Wednesday, December 29, 2004

FAVES 2004


Terror Danjah--evil cackling cyborg death-goblin laughter audio-logo (“Frontline”, “Creep Crawler”, TJ/Aftershock productions/remixes passim)

D Double E--“mui mui” audio-logo (passim)

D Double E -- indecipherably mangled and guttural vocalese in first eight bars of “Destruction VIP” (worthy of Iggy on Funhouse)

D Double E--“Think you’re a big boy cos you go gym?/bullets will cave your whole face in” (“Cockback”)

Bruza--all 27 seconds of his bars on “Cock Back,” but especially “I come across with a force that’s coarse, of course,” “you’ll be left in ruins for your wrong-doings,” and, double-especially, “brutal and British”

Bruza--“mo’ money mo’ problems, though/but forget the problems--GIMME THE MONEY! (Shystie, “One Wish (Terror Danjah remix)")

Riko--“Stay calm/Don’t switch/Use composure, blud/Use your head to battle through, ca’ you are the chosen one,” “On satellite/On Saturday/On Saturnight/On Saturnight?/ That can’t be right/But I told you before, I can say what I like,”” and patois-to-patter switch in the sign-off “so yeah alla my rude boy, let me tell ya, stay calm, just stay calm, keep your composure, mate, and everyfink’ll be all right, and you can go froo life, every day and all that, sweet as a nut” (“Chosen One”)

Target--beats on “Chosen One”

Target-–pizzicato string part on “Chosen One”

Kano--wary, measuring-all-angles, poise 'n' deliberation of his knotty cadences passim, but especially “Lately” and his suavely-seductive-yet-still-strategic mode on "So Sure"

Kano--“from lamp post to lamp post, we run the road” (“Destruction VIP”)

Wonder--glacial, tonally-harrowed synths (“Lately”)

Wonder--bass-thrub and dead-eyed electro-splashes (“What”)

Wiley--entire “I know trouble but Trouble says he don’t know you…. I know Ghetto but Ghetto says he don’t know you” etc etc bit (“Destruction VIP”)

Jammer--chopped ‘n’ diced flurry of pugilistic fanfares and blacksploitation bombast-blaring horn-blasts (“Destruction VIP”)

Terror Danjah/Big E-D--signature Aftershock style of post-Swizz/Ludacris suppressed-but-ominously-lurking fuzz-gnarly doom-blare fanfares (“Frontline”, “Creep Crawler,” passim)

Terror Danjah--idyllictronic synth-flickers (“So Sure”)

Lethal B--hectic carousel groove (“Pow” aka “FWD”)

Dizzee Rascal--woozily baleful bassdrone (“Graftin’”)

Lady Sovereign--“nooooooh-I-never-go/Cha-Ching” “the white midget,” “the multitalented munchkin,” “Cha Ching/It’s Ms Sovereign, the tichy t’ing/Me nah have fifty rings/but I’ve got fifty things/To say/in a cheeky kind of way/okay?” (“Cha-Ching”)

Infinite Livez--fey, polymorphous “ooh-just-a-bit-more” last-drops-of-breast-milk bit at the end of “The Adventures of the Lactating Man;” extra-laaaaaarge voice passim

Lil Jon--ice-plinky Omni/”Stronger”-style keyboard chords (“Da Blow”)

Lil Jon--whistling descending synth-refrain (“Yeah”, “Freek-A-Leek”, "In This Club," passim)

Eminem--haggard-yet-resolute grain o‘ voice and “coward/empowered” rhyme (“Mosh”)

The Streets--voice, cadence, intonation, idiom, of C-Mone, aka "that girl", especially “you shouldn’t be gawping in fin air” and “I needed you to come over, man/I needed you to be there,” (“Get out of My House”)

The Streets--Skinner’s sadsack excuses and the deliberately lame fake-bass-2-dark-UKG-circa-2001 middle eight (“Get Out of My House”)

The Streets--cold-rush activating hollow-souled trance synths (“Blinded By the Lights”)

The Streets--sadsack stoner-loser voice on “Wouldn’t Have It Any Other Way” (is he staying in cos he’s in love with the girl or the weed?)

The Streets--“it’s hard to take but her mind has been made up”, “it o-o-o-ver” (“Dry Your Eyes”)

Twista--violin (and violin-playing chick) (“Overnight Celebrity”)

Animal Collective--the “moment,” unforgettable and unrecoverable, that was their entire show at Bowery Ballroom

Pixeltan--voice of girl singer (“Get Up/Say What,” “The Way I Like It”)

J.O.Y.--voice of Yoshimi P-We (“Sunplus”)

The Libertines--splintered guitars, passim

Goldie Lookin’ Chain--Twin Town meets Rockers: “alla the youth shall witness the day Babylon shall fall” in thick Welsh accent (“The Maggot”)


The Top 21/1st equal

Big E.D.--"Frontline (Creepy Crawler Mix)"
Terror Danjah, “Creep Crawler”
Riko and Target “Chosen One”
Jammer feat. Wiley, D Double E, Kano and Goodz, “Destruction VIP”
Lady Sovereign, “Cha Ching (Cheque 1, 2 Remix)”
Terror Danjah feat. Hyper, Bruza, D Double E and Riko 'Cock Back'
Lethal B featuring Fumin, D Double E, Nappa, Jamakabi, Neeko, Flo Dan, Ozzi B, Forcer, Demon, Hot Shot, “Pow” a/k/a FWD riddim
Wonder featuring Kano, “Lately”
Terror Danjah featuring Kanoe and Katie, “So Sure”
Infinite Livez, “"The Adventures of the Lactating Man"
Britney Spears, “Toxic
Usher feat Lil Jon and Ludacris, “Yeah”
Pixeltan, “Get Up/Say What”
J.O.Y, “Sunplus (DFA Remix)”
The Streets, “Get Out of My House”
The Streets, “Dry Your Eyes”
Beenie Man, “Dude”
Kanye West, “Last Call”
Twista featuring Kanye West and Soulful Chap, “Slow Jamz”
Twista, “Overnight Celebrity”

The Next 55 (second equal)

Ying Yang Twins, “Salt Shaker”
The Streets,“Blinded By The Lights’
The Streets, “Could Well Be In”
The Streets, “Wouldn’t Have It Any Other Way”
Dizzee Rascal, “Graftin’”
Kiki, “Luv Sikk”/”Luv Sikk Again”
Kanye West, “Through The Wire”
Kanye West, “All Fall Down”,
Nina Sky feat Jabba, “Move Your Body”
Pixeltan, “That’s the Way I like It”
J.O.Y, “Sunplus”
Shystie feat. Kano, Bruza and Ronnie Redz, “One Wish (Terror Danjah Remix)”
Juvenile, “Slow Motion”
Wiley, “Pies”
Wiley, “Going Mad”
Wonder, “What”
Snoop Dogg, “Can I Get A Flicc Witchu”
Petey Pablo, “Freak-A-Leek”
Modest Mouse, “Float On”
J-Kwon, “Tipsy”
David Sylvian/Ryuichi Sakamoto, “World Citizen” (Samadhisound)
Phonique feat Die Elfen, “The Red Dress” (Tiefschwarz Remix)
Spectrum, "Kinda New (Tiefschwarz Remix)"
Colder, “Where”
The Libertines, “Can’t Stand Me Now”
Maroon 5, “This Love”
Switchfoot, “Made To Live”
Eminem, “Mosh”
Lil Jon, "Da Blow"
Lil Jon, “Aw Skeet Skeet”
Jay-Z, “99 Problems”
Black Leotard Front, “Casual Friday”
Three of A Kind, "Babycakes"
D12, “Name of My Band”
Durrty Goodz, “Gimme Dat”
Dizzee Rascal feat D Double E, “Give U More”
OT feat Dogzilla & Syers, "STD"
Big E.D., “Zoanoid” (Roadsweeper EP)
Terror Danjah, “Haunted” (Roadsweeper EP)
Unknown, “Frontline Refix”
Trim, “Boogieman”
Ruff Sqwad, “Lethal Injection”
Ruff Sqwad, “Tingz in Boots 2”
Tincy Strider, “Nug Tings (Pum Pum Riddim)”
D.P.M. feat Bruza, Nappa, Shizzle, “Ave Some of That”
Davinche, “Stinger” (from Dirty Canvas EP)
Davinche, “Madness” (from Dirty Canvas EP)
Davinche, “The Chase” (Dirty Canvas 2)
Durty Doogz, “Back 2 School”
P Jam feat D Double E, “Anger Management”
Magum & D.O.K.,"Crazy Beat (Terror Danjah Mix) (from Payback EP: the Remix)
Terror Danjah, "Juggling"(from Industry Standard EP)
Terror Squad, "Lean Back"
Supertramp featuring Fabolous, "Breathe"
Bruza feat Footsie, Triple Threat and Shizzle, "Bruzin'"


1/ Various, Run The Road
2/ Kanye West, The College Dropout
3/ The Streets, A Grand Don’t Come For Free
4/ Infinite Livez, Bush Meat
5/ Dizzee Rascal, Showtime
6/ Various/DJ Clever, Offshore Presents Troubled Waters
7/ Ariel Pink, Haunted Graffiti 2 THE DOLDRUMS
8/ Various, DFA Compilation #2
9/ Various/Ivan Smagghe, Death Disco
10/ Throbbing Gristle, TG Now
11/ Tiefschwarz, Misch Masch/Eleven Remixes
12/ Panda Bear, Young Prayer
13/ Junior Boys, Last Exit
14/ Wiley, Treddin’ On Thin Ice
15/ The Libertines
16/ John Cale, Hobo Sapiens
17/ Tod Dockstader and David Lee Myers, Pond
18/ Animal Collective, Sung Tongs
19/ Robag Wrhume Wuzzelbud, KK
20/ Devendra Banhart, Rejoicing in the Hands

the rest of the best
Aim High Music Presents: Vol. 1--DJ Target; Gogol Bordello Vs Tamir Muskat; Lil Jon, Crunk Juice; Goldie Lookin’ Chain, Greatest Hits; Gang Gang Dance, Revival of the Shittest; Gang Gang Dance; Ricardo Villalobos, The Au Harem D’Archimede; The Eternals, Rawar Style; The Eternals, Out of Proportion; Spektrum, Enter The Spektrum; Sagan, Unseen Forces; Franz Ferdinand; Kiki, Run With Me; The Soft Pink Truth, Do You Want New Wave or Do You Want The Soft Pink Truth?; Knowledge presents Inperspective Records in the Mix; The Caretaker, We’ll All Go Riding On A Rainbow; Prodigy, Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned; Blevin Blectum, Magic Maples; Charalambides, Joy Shapes; Charalambides, Unknown Spin


1/ Lizzy Mercier Descloux, Mambo Nassau
2/ Brian Eno, Ambient 4: On Land
3/ Brian Eno and Harold Budd, Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirrors
4/ Richard H. Kirk, Earlier/Later
5/ Metal Boys, Tokio Airport
6/ X Project/Congo Natty 12inch rereleases: Ras Project, “Walking in the Air”, X Project, “Jah Set It,” “Code Red”

The rest of the best
The Abysinnians and Friends, Tree of Satta; Minny Pops, Drastic Measures, Drastic Movement; Saint Etienne, Travel Edition 1990-2005 (especially "Finisterre"); Crawling Chaos, The Gas Chair; Crunk Classics; Doctor Mix and the Remix, Wall of Noise; DNA, dna on dna; Various Artists--Volga Select Presents "So Young But So Cold: Underground French Music 1977--1983" ; Arthur Russell, Calling Out of Context; Cristina, Sleep It Off, Doll in the Box; Lizzy Mercier Descloux, Press Color, all the other Eno reissues

Favela Funk 2004 Rio (A. Nicechap)
Broadcast Comp 12.03 (J. House)
Computer Says So! (Dub’s Love Affair w. the drum machine) (P. Maplestone)
Grime O4 (M.Ingram)
Kwaito (M. Ingram)
Desi 1/Desi 2 (M. Ingram)
Historic MCs (M. Ingram)
Dancehall Riddims 2004 (P. Kennedy)
Dancehall^Bashment^ Desi (D. Stelfox)
Here Comes Grimin’ Simon (P. Kennedy)
Grime Summer Selektion 2004 (S. Reynolds)
Terror Danjah and Aftershock Cru: Auteur Series #1 (S. Reynolds)

If a cd existed of Ripley & Kid Kameleon's set at Volume earlier this year that would be my favorite mix-CD of 2004.

Peepshow, Office Xmas special, first four episodes of Nighty Night, Gilmore Girls and Gilmore Girls First Season DVD, Wonderfalls, Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, John Martyn documentary on BBC 4, Philip Roth, the Plot Against America. Bloggaz man dem and gal dem (even though we're now in the "1970s" bloggworld wise). Sideways, I Heart Huckabees, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

FEH (all categories)
Metallica movie (it's alright until halfway through you realise: "I paid money to sit through a movie about Metallica". Last two episodes of Nighty Night. All emo. U2, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb; Various, Box Bloody Fresh; Various, Unclassics. Shystie's shitey album.


* So I appear to be a rap fan now. The Top 5 albums are a lockdown, in the singles non-MC based music barely gets a look-in, and as “discrete moments” reveals, almost all the puncta that have lived with me, memory-wise, are MC-and-beats oriented. Now, contrary to a belief held in some quarters, me and hip hop go back a long ways. Almost from the minute I went professional (end o’ 85--coming up for two decades in the game now!) I was rave reviewing things like Schoolly D, Mantronix, Ultramagnetic MCs, Def Jam etc. And there’s barely been a year since when I’ve not had at least half an ear trained on the genre. BUT the insinuation of non-attachment to rap has a tinge of truth to the extent that, at no point in any of that time would I have described myself as a hip hop fan. At least not in the sense of “fan” as fanatic, believer, someone massively invested in the whole cultural project. There’s people, white ones and all, who're total patriots for hip hop and go through great pangs as its collective muse wanes or they become convinced its irreversible decline has set in. That’s never been me. My ears prick up when it’s in an up phase (my idea of an "up" phase not necessarily coinciding with the cognoscenti's, natch), but I don’t go into mourning when it’s in a trough. It’s not at the core of my being, whereas I would happily, and accurately, have slapped “raver” or “junglist” on my passport. Those white folks who do take on “hip hop” as their primary identity always seem a bit…. not exactly suspect, but I wonder how they make that leap of cultural cathexis so confidently, given that the music’s obviously not made with them in mind (Whereas rave and jungle were predicated on an “all welcome here” ethos, at least in theory). Any road, I now find myself in a position where people shouting boasts and threats and other unpleasantness over beats is my absolute preferred form of entertainment/stimulation. So I appear to be a rap fan, finally.

* Well, that said, of course if you took the UK out of the picture then this being a “rap fan” business would boil down to loving College Drop Out, some Lil Jon productions, and a few other BET-gleaned bits ‘n’ bobs. Really, it’s only because rave has evolved through its own aberrant logic into a warped Brit equivalent to rap that MCs rule my world. I'm a raveist-turned-grimeist, essentially. By and large, I’d say hip hop in its homeland wasn't especially inspired this year. Who are the compellingly original new personalities and larger-than-life characters who’ve come through lately? (Lil Flip!? Fabolous!?) Who’s bringing some really interesting new content? As for form, well, a certain fatigue has set in with the mindbendingly weird riddim thing. It’s sorta been established that almost anything no matter how fucked-up, dysfunctional and defective, can be made into a beat. Things like “Drop It Like It’s Hot”, while reasonably cool’n’all (may I commend the ‘Tunes on the hi-hats, which sound especially good over a sound system) don’t hit with the same impact that their equivalents did four or five years ago.

* Run The Road as #1. Heard murmurings on the lines of it ain’t that great a comp.
Purely practically, it wins because it’s got four of my Top 20 singles in it--“Destruction”, “Cock Back”, “Ca Ching,” “Chosen One”--while the second-tier tunes (“Gimmie Dat”, “One Wish”, “Give U More”, No Lay’s “Unorthadox Daughter,” EARS’ “Happy Dayz,” Kano’s “Mic Fight”) have really grown on me. Still can’t quite see why Kano’s “Ps & Qs” is such a mega-mega tune on the scene but, yeah, it’s good. Symbolically, it’s #1 because Grime’s my favorite form of music, still beyond-question the cutting-edge sector, the biggest source of visceral (‘n vicarious) thrills and food-for-thought, and given that it’s not really a single-artist album-oriented genre (despite Dizzee ‘n’ Wiley), the comp is necessarily paramount (and I wish there were more of them, more readily available, and done better. The DVDs don’t do the same job, ‘cos you have to sit there and watch, it’s TV not music, putting you in passive mode--I’ve got Practice Hours and haven’t actually had time to sit down and watch the thing). Run The Road is the best grime compilation I heard this year (better than Aim High, pisses from height over Box Bloody Fresh). Come to think of it, it’s probably the best grime comp ever. And being the first full-on Grime major label comp it’s got a bit of a landmark aspect. Ergo ergo ergo, it’s the record of 2004 (ignoring the awkward fact that owing to various hiccups it’s not actually going into the shops, bar a few UKgarage specialists that already have it, until January 2005, although Americans take heed and take heart, it’s being picked up by Vice domestically, so I’m told).

* Grand and Showtime I thought would be jostling for #1 (interesting to see the Observer Music Monthly have them as #1 and #2 respectively), but both slipped a tiny bit in my estimation over the year. Grand’s an odd one, the whole concept ain’t all that, really, and the five or six songs I adore--“Get Out,” “Dry,” “Blinded”, “Could Well”, “Wouldn’t Have”, “Empty Cans”, and (grudgingly) “Fit” too--are surrounded by ones I can barely remember. Which is so the opposite of Original Pirate Material (almost wall-to-wall killer, seems to get better and better as the album proceeds too). Compared with OPM, the music on Grand sounds really thin and perfunctory. Showtime’s even odder: when I listen to it, all the appropriate “it’s a masterpiece”-type responses occur, plus it always seems so much more listenable and cohesive than Boy. But afterwards I can’t actually remember hardly any of the tunes, except for “Graftin’” and the Captain Sensible/South Pacific-ripping one, or the lyrics either, whereas with Boy, there’s five or six songs that burned into my soul almost instantly and stayed there, and lines that live with me still. Boy’s a difficult album to listen to all the way through, granted, whereas Showtime goes down easier and feels like a whole. But I think the debut’s the one we’ll remember him for--his Maxinquaye.

* My favorite track on College Dropout is the oft-maligned finale, “Last Call.” KW took real risks with this one, I think, not just through doing such a protracted and self-reflexive track but through his demystifying the hip hop industry, both through detailing the career moves and games you have to play (like the cringy-but-hilarious bit where he’s sycophantic to Jay-Z) to get anywhere, and through letting in the hum-drum (the oft-cited references to shopping at IKEA). What’s really touching is the sense of precariousness. At certain points in the long, long track (which always induces in me the feeling “when it’s going to stop?” then “actually, I don’t want it to stop”), you really feel like he’s not going to make it--that Kanye’s ascent wasn’t at all inevitable, he could easily have failed. Then from that, you get a painful glimpse of how contingent everything is in life, how much the breaks you get or don’t get play in determining outcomes, all the different places you could be in your own life if something had gone just a little bit different. There’s one bit where he’s discouraged by some setback, by how long it’s taking to get anywhere, and the music gets really tentative and crestfallen-sounding, almost idyllictronica-wistful. Always brings a tear to my eye.

* Electro-House and Schaffel. Must admit, the cynic in me, upon hearing such a genre even existed, courtesy of the ILM thread, felt that this was just bleedin’ typical of dance music in 04--can’t think of a new thing to do, so in lieu, let’s combine two illustrious but radically separate genres and besmirch their respective past glories. Having actually heard a few examples of E-H now, though, I’m moderately impressed, some genuine frissons to be had here. Schaffel, though, really smacks of desperation if you ask me. 10 years ago, at the peak of the whole cultural-sonic project of electronic drug-dance whatever, if someone told you that within a decade dance music would be having to resort to resurrecting 30 year old rhythmic ideas from rock music, that the hot new thing would be grooves that move like Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit In the Sky”…. !!!! I mean, I love T. Rex, but it's a bit of a comedown, innit?

* Had a whole little rant mentally prepared on the truly-quite-disgraceful marketing of the Libertines, the use of photos of Pete Doherty sucking on a crack pipe in features on the band, the web diary he operated while in rehab (or was it prison?), the Babyshambles website with its smack-glorifying imagery, the way every review devotes 2/3 of its length to the saga (Doherty burgling the other guy’s flat for crack money, the tortured making of the record), the album cover with its two junkies shooting each other up imagery. Basically the rant was gonna put forth the proposition that the Libertines were the first post-Behind The Music band, the first group to realize it’s no good having these sagas of drug-fuckup/internecine love-hate/mismanagement etc etc gripping the viewers 20 years on down the line, you need to have this stuff working for you right at the start, helping you shift your current product. The Libertines as the first band (possible exception: Happy Mondays circa Yes Please) to integrate their disintegration into the marketing campaign and indeed into the musical content (“Can’t Stand Me Now,” etc). The rant would have concluded with a few pot shots about how lame the music was, plus a glancing barb re. the unholy alliance of Alan McGee, Mick Jones, and--of all people--Geoff Travis. Unfortunately the plan was scuppered because the friend we stayed with in London a few weeks ago had a copy of their latest album. And it’s great! Love the splintered guitars (as much Subway Sect as Only Ones, with a bit of freakbeat John’s Children/The Eyes/There Who in there too), the ramshackle yet potent rhythms, the “transcendentally wrecked” (I. Penman on Big Star’s third LP) feeling throughout. Still extremely suspicious of the whole shtick/marketing/hype, but having listened to it again on the plane back (Virgin, these days, have dozens of cds in their inflight entertainment set up along with 300 hours of film and TV), you know what, there’s definitely something there, believe it or not.

* Goldie Lookin’ Chain. Pitman must be fookin’ seething with rage.

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