Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Wayne Marshall brings enlightenment viz "junglists" and "gardenists":

"i believe what you're looking for is arnette gardens--which is located in trench town, not far from tivoli gardens. both "gardens"--a term created by the political parties that built and named these public housing schemes (and made sure that their "supporters" were housed in them)--are located in west kingston, downtown. i believe the two areas were (and still are) politically antagonistic garrison communities. tivoli, which was created by plowing over longstanding squatters' developments, was and has always been the base of seaga, who as you note is the reagan-ally that many jamaicans blame for the country's ultra-violent, gun-saturated politics. people still big up "jungle" and "junglists" on tapes and records and such. don't think i've ever heard "gardenist"! so, i'm afraid that they're all "gardenists," in a sense--even the "junglists." that means there's less poetry--and perhaps politics--to the resonance of the term."

Arnette Gardens! Of course, of course. (John Eden confirms the derivation, but spells it Arnett Gardens.)

Wayne Marshall, incidentally, isn't that Wayne Marshall, but he's the real (or a real) Wayne Marshall, he points out, "cos the the dancehall singjay adopted "marshall" because he thought it a better stage name than his real name, wayne mitchell". Our Wayne is an academic whose field of expertise includes Jamaican music, bizarrely enough.

Somehow I imagine the support in particular areas of Kingston for one party or the other was probably fairly non-ideological: in other words, less about policies or values than getting your people into power to get hold of the spoils--patronage, funding, etc, etc. Bit like how the old "machine" politics used to operate in American cities.

(Seaga, incidentally, although pro-America, had a past of being deeply involved in the Jamaican music industry).

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

There was a wee ILM discussion last week on the provenance of the terms 'jungle' and 'drum'n'bass' , and on what the difference between the two actually was. An opportune moment (except I was too busy with grim stuff) for me to pitch in and make the public confession of getting me facts wrong. Well, it's all MC Navigator's fault. In 1994 he told me that "junglist" came from Concrete Jungle, the nickname of a grim housing project in Kingston, Jamaica, called Tivoli Gardens. The gangs from Tivoli, called "junglists", would be namechecked and shouted-out to on yard tapes; these would get exported to the UK and then get sampled on ragga-tekno/hardcore tracks, and.... So said Navigator, confidently. So that's the information I've always parlayed, in pieces, in Energy Flash and elsewhere. Including at some academic event a few years ago, during which an eldery Caribbean-looking professor type actually stepped up in the middle of my talk and slipped me a note while I was still pontificating, somewhat to my consternation.

Afterwards I went over and he explained, not unkindly, that the rude boys from Tivoli were called "gardenists"!! Doesn't quite have the same ring to it does it? Can you imagine, "ruff in da garden, ruff in da garden", "calling all gardenist cru, big up ya chess, and don't forget the secateurs". The prof also told me the name of the housing project that was nicknamed Concrete Jungle, and whose denizens were known as junglists. Unfortunately (slaps forehead repeatedly) I've completely forgotten what it was called. Can anyone help me here?! Maplestone? It's quite famous, and possibly the inspiration for the Wailers' "Concrete Jungle".

(The gardenists, if I've got it correct, were supporters of Seaga, who was conservative, pro-Reagan/foreign capital, stooge of America. And the junglists were supporters of Manley--socialist, anti-Western, friendly with Cuba, user of Rasta type Jah-shall-smite-the-unrighteous type imagery in his speeches, undermined by the CIA. So at least the political resonances of gardenist versus junglist are totally congruent with jungle the music.)
Hooray for the return in scan-tastic glorious technicolor of Woebot! (Those acid jazz reminiscences were harrowing, man.) The opposite of hooray for the suspension of Heronbone

PS. Did anyone tape that Resonance blogg prog, missed it on account of being in another country? Or is it, like, stored somewhere in webspace?
Gutterbreaks, niiiiiiiiiiiice, on LFO. Haven't downloaded/assembled it yet but the comp of B-sides and remixes and EP trax is a terrific idea. There's probably a fair few techno-rave auteurs you could do that with: pull together a whole comp's worth of non-album trax that might actually be better than the official album of that era. In fact I already did this with Omni Trio (and it does surpass The Deepest Cut by a significant margin). Project for when things get on an even keel: the Auteur Series.
(an irregular series applauding well executed sentences)

1/ From K-punk:

"When they say they don't believe in organized religion, their reservations aren't Deleuze-Guattari critiques of organisation :-), they are just saying that they want to continue to Carrie Bradshaw about in perpetual shilly-shalllying consumer equivocation, treating life as a buffet lunch to pick at."

The last two clauses particularly.

(Mind you I probably fall into the category of "mildly spiritual, suspicious of organized religion"--which would make me a half-hearted dimwitted bourgeois individualist I guess. I quite admire believers--from a distance. Even envy them. But music, really, is the only area I think it's acceptable to get all messianic about, and within. It's the one true religion for me).

2/ Not so much a sentence as a thought, really -- from an article in US Airways' Attache inflight magazine, on Manhattan's premier "cheese sommelier" Max McCalman. He defines cheese as:

"the preservation of milk"

Which struck me as both true and having a touch of Braudel about it.

(Cheese, incidentally, was the one true vice of my mom-in-law Becky. And it's a substance I've often thought would be worthy of connoiseurial dedication. Maybe when I finally decide to "really let myself go"--as a regenade gesture against the body-fascist culture, of course).

Simon SDC, firin', on Wiley. Burns off the screen.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Just about the only laugh I've had this last week or so: discovering there's a weatherman on American TV who goes by the name Mike Wankum.
Lickle lick by me on DJ Clever who's spinning in New York tonight (details at bottom of the piece) with Chris from Inperspective, you should come, should be good, only $3 too

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Friday, September 03, 2004


Juvenile--Juve the Great (Cash Money)
picks: "numb numb", "slow motion", "in my life"

Fiery Furnaces--Blue Berry Boat (Rough trade)
Tries a bit too hard to be interesting. But don’t get me wrong, succeeds, succeeds.

Wagon Christ--Sorry I Make You Lush (NinjaTune)
Fear Luke may have dropped below the T.o.I (that's Threshold of Inconsequentiality) career arc wise and aesthetically (not heard the Kerrier District thing though which has its supporters) but glimmers of the old Vibert magic cling to such as "Sci-Fi Staircase," which seems vaguely descended from (if not an outright remake of) "Shimmering Haze," my favorite tune on Tally Ho!. Ghastly to hear the 303 yet again on the title track, though.

Wolf Eyes--Burned Mind (Sub Pop)

Bark Psychosis--Codename: Dust Sucker (Fire)

Laura Veirs--Carbon Glacier (Nonesuch)
Not that they’re really operating in the same region, but this Uncut Album of the Month minstrel-ette sings with a gawky poise and self-possession that puts me nicely in mind of Jane Siberry.

Large Number--The Electronic Bible (The White Label)
Not actually an album by Large Number, Ann Shenton of Add N To X’s new band, but a comp of electronic-but-not-electronica outfits, not all gold by any means, but some great stuff. e.g. Fashion Flesh’s "2nd Hand Submarine".

Kode 9 + Daddi Gee--"I, Spit" (Hyperdub)

Fatboy Slim--Palookaville (Astralwerks)
Get past the irritating Tesla-flashback inducing "long hair freaky people need not apply" opener and the almost lobotomisingly stoopid "slash dot com" one that follows, and you’ll find: a good record. Beverly Martyn, ex-spouse of one-legged John, rhapsodising about Primrose Hill, is sampled on one track, pitched down to sound like a man. Which almost compensates for the presence elsewhere of Damon Albarn in "gospel" mode.

Pixeltan--"Get Up/Say What" (DFA)

Akira Rabelais--Spellewaurerynsherde (Samadhisound)

Three of A Kind--"Babycakes"
Finally heard this today after stumbling across it on a pirate tape. After one listen, I fell, guardedly, into the pro-camp. There’s just something oddly compelling about how how desultory and drippy it is. It's like Doolally's "Straight To the Heart" with all the late 90s econo-confidence kicked out of it, the sheen scuffed and turned to shab. The listless, neurasthenic feel… the weedy, withdrawn rapping... it's like a 2step TV Personalities. If grime was punk, this is its Patrik "Safety Pin Stuck In My Heart" Fitzgerald. Actually, rather than the return of sweet-like-chocolate lover’s garage, I wonder if this record’s improbable popularity (#1 in the UK?!?!?!) is in some way a post-"Dry Your Eyes" phenomemon? Certainly the song’s musical presence is almost as faint as the backing tracks on A Grand Don’t Come For Free.

Marine--Life In Reverse (LTM)

Sandoz--Digital Lifeforms Redux (The Grey Area/Mute)

Various Artists--Volga Select Presents "So Young But So Cold: Underground French Music 1977--1983" (Tigersushi)
Weakens the case for French postpunk a bit by including three tracks (among the best things here) that are really prog: "Lighthouse" by Tim Blake (who played with Gong, Egg, and Gallic progmeisters Clearlight), "Iceland" by Richard Pinhas (of electro-prog monsters Heldon), and "Welcome (To Deathrow)" by Bernard Szajner, whos kinda Jean-Michel Jarre-y.

really feeling

John Cale--HoboSapiens (Or Music)

The Prodigy--Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned (Maverick)

J.O.Y. --"Sunplus" (DFA)

Panda Bear--Young Prayer (Paw Tracks)

Ariel Pinks Haunted Graffiti 2--The Doldrums (Paw Tracks)
More indescribability (I might have a bash in weeks to come though)

Various Artists--Rio Baile Funk: Favela Booty Beats (Essay Recordings)
Various Artists--Favela Funk Rio 2004 (mix-CD)
I do really like this sound for the combination of avant-lumpen rowdiness with just enough exotic elements (those strange incongruous horn parts and corrugated accordion riffs) to make it refreshing. (Also really like the way a lot of the tracks seem rooted in Tone Loc!). At the same time though, kinda suspect my appetite for Favela Funk isnt gonna prove insatiable. Partly because the Woebot "shanty house" thesis is so spot on. Which means that when you strip away the surface exotica, the buzz it gives me at core IS the same thing essentially I get from ardkore/jungle/grime, or dancehall, or Miami bass/bounce/booty/crunk, or Desi, and would probably get from kwaito or Baltimore breaks (if Id actually heard either) or from any number of "glocal" sounds yet to be discovered around the world that are based around hardcore principles and techniques (unlicensed sample thievery, creole bastardisation, pills + thrills, bleeps + breaks + bass, subaltern presha, etc). So while feeling the contents of these cds as pure sound/vibe, I'm not sure they take me anywhere, in terms of thought.

Sagan--Unseen Forces (Creative Commons)
New outfit formed by Blevin Blectum and sweetheart Lesser, excellent psychedelic glitch but not nearly enough references to defecation for my liking. Theres an insanely capacious second disc, a DVD-Rom which contains a movie, nine live shows and hours of mp3s and which I havent dared even touch.

Blevin Blectum--Magic Maples (Bleakhouse/Praemedia)
"A prog-rock fantasy gone horrible awry" sez the press release! And it does get pretty convoluted and cosmically addled, especially towards the end with "Ease" and "Rommelpotted".

Various Artists/DJ Target--Aim High Music Presents Vol. 1
Various Artists --Grime 04 (Woebotnik Productions)
Fave track on both comps: OT feat Dogzilla & Syers "STD". Fragrant!

really really feeling

Dizzee Rascal--Showtime (XL)
Steadily inching ahead of Skinner.

not really feeling

Brazzaville--Welcome To Brazzaville (Web of Mimicry)
But i did keep my vow

Shystie--Diamond In the Dirt
I agree with Woebot, dont reckon much on her rushed flow; the beats lack character (well theyre made by a bunch of no-marks). And "Intro" is a skincrawlingly embarassing beat-free bleat about haters trying to hold her back and keep her down. Why should we care?

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Interesting and mildly fractious wee thread on Rephlex's Grime 2 comp, not heard it yet myself, but I did notice when in London coupla month ago what one participant here takes the piss out of--all the "ethereal’/"mysterious Orient" type feminine vocals, oddly reminiscent of Dead Can Dance at times, or Trans Global Underground. Perhaps in some weird way this is the genre's attempt at pop-diva/melodic aspect. Someone else compared the vibe to Massive Attack, which fits totally with the group's post-Mezzanine use of Goth-lite femme-vox, Liz Frazer, Sinead, etc, with the one remaining Massive chap outing himself on the last album as total 4AD fan.

Martin Clark's lick here on the aesthetic of presha is pretty convincing, although often that ominousness thing can cross the line into shlock. C.f. death metal, it’s amazing how corny musics can become in their headlong flight from "da light" or elements associated with cheese/pop.

On the Rinse tapes I came back with, the rhythm side of darkdubstep seemed to be getting interestingly different, a considerable distance beyond 2step or even four-to-the-floor garage. Really industrial without actually sounding like "industrial" the genre in any of its historical stages. Clanking, centreless non-grooves, torpid and weirdly lateral in feeling; the percussion distributed around an absent drum pulse, as if along the rim of a crater; almost all the forward propulsion energy coming from the dark river of low-end. I find the sound easy to admire but not so easy to love. And a little of it goes a long way. That'd probably change in the full-immersion club situ and under the influence, though.

Personally I think the Grime title is a misnomer on those comps if only cos the music doesn’t sound that dirty, it’s actual real clinical and slick. Even the bass has this oily-shiny inorganic quality (slick as per Valdez, as Simon SD put it in his ace metaphor of seabirds stuck in the bassgloop). They don’t him Plasticman for nothing, eh?

No, the solution, to my mind, would be to lop off the ‘e’ and call the comps Grim. Or even Grimm, for added evocation of bordering-on-hoky spooky/macabre-ness. (Macabre Unit indeed--pure death metal!).

Grimm, that’s what I’m going to call the darkdubstep/Croydon t'ing from now onwards. So you have Grime and its taciturn brother Grimm.

(Few more and I'll have to do a kpunk style glossary).

PS On one of those pirate tapes the MC keeps using using the phrase "stiff beats" as a praise term--intriguing semantics in terms of its gender-coding and renunciation of swing/funk ethos. Theweleit biznizz.