Friday, May 30, 2003

rsk
Mark @ K-punk on the streets and the bankruptcy of “realism". Funny he should contrast Cabaret Voltaire versus The Clash, as the former have been on my mind this week: reviewing the forthcoming Methodology ‘74/’78: The Attic Tapes 3-CD thing (superb) and working on a chapter about the Sheffield groups. Yeah, I’d take the Cabs anyday over The Clash, but in truth both groups were aiming for a kind of “realism”, just looking at it through different frames of reference. In the Cabs case, the prism was Ballard/Burrough/A Clockwork Orange/Alan J. Pakula-type cinema-of-paranoia, whereas Clash is sort of… Che Guavera meets Boy’s Own adventures (soldiers, cowboys, Robin Hood, etc) or summat, right? The Cabs used to talk about themselves as “journalists” rather than musicians, non-judgementally presenting the facts; the unveiling of a suppressed, concealed underlying reality was at the core of the industrial project, for all its flirtations with magick and doors-of-perception opening. And that underlying reality the Cabs addressed is essentially the same as The Clash's: NATO versus Eastern Bloc/Islam, the emergent police state, etc. “London Calling,” “Know Your Rights” (awful as it is), "Straight To Hell", "The Call Up", Sandinista, etc, are literally about more or less the same sort of things as Red Mecca, Voice of America, “Silent Command”, “Your Agent Man”, etc. In its own way, “control” ---this shadowy network of subterfuge/espionage/surveillance/conspiracy---is just as much a (highly attractive) noir X-Filesy Romanticised mystification as whatever the Clash saw power in terms of (the ruling class, the establishment, the plutocracy). You could also, in defence of Strummer & Co, say that the Cabs approach through its very refusal to take a position actually does little but exacerbate paranoia and instil a sort of resistance-is-futile, their-tentacles-are-everywhere attitude (whereas the Clash in their sentimental way tried to give people hope). This regardless of the fact that the Cabs sonic legacy is massively more impressive and compelling.

Ah, those Erik Davis quotes. “The Matrix problem arises from our wetware's capacity, through dreams, drugs or trance, to boot up radically different worlds of consciousness” ; “the human nervous system produces the real-time matrix we take for ordinary space-time.' I daresay maybe five years I would have nodded in keen agreement reading this. Today, I’m like “hmmm… yeah…. And?”. It reminds me of DJ Spooky’s “seize the modes of perception”. If only it were that easy! Then I would
perceptually engineer for myself a much congenial reality. Neocons stampeding their agenda across the globe unchecked; a New York City budget crisis, the city the worst affected in the whole country by the recession; US economy teetering on the brink of negative growth and deflation; Manhattan target #1 for the inevitable revenge attacks (despite having the highest concentration of anti-war feeling outside San Francisco)… this is just the stuff that directly affects me and mine… not taking in what’s going on in the Congo, or the ocean being desertified through overfishing, or… or… You can take drugs to distort perceptions or escape into oblivion, sure, but you'll have to come back to what Mark calls the “dominant reality” a/k/a the reality of domination. (“Wetware”---do people still use words like this? For some reason this immediately made me think of brain-matter spilling out of an Iraqui child’s skull).

I’d been veering in this direction for a while (creeping presence of Marxian terms in the lingo: how else do you get a grip on Bling? Well there’s always Bataille for a more positive spin I guess…) but 9/11 was a bit of a turning point: suddenly a lot of the modish theory of the Nineties (cyber, the Baudrillardian/Krokerian end of pomo, post-Deleuzian/Delanda-type stuff, chaos theory transposed onto culture, etc) seemed to have no purchase on events, to be inadequate to the “new” circumstances (new meaning perhaps same-as-they-ever-were, outside certain sociocultural strata of one small corner of the globe?). I did wonder if and when “that quarter” would pipe up with its take on 9/11, but no, nothing… not a peep. (Actually Baudrillard did pitch in with some offensive drivel eventually--something about how the inhabitants of the towers were dead already, wageslaves in a cage of steel and glass). Part of the reverse acceleration back-in-time (to the Middle Ages, to the Cold War) dislocation of those aftermath months was the return of the old concepts--hegemony, empire, expropriation, propaganda, etc--which suddenly seemed to offer the only cognitive grip on what was happening. What would a Deleuzian reading have to offer?

I do wonder if all that cybertheory (not that I read much of it-- mostly cos the prose was so dreary; the CCRU’s work stood out by several miles because A/ ooh, the style of the writing, the fire of the conviction B/ they actually embraced, intensified, took to the dizzy limit, the anti-humanist implications of that area, which is quite a dysphoric rush, if actually unliveable in any practical sense), I do wonder if it will all quite soon seem like this strange bubble of discourse--possibly related in some obscure base/superstructural way to another bubble (the massively overvalued tech stocks boom, Nineties neophiliac hype re. the web etc). Said balloons having been punctured by the massive crashing return of the REAL (geopolitical, market, etc). Something like Sadie Plant’s Zeroes & Ones, which I found totally winning at the time, will I fear be seen as a historical curio, a what-were-we-thinking?!? deal, with its vague rhetorically-conjured utopianism (all those groovy libidinized flows) and the strange passivity of its worldview (impersonal forces playing themselves out and it’s best if humans try to avoid exerting any agency whatsoever--actually not far from the corporate cosmology espoused by the industrialist in the movie Network, who in a wickedly witty twist on Marx looks ahead to the final withering away of the state). Bush Inc and 9/11 suggest the opposite is true: that a handful of individuals can actually wreak enormous upheavals through exercise of diabolic willpower and sense of purpose. Cultivating Zen go-with-the-flow in yourself has zero effectivity when those who feel they are divinely appointed historical agents of the world-will are on the rampage.

Back to the Matrix--I haven’t read the Davis piece (Matrix-ology seems barely a notch above Madonna-ology) but the first movie left me decidedly underwhelmed. (Love IP’s riff about it being the same old shit---“gunsperm” and the Dolby-fied sound of bullet casings hitting the floor--with state-of-the-art visuals). The fact that Baudrillard’s notions have reached the mainstream in this attentuated form suggests if anything their final and total exhaustion. (It seems signficant that one of the most pro-Baudrillard people I know, Bat of “vocal science” fame, gave up his job as a financial journalist and took up a much less well paying position as a organiser for the resurgent Anti-Nazi League). Still the fact that a film like this can have such a massive impact (it seems to especially resonate with the hip hop audience) shows how starved people are both for ideas of any sort in their popular culture (you used to get this much more from Hollywood not just with the Pakula/The Conversation type auteur movies, but the aforementioned Network and even things like Rollerball with its feudal corporate future). They are also hungry for some representation of the radical out-of-jointness in the world today. There’s an unbelievability, a bad-dream-must-wake-up quality to these times.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Interesting, rather long ILM thread on "vocal complexity" in rap. I like Sterling Clover's comment: "What I'm still looking for, I guess, is the critic who can really pin down the rhythmic mechanics of a rappers flow and explain how they work with the subject matter, etc." Yeah, "flow" is one of those words that is actually used to stop the critical process, isn't it, when it should be where the thinking starts. Sort of like a negative version of Kogan's Superwords, "flow", like "funk", is one of those terms that is hotly contested, but almost never unpacked. Who’s got it is subject to endless debate, but what it is or the way it works, almost never. So it ends up being used as a more au fait, "down" and slightly smarter-sounding/less-simplistic-sounding way of saying "I think this guy’s good." "

On the subject of rapping and complexity (lyrical or phrasing) I’d probably take a Bangsian/punkoid angle: one great catchphrase means more to me than acres of densely encoded text. There’s an art to coming up with something like “Throw them bones” just as much as with Wu or El-P type epic sprawls of prose poetry. It's like the difference between AC/DC and... tries to think of a not-insulting, not too prog parallel, erm, John McLaughlin? Robert Fripp? Still I'm a simpleton with this stuff (no philistine shtick I'm afraid, my favorite rap ever as words and delivery might still be LL's ‘Mama Said Knock You Out"). Also, don't a lot of debates about whether something's "complex" really relate to the subject matter, what's considered "low" and what’s considered lofty. So ‘What’s Your Fantasy’ isn’t considered clever cos it's this bawdy pornosex thing, and that's base c.f. the profundities of the Roots or whoever. And I bet there's thug narratives as complex and elliptical as any Afrofuturist galactic fantasy or fusion paranoia/dark gnostic nonsense.
J.G. Ballard quote from 1983, discussing the mid-60s and proposing a sort of modified Marxism, in which the superstructure transforming the base, or at least masking it, creating a collective myth or consensus hallucination so powerful that reality itself seems to have been changed.

“Here it was an aesthetic revolution that made the changes. For 5 years the class system didn’t seem to exist--nobody ever used the word…. I remember about 1970, for the first time in something like five or six years, I heard someone who was being interviewed on the radio use the word ‘working class’. Which would have been unthinkable in say, 1967 or 1968. Unthinkable. I thought, ‘my God, that’s the death knell of change. It’s coming to an end.’ And it did, and now we’re back in the same closed, confined, class-conscious little society… I don’t think the radical change needed to transform this country can come from the political direction at all. I think it can only come from the area of the arts--some sort of seismic shift in aesthetic sensibility, of a kind that we saw in the mid-60s, when this country was improved for the better. There was no question about it--liberated, briefly….”

One could perhaps say that rave almost pulled off the same trick: aesthetics-driven illusion-of-revolution briefly masking the infrastructural stasis below. Almost but not quite to the same degree in terms of its mainstream hegemony (although more people might actually have been involved in "living the dream" than actually swung during the Swinging Sixties). This connects to the way the myth of classlessness was so central to rave and still is in clubbing to an extent. As per Sarah Thornton who in Club Cultures notes that the one question that’s taboo in E’d up anything-goes clubland is what do you for a living?
Footnote to A Prologue to a work-in-progress entitled Stay Off The Streets: The Genealogy of An Embarassment.

Two Dizzee Rascal quotes that seem vaguely germane to the below, both taken from a Rewind webmag interview earlier this month.

“I think the UK has been ready for a long time man. It’s come at a time when there is not really nothing about in my opinion. What’s there about to listen to now? On the overground it’s all put together, it’s not pure and it’s not from anywhere really. It’s become a culture what we’re doing, they’re saying about garage…new garage… I don’t even know what to call it, but it is a culture. Thousands of DJs and MCs… That’s a positive thing don’t you think? Everyone is finding something they wanna do, whether they make it or not is another thing get me? But they’re channelling their energies into suttin’. It’s kinda our hip hop. I think this country needs to listen to this country more. Americans speak English, what are they gonna tell us in our own language? Right now I can’t really see what more they’ve got to say. There has been English history here for years yeah, there’s ghettos here… It’s not recognised. Artists like Wiley, Nasty Crew, Slimzee, Ruff Squad, it’s like people don’t even know we exist! But we’re underneath. Below this whole thing and we’re about to blow up and rise to show there is something. All respect to UK hip hop and that yeah, but this is what it is. Street life, raves, MCing, school, everything. It’s real…. I called [my album] ‘Boy In The Corner’ cos that’s me, always in the corner at school, on the street corner…”

“It’s sad that they try and use music as a scapegoat. But it’s sadder that a lot of us had to grow up seeing what we saw. The war is on TV all the time, it ain’t even two countries war it’s just couple people’s war… It’s not that I don’t care about it and as a figurehead or whatever I’m supposed to have more of a positive opinion but I really don’t give a shit. That’s the truth. Youths don’t care anymore; the music shows it as well. It’s sad, my generation saw the change and are coming to grips with it, but for the generation underneath its just standard. They’re never gonna know. You can try and explain to them, but they’ve grown up in a time guns are just about. They hear shots; see murder signs around on a regular ting. That’s the sad thing… If you give a shit, you’ll go nuts. How much can you possibly? There is so much to care about in this world… That’s just Earth now, everything is just nuts…”

The last quote makes me feel sad.

"it’s not from anywhere really" -- c.f. David Thomas on music having to be from a place and made for a people. The local strikes back against postgeographical uber-pop. Digital-folk.

Monday, May 26, 2003

A Prologue to
STAY OFF THE STREETS: THE GENEALOGY OF AN EMBARRASMENT


Back when I was caning that semi-whimsical gutter-garridge as punk rock parallel, I pulled out the obvious apposite Clash lyric: “the truth is only known by guttersnipes”. But I didn’t realise that’s a line from “Garageland” as in “I wanna stay in the garage”, so even more appropriate. Truth is, I’ve only got the most passing acquaintance with the early "classic" Clash--I’ve probably listened to the first album two or three times tops, and not sure I’ve ever heard Give ‘Em Enough Rope even once, except for the bits on the Clash On Broadway box. The first LP must be one of the most over-rated albums EVER and the second sounds like sterile stodge, judging by the reviews and if things like “Tommy Gun” are any indication. Compare the early Clash sound--which is like a hammy, hamfisted, histrionic composite of all the worst of Mott, Thin Lizzy, MC5 (Mick Jones truly is the world’s least effective lead guitarist)--with the clean lines and devastating force of the Chris Thomas-produced Pistols: there’s no comparison. Has any genre had such a huge gap between the #1 exponent and the #2? Strummer always seemed genuine and sorta kinda cool (I met him once, he was hanging with the Stud Brothers, he was… likeable---unassuming-seeming, quite quiet) but on those early records the fake-prole accent of this diplomat’s son, is hard to take, while his lyrics seem awful garbled and clumsy (again c.f the always lucid, stark-yet-poetic force and directness of J. Rotten). In addition to his crimes against the electric guitar, Mick Jones looked absolutely frightful and wrote some incredibly moist songs like the sappy “Stay Free”. Despite all this The Clash did squeeze out a couple of undeniable greats in this first phase, “Complete Control” and “White Man In Hammersmith Palais”, and over albums three/ four/ five their classic-to-dud rate improves dramatically. (They were post-punk’s whipping boys, especially at the hands of PiL, perhaps because of the Levene connection, yet they matched Pil’s funk ‘n’ dub moves step for step, albeit always with a more rawk'n'roll guerrilla streetfighting man twist to them: “Magnificent Seven”, “Bankrobber”. Sandinista as their Metal Box? I’ve never listened to it, but Sasha F-Jones swears by that albumt). Yet The Clash for me are just one of those groups where as much as I might love certain specific sonic artifacts made by them (the more plaintive, desolate tunes typically: “Lost In the Supermarket”, “The Call Up’, “Straight To Hell”--the latter with its odd ethnic offkilter riddim-feel could almost belong on Odyshape) for some reason I just don’t love the band as an entity/soundvision/weltanschaung, don’t buy whatever it is they’re About (see also in this respect The Who and the Jam--Youth-Worship being the common link--but see also The Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth--for totally other reasons: they’re just too much in thrall to some bohemian NYC notion of Kool to feel affection or ardor for). With the Clash, that total identification thing that makes you describe yourself as a fan never took place. (On which subject, I recall some misty-eyed Big Audio Dynamite loving colleague at MM describing the messianic atmosphere at some major Clash gig in late 77, and declaring: “if Joe had told us to rush out of the Rainbow and storm the Houses of Common, we would have done it.”)

These thoughts were prompted by watching Rude Boy, the 1980 movie intended to be something like The Clash’s Great Rock’n’Roll Swindle but even more of a farrago than that ill-starred flick: a bizarre hybrid of concert movie/drama/documentary that the Clash ended up disowning. The documentary element is the only redeeming element. Great footage of the U.K. in 1978, National Front protestors outside a secondary school complaining about Trotskyites in the classroom promoting same-sex love and interracial breeding; Anti-Nazi League marches, the massive RAR festival in Brockwell Park. And beyond these specifics, it’s an amazing time-capsule of the sheer crapness of England in the late Seventies of Jim Callaghan and Grunwick and the Winter of Discontent, infusing everything from people’s clothes and hair to the advertising hoardings and pre-style culture drabness (the U.K. looks like an Eastern Bloc country). What makes Rude Boy virtually unwatchable though is that it’s focused on a Clash hanger-on/roadie, the repulsive Ray Gange, a real person who had some role in instigating the movie and co-writing it, but in some unclear way is playing himself as a character here. There he is, slouching into view, beer can perpetually in his fist, mouth twisted into a permanent jeer, an anti-socialist/anti-ANL or verging-on-racist comment forever on his lips. The film, made by Dave Mingay, seems to be covertly designed to discredit The Clash and punk, by suggesting that a lot of the fans were clueless, didn’t understand what the Clash were about (Gange, to Strummer: “I don’t think you should mix music and politics, I don’t like it,” “See, I’m not interested in improvig things for the many, I’m only interested in making sure I become one of the few”) and that most of them were going to vote Thatcher anyway (Rude Boy ends with Mrs T waving victorious on the steps of 10 Downing Street). Anyway, it was while I was watching Rude Boy that it struck me: this (meaning the Clash and the Tony Parsons/New Society discourse that framed them, in which punk was celebrated as a form of social realism/politicized protest) is one of the key historical sources for today’s squeamishness about the concept of streets, isn’t it? This --Mick Jones’s terrible hair and the gormless Gange getting choked up by “Stay Free” cos it was about the kind of wrong’un kids turned jailbirds he knew in Brixton and Streatham--is as good a starting point as any whence to date the slow steady discrediting of notions like "street crediblity" and "kids on the streets". After all, no one wants to come across like some hip sociologist or social worker wanking off over tower block youth overcoming deprivation, do they? Rude Boy’s secret agenda seems to be to show that such youth far from being noble proles are all scum just like the beer-scrounging ligger/crypto-racist Gange, while the Clash and the SWP alike are equally naïve and deluded for romanticising them.

Still in mitigation, I suppose it’s worth considering that before The Clash and their ilk this kind of imagery--tower blocks, dole queues etc--had never been part of rock music, like, at all-- so there was an element of abrasive innovation there, the unveiling of something suppressed and unacknowledged. Rose-tinted rock’n’roll rebel glasses notwithstanding, what they were attempting to describe actually existed. And, depressingly, still does (“Guns of Brixton” might once have seemed melodramatic, frontline streetfighter bullshit, now you’d probably have to describe it as an understated depiction). So while the truth may not be known by guttersnipes, it’s fair to say a truth of some sort is known by them, and at a bare minimum it might be worth paying attention to. I’d also maintain that my particular angle on the streets is not really equivalent to the SWP/Marxist sociologist one, if anything it's the reverse. I’m not hallucinating raw amorphous currents of proto-revolutionary energy out there. I mean, it’d be cool if they were, but…. You'll get momentary hints, pre-political glints--the occasional chink in the psychological armor, fractures in the mind-shield of false consciousness---like this garage tune where the MC addresses the playa-haters, saying “don’t hate me/hate the game”--which is saying, in effect: our conflict is structural, it’s based in something systemic---the radically dysfunctional inequity of a competition in which winners are over-rewarded out of all proportion and almost everybody else is a loser. But by and large from dancehall to UKG to thug rap, the consciousness of "the streets" is resolutely and remorselessly stuck at Gange-level: "I don’t care about the many, I just want to make sure I’m one of the few.” Across the spectrum of street sounds, it's the grotesqueness of this false consciousness and the bizarre distortions it produces, as dramatized by some (a nice bonus) pretty fucking exciting music, that is worth paying attention to. In an eerie sort of way, the scenarios of domination and humiliation, the social-life-as-total-war imagery in the lyrics achieve unintentionally precisely the stark diagrammatic view of deep structural realities as aimed for consciously and laboriously by your Gang of Fours or your Swans. Bashment Brecht, gangsta Beckett.
Crikey, two songs into Avey Tare & Panda Bear's set at Tonic last night and I was all set to hand in my AvantYob membership and join the Beatnik cru. Who knew that a pair of furiously strummed acoustic guitars, two male vocals gibbering in counterpoint, and one foot pounding rhythmically on a stagefloor could generate such intensity? It was sublime AND ridiculous, 'holy idiot' biznizz fi real. Imagine Tyrannosaurus Rex meets Meat Puppets I, or The Frogs crossed with Furious Pig. Only problem, Song #2 was the penultimate number. That's right, they only played for 15 minutes. I was expecting at least three hours of deep trance acoustica. I wanted to see broken strings, bleeding fingertips, long threads of drool hanging out the side of the singers' mouths, eyes rolled all the way back in their heads. Audience members starting to sway on their feet, people passing out. Only fifteen minutes--what is this, the Fire Engines revival?
Mark at k-punk takes the Good Bad Taste versus Bad Good Taste ball and runs with it. Further thoughts from me to follow.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

…. But Ingram (friday 23rd entry) forgot to deal with Good Bad Taste’s conceptual twin, it’s dialectical other half: Bad Good Taste. See, anybody can pick something crap and pretend you think it’s great, no honest, really. Like the young man I met at a party a few years ago in London, he may even have been a student, a real Oxfam fiend who purported to love Perry Como and Andy Williams. You don’t even have to make a particular effort, you can pick something you genuinely like--all of us have got crap things we succumb to in moments of weakness, when our guard is down (when I interviewed Green in '88 he said his favorite band of that moment was The Proclaimers--“I just allowed myself not to think too hard about it”). And you can make a shtick out of it, or even a worldview. (Or a game--like I did with Dominic of the Stud Brothers, it only worked if both parties were absolutely honest, basically each took turns to think of something they genuinely liked that was generally deemed “crap” or at least that you thought the other person would think was abhorrent. And you got a point if you managed to genuinely disgust them with your selection. Dom was way ahead for a while, a seemingly unbeatable run of American AOR (“Pat Benatar, you’ve got to be kidding!”) and things like All About Eve, but then I got on a good streak of Prefab-type stuff, what the Studs called “nance” (i.e. music by and for nancy boys) and delivered the killer blow by confessing to liking something by China Crisis and moreover purchasing the single. The look on Dom’s face! In retrospect, I’d have to say our friendship never really recovered.)

That’s good trivial fun but the point is to make some kind of point out of your bad taste, in the process questioning what “taste” is, whether “tasteful” is any kind of thing to be (cf. recent ILM thread), and bringing into plain sight the social forces arrayed behind questions of Good and Bad and who gets to decide. Where Good Bad Taste is an interesting and possibly important intervention is when it entails going back to your Bourdieu and the mechanisms by which rankings and distinction within aesthetics correspond to real-world structures of hierarchy, exclusion and condescension. In other words, bring a bit of base into your superstructure. That’s where Good Bad Taste versus Bad Good Taste goes beyond being a form of hipster oneupmanship, and takes on a degree of dare I say it ethical urgency.

So on the one hand (Bad Good Taste), there’s music that appears to have all the right credentials and makes all the right discursive noises, but is actually (relatively) undeserving. On the other (Good Bad Taste), music that’s neglected, disregarded, derided, treated like a pariah, but has the Right Stuff by the ton. Now, the funny thing is, these black sheep of the critical discourse quite often correspond to sociocultural ‘black sheep’ out there in the (pardonnez moi) real world. There’s in fact a surprisingly consistent pattern to it (the word ‘black’ is not entirely irrelevant, and let’s not forget the C-word). It’s true (mixing my animal metaphors) that supporting musical underdogs doesn’t necessarily have any beneficial side-effects for social underdogs. My attitude, though, is why heap aesthetic injustice on top of social injustice? On just about every level--sonic, lyrical, timeliness, relevance--you could measure by, it’s Dizzee Rascal that ought to be on the cover of The Wire, not Yo La Tengo or (more apposite comparison) Asian Dub Foundation. But talking the kind of talk that gets you on the cover of the Wire is not what Dizzee Rascal’s about. He’s from a different world.

(It’s not a binary of course, the field is complicated by the fact that as well as Good Bad Taste and Bad Good Taste, there’s also Good Good Taste--in which last category I’d put microhouse, for instance--and Bad Bad Taste (a lot of music made by and for the “subaltern”--hey, it’s Gramsci month, go with the flow--is just crap. Or at least doesn't have the avant-edge aspect). So it can get a bit messy, there’s subtle degrees of stuff going on. I’d say generally speaking though there’s a consistent imbalance where pretty-decent-but-not-ultimately-all-that-amazing-or-deserving artists who talk the right “progressivist” talk -- prefuse, dj rupture, spring to mind---prosper hugely in comparison to those who actually surpass them in the innovator-stakes but don’t talk that talk or have the right connections or are considered to be operating in a field decreed “commercial” or lumpen.)

Back to Ingram and the question---who invented the Good Bad Taste move? He says Lester Bangs, and he’s definitely the most famous exponent, because the transvaluation using Iggy, Count Five, Troggs etc versus Cream/James Taylor/etc that Bangs wrought became a world-historical force (punk) and has rewritten the history books (it’s the entire art-rock/prog-rock era 67-75, that relatively speaking, in terms of academic and critical attention, been neglected), rewritten them so effectively, such that the Bangsian programme keeps repeating (see the nu-garage punk), indeed one might say that the counter-hegemony has itself become hegemonic. Kogan and Sinker would probably say Richard Meltzer got there first, though, with his idea that once you got comfortable with your own idea of rebel music and illegitimacy, the next step was to consider the illegitimacy to your own taste of schmaltz or soft music or… A combo of Bangs and Meltzer is where you get your Kogan-Eddy dance from.

In UK terms, though, you'd have to say Nik Cohn is the Avatar--his concept of Superpop as glorious mythic pulp fiction (and dismissal in advance of the coming age of post-Sgt Pepper’s art-rock--“there’ll probably be video albums of combined music and visual imagery, and rock symphonies, and music of exquisite refinement, but count me out, I’ll be in the front row at the moviehouse gawping at the latest Hollwood creation, dreaming my pulp dreams”--I paraphrase from memory), but in terms of my generation, we got it from Morley. Who in 82 I think it was got Kim Wilde on the cover of NME, and who opined, generating massive shockwaves of controversy (well some angry letters from readers) that a certain Tight Fit 12 inch single was better than the complete works of Led Zeppelin. Demonstrably untrue, of course, but it served its purpose in the great Anti-Rockism wars of the day (truth being the first casualty etc). Pop-ism, or at least the UK version, began there.

Saturday, May 24, 2003

Why do I find the following so infuriating?

=====nu skool breaks=====

…..chicken lips re-echoed,re-extended and re-hashed cd 12.99 this album showcases the quality remixes of their own material they have picked up along the way from black strobe,justin robertson, medicine 8, peace division,maurice fulton etc

darqwan nocturnal remix 12 4.99 Oris Jay AKA Darqwan's sound has mutated from post UK garage to the heavier end of the breaks scene, and appeals to jocks across the board.included are mixes from geeneus and vip plus an amazing remix of the 8 bar anthem tribesmen from the virus syndicate

dizzee rascal i luv u cds 3.99 teenage pregnancy, badboy bravado,a dark ragga-industrial bassline,loose gyals-i luv u has it all. dizzee rascal is a 16 year old mc and this teenager is the voice of this years youth. his lyrical flow is angry and articulate. the cd single features the clean radio edit, the remix and original mix ....

[extract from the Rough Trade Shops new releases 19/5/03 email circular]

Am I being, like, really petty here? I mean to say, if you’re not going to file Diz under UK Garage where he belongs (while simultaneously not belonging--just an integral paradox of the hardcore continuum and its punctual paradigm shifts), well at least put him in UK hip hop or something, which sort of makes sense in a ‘final coming of BritRap fi-real deal’ way. But please, whatever you do, don’t shunt him in with the nu skool breaks squad! Nu skool breaks, that fraud, that lamest of dead-in-the-water ducks! See, whenever I’m in a mood to be reminded that “it’s all over” I’ll do one of two things: either contemplate the existence of DJ Irene, or flick through a mag like BPM where ‘nu skool breaks” is reviewed on the same page as a sort of split column with “progressive” (that other null void of imploded once-revolutionary energy) Honestly, it’s salutary, a sort of anti-tonic, a real spirit-wilter, to read someone like DJ Hyper of Bedrock Breaks mix-CD fame observe “Sasha plays a lot of breaks in his set these days”. Or just ponder the term (swill it around your mind, anti-savour its bouquet) “proggy breaks”. The nu skoolers are welcome to Oris Jay aka Darqwan aka Mr Breakstep (the night last year when me and my pals oscillated back and forth between 2 Many DJs on one side of West 14th St and Oris Jay on the other was the most dreary, demoralizing night ever in my whole “journey through dance culture”, and that includes the trip to Megatripolis). But lumping Dizzee, probably the most exciting UK artist to emerge this millenium, alongside an outfit that rejoices in the name Chicken Lips.… it’s a travesty. Whether it’s simple cluelessness, or some sort of subconscious hipster malice toward That Which Renders Almost Everything You're Into Pallid and Irrevelant, well, it’s hard to say. But even in simple practical good sense retailing terms it makes no sense: any punter who was actually looking to buy “I Luv U”, the last place they’d look is nu-skool breaks.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

It's an unstoppable tide, a postmedia exodus, a massive brain drain. Now Philip Sherburne's gone and started one, and so has Andy Battaglia . He and Phil can now form an unofficial microhouse webring with Matos, Finney and Dale. Meanwhile Kodwo Eshun is "toying" with the idea of starting a blog.

In related Eshun news, he just sent me a beaut of a Uberhipsters United Stocks & Shares Report. Gonna be a nightmare tabulating all the reports together though as quite a lot of the data contradicts each other, some folk's tres hot's are another's past-sell-by-date, and there is so much info that it would add up to something getting on for a small encyclopaedia of rock & etc marginalia. I might have to do a thinned-out table, and then run the individual ballots, or at least a choice selection of the most striking ones, separately, a la Pazz & Jop. Should be doing this within the week.

Also, Kodwo related an alarming story about a fire at his house. Record collector types are advised to sit down at this point. Yes it started in the room in which Kodwo keeps his record collection. Amazingly the damage doesn't seem as bad as it might have been and there's insurance but of course certain records are hard verging on impossible to replace. And one of the prime casualties (seriously, sit down Ingram, you won't like what's coming) was... the Enforcers 6 & 7 double picture disc pack on Reinforced. Yes the blood does run cold, doesn't it? That's the one with Neil Trix's "Gestures Without Motion" on, and the gorgeous Myerson track "Find Yourself" (real lost-futures/alternate d&b path biznizz). It's a remote possibility I know but I thought I'd ask on his behalf if anyone out there has a double of this record and would do him a deal on it.

Monday, May 19, 2003

Seeing as I’m supposed to only have ears for UKG and dancehall (if only it were true, I’m so from being on top of the latter, if it weren’t for this chap Peter Maplestone who lives on the other side of the planet, Australia to be precise, and traded me a bunch of ragga comps--Black Chiney 7 rocks!!!--I’d be, like totally out of the loop), I’m way overdue adding my voice to the chorus of praise re. The Bug’s Pressure: K. Martin’s best since Re-Entry and stunningly well-timed given the discernible drift ragga-wards by the hipsterati (in the absence of much else exciting going on?). Course Kev’s been into this stuff for ages, in fact I think he might have been the first person of my acquaintance to suggest that dancehall was verily the Shit and that one really ought to check it out. (There was also a very precocious I. Penman review in 92 or 93 of some dancehall comps in The Wire , words to the effect that ragga was doing what techno did before techno did it). On this subject, the other day I had one of those moments, walking through one of the street fairs that infest Manhattan as soon as the summer definitively arrives and passing a stall peddling cheap knock-off mix-CDs, whence wafted the most boglicious tune, familiar-but-unknown, inducing rapid escalation through “I know this/I LOVE this/what IS this?/I’ll never remember/AAARRGH!!!!”. Some weird music-saddo’s guardian angel must have been watching over me that day, because later, at home, looking for something else, I stumbled upon Lethal Riddims: Dancehall Explosion 93 (Relativity), wacked it on cos I was on that vibe, and there it is was, track #2, the very same mystery tune: Dirtsman, “Hot This Year”. One of the first wave of raggasploitation comps, the CD is a seriously excellent primer, all killer no filler: among its highlights Cutty Ranks “A Who She Me Dun”, source of the famous “six million ways to die” sample, and Buju Banton’s “Big It Up”, still probably my all-time favorite ragga tune. Certainly the first to make me WAKE UP to just how strange the ragga way with rhythm was. A Dave Kelly production, it’s like there’s this great gape where the groove ought to be--the drum kit’s a crater and round the rim there’s little peppery squits and pitters of digital percussion, while the core pulse is almost below the threshold of hearing: your guts shimmy to this bippety 808-bass played like it’s a tabla or conga or something---sub-bass palpitating at two or three times the speed you’d expect somethiing so low-frequency to run at. Scores of listens later, it still does my head in, intestines too. It would be a shame though, I s’pose, if in its latest rediscovery dancehall got totally equated with and celebrated for its avant-hard credentials: riddimatic fucked-ness, gravelly-vocaled menace. Lethal Riddims, being 10 years old and making me aware how fast dancehall moves with its hothouse peer-pressure/cut-throat market competition dynamics, made me go the opposite direction temporally, back to 1985, when dancehall did not = ragga: Barrington Levy’s “Here I Come”, Anthony Red Rose’s “Tempo”, Tenor Saw “Ring The Alarm”. There’s a line in the latter I’d never noticed before, when in the middle of singing mellifluously about sounds smiting other sounds, making them die, Tenor croons “sweet reggae music ‘pon the attack”. There’s worlds in that line, it’s the kind of thing Green Gartside used to go on about: the violence of the softest, sweetest music, the way listening to the Staple Singers or Gregory Isaacs tears you apart. And conversely, the tenderness, the gentle enfolding caress of sonic brutality, bass pressure that mashes you to a pulp but feels like a healing, a sanctification. At any rate if there’s going to be a hipster craze for ragga it’d be nice if lover’s rock and the more dulcet side of dancehall got dragged along for the ride.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

here's that Prefuse 73 quote in full, on who he'd most like to collaborate with, from Sleazenation via Scott @ somedisco (cheers Scott your CDR is in the mail BTW):

"Ludacris, because with Ludacris so many people would hate on it like
'Ludacris?! fuck man I hate him'. but I love him, I think he's fucking
hilarious. He has such a presence, he can be doing the same flow on every
track but it sounds really dope to me."

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Blimey, who knew? Rub a Prefuse 73 fan up the wrong way at your peril! Auspicious Fish's Nick Southall's still fuming because I dared to suggest Ludacris’s records might be a tad more bold and exciting than Scott Herren’s, and Steve Kiviat reckons there's a glaring contradiction in me loving both the Associates and dancehall. But where exactly is this piece of writing where I’m supposed to have stated that the only music worth bothering with comes from that (hotly disputed--do they even exist?) place known as "the streets"?.

The Prefuse 73 versus Ludacris contrast was more or less plucked out of the air, but it turns out to be more apposite than I’d thought. Both Herren and Ludacris come from Atlanta; both's music is often doing this hip hop meets electronica thing---Herren in a more Warpy IDM way, and Ludacris (or rather his producers, especially this guy Shondrae) with more dark-tekno sicknoise riffs and and ravey stabs. I don’t actually think Prefuse 73 is crap, just a bit uninvolving (I’ve really tried with those records but it’s a bad sign when you can’t remember a single tune after several plays) whereas the Shondrae-produced “What’s Your Fantasy” grabbed me by the throat the first time I heard it and still sounds amazingly odd and compelling some 50 listens later. Funnily enough with the Warp comparison, there's a track on Ludacris's debut album called "Get Me Off' that is so LFO-meets-Phoenicia-via-bounce it's not true. Is it really so obvious to the naked ear, that Herren's way with rhythm and sound is more complex and clever than the guys who build the beats for Ludacris? I really don't think so--just more fiddly and dysfunktional.

As it happens, bizarrely enough, Herren in a recent interview actually declared that the one person he'd really love to work with is Ludacris! He thinks Ludacris is brilliant. So he's obviously a man of taste if nothing else.

From this one example--a mere aside in a piece about something else--certain folks have concluded that here at Blissblog we are operating some kind of affirmative action programme. Actually until quite recently I labored under the false impression Herren was black. If you were to glance back at the recent, most-disparate list of faves of the year so far, and subjected them to rigorous Marxian analysis, 90 percent of them would probably turn out to be made by people of bourgeois origin. There’s also not a single "street rap" record as I recall--so far it’s been a pretty piss-poor year on that front, although I should probably have included Field Mob’s “Sick of Being Lonely”, Freeway’s “What We Do” and maybe that tune by Joe Budden. None of them are fit to kiss the feet of "Southern Hospitality", "Move" or "Rollout" though.

I must admit I am intrigued by the histrionic squeamishness about the word “street” (for me, by now, a pretty neutral descriptive term, largely based on the fact this is how these musics think of themselves and present themselves--I mean, fer chrissakes, I open today’s Village Voice and there’s a piece on Fabolous’ new album which is called Street Dreams). Initially I was perplexed, but then I started to think: when a simple word like “street” triggers such knee-jerk (ab)reactions, well maybe I’ve actually managed to put my finger on an interesting sore spot. Where does it come from, this violent antipathy to words like “street” or to the use of class as an analytical tool? There seems to a sort of disavowal at work here (the analogy with the anti-affirmative action movement may be rather telling). Are these people really suggesting that an individual’s social background or the social composition of specific scenes has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the shape or attributes of the music they created? I think at some point in the coming weeks I shall have to launch an investigation into this topic. Working title: “Stay Off The Streets: The Genealogy of an Embarrassment”.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

With a belated flurry of data reports (including some from unlikely quarters---wotcher Noam! big up ya chest Greil! [not sure though about Dylan going in a special Eternal Untouchable category by himself I'll have to get back to you on that one m8] Nice one Diamanda, bit cheeky love putting yourself in Hardy Perennials and Tres Hot) it looks like I'll soon to be in a position to tabulate the results. Any last minute contributions, get your skates on. A couple of guidelines, perhaps I wasn't clear enough but t that thing I posted was not an updated version, it was the thing I did in '94 untouched, so almost nothing on it is relevant anymore. Also, this chart doesn't reflect the actual aesthetic worth or eminence of anything (nor its collector value in monetary terms), it's strictly about it's currency as subcultural capital, its hipness quotient, and also in a subsidiary sense whether such-and-such a band has anything more to "give" in terms of being a resource for ripping off by bands in the formative process of constructing a sonic identity for themselves, whether the seam has been tapped out for the time being. For instance, Jon Dale suggested that Shirley Collins ought to go in "timeless", and he may be right. But I'm sure I'm not alone here when I confess that until the bloke in Current 93 started banging on about her a few years ago I'd never heard of her. For decades in hip circles I can pretty much guarantee you Shirley Collins would never have been mentioned, indeed the very idea of some middle aged bird singing ancient English folk songs would have been the source of some mirth. But now you get the likes of Malkmus going on about her, a process of intrigue and buzz has been set in motion, such to the point where I've been seriously contemplating buying the Collins box-set that's just come out despite the fact A/ I've never heard a note by her B/ I never buy box-sets. (And yes yes, I'm easily manipulated). But that's what this index is examining---the mechanisms by which things like "timelessness" and "relevance" get constructed and manoevured into place. And also how these attributes fade: I love Neu! and Can til the end of time but if a band comes along now saying 'we love Neu! there's a definite Can influence esp Tago Mago and Ege Bamyasi in our music' I wouldn't be able to stop myself yawning. So it's an investigation into the provisional nature of the game of hip. And hopefully a bit of a laugh--at our own expense as much as anything.
Sasha Frere-Jones's got one now 'n' all. 'S all the rage innit. (Come on Morley get your act together). At this rate pretty soon one might never have need to buy a magazine again.
Harry Hosono, a couple of folks inform me, is the main chap in Yellow Magic Orchestra. Oops, I suppose that's the sort of thing I really ought to know.

Saturday, May 10, 2003

Ingram amusingly torn between jealously hoarding his subcultural capital and spilling the beans, but does the right thing. The data will be factored in with the other reports coming in and duly tabulated. One question: just who the hell are Francois Rabbath and Harry Hosono?



























Hyperdub agent and CCRU (black) operative Mark Fisher launches a blog. It's called K-Punk and kicks off with a stout defense of “Club Country” against its detractors (Jon Dale, and me, sort of). I do love the tune but even at the time it seemed a bit linear and conventionally single-like coming after “Party Fears Two.” I like Mark’s interpretation of "Club Country" but I always took it as a fairly topical satire/critique of the New Romantics (I think Mackenzie & Rankine actually passed through that world and found it wanting, could be wrong though), this topicality in itself slightly diminishing the song c.f. the timeless mystery of "Party Fears". Lines like “if you stick around, you're sure to be looked down upon” seemed like a jibe at the pseudo-aristocratic poseurs of Blitz and Club For Heroes. Still, Mark’s reading may be the richer one, to see it as applicable to all kinds of self-declared elites, incrowds, and pseudo-nobilities.

In lots of ways Associates were like New Romanticism if it had actually been any good, had lived up to its name: the debts to Bowie and Roxy, the Europeanism, the Teutonicized funk, the androgyny/homoeroticism/male hysteria. (Mind you, there's folks that swear by the second Visage album so maybe I should reconsider that verdict. Anything anointed by Robert "Journeys To Glory Sleevenotes" Elms tends to trigger a knee-jerk spasm of scepticism though--remember the Eighties jazz-revival?).

Scott at Somedisco asked me to elucidate the remark about "A White Car In Germany" doing "for Low/"Heroes" what Isn't Anything/Loveless do for White Light White Heat/Psychocandy". It's an ultracompressed gesture at the idea of works that in strict historical terms are derivative but which actually surpass their predeccesors almost to the point of obliterating them. In other words, the polar opposite of "the pale copy". So "A White Car In Germany" wouldn't exist without Bowie-in-Berlin, but eclipses those records; it's the reverse of dilution, it's distillation/concentration. MBV and Associates both do a simliar kind of thing to their sources, bring out a swoon-swirly delirium that was latent but unrealised. To use Harold "Anxiety of Influence" Bloom lingo, Fourth Drawer/Sulk and Isn’t/Loveless are examples of the successful poem as an "achieved anxiety": after a titanic Oedipal struggle with the ancestor-poet, the influence has been so utterly assimilated and internally alchemised that the poet is able to convince himself (and more crucially, convince everybody else too) that he’s somehow self-begotten, wholly original and ancestor-less. Back in 1982, it never remotely occurred to me that Billy MacKenzie vocally bore any relationship to Bowie; likewise, and weirder still, in 1988, mind and body blown by those two amazing EPs leading up to Isn’t Anything, it seemed to me like My Bloody Valentine were totally self-fathered. Quite a conjuror's trick this, given that only a couple of years earlier I’d actually seen them live, when they were deeply J&MC indebted and seemingly utterly second-rate. (What happened?).

Anyway, a very welcome addition to the blogmos, K-Punk. What with Penman in the fray and in full flow, all we need now is to prod Kodwo Eshun to start one. Petition, anybody? There's a whole bunch of new-ish blogs of note, actually: the self-explanatory (and faintly megalomaniac sounding) World of Stelfox, Nathalie ex-stevienixed’s Parapraxis, the aforementioned and utterly idiosyncratic Somedisco, the Yes-No interlude, Uncarved Chaos who I already linked to over there>>> but the link's fucked, this Howie feller who keeps changing the name of his blog each time, probably a fair few others I'm forgetting.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

L'il Kim's new "Elizabeth Taylor as SuperHo" image is a bit disconcerting. Is it just me, or are the track's horn-parps meant to sound like cleavage-induced body-farts?
A swoony celebration of those sumptuous Associates, courtesy of Astronaut's Notepad. I concur with Jon that after the last bars of "18 Carat Love Affair/"Love Hangover", there's nowt worth bothering with, if cruel truth be told. That "A White Car In Germany" is the Zenith (it does for Low/"Heroes" what Isn't Anything/Loveless do for White Light White Heat/Psychocandy). That "Club Country" is not in the same league as the other singles (still love it though). But wot, no mention of "Skipping", definitely in their Top 5 most voluptuously giddy songs? And I can't believe he doesn't care that much for "Q Quarters", the missing link between Cabaret Voltaire's "Your Agent Man" and the Banshees's "Slowdive".

Sunday, May 04, 2003

Okay, people, I need your help here. Digging through some old diskettes the other day I stumbled on this, something I wrote for the debut issue of The Lizard (great lost UK music mag of the Nineties etc), a sort of Stocks and Shares Index of Influences for rock bands. This was late 1994, almost nine years ago, so it is way WAY out of date, obviously. Thought it might be both a gas and informative to update it, drawing on a broad pool of expertise--i.e. you lot. The 'Passe' section is pretty easy: I think we can safely put Gang of Four in there, for instance. 'Hot... For Now', likewise: obvious candidates might be This Heat, Shirley Collins, ragga. The fun categories are 'Tres Hot' (opportunity to show off your uber-hipster metereologist-of-cool grip on the minutest distant-rim-of-the-horizon fluctuations in semi-semi-semi-popular taste, although looking at some of the ones from '94---'Sweetest Girl' era Scritti? The Eagles?? Family????--I can't think what was happening then that made me imagine they were genuine reference points for then-current bands). And funnest still the Rank Outsiders section. The latter is more wishful thinking than anything, what you'd like to see become a rip-off source for new bands. Some of the ones from '94--Frippertronics, Japan circa Adolescent Sex--still haven't had their number come up, more's the pity, although pleasingly "DIY era Scritti" and "A Certain Ratio circa Graveyard and the Ballroom" have, finally. 'Beyond the Pale of Rehabilitation' is also a tricky one, I was quite wrong about ELO, indeed only the other day I got a press release which cited Electric Light Orchestra as a key source for the band's alleged excellence.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

THE LIZARD INFLUENCES INDEX
Financiers speculate in futures; alternative bands speculate in pasts. So here's a Financial Times style index of influences, a table of what's hot and what's not, e,g, sell those shares in Krautrock, BUY BUY BUY late '70s San Francisco art-punk. It's a guide for nascent bands on how to construct an aesthetic from scratch, and a tipsheet for established groups, rockcrits and fans on names to drop in interviews/reviews/conversation, so as to stay ahead in the cooler-than-thou stakes. The table is divided into several rankings of influence, and the comments in [brackets] reveal what each rank really says about you.
________________________________________________________________________
HARDY PERENNIALS
[so obvious that they're actually cooler than the obscurantist stuff--the oneupmanship manoevure used by Stone Roses, Manics, Oasis]
Beatles. Rolling Stones. Sex Pistols.
________________________________________________________________________
PASSE
[exhausted by over-use, ex-cool, and thus middlebrow]
Big Star. Black Sabbath. Led Zep. Funkadelic. Neil Young. Husker Du. Brian Wilson. Nick Drake. Syd Barrett. Velvet Underground. Cocteau Twins. Jesus and Mary Chain.
_______________________________________________________________________
HOT... FOR NOW
[right on the money, but may soon turn middlebrow]
Can/Faust/Neu!. Cheap Trick. Rush. Lynyrd Skynyrd. The Soft Machine. Muzak and exotica. Slint. The Raincoats.
________________________________________________________________________
TRES HOT
[dead-cert cooler-than-thou KO trump manoeuvre]
Cluster *. The Associates. Amon Duul II. Japan circa 'Tin Drum'. Amon Duul. The Groundhogs. Fairport Convention**. Popol Vuh***. King Crimson. early Roxy Music. Virgin-era Scritti Politti. Pink Fairies. Robert Wyatt circa 'Rock Bottom'. The Eagles. Budgie. Blue Orchids. 23 Skidoo. Incredible String Band. Electric Prunes****. early Renaissance/Pentangle. 'Sweetest Girl/Faithless' era Scritti. Brainticket. La Dusselldorf. Chrome. MX-80. John Fahey. pre-synthesiser Kraftwerk. Nurse With Wound. Jimmy Castor Bunch. Family.
________________________________________________________________________
RANK OUTSIDERS FOR '95
[a gamble--could trump all-comers, or just get egg-on-face]
Japan circa "Adolescent Sex". Late T.Rex circa 'Light Of Love'. DIY
era Scritti. Gentle Giant. Renaissance circa 'Northern Lights'. Allman Brothers. Van Der Graaf Generator. Talking Heads. The Sensational Alex Harvey Band. Molly Hatchet. Atomic Rooster. A Certain Ratio circa 'Graveyard and the Ballroom'. Jethro Tull. Man. Foghat. Flesh For Lulu. Frippertronics era Robert Fripp. Bowie circa "Ashes To Ashes". early UFO. Spooky Tooth.
_______________________________________________________________________
BEYOND THE PALE OF REHABILITATION
[terminally square]
Boomtown Rats. Electric Light Orchestra. Elton John. Toyah. Bob Marley. Bread. Bad Manners. Oi! Men At Work. Midnight Oil.
**********************************************************************
NOTES
*/Cluster: just check Main's discography.
**/Fairport: J. Mascis apparently obsessed with Richard Thompson's axework.
*** /Popol Vuh: see Flying Saucer Attack, Stereolab.
****/Electric Prunes: big influence on Spiritualized
.

Oops, at least three people inform me that Rough Trade---or at least the Covent Garden branch-do stock a bit dancehall---some comps, even some seven inch singles. One source says he picked up a Clipse track there. Still, neither ragga or street rap are priority enough to figure in the New Releases mass email (unlike, say 'afro and latin grooves' or 'downtempo'). And the main plank of my animus--the peculiar treatment of UKG--still stands. On which tip, the latest New Releases email is really quite surreal. There's only item listed under Nu Skool Breaks (hhmm, vibrant 'n' vital genre isn't it? whereas UKG even in its quietest week would have a couple of dozen new whites out, at least), and it's not even a nu skool breaks track, it's garage. The track is Medasyn 'We Spray' on Casual Records, described as "superb new uk garage from gabriel who is a member of the outfit spektrum (of recent abstract house fave "Freefall"). features mc frost p and zuz rock on vocal duties". (Who are these people? Seriously, am I missing something here?). And then there's this: "if you are feeling the dizzee rascal sound then you have to check this out!". Ah, so they do know who Dizzee Rascal is, are totally aware that some people are feeling that sound and that it's all quite urgent and happening. They just don't happen to stock anything by him or his ilk. But if they did, they'd file it under Nu Skool Breaks! Presumably because two or three years there was a brief moment of faint sonic convergence between the breakstep end of UKG and nuskool such that Rennie 'Stupid Fucking Name" Pilgrem would review the occasional Stanton Warriors or Deekline track in his Muzik column amongst the usual crap...