Tuesday, June 24, 2003

dizzee album random thoughts instalment two

---possibly my favorite single sound on the record comes in the intro to “Do It”, when he’s saying “It’s like no one understands sometimes”---there’s a high lonesome plaintiveness and piteousness to his voice, bordering on a whimper. Exquistely crestfallen. And then he moan-intones “friends don’t understand us/adults don’t understand us/no one understands us” in a little trance of dejection.

---it’s Dizzee’s timbre and tone--wounded/wounding, vulnerable/vindictive, fragile/explosive--that’s what I’m getting at with Voice of A Generation -- literally the voice as sound rather than what’s it’s saying. In this respect I’d compare him to Thom Yorke (definitely a voice to wallow in, rather than interpret) or even Morrissey. Something in the sound of Morrissey’s voice connected viscerally with a whole generation--the mix of feyness, forlorness, dreaminess, petulance, narcissism, righteousness, anger, fatalism, exile, yearning---its milky poignancy--as much as his lyrics, which were coming from a pretty unique place. I don’t think that many of his mostly hetero following really identified with the song scenarios, it was the general tenor of unrequited-ness and homesickness and damaged defiant self-love in his voice-as-material-substance. A profound physical cathexis took place in 1984. Or think of Cobain, that old-man-coming-from-a-young-man’s body, that exhausted rasp, that defeated snarl, that counted for more, "said" more, than his fractured, opaque lyrics ever did. So Dizzee: it’s a voice ting, that conflicted, combustible alloy of disgust, impotence, spite, megalomania, poise, hysteria.... The fact that he has heaps to say and a way with words is just a bonus

--God, is “Do It” chipped from the same block as ‘Forbidden Colours’ or what? He can’t be a Sylvian fan, though, that’s just too implausible. It must be that those sort of offkey synth chords and tremulous bamboo-music textures just filtered into the hardcore continuum at some point, maybe via the likes of Goldie. Or do those quasi-Oriental tonalities just get generated when people who aren’t "musical" grapple with synths? Also connects to the gamelan-garage thing-- people laying plinky percussive sounds across a sampling keyboard and playing little percussive-melodic vamps and riffs, turning the sampler into surrogate marimbas or metallophones. That puts you in a Far East microtonal type place straightaway.

--the fantasy of a London ‘Grime’ movement taking the rap world by storm is of course fantastical--I wouldn’t actually be surprised, or even disappointed really, if by end of the year Dizzee in the US was where The Streets is at now -- success d’estime, Anglophile fanbase, and trailing behind the usual phalanx of doubters and niggardly nativists wheeling out the customary put-downs (doesn’t flow, the beats don’t groove, he… he… he’s a Limey). (Big up the not-easily-impressed crew, the hype-bubble popping massive, doing their valuable work). Given the gate-kept, isolationist lockdown that is the US rap industry, yes, modest cult success is the most likely outcome. But one can dream and one can also perhaps float the concept of “aesthetic justice”. In a better world, it would not be utterly inconceivable that a rapper from the UK could have major impact here---if not Cobain-scale, at least on a par with a DMX. But of course everything both outside and inside music suggests that we live in a radically unfair world. So roll on Dizzee for #11 in Pazz & Jop. If he places higher than Ms. Dynamite I’d be over the fucking moon.

-- of course where the fantasy has the tiniest faintest chink of possibility to it is that American rap is indisputably at a low point. The underground chunters along in the holding pattern it’s been held in since forever; the overground seems to have had all the imagination drained out of it. Rap-wise we’re at the point of Warrant and Slaughter. It’s ripe for something. Where Dizzee fits in with this picture is that he has the grime/avant-hard/darkness talking-about-real-real-stuff-not-pseudoReal-stuff aspects of your Cannibal Oxes combined with the bigger-bolder production, larger-than-life feel, and accessibility/in yer face directness of the last four years of street rap--DMX, Ludacris, etc. ‘”I Luv U” really does remind me of the Butch Vig Nirvana of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ -- glossy grunge, the sheer attack of it, the sense of momentum within it, and behind it (pushed by obscure social forces--it’s already come a helluva long way since being a pirate white label last summer). (Didn’t the Pet Shops Boys once say they liked ‘Smell Likes’ 'cos it sounded more like a rave record than a rock song?). And Dizzee’s actually a teenager, one who oscillates violently between being spirited and dispirited.

--but the Morrissey parallel is probably most apt. Even the disappointing UK chart position of "I Luv U" reminds me of what it was like to be a Smiths fan--the singles never got as high as they seemed to deserve. The sheer disbelief when "This Charming Man" only got to #25, and even more when "How Soon Is Now"--Epic Rock Single Dead Cert Number One surely?--only got to #24. The deep sense of aesthetic injustice. Fits with the Anglophile constituency syndrome in the USA too: the lost cause of being a Smiths fan in America. Why couldn't a new Morrissey for this new endless 1985 (worst pop year ever) emerge from London pirate radio? A voice coming in from the cold. Battling against the times. Bringing the truth few want to hear. “Oh, it’s real out here”… “MCs better start chatting about what’s really happening” . Panic in the streets of London, etc. The obsession with lost innocence, the wistful nostalgia. Dizzee even disses Her Majesty c.f. Mozz's "I'd like to drop my trousers to the Queen"...

Monday, June 23, 2003

bit more on Sylvian...

“Ghosts” is one of only two things by Sylvian I paid money for, so maybe Mark is right about it being exceptional in the Japan canon for its overt emotion; other stuff, like “Art of Parties”, sounds great but was a bit disengaged for me. But per Mark’s reading, maybe that’s what great about it, the slink of the surfaces.

The other thing was “Bamboo Music/Bamboo Houses” by Sylvian-Sakomoto: amazing drum programming. (Still haven’t heard “Riot In Lagos”--somebody help me out here!).

The China/Japan totalitarian chic thing doesn’t run deep, sure… it’s appropriately shallow, flirtation with decontextualized signifiers in true glam style. Still I notice that there’s a song called ‘Communist China’ on the first album, while on the Teutonic tip there’s “Suburban Berlin” and “Nightporter” which I assume is inspired by the Dirk Bogarde as Nazi-in-hiding movie. They also have a tune called “Rhodesia” bizarrely enough---surely the only rock song about this white-power pariah of the world community state, although i daresay there's a roots reggae tune of the same title.

That bio Mark links doesn’t mention “class”’ as such (maybe press releases should come with sociological data). But I’d hazard a guess re Sylvian: he’s from that upper W/C, lower M/C indeterminate greyzone whence so much great UK pop stems.

The later stuff’s not as barren as Mark makes out (although I once dismissed Sylvian solo as “jet-set mysticism”, while Jonh Wilde’s description of his voice as sounding like hair lacquer struck me as uncomfortably apt). But the “Gone To Earth” instrumentals are lovely in a Durutti/Budd/John Abercrombie sort of way, while things like “Orpheus” and “Waiting For the Agony To Stop” have a certain Scott Walker-goes-ECM grandeur. But I would swap his entire solo career for “Adolescent Sex” the title track of the first Japan album. It’s like disco-metal or something, its sashaying glitterball raunch and cokane dazzle suggesting a whole lost future or parallel pop universe. It’s like Guns N’Roses “Welcome To the Jungle” produced by Daft Punk circa “Digital Love” or something. This totally plasticized, artificial rock music that still rocks. (The only thing I’ve heard like it is some tracks made by Last Few Days, a second-tier industrial group who circa ’89 totally reinvented themselves as this glammed avant-raunch outfit and got a major label deal. Then they unwisely went house and that was that).

It’s interesting how Japan (and Foxx-era Ultravox too come to think of it) had so many of the same inputs and reference points as Siouxsie & the Banshees---Roxy, Velvets (Japan covered ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’), Dolls, Eno, Bowie, similar movies and books too I’ll bet, similar flirtations (that decadence/fascism/S&M/voyeurism) and shtick (ice queen, don’t touch me, regal remoteness, I am a machine, metal will rule in my master scheme). And yet the Banshees were deemed "punk" and all through this period Japan and Ultravox were jeered at as glam johnny-come-latelys, throwbacks. If you reconfigured glam as the true 70s revolution/upheaval in 70s UK pop, and made punk into its aftershock, you might get some interesting results.

Mark quotes Penman on the later Ferry stranded in an “autumn swirl of shrivelled or dying signs (that once were lustrous: 'dance' - 'drug' - 'love'), making solemn play of an immensely empty escape in the facades of an eternal tone - windswept, misty, limpidly sensual, banal.” The comeback Roxy is something I’d probably have mostly disregarded at the time, except in an idle radio enjoyment way--not sure I’d even heard the original Roxy then, so had no disappointment or betrayal to bring to the table. But I always really liked the glint-swirl synths of “Same Old Scene” and in retrospect this wanly elegant later Roxy/Ferry--“More Than This”, “Avalon” even--has a certain narcotic allure. Weirdly, it’s like Ferry’s arrived at his own wispy aristocratic version of ambient music.

Friday, June 20, 2003

Dizzee album random thoughts, instalment 1

---- he’s the British Tupac… the hurt, blurting flow, the sheer volume of words coming out of his gob, the vulnerability, the willingness to risk mawkishness, the “bad boy tryna be good” confusion. But of course with much better, more varied and dynamic phrasing.

--- he’s like RZA and GZA in one body or something. How often does that happen? I mean, Dre’s a great producer but as an MC he’s just passable. Diz excels, superls at both.

-- after “Vexed” (thrown away on a Bside can ya believe it?!?) rendering the whole of neo-electro superfluous (sorry Adult, sorry Ectomorph, I love youse guys but Dizzee can do what you do a bit bolder and brasher and rhyme about “flushing MCs down the loo” on top), big swathes of Boy In Da Corner are so glitchtastic and rhythmically bent it really ought to make the weirdtronica/IDM/blip hop contingent give up (Schematic crew, you’re through…. nice try Anti-Pop Consortium….). Or at least have a rethink. Only cultural myopia (and a dub version?) stands in the way of that The Wire cover story.

--- Endlessly quotable innit (to the point where a new species of Dizzee Bore threatens to come into existence….) “I watch all around/I watch every detail/I watch so hard I’m scared my eyes might fail”… “vexed at humanity/vexed at the earth”… “Only yesterday life was a touch more sweet/Only yesterday we were standing firmly on our feet/Only yesterday girls were innocent, they kept us calm”…. “Come to me with an attitude, come a cropper/I’m old school like Happy Shopper”… "my life is a whole heap of madness"...

---Mike Skinner’s got to be worried…

-- out of the semantic contestation/confusion zone that is “the sound formerly known as UK Garage” the word Grime seems to be emerging as a prime contender to be the official Name. Which is funny ‘cos a while back I did this little fantasy riff on El-P-as-Albini where the Bling-as-Hair-Metal era is ended by a grunge-like rap movement called Grime, spearheaded by a Nirvana-like group called Gnosis; El-P gets drafted in to scuff up their post-breakthrough fuck-you-radio-programmers album In Wutero. And now rumor has it that Dizzee’s a big Nirvana fan and his favorite of their albums is In Utero. And elsewhere I heard he’s not unacquainted with punk rock, including Sham 69. Maybe in a revised, updated version of that Grime-scenario, London would be Seattle… the least likely, remotest place for the revolution to come from...

---[but of course El-P’s services would not be required, not at all]

---[did Tupac = “the black Cobain”? Either way lots of people are going to be feeling Dizzee’s pain. I hope he can handle the pressure of being the Voice of A Generation. He's so young.]

---the penultimate utterance on the album is “real”….
Semi-retirement’s not quite the right word; enforced hibernation is more like it--a hibernation I will be returning to sooner rather than later, I fear. But while I’m “awake”, some more riffing, picking up on K-punk’s last few posts, also Skykicking's.

1/ Routes versus Roots. The idea of UKG as a node in the tradestream of sonic ideas (as per Gilroy’s Black Atlantic) is both attractive and obviously “true”. But I'd qualify it by making the equally obvious point that a junction or crossroads is still a place, one that has peculiar characteristics of its own. There are flows, but there are silt deposits; a sedimentation builds up and takes on a character. The whole history of London and especially East London (hardcore/jungle/UKG’s heartland) is bound up with being a port--the East End and the docks, the East End and successive waves of immigration -- Jews, West Indians, East Indians, etc. UKG has this odd combination of insularity and a total open-ness to new influences; I’m sure this must be connected to East London’s blend of parochialism and hybridity, its ability to assimilate yet retain a fierce local identity. UKG isn’t just the sum of all the influences that flow through it. There’s an X-Factor-- the silt I was talking about. perhaps.

With UKG I think the sense of local patriotism is particularly strong because the tradestream flows are all one-way: UKG is fabulously, ravenously absorbent of ideas from US rap & R&B, from Jamaican dancehall, from anywhere and everywhere. But America and Jamaica are almost culturally protectionist, with no interest or even awareness seemingly of what’s going on in London. So this would tend to be breed a certain defiant this-is-a-London-thing, we-don’t-care-that-you-don’t-care, we-made-this-just-for-us type attitude. If there was any prospect of it being more international they'd maybe tone down the ultra-local references?

2/ The escape artist. Mark’s mini-essay on Japan is so immaculate and exquisite, it seems almost churlish to say that, actually, I find “Ghosts” rather a moving song. I’m not alone either--there’s the missus (possibly America’s #1 Japan fan-- a lonely breed), and there's Goldie (he sampled it on Rufige Cru’s neglected classic “Ghosts of My Life”, a masterpiece of svelte darkcore), and Tricky ("Aftermath" has a sample from "Ghosts", right, or a lyric-quote?), and maybe even Dizzee Rascal (judging by the
the Sylvian-Sakomoto vibe on ‘Sittin’ here’ and “Do It”, the two melancholy songs that bookend Boy In Da Corner). Carrying on previous trains of thought, I suppose my question is: would it actually diminish the song to believe it had some source or emotional referent in David Sylvian’s real life? To take it as both haunting and haunted. He’s very stylized as singers go but it seems like “beautiful sadness” is something that runs through a lot of his work (along with the quest for serenity) and you could see him as having less to do with a mannequin like Steve Strange and more with Scott Walker, or Nick Drake, or even Frank Sinatra (melancholy given poise, pain contained through elegance). Or Ian Curtis--“Ghosts” in some ways seems like a sister song to “Love Will Tear Us Apart”.

Whenever I see someone who has pulled off a really drastic form of self-reinvention, gone all the way with artifice and masquerade--be it Strange, Numan, Leigh Bowery, Marilyn Manson--I always wonder: what are they running away from? It takes so much energy to do that and to maintain it. (I can barely muster the strength to look halfway presentable to the world).

With Sylvian, perhaps the word “Catford” is explanation enough. No slight to that town but if it’s like 95 percent of the UK or anywhere else for that matter, then you can imagine why the sparkle-starved, culture-famished David would want to dedicate his life to exquisiteness, alien glamour, forbidden colours, to turn himself into a perfect surface, to get away and never go back. But there’s something more, I suspect: thinking of him performing "Ghosts" on TOTP, the excessive poise and stillness, the statuesque quality of his vocals (a frieze of emotion, almost), the perfectly made-up blank white expressionless facade, to me it all screams internal struggle, damage in the depths. Real ghosts in his real life.

“Lines of flight” always carry with them traces of what’s left behind. Can we even conceive of escape or reinvention of the self without registering what's being escaped from, or acknowledging the raw, base matter that is remoulded into a human art object?

I think you could work up another reading of Sylvian, not opposed but supplementary to Mark’s.
It might cue off Penman’s riff about class and Bryan Ferry’s voice, how its alien-ness was produced by the struggle of a Geordie trying to sound debonair --and how that slightly grotesque quality disappeared when he perfected the po(i)se and shed the last traces of Tyneside. (Joy says one of her Japan fan acquaintances had managed to find a very early radio interview with Sylvian where he's talking with a thick Catford accent--again the struggle, the effort that goes into changing one's voice). It might then proceed to examine Bowie/Roxy and the glam end of artrock, its motor fantasy of stepping outside the lowly world of production into a sovereign realm of pure unfettered expression and sensuous indulgence, an imaginary and fictitious notion of aristocracy (more Huysmans than real lords who have to do humdrum things like manage their estates, juggle their investments, do a bit of arms dealing). It might pause to consider briefly the disillusionment of actually achieving the supermonied aristo life--Ferry, condemned to mooch jaded forever through art openings, fashion shows, all tomorrow’s parties (that old tis better to journey than arrive line). It might also look at the history of Orientalism and its relationship with dandyism. The Far East and its codes of etiquette, the extreme stylization of emotion in its art; grace and symmetry. (Didn’t Barthes write a whole book about Japan--the country, not the group!--called something like Empire of Signs, one of its ideas being Japanese culture as a realm of surfaces, where the depth model is abolished--he had this idea that the Japanese don’t think eyes are windows to the soul, they see them as attractive but flat planes). There must be some connection between artrock’s ruling-class fantasies and ideas of China or Japan as extremely well ordered, disciplined, hierarchical societies. There’s a bit of totalitarianism chic going on--Mao, the Emperor, Mishima etc--that parallels Bowie’s “what this country needs is a really strong leader” flirting with fascism phase, or Iggy with his “visions of swastikas” and plans for world domination (and those are lyrics from “”China Girl” come to think of it). As reheated by the New Romantics: Spandau Ballet’s Journeys To Glory with its noble torso statuary on the cover and Robert Elms’s faintly fascistic sleevenote, the whole idea of a Club for Heroes. Glam's tendency (through its shifting of emphasis toward the visual rather than sonic, spectacle rather than the swarm-logic of noise and crowds) towards the Classical as opposed to Romantic. Glam as anti-Dionysian. The Dionysian being essentially democratic, vulgar, levelling, abolishing rank; about creating crowds, turbulence, a rude commotion, a rowdy communion. Glam being about monumentalism, turning yourself into a statue, a stone idol.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Lured out of semi-retirement by some thought-provoking remarks by Mark @ K-punk, monday 16 and tuesday 17 posts, here’s some disordered thoughts on geneaology, influence, globalisation, Deleuze & Guattari and territoriality in pop.

Mark’s got a point when he talks about the---if not utter redundancy---then relative non-productivity of the genealogical approach to analysing pop; too often it becomes a laundry list of sources or precursors. Likewise with the reverse-genealogy thing of looking forward to the object in question's subsequent influence and impact: the whole vexed notion of “legacy”, the language of “anticipated”, “looked forward to,” “ahead of its time”, or my own default-favorite, “preempted”. There is something diminishing about drawing these lines between ancestors and descendants, or breaking down a pop artefact into its constituent sources. As its most dreary, it becomes a way of evading saying anything substantive about the thing in itself, a point my old mucker Chris Scott made back in Monitor days when he talked about how crits saying the Jesus & Mary Chain are like the Velvet Underground isn’t especially helpful, it’s more crucial to say why they’re unlike Velvet Underground. In Kodwo terms, it's imperative to emphasise breaks rather than continuties.

And Mark’s point, via Deleuze & Guattari, is well-taken: that every story followed through almost always becomes an unhappy one, a tale of disappointment and diminuendo. This is something I’ve found with postpunk, there is a sort of narrative expectation that is inevitably set up of ‘what next?’, what did they go on to do, but almost without exception, it’s a tale of failure, self-betrayal, fade to grey. With Gang of Four, say, you’re really only talking about one exceptional record (Americans would say two perhaps--Solid Gold seemed to matter on this side of the Atlantic). So there’s a conflict between the narrative logic of following through versus the anti-narrative logic of sticking with the moment of intensity/relevance and freeze-framing that point.

That said, musics do come from somewhere (both spatiotemporally, and in terms of music-as-field/common language/shared discourse), and often they come from unexpected places. And musics do often go somewhere, in terms of having reverberations and half-lives and unexpected slight (or major) returns. The question, or difficulty, is how to acknowledge/account for that while preserving and honoring the grand illusion that all great pop pulls off: the ‘this comes from nowhere’ sleight, where you don’t hear the antecedents because the ex-nihilo dazzle of apparent self-birthed novelty is so blinding.

Eliminating from consideration both the origins/sources of a music and its subsequent inheritors/reverberations within music, this strikes me as too drastic a form of self-restriction, though. And if you factor in another eliminated prism or angle of approach(social/political/enviromental/geographical, as per the “street/real" debate), you end up with quite a narrow strip of legitimate object-of-study: the art/pop object itself, and its impact on the individual listener. So you get the encounter between the subjectivity that formed the art object and the subjectivity/sensorium that experiences it, both seemingly floating in a radically decontextualized space.

Essentially what you end up with is a kind of relapse into auteurism--the work and its creator stand in splendid isolation, self-authored, nobody's progeny. An auteurism partially disguised by impersonal-seeming Deleuzian/cybernetic lingo. So in More Brilliant Than The Sun, there's the rollcall of exceptional individuals--Perry, Clinton, Coltranes John and Alice--and landmark albums/tracks; Goldie/Playford as innovator-heroes, rather than the hive-mind swarm-logic of Remarc/Bizzy B/Noise Factory/Nut Nut/Marvellous Cain/ad infinitum. Genius rather than scenius.

Weirdly, though, it’s auteurism without the auteur as an actually existing human being. Because of course biography is another approach that’s off-limits and staid: the ‘real’ Foxx, or the ‘real’ Goldie, are irrelevant (this despite the fact that Goldie was clearly trying to write his autobiography in beats and synth-washes).

It just seems counter-intuitive and perverse to eliminate a whole set of prisms or angles that are all still capable of producing insights. One of the most salient things about pop is that it isn’t any one thing: it’s radically hybrid, not just about sonics, or futurity, or innovation: rather, it’s a dense, rich confusion of lyrics, image, personality/charisma/backstory, gestures, theatrics. And beyond this any given pop object is inseparable from the wider meta-musical discourse, from how it is consumed (often within scenes with rituals and behavioral codes) and from broader social-political currents. Part of the meta-music discourse involves looking back and looking forwards: myths of origin and fantasies of destiny/destination. Mark’s own treatment of Foxx shows him to be enwebbed and influenced (it’s just that the influence-range extends beyond pop music--a particular hallmark of post-punk).

* * * * *
I’m looking at that Deleuze & Guattari quote but if doesn’t seem to elucidate much for me. The imagery of flows etc doesn’t really add much to the more traditional analysis that would see Islamofascism as, yes, a fascism--a formation produced by too rapid transition from pre-industrial to industrial stages, involving an attempt to maintain an earlier superstructure (religion, patriarchal family structure, gender relations etc) over a destabilized base. In other words, Medievalism with modern weaponry.

It’s hard to see where their theories open things up. Mapping the conflict in terms of deterritoralisation versus reterritorialisation is confusing: Bush Inc. want to deterritorialize in the sense of globalization and open markets, but they want to reterritorialize by making this happen under the aegis of American empire and channeling some very particular flows of a black viscous sort. (The only intriguing ‘secret subtext’/backstory argument I’ve read has suggested that controlling Middle Eastern oil is vital to the US in its struggle to maintain the dollar as the world’s reigning currency, as opposed to the Euro--i.e. it’s a United Europe they’re "really" worried about, not Islamofascism). So it’s like deterritorializing tendencies are good, except when they’re bad (globalisation, capital flight), and reterritorializing tendencies are bad, except when they're good (tribal consciousness of native peoples versus developers/coca-colonisation etc).

At the time I did have one Deleuzian thought in relation to 9/11 but it wasn’t an especially pleasing one: that Al Qaida might be the ultimate rhizomatic organisation, the true nomadic war machine.

I’m sure if I picked up A Thousand Plateaus again I’d find it as intoxicating as ever. But it’s hard to see how you’d use their ideas in any real-world struggle, either on the macro (the two evil empires) or micro (school budgets being slashed, childcare issues--and yes I’m afraid having a kid gives you a whole different slant on Anti-Oedipus. Socialize the little terrors! Give 'em a super-ego, as soon as possible please!). I've always suspected that D&G’s ideas worked best with culture and especially music: I first ‘got’ them for real through a sort of three-way epiphany, reading A Thousand Plateaus and trying to work on Can for Sex Revolts, all the while listening more to darkcore pirate tapes than Tago Mago. The words on the page seemed to be describing the music as I was listening to it--uncanny! But music moves on, and part of its awesome inexhaustible power and fecundity is how music always outflanks and outmodes the theories that seem to explain it. So you have this music (hardcore/jungle) that seems to fit D&G and a whole mess of cybertheory to a tee, a subcultural engine as total abstraction-machine/fluxion of nonverbal schizogenic intensities type deal. But the way it (meaning the hardcore continuum) evolved since totally undoes that apparent fit: first with UKG you get the return of the vocals and songform, and now with garage-rap you have WORDS and PERSONALITIES. D&G are totally against ‘facialisation,’ right? That’s what we’d probably agree went wrong with jungle (and techno generally--remember the war-cry ‘faceless techno bolloocks’ and then the cult of Aphex and so forth?). The industry making a star out of Goldie, pulling him away from the massive and setting him on the course of being a Personality and Public Face and Quote Machine that ultimately ends up with him in Eastenders and the window of Top Shop. But right now, “facialisation”--the charisma of Dizzee and Sharky Major and Kano and Wiley--is allied to the most intensity-productive aspects of the culture. It's the defacialized, tracky music that is the least exciting--in the case of some eightbar, it's almost unlistenable without the MCs.

Generally speaking, contra Deleuze, at this moment in time the most deterritorialized music seems the most depleted in intensity. Take for instance the Global Underground series, superstar ‘progressive’ DJs making mix-CDs inspired by their jaunts to exotic places. The music, of course, being bearing no trace of place, sounding as streamlined and slick as the sleek shiny-fabric faintly-futuristic clothes and DJ boxes and watches and mobile phones and Palm Pilots sported by the star DJs. In the liner notes, Dom Phillips without fail always makes a point of mentioning how the audience in Hong Kong or Sao Paolo or Sydney know a lot of the tunes being played, are highly informed about the music. The music, in some sense, is already everywhere; it is about ubiquity. But something that is ‘from everywhere’ is actually from nowhere. And progressive sounds like it’s made by people who spend too much time in airport lounges and other dis-placed sterile spaces. One could speculate wildly here and see the appeal of this music in its very postgeographical gritless-ness as related to a fantasy of joining a sort of global in-crowd, a leisure elite of rootless cosmopolitans; Eurotrash and Eurotrash-wannabes. A new ruling class who work in the globalized networks of finance and information, and whose music is a sort of dance esperanto. (And the underclass then would be those who are left behind, who are condemned to place-ness? Degrees of mobility as the mark of power.). Or in another context, think illbient/Laswell-type 4th Worldism/kid606-djrupture type stuff. Totally deterritorialized, typically tepid, at its top-dollar best living on borrowed intensities.

Conversely, the most exciting music of recent years has been intensely territorial and self-territorializing. Hip hop, dancehall, and UKG are nothing if not this-is-us, we’re-from-here, this-is-our-hood, this-is-our-music. In these musics, you get the endless repping of regions (dutty south), cities, neighbourhoods, estates, projects, manors, postal districts, and “ends” (in garage-rap). The weird localized patriotism of “this place is a shithole but it’s our shithole”. Don’t D&G talking about music have this whole thing about the refrain and how it begins with birdsong--the robin redbreast saying ‘fuck off, this is my patch of trees, don’t come in my area’? True, dancehall extends itself across a global rhizome--Brooklyn, Toronto, London, Miami--but I think what is going on here is that the sense of place is transported, a kind of mobile Yard that you carry with you. (Plus the expatriate West Indian populations in those cities are big enough to constitute little Jamaicas, micro-Yards).

Generally, with all those musics there’s an attitude of “you can take the boy out of the hood but you can’t take the hood out of the boy”. Oh, there’s degrees of delusion and false consciousness involved--but this strident insistence on place and origins is worth taking seriously for its intent if nothing else. It seems to represent a form of resistance (in both the drag and counter-hegemonic senses) to all the tendencies in the world towards globalized sameness--the fully deterritorialized dystopia of totally unchecked flows of capital and data. The counterpart of this is postgeographical uberpop--the ubiquitous star-brands and icon-logos that become oppressive, penetrating your consciousness, at once horribly intimate and impossibly remote, its digitally retouched glamour a taunt to your everyday life. Morrissey sang "The music they play says nothing to me about my life"; Dizzee says "[Garage rap'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.

Friday, June 06, 2003

UBERHIPSTER INDIVIDUAL BALLOTS
Below are the best of the bunch, there's some other good ones but they weren't tabulated properly. Some late data and suggestions coming in to be appendixed in due course.

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

KODWO ESHUN

HARDY PERENNIALS
Nirvana. Hendrix. Chic. Depeche Mode. Suicide. All eras of Roxy Music. Slade. Off the Wall era Michael Jackson. Hissing of Summer Lawns era Joni Mitchell. Motorhead. Sly and the Family Stone. Schooly D. Fela Kuti. Ibiza Records. CSNY. Tears for Fears. Ol Dirty Bastard. Walter/Wendy Carlos. The Specials. Missy Elliot. The Spinners circa People Make the World Go Round. Bacharach & David. Electric Miles. John Carpenter OSTs. *Giorgio Moroder. **Morricone.

* MORODER For his OSTs, Diana Ross and Blondie as much as La Summer.
** MORRICONE For the Exorcist 2 OST especially.

PASSE
Gary Numan. Shuggie Otis. Jean-Jacques Perrey. Massive Attack. Tricky. Early Os Mutantes. The Normal. Kraftwerk. Lee Perry. Wayne Smith. Tenor Saw. Horace Andy. Being Boiled era Human League. Rotary Connection. Serge Gainsbourg. The Silver Apples. T-Rex. Steve Reich. Van Dyke Parks. Early Kurtis Mantronik. Chep Nunez. The Latin Rascals. Turntablism that’s too pleased with itself eg Lessons 1-8 and counting by DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist etc. Galt Macdermott. Eminem. Renegade SoundWave. J Saul Kane. Jackie Mitoo. Blue Cheer. The Stooges. The United States of America. The Orb. John Barry. Lalo Schifrin. Scott Walker. Tom Waits. Laurie Anderson. Lou Reed. Luke Vibert. Photek. Nick Cave. Jeff Buckley. The Sex Pistols. The Ramones.

HOT...FOR NOW
*America. Alice Coltrane. Eugene MacDaniels. Incredible String Band. ‘I want More’-era Can. **Supertramp. **Show Me the Way’ era Peter Frampton. **Mr Blue Sky’ era ELO. ‘You’re A Rich Girl’ era Hall & Oates. ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ era Queen. Gang of Four. PiL. Tom Ze. KMD. Magazine.

* AMERICA -- I used to be way out on my own with this soft-rock group until Pharell of N*E*R*D rode into town. NERD encored with ‘Horse with No Name ontheirUS shows last year. Pharell chose America’s track Tin Man when he appeared on Gilles Peterson’s Radio 1 show. You could hear Peterson trying to play it down and not sound totally nonplussed, like he really expected Pharell to choose an America track, hur hur. And then Janet Jackson sampled Ventura Highway for her last hit from her Velvet Rope album.

* * SUPERTRAMP/FRAMPTON/ELO All 3 via Daft Punk’s Discovery of course, which coincided with Paul Thomas Anderson using Logical Song in Magnolia and then Data 80 for helpless imitation.

TRES HOT
Hamilton Bohannon. X-Ray Spex. Palais Schaumberg. In the Key of Dreams’ era Section 25. *The Buggles. M. The Bar Kays circa Holy Ghost and CopyCat. The Fire Engines. Josef K. Young Marble Giants. Swell Maps. Vanity 6. Tom Tom Club circa The Man with the 4 Way Hips. The Necks. Milton Nascimento circa Minas. Jorge Ben circa A Tabu de Esmerelda. Bernard Parmegiani. Early NuGroove eg New York Housing Authority. Dr Buzzards Original Savannah Band. Sadistic Mika Band. New Kingdom. Sparks. Das EFX. Alphabet Soup. David Crosby. The Associates. Sheila E. Gal Costa. **Novos Baianos. June Tabor. ‘Steve McQueen’ era Prefab Sprout. Hermeto Pascoal. Moondog. Rockwell. Dorothy Ashby circa Rubaiyat of Khayam. Sweet Exorcist. Unique 3.

* BUGGLES I reckon The Buggles are the unacknowledged inspiration behind the German trend for ultra-winsome vocoderized cover versions that LB names pop Artificielle on his same named album. Examples inc LB covering Ashes to Ashes, SuperBad, Jealous Guy. Schneider TM’s cover of There is A Light That Never Goes Out. Justus Kohnke covering Macca’s Let Em in and the Beatles One after the 909. Michael Mayer covering Sade. It’s a German/Koln 30sometha-aang

* * NOVOS BAIANOS Brazil’s Little Feat (who I just heard for the first time 2 months back) but better.

RANK OUTSIDERS FOR '04
ToniTonyTone. Early Killing Joke. ZZ Top. Denim. The Psychedelic Furs. Bauhaus. Haircut 100. The Three Johns. Horslips. 10cc. ‘Life in the Air Age’ era Be Bop Deluxe. Post-Diamonds and Pearls/Rainbow Generation era Prince. Bill Nelson. Felt. Crass/Flux of Pink Indians(more for worldview and design ethos than music ) Passionate Friend era The Teardrop Explodes. Something/ Anything? era Todd Rundgren. Microdisney. Boston. The Brothers Johnson. Wendy and Lisa. Pavlov’s Dog. Thomas Dolby. The Wake. Brother Sun Sister Moon/Camembert Electrique period Early Gong. **Post Village Green Preservation Society era Kinks *** Stackridge ****Manfred Mann’s Earth Band

* TONI TONY TONE Check the epic Family Name on the Rainbow Children album. Amazing. And his lush uncredited vocals on the Common album.

** KINKS I see a Kinks inspired trend for elaborate staged songcycles.
***STACKRIDGE only 1 big track really -No one’s more important than the Earthworm-pantheist ultra-melodic synth pop-epic.
**** MANFRED MANN’S EARTH BAND Again for 2 tracks really-Blinded by the Light and You Angel You More epic synth-pop waiting to be rediscovered. Bound to happen. I can imagine quite lush trance versions of both these tracks actually.

BEYOND THE PALE OF REHABILITATION
Primal Scream. XTC. UB40. Jamiroquai. Lloyd Cole and the Commotions. Goldie and all da whole Metalheadz Cru. All of them. UNKLE. Fat Boy Slim. System 7. Rainbow. Saxon. Manic Street Preachers. Beck. Stereo MCs. Underworld. Red Snapper. Faithless. Bob Dylan. Bruce Springsteen. DireStraits. Peter Gabriel.

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

SASHA FRERE-JONES

ALWAYS STRONG
Zeppelin, Kraftwerk, drinking on stage, Pharrell, Nick Drake, Willie Nelson

RISING MADLY
David Bowie

ODDLY DURABLE
Gary Numan, Salsoul Orchestra

ABOUT TO GO PAST SELL-BY DATE
Gang of Four, no wave

BUBBLE ECONOMY SECONDS FROM BURSTING
Cheap synths

BARGAIN BASEMENT
Expensive synths, Sonic Youth

RISING HOT
Songs with words you can understand

EVEN BETTER, HOTTER
Songs with many many words you can understand

COMING BACK STRONG
Dating celebrities

HOTTER THAN THE SUN
South Asian fusion/desi/bhangra

ON THE WAY OUT

Fred Neil, Townes Van Zandt

INDESTRUCTIBLE

John Robie, Pumpkin

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

JOB DE WIT


HARDY PERENNIALS

Dr. Dre, 2Pac

PASSE
synth pop

HOT... FOR NOW

post-punk disco, electro

TRES HOT

Early Prince/Minneapolis sound(Madchester including A Guy Called Gerald, 808 State

RANK OUTSIDERS FOR '04
eighties LA hip-hop, speed-metal, nineties hip-hop-ragga/AV8, pre-'94 trance

BEYOND THE PALE OF REHABILITATION
Pearl Jam

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

JESS HARVELL


HARDY PERENNIALS
Nuggets. Beatles. Stones. DJ Premier. The 80s. Filter Disco. Sonic
Youth circa Sister/Daydream Nation. Kraftwerk.

PASSE
Chain Reaction/Basic Channel. Bounce/Booty/Miami Bass/"Ghetto Tech".
Broken Beats/Nu-Jazz. Timbaland/Neptunes. "The 80s." Americana. Mogwai.
The Boredoms. John Zorn. Mike Patton. Kid606/American Glitchblottronica.
Jay-Z. King Crimson. DJ Shadow. Autechre. Boards of Canada.

HOT... FOR NOW
Incredible String Band. Henry Cow. Bhangra. Kayne West. Cage/Tudor.
AMM. Lenky. Television. Amon Duul (I). Gavin Bryars. Fleetwood Mac.
Screamo. The Cure. DJ Scud & kru. Todd Edwards. Ethnographic recordings.
This Heat/Family Fodder. Brazillian D&B. Italo disco.

TRES HOT
The KLF. Cabaret Voltaire circa "Yashar". Bleep & Bass. Schooly D. Steve
Miller Band. AR Kane. The Mover/PCP. Vanity 6/Early Prince. Allman
Brothers. Aerosmith circa Toys In the Attic. Wire circa "The Drill."
Speed Garage. Thin Lizzy. Joey Beltram/R&S.

RANK OUTSIDERS FOR '03
"Drums & Wires" era XTC. "Vision Quest OST". Ragga jungle.* Mars.
Mid-80s r&b (Luther Vandross/Anita Baker/Tina Marie). Happy Hardcore.

* RAGGA JUNGLE Apparently big at ska kids parties!

BEYOND THE PALE OF REHABILITATION
Collective Soul, Bush, & all other 2nd wave grunge-pop balladeers (cf.
Staind, etc.) "Industrial rock."

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

DAVID HOWIE

HIP, SURELY

Auteur-syndrome? Piercing the veil of incorporation (haha)? Anyway, the hot money is on looking behind the Names for the names, and if you can go for the lesser-well-known one who was also more talented, then dude!: Chris Bell hott, Dennis Wilson, and Sandy Denny (though she may be on her way out).

PAVING THE WAY FOR THE DISSOLUTION OF THE WHITE NOISE SUPREMACISTS:

Post-punk, running on fumes now unless it CAN actually rid us of *spit spit* the Dead White Males (Callahan, Oldham, Malkmus)

SINGER SONGWRITERS ARE DUFF, BUT FOLKS NO-ONE'S HEARD OF AREN'T:

Judee Sill, Bill Fay

OLD FAITHFULS


Beatified: Nirvana.

OUCH: SO HOTT

Blue Nile, Associates, Early Simple Minds ("New Gold Dream") etc you get the picture.

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

STEVEN W. SCHULDT

HARDY PERENNIALS
Fugazi, Sisters of Mercy, My Bloody Valentine, Pink Floyd, Pixies

PASSE

Iggy Pop, Clash, Nirvana, Madonna, Kraftwerk, Alice in Chains, Orbital,
Sugarcubes, Butthole Surfers, Spiritualized, Donna Summer, LL Cool J

HOT... FOR NOW
New York Dolls, Sonic Youth, Faces, Robert Johnson, Stray Cats,
Replacements, Lisa Loeb, 45 Grave

TRES HOT
Patti Smith,Dead Boys, Cibo Matto, Romeo Void, Harold Budd, Bikini
Kill, Suzanne Vega,Circle Jerks

RANK OUTSIDERS FOR '03

Meatloaf,10,000 Maniacs,Big Country,Mike Scott/Waterboys,Grace
Jones,Psychadelic Furs,Ice-T,Pogues

BEYOND THE PALE OF REHABILITATION
Ringo Starr,Elvis Costello,Bob Dylan,Texas

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

SCOTT NEILL

HARDY PERENNIALS
beach boys

PASSE
-faust -- -boards of canada -- the congos -slint -- -gram parsons -blue --jefferson airplane -freestyle fellowship, pere ubu (now that rocket from the tombs have arrived? )-- -can -diamanda galas ---kraftwerk

HOT...FOR NOW
mouse on mars, slits, oris jay/jay da flex, third eye foundation, leonard cohen, kieran hebdan, zappa, etienne de crecy. pooh sticks, felt

TRES HOT
rachmaninov, the fugs, BDP,
young marble giants, B12, eek-a-mouse, dr. alimantado
MBV, shirley collins, john fahey

RANK OUTSIDERS
discharge

BEYOND THE PALE
led zeppelin, ELO

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

NOAM CHOMSKY


THE UNASSAILABLE CANON
Henry Cow. Mike Oldfield. Renaissance. Brand X. Khan/Hillage. Magma. Gong. King Crimson. Terje Rypdal. Genesis. Popol Vuh. Mahavishnu/McLaughlin. Mothers of Invention.

ALL USED UP
Spooky Tooth. Tower of Power. Rush. Tangerine Dream. Liz Story. Eberhard Schoener. Ozric Tentacles. Matching Mole. Atlas. Emerson Lake and Palmer. Van Der Graaf Generator/Hammill.

CATCH IT WHILE YOU CAN
Camel. Curved Air. Electric Flag. Cymande. Egg. Xaal. Wigwam. Passport. Let’s Be Generous. Heldon/Pinhas. Gryphon. Edgar Froese. Thistle. Third Ear Band. Anglagard. Ron Geesin.

HOTTER THAN A DOCKER'S ARMPIT
Emerald Web. Deuter. Lard Free. In Be Tween Noise. Gotic. Klaus Schulze. Fermata. Organized Noize. Norma Winstone. Zao. Shylock. Wallenstein. Terpandre. Syllk. Schicke, Fuhrs and Frohling. Vicki Richards. Ragnarok. Melting Euphoria. Lightwave. Agitation Free/Michael Hoenig. Blue Motion. Early Clannad. Anekdoten. Affront Perdu. The Jazz Insects. Adrian Belew.

TAKE A CHANCE ON ME
Lene Lovich. Angletrax. Stan Ridgway circa “Going Soutbound”. Chilliwack. Deaf School. Man Jumping. Danielle Dax. Cozy Powell.

COUNTER REVOLUTIONARY
Asia. Styx. Phil Collins. Genesis post-Gabriel. Blue Oyster Cult. Renaissance circa A Song For All Seasons/Annie Haslam solo. Can. Billy Bragg. Motown. The Clash.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

I've long been an adherent of the Name Theory with dance culture---that the creativity/vitality of the music is totally linked to
the quality of the names/track titles/label/genre names. Now it could be that all the good simple evocative direct names/titles/etc simply got used up like all the good musical ideas did (c.f. rock where the names are just terrible) or it could just be the case that the only people left working in dance these days are the grievously imagination-impaired types. But perusing this months' BPM (i don't buy it i wanna make clear, they just send it to me for some reason), you'd have to conclude it's just so over, like, EVERYTHING has haemorrhaged away. The below are all from one double spread of reviews:

Breaks:
Sly Fidelity and Club Foot--‘Positive Information’ (Sosumi),
Lawgiverz,
The Fort Knox Five--‘Dodge City Rockers’,
Odeed--‘7th and Broadway’ (Bassplugger Mix),
Koma & Bones--‘Donkey Spanner (Rennie Pilgrem mix),
ILS--‘Weight Gain 4000’.

Progressive/trance
Subway Baby--- ‘Tribes of Kahn Gala’,
Tobi W--“Nhill Nulla’ (Tune Inn)
Future Acoustics,
Central Rush,
Ben Shaw---‘Purled’ (Kubist)
Amani Vs Teapot---‘Calling On My Roots’ (Chug)
Marscruiser Vs Andy Page featuring George Clinton--- ‘Elementalelectrofunk’ (Barely There Records)
Burufunk---‘Outsider’ (Navigation)

And in house
Smitty & Davenport---“Spider Funk”
Jaswho?

yes, the ? is part of the name

(Blimey, George Clinton, how the mighty have fallen…)

Have to share a whole review, by Uberzone who I once had a bit of time for but needs to stick to making beats (or not judging by that turkey of an album) and stay away from record reviewing:

Of Sly Fidelity and Club Foot’s record on the Sosumi [boom boom] label:
“Hailing from the ‘Is it House/Is it Breaks’ sub-genre, this record's rated ‘E’ for everyone. ‘Positive Information’ is a dirty bongo-rolling bassline throbfest complete with a Jamaican toaster to guide you through the breakdown. ‘Cruise Control’ pops you with the ska-stabs, dubby bass and old school break".

Mmmm, yumyum, i must get down to Satellite Records within this very hour...
"Reggae is vile"--Morrissey, Melody Maker, 1986.

Extract from press release, June 05, 2003
"Sanctuary Records Group and Morrissey have announced that they have resurrected the Attack label to release the forthcoming new album by Morrissey.... The Attack label - part of the legendary Trojan Records family - released records by The Pioneers, Gregory Isaacs, The Upsetters, Big Youth and I Roy amongst many others between 1969 and 1980. The Sanctuary Group Inc Chief Executive Officer Merck Mercuriadis commented, "... Early on in our discussions Morrissey proved himself to be a connoisseur of our Trojan Records catalogue and expressed an interest in using the Attack label for the release of his records much as he did the HMV label when he was with EMI"

?!?!???!?

I'm confused.

(This must be a byproduct of his skinhead fetish right?)

(Mind you I always did think there was some weird twangy-yodelly plangent-poignant sweet-sorrow-to-drown-in type affinity between la Moz and singers like Junior Byles and Linval Thompson)

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Dizzee Rascal, Boy In Da Corner (Dirtee Stank/XL), release June 21. Folks, we have the album of the year (unless the form improves, like 400 % on its pitiful firsthalf 2003 showing). The boy done good. At last the year really begins. Fuller report to follow.
I forgot to put Spacemen 3 Playing With Fire/Recurring/Sonic Boom solo in Tres Hot where they certainly belong after Jon Dale's luminous paean to the underacknowledged genius of Sonic Boom. Playing With Fire is the one for me (one of the few redeeming things about 1989). Apparently steeped in Kraftwerk and Laurie Anderson! Everything S3 did before seems too Nick Kent DarkStuff rock classicist, while I remember being disappointed by the first Sonic solo, the one with the colour-spectrum plastic flywheel thing on the front. But maybe Recurring is a neglected classic as Jon says. "Big City" I heard (from the horse's mouth I think) was an Ecstasy song.
UBERHIPSTERS UNITED INFLUENCES INDEX 2003

HARDY PERENNIALS
[blue chip stocks, cooler than being obscure ultra--oneupmanship manoevure stuff]

Beatles. Kraftwerk. Chic. Giorgio Moroder. Nirvana. Tubeway Army/Numan. Joy Division. The Fall. Pixies.

PASSE
[tapped-out, yesterday's cool move, middlebrow]

Gang of Four. First three albums Wire. Can up to Tago Mago and Ege Bamyasi/Neu!/ Faust. Electro. Obvious No Wave/mutant disco: Contortions, 99 Records (Liquid Liquid, ESG). Gram Parsons. Boards of Canada. Italo Disco. Crate-digga: Library Music: KPM, Boosey & Hawkes etc/David Axelrod/The Rotary Connection. Obvious dub producers: Perry, Tubby. Brian Wilson/Van Dyke Parks. Scott Walker. Tropicalia. Cleveland: Electric Eels, Styrenes, Rocket For The Tombs, early “classic” Pere Ubu. New York electrofunk/postdisco: Arthur Russell, Prelude, West End, Peech Boys, D-Train etc. "Being Boiled" era Human League/The Normal/”Nag Nag Nag”-era Cabaret Voltaire. Suicide. Nick Drake. United States of America. IA-era Red Krayola.

HOT FOR NOW
[OTM this minute, edge-of-middlebrow danger like pears that go over-ripe when you turn your back for a second]

Soft Machine. Dancehall: early Nineties to early noughties. This Heat. St.Pancras/Rough Trade-era Scritti Politti. Ze. Eugene MacDaniels. Incredible String Band. The Cure. America. Young Marble Giants. Supertramp. Amon Duul (I). Fleetwood Mac circa Rumours/Tusk. Ethnographic field recordings. Proto-synthcore: The Screamers, Nervous Gender, Minimal Man.. Post-electro: Mantronix, T. La Rock, Chep Nunez, Nitro Deluxe, Cutting label, freestyle. My Bloody Valentine. The Godz. The Fugs. Virgin-era Scritti. Canonical UK folk rock: Fairport Convention/Shirley Collins/ Pentangle. Janet Kay/Dennis Bovell lovers rock productions. ‘Attic Tapes’ era Cabaret Voltaire. BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Yoko Ono. Rudimentary Peni.

TRES HOT a/k/a RIPE FOR REDISCOVERY
[cooler-than-thou dead-cert trump-all-comers power move]

The Homosexuals. Jefferson Airplane circa After Bathing At Baxters. Heldon/Richard Pinhas . Eighties pre-ragga dancehall. Electronic body music: Front 242, Nitzer Ebb, Skinny Puppy, et al. Bugge Wesseltoft. Henry Cow. Less obvious No Wave/mutant disco: Lust Unlust label, ImpLOG, Jody Harris/Bob Quine, Pulsalamma, Dark Day, Ut. More obscure UK folk-rock: Martin Carthy/Topic label/ June Tabor/Albion Band. Tuxedomoon. Canterbury lesser lights: Caravan, Egg, National Health, Hatfield & the North, Gilgamesh. Ron Geesin. Radar/Rough Trade-era Red Crayola. More obscure post-punk: Family Fodder, Fatal Microbes, Metaboliste, I’m So Hollow, Lemon Kittens, Vice Versa, Out On Blue Six, Basement 5, 4 Be 2’s, Furious Pig. Metal Urbain/Dr. Mix. South Asian fusion/desi/bhangra. Bleep & Bass: Unique 3, Sweet Exorcist (esp. C.C.C.D), Nexus 21, Rob Gordon productions, Ability II, etc. Soft-hop: PM Dawn, Definition of Sound. Vanity 6/Early Prince/Sheila E. Wire circa "The Drill." Speed Garage. Hamilton Bohannon. Romeo Void. The Buggles. M. Tom Tom Club circa The Man with the 4 Way Hips. David Crosby. The Blue Nile. Simple Minds circa New Gold Dream. Swoon/Steve McQueen era Prefab Sprout.. Ragga jungle. "Lost Generation” a/k/a UK postrock-with-songs: Disco Inferno, Seefeel, Pram, Earwig/Insides, Moonshake/Laika etc.. The Minutemen. Judee Sill. Australian postpunk: Voigt/465, Rhythmx Chymx, Slugfuckers, Tame O’Mearas, early Severed Heads. Pre-Some Bizarre Einsturzende Neubauten. Recommended Records. Bill Fay. San Francisco industrial: Factrix, Monte Cazzazza, Chrome, Z’Ev. LA Free Music Society/Monitor/B-People. German postpunk/industrial/artpop: pre-Virgin Deutsches Amerikanische Freundschaft/Der Plan/Palais Schaumberg. Japan circa Adolescent Sex. Sproton Layer. Rose Royce. Fuck Off Records: Danny & the Dressmakers, Teen Vampires, etc. Savage Rose. John Martyn circa Inside Out/One World. Pere Ubu circa New Picnic Time/Art of Walking/Song of the Bailing Man. Joni Mitchell. Obscure Manchester postpunk: Object label (Spherical Objects, The Grow-Up), The Passage, Manicured Noise, New Hormones (Ludus, The Tiller Boys, Biting Tongues, Eric Random). Thomas Leer (with Robert Rental and solo circa 4 MovementsEP ). Annette Peacock. Curved Air. Early Gun Club. Blood On the Saddle. Agitation Free/Univers Zero. David Byrne circa “Cloud Chamber”/Catherine Wheel. Pre-baggy Happy Mondays.

RANK OUTSIDERS FOR 2004
[a gamble--major ahead-of-the-curve cool potential versus total humiliation]

Jefferson Starship. Simple Minds circa Empires and Dance. Spacebox. Colosseum. Wigwam. The Strawbs. Rock Follies soundtrack/Julie Covington. Sopwith Camel. The Police circa "Walking On the Moon". Wings. Pavlov’s Dog. Virgin era-Can. Steve Hillage. Stackridge. Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. Danielle Dax. Kate Bush circa The Dreaming. Late Gun Club. Patrick Adams. The Three Johns. Irish folk-rock: Planxty, Horslips, early Clannad. Be Bop Deluxe/Red Noise/Bill Nelson solo. Peter Gabriel III. Pre-'94 trance: Hardfloor, Arpeggiators, etc. Second-wave avant-funk: Chakk, Portion Control, 400 Blows. Doctors of Madness/Richard Strange. Angletrax. Judie Tzuke. Man Jumping. Crammed Records. UK Decay. Mid-Eighties New Zealand: The Chills, The Clean, etc. Jean-Michel Jarre. Shambling: Ron Johnson Records, Stump, Shrubs, Bogshed, Big Flame, Membranes. Yargo. The Skids circa Absolute Game/Joy. Terence Trent D’Arby. Osibisa. Belgian hardcore techno. Luigi Nono. Really herky-jerky/quirked out New wave: first three albums XTC, Punishment of Luxury, Lene Lovich, Nina Hagen, Plastics, Cardiacs. Landscape. Post-golden age SST: Saccharine Trust, Paperbag, Always August, Universal Congress Of, Lawndale, Zoogz Rift. "Mature” Undertones circa “It’s Going To Happen” and “Julie Ocean”. Gryphon. Jethro Tull. Sailor/Pilot. Swans Way. Raunch-era Last Few Days. Brand X. Non-Devo Akron (Tin Huey, Rubber City Rebels, etc). Batcave: Specimen, Alien Sex Fiend, Sex Gang Children, Flesh For Lulu.

DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT
[their day will never come again]

Starship. Simple Minds from “Don’t You Forget About Me” onwards. The Doobie Brothers. Pearl Jam. Collective Soul. Bush. Primal Scream (all phases). UB40. Jamiroquai. Lloyd Cole and the Commotions. Fatboy Slim. NWOBHM: Iron Maiden, Saxon, etc. Manic Street Preachers. Beck. Deep Purple/Rainbow. Roger Waters solo. Pink Floyd post-Roger Waters. Elvis Costello from Blood & Chocolate onwards. Texas. Leisure Process. The Police circa Synchronicity. Mid-period Factory: Cath Carroll, Kalima, etc. Big Country/The Armoury Show. Microdisney/Fatima Mansions. Bethnal. TRB. Erasure. The Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Jeff Beck. 1984/85 retro-rock Americana: True West, Guadacanal Diary, Long Ryders, Jason & the Scorchers. Curve/Garbage. Living Colour. Blood Sweat ‘n’ Tears. UK mod revival: Secret Affair, Merton Parkas. College rock (including all REM apart from Murmur).

Compiled from data provided by Dominic Laruffa, Kodwo Eshun, Jess Harvell, Rebecca Rosengarde, Jon Dale, Sasha Frere-Jones, Job de Wit, Suzanne Spiers, Joshua Merin, David Howie, Steven W. Schuldt, Scott Neill, Matthew Ingram (ha, gotcha), Nicola Stecher, Haley Kenshin, Nick Runcible, Gus Halpern, Michael Jary, Graham Dudlike, Mark Simmons, Donald Pryner, Alice Thompson, Heike Blumner, Jake Sandlin, Fletcher Kern, Claire Brighton, B. Cole, Chas Bovis, Jason Blum, Noam Chomsky,
Chris P. Laika-Crouton, Rennie J. Pilgrem, Hugh Ball, Michael Belfer, Owen Gavin, M. P. Acardipane, Sasha Digweed, Jen Porridge, Chris Watson, Ally Turnbull, Adrian Newton, Mal Linder, Una Friel, Nicky Mancuso, David Siano, Danny Privet-Hedge, Rupert Sager, D. Raskit, Sprettro Blanquez, D. Galas, Orlando Julius, Smitty Davenport, Sid Barcelona, Jeff Simply, Sly Fidelity, Brown Hitgowenit, H.P. Buggo, Waldorf Statler, Andy Breton, Linda Gartside-Stroheimer, Gabi Bargeld, Holger Fehlmann, Mannie Fresh, Lynval Schneider, Rowland Cave, Bruce Falconi, J.D. Carducci, Mark E. Bramah, Deena Wrigley, Hilary Small, Brenda Twice.

Thanks to all contributors.

Best of the individual ballots to appear next week.


NOTES

1/ Which Eighties? Post-punk still has some legs but it’s advisable to disinvest from obvious names and areas, and stack your portfolio with the very obscure (John Peel one-offs) or the geographically remote (Germany, Australia, the Belgium/Netherlands, even France). Generally speaking, the early Eighties looking pretty peaked on most fronts, even though it’s yet to really cross over into the mainstream, so the smart money is already moving deeper in that decade--skipping
the mid-Eighties (the so-called “Bad Music Era”: 83/84/85/86) altogether and going straight to the late Eighties. Now is the time to start investing in second-wave industrial/Euro Body Music and early dreampop (the surprise, seemingly premature return of My Bloody Valentine to currency). Likewise in dance music, it would seem that last year’s power move--punk-funk/mutant disco/Italodisco/NYC electrofunk (Prelude/Russell/West End)--is already tapped out, and the more astute speculators will be moving into the post-electro/pre-house phase (Cutting, Nitro Deluxe, Freestyle). The trouble with moving to the late Eighties and bypassing the mid-period (a time when things were so desperate that The Triffids were regarded as saviours) is that the optimum time span for recycling is 20 years or more, and although revival-attempts often begin after 15 years, the first several attempts are usually false starts or premature stabs (sort of equivalent those warriors in Zulu who sacrifice themselves in order to test the firepower of the besieged British garrison and use up their ammunition), e.g Romo which was roughly 14 years after the period it was attempting to revive and thus six to eight years premature. So although we can expect some tentative moves into baggy/Madchester, say, these are too risky for the sensible coolmongerer.

2/ It seems like only yesterday. Dance music’s cycles run about half the duration of rock’s cycles--instead of 20 years, the optimum period is 10 years. Despite the surprisingly non-appearance of a major ardkore/darkcore revival (probably because people started pining for and recycling that era within only a few years of its demise), we’re gearing up for a massive ‘94-the-year-jungle-broke ragga-amen-rinse revival. For a while now, ‘ardkore dealers have been devoting more space to tunes from 94-95 and prices have been rising accordingly. Other signs include the Soundmurderer CD, figures like DJ Shitmat and Enduser, Luke Vibert who has cut five old skool jungle singles and has the Amen Andrew Vol. 1 record sooncome on Rephlex, while Mike Paradinas’s Planet Mu label is putting out a compilation of Remarc’s classic amen tunes. Power moves here entail moving out well beyond the obvious knowns (forget about the serious middlebrown zone of Rage/Grooverider/Fabio/Reinforced/Goldie, and especially Bukem --even though ‘Demon’s Tune’ was one of the first Amen tunes) and expand the ‘auteurisation’ syndrome to the figures who never got the iD/Face/Muzik/Mixmag treatment: Remarc, Bizzy B, Randall, DJ Nut Nut, Kemet Crew, Suburban Base/Ganja (Marvellous Cain, Hype, Pascal/Johnny Jungle, Noise of Art, Flex, Krome & Time), Dead Dred/Second Movement/Back 2 Basics, DMS & Boneman, X Ram/Shimon/Andy C, Gappa G & Hyper Hyper, Formation/SS, plus the countless ragga-sploitation bandwagon-jumping dancehall relicks of the era. Ultra power moves: Leviticus ‘Burial’ and anything by M-Beat especially the ones not featuring General Levy.

Monday, June 02, 2003

Mark @ K-Punk has a pretty thoughtful and thought-provoking response (friday last week) to my scattershot riffing of the day before. Which has provoked further thoughts at this end, to be riffed in due course and probably equally scattershot fashion.

Sunday, June 01, 2003

From the horse's mouth. An addendum to the below: on the subject of Cabaret Voltaire as realists, only just spotted this from the Methodology box set sleevenotes as penned by Richard H. Kirk:

“I remember the 70s as a time of austerity, a crackdown after the so-called liberal times of the ‘60s. Racism, repressive policing, hijackings, Baadher-Meinhof, the Angry Brigade, Operation Julie, cheap sulphate, boredom, industrial unrest, but a feeling that something was on the boil within an alienated and disaffected ‘youth culture’. I suppose we took our cue (and also our name) from the Dada movement and maybe in retrospect from the Situationist movement. The bottom line is, it was never just about music but about confrontation, challenging people’s conceptions on everything from sound and images to reality itself. Trying to be a thorn in the side of Authority. From run of the mill War obsessed jobsworths, constables, in fact anybody who wore a badge, to politicians. All considered fair game for baiting and satirisation. In some ways though it was just an innocent reflection of the times, not different than the Beach Boys singing about surfing and the good times in California. But there was no surf to ride in Sheffield, just post-war desolation, unemployment and ugly urban landscapes.”

What's really striking to me about this quote is that it's the first time I've seen anyone in Cabaret Voltaire situate what the band were about in the specifics of '70s political and social realities. The reference to Operation Julie is interesting -- this was a massive police operation to bust one of the major drug rings behind the UK manufacture and distribution of LSD. Guess which band wrote a song about it? That's right, The Clash, with "Julie's In the Drug Squad". Weird!

Cabaret Voltaire: "the streets," but seen through the eyes of CCTV?

(Richard H. Kirk: culcha warrior!)

[While we're talking about "from the horse's mouth", it should be obvious why I'm so taken with those Dizzee Rascal quotes below--the way Dizzee characterizes himself and his ilk corresponds pretty much exactly with the way I would characterize him and his ilk. Give or take some high-faluting verbiage on my part and some coarse vernacular on his, it's like we're on the same page! Which might be a first for me---usually there's a significant gap, and sometimes a massive gulf, between an artist's self-conception and what I would say about them (ach, those ingrate post-rockers). One conclusion that could be drawn from this is that I've actually, after all this time, gotten better at my job. There's another take, which is that the job of creative criticism is to mythify, amplify, distort, embellish, generate glorious fictions. I dunno though, where my head's at these days, I kinda think--to borrow a lick from the X-Files--the truth is out there. So why not try to find it? The truth, in this credulity-straining world of ours, can be as strange as any fiction].