Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Woebotnik on proto-ardkore. Yes it's rich seam, this 1990/91 period. Matt's post reminds me of a set I heard Slipmatt do on One In the Jungle, must have been about '98--an old skool journey that went from around mid-90 to mid-92, a fantastic ride. I was amazed, and thrilled/horrified, by the number of tunes from the early part of the period covered I'd never heard. I taped it but still don't know what most of the tunes were. At one point the
sound was something you might call "bleep'n'breaks". As Matt suggests, there's a sort of pleasingly lumpen linearity to the sound--the breakbeats are looped into simple patterns emphasising a techno/house-like propulsiveness. And the basslines chug or blippit along at the same tempo as the beats. Basically there's no "rhythmic danger" yet, jungle's not even on the horizon. So it's totally euphoric and smiley with just a tiny hit of ruff underneath.

(Exception--the precocious darkcore of Eon. "Spice", was one of the things DB played that sounded fantastic on the big sound system. Really well produced).

The dirt-cheap prices of this stuff (well the non-obvious anthems) imply the retroactive subcultural-capitalisation of it hasn't taken place yet, if it ever will. It's still "trash". Which connects to this promising-looking book I've started reading, But Is It Garbage: On Rock and Trash, by Steven L. Hamelman. An academic (university of Georgia Press) but not academically-written (at times quite imagistic and post-Bangsian in fact--appropriately enough) exploration of the tropes of waste, rubbish, garbage, etc running through rock and rock writing--from the "trash aesthetic" to people getting wasted on drugs (and wasting their lives with ODs) to the perennial "is it art or just garbage/pabulum/etc". Interesting so far (Hamelman's line: it's art AND it's garbage, explodes the binary--he's a bit of a Melzerian). Mind you, there's a few startling ommissions: Bataille's nowhere to be seen, which is odd given the usefulness of his theories of a human drive to expenditure-without-return (potlatch, prodigality, ruinous extravagance, sacrifice, the Accursed Share). Also surprised there's no mention of Ian Dury and the Blockheads' "What A Waste", which is all about how Ian could have been a doctor or a teacher or something socially useful but chose to be the singer in a six piece band, "what a waste, what a waste/rock'n'roll don't mind" (well Hamelman's American so probably never heard it). Also doesn't appear to be anything on rave, which again was all about people getting trashed, massive expenditures of energy and money for no purpose whatsoever, a sacrificial economy of burning your brain cells and frittering your serotonin, etc.

The second major thing I ever wrote on hardcore, the sentence " 'Trash', but I luvvit" just popped into my head. In fact i'm not sure i even put scare quotes around "trash". The sentence was the product of a complex of mixed emotions--defiance, insecurity about my own ardour for the music versus the general informed opinionati's disdain, an early unformed impulse towards a Bangsian transvaluation of it c.f. Count Five/Troggs/garage punk.* Well nowadays ardkore is thoroughly vindicated by what it turned into, almost to the point of a kind of retroactive gentrification (in some ways that was what was so exciting about Dara's set, that he reminded me of how trashy and throwaway a lot of the stuff really was, "made in two minutes", cheeky, taking liberties). The zone of true "trash" has slipped back to the period Matt's identified. The Belgian shit especially seems untouchable. Those hard-angled stabs will probably always seem moronic, cheap'n'nasty--the Judas Priest of techno history. Whereas the cruddy sounds in early jungle--the slight distortion on the breaks and muddiness of bass in things like "Renegade Snares"--have gone through the phase of sounding non-state-of-art/cheap/dated-in-a-bad way, and now sound dated-in-a-good-way/classic/timeless, like the fuzztone in "Psychotic Reaction".

* I am almost half-tempted to go to Little Steven's International Garage Festival. Just $20 for a lineup that includes The Creation, Bo Diddley, Big Star, Chocolate fucking Watchband, The Electric Prunes, Nancy Sinatra, Richard and the Young Lions, The Pretty Things, The New York Dolls and The Dictators (neither of whom i even like particularly), Iggy Pop and the Stooges. Of course I'm sure they'd all be shit, and Randall's Island's one of those places where they confiscate your food and water before you go in so you'd end up spending 50 bucks on overpriced drink and get sunstroke. Plus the one time we went to Randall's Island (lollapalooza) there was a bizarre audience riot, a war, missiles flying at the stands, a rain of bottles and ordure and used diapers, a full bottle of water split Joy's forehead open and we had to miss Hole's set and go to the First Aid under the stage. So maybe I'll pass.

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