Thursday, December 30, 2004

flippin eck, you wait days and days for an end-of-year wrap-up to come and then six of them turn up all at once!

The grimist view (first instalment)

the 128 bpm view

the she's-the-greatest-dancer view (part one)

the Matos view (part one)

the Matos-and-minions view

the cold rationalist view

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.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

another one bites the dust

(heroes, that is)

RIP Susan Sontag
check it out, antipodean sound bwoy peter maplestone's revival rhythm track featuring Mikey Murka

also, he's giving away a cool classic yard tape over here

also, dj ripley has a blogg

Thursday, December 23, 2004

killamix of bleeps'n'breaks'n'bass from the "mysterious" (hardly!) Dr. Wo, virtually an essay on the genealogy of ukrave in hip hop and reggae given sonic form. my favorite transition: Ability II's "Pressure Dub" into Maurizio's "M7" (now why is these white guys' appropriation of the rootical less problematic for me than the drill'n'bash street kids's? cos it's so utterly earnest, perhaps, tapping directly into the religiosity? or is it cos it's more of fusion--with techno&house--thing than a wholesale parody/homage?)
sherburne returns, with some good ripostes and queries viz an argument by jane dark about IDM-as-racist (link courtesy somedisco)

if Felizitas/Dark had based the argument in terms of IDM-circa-drill'n'bass-viz-jungle then the critique would make perfect sense--while at the same time being old news and hardly a shattering insight

but the IDM-viz-hip hop really is way off base for all the reasons philip (and comments-box folk) points out. Also (in re. being old, old news), IDM is now, what, four or five years into a self-critique of itself for a lack of "street", meaning "urban", meaning "black" energy. I.e. Kid606, the NWA and Missy Elliott tributes, Gold Chains, Violent Turd,etc etc. In the last year especially there's been the emergence/consolidation of a whole "street-beats/pan-Black Atlantic" fueled omni-genre that takes on elements of ragga, crunk, Amen-era junglizm, bass'n'booty, soon Desi and favela and grime and grimm and kwaito.... and... Mashing together bits and bobs from all the "stupid" dance musics and borrowing/parodying/exaggerating their traits. "Drill'n'bashment," perhaps--that Shockout comp (really rather entertaining, if utterly redundant in an absolute sense), operators like Shitmat, DJ Rupture, Soundmurderer. Or think the whole Planet Mu approach really (plus they throws in another lumpen street music, this time white-Euro, into the mix: gabba), which goes into a whole new phase with the Mark One album.

drill'n'bash is not without its own problematics in terms of colononialism/expropriation, but it's definitely an advance in that instead of feeling superior to "urban" musics there's a real sense of trying to catch up with them... there's a certain pathos to it, in fact... if only we could be as radical-yet-popular as Neptunes/Lil Jon/Timba/etc

the other thing is that IDM is so washed up and beyond-marginal at this point it hardly seems worth giving a kicking!

personally i'm actually kind of longing for a revival of first-wave IDM-izm before it was even called "IDM", ie the early Aphex and Global Communication etc stuff. When in fact it was at its most bleached, in terms of sonic negritude. The big shift there, back in 92/93, was away from rhythm/texture/noise to melody/texture/harmony.... which could certainly be seen as racially coded (especially the aversion to breakbeats*) but is as much to do with class and with mood (from rave to reverie, physical brocking out to aural contemplation)

IDM doesn't describe a genre, it describes a type of person, partially determined by class, really.... someone who prizes individuality rather than the crowd (hence squarepusher's risible comments about the jungle scene being all about followers, whereas he was a lone individualist)... what's funny about drill'n'bashment is that it posits a kind of pseudo-massive, the hallucination of the mother-of-all-massives. When of course the room's just full of nerds**.

* Geeta mentioned a while back that when she interviewed Michael Mayer she played something with a breakbeat in and he was, like, "aarrgh, i hate breakbeats, I loathe them". it was an almost physical aversion. Hearing that gave me a little flashback to "no breakbeats, no Lycra" in '93, and also helped me understand a bit why i don't dig Kompakt all that much. Seeing Mayer DJ a month or so ago, I was enjoying it sufficiently and then suddenly it struck me: erm, this music is pretty much "Age of Love"/93-R&S after they lost their hardcore/Germanism of early-mid Nineties. A little bit trancey, a little bit progressive-housey, very faintly gabba-y at its absolute darkest.

had a very odd and revelatory experience in a NY club recently that i'll discuss here at some point, basically it involved the very architecture of the building dramatizing and spatializing the state of dance music and the interrelationships therein of class/race/history. It was really quite eerie!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

jess has a jolly good whinge

my own 2004-list ought to materialise by xmas eve or thereabouts
Blackdown bwoy, pure niceness, on the aptness of "grime" as term reflective of its environmental inputs and backdrop.

After years of visiting Dalston only under cover of night (to rave down Labrynth, which I hear they're demolishing--sob!) I finally went there during daylight hours in 96 or 97, to interview Labrynth founder Joe unspellable-polish-name for Energy Flash. And finally saw the place properly. Jesus, it was bleak. Leached of colour. People looking like grey-faced automatons. I thought: how can people live in this place? Well they do it, as the English always have, by manufacturing their own sunshine--2step being a prime example ("spirit of the sun", Sunship, and countless other examples of UKG's heliolatry). The 2step pirates pumped out, and still pump out (they outnumber grime pirates), a kind of consensus hallucination of Aiya Naipa all year long, a soul-warming mirage. One reason for the barely-even-semipopular status of grime (see this Dissensus thread) is that it reflects/assimilates/intensifies the desolation of East London rather than creates a line of flight. The closing of Big Apple in Croydon must surely have something to do with the fact that the music they sold--plasticman-style darkdubstep aka Grimm--sounds like Croydon.

Grime and its mute cousin Grimm, they're both winter music. And winter in London (i've just returned from a brief, literally funereal visit) is not lovely. There's a special kind of English cold, damp where New York's is brisk and dry and oddly invigorating, that gets inside your clothes, inside your marrow, where it saps your spirit. (Primary reason why I don't think I could move back to London: the winter grey skies. In New York it's fucking freezing but the skies are often blue, we're on the same latitude as Barcelona).

The coldness in the music is not an absence of emotion, though, it is the emotion--pitiless desolation. It takes a certain kind of hardiness and spiritual mettle to want to embrace that. Hence the slender sales for Grime and Grimm.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Mark has a response further explicating his (oops, biographism, beg pardon) position.

I suppose ultimately I don’t really get what he’s talking about when he uses the word “rationality”, now that’s supposed to include emotion and the body?

But judging by the general tenor of his arguments--anti-mammalian, squeamish about emotion--the key word, the one he's got most invested in, is “cold”.

Isn’t thought, however abstractified and supersublimated, always an emotion, though? That’s why the notion of artificial intelligence is a non-starter; what could motivate such an intelligence to be bothered with thinking? Thought without emotion is a sail without wind. You have to have a body, monkeymatic flaws and all, to have the energy and will to think.

Even the impulse to achieve a cold precision of thought is itself an emotional impulse, somatically rooted.

Equivocations? The basic idea is pretty clear, I think. Music, as far as I can tell, belongs to a whole category one could designate with words like “non-sense” and “un-sane”. There’s no point to it, and that’s, sort of, the point of it. Lots of good things in (my) life actually fit those categories, and my response is to affirm that glorious non-utility (I suppose that's the dreaded “vitalism” and Romanticism one hears about? I think these must be the bits in D&G I really like!)

It also strikes me as perhaps not entirely unconnected that since Mark’s been on this cold rationalist tip, he’s barely written anything on music. Perhaps music in its essence is too much an incitement of stuff that’s not in the CR programme.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

It is, of course, brilliantly argued. Here’s just a few quick thoughts glancing off K-punk’s piece on Bataille as proto-fascist

-- Isn’t fascism precisely the alliance of atavism/abjection and cold rationality? Atavism on its own might produce a pogrom, or an isolated Travis Bickle type paranoid schizo, or a Bataille-style perv. But it takes a dose of cold technocratic reason to create Treblinka (or for that matter the gulag).

---there’s an awful of potent, provocative culture that exists in that dodgy zone between Romantic/primordialist and fascist/totalitarian. In rock alone, there’s elements of glam, Killing Joke, metal, rave, gabba, industrial, crunk, maybe even Roots reggae, that work off those ambiguous energies. Then there’s the whole modernist/fascist mini-tradition of writers like Wyndham Lewis, Celine, etc -- a personal obsession of mine.

--Just because fascism uses the appeal to the atavistic/pagan/primordialist, doesn’t mean it owns those categories (c.f. the anti-natalist argument -- fascist regimes encourage childbirth means breeding is proto-fascist = not very good logic)

-- Isn’t it as facile to say that Romanticism leads to Fascism as the converse argument (advanced by disillusioned French post-marxists in the 70s) that the Englightenment led to Auschwitz/the gulag? There are presumably many mixtures and inbetween states and coexistences that intermingle reason and non-reason. and those are places where most of us live, practically.

--- this is the question I’m most interested in actually, which is appropriate given what this blog is 97 percent about: Music. Where does it fit in the cold rationalist scheme? (Nick Land: "Every theorist who hasn’t a real place for music ends up with one-dimensional melancholia.”)
Seems to me that the way Mark’s thought is developing he ought to end up in a Plato-like stance of being suspicious of music itself as irrational, counter-revolutionary, and so forth. After all, what is Music if not emotion, intoxication, sensuality, violence, the orgiastic? Or more precisely (and intriguingly) perhaps one could say that Music operates at the cusp of the the abstract/conceptual and the sensory/sensual (you have to have a body to be able to hear it; even classical music appeals to the body, works through rhythm and the psychomotor apparatus). Music is always simultaneously a contemplative and physical experience. Moreover all attempts to reformulate music according to allegedly rationalist procedures ended up with things like Schoenberg and the twelve-tone scale ie. music which only Ben Watson (a sort of hot rationalist? he's into shagging!) enjoys? There is an absolute mystery and an arbitrary senselessness to music which invites words like “magic”. (Music is certainly my window to the Sacred, the one thing I feel mystical about). The loveliness of melody, the violence of "annihilating rhythm" -- there are rules that govern how these things work, but the rules themselves in their very existence have no reason to be, they are arbitrary, pointless, non-purposive. (Same applies incidentally to the poetics and musication of language: Rhyme without reason). There is a superfluousness, a futile gloriousness, an excess to requirements, an utterly non-necessary aspect to music--- which relates very well to the Bataillean worldview.

-- via the fact that one “plays” music (as listener or performer), I’d ask where “play” as a concept fits into the CR worldview--“play” and its related concept of “mischief” a/k/a the imp of the perverse. (this is something where having kids, or hanging out with them, is a very useful reminder. Kids being simultaneously Pantheism's angels walking among us, and little devils).

-- finally I do kinda share commentator Axiomatik’s amused puzzlement at how swiftly Mark (and presumably others in the post-CCRU milieu) have junked one entire canon of thought (nietzche, bataille--whom nick land wrote a great book, The Thirst for Annihilation, about--Deleuze & Guattari, presumably Ballard too now as he’s a big fan of surrealism, mythology, etc) for its complete inverse. But I guess it’s all part of the adventure that is the life of the mind.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Bloggers! Let's club together and get the deluxe DVD of this as a Christmas present for K-punk!
missus on highlights and lowlights of a year's TV
Resonance blogg doc available for download chez Woebot

Luka sounds grime, not just that lean, hungry grain o' the voice, but he's got those halting, racing-ahead, nervy speech patterns, he could be Dizzee's cousin!

Mark sounds extremely chilled.... if i didn't know better I'd swear K-Punk was puffing onna spliff before Magz did the interview :)

Also like the twinkly idyllictronic music-of-the-bloggspheres in the background throughout

I understand where Matt's coming from in his is-it-all-over?/was-it-all-a-dream? ruminations. Personally if I'm burned at the moment, it's owing to circumstances that have nothing to do with blogging. And there's various other people who've been taken out by life-stuff (good to see Jon Dale back BTW). I actually have about forty topics I've been wanting to blog about (no seriously, but i might just have to scribble the core idea as a single phrase or sentence in here, and then, being quite a bright lot, you can just work out the rest of it yourselves). There just never seems to be the time (oughter be working right now to be honest).

I also think if there's a bit of a energy deficit at the moment bloggworld-wise it's actually because pop (including for these purposes semi-pop, downright-unpop, etc) music is not honestly coming up with the goods at the moment. Well it's generating good stuff in the sense of discrete items of brilliance (the end-of-year list, which may be the next thing up here actually, is going to be pretty gargantuan, like last year, like every year). The trouble with discrete items of brilliance, though, is that you pile them up and you can make quite a towering, idioysyncratic, reflects-well mound of theme, but there's gonna be that air of inconsequentiality.
Pop/semipop/unpop etc is by and large failing to come up with the startling new formations that would provoke a massive burst of discursive energy (a la Grime which provided, and even several years on still provides, a host of dissension points and cruxes of argument). The energy centres of 2004 -- grime, dutty south, dancehall, psych-folk, dfa--are the same ones that were bubbling in 2002. At the same time, don't particularly sense any great amount of animation coming from the pop-ist end of things at the moment, unless the umpteenth rehashing of rockism-bashing gets your blood boiling. Yup there's an entropic feel at the moment, more than likely related to what's been going on in the real world. And fair enough really.
Lady Like Chantelle defends Wiley from the haters and under-raters
Nice piece by Man Like Martin Clark at Blackdown on violence in grime lyrics.
Kid Kameleon, partner of Ripley, has got a blogg with a link to this great Shockout mix he's done.
Stubbs, inspired, on Seinfeld versus Rumsfeld

A week or so back we were watching a TV doc on the making of Seinfeld (timed to promote the DVD's release obviously) , all about the early days and how the series very nearly never got off the ground. And the missus and I were indeed reflecting, a la Stubbs, that, viz the Nineties, those were different times indeed. They seem positively halcyonic in retrospect. A bit of centrist underachieving and ultimately thwarted muddle-through would be utopia compared to what's going on now politically. And curiously--undermining that old theory that hard times and turmoil and instability create great music, culture, etc--the Nineties was pretty much nonstop greatness when it comes to music. Whereas the first half of the Noughties, which is now coming to an end, the first five years are up, has been... honestly not that impressive. (Oh there are pockets of amazingness, but there always are). The culture of resistance that you'd think might emerge in such conditions has pretty much failed to materialise, and where it does exist it's on very reduced and cornered-seeming premises. And meanwhile, mainstream-wise, the culture of irony/triviality/kitsch/pomo-pastiche etc etc is ever more ascendant (so much for 9/11 and the new seriousness). Odd.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

My new least favorite band--My Chemical Romance.
The trouble with the word "punctum" is it doesn't sound like what it's meant to signify. It always makes me think of The Fat Controller in Thomas the Tank Engine--the sound of the word is portly and punctilious. (Unlike jouissance, which feels swoony, langorous, voluptuous, dissipatory). "Studium", though, is perfect, the sagging quality of the "ium" conveying the sense of chore, of slogging through something improving and well-wrought/well-meant.
"If you put someone's head in a vice and tighten it, some interesting stuff is going to ooze out. I'm not from London originally so I notice this more. Being an alien, you see that this city is like a vast compression chamber, packing in all these diverse elements, ethnicities, influences, stresses, tensions, so everyone has to wriggle about so as not to suffocate. The power of Afro-caribbean sound system culture is not just about the sonic influence of dub, reggae, dancehall and soca, but a whole set of microcultural practices for not just avoiding suffocation, finding breathing space, but for finding some kind of way out. The futurism comes via the competitive pressure, which forces rapid change, recombination and mutation as a matter of survival."

Kode 9, interviewed, on presha and the hydraulic theory of sceniotic creativity (cf Peter York on "steam" and the from-below pressure of those denied conventional routes to social mobility, and that Kanye West lyric about steam powering his rise)

And how's this for hip:

"Outside of garage tempo, I've been listening to microrecordings of the ebola virus."

That CCRU lot, you got to love 'em doncha!