As part of the new Spinozist "joyful encounters only please" Blissblog my new rest-of-year resolutions are: stop slagging off drum'n'bass; desist from making jibes at David Keenan (respeck bruv, each to their own bliss); cease taking a pop at the Pro-Pop lot (hmmm, not sure about that one, might be hard to keep). HOWEVER I can't resist aiming one last kick at d&b's flabby arse. in case you missed it there was a thread last week called Bloggers v. Drum’n’Bass, started by Martin Clark, who wondered aloud about the anti-D&B consensus on the bloggs (or this little 'hood of them). And he made quite a sturdy case for D&B being fairly vital at the moment, listed a whole bunch of folks doing stuff. But then someway into the thread, Jack from Drip Drap Drop (who's sort of Tufluv with attitude innit) (and whose D&B rant was the spur for Martin's thread) came in like an armored division with a long comment that just slew. Case closed (I felt). Can't resist quoting it in almost-full:
"I know it's not difficult to prefer the past to the present, but i think most distaste (certainly my own) for current d'n'b stems from great fondness for jungle (and by that i mean pre-two-step beat, cut up break, ragga-influenced jungle); both the tunes themselves and what it did with music. Something like capone's 'massive' (dillinja=capone) sounds like pinsharp accurate funk. not a single sound is wasted; the beats are punctuated by tiny silences giving it a clipped jabbing impact, but it still is just drums 'n' bass and sounds perfect, finished.
Dillinja today sounds wasteful, so much energy and effort obviously in the music (time invested in the mix and mastering, getting those bass lines absolutely as chest-cavity vibrating as possible) and for what? his records today remind me of a oil rig out of control, firing indiscriminatly to all corners. No control, just pure power flooding out without control. To see this 'progression' is depressing, how is it he's seemingly immatured? has he unlearned the kind of control that many musicians would take years to learn? Dillinja is just one example of this, there are so many who, without much explanation, followed the two-step bosh pattern when it became popular (hype, zinc, shy fx...a list is pointless it's EVERYONE), but I give special mention to Dillinja because of this (from radio1 forum):
'Dillinja was Flight's show recently. In the interview he went deep, talking frankly about the D&b scene… the past and where it is now. One of the things which stood was for me, was how much he loved the music but to keep above water he has to play the game.
What's the game? Well going with the flow is the game. Making tracks the kids are into. He'd love to sit in the studio and make stuff which is gonna challenge the dancefloor but has to constantly churn club bangers in order to even be allowed to create the music he reeeeally wants to make. If he doesn't he could be seen as falling off? how sad is that, both for him AND for us? '
I've listened to the linked grooverider show and it pisses me off. It's SO annoying to hear grooverider enthuse about these tunes while i can't catch even the faintest headnod buzz off them (giving three rewinds to something or other, or like him saying one of the tracks made him cry *cue awful cymbally hyper-revved amen break*; me too mate, but for entirely different reasons). That pendulum remix of Nightbreed 'pack of wolves' is some pig ugly Pitchshifter (nottingham nu-metal/d'n'b: avoid) shite. Nu-metal and nu-d'n'b like that fucking deserve each other. Same aspirations of funk, same OTT sinisterness, same bellowing into the void. Also i hate hearing things i associate with jungle on new d'n'b tracks, the sped-up soul yelps in the middle of breaks reduced to a predictable techno-tick, the amen-break used SO much but always eqed to put the cymbals at eye-melting volume and pitch. it's annoying to be reminded of these things in a new crap context, and if two-step d'n'b is a separate type of music why should it have to borrow these elements from jungle...
. ..if 'dubplate culture' is what i think it is ie. the constant search for the new, it may be some way to blame for what has happened in the mainstreams of dnb. The search for 'progression' has lead the scene to a dead end, they are now 'progressing' in tiny technical increments; bass grains, slightly changed two bar loops. However much the 'p' word is used, i don't think a grooverider show from 2008 will be too different from one now....
i don't hate drum 'n' bass, it's just annoying. It's usurped a music i have far more affinity with by claiming that it's a reincarnation of the same."
the bit that really struck a chord was "i hate hearing things i associate with jungle on new d'n'b tracks.... it's annoying to be reminded of these things in a new crap context" -- when i went to that dieselboy tour that's what irritated me, this superelentless midfrequency blare at damn near 200 bpms and then bobbing along every so often on top these little rootical sampled vocals or slices of rap, but totally unintegrated with the music, whereas with jungle those vocal licks moved with the way the music moved, they moved the music.
The other week I actually went down to Breakbeat Science to pick up some Offshore 12's off DJ Clever and he kindly picked a bunch of recent tunes of note for me to check out. Some of the stuff was quite nice: piece on Hospital called "The Basement Track", imbued with this "warm" vintage New York house-feel to it, i guess the title probably nods to "A Basement, A Red Light, and A Feeling" by.... Kerri Chandler is it?. There was a track on Metalheadz that was kinda different from the norm (but not quite enough). Photek back in the game, after his recent hip hop dalliances, sounding much the same as '96. Remixes of "Angel" and "Sinister" on Razor's Edge (rubbish actually). With these and other tunes whose name escapes, a lot of the "dark" elements seemed really hokey, in the way a lot of DarkDubStep/Croydon t'ing sounds a wee bit corny. Like, "you're really scaring me boys". "OTT sinisterness" as Jack put it.
In the end, the only tune I liked enough to wanna take home though was Polar, some Norwegian or Danish dude. "Out of Range"/Sit Down and Dance". On Breakbeat Science's own label, but licensed from Certificate 18. The "Sit Down and Dance" side was what sold me: just very pretty in a sort of Haunted Science/Dave Wallace styleee, spidery melody-patterns, almost a bit idyllictronic actually. As the title suggests, not exactly jump up! I'm glad to have it but can't help feeling it's a bit lame to have bought a drum and bass record on account of its melody. So maybe it's time to let it go.