIVE ON 'LATER'
CAT POWER LIVE ON 'LATER'
MANDY- 'BODY LANGUAGE MIX'
'CORDIAL DANCEHALL' MIXTAPE
DEPECHE MODE COMPILATION
V/A- 'EUPHORIA; OLD SCHOOL CLASSICS' COMPILATION
PAAVOHARJU- 'YHA HAMARAA'
HOT CHIP - 'THE WARNING'
SEAN PAUL, HEARD ON TUBE FROM GIRL'S MP3 MOBILE PHONE.
REINHARD VOIGT- 'TRAX'
DIN S.T- 'CLUB GOODS'
WELSH MALE VOICE CHOIR LIVE @ 'ABBEVILLE FETE'
SAMI KOIVIKKO- '100 MINUTES' MIX
ROLL DEEP SUNDAY RINSE FM SET
NEWHAM GENERALS SUNDAY RINSE FM SET
BURIAL- S/T
RAW FLEX 103.6 FM

tell you what i love, at the moment. i love those mobile phones that broadcast mp3s. i like it when people play those on the tube and on buses. it fills me with hope and gladness that people care about music so much to want to show the music that they love to the wider world. that they choose that way to express who the are. with the advent of walkmans making the 'ghetto-blaster' quickly obsolete in the 1980s, we retreated into our own musical worlds. music was a private affair, which we were careful not to let others intrude on, nor let intrude upon others.

late capitalism. the all-consuming fear of 'harassment'. personal space. private space. zizek. (and, may be, 'etc')

but now, with these mp3 mobile phones, we are out in the open again, together. music as part of the public space, the life of the polis. if music isn't about self-expression, if it's not about relating to others, then we've lost something big. music has to be communal, otherwise we're cut adrift, forgetting the original meaning and purpose of music as focal point for public life. the development of recorded mediums for music as been a curse, as well as blessing, i think. we can now hear more music than ever before, but more and more we choose to listen to it alone. thankfully, now, there are small strikes against our little boxes of enclosed privacy. these mobile phones are just one example. the welcome innovations in car-stereo speaker systems are another.

what's more, i love the crapness of the sound quality of these mobile phones. so tinny, so distorted! to see people who are so into music that they are still willing to listen to their favourite songs even when swamped in trebly crackle always brightens up the morning tube journey to work, a time that otherwise can suck the hope and life out of you. death to hi-fi fetishist boredom!
these people, glared at as an intolerable nuisance by many, have, i think, got it so right. whereas those glaring faces, invariably bordered on each side by ipod wires forming a white halo of 'cool', haven't.

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it was a busy weekend so i decided to take friday night off. to my horror, one thing led to another and i ended up watching Later With Jools Holland. i've always been kind of fascinated with this programme, in that it has such depth and breadth to its awfulness: the fact that jools holland has no talent for presenting tv programmes whatsover, and actually seems to be getting worse and worse. the 'jam' sessions. the almost painfully cringesome interviews. the way the audience have to sit around tables drinking beer as if they're in some trendy dive and not a shed the size of an air craft hanger. the token fashionable and young musicians that are dragged on, to get the official seal of approval from the establishment, their reputations thereby ruined, as a million parents tell their offspring, 'oh, yes, i do like that lot you were just playing. jools [it's alway first name terms, isn't it?] played them the other week'. the sheer, horrible fucking muso-ness of the whole thing. and, of course, the boogie pissing woogie piano.

so, i was feeling humbled and ashamed, watching this dross on a friday night. then the strokes came on and i got ready to feel my shackles get raised. i've always felt this weird kind of rage towards the Strokes. fucking hipsters. the consciously elitist tyranny of Cool.
You know.
so i was all looking forward to screaming some of my favourite swear words at the TV, but then they came on and...i just couldn't. and i even felt sorry for them. they looked so sad and kind of embaressed (an embaressment which went beyond the usual, and to be expected, shame that everyone has after being subject to an introduction by 'Jools').

they're getting on for thirty now, and yet they still have to dress up in their little leather jackets and their hi-top converse, and pretend that it's still the 70s and that they're really quite tough kids from New York that are don't belong anywhere but the Mudd Club. being stuck to a silly dress-up game you did when you were young and that seemed cool back then...it must be fucking soul-destroying. poor bastards.

and then my mood brightened, as i realised that since i felt sorry for the Strokes, i must feel superior to the Strokes, and that was exactly what i wanted. lovely. and, you know, the song that they played wasn't at all bad. a bit motorik-y, nicely minimal. thrum and hum. and he's really got quite a nice voice, hasn't he? i like a kind of a droning quality to voices. like john peel's. so, i was proved wrong, against all my pride and prejudice. a lesson learnt.
-------------------------------
skepta on sunday night's roll deep set---- so big. he's up there with D Double and sharkey major right now, definitely.
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lily allen- heard her for the first time on sunday. her music is very boring and sadly no self-conciously Lahn-dahn accent is going to make it not-boring. oh well, another expectation raised by the music press dashed. still not as disappointing as the Long Blondes, though.

Friday, June 23, 2006

LISTENING SINCE THE PREVIOUS POST:
SOUNDMURDERER- 'WIRED FOR SOUND' MIX
DIGITALISM- 'ZDARLIGHT'
MILKY GLOBE- 'ODE TO A BEAT BOX'
SHUT UP AND DANCE ON ORIGIN 95.2FM
DJ GEORGIE B ON RAW FLEX 103.6 FM
LAURENT GARNIER AND JEFF MILLS- 'I LOVE TECHNO LIVE MIX'
DIGITAL MYSTIKZ- 'MISTY WINTER/CONFERENCE'
BURIAL- S/T
FILASTINE- 'BURN IT'
HOLY SHIT- 'STRANDED AT TWO HARBOURS'
NOBODY AND THE MYSTIC CHORDS OF MELODY- 'BROADEN A NEW SOUND'
SMOG- 'DONGS OF SEVOTION'
MASTERS AT WORK- 'KINGS OF HOUSE'
RICHIE HAWTIN- 'DE9 TRANSITIONS'
JEFF MILLS- 'THE BELLS'
LITTLE RED TOE/FOOT FOOT SPLIT 7" ON NOT NOT FUN RECORDS
JME- TROPICAL MUSIC TRACKS.

hey, check out all that indie up there^. that's where breezing through rough trade on yr lunch break gets you. some lovely stuff there, though. nobdy and the mystic chords are like neil young trying to be animal collective, and nowhere near as grotesque as that sounds. Holy Shit is ariel pink's 60s-ish beat-pop side project, like the beatles if they were any good (joke! - don't hurt me woebot!).
not not fun are, my ultra-cool friend miranda assures me, the greatest record label in the world. i've never heard their stuff till yesterday. with them, it's the kind of deal where you have to send off a letter to america to get their music, and really i'm just too lazy. but rough trade are somehow lucky and blessed enough to pick up a few of their spectacular, beauteous hand decorated split 7"s.
very large.
and you know the one i bought really is pretty great. a bit twee for me on one side, but the flip, with Foot Foot stumbling around in the darkness and coming across like a less brain-frying Vanishing Voice, puts a smile on that face of mine.
but it's the tapes they put out that are really enticing. check this stuff out. you seem to get little magikal, occult looking objects with many of their releases. lots of wicker seems to be involved. ruff. i've decided that i need some of these in my life, as tim westwood would say. i don't even care so much what they sound like, i just need them. but i'm sure they'll sound nice...i'll keep you posted.

------------------------------
i had a haircut yesterday, and the floppiness is gone, so i can now interview grime people without feeling so embaressed at my patent indie heritage. will they see right through my tactic? course they will.
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i write a Phd thesis. that's mainly what i do, aside from writing the odd bits about music. writing a thesis is odd, especially one on the shifting and unstable sands of philosophy. there's always a worry that all this work and argument is built on a foundation of nothing, and will come crashing down any moment. it's exhausting. and part of the thesis did collapse this week, leaving me to sift through the rubble and ashes in the vain hope that something, somewhere could be built up into something usable again. dark rings appeared around my eyes.
also my girlfriend was away this week, so it's all been a bit anchorless for me.
but this blog is about music, so the whole point of this little pseudo diary entry is not to moan about my life, but to somehow link it back to that list up there^.
that's where the tired sounds of Burial come in. when i feel sad i don't want comfort, so much, i want hardness, purging all of the badness out with no mercy. and Burial, for all the twilight dreaminess, isn't particularly wistful. there's a tough, nervy energy in the beats, and the rips and howls of the synths. it doesn't gaze at its shoes. it gets on the night bus, london flickering by. gotta keep moving...
staring down soot-caked tube tunnels, the thesis churning over in my mind, under flickering strip lights, listening to Burial, trying to match how i feel with its resolve...

but more than that, i've wanted to run round the Common till i feel sick, listening to jeff mills play techno at uncomfortably loud volumes. may be that's aiming for a sort of oblivion (but a healthy oblivion!). i've listened to soundmurderer's jungle mix over and over, in the hope this storm of information will somehow clean my head out.

and i guess it's all worked. after all, here i am, feeling so light-hearted and listening to indie.
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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

LISTENING SINCE THE PREVIOUS POST:
BURIAL- S/T
SHAM 69- 'HURRY UP ENGLAND'
RACIST IDIOTS SINGING 'I'D RATHER BE A PAKI THAN A SWEDE'
WOEBOT- 'NOIR DESIRE MIX'

Not much listening, you'll note, and the only respite from world cup inspired shiteness has been the lovely, complementary pair of dark and slinky 2-step ghosts, from Burial and Woebot.

go here for some of my recent reviews. i should point out that the whole thing about burial's album being a requiem for the lost sounds of pirate radio etc. was written before i read simon reynold's great review for OMM... i don't bite nothing, honest.

Monday, June 19, 2006

LISTENING SINCE THE PREVIOUS POST:

V/A- 'LONDON IS THE PLACE FOR ME'
ROBAG WRUHME- 'WUZZELBUD KK'
BURIAL- S/T
RICHIE HAWTIN- 'DE9 LITE MIX'
DIGITAL MYSTIKZ- 'MISTY WINTER/CONFERENCE'
TWENTY SIX FEET- 'TWO HOURS OF PASSIONLESS TANGO'
THE ZUTONS NEW ALBUM (HEARD AT WORK)
AUDION- 'SUCKFISH'
MASTERS AT WORK- 'KINGS OF HOUSE'

on saturday i was cooking the evening meal after a day at work, listening to audion's magnificent album of nasty boom-b0om (to nick a phrase coined by a friend). audion is an alias of matthew dear. so there i was, chopping shallots and wondering whether Rose wine would be good in a risotto (Rose is THE drink this summer, get to know), thinking about matthew dear's music. specifically, thinking about his hi-hats. they're so good, i was thinking: he does hi-hats better than anyone else in the world. yep, it's the almost 2 steppy swing he gets in them,the thought went on, that's what makes them so special.
by now i was getting close to talking to myself. so the internal monologue continued: it's also the crispness of the hi-hats that make them so special, that snappiness to them, the bite. the hi-hat's on 'leave luck to heaven' are even better, i thought, but these ones are still pretty good.

i could listen to matthew dear's hi-hats all day, i said to myself.

and then it hit me. i was spending an evening obsessing about matthew dear's hi-hats, and considering devoting a whole day to listening to them. fuck's sake, how did it ever come to this? this is serious. i would say i need to go out more, but i think the opposite's probably true.

Friday, June 16, 2006

LISTENING SINCE THE PREVIOUS POST:

BURIAL- S/T
WIGGLE- FABRIC MIX
MOUNTAIN GOATS LIVE SET
FILASTINE- BURN IT
HOME MADE HAPPY HARDCORE MIX- ESPECIALLY, BANG- 'SHOOTING STAR' OVER AND OVER
DELIA AND GAVIN- REVELEE + REMIXES
VILLALOBOS- FADUTRON/CHROMOSOUL
YUMMY BINGHAM OVER SOME SHOP'S SPEAKERS.
DIGITAL MYSTICZ- MISTY WINTER

first things first, i finally got the burial album. i've already written one review of it today (for fact magazine, if yr interested), so i can't be bothered doing it again right now, so i'll just say: wow...the hype is true, definitely.


--------------------------
its been a few months now since i started this little blog-project, so i thought i'd look back and re-cap a little. what really jumps out to me, looking back over the previous posts, is how little my listening varies! i'd always imagined myself as someone stuck in the unsettled listening habits of somehow overloaded by music: swamped and constantly diverted by the latest downloads, without the time or energy to really give individual releases the time and attention they deserve.
but this blog reveals the opposite to be the case, if anything: it seems that actually i tend to stick with the same peices of music for weeks if not months, and only slowly move on. i'm pleased about that, although i guess it makes things less interesting for you readers, perhaps. i'm glad that i spend so long on individual pieces of music, because it does mean that cerain songs, certain albums, have defined, and are defining particular periods of time for me.

it's this connection between song and time and place that's very easy to lose in this age of constant downloading, the interminable and, perhaps, futile search for the new. i thought i'd lost this connection, but it seems not. so spring 06 will always be about 'ach so', for me, and seems like summer '06 might be very much about Burial.

the main reason that my listening habits are so narrow, i think, is that my mp3 player can only store about 10 albums. this seemed a downside when i first got it, but now it seems like a godsend. i dread to think what i'd be like with an I-pod with a huge memory. the problem with endless choice is that you're always choosing, never committing, and committing is what loving music, or anything, is really about.

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yesterday was a great day. we went to the Waterside Inn for lunch (lovely food but scarily expensive), England won against the Soca Warriors, and on the walk home from the tube, the sky a watery pink, i listened to Bang's 'shooting star' over and over again. if there's one song that is guarenteed to get me to well up with tears of happiness, it is this. happy hardcore at its best, or how i like it, has a profound effect: the best rave producers always tint the euphoria with sadness, so that yr overwhelmed with emotion- its way of hedging bets so that if the one doesn't get you, the other will. there's also a confusing conflict between emotions -the feeling of not knowing whether to laugh or cry. And, also, the lack of specificity - i know i'm feeling something, but i don't know quite what- that helps the emotions to defy any rationalisation or control.

you could see this as a very knowing tactic, almost cynical in its premeditated bringing on of the rush; a strategy honed through years of trial and error. but it's almost to impossible to have that attitude when your in the ecstatic throes of the music itself. everything might be fake and shallow from the outside, but from the inside it never feels that way: it feels like a shining, millennial truth. with happy hardcore, as with the drugs that are its companion.

-----------------------------------
i've fallen into a routine recently of getting off the tube on the way home a stop early, so that i get to walk past clapham common duck pond glittering in the evening sun. i've also fallen into the routine of listening to villalobos' 'fadutron' and 'chromosoul' while i do this. the 12" release that these two tracks are featured is often seen as the high water mark of villalobos' phase of impenetrable minimalism, his writing of grating and clanging atonal odes to ketamine. but the more i listen to this pair, the more straightforwardly pretty they seem. villalobos is at his best when he's like this, i think, and it can be easy to forget that he does lushness as well as those more famed for it, from luciano to superpitcher: 'dexter' 'easy-lee' and the whole of 'ach so' are all pieces of simple and elegant beauty, above anything else.
'fadutron' does indeed begin with some ultra-minimal explorations that can be hard to stomach on a nice day and nice walk home, but that's just the prelude for villalobos' closing meander, where a nicely silly melody comes plink-plonking in. i love villalobos when he's like this- when he almost makes his machines whistle, care free, as they work. and behind this little bit of whimsy, villalobos then adds the quacking of ducks and the cheeping of birds! from the claustrophobic grind of the opening stages, we're suddenly right out in the open, with the track skipping along contentedly.
the other track, 'chromosoul' begins with a thrilling swirl of dubby clinks and pings, like liquid diamonds. that's villalobos as his most pretty. from then on, the digital dust settles, and he's right back into the hardness and the inertia of the beats that keep his tracks always, no matter how far out he gets, tied to 6 a.m dancefloors. but vilalobos wraps the beats in this wispy pillow of almost deep-house basslines, which always remain slightly hidden, like the ripples on the surface of water from movements in the depths.

at its heart, villalobos' music is pretty uncomplicated. for the most part, it's just nice. there's pretty often a fluffiness there: hands in the air moments are always suggested, if never truly arrived at. there's much else going on besides, of course, but that's not what yr looking for, walking round the duck pond at sunset.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

LISTENING SINCE THE PREVIOUS POST:

SLIPMATT AND BROCKIE- 'ABSOLUTE OLD SCHOOL CLASSICS'
LUCIANO- 'SCI FI HI FI VOL.2'
WIGGLE- FABRIC MIX
GET PHYSICAL RECORDS- 4TH ANNIVERSARY COMP.
M.A.N.D.Y- 'BODY LANGUAGE MIX'
FILASTINE- 'BURN IT'
BANG- 'SHOOTING STAR'
FORCE AND STYLES- 'HEART OF GOLD'
Q-TEX- 'POWER OF LOVE'
MARTIN JAY SUNDAY SOCA SHOW ON CHOICE FM.
VARIOUS DANCEHALL PIRATES
VARIOUS HOUSE PIRATES
I-ROBOTS- ITALO ELECTRO DISCO UNDERGROUND CLASSICS
VILLALOBOS- 'ICH SO'
VILLALOBOS- 'CHROMOSOUL/FADUTRON'
THE SOUND OF WILLOW AGAINST LEATHER, DULWICH CRICKET CLUB.
N DOUBLE A PIRATE SET BANGING OUT OF A PASSING CAR
CAT POWER- 'THE GREATEST'
THE VICE CHANCELLOR OF MY OLD UNIVERSITY SPEAKING LATIN FOR OVER AN HOUR.
V/A- 'SUPERLONGEVITY 4'
WOEBOT- 'NOIR DESIRE MIX'
JEFF MILLS- EXHIBITIONIST'


as dizzee predicted all those years ago, it's going to be a hot summer. already is, in fact. over the weekend, even the bits of it where i wasn't sat in a black suit and black graduation gown for hours, we had suffocating bear hugs of heat, the smog turning the london horizon a sickly yellow-brown.
forays were occasionally made to the outside world, to get supplies, or to try and get a tan, but mostly we sat in the cool shadows of the house, listening to the radio, cooking and making salads, watching the world cup.

i love the world cup as i love all international sporting events. i even got quite passionately emotionally involved with the Curling in the winter olympics this year. one thing that's particularly great about the world cup this year is that Trinidad and Tobago are in it (although perhaps not for much longer, if England have their way...). this means that there's an overload of soca tracks about football at the moment, trinidad and tobago being the home of soca. martin jay ran through them on his essential sunday evening soca show on choice fm (96.9 fm). it's been my first weekend of listening to soca for about a year (you really can't listen to it in winter- the day-glo exuberance of it is just exquisitely depressing when it's pissing down with rain outside and it's going dark at 3pm...).

as a soca '06 novice, it's all a bit daunting, really. each year, i forgot how full-on and crazy soca is, constantly going higher and higher into frantic and brilliant kitsch and cheese. really quite absurd. and so: ultimate summer music, of course. much like 90s ardkore records got bringing on the mdma rush down to a fine art and exact science, soca records are pretty ruthlessly clinical in their evocation of good times in sunshine. these guys know what they're doing.

the wealth of soca tracks soundtracking the T&T world cup campaign clearly reveals the superiority of those nations relative to england. they sing along to the mighty Maximus Dan's heart-swelling song of world cup pride and hope, and we get fucking Embrace. and idiots still singing that Baddiel and Skinner shit. really, the problem's right there isn't it?: embrace and david baddiel vs. maximus dan. it's almost enough to make you want to support trinadad and tobago on thursday. almost.

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Friday, June 09, 2006

LISTENINCE SINCE THE PREVIOUS POST:
DELIGHT FM TAPE
WOEBOT- 'NOIR DESIRE' MIX
FILASTINE- 'BURN IT'
V/A- 'ITALO SESSIONS 2'
V/A- 'I-ROBOTS: ITALO UNDERGROUND ELECTRO'
DELIA AND GAVIN- 'REVELEE REMIXES'
PHILIP SHERBURNE- 'SCHAFFEL IS STRONGER THAN PRIDE' MIX
MOUNTAIN GOATS LIVE RECORDING
V/A- 'SUPERLONGEVITY 4'
MANDY- 'BODY LANGUAGE VOL. 1 MIX'

i'm with Woebot here: carl craig's remix of 'revelee', nice as it is, doesn't really hit me where i want it to. which is a disappointment after the scary monster of goodness that was his mix of 'fallin up'.
but the baby ford mix of 'revelee' is a pretty gigantic. as minimal and grinding as you like, but never boring cuz it's sheer evil as well. that growling, anti-music bass! those shivers of frosty synths! yes yes a thousand times yes...

I find MANDY's widely-held-to-be-seminal 'body language to be very odd. when i first heard it, i was taken aback, in a bad way, by how tepid and grown-up it sounded, after the OTT high-camp theatrics of get physical's '2nd anniversary' mix, the latter being a record that's so full on it's actually a little hard to deal with in places. but in a good way, of course.
but 'body language' seems to go up a few notches in intensity and exuberance every time i put it on. it's weird, almost like it's been sitting there in our kitchen growing all this time. it's one of the few records i've heard that sounds steadily more and more all sugary poppy-surface fun, the more listens it gets: it doesn't reveal hidden depths so much as hidden, glorious and rushy shallows.

ok i'm going to my graduation ceremony now. it's only been FOUR years i left my alma mater...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

LISTENING SINCE THE PREVIOUS POST:

FILASTINE- 'BURN IT'
VILLALOBOS- 'FADUTRON/CHROMOSOUL'
VILLALOBOS- 'ACH SO'
V/A- 'SUPERLONGEVITY 4'
MICHAEL MAYER @ STATIC LIVE RECORDING
SOCA PIRATE RADIO STATION
DELIGHT FM OLD SCHOOL GARAGE SET
NEWHAM GENERALS ON RINSE FM
SKEPTA, FRISCO AND PRESIDENT T ON RINSE FM
VARIOUS UNKNOWN PIRATE STATIONS PLAYING HOUSE
TROPICAL TRACKS (BOY BETTER KNOW)

this summer the london pirates seem to be awash with weird, fractured house with sexy, groaning bass. i don't know where this stuff is from, what it is, or when it's from, but it's absolutely fantastic. i'll tape some so you can give it a listen.

4/4 might just be where it's at in london in the coming year i think. may be people want to dance again? in particular, check JME's Boy Better Know Record's foray into splintery, blissy todd-esque 2-step, released under the 'Tropical' name. music for holidays and sun. it's been too long, london...

also making me happy is the return of the mighty Delight 103.00 fm. the most fun and most ramshackle and chaotic garage pirate of them all. if yr lucky enough to hear a so solid kids set, where they do phone-ins so that aspiring MCs can spit their biggest bars live on air, you'll see what i mean.

last night they were playing a join-the-dots mix of skeletalgrime, whumpy grimey ukg from south london's finest Bigshot, speed garage, dark 2-step and todd edwards. really, that's how things should be, isn't it?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

LISTENING SINCE THE PREVIOUS POST:

GALOPPIERENDE ZUVERSICHT- LIVE RECORDING FROM KONTROL, 2004.
WILEY- '2ND PHAZE'
WRETCH 32- 'LEARN FROM MY MIXTAPE'
RENATO RENALDI- 'HOARSE FRENZY'
VILLALOBOS- 'ALCACHOFA'
MAGDA- LIVE RECORDING AT TECHNIQUE
MESSIAEN- 'LOUANGE A L'ETERNITE DE JESUS'
VARIOUS TEKKNIK MIXES
HOME MADE R N B COMPILATIONS
FILASTINE LIVE AT GRAMAPHONE, EAST LONDON
DJ/RUPTURE LIVE AT GRAMAPHONE, EAST LONDON
HEATWAVE DJS LIVE AT GRAMAPHONE, EAST LONDON
TOXIC DANCEHALL DJS LIVE AT GRAMAPHONE, EAST LONDON
V/A- 'SUPERLONGEVITY 4'
KATHRYN WILLIAMS- 'LITTLE BLACK NUMBERS'
GEOFFREY BOYCOTT GOING, "BOWLED, BOWLED, BOWLED"
V/A- 'TECHNO RAVE'
EWAN PEARSON- 'SCI FI HI FI VOL 1'
LUCIANO- 'SCI FI HI FI VOL 2'
SUPERDISCOUNT 2
MICRO-HOUSE FROM A PASSING CAR
DANCEHALL EVERYWHERE OUTSIDE NOW THE SUN IS OUT AND SUMMER IS HERE.
ROLL DEEP 'CREEPER VOL. 2'
CARL CRAIG REMIX OF DELIA AND GAVIN'S 'REVELEE', HEARD IN SOUNDS OF THE UNIVERSE RECORD SHOP.
V/A- 'MOTOWN CLASSICS'
V/A- 'TROPICALIA'

apologies and a thousand 'sorry's for the lack of recent posts. this slackness has to stop, otherwise this blog will have no point, so from now on i resolve to post here at least every two days. if i happen to fail in this you may freely call me a wasteman without running the risk of me calling out your name and merking you in a clash. that's fair, right?

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anyway, enough of the silliness, let's get down to work. so my girlfriend woke up at dawn yesterday, for no reason, just 'cause, that's when her body wanted her to wake up. this morning I wake up at dawn, for no reason, just 'cause. it's spectacular. 5 in the morning, tucked up in bed as opposed to trudging home from a club, is Very Large. golden light streams through the curtains and it is impossible not to feel a surge of hope.
i go back to sleep.
then wake, at nine, at try to work out what to listen to. i toy with the thought of michael mayer's sleepy heroin-house all time classic 'immer' mix but decide that's more a late night thing- listening to it now would be like getting drunk before noon. decadent but also wrong. i wonder about listening to some silly hiccupy house, may be akufen or dandy jack, and think that that'd be nicely rousing but not quite right.
so i settle on renato renaldi's 'hoarse frenzy' which i got on a recommendation from Selectadisc who called it 'beautiful', and so i bought it because i think i don't own enough beautiful things.
it is beautiful, and it's perfect for this powder blue start to a sunday. it evokes a sense of place and time perhaps more than anything i've ever heard. loosely, it's a avant/alt/weird-folk album, one sprawling piece stretched out over a CD. running throughout are field recordings- birds- sparrows, i'm guessing- tweet and chirp pretty much constantly. floor boards creek with padded footsteps. phones ring. wonderfully, in an act of genius, the record starts with renato tuning his guitar for say about 2 minutes while the birds sing. listening to this record, yr right inl the sunlight, the soft air, the life of the italian town outside the tape deck it was recorded on. sounds echo like they echo on warm summer days. everything sounds gold and pastel. like a sunday, slowly waking.

his vocals are beautiful and alien. they appear only a few times- everything, apart from the birds is a fleeting moment on this record- but when they do you are taken aback each time. i don't know what language he is singing in, or even if he is singing in a language. he sings with a croak, cracking sounds apart and then smudging them together. that's an ugly way of putting it, but i don't know how else to describe the rawness and weirdness of the beauty in his voice.

this is a frustrating record, and that frustration is asborbing, and holds you in to the record. out of drones and hiss and elegant confusion a moment of gorgous, tactile loveliness- or flowery melody or a perfect sound- will flit in, only to disappear in a matter of seconds. so you sit in this old italian house as the day starts, the sparrows cheeping outside in the yard, as all these little bits of busy sound pop in and out, saying hi and saying bye.

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at a friend's house last night i noticed that someone had constructed a poem on the fridge using those word fridge magnets. it was great and it made me laugh. here it is (it's best read imagining that yr seeing it stuck piece by piece on a fridge):

"some evil science has created
a were-whale
it is human by day
but after a time
must live beneath the sea

how sad.


hardly an easy life"


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i saw dj/rupture and filastine live on friday. both great, of course. filastine plays intricate north african (i think) hip hop. dj/rupture is the best dj in the world. whispers on the night were that filastine's album is album-of-the-year material. i've got a copy and so will listen to it tonight and get back to you, eh.
also Very Large on the night were the heatwave DJs who played killer selection of dancehall classics- so classic that even I knew a lot of them and i really know nothing about dancehall. it made me realise that i need to make it Heatwave again really soon.

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Wretch 32's 'learn from my mixtape' is symptomatic of three trends in grime at the moment, two good, the other bad. the first good news is that there is now pretty much a true mixtape-culture in grime, and that's sorely needed what with the grime pirates being so depleted. a few years ago a new exciting MC would have to be on radio for months and months before anyone took notice. now they can just put out a mixtape, get it in Uptown and Rhythm Division, and they're the new star. this is what's happened with Wretch 32: he's been on the 'Fuck Radio' series of mp3 sets, but i think very, very people would have taken notice before the release of his mixtape. his crew, Combination Camp are pretty much unknowns. but now, after 'learn from my mixtape' everyone's talking about him. mixtapes are introducing an egalitarian cut-throat competition among MCs- suddenly, anyone can get their music out there without waiting to win over radio bosses. and i guess competition, as we're so often told, raises standards. the time when roll deep could dominate grime because of their position on Rinse has gone, i think.

the bad news is that Wretch 32 isn't an exciting MC. i am confused as to why there's so much hype about him. to talk about his CD is to fall into Mojo or Q-esque reviewspeak: it's 'assured', 'polished', 'rounded', 'solid'. all very nice, but really what is the fucking point. it is boring music. previously, grime has never boring: it might on occasion, or on many occasions, been infuriating, or one-dimensional, or unenjoyable, or callous, or cynical, or even kitsch. but it was never, ever dull. suddenly, that's changed.

wretch 32 isn't the only boring MC, but his success reveals a big shift in grime. right now, some of the biggest new MCs have all the clever wordplay, all the neat metaphors, you could wish for but there's none of the vitality that used to carry grime. a couple of years ago not every big MC was a great MC-some could hardly MC at all- but they were all larger-than-life characters. they were performers above everything else. now, many MCs are very far from being performers, and instead we get this worthy workaday dullness that washes over you.
it used to be that when you played grime to someone who hadn't heard it before, you'd get a shocked reaction- they'd love it, they'd hate it, they'd not understand it, they'd feel uncomfortable with it, they'd find it funny, whatever.
i can't imagine playing wretch 32 to someone would get much reaction at all. and there's the problem. this just is not very exciting.

which is not to say that grime's not exciting. great things are happening all over the place. but now, for the first time, there's corners of grime that are neither particularly good, nor particularly bad, just middle of the road boring- in that respect grime has become like all over genres. and that to me seems like a big change.

but there's a second bit of good news to finish on. the production on 'learn from my mixtape' is stunning. chunky bizzle takes care of much of it and i waxed about him on here just a few days ago so i'll keep it short now. let's just say that the white-hot melodicism and spaciness of the production on this mixtape make me very, very excited about where grime's going. one track in particular- i'm guessing it's by ruff sqwad affiliate Merlin- stands out; a snippet of guitar fuzz, a buzzy tomas andersson-esque electro bassline, and a snow-shower of darkcore synth, built around this bucking, wild-eyed rhythm.
great times ahead, definitely.