it happens for a reason

staying up late is easy.

Friday, June 16, 2006



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.

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.


Blogger Loki said...

see where you're coming from re: limiting yourself and commitment in music but I'm enjoying not being able to... my 20Gb is full to bursting but buggered so i can't do anything other than shuffle play with it and can't even see what's playing (which changes more of my perception of music than I felt it should) so you get odd juxtopositions; music plays which i'd never have chosen - i daren't even flick through tracks in case it breaks for good - and adds unexpected atmosphere and pathos to mundane events, often catching me unawares...

of course, other times i just think: when the fuck did i like this?

10:02 AM  

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