it happens for a reason

staying up late is easy.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

LISTENING SINCE THE PREVIOUS POST:

MOBILEE RECORDS- 'BACK TO BACK' COMP.
LUCIANO- 'SCI FI HI FI VOL.2'
JOANNA NEWSOM- 'YS'
HOT CLUB DE PARIS- 'EVERYEVERYTHING'
SOME RUSSIAN FOLK BAND
JOHNNY CASH- 'LIVE AT SAN QUENTIN'
MICHAEL MAYER- 'IMMER 2'
BLOOD ON THE WALL- 'AWESOMER'
MYMY- 'SONGS FOR THE GENTLE'
WILEY- 'TUNNEL VISION VOL.1'
UNKNOWN RINSE FM GRIME DJ
LOCO DICE- 'SEEING THROUGH SHADOWS'
JUNIOR BOYS- 'SO THIS IS GOODBYE'
DAVEY BOY- 'DISCO BASSLINES'

i picked up this 'disco basslines' compilation as part of a little bit of 'research' in the 'bassline house' scene. as far as i can work out, bassline house is mainly a sheffield/north midlands scene, and a recent-ish mutation on speed garage. from the davey boy mix (all 3 CDs of it!), it sounds like what would happen if kids into speed garage got massively into pills. which is probably what did happen. it's odd to hear those skippy beats, those soul diva wails and those elastic basslines with all their associations- glossy sexiness, urban glamour and 'older raver' sophication on the one hand, attitude and creeping bad vibes on the other- wriggling and slinking underneath some of the most day-glo rave stabs outside a Bonkers mix...massive piano loops, rrrrrrrushing organs, the whole bit.

so speed garage has donned the white gloves. sounds brilliant, right? and you know, it kind of is. it's some of the most blatanty, unashamedly ecstatic and druggy music. in places it's a REALLY rudimentary, just a massive kick with some old bashed out piano vamp on top, and the lack of texture, or dirt and warmth behind the digital fingernails, sets it apart from the fibrous goo + glitter of early ardkore: there's really no subtlety whatsoever here. but that's all part of the charm.

so from the evidence of 'disco basslines', bassline house seems like a massive load of fun. but it also seems like a quite fascinating scene- a new kink in the hardcore continuum, a bastion of traditional rave values that has kept its ties to urban, black, american dance music (unlike, say, happy hardcore or hard-style). there's apparently two main types of Bassline house- 'warpy' and 'organ'. so i'm going to try and work that lot out- i'll get back to you!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

LISTENING SINCE THE PREVIOUS POST:

JOANNA NEWSON- 'YS'
WILEY- 'TUNNEL VISION VOL.1'
WILEY AND J5- RINSE FM SET
OOIOO- 'TAIGA'

so wiley has snapped me out of my 'Ys' reveries. this evening i was listening to Ys in the supermarket and it was so nice to wander around the brightly coloured aisles to those songs i ended up spending way more time there than i needed to. weird, huh. oh, how...kooky. talking of which, Little Miss Sunshine is alright, but really all these vaguely alternative american family comedies -hello, You, Me and Everyone we know, hello the squid and the whale- are getting a bit boring, no? and worringly like the cinematic equivalent of The Big Chill.

anyway, i was snapped out of this drifting round the streets to the sounds of harps palaver. news that wiley's tunnel vision was now available for download on his myspace space came, BUT at the same time i got an e-mail from kompakt saying that the follow-up to Michael Mayer's MIGHTY 'Immer' mix was now available to download on the kompakt press site. The original Immer is often called the greatest, mos perfect, techno mix of all time, and deservedly so. i've got a pretty shit computer, getting shitter by the day, buried under viruses. so it takes me ages to download stuff...and so...THE CRISIS OF CHOICE! what to download tonight, immer 2 or tunniel vision 1?

i went for wileykat. first impressions can be unreliable things, but first up this sounds like perhaps the best full length CD to come out of grime. wiley sounds angry and urgent and the beats are nicely cohesive, all sparse and clanging. it's not pretty, but may be it's best to leave all that to ruff sqwad. instead, Tunnel Vision is all focus, focus, focus like only wiley can really do. oddly, the intensity of grime pirate shows hardly ever comes across on mixtapes- too often, MCs sound distracted, flitting between hip hop and grime. but on Tunnel Vision, wiley keeps things simple and it's all the better for it: it's not too different to a wiley pirate show, although it's a lot more polished, obviously, and there's no shouted phone numbers! only downeer of the CD for me is the pay as u go track, and that's only because it's so good that it makes me miss those days.

Monday, September 11, 2006

LISTENING FOR THE PAST WEEK:

JOANNA NEWSOM- 'YS'
LUCIANO LIVE SET FROM 10 DAYS OFF
EWAN PEARSON- 'DECEMBER MIX'
KOMPAKT- 'TOTAL 7'
DC RECORDINGS- 'DEATH BEFORE DISTEMPER'

for the past week i've mainly been in italy, with no internet access but lots of coffee. i was 'working', such as it is, and in periods like that, away from home with no stereo and no radio, the mp3 player takes on a new meaning; a comfort blanket, a snap-shot of home, a cold-shower to wake you up for a new strange day, a musical coffee and cigarette with which to reflect back over the day's adventures, a friend for cramped and frazzling plane and coach journeys.

or at least that's what it'd be used for as of a few weeks ago, but now things are different. i got a copy of joanna newsom's 'ys'. and, a little bit of techno aside, that's pretty much i've been listening to. and with this record, it seems wrong, vulgar even, to use it anyway- as a comfort blanket or a cold shower or anything else. or, rather, it's impossible to think about it in such instrumental terms. it's an overwhelming set of songs, a record that grabs you and throws you right into the middle of it. listening to it on headphones is perfect.

if you heard her first album and didn't like it, well, that doesn't matter. neither did i. but this is something else. truly, when people look back on this decade in decades to come, i think this one of the albums that they'll pick out. in my less hyperbolic moments, i think it's as good as , and as important as, Spiderland and Loveless. in my more hyperbolic moments, i'm going for Pet Sounds and Selected Ambient Works.

there is so much here; 5 songs unfurling like ribbons making the most beautiful, most delicate sculpture. the harp sounds like a kaleidoscope. i think the strings might sound like the ordered chaos of passing traffic. her voice is a raw nerve-synapse crackle, like i always want bjork to be. and soulful: tear jerkingly, gigglingly, joyously soulful.

i find it hard to process this record. again, there's so much here. it's like the most complicated and most simple record you've ever heard. it's neither happy nor sad. or may be it's both. but it feels more like it's its own world, a totality.
i'll be writing more about this soon. i think a lot of people will.

Monday, September 04, 2006

LISTENING TODAY:

JOANNA NEWSOM- 'YS'
SKATEBARD- 'MIDNIGHT MAGIC'
SKEPTA RINSE SET FROM LAST NIGHT
UNKNOWN DUBSTEP/GRIME DJ SET FROM RINSE LAST NIGHT (may be kode9?)
RUFF SQWAD RINSE SET FROM LAST NIGHT

have a good carnival, did you? i did- the only one i've really enjoyed truth be told. usually i just find it too much of stress and hassle to have fun, but this year we were sensible and didn't try to do the soundsystem-hopping thing. instead, we hung around sancho panza and wondered at the massive impact that really uncompromising minimal techno was making (people screaming out for the DJ to play some loco dice!) and then checked out some of the soca floats. tune of this year seemed be one that goes, 'looking for some nookie tonight'. it's well better than fred durst's riff on the same theme. there's also this really weird, crazy soca tune doing the rounds (check out 87.5 links fm- london's dedicated soca pirate station), that's all trancey and ravey. which is a good thing, obviously.

rapid's latest productions (as heard on the ruff sqwad show) are getting near to kompakt's old 'heroin-house' (only a few people ever called it that) in their restrained blissiness. whispers, sighs, basslines lolloping to heavenly nowheres- the whole bit. is this still grime anymore? dunno. but this doesn't tick any of the boxes that grime is 'meant' to; it's not angry, or discordant, or even bass-heavy. perhaps it's all the better for it.

listening to this, as well as the very 2-steppy new track ruff sqwad played, and skepta's own foray into warbly, cut up, hyper-feminised, glossy grime (as heard on his set last night), i'm starting to see that all my grime nay-saying of the past few months has been stupid and wrong. i was complaining about the sound stagnating, but people like ruff sqwad and skepta were somewhere else already. moving forwards, never backwards.

a quote from alec empire has always stuck with me; in the sleeve note's to The Destroyer, i think, he says that a true underground is impossible to define, because it's always changing- as soon as you pin it down, it's gone somewhere new. he says that's the greatest thing you can be involved in, and i can imagine that.
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but it's not all melodic grace, fresh like summer breezes, out there on the grime pirates. a dj before skepta and maximum's set was playing the other side of things- the increasingly prevalent grime-dubstep hybrid sound. with this, everything is murky and forbidding, a thundercloud that will never break. beats are reduced to to a queasy stagger, and the bass seems literally of the gutter or even below, sounding like something dredged up, unearthed, rolling around on the floor still caked in grime and cracked with dirt. perhaps i'm not making this sound fun, though? but it's actually really compelling to hear this stuff- the doominess and bleakness are kind of thrilling, in a weird way. and there's a kind of a elegance to it all, tht- in my weirdest moments- seems faintly regal or something.

great stuff anyway. sure it's not the early grime sound of target and jammer and danny weed, but i've come to terms with that now. those days are gone and it seems best just to throw yrself into those dark fugs that the pirates are currently belching out with an open heart.

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talking of grime-dubstep hybrid djing reminds me of the boy better know set i saw the other day. by any measure, it was a tough gig for them- at the new home of london's indie set (that's not a diss), The Luminaire, they were sandwiched between Dylan Nyoukis ( a guy does noise sets by micing up his mouth) and those neo-hippy tranced out folk, Gang Gang dance. (ignore me if i'm rude about GGD, by the way. it's mainly for reasons not related to their music and more related to how they treat lowly music writers. but still, i didn't think i had a ounce of punk rock in my soul until i saw GGD and couldn't help but thinking, however momentarily, 'fucking hippies'. someone described their vocals to me as 'earth mother wails', which made me giggle. still, I do actually really like their music).
maximum played grime-dubstep, bringing things to a boil with duppy (he's got that slimzee-ish thing of looking constantly both forlorn and pissed off down to a tee, by the way). tinchy strider wore massive and very black wrap-around shades and was good as ever. but the star was JME, without a doubt. i've never really been so much of a fan of his on record or on radio: he always seemed a bit too hectoring to me, you know? all that stuff about how he wasn't a dick head in maths and etc. but live, you realise that it's all done through this self-effacing smile. he's probably the most charming performer i've ever seen do a gig- totally engaging. chopping and changing rhythms to stay perfectly at one with the beat, laughing and joking with the audience on the way, he's a star, and the crowd loved it.