it happens for a reason

staying up late is easy.

Monday, September 04, 2006



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.

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.


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.


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